Archive - Oct 24, 2007

OnRez on CSI: NY

This evening, millions of viewers will watch CSI: NY and be invited to solve a mystery in Second Life. Many will click on the CSI: New York Virtual Experience web site, set up an avatar, download the OnRez viewer and enter Second Life. How well will the grid handle the influx? We can only wait and see.

How good is the new OnRez Second Life Viewer? Well, you can download that now and start playing with. I did, and here is what I found.

It appears to be based very closely on the current Second Life viewer. The keystrokes all seem pretty much the same. You can even go into debug mode by press Ctrl-Alt-D and turn on and off the all the extra images with Ctrl-Alt-F1. This is exactly the sort of thing that Electric Sheep hopes the standard newbie in Second Life doesn’t do. It will confuse them horribly.

Yet Electric Sheep has done a great job with the new viewer. In the lower right hand corner, there is a friends button that makes communicating with your friends in Second Life much more like communicating with your friends via other instant messenger programs. They’ve added a nice navigation bar, similar to web browers to go to your home page, or in Second Life, your home region, as well as forward and back buttons to go to places you have recently teleported. They’ve added the section for ‘My Stuff’, ‘Shop’ and ‘Buy L$’. This should make the Second Life shopping experience easier and more pleasant for the casual user, so who knows, it just might help the Second Life economy after all.

Connecting via OnRez also brought up a box for CSI: NY. ‘Happening Now’ the message reads and encourages me to make sure that I’ve visited the White Rabbit crime scene and completed the orientation experience. It also provides links to crime scenes and of course shopping malls. Monkey Canning is offline right now, but I’m sure that when he gets a look at this, he’ll be trying to find some angle to get all these new Second Lifers to stop by at the Virtual Stock Exchange and by some Atlas Venture Capital stock or perhaps pick up some shares of Dawes Financial Corp or Springboard Publications currently in IPO.

It actually makes a lot of sense. Given the failed banks and corporations in Second Life, the allegations of fraud and so on, I’m sure CSI: NY could have a great episode about people hunting down notorious financial avatars like Jasper Tizzy.

So, for the casual user, it makes the experience much more enjoyable, without detracting seriously from the experience of the frequent user. For the hardcore geeks, there are some interesting tidbits. First off, the OnRez client appears to be based very closely on the traditional Second Life client, perhaps a little too closely. When I tried to install OnRez while I was in Second Life, it told me that OnRez was already running. When I shut down my traditional Second Life client, the OnRez installation resumed.

I’m running OnRez on an old Laptop running Windows 2000. It runs fine, although it requested that I load DirectX 9 and Quicktime 7.1. I have older versions of both which work fine for me, and I’ve been having difficulties getting DirectX 9 or Quicktime 7.1 for Windows 2000.

With OnRez up and running, I decided it was time for the next level of testing. Could I connet the OnRez viewer to an OpenSim? Fortunately, I have an OpenSim Grid running on my home network, so I fired up OpenSim with the –loginuri paramenter and sure enough, there was my OpenSim avatar in my OpenSim grid, ready for me to move it around.

I decided to push the envelope a little further. Could I run OnRez connected to the OpenSim grid and the traditional Second Life viewer connected to the Second Life main grid? Sure enough, they ran nicely next to each other, at least for a little while. Next thing I knew, I hit a blue screen of death. So, you can do it, but if you’re running on a flaky old Windows 2000 based laptop, you might see some crashes.

When I started up OnRez again, it gave me a message about how the last time I had run OnRez, it had ended abnormally. It was essentially the same message I’ve see too many times from the Second Life client.

So, I’m running the OnRez client. I’m going to keep my eyes open to see how Second Life and CSI: NY get along. To paraphrase Rick Blaine, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

CSI: SL - Down the Rabbit Hole, BNT back up

Wednesday 10 PM ET/PT/SLT, “A woman's murder sends Mac into "Second Life," the internet-based virtual world to track down the killer in both the real and cyber world. TV14-V.”

This is expected to bring a whole new wave of people to Second Life. To prepare for this wave, the Electric Sheep Company is expected to release a new client for Second Life, the OnRez viewer, which people are already arguing the pros and cons of.

Over on the Second Life Educators mailing list, people are wringing their hands. “What's going to happen on Oct 24th … and shortly thereafter when the 100s of new sims come online? Is that a good day NOT to be teaching or building in SL?”

Prokofy Neva in The Future of Content: Watching the Detectives wonders what all the new residents will do to Second Life. They “may or may not contribute to the existing inworld economy as consumers or even producers. I'm betting they won't, and that the inworld economy will take a severe hit.“

Well, if they don’t consume or produce, how are they going to deal the inworld economy a severe hit? How will such a severe hit compare with the closing of gambling, the decline in real estate prices, the runs on the Second Life banks, or the turmoil in the Second Life capital markets? How will such a severe hit compare with people becoming more involved with alternative grids?

Maybe some people will stick around, rent or buy some land, invest in some stocks, or put some money in banks. Some might be simply feed the next fraud du jour, others might make some good investments.

How much of an impact will CSI: SL really make anyway? Depending on how close a game it is, a lot of people may still be busy watch the Rockies and the Red Sox fight it out.

A different person commented, “Terrific. This will get the vast TV audience an opportunity to get a taste of "stepping inside" the TV. Should be mind-changing.”

I’m the eternal optimist. I don’t think Second Life will take a serious hit, either in the grid or in the economy, and somewhere, someone will have a mind-changing experience, and we will all be better off for it.

Also relating to Second Life finances, AnCapEx is now up and running. This is IntLibber Brautigan’s new stock exchange. In terms of functionality, it appears to be using the same software as the Second Life Capital Exchange (SlCapEx). I’ve always liked the SlCapEx interface, and I especially like their webservices providing an easily processed feed of stock prices. It would be great to see other exchanges pick up this format.

Currently, the only stock available on SlCapEx is Brautigan & Tuck Holdings, (BNT). This includes the merged in Countless Galaxies (CGI) shares. It will be interesting to watch the initial trading. On top of that, AnCapEx is talking about adding options. This will be a nice feature, although I’m curious about how exercising options will work. Ideally, they will list options on other exchanges which will require the exchanges to adapt and facilitate transfers of stock, such as through the exercise of options, as stock lending or stock gifts, and so on. This will move the capital markets in Second Life forward in ways greater than any influx of CSI views is likely to damage.

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