Monthly Archives: August 2010

Fiducial Markers and Unity 3d

I was looking around for a quick way to use the wonderful Reactivision camera based marker tracking. Ideally I really wanted a fully working Reactable, but without a projector and the music and light software and the physical elements like a glass table I cant really do what I want to do in the time I need to do it.

I bumped into a project from a few years ago the tangiblaptop that was aimed at using the laptop screen rather than a projector to display the things that happen to the markers that are also placed on that surface but picked up by the camera. It looked good but I thought I needed something with a bit more variety.
Then I saw this Uniducial . A small library and and couple of scripts to drop into Unity3d.
Within seconds I had objects appearing and disappearing based on the markers they could see in the camera view.
(I have done a few things with these before as did Roo back in the day
However I think the unity3d gadget is going to be very useful indeed 🙂

RepRap – Open Source 3d Printing – Changing Society

I realised that whilst I talk about RepRap a lot to people and have blogged elsewhere about it this blog has no good reference to RepRap. So here it is.
In putting a shout out for help and ideas on 3d printing for the cool stuff collective RepRap keeps getting mentioned by people. It is an intriguing project and has the sort of spirit and goals that I really relate too.
RepRap is an opensource hardware and software project to build a 3d printer, one of whose aims is to be able to print and replicate the parts to make another RepRap printer.

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

The video above is from Adrian Bowyer the inventor of RepRap, it has some great points about replicating nature with insects and flowers, plus you can see how a printer works.
To people who have not yet Grokked the whole massive impact this micro/local manufacture will have there is something very primeval about explaining the self replication by a piece of hardware, that seems to sit well with us humans.
I am fairly convinced that saying this machine is able to make the parts for itself is one of the most obvious examples of a use case. It is also both a joke, threat and obvious at the same time.
I often talk about the redistribution of manufacturing and the cultural impact it will have, but increasingly I am also talking about the feedback loop that occurs when those things manufactured are placed into our lives and then by their very existence alter the things that occur around us and to us.
Think about how the remote control on the TV altered our homes and the way we used television. It took a few years for everyone to upgrade to a TV with a remote, but they are pretty ubiquitous now. Imagine how quickly an innovation such as that would infect/enhance our homes and lives if we could print them out as they happened.
The spread of the end product in this way would also lead to even quicker open source projects based on whatever this device or object was, projects to take that and use it in even more advanced ways, sharing the information along the way.
This can be a cycle in fashion accelerated not to seasons and production runs but to right now, to changes in architecture, to sudden new character collectible toys and games.
You do not have to ponder this very long to add together the power of sharing across the web and willingness to self organise with an open source mentality combined with not just software or ideas but with physical items and you can see that there is an even greater cultural shift, and its way more than people say hi to one another on Twitter and Facebook.
It really is very exciting and scary at the same time.
The open source approach and mentality is really a giant feedback loop with adjustments and mutations made along the way like a genetic algorithm. Throw atoms, not just virtual digits and the proposition expands a great deal.

Grab an EvolverPro fully rigged model free before Aug 17th

Over at EvolverPro the guys are having a special offer that lets you download a model for free. Usually the fully rigged model (that you can use in things like unity) is $39.
I took the opportunity of both putting some trousers one of my avatars and downloading the rig whilst wearing my Feeding Edge Tshirt.
epred evolver
So I now have 2 fully rigged and poseable Avatars that I can use in 3d packages and in my Unity3d Demos.
To quote Tim Blagden from Evolver “one free character to anyone who enters the coupon code pro817 and clicks add between now and August 17th. Help yourself to a character and spread the word.”

Cool Stuff Collective – Something unusual has happened

One way and another something very interesting is brewing here. After an intro from a good friend (thankyou Scotty!) I started to advise a new kids tv show just commissioned by ITV here in the UK. It is being produced by Archie Productions (there is some press release info at the bottom of this). Its called Cool Stuff Collective.
Amongst other things I was tasked with explaining some future thinking tech to go with all the cool toys and gadgets. That has morphed a little from back room advice into a slot on the show.
Yes that’s right it looks like I will be presenting and explaining some of the cool tech and futures that I love so much. We start studio filming in a couple of weeks, and if all goes according to plan and I manage to present this OK I think this will rock.
We had a meeting today at MTV studios in Camden and talked scripts, schedules, kit, extra ideas for the segment and how this might all work. The main presenter Sy Thomas is up at the Edinburgh festival so I may not get to meet him until the day.
So it sounds pretty exciting and I hope I make these little segments as forward thinking as possible and get people enthused. Its not all metaverse either 🙂


Gadgets, games and all that’s cool for 7-12 year olds

London, 27 July 2010. CITV has commissioned a brand new kids series The Cool Stuff Collective from UK-based independent kids and entertainment specialist, Archie Productions. The studio-based magazine review show aimed at 7-12 year olds will showcase and road test anything that kids might want to own, consume, watch, download or play. A total of 13 x 20-minute programmes are to be produced for the autumn.

The series is presented by Sy Thomas (The Kids Choice Awards, Nickelodeon/MTV; Me:TV, Slime Across the UK, Nickelodeon; Little Howards Big Question, CBBC), a tirelessly enthusiastic and experienced kids’ presenter who also happens to be very funny and a self-confessed geek. Keeping track of all the amazing new gadgets, games, movies, apps, websites and books that kids might want to know about, Sy will front The Cool Stuff Collective from Cool HQ.

Jamila Metran, CITV Programme Manager, says: “We’re extremely pleased to be collaborating with Archie Productions on The Cool Stuff Collective. It’s a format we believe fills a huge editorial gap in the UK for our core audience.”

John A. Marley, Creative Director at Archie Productions, adds: “We’re very excited to be working with CITV on such a great new series which is all about bringing the very latest new stuff to the attention of the people who want it the most…kids! The Cool Stuff Collective reviews the products that kids covet and think about spending their pocket money on, but we’ll do it in the most imaginative ways possible.”

Family gaming – in context options, why not more of them?

I have been considering the PEGI and content ratings of games more than usual recently due a project I am working on. Having to make sure that things are not 12 or over is actually quite a challenge in gaming circles.
Much of this seems to be not just related to violence but to the language used. Games actually offer a great deal more flexibility with clever design to be able to be adjusted to the right age range without losing some of their coolness and anarchy.
A prime example is the excellent Rock fest that is Brutal Legend

Whilst playing the intros it challenges you to make some option decisions about the type of content you would like to experience.
In the scheme of things Brutal Legend is a mission based beat-em-up and RTS but heavily themed with Rock imagery. The main character is played by Jack Black. There is a fair amount of hitting things and casting spells but I have found the predlets have enjoyed watching most of it. In particular they loved Ozzy Osbourne shout rock and roll and throwing the sign of rock. The music is great and whilst they dont actually play it I am happy for them to see its cartoon brilliance on screen whilst I play.
At the start of the game I was asked if I wanted the profanity or the other option of “it sounds funnier when it bleeped out”. With the predlets around that seemed better, and it was funnier.
As you can see below there is also an option to turn off the “gore” which is games terms is not really much more than watching Ben 10 as it is so cartoony yet funny. However the option is there to turn it off

Other media, films, books etc are not able to adjust or be able to be toggled like this.
If a few more things tried this, in particular with dialogue, then I would be able to let my predlets see and play a few more quality games.
This does not stop the fact the content is in there to be unlocked of course so some parental responsibility comes into it, and there is still room for pure 15+ or 18 entertainment, but some of it is so borderline we should be able to choose and turn some features off.

Techie Post: Opensim and Freeswitch problems

I was just replying to a note asking about Opensim and Freeswitch based on the fact I have it working(ish) on Ubuntu on a cloud server. I have been meaning to share where I am up to, though I have not found a complete solution to the problem I am having. However this snippet may help someone, or they may be able to help me 🙂

My Opensim and Freewswitch are running Ubuntu Karmic on a cloud service. Both opensim and freeswitch get built rather than binary distributions. However the ini files and config should be the same (as thats the beauty of this).

Freeswitch works by really just opening a conference call which any avatar will dial into. I am not sure how much digging you have done into the problem but there are a few things to look out for.
I am assuming you have followed the main instructions for config etc

I had this all running from 6.8 onwards but recently moved to 0.7 I noticed in bin/config-include that there was now a line in StandaloneCommon.ini for Freeswitch not just the Opensim.ini. I think I had to uncomment that when I moved to 0.7

The main thing is to make sure that Freeswitch is started first and ready , then spark up opensim.

The default for the region in Opensim is to not have voice enabled at a land parcel and region level. In Hippo I enter god mode and set both the estate options and the parcel options to allow voice. Having done that (only needed if reloading the terrain or something major, I usually logoff and log on again with the view and it gets enabled. That one has caught em a few times.

The other thing to consider is some of the viewers, in particular the more recent open source ones are not allowed to package the SLVoice components with them. That one caught be when I asked someone to use Hippo on windows. The Mac hippo is old enough to still have the voice DLL but the newer windows one did not have it! SL Viewer 1 should of course be OK, but I think it is still not advisable to use SL Viewer 2 on opensim. Imprudence discusses a patch which is how I found out the root of the problem

The server firewall is another thing to check, as is the client firewall. As the ports are potentially different as freeswitch is a completely different application to opensim and the viewer can get blocked.

Should all of the above be ok then its console time for both Opensim and Freeswitch. There are some spurious errors it seems as things try to establish connections. However if you get a couple of clients connected (assuming you get the voice enabled in teh client) you can go into freeswitch and use the sofia commands. sofia status and sofia status profile internal both give a bit of information. I am no expert on the commands but I have been able to see if clients have connected from opensim.

This is where we get to a problem I now have. Freeswitch seems to not be working for everyone who comes to my sim. In my testing I used a mac and a windows machine on my own network at home but both talking to the remote cloud server. That has always worked (though technically it shows as the same IP address twice). I patched in someone else across the country who was using SL viewer 1 and we had a conversation, so I thought it was all working. However a few other people, when we have tried a larger meeting, have experienced problems.

It has been a mix of using a viewer with no SLVoice in it, firewalls but also some strange timing behaviour. It is quite difficult to test but that is why I have been using the sofia commands.

The first person to connect will generally get hold music playing. The second person to connect will enter the call, there is a beep as that happens the hold music ends. However you cannot always hear anyone speaking.
I suspect this is the client firewall operating. i.e. Opensim will talk to freeswitch at a server to server level to patch the person in. the Sofia status tends to show me all the users patched in to the freeswitch console. After that its the SL clients doing the work. When I get no voice response it tends to break the call for everyone. I have not found out how to check that or tell freeswitch to ignore bad calls. Getting the once that break it to logoff so there is only 1 person (i.e. me) in the call sometimes takes a few minutes before the hold music kicks in again. There are some sofia reset commands for the profile that I have dabbled with.

It was only a few weeks ago I hit this snag, the people using my freeswitch are not always in a position to mess with their company firewalls so it has been hard to get a test rig that fails consistently to try and debug it.

I have been meaning to write this down somewhere to help others but wanted to try and fix the problem first, but not many people are using or trying freeswitch.

Having said that if you get the voice connected (probably the god mode parcel audio solution at the start of this) you may find it just works. It could be my server having some bandwidth or memory issues etc. Its a tricky one to spot.