• 30Aug

    Virtual Ability Island

    I had the opportunity to attend a presentation today by Louise Later, who demonstrated two scripted objects, still in development, designed to help people with limited or no vision enjoy Second Life. Given that many sighted people find Second Life challenging to use, one can only imagine the unique difficulties of using it without visual feedback!

    The objects — your choice of mobility cane or guide dog — use repurposed sensor and warp scripts to let users navigate and learn about their Second Life surroundings without any visual feedback. The sensor script can scan the surroundings for objects and avatars and output their names into your chat history, where EVA (an SL-specific screen reader) will then read them aloud to you, allowing you to hear a list of everything around you. The warp script can move you to an object or person, or move you through a series of locations (e.g. orientation displays). It can also continuously follow another avatar, perfect for getting a tour of the world from a sighted friend!

    Louise told us that a core team of seven programmers, many of them blind* themselves, have developed the scripts, supported by Virtual Ability. They’re looking for additional help (especially more scripters) so if you’re interested in volunteering a bit of your time to a worthwhile and rather interesting cause, send an IM to Louise Later in SL!

    * Update 2008-09-07: Louise informs me that only one programmer is totally blind, while she herself is legally blind. But, almost everyone in the group is disabled in some way.

    The cane and guide dog objects are available for free at Wheelies. Virtual Ability runs Virtual Ability island, a beautiful tropical island sim with a thorough SL orientation tutorial (with both written signs and audio information!), and the famous Heron Sanctuary.

  • 16Aug
    Snapshots Comments Off

    Eerie Twilight 1

    Messing around with Windlight sky settings. You can download the preset if you want to try it.

    It reminds me of an October twilight I saw as a kid. A low mist / fog was rolling in over the park. I had never seen such a thing before. The sky looked faded and ill, and one could believe that the sun might not rise again.

    There are more pics, so check out the rest of the set.

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  • 10Aug

    Hot Squid-on-Warthog Action!

    We had a ton of fun at the Squidogram Relaunch Party yesterday! Check out the full set on Flickr!

    Want to get your hands/paws/hoofs/tentacles on your own Squidograms? You can buy them inworld at Cuddlefish Junction, or on SLX!

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  • 03Aug

    Squidogram in Progress


  • 31Jul

    Wonder where the “Tools” menu went in Second Life viewer 1.20? Linden Lab decided, in the interest of reducing the number of menus presented to the user, to make it only visible when the “Build” window is open (Ctrl-3).

    This change was rather unpopular, and Linden Lab has, thankfully, decided to revert it in a future version. But in the meantime, we’re stuck with it — or we would be, except there’s a quick and easy work-around to disable it! All it takes is a text editor (Notepad, etc.); you don’t even have to compile anything. (If you’re really lazy, you can just download my file and put it in the right spot, as described below.)

    This trick is a simple one. Since SL looks for the Tools menu by name to find which menu to hide, all you have to do is change its name, and SL won’t find it, and it’ll stay visible all the time!

    The really easy way (download the replacement file):

    1. Download my pre-chewed XML file to “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/”, replacing the existing one. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then put the file in “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/”.
    2. Restart SL, enjoy.

    The slightly less easy way (edit the file yourself):

    1. Open up “Second Life/skins/default/xui/en-us/menu_viewer.xml” in your text editor. On OS X, go to Applications, ctrl-click on “Second Life”, choose “Show Package Contents”, then open up “Contents/Resources/skins/default/xui/en-us/viewer-menu.xml” with TextEdit (or your favorite text editor).
    2. Search for: name="Tools" (it’s on line 590)
    3. Change name="Tools" to name="Toolz" or some other non-Tools word.
    4. Save the file, restart SL, enjoy.

    Voila, your Tools menu will now be visible all the time. Piece of cake.

  • 19Jul

    I had the honor of presenting my UI design concept at the User Experience office hours this past Thursday, and I must admit to being pleased with how it turned out. The presentation went off without a hitch (quite a feat in SL), it seemed well received by the audience, and I got some great feedback and ideas.

    If you missed the presentation, you can check out a great write-up by Kippie Friedkin, or plow your way through the transcript on the SL Wiki. If you’re following along with the transcript, you’ll want to have the mock-ups that I showed at hand for reference:

    1. Main UI Overlay
    2. Inventory Quick Filter
    3. Inventory Right-Click Menu

    Here are a some of the really interesting ideas (some new, others old favorites) that came out of the discussion:

    • Making the “Chat/IM” and “Voice” buttons separately resizable in the UI overlay.
    • Optional UI animation for the “Chat/IM” button (e.g. a little bounce) when you get a new message.
    • Functionality to find items by date range.
    • Functionality to find duplicate items, so you could remove them to reduce clutter.
    • Gmail-like labels for items, allowing items to belong to multiple “sets”. Related: symlinks for items, allowing you to put “clones”/”shortcuts” of items (especially no-copy items) into multiple folders/outfits.
    • Functionality to create custom tabs that show the contents of a folder: Right click folder, “Show as Tab”.
    • A “Custom” option on the Quick Filter menu, to pop up the window for more advanced filter management.

    By the way, if you like discussing and thinking about ways to make SL’s interface easier, more useful, or just generally better, you should subscribe and post to the Second Life User Experience (SL-UX) mailing list!

    It’s a little bit slow right now because it’s new and not many people are aware of it, but there have already been some very cool discussions about improving notifications, reorganizing the menus, annoyances in the building UI, and more. New topics and discussions welcome!

  • 12Jul
    Adventures, Interface, Projects Comments Off

    What: a presentation of my UI design contest entry.
    When: Thursday, July 17 at 3PM SLT (PDT)
    Where: Benjamin Linden’s office in SL

    Grant Linden has invited me to present my UI design at the SL User Experience Office Hour (SLUXOH) this Thursday at 3PM SLT. Not being one to turn down an invitation from a Linden to show off my goods to the world, I’ll be explaining the design rationale, answering questions from the audience, and waving a laser pointer around and making spaceship sounds with my mouth while we wait for my slide images to rez. I can guarantee it will be a hoot and/or holler. BYOF (bring your own feedback).

    By the way, if you’re into this sort of SLUXy stuff, I recommend subscribing to the SL-UX mailing list. There are a bunch of neat people who put forward interesting UI ideas and feedback at sporadic intervals… lots of good times to be had!

    P.S. Does this make my butt look FIC?

  • 12Jul
    Snapshots Comments Off

    Pit of fire

    I’ve posted a photo journal of my sister-alt’s visit to Loco Poco’s Island. It was crazy fun!

    Tags: ,

  • 30Jun

    I’ve submitted my entry to Dusan’s interface contest, so now I want to take the opportunity to open it up for discussion, feedback, and critique.

    Concept image for the overall user interface.

    My design proposes:

    • Reworking the bottom toolbar to be collapsible and customizable, and to feature chat, IM, voice, and friends list more prominently.
    • Reorganizing the main menus to be less intimidating and more logically-grouped.
    • Several enhancements to the Inventory floater:
      • “Favorites” and “Worn” item tabs.
      • Quick filter selection box to easily filter items by type.
      • Various enhancements to the right click menu.

    The design document is available online, with purty pictures for your enjoyment.

    Feedback and critique about the design are welcome!

  • 25Jun
    Adventures, Art Comments Off

    Sketch of an octopus with tentacles in a heart shape and a thought bubble that says \"(heart shape) Jacek\"

    I commissioned this sketch from Jun Kuroda (SL name), aka rotemu on Plurk, starving artist extraordinaire. She also made a semi-nude of CodeBastard Redgrave and other cool commisioned sketches!

    If you want to commission a sketch to call your own, check out her Livejournal page or IM her (Jun Kuroda) in-world. They’re awesome, not at all expensive, and you’ll be helping out a really cool artist! ^_^

    Tags: , , , ,

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