Thursday, October 02, 2008

BT AvaTalk - TTYL

Sometime Mid 2007, at the height of the hype, we saw a number of telecom providers digging into Second Life. Now, these first wave pioneers are slowly moving away, such as Vodafone. Others still have got no clue as what to do in Second Life. When I talked to someone from KPN earlier this year, they were in Second Life, fiddled around, explored a bit, but couldn't find any real use yet. However, what they did do was setup a messaging center that could send SMS from SL to RL.

So, I was kind of surprised when I learned British Telecom ran a trial with inworld-outworld communications, a trialperiod which just ended though. They set up a splashing website called BT AvaTalk.


Interested to see where this would lead, I browsed the website to see where I could find BT in Second Life. Finally, I ended up in the FAQ section:

Where can I find the BT AvaTalk Phone Box?
You will only be able to find BT AvaTalk Phone Boxes in select number of exclusive Second Life regions

Well, that doesn't lead me anywhere either. Let's immerse then and seek out the goodies... The review at Digital Urban pretty much sums it up though:

The movie below provides full details into a service that we cant quiteunderstand - sure the main pull is that its free, but take away the free aspect and why would you ever want to call someone in the 'real world' from Second Life rather than just use a 'real' phone on your desk or a service such as Skype?



BT AvaTalk - Second Life - video powered by Metacafe

We tend to get a bit of flack at times for using Second Life in our research, but we fully believe that there is a strong argument for these collaborative environments in the realm of geographic and architectural visualisation. However, we still cant see why we would want to pick up the phone in Second Life to ring someone, as we obviously are not actually in the environment.

Perhaps we are missing something on this one...

I wouldn't be that sceptic either. I think it is a road we must pursue, even if it has no immediate use. Eventually it is about fast changing ways of communication. Who would have predicted we would stream microblogs to our mobile phone a few years ago? If we do move to a world like Second Life to do real business meetings calling in and out to the Real World might be very usefull for the ones left behind in a Traffic Jam, or could not be present for any other reason.

For now, it's TTYL (talk to you later) though, and I'll pick Orange as the most successful telecom provider in Second Life. There is activity there, for instance with the currently running Innovation Week.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Virtually Dutch

Here's something else for a change. Next weekend the European Soccer Championship starts with the Dutch facing France, Italy and Romania in the group stages, so it's gonna be tough to get through to the QF's. Anyway, slowly the nation is turning orange.


Practically everyone in the Netherlands thinks he's the National Team Coach, so were are the normal supporters? This year, they come from England. On the website Just Go Dutch, some Englishmen are trying to get the whole of the UK to support Holland during the Championship.


Now why would the English decide to support the Dutch? Probably not because of Guus Hiddink, the world best coach who worked another miracle and led the Russians to the Euro 2008 tournament at the expense of the English national team and is said to take the helm at Chelsea after the Euro 2008.

No, the reason why the Brits should support the Dutch is pretty simple, according to the team behind "Just go Dutch": They're virtually Dutch... England and Holland have a lot in common, like having a queen, a roaring lion printed at their shirt and the tendency to under achieve at championships...

I'm not sure if it'll help, hope it does, cuz while the team has quality enough to win the title, we probably only do so once in a 100 years and this group stage really is a killer. Can't see them go past France and Italy yet, when they do, they're title candidates though.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Geekend, Backend & Open-end

Orange Geekend.

Trough Ogoglio Trevor Smith's twitter stream I noticed phone company Orange had organised an interesting meeting on Scalability and called it the ‘Orange Geekend’. It was a rather interesting technical update by PhD John Plevyak on scalability. The obvious thing in the future of Virtual Worlds is in cloudcomputing but Plevyak suggested some of its load will go back to the user in peer 2 peer sharing of CPU power. The meeting was interesting, yet a little out of place. It would have sutied better in a natural habitat, like Intel...

Xeon 5148 upgrade for Linden Lab

... but Intel was celebrating a nice new deal as Linden Lab purchased a nice load of new Xeon 5148 servers. Starting February 1 you can upgrade your sim from class 4 to class 5. Upside is you get better performance, downside is rentals go up from $ 195 to $ 295 monthly (US Dollars).

Residents didn't take that rise very well and reacted heavily on the Linden Blog, and dearly want Linden Lab to open the source of the servercode shortly. This will make islands a lot cheaper and will give users and companies alike better opportunities to experiment with Virtual Worlds.

Linden loves Open Source

Linden Lab did react to the user comments by stating:

‘we’d dearly like to open-source the servers’

Which sounds pretty hopefull, but...

‘The big problem is that in the current architecture, servers are trusted. Identity information, ownership information — all that is stored on the servers, and in a closed-source, behind-the-firewall environment, we can communicate between the servers securely. Trust, identity, connectedness — all of these are huge problems.’

However, I've already seen infrastructure designs that would make this possible. The plan is on the table, so please don't hesitate to make it happen.


(The Grid Now - Tao Takashi)


(The next Grid - Tao Takashi)

... we'll have to be patient though. I remember Linden Lab's Joe Miller stating that Second Life has no future as long as there's only one company controlling the grid. Outsourcing or Opensourcing seems to be question for Linden Lab as it is said that Linden Lab does want to open up its sourcecode --but only to a select group of companies (often mentioned names include Google and IBM).

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orangatility

A number of telecom providers have immersed in Second Life in the past year, including (Dutch) KPN, Vodaphone and T-Mobile. Now we've got Orange. As Orange is somewhat the national color of the Netherlands, some think it's another Dutch company. Here's a little from Aleister who sorted it out:

The company history is somewhat convoluted, but it was acquired as the mobile phone (cellphone) arm of French communications giant, France Telecom, in 2001. Since 2006 it has taken a broader role, as the global brand in front of many of the parent company's services - in particular, internet.

The folks over at Metaversatility are responsible for the build, and it shows. It is of superb quality. It is a double sim build which is very open and green. If I'd list the features of this island, you'd say it's nothing special, nothing new.




In this build you will find the usual stuff: Auditorium, workspace / meeting room, some info spaces and some spaces to chill. The quality of this build is that it's not all jammed together in a real-life office building but uses the option that a virtual world has to offer. The spaces are set up in an outdoor scene with lots of trees, water and small hills. You won't find a rooftop here and you can just fly in to wherever you want to be. For those who are still a little awkward with flying around, there are also paths that lead you to the various spaces.









There's a few things that are worth checking out. There's a massive sound sculpture blocking your path (should you choose to walk the path). There's also a hangglider if you don't want to navigate yourself.

The Orange venue opened up just yesterday with the following launchparty:

8:00 am SLT - Exploration of the island

10:00 am SLT - DJ Doubledown on the Lower Plaza

11:00 am SLT - Slim Warrior

12:15 pm SLT - Clint

For more on the orange buid there are excellent pictures at KZero and also a good story at Aleister's Ambling in Second Life.





SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Orange%201/128/128/0

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