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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Video Vocab, Looma, and a new virtual world

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I have recently learned about a small non-profit that is working to deliver ICT support to rural educators in Nepal.

Looma lady 1
Nepali educators learning about the Looma.

That’s right, Information & Communication Technology in the villages and classrooms of the Himalayas.

VillageTech Solutions have designed Looma, a standalone audio-visual device that

  • is self-powered (solar-rechargeable batter)
  • is operated with a wireless “wand”
  • has a built-in audio system
  • comes loaded with CC-Licensed content (games, videos, songs, etc.)

The device projects the “desktop” onto a wall and comes with a hand-held mouse (the “wand”) to navigate. The prototype has been field tested and now they are looking for volunteers to help search for—and evaluate—content that can be loaded into the drive. (Most classrooms in rural Nepal have no electricity, much less an Internet connection.)

I would write a bit more; but, I am up to my elbows producing some educational content…gotta go. Holler at “azwaldo” at gmail dot com, anytime.

OpenSimulator Developers…you are ROCKING my world!

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image showing list of usernames for opensimulator bug tracking "assignees"

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

My first steps into OpenSimulator testing and bug reporting have left me with sincere appreciation for the developers available for bug “assignment” (see image). There is much to learn, including the developers who are contributing but just don’t jump out of the drop-down list-ed here.

/me doffs his cap.

Written by azwaldo

July 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm

newest project takes space today

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Given how much time I spend building and scripting in virtual worlds, I also spend a considerable amount thinking ’bout where this technology is going. I do not intend to indulge that obscure topic here, today. Instead, I want to mention the finely wrought underpinnings—the granularity, if you will—of what lies behind and beneath this virtual platform which has become a thoroughly engaging activity, by way of announcing a new project.

What is a virtual world? Ultimately it exists as the particular electromagnetic configuration assigned to a few gadjillion magnetic grains arranged in the surface material coating a small space of a magnetic drive.

diagram depicting cross-section of magnetic material in hard disk drives
Precisely arranged magnetic grains define the distinct magnetic regions in the surface materials of hard disks. The grains separate one magnetic zone from the others.
(Click image to open Wikipedia entry for Hard Disk Drive)
TransitionNeel image courtesy of Wikipedia

Whatever surface area on a hard disk drive platter that is needed to store what I have sketched with my “build tools”, whatever incredibly large number of magnetic grains it takes to store the binary code for the (up to) 15,000 prims, scripts, sounds and assorted textures that will make up the new virtual world region that I will “buy” today for Zero Lindens (talk about virtual); not to mention the larger patch of cobalt-based hard disk drive alloy needed to house the simulator, the incredible software engine served up and driven by design; whatever puny patch of ‘puter platter percolates with my particular predilections for prims; that can all soon be linked and located, fetched and transmitted, parsed, interpreted and rendered finally as a newly crafted, interactive, educationally motivated virtual space, one by which other netizens and reZidents might also be engaged.

In short, I am told that the “purchase” of an entire SecondLife™ region will occur today. This new project will reside in a full “sim” (or simulator); it will occupy an entire server. It seems appropriate, then, to give this project its own page in this blog…yep, there it is in the NavBar: “The Virtual Cell”.

I have been logging time for over half of a century. Hard disk drive technology is older than me. Still, considering what we are already doing this technology, imagining might come next takes a lot of my magnetic grains, too.

NWS_VC_003Avatar looks to the horizon from within a virtual cell mega-model.

Written by azwaldo

August 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

news from augmented world expo

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Quick post to drop breadcrumbs…

And the 2013 tech field nominated as most likely to achieve light speed: Augmented Reality (AR).

Curious about the state of the ARt? You might watch Bruce Sterling’s short (~9min) keynote at the Augmented World Expo (earlier this month), here:

…or the 23-minute keynote address (YouTube) by Tomi Ahonen (“Nokia executive and author…known for his TEDx talk [describing] augmented reality as the 8th mass medium”).

If you are not familiar with what is happening in AR, just have a scroll down the event’s awards page, where you are likely to find something of interest…

Why awards? The goal of the competition is to promote excellence in Augmented Reality in various platforms and categories.”

Then, if still unsure where this is headed, imagine doing things like this:

  
…while wearing Google Glass-es.

Google Glass Prototype
Google Glass Prototype (Image by Ars Electronica, on Flickr)

  
Maybe then I’ll finally get to juggling fives…

Written by azwaldo

June 24, 2013 at 10:59 pm

serious design

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While listening to tech-prophet Bruce Sterling’s recent rant my mind ran to virtual world design. There is no doubt. I am fully immersed, again. To digress…

If you dig tech, but are unfamiliar with his writing and reporting, you would probably still enjoy Bruce Sterling‘s closing remarks at this year’s SXSW conference and festival.

Plug in here.

Apparently, at the same conference, Google gave a glimpse in their vision by sharing four key design principles for Google Glass.

  1. “design for Glass”
  2. “don’t get in the way”
  3. “keep it timely”
  4. “avoid the unexpected”

Sterling then described what an evil Google Glass would look like…

You just take the four Glass design principles and you reverse them. You use software that was not designed for glass; buggy, abusive software; stuff that breaks up, or jams, or just fails to display.

You grab fiercely for attention.

You disrupt the user’s day.

You send the user stale, useless information.

You do freaky coding that breaks, or hacks—or powns—the device.

This is when I drifted off. Pause audio, make note, start a list; then, back to Bruce…

He continued, within days of Google’s announcement to close down Google Reader, speaking of how technology consumes itself.

Yes we killed the past. We didn’t pull the trigger on it directly; but, it died for our benefit.

Yes we burned it up. No one is historically innocent.

Yes we are carnivores at this barbecue. The saving grace here is that we eat what we kill.
Go on, eat it. Don’t pretend…live up to it…to kill and eat it is fierce, but honorable.

His closing primed me to proceed with prejudice.

How can we get past the wow factor? How can really inquire with this, how can we treat it with moral seriousness? The first step is to accept that our hands are not clean. We don’t just play and experiment. We kill.

So, now, I ask you: “What are the design principles delivering the best VW designs?”

Written by azwaldo

March 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Reality Augmented

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As an undergraduate student I learned that things stick in my mind if I just write them out. Let’s see if that happens this time.

Yesterday, while chatting with a new acquaintance, I found myself shading the truth once again; not quite lying, just not letting the whole light shine…so to speak. Using words like ‘graphics’ and ‘animation’, alluding to interactive design and educational content, I danced around my deep interest in virtual worlds. I reckon I’ve heard the oh!-you-play-video-games sort of response too often.

That should stop, here and now.

Anyone familiar enough with virtual worlds knows how the interface and technology seem to augment our reality. My social interaction, perspective, my imagination and creativity; all of these have evolved along with my experience in virtual reality. But, there is much more to it…

If you are a SecondLife™ user, just have a look at this video (~ 2½ min.) and tell me if you do not find something familiar.


SpaceTop, CHI 2013 (PREVIEW) from Jinha Lee on Vimeo.

How will shaping and animating digital objects inform our walk through the physical world? Just sign up, and follow your imagination.

Our host in this next video (~3½ min.) asks…

How do I get this information, which is 2-D…into the operating theater?

Hang on ’til—or jump to—around 2:20 in the video to see reality augmented, and tell me he is not showing us a truly virtual world…

Where technology improves our ability to visualize problems and find solutions, how can we dismiss the value in “playing” such games?

Written by azwaldo

March 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Pixieviewer – New Browser Based Virtual World Viewer

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Update:
screenshot: browser aimed at PixieViewer website with result being "Access denied."
Screenshot: browser aimed at PixieViewer (July ’14)

Registered and logged in to Pixievieweranother virtual world—today; but, this time it felt different.

screenshot of Pixieviewer web page with hyperlink that opens virtual world viewer in the browser

Hyperlink to a virtual world, courtesy of Thomas at Pixieviewer

See that familiar blue hypertext in the middle of this screenshot? This time, when I stepped into the metaverse, it happened from within my Google Chrome browser.

Pixieviewer is a browser based viewer for virtual 3D environments.

It is designed to run on any device (including tablets and mobile phones) which supports modern HTML5 capable browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari and others.

(from the website)

This seemed significant; it felt like a virtual world, not just a world rendered in a browser…and we need browser based access to VWs if the platform is to expand its niche.

screenshot of avatar in virtual world standing on top of cube

Pixieviewer virtual world avatar atop custom widget.
(Click to view full size.)

Pixieviewer creator Sunny Salamander describes the technology behind Pixieviewer at his website, and explains:

One of my goals in virtual worlds is to lower the hurdles that come along with the new technology and make it easier to use.

Will I be able to point Pixieviewer toward my own OpenSimulator region? Does this relieve the casual user from the complexity of standard viewer interfaces?

I clicked on a link in a webpage and a moment later watched as a new world revealed itself. No downloads, no waiting; no worry about installing software from an unknown vendor.

I think the metaverse just got a little bit bigger.

Well done, Thomas.

Written by azwaldo

March 10, 2013 at 1:03 am