• 29Mar
    Passions, Snapshots Comments Off

    Max the Virtual Guidedog at Wheelies

    Virtual Helping Hands are having a fundraising benefit at Wheelies for continued development of Max the Virtual Guidedog.

    I first blogged about the scripted guide dog last August. Since that time, the VHH team has made amazing progress! They’re playing a video at Wheelies of their recent RL presentation about Max, and it’s great to see how many technical obstacles they’ve overcome.

    Old Max and New Max

    VHH are now trying to raise funds to purchase some needed development software so they can continue enhancing Max Voice, a cross-platform application providing text-to-speech for SL chat, as well as other assorted helpful functionality. The development software costs $550 — but the price is expected to go up drastically in mid-April, so they need to purchase it soon!

    When I visited them earlier today, VHH had raised $100 of the needed $550. The benefit runs until midnight PST tonight (March 29).

    You can help by donating L$ in SL at Wheelies or via Paypal at VirtualHelpingHands.org. Any amount helps.

  • 16Nov
    Passions, Projects Comments Off

    From the Imprudence Blog

    It has been an intense two and a half months since we first announced the Imprudence project. There has been laughter, there has been joy, there has been boredom and frustration, stress and near burn-out, and a medley of other emotions thrown in there as well.

    But today itís all worth it, because today the first release candidate of the Imprudence Viewer is ready!

    Read the rest for more information, plus sexy download links!

    Tags:

  • 31Aug

    I’ve been plotting and scheming and laboring for the past month on a new project. Those of you who have heard me hinting darkly of a grand manifesto and giggling maniacally in the dead of the night — now you’ll find out why.

    From the Imprudence Blog:

    Imprudence is (or rather, will be) a major fork of the open source Second Life Viewer. Our aim is to greatly improve the usability of the Viewer through community involvement, thoughtful design, modern development methods, and a pro-change atmosphere.

    Why are we doing this? Because we, the Second Life Residents, need a better Viewer, and Linden Lab isn’t getting it done — not fast enough, anyway.

    I’m sure they’re trying. They have made some modest improvement. But they are faced with intractable obstacles that block them from making real progress: a lack of resources, an overloaded QA process, and a large established user base who are, on the whole, sullenly content with the way things are — and tend to resist any change.

    Those are tough problems, and I don’t foresee Linden Lab being able to get past them any time soon. Rather than continue to push against these obstacles with little to show for it, I’ve decided to carve another path. A community project has its own obstacles, but they are obstacles that we can overcome. They are obstacles we can act against for ourselves, instead of sitting on our hands waiting for someone else to act for us.

    Go on and read the full post and our manifesto.

    I have high hopes for this project. It has been a long time coming, and there are a lot of people dissatisfied with the current viewer. If you’re one of them, get involved in the project and help us make it better!

  • 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!

  • 18Jun

    I received an interesting comment from someone last night. He said that his first impression of me, from reading this blog, was that I was an “angry SL pessimist”. You know the type: no matter what happens in SL, they’ll bitch and moan about it.

    Thankfully, he said that further reading had improved his impression, and I explained to him that the reason many of my posts are critical of LL, is because the things that get me riled up enough to write about are often things LL has done which I strongly disagree with. So, my blog only reflects the extremes; the other stuff doesn’t get blogged.

    In an interesting and related occurance, my friend Goldie Katsu tweeted a link to an article by Louis Gray, The Five Stages of Early Adopter Behavior. (You might want to go read it now, or at least skim the bold headings.)

    Continue reading »

  • 19Apr

    The three-day bloggers “strike” ended yesterday, and Linden Lab issued further clarification on their new trademark policy. I wasn’t really sure what to say or how to feel about it.

    At first, I was excited. We (bloggers, whether “strikers” or not) managed to evoke a response from Linden Lab. And a seemingly sympathetic response, at that. It was a well-spun post, I’ll admit. I was suckered in for a while. I so very much wanted to believe that everything was all good now.

    But it’s not. Linden Lab has now confirmed that they are waving the banhammer threateningly at anyone who doesn’t comply. Their assurance that they will issue warnings first, reads like a sherrif from an old cowboy movie, brandishing his gun and saying, “Come along quietly, now. I don’t wanna have to shoot you, but I will if it comes to that.”

    Continue reading »

  • 14Feb

    Kissing Squidogram Multipacks

    Wowzers, Squidograms are selling like hotcakes! I guess people must like the slimy personal touch that comes with expressing your love via cephalopod courier! And really, who can blame them for that?

    Anyway, in response to the fantastic demand for squiddy action (see, I knew I wasn’t the only one!), and to save you guys from Repetitive Stress Injury in your mouse-clicking finger, I’ve set out Squidogram Multipacks! Now you can buy 5 or 10 Squidograms in one shot!

    But remember, these loverly Kissing Squidograms are only available through today! (Actually until whenever I wake up tomorrow morning/afternoon.)

    So tell that special someone how much they excite your neural fibers and make your chromatophores quiver and dilate with glee!

    Tags: ,

  • 11Jan

    Regarding whether images captured in SL should be considered “photographs”, Hamlet writes:

    I’m not totally convinced. Photographs, after all, are created by exposed light hitting a film or data strip. That doesn’t happen in Second Life. And while I think it’s fair to say that an image which is captured “raw” from SL is very similar to a real world photograph (I discuss that here), it’s also possible to subjectively manipulate the world’s appearance in a way that’s totally different. (When an RL photographer needs more light, he can’t just move the sun where he wants it.)

    What’s more, many SL images are drastically altered in programs like Photoshop. A lot of real world artists use photographs as their medium, staging them in fictional narrative scenes, say, or even painting on top the actual photo, and because of that very process, they’re not called photographers– they’re called artists.

    I consider Hamlet’s view here to be somewhat narrow.

    There is no significant difference in the amount of scene-manipulation in RL photographs versus SL photographs. RL photographers may not be able to move the sun on a whim, but they can and do carefully schedule the time of day of their shoots, and use bounce cards and/or studio lights to manipulate the lighting of the scene. You can bet that they’d move the sun if they could. (And I bet some SL photographers would die for the ability to have light bounce off cards in SL — both realities have their challenges.)

    Nor is the amount of post-processing (Photoshopping) significantly different between RL and SL photographs. We’ve seen the Dove Evolution film that demonstrates how much manipulation goes on before, during, and after a RL photo shoot.

    Both RL photographs and SL photographs run the gamut from casual snapshots (“This is us having a good time at Jack’s bachelor party”), to careful attempts at capturing reality (“Behold the natural beauty of a majestic waterfall”), to highly manipulated digital imagery (“I cloned in the crowd of a thousand cheering fans later”), to strange and beautiful photo-collage and mixed-media imagery (“I think you’ve been sniffing too much rubber cement, Marcel”), and so much more.

    The compositional skills — framing, balance, depth, contrast, and so on — apply equally to RL and SL photography.

    So we’re left with one distinction. RL photographs are created by photons bouncing off physical objects, passing through the lens and aperture of a physical camera, and stimulating photosensitive materials. SL photographs are created by careful mathematical projection of virtual objects, rendered as polygons onto a framebuffer in a computer. In both cases, the result is a 3D scene being projected onto a 2D image plane.

    It’s just that one of the scenes exists inside the computer.

    I’ll leave off with one last thought: Photography has long been about capturing the vision of the artist. That’s not always the same as an accurate representation of the physical world.

  • 04Jan

    Attention, readers: I’m looking for an enterprising geek to OGLE my avatar — that is, to capture the 3D mesh of my avatar shape.

    I will pay L$ or USD$ for a mesh capture of my avatar. I have the following modest requirements:

    1. The final result must be in Wavefront OBJ format.
    2. Will pay extra if it has UV texture coordinates intact.
    3. Attachments and skin textures not needed.

    If you can do this for me, please leave a comment, IM in-world (Jacek Antonelli), or email (jacek.antonelli ~ gmail.com).

    [Update: The ever-cutetastic Patchouli Woollahra very kindly OGLE'd my avatar. Thanks, Patchi!]

  • 17Dec

    Update: Check out my animation exporter download and tutorial.

    Back in May of this year, I posted about my work on a script to export animations from Blender to SL-compatible BVH files. Well, as you can see from the comparison screenshot below (click to enlarge), I’ve made a lot of progress since then.

    Comparing the animation played in SL (left) with the animation as it appears in Blender (right)

    (Mind you there’s some difference between the camera angle in the two shots, and possibly some slight mis-rotation of the hands from SL’s rather zealous animation ‘optimizing’ algorithm.)

    Some difficulties I’ve encountered:

    • As mentioned in my earlier post, the axes of rotation for the bones in the SL skeleton differ from the Blender skeleton. That is, in the Blender skeleton, the Y axis always points along the length of the bone. In the SL skeleton, it varies between bones.
    • Furthermore, the order of rotation for the Euler angles varies from bone to bone in the SL skeleton. I have had to employ code to convert from one order to another to correct for this. It seems to have done the trick.
    • SL has a bug which duplicates the first frame of an animation. (VWR-3783)
    • Using IK on the Blender skeleton, especially in the legs, tends to cause jittering in the SL skeleton — that is, wobbly knees and ankles. My best guess at the moment as to the cause of this is SL’s insistence on converting all joint angles to integer degrees. Subtlety, be banished!
    • Certain rotations result in a significant difference in the appearance of the animation. I’m pinning the blame for this one on Gimbal Lock. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Mr. Lock.

    Nevertheless, my animation exporter script is a very significant step up from Qavimator: smooth blending between keyframes (controlled by my most-beloved Bézier curves); custom rigs for different types of animations; inverse kinematics to provide that extra stick in the feet; layering and blending single actions to create longer animations; and all the rest.

    And as it happens, I’m currently in a trial period as animator for one ChronoForge 4D, a manufacturer and purveyor of sharp, pointy things with which to poke and jab at other similarly-minded avatars. So next time you stab someone through the heart and then kick their body to the ground (in SL), you might say a little thanks to the kindly, peace-loving artist who made it all possible.

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Recent Comments

  • The feet and hand control bones can be used for inverse kine...
  • thanks! It's woahking! However I have a problem...someho...
  • it is very nice.i can easly understood for animation work.th...
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  • Sorry, the exporter only works with Blender 2.49 and earlier...