Wednesday Oct 10, 2007

How real is Virtuality?

We travelled north up the strip, and had dinner at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. It was a bit of a european thing with a bunch of brits, french and germans. This cafe has an excellent if more limited wine list and we were fortunate to have the advice of Eric Bezille and Dave Tong. Our waiter was excellent, knew what he was selling and very patient. It must be hard selling to a bunch of opinionated engineers.

We talked about a number of things, of which one was second life. If you've been following the suncec2007 technorati feed, you may know that we broadcast the general sessions into various rooms of second life and some of us have been preparing for the conference by signing up and preparing our accounts. Sun also haven experimental virtual world, about which you can find out more at Horst Thieme's blog. I don't think I spent as much time there as some of my colleagues, but the second life team had built a Vegas virtual world representing the two hotels we actually used. Now since one of these was the Paris, or is that Paris, we have a software implementation, of an imitation of a real place. Very eXtisenz! In fact, the first time it went onto the screen, Dan Berg on the stage in an imitation of Paris, met Dan Berg in Second Life, in a virtual imitation of Paris. This is odd, nearly as odd as Las Vegas. I didn't think highly of the video quality and wonder if it was due to the number of people in the 'island'.

My feeling is that the virtual worlds will take off as we develop new metaphors for problem solving. I wonder if one modelled a data centre, for instance, if you could enhance the systems management console, by for instance illustrating where jobs were using colour coded object overlays and illustrate the system utilisation. Visualising the temperature of the air and the systems would also be possible. This is a fairly poor example of what I mean in that new problem visualisation techniques are required that rely on having three dimensions (or more) and the 3D value becomes compelling. (I am not sure the above example is.) I have not yet tried to have a virtual meeting in Second Life, so I can't comment as to how effective it is in replacing the conference call, but there now a number of desktop tools that enhance the conference call, and second life conferences can't be joined if participants only have a phone, although the voice quality might be mightily enhanced by the necessity to use a laptop, connect to the internet and use voice over ip.

Mike Ramchand & Olaf Schnapauff also explored the theory that the Linden Lab scripting language didn't enable any insight into the problems being represented. One manipulates second life, and doesn't model reality, or even the virtual reality of the problem.

I am not sure I get it as a game, but if Second Life remains merely a virtual reality implementation of the real world, while it may not fail, it will not become the next big thing.

If you havn't already, see also "GetaFirstLife".


The biggest wine rack in the World

I went down to the Mandalay Bay again to visit the Aureole. This is a wine bar with a four story wine rack. The bar staff use a trapeze to retrieve the wine. It has to be seen to be believed.


The Wine Rack at the Aureole


And now, you can see it! It claims to have 69,000 wines. As you can imagine a hard copy wine menu would be a bit of weight, requiring the restaurant to employ the world's strongest man as somelier. However, they use a tablet pc as the wine list, not quite web 2.0 but cute all the same. The service was immaculate and the company at the table can be pretty fussy. I thoroughly recommend you visit this place either for a "sharp one" or for dinner.


Beyond the strip

I popped out to Henderson to visit a friend of my father, which gave me two views of Las Vegas, the suburbs and the strip from ground level. I only had my phone, which I know is pointless for pictures like this. Next time!


Tuesday Oct 02, 2007

On the way to CEC

I am in California at a pre-meeting for Sun's field premiere training event, Customer Engineering Conference, this is in Las Vegas and I shall be travelling there on Thursday. Its not the first time I've been there and I am looking forward to returning.

tags: ""




« July 2016