Second Life – Skye Forest Cabin

I was pointed by one of Inara Pey’s blog posts to a good example of a forest cabin and furniture that are available in Second Life. This build, created by Alex Bader of Studio Skye, uses mesh and recent advanced texturing to provide a really nice looking cabin, contents and lighting. A snowy “winter coat” add on is also available. The building can be visited in Second Life at:

And is available on the Second Life marketplace at

This shows how good Second Life is looking today…

2015-04-24-SL-Skye-Glas-2 2015-04-24-SL-Skye-Glas-3
2015-04-24-SL-Skye-Glas-5 2015-04-24-SL-Skye-Glas-4
Winter coat image from Second Life Marketplace…

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OpenVCE Presentation Systems

There are two presentations systems we have used in the Open Virtual Collaboration Environment (OpenVCE) in Second Life (and ported to OpenSim).

Clever Zebra In-world Texture Presenter


A means to display in-world slides included as textures is included within the amphitheatre on the OpenVCE region where the laptop styled presenter controls the screen(s) and contains the in-world textures to be shown. The laptop shows the current slide showing on the main screen(s) and a preview of the next slide. It provides BACK and NEXT buttons to move through the slides in turn.. and a HOME button to return to the first slide. The channel selector is there to support up to 4 simultaneous screens. Check Channel 1 is selected if you do not see the same thing on the laptop as shows on a display screen.

The Clever Zebra in-world texture presenter had a few minor glitches in the laptop controller LSL script – nothing major – and also did not have the full set of texture resources used unless you also obtained the in world objects. So I produced a full version of the virtual woreld end suitable for use in OpenSim as well as for use in Second Life. That version is at

Fixes: A script within the presenter device needs a small change to work properly. Download from

For OpenSim use the textures used in the screen and presenter need to be made available. A full set of these resources, including the modified script is available from

Usage Notes: For the example (three) screens in the OpenSim Archive (OAR) OpenVCE amphitheatre ensure that channel 1 is selected on the laptop presenter so that what you select on that shows on the screens. If the presenter is owned buy a group, ensure the avatar that uses the presenter selects that group as active.

AIAI In-world Texture Presenter

AIAI and the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) people involved in Second Life and OpenSim use also created a presenter screen that can take in-world slides put into the screen from uploaded or saved textures. Small thumbnails of the slides around the current one on show are displayed along the bottom of the screen, and can be clicked on to quickly move to the individual slide. Start and Finish of presentation quick jump buttons, Next and Previous buttons are also provided. The screen can also be set to display the parcel media URL which can contain video, web pages or something similar that can be displayed using the QuickTime display system built into Second Life and OpenSim viewers.

Clever Zebra Presentation System

There is also a more technical Clever Zebra Open Source presentation system, which can be tied to a web-based presentations management area provided as a Drupal 6.x module. The version as provided by CZ for the OpenVCE project under the LGPL licence rather than their standard GPL licence is available via:

This matches the Drupal distribution created by CZ based on the modules choices made for the OpenVCE project. This custom load with various add on modules is at:

AIAI Presenter


The final presentation system is one created by my own colleagues here at Edinburgh and that also uses a web end based on PHP scripts set up to be used through Drupal. It supports PDF and zip presentation uploads and conversions at the web end, as well as multiple avatar presentation shows on the same screen.

But its a bit technical at the web/Drupal end, and not something I am willing to support. But we have no problem in others taking ideas in the code to use if they have the technical skill. I have already provided it to the Moodle/SLoodle community in case its helpful for their VW presenter.

Drupal module (PHP) code and in world scripts are available at

SLoodle Presenter

I would also draw your attention to the Moodle/SLoodle presenter system which might have more widespread community support. Their presenter screen just supports one presentation at one time per screen though, so its not yet very flexible. As noted above, I have provided our own presentation technology into the SLoodle development community to allow for PDF uploads, conversion via ImageMagick, and appropriate serving of the converted images into the in world parcel’s media URL.

Browse on for some ideas.

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Future My Love

Edinburgh Science FestivalFuture My Love PosterThe Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) is presenting a series of events at the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival. These inspiring, future-facing events will appear under the banner:
What does a low carbon future look like?

The kick-off event on the evening of Friday 17th April will be a bike-powered screening of ‘Future My Love’ ( The film unlocks and explores many themes relevant to future technologies and ECCI’s work more generally:

At the brink of losing the idealistic love of her life, filmmaker Maja Borg takes us on a poetic road trip through financial collapse, exploring a radically different economic and social model proposed by 99-year-old futurist Jacque Fresco, challenging collective and personal utopias in search of freedom​.

The panel includes the film’s producer, Sonja Henrici, and creative thinkers from the world of politics, journalism, science, art and technology, including Lesley Riddoch, Austin Tate, Simon Gage (Director of the Edinburgh Science Festival) and Phillip Bruner (Chair). Audience members will also be invited to participate.

Details of the event are available via:

The film has an interesting contrast between the personal anguish of the film maker, Maja Borg, and her journey to Venus in Florida as she reflects on her situation and is exposed to the forward looking thinking of Jacque Fresco who has his base there. I like the film’s portrayal of the optimism and shared social outlook of Jacque Fresco and his collaborators, though I feel that some of his social ideas are far too centralised and technocentric. I like optimistic people who look forward and not back, and who engage on a global scale to improve the world and see the positive potential of science and technology to help achieve that.

I have grown up with an interest in computers since my school days. From my early twenties, I have seen the development of the Internet and during my PhD studies in 1972 at Edinburgh I was a user of one of the very first international machines, a PDP-10, connected to the original ARPANet to allow communication and knowledge sharing [See my Blog Post on recollections of the early “net”]. The earlier ARPANet and its protocols on which the Internet is based, and the later 1990s World-Wide Web from CERN and Sir Tim Berners-Lee have been made freely available by those with the grand vision to see its potential for good. But as always there are those that do not have such a social outlook and only seek to exploit for their own interests any invention that they are given. Technology can be a force for good and help everyone, or can be misused for control and to spread fear by aggressive governments and greedy individuals or corporations.

Austin TateI am a member of the panel discussing the film with the audience after the screening, and some of my interests are in visions of the future and ways to bring them about. I am an optimist for the future, while still being deeply cynical about commercial and government activities which are risking the environment, and eroding personal freedoms and spoiling good social cohesion, and diminishing the value of the core aims of the early internet and world-wide web pioneers, and many who contributed to its development.

My own research includes Artificial Intelligence, robotics and telecommand and control of deep spacecraft. I work on planning, collaboration and team work especially for emergency response. I am exploring distributed teams connected via physical co-location and teleremote virtual reality, and especially mixed reality combinations. This strongly supports a more sustainable future where people need to travel less and can operate effectively together in spaces wherever they are and however remote they are from one another and from the devices and sensors they might use to conduct operations. Practical examples of such a vision in use are for mixed reality operations centres for emergency response on scales from local to regional to international, and for massive open online educational communities studying together on topics of interest (MOOCs). This vision also lends itself to operation of deep space robotic and human missions, and eventually to remote interstellar travel.

Wordle Interests
Key Phrases

Helpful Environment – Search and Rescue – Emergency Response – Interplanetary Spacecraft – Interstellar Starships – Virtual Worlds – Virtual Reality – Mixed Reality – Intelligent Interaction – Artificial Intelligence – Robots – Distance Education – MOOCs.

Helpful Environment Logo

Contrary to views of AI and robotics in popular SciFi films, such as “The Terminator” (see 2011 Edinburgh Film Festival Podcast), the doom-laden worries of people like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, and the actions of governments and commercial enterprises to misuse technology, I can (even with my worries) envisage a “nice” social and international community that seeks to assist and help others and that may be able to be tralised in spite of the dangers. I call this vision “The Helpful Environment” – see

Silent Running PosterAs a side note, the 1972 Film “Silent Running” has a central plot that includes many of my interests. A future where scientists have sought to protect the environmental diversity of Earth’s natural resources by creating a protected “island” in space – on converted commercial space freighters. The featured spaceship, the “Valley Forge”, has biodomes with service robots – Huey and Dewey – looking after the spaceship and the plant life on board. SciFi and futurist novels and films give us a way to explore our own joint future and to consider the consequences of our actions.

Silent Running - Valley Forge in Celestia

Jacque Fresco - Designing the FutureJacque_Fresco‘s writings on his vision of the future also are positive about the potential of machine intelligence and robotics working alongside mankind. His book “Designing the Future” (PDF) includes the design of future cities, sea habitats and social environments and the construction machines that may be employed to build them. This is an interest I share – see my Sea City web page – which already referred to his “Venus Project“.

Austin’s roles and related interests…

Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)
Director, Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute (AIAI)
Professor of Knowledge-Based Systems, University of Edinburgh
Coordinator for the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue)
Coordinator for Distance Education, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh Science FestivalSenior Visiting Research Scientist, Institute of Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), Florida
Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society (FBIS)
Senior Researcher, Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS)

Images from Participants

2015-04-17-Future-My-Love-Title-Screen 2015-04-17-Future-My-Love-Bike-Screening

Image of the film’s producer, Sonja Henrici, with Simon Gage, Head of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, and Austin Tate by Joshua Smythe, ECCI Social Media


Images from Virginia De, ECCI Social Media

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Using vorpX for Oculus Rift with FSX

This blog post describes tests of trying to use the “vorpX” ( drivers to allow games and applications on Windows to run on the Oculus Rift to provide a 3D virtual reality experience.

Flight Simulator X (FSX) from Microsoft and recently released and updated on the Steam platform already allows for 3D via, for example, the Nvidia 3D Vision… active shutter glasses working with a 120Hz monitor and IR transmitter. vorpX should allow FSX to run with the Oculus Rift.

Setup is a bit tricky and at present (16th April 2015) I have not managed to get this working. Hence this blog post is to show the configuration while I continue to experiment and get helpful advice from the developer, Ralf Ostertag, and others in the vorpX and FSX communities.

Windows 8.1 Pro
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
FSX for Steam and/or Boxed FSX Gold (SP2+Acceleration)
Main Monitor 1920x1080x32
Oculus Rift DK2 1920x1080x32

The Oculus Rift is set up in “Extend Desktop to HMD” display mode and Windows is set to extend the desktop onto the Rift too.


The vorpX configuration utility is set to “Use system settings” so that the display can be configured in FSX itself… see below. However, I tried other modes such as “Show on Rift DK2″. vorpX is also set to run in administrator mode, as that is indicated as necessary when using the Steam version of FSX, since that also runs in administrator mode.


The FSX “Settings” -> “Customize” -> “Device” menu has two entries…

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.1

The second is assumed to be the one for the Oculus Rift DK2… but I tried both anyway. I saved the configuration, but each time I go back to the device screen it always has NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680.0 selected so its unclear if this is actually being saved as a setting.

The monitor and Rift DK2 are both set to 1920x1080x32 display mode. For both devices the “Preview DirectX 10″ is unticked.


After selecting an aircraft and flight situation, “Fly Now” is entered. After loading the resources the “double barrel” screen is displayed and appears to be attempting to be a 3D Rift style image. It has the vorpX watermark overlay on it, and as the Rift headset is moved it appears to be head tracking. The mouse seems to jump about to where the head set is pointing.

The only problem is that the “double barrel” screen intended to show on the Rift DK2 actually shows on the main monitor…


I have tried full screen (alt+enter), no menu and windowed modes, and tried various window + arrow keys to “move” the display over onto the Rift extended desktop… all to no avail.

I have also tried to use the boxed version of FSX with SP2/Acceleration/Gold rather than the Steam version but that behaves identically.

Update at 20-Jul-2015… FlyInside FSX

Daniel Church has produced an early version of an improved way to use FSX with the Oculus Rift called “FlyInside FSX” and a Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to improve and test that… see

The alpha release of FlyInside FSX as at 20th July 2015 works on my Windows 8.1/Nvidia GTX680/Rift DK2 setup…


The FlyInside FSX splash screen to allow for settings changes can be configured to show or be hidden… and I chose the “\” (backslash) key for this purpose as that appears not to be used for standard FSX keyboard commands.

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Openvue Grid Teleporters

One the OpenSim-based Openvue grid main welcome and “Vue-Port” hypergrid portal regions there has been a board with a number of simple spheres that can be used to “click to directly teleport” to other regions on the grid or hypergrid hop to regions on other grids. These have now been replaced with a more visual picture board or map tile for each location.


The AiLand grid and the OSGrid Vue region Vue-Port hypergrid portal also have picture board teleporters, and an additional teleporter for Ailand experimental and demonstration regions, especially showcasing complex mesh builds, is on the Vue-Port region of the Openvue grid.

2015-04-14-Openvue-Vue-Port-Teleporter 2015-04-14-Openvue-Vue-Port-AiLand-Teleporter

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UK Approach to UAVs

UK-MoD-JDN-2-11-UK-UAV-CoverThis blog post has been created to act as a note with links to help inform the public about UAVs and encourage involvement in debate on their ethical and legal control.

A UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) publication raises issues relevant to the UK approach to UAVs, unmanned vehicle autonomy, legal, ethical and related issues. It provides a useful contribution to the public debate on these issues.

Joint Doctrine Note 2/11 (JDN 2/11), dated 30 March 2011

One section describes the value of science fiction writings and films in being one of the main forums in which such issues have been raised and in which the public can engage. Over the years, I have frequently been asked my views on the possible dangers of autonomous robots or drones for articles by the press and by school children doing their projects, I have responded to some of these question in my FAQ Web Page. The issue was also discussed by a panel following a screening of the film “The Terminator” at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2011. See [Blog Post] [Podcast] [Local Copy]

A House of Commons Library briefing note on UAVs citing the UK MoD JDN 2/11 was published as

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones): an introduction
Standard Note: SN06493
Last updated: 25 April 2013
Author: Louisa Brooke-Holland
Section: International Affairs and Defence [Local Copy]

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Suters Store Slough – Supercar Window Display in 1962

Suters LogoOn February 1, 2015 James Fielding posted an article on the Gerry Anderson/Anderson Entertainment web site showing images taken at the time by a then 11-year old Philip Suter of the windows displays in his family’s Suters Store in Slough, near to where the A.P.Films studios were based. The window displays were for Supercar in 1962 and Stingray in 1965, using the actual puppets, puppet sized craft and sets.

The full set of image are shown at

The colour images of Supercar allowed for a little more customization of the Black Rock Lab model in the OpenSim-based “AiLand” grid Black Rock region. This was to change the gantry right hand light from green to clear white, and the smoke rig tube brackets from black to be the same greyish-blue as the smoke rig exit box.

2015-04-07 AiLand - Supercar at Black - Rock Lab

Supercar TV Series Frame Colourisation

The photos from Suters do indicate that the piping on the hull and the three short parallel bars on top of the clear-vu and on top of each side of the dash have a shiny gold appearance, versus the chrome finish used on our own 3D models. This is also used in the colourisation of Supercar TV series still frames by Pelham Cort (@johnxgin3), a fan fiction writer and colouriser, as shown at Here are three of his recent colourisations of Supercar…

Supercar Colourized - Rescue Supercar Colourized - Icefall
Supercar Colourized - Operation Superstork Supercar Colourized Supercar and Mike Mercury

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Hyperica – Listing of Hypergrid Accessible Virtual Worlds

Hyperica is a directory of Hypergrid destinations maintained by Maria Korolov of Trombly International. Entries can be submitted via this form.

One facility Hyperica offers is a checker that grid are active… run typically once a day on an offset time cycle and displaying the sampled uptime as a percentage. A grid’s uptime can be checked using the following URL format, substituting the grid URL and region name in place of the example (spaces can be included as %20, but case depends on the Hyperica entry) …


The Openvue and AiLand grids and the Vue regions on OSGrid are listed on Hyperica:

Hyperica Destination Guide for OpenSim

Firestorm-Viewer-Destinations-ButtonThe destination guide button when used in some viewers such as Firestorm can bring up a guide to locations on any grid which provides a URL to suitably formatted HTML content. See this blog post for more information on setting up a destination guide. The following URL can be used to provide such a destination guide to Hypergrid locations:

OpenSimWorld is another Hypergrid destination listing site described in my blog post. Openvue and Ailand are also listed on OpenSimWorld:

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Diva Wifi on Windows

Diva Canto provides the popular “Diva Distribution (D2)” precompiled version of OpenSim which includes a number of addon modules. One of these is called “Wifi” and provides a web front-end interface to OpenSim running in “Standalone” or “Grid mode with “Robust” services.

Wifi is used, for example, as the web front end to the Openvue (Open Virtual University of Edinburgh) grid and the AiLand experimental and demo grid.

2015-04-06-Wifi-Openvue 2015-04-06-Wifi-AiLand

Wifi is documented on the OpenSim Wiki at through which links can be found to Diva Canto’s download and source areas on Github. Wifi serves web pages which provide services such as:

  • Account creation, optionally controlled by the administrator
  • Configurable default avatars for new accounts
  • Account updates by both users and administrator
  • Account deletion by administrator
  • Password recovery via e-mail
  • Simple user inventory management

Wifi as an OpenSim Add-in

Up to OpenSim 0.8.0, Wifi was available as an add on module via compiled .DLL libraries which could be enabled for Standalone and Grid setups. From OpenSim 0.8.1 onwards, a more flexible “add-in” library mechanism that was already in OpenSim has been improved and Wifi now is provided as an add-in under that mechanism. This does mean that the build and configuration process is different.

Diva Canto has provided a blog post which describes the new Wifi mechanism and how to build and configure it, mostly geared at Unix/Linux users.

Wifi for OpenSim Robust Grids for Windows Users

In case it is helpful to those running Robust grids under Windows, I describe here the mechanism I use to build, configure and run Wifi on our own grids.

  1. Download the OpenSim source distribution as a zip file from one of the following:

    and unzip the source code to a suitable location. Note there is a folder called “addon-modules” at the top level (same level as the “bin” directory) which only contains a README.

  2. Obtain the source of the Diva addons via

    and unzip it to a temporary area. Copy the contents of the “addon-modules” from that area into the main unzipped OpenSim directory top level addon-modules directory. Take care as there is another directory “bin/addon-modules” which is NOT the one you want to copy to.

  3. The following Diva addon modules are require for Wifi to work… the others are optional for uses beyond the Wifi interface and may be omitted…
    • 00Data
    • 00DivaInterfaces
    • 01DivaUtils
    • 1DivaOpenSimServices
    • 20WifiScriptEngine
    • 21Wifi

  4. You can now build OpenSim as usual, and the addons will also be automatically compiled. E.g., in a Command Prompt shell “cd” (change directory) to the top level of the OpenSim unzipped directory and then run “runprebuild.bat” followed by “compile.bat”. The resulting bin directory contains all you need and will have in it the addon Diva modules including Wifi.

  5. Added 2015-11-24: The latest versions of Wifi allow for extensive localisation with several provided languages and instructions on how to add further languages. A script (Unix .sh or Windows .bat) is now included in Wifi which creates a .dll file containing the resources used when the Wifi module starts up for localisation. Run it at addon-modules/21Wifi/Localization/make_languages.bat or .sh.

  6. Before you run Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe, configure Wifi for your requirements by editing bin/Wifi.ini (but see the section “Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe” below for a suggested improvement). Since Wifi.ini sets Wifi as disabled by default, you will have to explicitly enable it and change necessary information to access your OpenSim data base, set your administrator avatar name and e-mail, etc.

  7. To allow tailoring of Wifi for your own grid, a directory “WifiPages” at the same level as the “bin” directory you can place specific *.html and any image/* files which will override the default equivalents in bin/WifiPages. The following pages can be overridden:
    • footer.html
    • header.html
    • links.html
    • splash.html
    • termsofservice.html
    • welcome.html
    • image/*

Disable Wifi in OpenSim.exe

With the default locations suggested in Robust.[HG.]ini.example and OpenSim.ini.example for the add-in configuration and registry locations, the addins are picked up by both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe and use the same configuration for both. This means that if Wifi is enabled in Wifi.ini it runs in both Robust.exe and OpenSim.exe. This is not what is wanted for a grid and means that Wifi is served on the OpenSim default port (usually :9000) as well as the grid services port (usually :8002).

Hence, the following is the configuration used on Openvue and AiLand grids to allow for separate enabling of Wifi for Robust.exe and disabling Wifi for OpenSim.exe. Wifi.ini is MOVED from bin/Wifi.ini to config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini. These configuration settings may be useful as a basis for what others might wish to use…

-------- Robust.[HG].ini ----------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-robust"

-------- OpenSim.ini---------------------------
    RegistryLocation = "."
    ConfigDirectory = "./config-addon-opensim"

-------- config-addon-robust/Wifi.ini ---------
; Copied from Diva's Wifi.ini with [WifiService] Enabled = true
; and changes for your data base, admin avatar and grid environment

-------- config-addon-opensim/Wifi.ini --------
	Enabled = false

Check your Data.MySQL.dll in Robust.[HG.]ini

In configurations for Wifi before the 0.8.1 add-in, Diva.Data.MySQL.dll was used as the “StorageProvider” both within the Wifi modules and for other Robust services. This is no longer necessary. The default StorageProvider = OpenSim.Data.MySQL.dll can be used for all normal Robust.exe services as configured in Robust.[HG.]ini as Wifi itself picked up the StorageProvider separately from that stated in Wifi.ini.

Diva Distribution and Sim-on-a-Stick

The Diva Distribution (D2) and Sim-on-a-Stick are being updated to include the new Wifi addon module.


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High Fidelity – Goes Open Alpha

On 1st April 2015, High Fidelity was opened to anyone interested in an open “early alpha” stage following the developments over the last year with a smaller group. See this invitation blog post.


I joined the High Fidelity alpha on 15th May 2014 and have since been a participant in the testing and providing inputs for the “Interface” client and for the “Stack Manager” domain server running our own domain at hifi://Openvue and testing with a range of complex mesh models.  The “Alphas Forum” has served as the main mechanism for providing feedback and getting help, as well as discussing the future of the platform. A “Metaverse Directory” lists the HiFi domains which are online and which have registered “place names”.


During this time, I have also been blogging about my experiences as the platform developed… though these posts, at the request of High Fidelity, were not made publicly accessible. This sensibly allowed High Fidelity to decide when and what to make public as the platform and its capabilities developed.

My blog posts are now publicly accessible and can all be found via:


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Castle in Spring on Ailand

It is now Spring on the Castle region on the Opensim-based AiLand grid.
[Visit via hop://]

2015-03-21-AiLand-Castle-Spring-Crossroadsjpg_002 2015-03-21-AiLand-Castle-Spring-Crossroadsjpg_003

“Epic Castle” is a nice demonstration of a complex mesh model that can be imported into OpenSim, and saved as an OpenSim Archive (OAR) file that others can load and use. In this instance the castle was created and freely released by Epic Games to demonstrate the Unreal Engine. It was imported to OpenSim and provided as an OAR for others to enjoy by Cuteulala Artis. Leora Jacobus scaled the castle up 1.5 times to allow avatars to use doors and rooms realistically and downsized the mesh terrain to 0.7 times to fit on a single 256x256m region. Leora also added more building interiors and other contents.

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Solar Eclipse 2015

The 20th March 2015 solar eclipse path of totality passed just north of the British Isles and directly over the Faroes. In Edinburgh the eclipse started at 08:30 with a maximum of 93.2% of the Sun’s disk covered at 09:35 and ended at 10:44. Clear skies allowed for an excellent view through my refractor telescope with a projection screen so family and neighbours could also take a look as the event progressed.

2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-IMG_2763a 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-IMG_2774a
2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-1 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-2 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-3a
2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-4 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-5 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-6a
2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-7 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-8 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-9a
2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-10a 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-11 2015-03-20-Solar-Eclipse-Austin-Tate-12

Solar Eclipse 2015 in Celestia Space Simulator


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Virtual World Best Practice in Education 2015

The 8th annual Virtual World Best Practice in Education (VWBPWE 2015) conference took place from March 18th to 21st 2015 in Second Life and on the OpenSimulator-based Avacon Grid. The inbuilt Vivox voice setup was used in Second Life, as usual. For the OpenSim grid, this time the TeamSpeak was used for voice rather than the usual UStream audio streaming mechanism or Vivox which is also used on some OpenSim grids.


Ebbe Altberg, the CEO of Linden Labs, gave the opening keynote talk on “Virtual Education in Second Life & in The Future” on March 18th in the Egyptian styled Second Life Main Auditorium. Approximately 200 avatars attended in world with others watching on the web stream.

2015-03-18-VWBPE_006 2015-03-18-VWBPE_004

Current Second Life Platform

Ebbe mentioned that 300 educational organisations were involved in Second Life according to those obtaining the educational discount on their regions, but that the number involved was higher some years ago.

HTML5 rich media on a prim will come to Second Life.

900,000 people are still regularly accessing Second Life, not far off the “hype” peak.

Next Generation Platform

The “Next Generation Platform” from Linden Labs will support mesh import form a range of third party tools. Second Life will still be around, but not everything in Second Life will be able to be brought over to the new platform. Ebbe referred to it as the “next generation platform for virtual experiences”. He said 30 engineers and more on marketing were working on it. In the new platform, it may be that content may not disappear and could be available “forever” and be loaded on demand. Ebbe said they want to improve the ways in which people can find content and experiences in the new platform. They want the next generation platform to be accessible on more than desktops, and be accessible beyond that on mobile and other devices… desktops mobile, VR, etc. They want the platform to be much more scalable and able to cope with more avatars in one area, beyond the “four corner, few hundred avatars” event, to be at a scale where that was trivial and tens of thousands could be involved at the same time. Scripting language will be C#. Voxels may be allowed, and ways to “paint” onto terrain to create terrain, tunnels, etc. An early tool to be supported is Autodesk Maya, since as well as 3D modelling it supports animation and other elements needed. But other tools will be able to be used for content creation later. The aim for the next platform will be to allow users 13 and above (versus 16+ for Second Life) hence there will be a need to design access accordingly.

2015-03-18-VWBPE_001 2015-03-18-VWBPE-2015-Ai-Austin_002

VWBPE 2015 Virtual Ability Panel in Second Life


VWBPE Sessions on OpenSim-based Avacon Grid

Avacon-Grid-VWBPE-Lobby Avacon-Grid-Greeting

TeamSpeak was used for the voice and audio facilities in the arrival lobby, the main auditorium and the break out sessions, using 6 channels in all. This is an alternative to in world voice using Vivox, Mumble or FreeSwitch, or the Ustream streaming audio that had been used on previous OpenSim and Avacon grid based conferences. Overwolf is a game overlay system that allows Teamspeak to be better integrated with games and the SecondLife/OpenSim viewers.


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Ringworld in Celestia

I have previously written in a blog post about the wide range of educational space and spaceflight simulators that have been created by educators, scientists and open source user communities. One of these was Celestia and its many educational and community add-ons including some for fictional star systems and spacecraft from Science Fiction. Spacecraft and other objects can be added into Celestial by providing a suitable 3D model in .3DS format, along with any associated textures and a “.SSC” file which gives details of the position of the object.


Image from Runar Thorvaldsen

The “Ringworld” of science fiction writer Larry Niven is an artificial habitat that completely encircles its star – with a surface area about three million times that of the Earth. Having been built by the “Ringworld Engineers”, it has been abandoned for millions of years when visitors arrive. It has been realised in Celestia by Runar Thorvaldsen (rthorvald) and made available at…

Runar introduces the Ringworld for Celestia and it’s scenarios…

“In the book, a small group of explorers – both alien and human – arrives at the Ringworld, and proceeds to explore a small part of it – along the way discovering the ruined cities of a fallen civilisation that supposedly built the Ring several million years earlier… One can visit the Ring from all angles, dive beneath the clouds and see the Great Oval Ocean, the Fist-Of-God mountain and the Maps of Known Space. Or lock on to the Lying Bastard for a flight through the star system, or to any of the four protagonists for a trip through the Ringworld´s skies.

Navigation in the Ringworld

Use <return> to select “Ringworld’s Star” and then use “G”(oto) to have Celestia zoom in. You can then use “Navigation” -> “Solar System Exoplorer” to explore the various locations and craft.

  • Ringworld’s Star – the main star around which the Ringworld circles.
  • Fist of God – a “mountain” punched through the Ringworld by an impact.
  • Lying Bastard – the main visitor spacecraft, which you can “Follow” this for a trip through the Ringworld system. Speed up the rate of change to travel faster.

Fist of God

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Lying Bastard and the Visitors

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Ringworld on the Oculus Rift

The 3D models from the Celestia Ringworld add-on have been used by Carlos Peña González to create an Oculus Rift experience available at

It includes being able to board Louis Wu’s flycycle (“b” key when adjacent to the left side of the vehicle) or “v” to exit. Using normal arrow controls for movement. To get out of the flycycle press “v” key. Press “z” key to increase altitude or “x” to descend. Press “j” to stop the flycycle and stabilize it in flight.


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Apollo 11 in Celestia

I have previously written in a blog post about the wide range of educational space and spaceflight simulators that have been created by educators, scientists and open source user communities. One of these was Celestia and its many educational and community add-ons including some for fictional star systems and spacecraft from Science Fiction. Spacecraft and other objects can be added into Celestial by providing a suitable 3D model in .3DS format, along with any associated textures and a “.SSC” file which gives details of the position of the object.


Apollo 11’s Command and Service Module (CSM) and Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) in its landing and Ascent Module (AM) forms have been provided by “ElChristou and Andrea” on and are available via:

Celestia-Apollo-11-LEM Celestia-Apollo-11-AS

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Discovery at Io in Celestia

I have previously written in a blog post about the wide range of educational space and spaceflight simulators that have been created by educators, scientists and open source user communities. One of these was Celestia and its many educational and community add-ons including some for fictional star systems and spacecraft from Science Fiction. Spacecraft and other objects can be added into Celestial by providing a suitable 3D model in .3DS format, along with any associated textures and a “.SSC” file which gives details of the position of the object.

The Discovery spaceship which was sent to Jupiter’s moon Io in 2001: A Space Odyssey is one such add-on to Celestia provided by the community… along with the “Pod” used to conduct external inspections and repairs. It is part of a 2001 collection of spacecraft, space stations and scenario files available on the Celestia Motherlode.


“I’m sorry Dave… I am afraid I can’t do that.”

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2015-03-06-FCVW_006 2015-03-06-FCVW_003

The Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds (FCVW) held its 2015 conference (FCVW-2015) in an OpenSim grid run by the MOSES/US Army Simulation Technology and Training Center (STTC) in Orlando, Florida with assistance from AvaCon.

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The opening keynote was given by Doug Maxwell of the STTC/MOSES team on the FCVW and immersive virtual conference and collaborative systems.

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Track on Training Effectiveness in Virtual Worlds

One of the many parallel track sessions in FCVW-2015 was a panel discussion on the effectiveness in simulations and training for soldiers in virtual worlds…. including training soldiers for clearing buildings and rooms.

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Other simulations on show included the MOSES middle eastern village for patrol training.

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Saturday Sessions – Doug Maxwell – Who We Serve

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Thales Virtual Training Centre Presentation – Frank B. Rulof

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Air Force Research Labs Presentation – Mark Sturgell and Jennifer Winner

Mark Sturgell of AFRL spoke about virtual command spaces, and their links to real command spaces and support of training. He showed the “Calamityville” virtual command center which AFRL worked on with Wright State University. Jennifer Winner of AFRL described work on using game technologies for learning especially for STEM education.

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Sunset over the FCVW-2015 Closing Session

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2015-03-07-FCVW-Ai-AustinAi Austin’s suitcase eventually caught up with him on the FCVW-2015 grid…. and he has his usual flight suit on…


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Supercar in Celestia


I have previously written in a blog post about the wide range of educational space and spaceflight simulators that have been created by educators, scientists and open source user communities. One of these was Celestia and its many educational and community add-ons including some for fictional star systems and spacecraft from Science Fiction.

Spacecraft and other objects can be added into Celestial by providing a suitable 3D model in .3DS format, along with any associated textures and a “.SSC” file which gives details of the position of the object.


I made a suitable version of Gerry Anderson’s Supercar 3D Model and exported that to the 3DS format to import to Celestia. This along with a couple of .SSC files are then placed in the Celestia “extras” directory and are found when the program runs.

Supercar at the International Space Station

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Supercar in 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Supercar-Station-V-3 Supercar-Station-V-4

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International Rescue – Thunderbirds

Gerry Anderson who created Supercar and Fireball XL5 (which feature in my own interests and blog posts) produced a range of TV shows for children (and others) especially using puppets, but also live action shows, and more recently had been involved in CGI productions like the New Captain Scarlet. Gerry died in 2014, but his creations live on.

His best known creation is “Thunderbirds”, which first aired on TV in the mid 1960s using puppets, and was later repeated for a new generation of fans in the 1990s. Now ITV is producing a new show using a mixture of physical models and CGI using the WETA Workshop in New Zealand for the production.

The show is set in 2060 with the International Rescue team based on a spectacular island in the Pacific and using a range of rescue vehicles to give assistance where it is required. The Tracy brothers and their associates pilot and operate the vehicles on land, in the air, underwater and in space.


Join International Rescue

The series is accompanies by social media and a web site where fans can join International Rescue and be part of the excitement and fun… join at Thunderbirds HQ


Premier on 4th April 2015 – Ring of Fire – Missions Open

The new Thunderbirds are Go premiered in the UK at 5pm on 4th April 2015 with the double length “Ring of Fire” story. Around that time the Rescue web site missions also became available…


Week 2 – Space Race


Week 3 – Crosscut

Week 4 – Fireflash


Week 5 – Unplugged


Week 6 – Runaway


Week 7 – EOS


Week 8 – Slingshot


This week, an Apple iPad/iPhone or Android scanner application was introduced, which unlocked craft interiors…


Week 9 (Premiere on Sunday 24th May 2015) – Tunnels of Time


Week 10 – Skyhook


Week 11 – Under Pressure


Week 12 – Heavy Metal


Final Scores – Season 1 Part 1 (as at 1st August 2015)


Week 13 – Transmission Break

The second half of season 1 started in UK on ITV and CITV on 31st October 2015.

Week 14 – Falling Skies


Week 15 – Relic


Week 16 – Breakdown


Week 17 – Heist Society


Week 18 – Recharge


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Coursera AI Planning MOOC Statistics 2015

This post shows data for the Coursera AI Planning MOOC 2015 session taught by Gerhard Wickler and Austin Tate of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. The MOOC ran from January to March 2015 and remains open to provide access to the video lectures and resources for anyone interested.

Passes at Each Level of Participation 2015

Pass Level Badge Number Passing
Awareness Level 35% 92
Foundation Level 60% 105
Performance Level 75% 152

Numbers Achieving Various Score Levels 2015

2015 Numbers Achieving Various Scores

Week-by-Week Statistics 2015

The week-by-week statistics of those registered and those engaging with the materials on the course are shown here (at end of week 5).


The session starting in January 2015 and ending in March 2015 remains open for new registrations… we show here the number registered and still active at the end of each month:

  • March 2015: Registered Users: 30,202; Active Users: 967
  • April 2015: Registered Users: 31,502; Active Users: 679
  • May 2015: Registered Users: 32,768; Active Users: 663
  • June 2015: Registered Users: 34,120; Active Users: 631
  • July 2015: Registered Users: 35,519; Active Users: 579
  • August 2015: Registered Users: 36,863; Active Users: 415
  • September 2015: Registered Users: 37,604; Active Users: 394
  • October 2015: Registered Users: 38,405; Active Users: 360
  • November 2015: Registered Users: 38,963; Active Users: 368

AI Planning MOOC Course Survey 2015 – Participants by Country

The pre-course survey had 2,784 AI Planning MOOC 2015 respondents from 115 countries which were used to create a geographical participation map and to extract some information to produce charts about the participants.

AI Planning MOOC 2015 - Participants by Country

Click above for interactive Google map. Click here for static image version of map.
Version: 27-Jan-2015 – based on sample of 2,784 AI Planning MOOC 2015 respondents from 115 countries.

Course Survey – Reach – 2015

Continents and Majority Countries. Version: 23-Jan-2015 – based on sample of 2,813 AI Planning MOOC 2015 respondents.

Continents and Majority Countries

Gender and Age. Version: 23-Jan-2015 – based on sample of 2,813 AI Planning MOOC 2015 respondents.

Gender and Age

Participant Status. Version: 23-Jan-2015 – based on sample of 2,784 AI Planning MOOC 2015 respondents.


2013 and 2014 Session Data

AI Planning MOOC data for comparison is available [2013] [2014].

Setup for Participants Map

  2. Plot data on map
  3. Output format: Google Maps
  4. Width = 1600 Height=800 (or auto) Margin: 45
  5. Title: AI Planning MOOC 2015 Participants by Country
  6. Background map: Google terrain (physical map)
  7. Colorize using: N/frequency Min: 0 Max: 500 (set just below max N to use full colour range of the scale)
  8. Colorization legend: bottom left
  9. Legend Steps: 11 (gives 10 steps of 50 if max is 500)
  10. Spectrum direction: down Hue 1: 240% (blue) Hue 2: 0% (red) (gives colour range blue through red)
  11. Color of values beyond min. or max.: min/max colour continues and remove zero data in input (or use “grey” to show zero data points)
  12. Min radius: 4 Max radius: 30
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OSGrid – Vue and Expt Addon Regions

OSGrid, the grid used by many members of the OpenSimulator developers and users as a community hub, is back in service after a prolonged period of being unavailable due to a serious disk failure. The grid has been rebuilt to be more robust in future.


Individual avatar inventories and outfits have been preserved after the recovery, and the main meeting Plazas all are operational… along with some shared regions like the Recreation Plaza and Cuteulala Park roller coaster regions…

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Following some testing, the server was used to bring up our addon regions previously available. This includes regions on… Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue estate: Vue-Port, Edinburgh and OpenVCE regions), Experimental (Expt estate: AI and Oil-Rig regions) and Gerry Anderson themed (GA estate: Black Rock, Space City and Marineville regions).

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2015-02-25-OSGrid-OpenVCE-2 2015-02-25-OSGrid-OpenVCE-1
2015-02-25-OSGrid-Vue-Rig-1 2015-02-25-OSGrid-Black-Rock-1
2015-02-25-OSGrid-Space-City-1 2015-02-25-OSGrid-Marineville-1

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Coursera AI Planning MOOC 2015 – Virtual World Meeting 17-Feb-2015

The fifth meeting of the 2015 AI Planning MOOC group session took place in Second Life on Tuesday 17th February 2015 at 8pm UT/GMT.

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Kässbohrer Pisten Bully Simulator

pistenbully-logoThe Pisten Bully range of snow cats and ski piste grooming machines is manufactured by Kässbohrer in Germany.

Kässbohrer Pisten Bully 400 – Image from Pisten Bully Calendar 2015

Ski Region Simulator 2012

Kässbohrer Pisten Bully machines are available in Ski Region Simulator which is described at It is available via a DVD release or download for Windows or Apple Macs, and the “Gold Edition” with add-on packs is available on the Steam platform…


Using the Free Ski Resort Simulator Demo

Ski-Region-Simulator-ManualA demonstration for Windows PC in English or German can be obtained at Change the screen resolution and quality on the options screen… And if you have an Xbox 360 Controller for Windows or a PS3 Gamepad for Windows setup, you can mark the box to enable Controller use and save that setup.

The demo version does not allow purchases of other resources, equipment or buildings, or the game state to be saved, but lets you try things out.

Screenshots can be saved in Windows with the PrtScn (PrintScreen) key and they are placed in C:\Users\<username>\Documents\My Games\SkiRegionSimulator2012Demo\screenshots. To tidy up screenshots, the F1 key can be used to remove the HUD/User Interface box in the top left corner which shows vehicle attachment options.

The demonstration starts you off with one ski run and a Pisten Bully 100 plus snow plough and grooming attachment.

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Ski Resort Simulator – Pisten Bully Fleet

Once you have enough income and resources, you can obtain the whole range of Pisten Bullies.. Models 100, 400 and 600 with and without winches.


Ski Resort Simulator 2012 Operations Guide


Night Operations

The ski regions can continue to operate at night and by floodlight. Piste grooming often takes place at night with powerful headlights and operational lights forward and rearwards on the Pisten Bullies.

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Ski Resort Simulator can be played with several other players all cooperating to run and maintain the ski region. The “T” key is used to enter text chat mode to chat with others in multi-player mode and “L” allows for money transfers between players.

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Ski Resort Simulator Mods – Addons

Mods providing new terrain (maps) can be used by selecting the name of the map when starting a new game. They may also need add-on vehicles, like the “Prinorth Beast” piste groomer. For that vehicle the Pisten Bully 600 snow plough and piste groomer can be used.



Mods for added vehicles and tools can be purchased by going to the equipment store, and using the right arrow to move trough “Vehicles”, “Tools”, “Trailers” and then “Mods” where all installed mods available for purchase will show up.  Once purchased the mods are available in or around the store and can be entered or “worn” as usual with the “E” key when you are close by the item.


Although Ski Resort Simulator is not really a skiing simulator, the mod community has provided add-ons to allow the purchase of a skier with skis at the store. Once bought the skier appears outside the store and can be used by moving close to the skier and pressing “E” as usual and then using the usual movement controls.

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Kässbohrer Pisten Bully Diecasts and Models

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OpenSimWorld – Listing of Hypergrid Accessible Virtual Worlds

OpenSimWorld provides a graphical listing of Hypergrid accessible OpenSim-based virtual worlds. It works by linking a web site and an in world beacon. An OpenSim grid/region owner can set up a listing on the web site and get a “key” code to put into a scripted in world beacon object which reports from the OpenSim region on whether it is online and the number of avatars in the region. The Beacon can be obtained as an OpenSim Inventory Archive (IAR) via the web site at or in world on the OpenSimWorld Grid (hop://

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Use of OpenSimWorld HUD

An OpenSimWorld HUD is provided which an avatar can attach to allow for HyperGrid travel to listed destinations.


OpenSim hop:// Protocol Supported

OpenSimWorld-Hypergrid-ButtonsWhen a listing is brought up on the OpenSimWorld web site, the Hypergrid address for the grid/region is shown and a set of buttons provided to allow for teleport. This includes providing a button for the hop:// style protocol intended to provide an OpenSim alternative to using the secondlife:// protocol and which is supported within the Firestorm, Kokua and other OpenSim compatible viewers.

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Kitely Market

Kitely Market is a web-based on-line store to distribute virtual items for use in on-line virtual worlds such as OpenSim and newly emerging worlds which can take a range of 3D models and virtual goods.

See this YouTube video for the features of the market place…

Kitely Market YouTube Video

Example Store

I set up an online store to test the facility, listing AIAI T-Shirts and AI Planning MOOC (AIPLAN) T-Shirts with shirt and undershirt layer variants for each. These are already available on the Second Life Marketplace for delivery into Second Life. The store front can be accessed via:


Sample product listings showing the variants can be accessed, e.g., via:

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Kitely Market Vendor View

Items are added to the Kitely Market via the inventory of a Kitely Avatar… which is freely available. Note that premium paid Kitely membership is available to give avatars more flexibility in the areas they can visit. Items can be created in Kitely, or transferred from OpenSim and Second Life (if you are the creator/owner of all the contents) via Stored Inventory/Second Inventory or the Singularity Viewer’s content save/load facility. More information on transferring content from Second Life to OpenSim/Kitely is given here. More information on the Kitely Market and how it works is available here.

The listing page to edit the product details is shown in this sample screenshot…


The vendor can attach a PayPal account to the store if they wish to receive payment in US$ as it comes in. If this is not given then after a period of 90 days any US$ balances are converted to Kitely Credits (KC) for use in the Kitely OpenSim-based virtual world.

The minimum listing price for an item is US$1… a US$0 (free) price cannot be set. The minimum price us 10KC (Kitely Credits) or US$1 (300KC). But it is possible to offer free demonstration versions of products, so that is also a way that a free product can be offered.


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Mesh Heads and Bodies in Second Life

Mesh heads and bodies have become more common place in Second Life.. especially as the technology to allow for them to be adjusted by the usual appearance user interface and sliders, and to allow clothing to conform to the underlying shapes is now in place. I have been asked for my opinion on them for professional uses, where you might use a realistic 3D model of your own appearance, e.g. in a classroom or collaborative meeting context.

Ai-Austin-VW-300x300I have stuck with a single identifiable avatar appearance for my professional uses which has not changed in the last 7 years… though it renders better with more recent visual appearance technology in Second Life and OpenSim using good graphics cards, lighting and shadows. It is not based on my own real appearance.

Here are a few observations on the current status of mesh heads and bodies in Second Life.

  1. I have tried a couple of the 3D model head creation tools over the years… they usually take multiple static images and build a model and you can help the process along by identifying points like tip of nose, bottom of ear, edges of mouth, and eyes, etc. I did a couple quite carefully. All came out looking lime the bad guy in “Grand Theft Auto” and were unusable.
  2. I have seen some really well produced professional 3D body and mesh models used for TV presenters and those work.. but assume they costs serious money to do well and would not be suitable for the majority of uses.
  3. Early mesh bodies and heads in Second Life were effectively statically sized mesh “attachments” and you just used an alpha layer to make the bits of the normal avatar invisible. very lucky and it mean that your wardrobe was useless.. and clothing was tied to specific (often proprietary) mesh bodies and heads. Even hair fitting became a mess.
  4. I have tried the new adaptable and conformable mesh heads and bodies (usually the demos as they can be quite expensive), along with confirmable mesh clothing bought in Second Life to see how they are developing. Most people who now use these new rigged and adaptable mesh bodies and mesh clothing that obeys the appearance sliders But they all have a LOT of usability issues. Head fit to body fit is often clunky and poor and needs “appliers” to retexture, which depends on clothing and skin designers in Second Life providing those for the growing number of mesh related body and head sets. They don’t (yet) easily animate as well as the standard head and require HUDs with animation and expression features. Not easy to use or natural. More for those wanting to take ages to set things up for images or machinima I would say that professional uses for collaborative meetings.

Some offerings related to Mesh Heads and Bodies in Second Life include:

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Coursera AI Planning MOOC 2015 – Virtual World Meeting 27-Jan-2015

The third meeting of the 2015 AI Planning MOOC group session took place in Second Life on Tuesday 27th January 2015 at 7pm UT/GMT.

Posted in Distance Education, MOOC, Second Life | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Streaming Second Life via Steam Broadcasting


Steam has a broadcast feature that lets others watch you play a Steam game or run a Steam launched application. This can be used to broadcast Second Life activity. You add your choice of Second Life viewer to your Steam games then others can watch. This works with all Second Life and OpenSim clients. The chosen viewer can be added under your Library of Games by selecting “Add Non-Steam Game”.

You can access the broadcast settings via the Steam main menu bar: View > Settings > Broadcast. It is possible to select whether you do not wish to broadcast at all, allow only friends to request to see your broadcast, allow friends to see the broadcast without a specific request, or allow the broadcast to be visible to anyone via Steam. The “Record my microphone” needs to be enabled to include the broadcaster’s own in world (Vivox) input. More details here… Steam Broadcasting Documentation


Live Stream Broadcast URL for

Shift+Tab keys toggle into and out of the Steam overlay to see chat and accept or reject requests to view when the mode is selected to allow friends to request to watch. Here is an example screen with the Stream overlay on the Second Life Viewer with a friend request incoming…


The person viewing the broadcast does not need to have the Steam client installed, it can work it a browser. Requests can be made from a friend while logged into steam in a browser via


Testing the Setup – Single Second Life Viewer to Single Internet Explorer Watcher

2015-01-25-SL-into-Steam-Broadcast-BandwidthTests were conducted on a 50mbps home broadband cable connection with Second Life running at approx. 25fps according to the in viewer statistics. Steam Broadcast was set to allow friends to request to watch, 1280×720 (720p) format, and allowing for 2500kbps max broadcast bandwidth, the Second Life Viewer showed that it was broadcasting using approx. 2000kpbs and achieving a steady frame rate of 29/30fps.

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The watcher was on a Microsoft Surface under Windows 8.1 using Internet Explorer 11 and saw the 720p broadcast very smoothly, subjectively as smooth as it appeared in the main Second Life viewer. There was approximately a 7 or 8 second delay from action on the Second Life Viewer and it being seen by the watcher, which is better than we previously achieved using an Apple Mac Media Server Quicktime Steaming Service (QTSS) Broadcaster where delays of 10 to 15 seconds between broadcast and receiver are typical.


The Steam overlay can be brought up or dismissed while in the Second Life Viewer using shift+tab as shown in this image..


When the Steam overlay is not showing over the Second Life Viewer, incoming chat can be shown overlaid onto the viewer screen… in this case I have selected “top left” as the location where incoming Steam chat will pop up briefly.. as shown in this image…


Testing the Setup – Multiple Systems on Fast Network

Tests were also conducted on a fast University network. Tests were made on the same region, with the same windows size and visual quality parameters, and the camera facing the same direction…

  • Second Life running alone without being launched via Steam was achieving approx. 62fps.
  • Second Life launched via Steam was achieving approx. 59fps.
  • Second Life launched via Steam with a watcher was achieving approx. 55fps.

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The Second Life Viewer showed that it was broadcasting using approx. 2300kpbs and achieving a steady frame rate of 29/30fps. The watcher was on a desktop PC under Windows 8.1 using Internet Explorer 11 and seeing 1280×720 (720p) video that looked smooth after a delay of approx. 8 seconds.


Broadcaster running at 55fps, sending at 29fps and Watcher seeing 720p



Media, Sound and Voice

User interface sounds (such as mouse clicks), environmental sounds in world (such as wind, water and other ambient sounds, media playback such as via media screens, videos, etc. all worked fine.

To hear the broadcaster’s in world (Vivox) voice, the Steam settings for broadcast need to have the “Record my microphone ticked and the appropriate microphone selected, otherwise this is suppressed. In world (Vivox) voice from avatars OTHER than the broadcaster is heard in the watcher view. The green bars over the avatar head indicating sound is being broadcast can be seen, but no voice is heard.


Custom Image for Second Life Viewer

Second-Life-Viewer-Custom-Image-for-Steam-2-460x215A custom image can be set to display for the Steam Control Panel view, using a 460×215 sized JPEF, PNG or TGA image… a couple of samples are given here based on the Second Life home page.
Second-Life-Viewer-Custom-Image-for-Steam-460x215Set the Custom Image via a right mouse click on the entry for the added viewer in the Library > Games screen.


Feedback to Steam

The Steam developers asked for feedback during the Beta test period for the broadcast feature… here were my first impressions…

  1. The chat window to talk between broadcaster and watchers needs to be able to be “broken out” of the window frame of the game itself.. and available without bringing up the full Steam overlay, so it can be placed alongside the game play to keep an eye on what is being said and to be able to respond. At present the single line showing briefly that incoming chat is available is not enough to maintain this contact with watchers.
  2. The LIVE button and red dot along with the frame rate being achieved (if you select that to show) is useful, But if that could be an active control to turn on, off and pause the broadcast it would be more helpful than having to use the Steam overlap or be unsure if you are broadcasting.
  3. I found a bit of confusion over the “game” chat and the friends chat… and found the watcher was chatting in the friends chat tool rather than the one the broadcaster was looking at as game chat.
  4. There was confusion over the online/offline status of the watcher when they were using a normal browser to watch the broadcast, but was logged in via that. It would be more helpful if logged in users on the web showed as online rather than offline.
  5. The broadcaster can watch their own broadcast via a windows.. this is also limited to be within the frame or window of the game.. it would be more useful if it could be broken out and also shown without the full steam overlay being brought up, which disrupts game plan to do so.
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Disney’s Futureland in Second Life

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The Second Life Destination Guide shows interesting or seasonal regions and sites that are worth exploring. In January 2015 the guide included the “Discovery Mark II (Theme Park)” build on a quarter (128m X 128m) of the Meadowlea Isle region. This includes a nice build by “Mr.Broccoli” (Xadllas Bing) which has a plaza like the World of Tomorrow/Futureland Plaza and attractions at Disneyland, including Space Mountain, AstroRobiter, the PeopleMover, etc.

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High Fidelity Public Tests – Place Directory

High Fidelity’s virtual world has been in closed alpha test to invited individuals since May 2014, but occasionally some parts are made public. One is the introduction of a publicly accessible directory of “Places”… part of the commercial model for High Fidelity. Place names can be reserved for US$20 per name per annum. The directory as it appears on 16th January 2015… containing mostly the domain and place names that have been used by High Fidelity alpha testers looks like this…


Discussion about the High Fidelity developments has been in a closed “Alphas” forum since May 204 and blogging publicly, except to repost public statements by High Fidelity Inc. themselves has been discouraged. I have been making private posts throughout the alpha testing period, with the aim of making them publicly visible as a record of the work when that is approved by High Fidelity.

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