Zonja Capalini

SL vs. WebEx: The myth of Second Life as a platform for education [Update 2]

Surprisingly, Opensim fares quite better than SL in that respect

[See the list of updates at the end of the article]

Introduction

A Google Buzz by Mo Hax alerted me of the existence of an article in PC Pro containing yet another interview to M Linden. M explains there that SL is being used for “meetings”, as a “virtual collaboration tool”, and that it provides “incredible savings”. This is not new. If you google for “Second Life Education”, the second hit leads you to “How Education Enterprises Use Virtual Worlds“, a page by LL detailing how great is SL for educators. Similarly, the Second Life Blogs are full of references to SL as a tool for educators. For example, in a one year old article, As Seen on CNBC: New IBM Case Study Showcases Value of Meeting Inworld, Amanda Linden compares Second Life to Webex and says that Second Life “creates a [more] immersive experience”.

Does really “immersion” provide an advantage for online meetings? Is “immersion” something that can be asked of somebody, a student or an employee, for example? What is the cost of being able to offer “immersion”, and how does it relate to the supposed benefits? Are Second Life/Opensim and other tools, like Webex, comparable? If yes, how do Second Life and Opensim fare when compared to them?

In this post I will try to address these questions. To do so, I will use two strategies: on the one hand, I will make a product comparison between SL, Opensim and Webex, comparing features, price, quality of technical support, etc: on the other hand, I will resort to my own experience: I have been working for companies that have used Second Life and Opensim for education and meetings for more than two years, and I’ll share some of the things I have observed. Continue reading

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February 21, 2010 Posted by | OpenSim, Product Comparison, Second Life, WebEx | , , , | 55 Comments

Potential RL-identity exploit with Avatars United [UPDATED]

[UPDATEMSo Lambert has posted a clarification in Snickers‘ and Peter‘s posts that indicate there is no risk of emails being exposed.]

I’m reproducing below in its entirety a post by Peter Stindberg. I’ve seen many people from Opensim grids, specially from OSGrid, in Avatars United. Peter’s post identified a potential security breach in Avatars United by which a malicious application could harvest avatar-email associations. Apart from the exposure to spam, this can lead to disclosure of RL details for those who are using RL email addresses in association with their avatars.

[Start of Peter’s post]

For those of you using their RL-email for their SL-avatar, using the default settings of Avatars United might pose a risk of unintentional exposing the address!

Snickers Snook posted an insightful article about “Spam via Avatars United“, where she explained that since joining AU she receives significantly more spam on her supposedly undisclosed email address. She dug a bit into the settings and found that the default is that even non-installed AU-widgets can access certain data and send emails.

While Snickers primarily saw the spam problem, my friend Zonja Capalini pointed out that while being spammed is a nuisance, the bigger threat lies in the unsolicited disclosure of a potential RL email address and thus disclosure of the RL identity.

So if this concerns you, do two things:

  1. Read Snickers article and adjust your Avatars United settings
  2. Go and finally get a GMail/Yahoo/Hotmail/whatever address for your avatar

[End of Peter’s post]

February 16, 2010 Posted by | OpenSim, Security | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hispagrid cumple un año

Como explica muy bien Albert en su blog. Para mí es una suerte y un privilegio cooperar con estos compañeros fantásticos via internet, y, de cuando en cuando, en persona. Del post de Albert lo suscribo todo, o sea que no repetiré lo mismo aquí — sólo hay una cosa que me ha dejado pensando.

0583 - Striped kini

Realmente son bikinis para perder la cabeza...

Dice Albert “Zonja Capalini, que combina sus bikinis diminutos pero tiene la cabeza realmente bien amueblada”. Las negritas son mías. El DRAE define “pero” como una “conjunción adversativa usada para contraponer un concepto a otro diverso o ampliativo del anterior”. Entonces, ¿bikinis diminutos “pero” cabeza bien amueblada? ¿Qué querrá decir? Lo de la cabeza bien amueblada se lo agradezco de corazón, pero la verdad, no creo que me vuelva más tonta cuando me pongo un bikini… ;-)

Enlace: Hispagrid.

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Hispagrid | | 2 Comments

Splitting Megaregions

One of the most interesting developments in Opensim lately have been megaregions. Megaregions are non-standard “big” regions created by combining several standard, 256×256 meters regions. For example, you can combine four standard regions in a square to get a megaregion of 512×512 m. Megaregions are very convenient because of several reasons: for example the usual lag in region crossings disappears completely (since you are in the “same” region), and the same is true of vehicles. On the other hand, megaregion support is still experimental, and a number of things that work in normal regions don’t work or work only partially in megaregions. For example, you cannot define parcels outside of the SW region (this is due to the way parcel maps work), and therefore you can’t have independent music streams (for example) when x > 256 or y > 256.

Diva Canto’s distribution of Opensim directly supports megaregions. You can also migrate an existing non-megaregion installation to a megaregion configuration, if you follow certain precautions. Migrating from a megaregion configuration to a non-megaregion configuration is also possible — you change the setting that implements megaregions, “CombineContiguousRegions” to false, and it works as expected.

OAR support for megaregions is partial: since technically all the objects in the megaregion are stored in the SW region, when you take an OAR of the SW region you get all the objects of the megaregion but only the terrain for that same region — this means that you cannot fully rebuild a megaregion from an OAR, which is a pity (you will be missing the terrain files for all regions except the SW one).

Splitting megaregions

In this post I’ll describe some experiments I made with an OAR manipulation tool I developped following a suggestion of Stefan Andersson. The tool takes as its input a megaregion OAR and splits it into several non-megaregion OARs, creating one OAR for each region that constitutes the megaregion and has objects in it. This is so because megaregions may have holes, and when a possible region does not have objects there’s simply no information in the megaregion OAR about whether a it’s a region with no objects (for example, a sea-only region) or a hole in the megaregion.

Continue reading

February 13, 2010 Posted by | OpenSim, Tech News, ZOE | , , , | 10 Comments