July 27, 2008

Bill Ward and I have arranged for another outing for our control panel, this time as part of the NYC Resistor Art of the Game Show it’s been hooked up to Pong, with Pong itself running in the sandbox in Pi.

The control panel installed in NYC Resistor's Gallery.

The control panel installed in NYC Resistor's Gallery.

Pong in the Pi sandbox.

Pong in the Pi sandbox.

Particles a go-go

October 1, 2007

Particles a go-go

At the beginning of the month a note originally posted to the SL Educators list by Hilary Mason about her script generator was reposted to the SL Scripters list. It read in part:

I’m interested in making scripting (and programming in general) more
accessible to everyone. Over the last few days (procrastinating from
prepping for my courses 🙂 I created a script generator for LSL…

at the time I was walking to the DMV and reading this on my cellphone and I kind of expected only the two age old fates of endeavors to bring programming to the masses: obscurity or a new programming language. Actually Hilary has done something rather different, her tool does not attempt to cover all of the possibilities of LSL scripting, but rather is a sort of code generation wizard that lets you pick a few options and fills out a script based on that.

Ron Blechner and Jeroen Frans got to talking about how the same approach would work for particles and that seemed like a good little project to me. After some coding and some settling I’m opening the tool to the world at http://something.newworldelectric.com:8885/particles. The web form there will let you fill out settings for a particle system and then both generate the LSL code and send the system to a particle source on my lawn i Pi. It’ll give you a slurl to the exact source and take just a couple seconds for it to load, lag in Pi permitting.

This is a spin off of the same technology I use in my basement and other projects and I do plan to develop it somewhat further based on any suggestions I recieve, I’ll be happy to take bug reports by e-mail to andy -at- New World Electric or the comments here.

– CF

Literature Factory Chapter II

September 5, 2007

So, while the Literature Factory is intended for a somewhat limited run it looks like it will be getting one, probably two new chapters, the next chapter is the Literature Factory Bookstore, which is coming together as a build for Burning Life at Burning Life (Diablo) (65,206,25) we will be selling books from the factory for 0L$ so if you want one, drop by. Chapter III is in progress, but not ready just yet, I will however say if you are interested in teaching a class or promoting particular pieces of literature in Second Life I’d like to hear from you at (my SL First Name) @ gmail . com.

Also, the Literature Factory has drawn a number of media responses and I wanted to pull together a run down here:

* SLNN – This factory is a fine example of vertical product development, as the robots start the process by making words, sorting them into the correct part of speech, assembling them into sentences, then finally scanning them into a giant book which is finally shrunken into a more manageable sized tome.

* The Philadelphia Inquirer – And as we put down the paper and finish our coffee, the Word-o-Mats are still working away, not unlike those hypothetical monkeys typing for eternity. Who’s to say what they’ll come up with?

also a number of blogs:

* Second Tense – Yeah, it’s a farce. But why not? It beats 1000 monkeys banging away on typewriters. Maybe this is the modern day equivalent?

* Beth’s Second Life – Someone best wake up Walt Whitman, cuz‘ I think he is dying all over again…

* Second Seeker – One has to like the idea of grinding out letters, words, stories, books … one wonders what gets left on the factory floor! The factory’s motto, “The finest literature that a factory can produce — you have our word on it!” seems particularly apt.

* Natalia Zelmanov’s Second Life Diary – Well, this was bound to happen one day. Factory robots have been building everything from cars to kitchen sinks. Now, theres a factory full of robots building literature in Second Life!

* Lythe Witte – Just discovered the Literature Factory by Ciemaar Flintoff. Tis a great work that is a lot of fun.

Also Lludmila Mirrikh has posted a Flickr set from the factory so let me link that here too.

– Ciemaar

A family business for 10 generations

Ever wonder what it would take to create Burning Life out of season? Turns out it takes months of building and scripting, like from May to August. Something to be said for the power of a deadline to focus the mind. On some land loaned out of Joi Ito’s Kula2 sim myself and some of my teammates from Burning Life 2006 have been building a Literature Factory in a Burning Life like folly build since May. Thanks to exterior work by Binnie Zander, a huge amount of interior building(including about 15 different robots some of which you see here) by Sandhya2 Patel, and scripting from yours truly it’s finally done. So, we’ve scheduled a grand openning for this Saturday. While I’m naming names I should also thank Alondria LeFey for additional scripting, Enki Stardust for sentence making rules, and Roger Thunders for help concepting.

Now, the natural question here is what a Literature Factory might be. Well now, that’s a silly question, it’s simply a factory that makes literature. Now, according to Wikipedia:

The term “literature” has different meanings depending on who is using it and in what context. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters. In a more narrow sense the term could mean only text composed of letters, or other examples of symbolic written language (Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example). An even more narrow interpretation is that text have a physical form, such as on paper or some other portable form, to the exclusion of inscriptions or digital media.

Well, we certainly meet that criteria, excepting the physical form bit, but I hope you’ll let that slide.

Now, I have things to do and people to see, so we went ahead and automated the factory. This row of Word-o-Mats runs tirelessly day and night, manufacturing words for the factory, the Bin Bots with them take charge of ferrying the words from the Word-o-Mats to the sorted bins on the other side of the factory.

Word-o-Mat Row

This is a view from the other side where the Bin Bots drop off their words and other bots build sentences and transfer them into the new works of literature under constant production.

Sentence Assembly

But pictures only convey so much, so drop in to the Literature Factory at Kula 2 (189,9,25).

Sometimes the time just flies buy and certainly my time in Second Life has. It seems like only yesterday I was congratulating Hiro Pendragon on making the move to full time and chuckling as he told me I’d join him soon, and now I am, where has the time gone? What do I really have to show for a year and a half of puttering and working in Second Life. So here then is a roughly chronological review of my work. The first project I ever did in Second Life that wasn’t merely for my own use was this set of waterfalls and the surrounding landscaping for the vow renewal of a couple of friends I met in-world. It’s been taken down now and built over with a club, but I still have the pictures and love how it came out.

Wedding Waterfalls

My next major project was in the fall of last year, the Dessert Island for Burning Life 2006. I headed up a team of four builders to bring to life this dessert in the desert, complete with a chocolate well feeding a creek, self pouring and boxing bonbons, a hot cocoa hot tub, milk bridge, cake house, snow cone Gatling gun, Trojan bunny, and pie planetarium in the sky.

Dessert Island

The same team also worked on a second build for Burning Life 2006, the Oasis of Hope, but I didn’t get any good pictures.

Since then I’ve been doing some contracting for Infinite Vision Media as well as a few “device projects,” my control panel and Weather Wisdom, each of which has it’s own blog entry here. The control panel was in partnership with Bill Ward and Weather Wisdom with both he and Sandhya2 Patel. My latest major project has been the Literature Factory, an automated factory staffed by automatons and dedicated to producing books. Again I’ve been proud to have the help of Binnie Zander and Sandhya2 Patel on the building.

Literature Factory

Hmm, what else? Well, lots of little bits, like the products in my shop, from left to right, my metal and glass furniture, peace stompers, dance floor, comment boxes, and couples bracelets.

CFP Store

…. and also the toys out at my workshop, again from left to right; my underground lair, galleryzebo, soccer set, and in the foreground, the weather maker built for one of the aforementioned IVM contracts, Weather Island, from February of this year.

CFP Workshop and Office

And none of this is counting the projects that aren’t ready to show yet of course, so I guess I have been busy.


Going Full Time

June 25, 2007

Just a professional update, I’ve quit my job at The Burgiss Group and will be working full time as a meta-verse developer. I will be working on a contract basis, primarily with Infinite Vision Media. I will also be forming my own company New World Electric along with Bill Ward. With Infinite Vision Media I will continue to develop some of the most creative projects in the meta-verse. New World Electric is a smaller venture at the moment focused on some products and smaller projects which Bill and I are particularly interested in and possibly consulting on some related projects.

There are three main interfaces that can bridge the gap between SecondLife and real life:

* e-mail – E-mail is the simplest of Second Life’s external interfaces and the one that can be used without an external server. On the downside, it also has the greatest lag and highest latency. Outbound the Lindens add 20 seconds of script lag to each call, inbound there’s no scripted lag but your messages are subject to normal E-mail delays. E-mail is designed to be slow but reliable, for example, the spec requires that clients retry failed messages and suggests a 30 minute retry interval. I’m sure you’ve seen much delays up even to several days.

* xmlrpc – xmlrpc is the only option that allows an external program to trigger an in-world event, in fact xmlrpc can only be triggered externally triggered though the script can send data out in a reply. Xmlrpc is low lag and low latency, the Lindens add 5 seconds of script lag and only when your script sends a reply. Sending a reply is optional from the standpoint of lsl, but not replying will likely raise an error in your external code. Xmlrpc communication is based on channels which are assigned by Second Life’s servers. Any program using xmlrpc must include a mechanism to get the channel identifier out of SL. The other two SL/RL interfaces are prime candidates though you could ask users to copy and paste. You should also make provisions to open a new channel when the old one idles out, the scripted object rerezzes or changes region, or the channel is closed by a grid reset. This is rare, but something you need to plan for.

* http request – while xmlrpc uses http internally you’re not supposed to think about that. If you wanted to think about it you would use http request. Http request effectively turns Second Life into a web browser. Http has no lag and low latency, the Lindens limit it to 100 requests per 100 seconds, you’ll have to add your own lag if needed to stay within that limit. You can use three of the http methods; GET, POST, and PUT. GET and POST are commonly used in web sites, with a little bit of effort you can interface them to any web framework you’re familiar with, either to retrieve data or send it to a form. You’ll need to format your data and run it through llEscapeURL yourself, but your framework will handle it from there just fine. PUT is a little less common in web applications and may turn up somewhere odd in your framework, but it can be used to send unformatted data very nicely. All http requests are initiated from within Second Life, but they can retrieve up to 2k from your web service. With the low lag you could easily poll to allow an external service to trigger events in SL.

I’ll write more about each of these in later entries or take questions by comment or e-mail.

After we posted the control panel In Kenzo left us a note inviting us to enter into the NMC Connect art show. While Bill and I had defiantely talked about the possibilities of building some sort of art piece using the technology, hopefully a large installation and likely working with a more established artist, we certainly weren’t expecting to do one just a couple weeks later. But, we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity either. So, Bill, Sandhya2 Patel, and I sat down to brainstorm how to run our skills into art. Sandhya2 was a great help since unlike Bill and I she is an incredibly skilled artist. Bill chipped in with the comment that we could do light and temperature easy, so, of course we came up with a plan that required a barometer. Sandhya2 built a wonderful little german weather house, Bill got a barometer, and I wired the whole thing through so that the sensor is entangled with both the actual Weather House and an in world replica of the controller.

Here’s the finished in-world build:

Weather Wisdom Build

And the finished real world controller:

Controller in place in the windowClose up of the controller

You can see the build up until the 13th at http://slurl.com/secondlife/NMC%20Campus%205/225/124/20. We’ll probably put it up again somewhere else after the show, but we can’t be sure just where yet. Also, after the show we definitely want to hook up the LEDs that we have in the world build. Hooking up 3 devices to one serial port takes a little doing and we had to cut it out of the RL controller.

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SL/RL Control Panel Update

January 31, 2007

So, it’s been an interesting week just passed, lots of demos of the control panel, and discussion of where to go next. I also took the time between to hook the same input to move a plywood prim and control a set of fireworks. We’re working with a few people to wrap this kind of feature into one or several art pieces and we are excited to be working with Infinite Vision Media to develop applications for this and other related technologies … look for exciting news to come.

One of the things that have fascinated me since I joined Second Life has been mixed reality events. Just as I joined, my friend Hiro Pendragon was working on The Happening. I thought that was pretty neat and have watched the new events since, even built a few gadgets of my own. I just finished another one, a real life control panel linked through into Second Life. My friend Bill Ward built a small control box, just like this:

which I then hooked to my computer just like this:

Connected to computer

and built a representation of in Second Life like this:

Second Life Controller

The two are now entangled together through a Python web server so that turning the knob on the real world one, or pushing a button, changes the same on the one in Second Life.

What for? Well, the same techniques can connect other real world objects to other SL objects. We’ll probably be connecting the panel to trains and fireworks, maybe a few other things soon, and then working on other panels and in-world applications.

You can see the RL and SL panels at my display gallery in Pi. Or as best as can be shown in the larger picture below:

Both controllers in SL

That’s Bill(Williem Leandros) on the left, myself on the right, and Rhiannon Chatnoir looking on in the middle.