Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Map My Word Gadget


One of those small tools that help, teach, and make you smile. For all those people (like me) that have word fetish. So much fun. Explain the word, suggest spellings, and pronounce.`

Add to your google web page here or for more inforation see http://www.mapmyword.com/

Monday, February 26, 2007

Review of Second Life in German

I was interviewed by a German journalist for http://www.handelsblatt.com/ (actually their paper version). So for those who read German see the web or PDF. The review is balanaced -- on one hand a lot of potential .. on the other hand lots of technical issues.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gmail: the Email Program for Me



This video explore GMail. And.. yes GMail has changed my life.
GMail is not just another email program. It is different, better, smarter. Note that GMail does take some time to get used to it (especially if you are an old Outlook addict like myself). Cool features include being able to pull email from all my accounts, interactive folders (using search), and yes amazing spam manager. What I like espeically:
  • Ability to connect with my mobile phone.
  • Ability to search -- in the usual Google speed.
  • Auto filters.
  • Spam Killer (it is a bit too strong which makes me visit the spam folder once a week)
  • Conversations.
  • Build-in chat (including Voice mail)

Btw, with Google Desktop search (yes Gmail is integrated with Google Desktop serach) one could even have minimal off-line capabilities.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Remote Resources in Second Life

For information -- and a mini workshop -- as to how to connect Second Life see this page
Using Remote resources in Second Life. (Was written by Alon Shalita in 2007 as part of our Tel Aviv University course).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Microsoft to Offer Second Live

A rumor*: Microsoft will combine Live Messenger and Microsoft Virtual Earth to offer what is called the Real Second Life – aka Second Live. Microsoft will include past research on comic chat to allow users to build cartoon or realistic avatars.

* Ok my kid has suggested that yesterday, so I needed to report this. Ah ah. Microsoft? What do you say?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Number of users in MMORPS

http://www.mmogchart.com/ has good data on numbers of MMORPs users. The table says one thing: WOW is booming (green line). The numbers are from June, 2006. The site has the actual excel numbers of many other games. Interesting data. By the way, according to video blogger (on Jan 11, 2007):

Blizzard Entertainment announced today that World of Warcraft, its subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), is now played by more than 8 million gamers around the world.

World of Warcraft has also achieved new regional subscriber milestones, with more than 2 million players in North America, more than 1.5 million players in Europe, and more than 3.5 million players in China.

So it is possible to build a massive MMORP for the metaverse. (well, baring in mind that true Metaverse is a bit more difficult).

Second Life to cancel First Land -- is not the issue; PERFORMANCE is.

Effective immediately Second Life will cancel the First Land option.
To those not familiar: Second Life gave new premium users the ability to buy inexpensive 512 sqm plots land for just L$512. Yet with more users.. this was abused... many people opened alt (alternative) avatars. Purchase the land and then sold it. it was killing the economy).My analysis: First land was abused; and thus no longer relevant; it is a good move. It makes life simple.
BUT I have a very big but.

BUT PEOPLE... any time we react to Linden Labs we must stress PERFORMANCE. Not first land; not support; not my second life; not anything. Any time Linden is talking about such things -- we should direct them back. Talk about databases; speed; reliability. Then we will trust you more. (and you have done an amazing job until now -- but you are building an economy here /me begs Linden to make the system work).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dera Kit to head Metaverse Labs


Metavers Labs HQ in Second Life

Dera Kit (a Second Life Avatar) has informed me that he has officially formed Metaverse Labs. ML will host innovative projects, ideas, and initiatives in the virtual world. Dera works closely with Dr. Yesha Sivan. (ohh... very close :-).

(In the back some of the learning platforms of the lab... with some confidential experiments).

(Reporters: this is a pre release. please do not quote yet.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Second Life new Grid Status: Restricted

Linden is actually doing something about the bugs... a new status called Restricted. This means according to Linden Blog that:

you’ll know that only those Second Life Residents who have transacted with Linden Lab either by being a premium account holder, owning land, or purchasing currency on the LindeX, will be able to log-in. Residents who are in Second Life
when this occurs will only be affected if they log-out and want to return before
the grid returns to normal status.
This has created two responses. Most people liked it. Because working in the SL metaverse has become a pain in the ... you know where. But some people .. did not like it and plan to take drastic measures. This is not the first time. The story of the Elf Clan is kind of sad. Here it was an amazing community that just got pissed off with Linden and simply left Second Life.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Linden Lab chairman Mitch Kapor in Davos: The $100 billion opportunity


Taken directly from Reuters Posting.

Linden Lab (the makers of Second Life) chairman Mitch Kapor on Friday from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
  • Today revenues: mostly land; minor from exchange (selling Linden $, and adds)

  • Future revenues: servers will be out there ("that is the only way we can get to 100,000,000 servers")

  • Virtual Worlds is really a disruptive model.
The $100 billion opportunityIf you look at the history of disruptive technology platforms, like the PC, like the Internet itself, it appears that Second Life, or more properly virtual worlds, are going through that same type of explosive growth that happens when you have a very open platform, in which the barriers to entry and participation are low, in which there’s a lot of entrepreneurial incentive, and also a lot of idealism. And when you make the system open the way it is, with the open source client and more opening to come, people will invent fabulous applications of things to do.
Other hints (I have actually listened) from the movie (which is really his voice + SL animation)
  • Linden is working on voice (avatars talking to each other);
  • Linden is working on "limits to sims" (I hear this as more prims.. per land... or maybe this is what I want to hear? ah ah)
  • "It will take 15 years..."
  • Second Life as a browser.
  • People connecting their own servers... this is the long term road map.
  • The economy will change --- but there will be a lot of advance notice.
  • SL is riding a big wave of hype -- but there is also a lot of substance of creativity.
  • Linden needs to be behind the scenes -- much as in the internet.

Gadwin: a small tool to capture parts of your screen

One often need to cut parts of the screen to store them for Blogs, Demos, or any other use. There are several tools out there -- I use Gadwin that allow you to capture gifs to clipboard, printer, and file. More info www.gadwin.com. Download the specific software here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jan 2007 Stats for Second Life -- I love it

Linden Labs (wow I love you guys and hate you too) have publish the most comprehensive report on second life economy. It is listed in their blog under State of the Virtual World – Key Metrics, January 2007.

What is even more interesting is their spreadsheet Excel Workbook posted here.

Key points:
  • Number of users: 3m or 2m or maybe just 57,000?
  • Land -- lots of it.
  • Man vs woman (note that it is hours used and not actual count)
  • Counties
Here's one quote about the Size of the Virtual World
January was another record month for Second Life in many ways. The size of the world, as measured by the virtual square kilometers of simulation, expanded 23% over December to 361 square kilometers. In fact, continued brisk sales have left us with roughly a two-week backlog for new Island order delivery. (Thanks to everyone for their patience on this.) The backlog has also affected our ability to expand the mainland sufficiently to meet. demand. As a result, the average price for mainland auctions is up higher than I think anyone would like to see it. Over the next several weeks, we hope to rectify both situations with a greater volume of server delivery from our supplier. With a recent release of more than 40 regions of mainland, the addition of a new mainland continent & and doubling of the daily release of new mainland regions I would hope that we will satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand and stabilize the mainland auction market to a more sustainable price.

The origin of computer bugs


So I have used the word buggy... and people often like to know the origin. Wiki (again) helps us by explaining:

The invention of the term is often erroneously attributed to Grace Hopper, who publicized the cause of a malfunction in an early electromechanical computer. A typical version of the story is given by this quote:

In 1946, when Hopper was released from active duty, she joined the Harvard Faculty at the Computation Laboratory where she continued her work on the Mark II and Mark III. Operators traced an error in the Mark II to a moth trapped in arelay, coining the term bug. This bug was carefully removed and taped to the log book September 9th 1945. Stemming from the first bug, today we call errors or glitch's [sic] in a program a bug.

For the actual story see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_bug

Monday, February 12, 2007

Second Life is DOWN! (yet again)

Ok...so I have few things going in Second Life: courses, businesses, research etc.
To all my partners and colaborates be aware... this thing is BUGGY: and at times it does not work. LIKE NOW.... I am so PISSED. I had set a meeting with a very important person; waited for this for 10 days! and Linden Lab... says on Linden blog:

[UPDATE 11:22am PST] Our network issues are still under investigation.
Please refrain from moving items to/from your inventory and thank you for your
continuing patience. -Jean

[UPDATE 10:13am PST] We are still hammering away! Unfortunately we currently have no further information however please continue to refrain from moving items to/from your inventory. We will keep you updated. -Jean

[UPDATE: 9:08am PST] Our techs are hard at work isolating the cause of the current network issues. Whilst investigations are underway, please continue to refrain from performing asset-related activities such as moving items to/from your inventory. We’ll continue to update the blog with further details as they come to hand.

I am sharing this with you so you will know.
And Linden Labs: STABILITY!!!!! Hello!!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Harvard Bus School Case: Wikimedia


Harvard Business School case study about Wikipedia says:
Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales had even greater ambitions than previous encyclopedists. He
wanted not only to build a comprehensive reference work but also to make it freely available to as many people as possible. The Internet and World Wide Web were key to Wales's vision, since a free Web-based encyclopedia would be usable by anyone with Internet access
See the entire case on-line as well as exhibits.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dance Party Guild Wars vs World of Warcraft


I can not help it: Amazing video that compare the dance abilities of WOW and Guild Wars. Note the amazing dancing steps.

Link in youtube

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Get A First Life: Read Carefully



A new site that advocates... get a first life. Read the details, kind of fun. (currently just one page -- I would like to see more).

See the site at http://www.getafirstlife.com/

Monday, February 05, 2007

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

My friend Mor Sagmon from SAP Labs in Israel was kind enough to share with me this video. Kind of nice Web 2.0 review for the rest of us.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

2006-7 Spring Course: Software Workshop - Motion Planning in Virtual Environments (Tel Aviv)

Prof. Dan Halperin (Tel Aviv University) and myself will teach a Software Workshop at the School of Computer Science, Tel Aviv University.

This is aprogramming-intensive course for 3rd year undergrads.

The assignment in this workshop is to plan a collision free motion for moving bodies (robots) in an environment cluttered with obstacles. The major platform will be SecondLife, which is one of the first programmable Metaverse platforms. Several problems will be proposed as well as different solution approaches.
Possible projects:

  • Robot getting out of a maze

  • Hover (flying) chair

  • Snake (multi-link) robots; follow-me dog


More projects will be proposed in class. Students are encouraged to propose their own projects.



Prerequisites: Software 1, Software Project, Algorithms, Data Structures.


See Course Home Page

Nintendo wii: Hardware for the Metaverse

So... finally I got a chance to play with the wii joystick. What an amazing feel. As most of you know, wii is the brand for the Nintendo latest game (read more here). There is one innovation in this game that makes this tool very ineresting. The wii joystick.
Technically the jopstick is build around motion sensing. and it works!
Wikipedia says:
The Wii Remote, also nicknamed "Wiimote," is the
primary controller for Nintendo's Wii console. The main
features of the Wii Remote are its motion sensing
capability, which allows the user to interact with and manipulate items on
screen via movement and pointing, as well as its expandability through the use
of attachments.

Be aware that some reported real demage caused by the wii... yes kids are really moving themselves breaking LCD and plasma screens as well as getting their pets heart.
The wii remote (that has API for Windows) can be used for many things... the nice thing about it that it make actions in virtual world seem easy.
Movie about the wii (nice examples)
Funny movie that compare the wii and playstation 3 (could be considered sexist to some).
(thanks for http://www.garagegeeks.org/ for the demo)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Using Flatland to Understand the Metaverse

I am often asked about linking the Metaverse and the Realverse; or in Second Life term: linking SL to RL. Well ... one of the most interesting mental models to think about this came to me from the classic book Flatland. Interestigly Flatland is about Romance...
"Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions is a 1884 novella by Edwin Abbott Abbott,
still popular among mathematics and computer science
students, and considered useful reading for people studying topics such as the
concept of other dimensions. As a piece of
literature, Flatland is respected for its satire on the social hierarchy of Victorian society."

Metavrse is really another dimension to our real life; it does not replace it; simply augment it -- at least if we follow the route of Flatland. BTW, the entire Flatland book can be using wiki source.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

2006-7 Spring Course: Virtual Worlds Engineering: Internet, Metaverse and Society (Afeka)

Update: An update version of this course was given in the Fall of 2007-8.

In the Spring Semester, 2006-7 I will over a review course in the metaverse. for more details see the course description. Here is the course description:

The Metaverse world – while still in its initial phase – is becoming a key to the internet industry. The Metaverse is a parallel 3-Dimensional world in which people act, work, and – mostly – have fun. Leading organizations like IBM, Toyota and Dell are already active in this world. The Metaverse was born out of the world of gaming and the world of the participatory web (web 2.0). The goal of the course is to acquaint students with key concepts, and key patterns on the Metaverse. The course will deal with:


  1. Get to know the virtual worlds: Wow, Second Life,. There, IMVU, Habbo.

  2. Get to know the engineering challenges in the technology and business sides.

  3. Practical experience in building products, services, and work plans for the Metaverse.
The course will be based on classroom demos and home work. Ohh yes. You do get academic credit for playing games!!. Warning: the Metaverse can be very addictive. Please be aware of that.