Outbound communications from Second Life

I finally got to try the llhttprequest, it was in a 10 minute gap in the day, when my daughter who is 3 today decided she only wanted to play with Grandad.

Anyway, I did not intend to do things ‘properly’ but I did want to see if the new outbound http would let me add function to what I had already. Extend rather than port the XML-RPC inbound code I already had.

The existing “legacy” or “chesished” second life objects were 4 different instances of objects with my weatherrss script in them. Just to explain the objects in second life can and could open a channel making them available to be talked to from outside of second life. The outbound mechanism was only email.

Anyway this led me to create these objects, and cut and paste their unique ids into a piece of externally hosted PH. This PHP did a call to a well known weather service and then sent it into SL to the set of unique ids I had added to it. One click 4 objects get updated

The problem was triggering this, getting second life to send an email as a way to ask for a refresh was not great. I had a webpage with various URLs that were precanned calls to my PHP with various country location parameters.

Anyway the new 1.10 Second Life let me put a call in an object in an llhttprequest. So I simply got an object to use the same URLs as in the original webpage.

I now have an object in SL that can take user input and as my PHP to update all the various weather instances I have.

Obviously there are better 2 way mechanisms, like why bother using the XML-RPC at all, but this one liner let me exploit what I had and gain massive extra function.

It would now be very easy to create a map or globe with hotspots. Trigger external events by avatar presence and sensor events etc. All very useful.

A flexible world

Tonight Second Life had a major upgrade. There are all sorts of nice things, but it is not very often we get a point release of a piece of software and all the users go WOW! Thats an exclamation not World Of Warcraft.

Because second life is as much a development tool as a place to hang out and try things, getting a new tab and set of properties for objects, or new functions in the code becomes instantly interesting.

One of the main things under the covers is a new httprequest function to let objects talk to the rest of the (www)orld. I was a bit short of time tonight and attracted by something much more shiny and engaging though. Flexible textures and primitives.

Everything in SL used to be flat, or made of lots of prims to make surfaces. Well now we have a whole new bit of physics to make wavy textures. I instantly turned my rock solid St. George England flag into a nice wavy flag, and then resized it to a nice england cape.

Things like this really inject a whole new set of ideas, and a chance to revamp some things.

wavy england flags

HTX Event: Techconnect

As a part of the week-long Hursley Technical Exchange, today saw the Techconnect event take place. This is an opportunity for people from across the whole lab to produce and present a set of posters on a particular piece of innovation they have been involved with.

I spent a couple of hours this lunchtime stood in the main hall of Hursley House presenting my poster on the “Scripting Tools for SAN Volume Controller” (gratuitous plug).

It was great to be able to talk to people from many areas of the lab that I wouldn’t have normal reason to speak with. It was also very interesting to see what else is going on within the lab at a very low level.

This type of internal promotion of innovation and idea sharing is a great example of how IBM engenders a culture of innovation and thought-leading with our customers – we have to be innovative inside, to be innovative outside.

Games within games: Tringo in Second Life

As we all know by now, Second Life is less of a game and more of a virtual world with its own economy. Of course, inhabitants in a virtual world need virtual pastimes. A quick scan of today’s advertised events demonstrates that ‘Tringo’ and ‘Slingo’ are both more popular than ever.

Second Life events

While Slingo (imagine a slot machine merged with bingo) has long been a popular game on the internet, Tringo seems to be more specific to Second Life.

So what is it? Well, earlier today, Wired reported on the background and popularity of Tringo, which is an unlikely cross-breed of bingo and tetris. I won’t try to cover it in detail here (perhaps because I’m busy playing it in another window? I’ll let you guess) but there are plenty of excellent coverage of the game out there already. If you don’t fancy trying it in Second Life, you can always play it on the publisher’s website instead.

There are plenty of other games in Second Life besides Tringo. In fact, Linden Labs hosts an annual contest to develop compelling in-game games. (2005 winners, 2006 winners).

It will take some time before any of them overtake the *ingo games for raw popularity in Second Life though. As a sign of its success, and another excellent example of a real world crossover, I notice that Tringo has become a GameBoy Advance title too.

H T the X

This week the Hursley Technical Exchange (HTX) is running on site. Hursley runs a lot of external events for customers, schools and universities, but this is one for the IBMers working on site. There’s all kinds of talks and activities run by IBM people and also external speakers, such as Simon Singh, Robert Llewellyn and the people behind Hawkeye. It’s something similar to Google’s Tech Talk series, but all squashed into a week.

Lots of Hursley bloggers are contributing to the event. This morning Roo and I ran an innovating with Lego session, then Ian talked about Situational Apps and Richard Brown presented on WebSphere Process Server. Later in the week Roo is also giving a Web 2.0 pitch.

It looks a pretty good lineup for the week. I was somewhat disappointed to find that the Hawkeye people hadn’t set up any cricket nets in the house as I fancied having my bowling action analysed, but it was pointed out that maybe having people smash cricket balls around isn’t the best thing to do in a listed building.

Second Life 3d Printers and ARGs all in one post

At last a business is emerging to combine second life and 3d printing

A few people may have heard me harp on about 3d printers over the last couple of years, yes even before blogs 🙂

We have seen a few ideas and hacks that let you get opengl renderings out to a 3d printer. I had talked about buying one anyway and running it in my garage.

Things being what they were I ended up in investing time and money in a Second Life which has had much more impact amongst my community.

Now though, things are merging, maybe it is time to start going RL to SL and back to RL all as a service. RL drives the creation of SL space and objects, those objects can now be recreated as RL objects.

Also as the TV show Lost seems to have started creeeping its way out Alternate Reality Game style (see post on perpexcity.com) with its http://www.thehansofoundation.org/ then maybe we have three trends merging? ARG in SL and RL but requring actual physical objects to be printed in 3d

Just for completeness. The Alternate Reality Game is a specific type of media experience. Notable for its weaving of various types of technology to deliver a message or story. The ‘story’ is usually not planned in advance , but the authors watch the fans as they start up wikis and blogs and websites and adjust their path and involvement based on that activity.

Unlike a lot of marketing, it seems to be based on not having much in the way of advertising to start off with. There is a reliance on a small clue (referred to as a rabbit hole) that the writers are relying on an observant and inquisitive person to pick up on. This then acts as a seed of viral enthusiasm. With the original finders feeling a sense of one upmanship or leaders of a community. Whilst still allowing the later adopters to pick up on the whole story.

New EightBar Theme

When we first setup EightBar we didn’t spend much time on the theme. I’d quickly put something together so that we could the site live but I never really liked it. Last week I saw this picture Roo had put up on Flickr. It turned out it was actually Mrs Roo who took it, but I loved it. It seemed perfect to use as the base for the EightBar, so he’s the first version of a proper theme for our site.

Hursley Car Show

Hursley has many active clubs, catering for pretty much everyone’s interest, from model railways to yogalates (I don’t know what this is, but they have it on the OC so it must be good). I’ve never really taken that much interest in any of them, but you couldn’t help but see the Hursley Motor Club this morning, as they were running a mini car show for classic and handbuilt cars in front of the lab.

Hursley Cars

The best one has to be Emerging Tech’s, Andy, who custom built this bike from scratch. He assures us it has some unique features such as “single-sided anti-dive front suspension”. I think he was an original maker before makers even knew they existed. If you know where to find them, there’s someone, somewhere in Hursley who has done anything you can think of.

Andy\'s Bike

BBC Radio1 party in Second life

We have all just been to an excellent UK based event. BBC Radio 1 is broadcasting in Second Life.
The event is hosted in a dome, there are lots of free dances and glowsticks as people from around the world are listening to the Chart Show.

It is a bit of a watershed in that this is commsioned by the beeb. The builders are Rivers Run Red

I had a chat with Foxdie Ghia and Fizik Baskerville who were both very helpful. It seems again to add to the radio listening experience, wandering around seeing other people dancing away and chatting, without distrubing the whole media experience.

It is great that the BBC are prepared to dive into this sort of environment and the event is so far well attended by a great many experienced (far more than me Epredator Potato) SLers.

I arrived with my england flag that I threw together for the world cup. I was going to make it wave, but the party was too much fun to bother messing around in photoshop.

It certainly helps convince the doubters of the power of the metaverse, and again stops it being some geek fest.

Well done everyone 🙂

Just go to secondlife.com and use the event finder for Radio 1, its hooked into the big weekend in Dundee, but will no doubt be around for a while.

radio 1 party

radio 1 party

radio1 party

radio1 party

Web front end for Second Life ?

With the enthusiasm for Second Life going strong among our group the ideas are flying everywhere. One major area of interest is getting information from outside in and vice versa. Along this theme one idea was that of presenting Second Life in a browser, this is in someways a step backward but would allow access to Second Life to be more pervasive and accessible to the majority, dipping in to the game for a short period of time or when on the move at an internet cafe could then be possible.

I stumbled across Hive7.com this morning when reading an article by Phoenix Psaltery in the latest copy of the excellent Metaverse Messenger Second Life’s web published news paper. Hive7 is very much modelled around Second Life, placing you in an MMO setting with custom scripting and object creation, only this time its all 2D in browser and written as an AJAX application. It’s a great example of what can be done when you’re prepared to push browser technology near to its limits. Unsuprisingly Hive7 has attracted the attention of Pathfinder Linden who spent some time there creating a replica of one of Second Life’s welcome areas. There isn’t currently any link up between Hive7 and the Second Life world, but with the similarities I’m sure either the Lindens or Hive7’s team are thinking about it….