Friday, September 26, 2008

Twones: Something new or yet another me2?

It's that time of year again... No, it's not yet Christmas, but september has been a blast with the Virtual Worlds Conference & Expo, TechCrunch Top50, PICNIC 08, EmTech and one on Digital Content Distribution all in one month. No wonder one or two new and exciting startups get overlooked.

Today I came across yet another new startup: Twones, which just went into private Beta. People say it's cool, so let's have a look.


Twones is a music service lets you store, organize, find & share music played all over the web (tracking many services, see image above) or on your computer (like iTunes) to one single point of access. Twones ties all music together and let's you share your taste with others in its most direct way.

It basically works in 4 steps:

  1. Track
  2. Store
  3. Socialize
  4. Discover

I'm not much of a music freak myself, well yeah, I'm an 80's fetishist, but I usually play CD's and don't listen online to music. I've tried Last.FM, it didn't bring me what I needed. So I'll pass on this one as there are enough other lifestreams and aggregators to follow, so for me, Twones is just another Me2 site whcih yet again fails to crack the code. If you are a music lover and use all sorts of media sites you might still wanna check it out.

The good new is that it is yet another Dutch startup like the übercool Project E, which I blogged yesterday.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hotspot Shield as your own Television Decoder

Regularly someone tells me about new television series which are out in the United States and aren't shown in the Netherlands. Usually I visit the website of the broadcasting company, like NBC or FOX to see what the series is about. About every show has its website with information on episodes and the cast. Almost every website offers the option to view the shows as well...

Only in America though. Viewing the series is only possible if you live in the USA, access from other countries is blocked. This nuisance is called geoblocking:

"Geoblocking is a technology that is used to prevent access to web sites from visitors in particular countries or regions.

At the moment it is mainly used by traditional broadcast companies who are moving their television, radio and music content online. Because of distribution contracts with the producers of these programmes many broadcast web sites limit access to people with in their own country.

Whenever a person connects to the internet, their computer or mobile device is assigned what is called an IP address. This is a sequence of numbers in the form 255.255.255.255. The IP address is assigned to you by the internet service
provider (ISP) that you are connecting through and these in turn are assigned to the ISP in blocks. It is therefore possible to say that a particular IP address is from a particular country or even city.

Site owners that want to use geoblocking simply choose to only allow access to a particular range of IP addresses or to block certain ranges.

This type of location based services can also be used to serve alternative content (e.g. with advertising) instead of just blocking the visitor." (Definition Web Dictionary)

The Hotspot Shield offers a way out. The application was designed to make your pc safer when you are accessing the internet from public places. To prevent you from being hacked it opens a VPN connection to the hotspot-shield server - which is USbased - and uses that as a gateway. So suddenly you're US-based and can view every television series you like.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Real Life Cities (11): Copenhagen - but which one?

When I was looking for the Copenhagen City sim last time I found an empty sim. Today I went for another set of sims: The first sim I went to today was Denmark Copenhagen which has a focus on shopping and is your run of the mill sim, but the bordering sims are a lot more interesting. The second sim is the Copenhagen old town with old woodwork houses and the third sim, called Denmark Int, houses one of Copenhagens landmarks. With a little luck you'll take to right alley towards the Nyhavn and some other well known spots.






There are three things that bother me with this sim. When I first visited this sim, it was well populated with quite a number of Danes chatting at a fireplace down at the Nyhavn harbor. The region's main focus is shopping however, but 9 out of 10 shops are empty which gives the build a rather sad look. The second thing is -common for these places and perhaps the reason for it's failure to attract shops - the time the heavy texturing needs to rez.

The third and last issue I have with this sim is the edges of the build. As you can see in the images top left and bottom left the edges contain a number of builds which don't fit in and give thye build a sloppy mainlain ghetto look with its flashy advertisements and hovering builds.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pushing the Limit on SL

Most sims I've visited are maxed out on say what... 50 visitors? Something close to that. Why? If it gets above that Second Life gets slooooooooow, al those textures to be streamed to your client and all those prims. Wait a second, prims? Prims are the things you build, not the things you wear, right? Well partly.


Okay, here's a short short version to Second Life noobs [skip if you're well metaversed].

An island is a server, with server space and capacity. If you build things (buildings) on the island, you build them on the server. For building you use the Second Life building blocks called prims and you create objects. These objects are stored onto the server (with a usual max of 15.000 prims / building blocks), but the textures on the island/server/sim are stored in a central database or asset server. Both are streamed to your desktop as you come to the sim. Avatars (your virtual YOU) aren't made of prims but do use textures for clothing, which need to be uploaded to your desktop as well. Now there's one thing more. Quite a few residents of Second Life have tailored hairdo's, wigs that are made from prims, sometimes even upto 500 prims for a good looking hairdo.

So if everything has to be transferred to your client, you can imagine that 50 visitors bring more textures to stream than 25. If it's getting too much to load, Second Life becomes laggy. Which means you'll see gray people, your movement is slow etcetera.

All in all, I've been told that 99 people was an absolute max. Well it isn't. I just came across the island of mediascape, home to TJ's Icepalace, a danceclub and noticed there were 103 people present. Absolutely undoable I thought, since I've been at several sims wtih 50 people present and that was really laggy. This one wasn't! How do they do it?

It's a proper build, landscaped, buildings, boats, terraces etcetera... so how do they do it?

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/mediascape/110/144/22

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

nVidia to share Intel

The Digitimes reports that Intel and nVidia are joining forces in a tech trade. This rewires the rumours from late 2006 that both companies are looking for a way to counter the AMD-ATi combination.

Several stories float about that Intel is working on a high-end videocard, which puts them in competition with nVidia's budget gpu's AND high end models, so nVidia needs to pay close attention to which intel they're sharing.


All nice bizztalk, but what's in it for us? Well, Second Lifers surely will give new, stronger, faster (and affordable) graphic cards a very very warm welcome, as streaming is getting a nuisance sometimes.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blarney's Simulcast

Tonight's a night for dancing in Dublin's Blarney Stone pub. Another episode in their Simulcast series draws a crowd as Al Hofman climbs the stage.
Al's performance was great, and I've heard many guitarists in my life. Between his songs he spoke in a soft voice, not much of a talker, but his music speaks for him. The crowd certainly loved it. For those interested, here's a pic from the preference settings for optimal sound. Let's meet again in Dublin :)

If you'll check the Second Life events, you'll find Al to be a regular performer at various clubs and events.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Molotov cocktail at the movies

Filmmaker and multimedia artist Douglas Gayeton is about to release his new virtual documentary titled "My Second Life - the video diaries of Molotov Alva" and will be shown to audiences in two continents almost simultaneously. Douglas himself is the star of the show, as Molotov Alva is his virtual counterpart.

"It premieres at Hot Docs, the international documentary festival in Toronto and at The Fantastic Film Festival in Amsterdam", Douglas told SLNN. That inworld movies can find a stage at these festivals is promising for future productens as there is increasing recognition for SL as a mature cinematic medium.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Q is good for you...

...were the words spoken to me by the sim robot-greeter.
This Dutch / Belgian sim looks a bit chaotic with a thousand an one things to do. There's the Q-Music dance club, the Q-Music radio station, rental appartments and a funpark with pool, dodgem cars and a Ferris wheel. Certainly there's enough to provide entertainment for visitors.


Nice detail are the neon palm trees that are spread throughout the sim.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rapid Architectural Prototyping in Second Life

was the title of an article on the 3PointD blog. The contents of the article were no news to me, but since they say nice things about our Guestwriter Lordfly, here's the full score:

"Second Life architect Lordfly Digeridoo has posted a great video of the process of designing a site plan in Second Life for a real-world site in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Because of “massive procrastination,” LF says, he had only a week to do it. His video compresses that week into less than 10 minutes of high-speed SL work, and it’s pretty compelling to watch. There’s even a great sense of suspense in wondering what the finished product will be like. An excellent look at the methods of a master builder."

Read the article and view the video at: http://www.3pointd.com/20070406/rapid-architectural-prototyping-in-second-life/

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Machinima

Machinima is a new form of filmmaking that uses computer games technology to shoot films in the virtual reality of a game engine. Rather than picking up expensive camera equipment, or spending months painstakingly tweaking even more expensive 3D packages, Machinima creators act out their movies within a computer game. We treat the viewpoint the game gives them as a camera - “Shooting Film in a Virtual Reality”, as we've been known to put it in their more slogan-high moments – and record and edit that viewpoint into any film we can imagine.

First class examples can be found at the official website: http://www.machinima.com/

Aimee Weber's Tour of the Solar System
Aimee takes you on an educational tour of our Solar System. This movie was made entirely within the Second Life platform and has been credited as the first use of machinima for education.

In a marriage of Machinima and virtual education, Aimee takes us on an informative tour of our solar system. Starting with Pluto, Aimee's own voice serves as our tour guide as we zoom smoothly from planet to planet, pausing only to catch some stunning details, learn new facts, or thrill to the movie's soundtrack. This movie is actually only a part of a larger educational project Aimee has been working on in recent months. The sets for this movie spanned the entire length of a sim and in some cases (such as Saturn's rings) the builds consisted of thousands of prims!

Watch the movie: http://alt-zoom.com/movies/azpresents/aweber/SolarSystem.mov

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Fox Atomic

Fox Atomic has transferred the stereotype hollywood moviestudio into the Metaverse.
Though the Holleywood studios in Real Life (meatspace) are a sight to see, I must admit the lone studio in typical bunker style on this sim doesn't transfer the same feeling. A small ticket area looks nice, but misses context as well.


The sim is mainly used for streaming movietrailers and setting up decorums of their new series.
The 28 weeks later decor of the houses of parliament is a nice trick, but Fox has done little effort to create an innovative experience.

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NBC Sessions from Second Life

Just looking at the sattelite image of the NBC1 sim gives you a dark impression, and it's a telltale sign of a heavy build. NBC chose a full urban sim, probably similar to their downtown headquarters in real life.



Because of this enormous build the sim is slow in rendering.

As for activities, NBC is running a show from Second Life, called the Sessions. The setting is a wee bit like your usual American talkshow, like Jay Leno's "Tonight Show"
Contracters for this heavy build are the Electric Sheep Company and Aimee Weber.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

BNN

When entering the BNN (Bart's News Network, a Dutch television company) sim one walks up to a theatre. At first I thought the thing to be rather dark and depressing, but after taking some distance, you can see it's a giant pick-up player.

Although I will have a hard time explaining what a pick-up player is to my 3 year old daughter, I think it's quite an original approach that will invoke historic sentiments.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/BNN/128/128/0

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Second Life Seminar

Wednesday April 4th the Dutch Media Conference Center, Media Plaza, organised a seminar on Second Life, talking about doing your homework!

Indeed, wednesday, worldwide Second Life patch day!

Contents:

  • Presentatie door Dr. Frans Feldberg, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Presentatie Bart Bockhoudt, oprichter Dutch Exchange
  • Live streaming video in Second Life door Ivo Krupinski, DMAEen aantal locaties waar (live)streaming video in Second Life plaatsvindt passeren de revue. De DMA-Studio, muziekevenementen, zakelijke bijeenkomsten en een locatie waar onderwijs centraal staat.
  • Presentatie door Damien Simons, [Lost in the] Magic Forest
  • Presentatie door Gertjan Kaaij, Business innovation manager ING
Sogeti was well represented at this event with about 7 employees, leaving the poor lonesome junior of Cap Gemini wondring if he should have looked for a different employer.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Time to Drop In

Well, the Talpa launch (on February 9th) was an event! For the grand opening of the Talpa Dropzone sims a stage was set up where the band 16-down performed in SL -or not?

16-Down actually performed live on stage in Paradiso (Amsterdam) and the concert was live-streamed to SL and vice-versa. Visitors of the actual concert could watch the virtual crowd dance to the beat as well. The Talpa website names it a cross-reality concert.

The Dropzone, aptly named of course, since one really does drop in after a teleport, is created with the help of [Lost in the] Magic Forest.



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