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

An interview by Alyne Dagger (with some final remarks)

At the end of June 2009 I was interviewed by Alyne Dagger for the online magazine Bad Girls Magazine (BG Magazine). The interview was planned around may, and I received a draft questionnaire by email at the end of June. I wrote a first working draft with my replies, and we interchanged some emails until we both were satisfied with the results. Working with Alyne was fantastically easy, and the interview, first appeared on the portuguese edition of BG Magazine, no. 19, and later in the english edition, no. 19, was very nicely presented; big thanks to Alyne for her wonderful, careful work :-) I reproduce the interview here in its entirety, with permission. Text in italics is from BG Magazine, while my replies use a normal font; image subtitles, when present, are also from BG magazine. The images are all mine; some of them where proposed by me, and some of them were chosen by the interviewer.

Most of the material covered in the interview can also be found here and here, but the presentation is different — being in an interview format, the reading is probably more agile. You’ll also find two arguments about why Second Life cannot scale; these were previously published, in a similar form, as comments on other people’s blogs.

When speaking about virtual worlds, two months are like two years in RL. That’s why I include, at the end of the post, a small section with some corrective remarks; these were not part of the original interview.

The interview

HERALD OF DIGITAL FREEDOM

Intense and passionate in every project she’s got herself involved, ZONJA CAPALINI was a mix between muse and investor of the Metaverse when the Openspaces crisis blew up in 2008.

Revolted, she’s began to try to revert the price policy through mobilization and protest, but seeing doesn’t worry with the investors and residents like her, she went to the fight and had searched for solutions for her business in other metaverses, before to begin her own grid, using the Opensim as a tool.

She tells us with exclusivity how was this painful process which can have opened horizons and frontiers for the age of the free metaverses.


0369 - Second Life needs YOU!

BG Magazine: How did you come to SL and what you did in your first SL year?

Zonja Capalini: I was captured, as many other people were, by the hype about Second Life at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. I first created an avatar in december of 2006, but I had some difficulties with it and did never log in. Zonja first rezzed on february the first, 2007. It was a pure adventure. Complete immersion from the first second.

At the time the process was more complicated than it is today, and it was almost not localized. I spent several days at Orientation Island, then Help Island, until I found a way to get to the mainland. I first teleported into a german-speaking infohub (all europeans seemed to be routed to that hub at the moment), and started to socialize.

I was feeling awkward, was very shy, and besides I didn’t control my avie properly, I was crashing against all the walls I found, flying unexpectedly, etc. — as everybody else. I had the impression to have landed in the recovery area of a hospital specialized in brain injuries :-)

One of my main customers is a company dedicated, amongst other things, to education.

I saw that LL was announcing voice in SL, and I thought that creating a campus for that company in SL could be a great way to allow them to have students from all over the world. I talked to the executives of the company and showed them SL, and they agreed that it looked as an interesting platform to evaluate. So that from the beginning my SL experience was dual: on the one hand I was living my own second life, experiencing the universe as a “resident”; on the other hand, I was learning to master SL as a technological platform.

Continue reading

September 2, 2009 Posted by | Abuse, OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2889: Working with very large linksets in Opensim

[Update 20090721:] Added links to source code and a reference, corrected some typos.

[Update 20090723:] You can download an OAR with the sample bottle and the generator at rexxed.com: http://www.rexxed.com/2009/07/klein-bottle/

[Update 20090725:] OSGrid users: the sample bottle and the generator are now available at my store in OSGrid.

Introduction

Most objects in Opensim and Second Life are made of prims. Indeed, if we exceptuate avies, wearables (i.e., non-attachable clothes and body parts), Linden trees and particles, everything you see is made of prims. Prims are small, often uncomplicated geometrical shapes, like a cube, a sphere or a cylinder. By combining (“linking”) prims, builders create more complex objects like houses, vehicles, shoes, hair, jewellery, etc. When prims are linked, the resulting object remembers the order in which they were linked (which is important, for example when an object is scripted) and some other properties; the set comprised of the linked prims and these additional properties is called a link set or linkset.

Linksets in Second Life have several limitations: two prims can’t be linked if they are too far apart, and an object cannot contain more than 256 prims. This is the cause all kind of problems. For example, if you buy a big house, i.e., a house that has more than 256 prims or that it is very large (and therefore its prims are very far apart), the house can’t be assembled into a single object, because of the above rules. Then the house is normally packaged with a rezzer, a scripted assistant that helps you to position the house; once the house is positioned to your liking, you normally ask the rezzer to freeze the house in place, and then delete the rezzer.

0628 - A Klein bottle of 2889 prims (2)

Opensim (when used with an appropriate viewer, like the Hippo viewer) supports large linksets, i.e., objects comprising more than 256 prims. In this post I’ll describe some experiments I made with large and very large linksets. In one of these experiments, I created a single object consisting of 2889 prims. Such extremely large linksets are difficult to manage and create, but once you get them built they work wonderfully.

Continue reading

July 20, 2009 Posted by | OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus, Tech News | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The Openspace fiasco: six months later

0499 - There's a better world ahead

The Openspace fiasco

Six months ago, I blogged about the Openspace fiasco and how it made business customers and creative residents equally angry

In case you’ve not read the post, let me make a quick summary: I work for a company which we will call “C”; C owned a standard sim C1 and three openspaces C2, C3 and C4; at the same time, I was the owner of the Condensation Land archipielago (the Condensation Land, Condensation North, Condensation Beach., Condensation South and Condensation Southwest sims); all the islands were Openspaces, except Condensation Land. When the unjustifiable increase of 66% in the price of Openspaces was announced, C’s executives asked me to start researching for an alternative to Second Life, because they had lost their confidence in Linden Lab. I was also forced to look elsewhere for my own islands, because most of my tenants were not able to afford the price increase, got fed up, and left Second Life.

In this post I’ll describe the alternatives that were considered, the decisions that were taken, and what we learned in the process. Although the experience has been bitter in many aspects (having to abandon land which you have carefully created and helped to make beautiful is awful; Second Life customer service is a disaster; etc), the final results are quite interesting. I’ve though to share them, in case somebody can find them of interest and profit from our experience.

Continue reading

April 30, 2009 Posted by | Abuse, OpenSim, Second Life, SL Exodus | , , , , , , | 96 Comments

Installing OpenSim in Windows XP with MySQL.

Update 20090201: Included instructions for Windows 64 bit as reported by Xen Zerbino (Thanks! :-)).

Update 20090123:Fixed a bug in OpenSim.ini detected by Alpha Runningbear. (Thanks!)

Update 20090105: Reworded step 6 to eliminate some tech-talk, added a fall-back for initial log-in, and describe the shutdown procedure in as per Vint Falken‘s suggestions 1 and 2 (thanks! :-)).

Note 1: OpenSim is considered to be alpha software. This means that many things you expect from your daily use of Second Life don’t work in the same way, or simply they don’t work at all. Development of OpenSim is very active, tho, so that we can only expect OpenSim quality and features to better with time.

Note 2: This is not for the faint of heart. :-) You’ve been warned! :-)

Note 3: All the information presented here was valid on January the 3rd, 2009. I’ll correct errors that are brought to my attention, but this post should not be taken as a substitute of the official OpenSim wiki.

The purpose of this post is to present a short, comprehensive, do-it-yourself tutorial for the installation of OpenSim in a Windows XP machine, using MySQL as a back-end for persistence. I’ve tried to write the tutorial in such a way that you can understand it even if you’ve got no previous exposure to OpenSim or to database concepts; however, some familiarity with the operating system is required, in particular you’re assumed to know how to 1) open a system prompt; 2) open a text editor and create a file (the “notepad” application will suffice). A step-by-step procedure follows; you’ll be asked to download some files; these files implement OpenSim and MySql.
Continue reading

January 3, 2009 Posted by | OpenSim, SL Exodus, Tutorials | , , , , | 48 Comments