Wednesday Jan 07, 2009

3D Worlds, Sun steps up to the plate

Sun has some 3D acceleration software designed to optimise the performance of 3D Worlds, called the Sun Visualization System . This was pointed out to me by Constatin Gonzalez, who has written about it on his blog, "Making 3d work over vnc", and thought I'd be interested due to my articles on VNC and remotely accessing more business oriented 3d Worlds. He pointed this out to me after reading with my experiments with VNC Lite, which he has also played with. The Sun software runs on Linux and Solaris, so its no good for Neverwinter Nights, and I can't imagine it'd work inside a Virtual Box.

Anyway I have enough Virtual Box experiments at the moment without adding to them, so I doubt that I'll be trying this.

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Monday Dec 29, 2008

More VNC Lite

I showed you VNC lite accessing Neverwinter Nights the other day. I finally got project wonderland working on one of my PCs, so here's a picture of VNC Lite accessing my project wonderland instance

project wonderland via vnc lite

and here's one of me accessing Second Life

secondlife via vnc lite

I should point out that MochaSoft, VNC Lite's authors don't recommend these use cases. :)

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Monday Oct 06, 2008

Beyond con-calls

I have been looking at ways of making virtual meetings easier, more effective and fun. As part of that I have looked again at secondlife, and one of my new correspondents pointed me at "The future is virtually here". This, despite being published last August, and while containing two fun stories about EVE Online, tries too hard in my mind to use language which proves the author's Yoof credentials. Also quoting IBM and World of Warcraft as the exemplar's of using virtual worlds is to my mind lazy. Many companies use secondlife as a virtual store front, although I admit that IBM's virtual data centre, (see also my blog report on the IBM virtual data center) is a quite a cute toy, but a number of people are on the trail of WoW, and its monthly subscription is high for school students.

The killer app. for virtual worlds seems to be training. Sun has just launched its "Solaris Campus" on secondlife, but its the truly compelling case for virtual training is where the where real life exercises are either very expensive or very dangerous, such as the US Marines' use of Doom, and its growing use in urban disaster relief planning. Its certainly dangerous training soldiers realistically. I have argued before that game fan forums helped develop remote collaboration techniques and the games world is now offering a lot to the infrastructure providers. Besides Sun 's very own Project Wonderland, it would be worth checking up on Torque, a science toolkit, & maybe Gaia Online, one of the virtual worlds. (Now in my feed, tagged virtualworlds). Another interesting arrival is Runescape, a british FRPG written in Java, with a free to play subscription option. The science engines are important as they potentially enable the extension of virtual worlds beyond social collaboration into prototyping problems for real world designers.

One interesting aspect about the juvenilsation of games is that actually it also seems to be true the 16-20's aren't there; they're busy 'Getting a First Life', however it could be an indicator that Dave's theory of Youthful Conservativism is true. Today's 16-20 year olds adopted their technologies before the virtual worlds came out, and they see no reason to use the virtual worlds because its too new, and offers them little beyond messaging. Another inhibitor for this age group is that these worlds don't have phone hosted clients yet. (Although iphone has a secondlife client.)

I know there is a lot of knocking copy about Second Life in particular, but con-calls often don't work any more, and training is a different application to e-commerce. Perhaps its only the virtual shopkeepers who are unhappy.

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Friday May 23, 2008

Outside the Box

I have just finished writing up my last two weeks work, and thought you might enjoy this video showing what might happen if a virtual world knew where you were looking.



It is called "Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote", I have bookmarked it on and here in my bookmarks section.


Tuesday Dec 11, 2007

And in Italy?

Mr Paolo Donzelli, of the Italian Department for Technical Innovation, presented on the italian government's policies in sustaining and nurturing innovation, and IT innovation in particular. (The slides for this and all other presentations I'm commenting on should be available on the NESSI web site). A fascinating study, which explained their strategy and the analysis that led to it, making a distinction between digital enablement, encouraging usability and adoption, reducing the digital divide and straight forward training.

They have and are looked very hard at healthcare systems and incubated a web or distributed computing approach as opposed to a messaging solution. Possibly more red shift than blue shift.

Their approach in the education sector is less advanced; they have a cost problem on the desk top. I should find someone to give them a call.

I found it interesting that their showcase industry approach is textiles which they see as very important to the italian economy. It reminds me however about the case study based on a Spain to New York fashion house that has a design to ERP solution and can offer haute couture for several days at a time, with both industry leading time to market (days) when they're innovating their market, and best of class rapid response when they've been out flanked. It seems that high fashion is a true time to market industry and thus IT can obviously help.

Paolo made some comments about the suitability of 3D computing and hence virtual worlds as design aids in the textile industry scenario. As you can see from my previous blog articles, "Driving Change on the Internet" (see below) and "How real is Virtuality?", I am very cautious about the utility of virtual worlds and particularly second life, but placing the problem domain in a world of 3 dimensions, such as fashion, or even engineering design may give it a relevance I haven't recognised. It doesn't solve the problem examined on this blog in the latter article, that to program in a virtual world, you need to understand the virtual world's physics. The bulk of programming theory since Djikstra has involved understanding the real world problem and modeling it, or creating languages in which the real world can be described, this approach can't be taken in second life. Building a wind tunnel in Second Life would be very difficult and almost certainly more costly than simulating it using other tools. (No doubt, someone has done it and will prove me wrong.) Whether this is a fundamental feature of virtual worlds, I don't know.


Thursday Oct 26, 2006

The shady border between the virtual and the real

Chris Melissinos takes issue with Ashlee Vance of the Register about the utility of Second Life, on his blog last week (I can be a bit slow). He quotes a number of organisations using the virtual world of "Second Life" to offer virtual services, including Universities and it seems Reuters. I expect the financial services companies will be in on it soon. To me its a shame; West Nottingham College implemented courseware in the Neverwinter Nights game engine, which may have been more fun; it probably depends upon what your studying. WNC believes its an excellent learning/teaching vehicle, so perhaps this'll take off.

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Thursday Jun 01, 2006

The Technology behind Virtual Worlds

I popped in to see Jeff Kesselman (who blogs here...) & Seth Proctor (blogs {occassionally here...) at their Project Darkstar demo. There's no question but that Project Darkstar demos always make an impact. Project Darkstar is a java based server platfrom designed for writing massively scalable games. We're seeking to offer our unique technology platform for applications developers a proposition to games authors and hosts. You can see their sites; a project dashboard or a Sun Labs spotlight article or their project page at I didn't and havn't spent the time getting to know the project, the queues are usually so long, but as Telco's move from "triple play" to "quad-play", it'd be good to learn more.

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