Tuesday 8 December 2015

Opensim Virtual at Google + Two Years Old Today!

Back before Google Plus took off two years ago it was hard to say Opensim grids collectively had much community. It was easy to point to the Second Life community given it was all under one roof with a central focus but Opensim didn't have that. There were numerous individual grids, some closed, insular and fiercely competitive, while others were Hypergrid enabled but still not reaching out as much as they could have. A decent social network was needed and Facebook with it's real names policy and data mining was not filling the void. That was when I thought G+ could make a difference and the fact Google have no problem with avatar names it really has become all that I hoped it would.

It was slow to start and I had to find topics to post every day to keep up interest so, naturally, my focus was on the many open grids, lots of pictures and a little praise for all their efforts. Gradually the members began to join, post new topics of their own and comment on things of interest. I decided right off from the start to welcome all grids whether closed or Hypergrid enabled. I was happy to have them post topics about what they did on their grids and what they were offering in terms of entertainment, free content and services. Event notices where especially welcomed. I believed that by allowing promotions both commercial and none-commercial we would start to see the extent of the Opensim community as it came together around G+.

Happily, it did start to take off and the membership was growing. I saw grids promoting their activities and members asking for help. New G+ communities started to appear as well which supported individual grids while others focused on Hypergrid tours and education. More opened to promote role play and services like content creation and where to find it. I don't think anyone would doubt the impact Google Plus has had on the Opensim community and the centralizing focus it has given us. I believe it has helped more than anything else to bring Opensim users together to show the world we really do have a sizable and growing community across many grids, both open, closed and even the hidden ones.

In the past I used to speak of the hidden Metaverse but today, two years after I started Opensim Virtual, I think we have become more visible as a collective community than ever before and that in itself has been attracting new people. There are more and more grids opening and the associated G+ communities just keeps adding to the promotion. That can't be bad!

The future is looking good for the Opensim Metaverse.

Saturday 28 February 2015

Crowdfund Settlement News & Next Public Meeting Info

Dahlia Trimble has fixed the llLookAt() function for OpenSim and it works beautifully according to Fred Beckhusen who has tested it extensively. It is very low-lag with a modified sensorless script Dahlia gave him to test with and he put a high-def video version of how well it works on Vimeo seen here...

llLookAt is Fixed! from Ferd Frederix on Vimeo.

Now we have this success the Pledge Makers readily agreed at a private meeting on Friday 27th to pay a bounty of $1200 to Dahlia Trimble and the breakdown of payments due by the Pledge Makers is as follows...

Talla Adam (Kitely Grid) $120
Shin Ingen  (Ingen Lab Grid) $120
Fred Beckhusen (Outworldz Grid) $300
Selby Evans (Virtualoutworlding blog) $300
Gavin Hird (Geir Nøklebye  @ Xmir Grid) $30
Terry Ford ( Butch Arnold @ 3rd Rock Grid) $60
Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) $210
Alex Ferraris  (Avi-Labs/Aviworlds) $60

Progress info for this fund is here.

The target sum for the fund was $2000 and that was reached but the way we work is to ask the developer what they would like for payment if they complete the work and Dahlia asked for $1200. That left a surplus $800 which it was agreed the pledge makers would hold their own share for a time and it might be called on for follow-up maintenance of the code. Dahlia agreed to make minor tweaks and adjustments free of charge but anything major will, it is hoped, be covered by the surplus fund. 

We now hold public meetings at various grids on the last Sunday of the month where we hear proposals and debate them. A proposal can be made by anyone at the public meeting for some new code feature or to fix a bug in some important feature the community really world like to see working properly. Once the proposal has been considered we ask if anyone will guarantee at least half the target sum considered sufficient to interest an Opensim developer. We then call for pledges and publish a Crowdfunding request to Opensim Virtual with details of the item proposed. It is possible we may get more than one proposal at the meeting but since this has to be handled in Administration going forward I may only take the first proposal that gets a guarantor and postpone other proposals to the next meeting. It is basically a simple system that actually works and has produced quick results in the first project.

The next public meeting to hear & debate new proposals will be held Sunday 1st March 8pm GMT/ 3pm EST/ 12pm PST.
HG address: grid.xmir.org:8002:Barcola

For those of you who live in Europe and don't relate to GMT, the meeting is 21.00 Central European Time.

Friday 30 January 2015

ZanGrid to join the Hypergrid And Other Metaverse News

On the 1st February, Zandramas becomes ZanGrid and the Club region will open to Hypergrid visitors so ZanGrid is set to join the open Metaverse and start welcoming a whole new bunch of visitors. 3rd Rock Grid showed the way last year and, after many months of agonizing on the merits and risks of Hypergrid, and working to persuade their residents that it would benefit the grid, they opened up a number of regions and gave their residents the option to be open or remain closed on an individual basis.

Butch Arnold, CEO of 3rd Rock, said their grid is seeing more traffic since they opened HG and some visitors have registered accounts with us. I told Butch I see your traffic is up some and he replied, "it is indeed.. almost doubled since October." The grid uses partial Hypergrid which blocks most content leaving the grid other than note cards and landmarks. Anything can be brought in of course so that includes deliveries from Kitely Market but Butch told me they are still working on their system.

ZanGrid has the benefit of seeing the success 3rd Rock is making of its entry into connected worlds of Hypergrid and, no doubt, they will look closely at their achievements. In any event, I am certain ZanGrid will see a boost in visitor traffic.

Opensim Virtual Crowdfund Meeting...

OV will be holding a meeting for the pledge makers to discuss the current Crowdfunding project to have llLookAt and llMoveTo fixed. 3rd Rock Grid  was chosen by me to hold the first meeting and Butch Arnold said he was happy to offer a venue and any help they can give. I'm drawing up a policy (or charter) to present to the pledge makers which sets out how we will operate the fund. 
Fred Beckhusen’s flying bee. (Image courtesy Fred Beckhusen.)

Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting though but the first part will not be open for general discussion. I want to make sure the pledge makers have their say and get to decide how we proceed. Once that is out of the way then I'll invite the audience to ask questions and engage each other in debate if they wish to.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 9 PM which is 8 pm UK, 3 PM EST and noon PST on Sunday 1st February 2015.

The pledge makers who have confirmed by email are as follows...

Talla Adam (Kitely Grid) $200
Shin Ingen (Ingen Lab Grid) $200
Fred Beckhusen (Outworldz Grid) $500
Selby Evans (Virtualoutworlding blog) $500
Geir Nøklebye (Xmir Grid) $50
Butch Arnold (3rd Rock Grid) $100
Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) $100

Alex Ferraris (Avi-Labs Grid) $100

That makes a total so far of $1750 confirmed pledges and the target is $2000.

Update (2nd Feb 2015): Crowdfund Meeting at 3rd Rock grid 

The meeting at 3rd Rock grid was fruitful and went well. Turnout was about 20 from other grids including all but one of the Pledge makers. They all teleported in successfully via Hypergrid. Apart from the loss of some attachments like hair everything seemed normal and relatively lag free. There is a log of the meeting posted here on it's own page together with a video from Fred Beckhusen illustrating the issues the Crowdfund is being raised to try and address. Opensim United also posted the log and pictures. 

Michael Sietz (Digital Worlds Group LLC) has also raised his pledge to $350 bringing the fund up to the target sum of $2000. I regret no more pledges can be accepted now.

Follow-up news on the Crowdfunding progress will be posted to the Crowdfund-log page on this site so please stay tuned!

 Closed Grids & Hypergrid traffic neck & neck but every way is up!
Ever since Maria Korolov published last month's traffic metrics on Hypergrid Business and declared that the Hypergrid worlds now were leading in total visitor traffic I have been watching our own Grid Search metrics closely. Our search engine updates all the metrics twice a week presently and displays a breakdown of which part of the Metaverse is getting the most traffic. Last month, according to HB, the combined closed grids figure was down below that for the combined Hypergrid worlds. But according to Grid Search, which tracks the most active grids, the none-Hypergrid worlds are still leading. In fact I have noticed a recent surge in Inworldz traffic which is helping to keep the none-HG grids up above the enabled grids.

The value of these metrics is questionable however and it has been pointed out that the closed grids display only unique logins while the open grids display both unique logins and Hypergrid visits which skew the figures. What they say is the same person might login at their own grid then visit other grids via Hypergrid thus pushing up the numbers if they get around a lot of them. On the other hand, people say the closed grid owners create large numbers of alternative name accounts and log them in just once a month which also skews their figures too. Other's just ignore all this and look at the trend which is generally positive in any event.

But today's figures were amazingly close regardless. They are as follows...
Total Active Grids: 188

Distributed Regions: 34879
Registered Users: 415096
Monthly Active Traffic: 24802
Est' Daily Peak Traffic: 886
Hypergrid Traffic: 12400
Closed Grid Traffic: 12402

You can take these numbers any way you like but they are drawn from the grid splash pages either manually or by our scraper program. incidentally, I recently made some code improvements so I could start to display individual regions of interest too and I will be looking at the code again with a view to increasing the number of splash pages the scraper can read so we can run it daily. Not only will that save me a lot of work it should be possible to show which grids are online or not.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Crowdfunding Opensim Development & Metaverse News!

There have been many calls to crowdfund Opensim features the community would like to see implemented but no concrete proposals to date have been made. Crowdfunding is not new and has proved very effective in getting new projects and ideas developed. Oculus Rift came into existence due initially to Crowdfunding. The Mesh Deformer was also supported by Second Life merchants in a Crowdfunding call and, while Linden Lab rejected it, the open Metaverse Inworldz grid took it up and had it developed for their residents but also donated the code as a feature of Opensim Viewers.

A few days ago J.Duke posted a topic to OV asking when we would get Havok physics because he wanted to bring his articulated truck trail system to the open grids (see link: http://bit.ly/1DyaX15 ) and, of course, Opensim is not going to get the Havok system because it's too expensive. However, Fred Beckhusen, the well known scripter in both SL and OS, said it's not the physics we need to change but llLookAt and llMoveTo are broken in Opensim code and need fixing if we are to see improvements in vehicle function of the kind J. Duke is looking for.

I felt this called for a Crowdfunding solution to get Dev's interested in working on it so today I'm making a personal pledge of $200 ( and I might donate more if the the pledges come in) to launch the campaign to raise a bounty. Fred Beckhusen has also said he is willing to help fund this so lets get it started. Is our community committed enough to help raise this bounty? What about those who make money running a business on the Opensim platform code, the commercial grid owners and Hosting companies,  will they pledge money and earn community kudos?

Initially, I think we might set a target of $2000 which, if mostly funded, can be claimed by any developer, or dev's, that successfully solve the problems and submit effective code to the core Opensim team. I will keep the community informed both here and at OV.

How will we do this?

Keeping it simple. We can use the comments here or at G+ Opensim Virtual to discuss the project and make a pledge if anyone want to. Please don't pledge what you might not honor and not less than $10. Nothing will be collected by me but once we have the working code in Opensim and there are no issues (Members will test it for sure) then I will declare the bounty available to whoever is recognized as responsible for the code contribution. Those who made pledges will then be asked to send their donation to the named bounty claimant - probably through Paypal so the claimant will need to have an active account and let us know they have received the money. There maybe a better way to do this so I'm open to suggestions.

So, there you have it. Money will be pledged and put on the table. If any Opensim developer is reading this wants to email me and make me aware privately of their interest then you can reach me at talla0adam|AT|gmail.com

Aviworlds Re-launched & Alex strikes back with Avi-Labs
The dramas surrounding the "bouncing" grid, Aviworlds might have settled down some now as Mike Hart has finally rested control from Alex Ferraris and re-launched it but not without Alex announcing the launch of yet another grid, Avi-Labs aimed mainly at his old following in the Brazilian community. Aviworlds, however, is making a strong pitch for the Brazilians by including greeters at their welcome region that speak the language.

Presently, Alex Ferraris is not a member of OV having departed recently. Actually, he has been in and out of OV almost as often as he has opened and closed Aviworlds when he still owned it. Anyway, I have been urged not to let Alex back because people are saying he just gets embroiled in dramas which reflect badly on the Open Metaverse community in general. This does mean Avi-Labs may not be promoted at OV but I have now let Aviworlds be promoted here since the ownership issue appear to be settled. Alex Ferraris says about Avi-Labs, "steaming ahead for a place in the top ten most popular grids in the metaverse." It will be interesting to see how these rival grids measure up to each other in the traffic metrics.

Breaking News: Zandramas Grid to change name to Zangrid
Making the announcement at their new G+ community ZanGrid, Suz Blessed posted  "Soon Zandramas will be ZanGrid :)  Same grid  just a different name, That is all :)". ZanGrid (Zandramas) is a grid people can join on invite and referral only. 

Finding Grids, Venues, Shopping and getting traffic
Opensim Virtual has its own Search Engine capable of finding most known grids. See the Metaverse link above for a demonstration of it in action on this blog. The Search can also be used in an Opensim Viewer such as Kokua to find and display the login splash pages of various grids. It may be used in-world too by opening a browser window in the viewer and searching for regions to visit. The Login link may also open a Landmark in-world which you can click to teleport or you can copy and paste HG addresses directly into the world map and TP from there. It works really well in Singularity but due to the V1 nature of that viewer it tends to open a web browser on your desktop which it shouldn't. The latest Firestorm viewer is currently broken too for opening landmarks and splash pages, so testing has proved. To use the engine in world call the address: http://www.x-retro-x.com/search.php


Using Grid Search is easy. Just select a category and enter a search term and the engine will display a selection of grids and regions matching the search criteria. The displayed items also show the current traffic data and a popup preview with a brief description of the grid. If a grid is open to Hypergrid then the address is shown too for copy & paste.

Gird owners who don't see their grid in Search can ask for it to be added by sending an email to
talla0adam|AT|gmail.com. Please note that the engine is designed to rate grids according to their traffic level so that busy worlds appear at the top of the display results. This means that grids which don't display traffic data on their splash pages will always be low in results and may not appear at all if they are off-line too much.

Finally, I do aim to do more work on our search engine so it can more easily find what users are looking for but it works well enough even now.