show #69: the young person’s guide to svvr 2015

Originally posted on the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]:

show #69 show #69

two days of goggle madness in san jose: the vrexpo on 40k square meters at the san jose convention center wrapped tuesday night.

drax & assistant were there for one day & got a good sense of the state of vr in 2015:

if you have the time, read on please:

– our new sponsor dutchie

dutchie's stuff in sl is just awesome dutchie’s stuff in sl is just awesome

– ben lang from roadtovr moderates an interesting panel on consumer vr:

– valve’s basestation for positional tracking = the lighthouse!

little drax interviews kite & lightning founder ikrima because he looks like his dad's avatar little drax interviews kite & lightning founder ikrima because he looks like his dad’s avatar

– fove eyetracking headset = great start on kickstarter

cybermind ad = the best pitch for exiting rl non sequitur = cybermind ad = the best pitch for exiting rl

– my fave: nonny’s company emblematic group makes a trayvon martin experience

nonny and partner at their booth nonny and partner at their booth

– xxarray captures you in 3d and puts you into a…

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Using virtual reality to rebuild the past, reconstructing the Zum Nussbaum restaurant.


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—The Zum Nussbaum in 1903.

According to the media, I should be using Second Life for all sorts of wacky kinky pervy stuff, but I’ve found something a lot more exciting… time travel!

For the last 6 years I’ve been recreating a 1920s Berlin neighbourhood, in the progress gathering a wonderful community of people from all over the world who bring life into the narrow streets and small dark courtyards.

We’ll be celebrating the 6th anniversary of our sim at the end of this month and for almost all its existence we’ve managed the pay the tier, so I guess I’m not the only one who thinks Second Life has a little more to offer than what it’s reputation seems to suggest.

When I first started The 1920s Berlin Project, I realised the sim, just a tiny skybox back then, needed a hotel, a place to stay at.
I wasn’t sure anyone would want to actually rent a home and live there permanently (Oh how wrong I was), and a nice hotel where you can rent a little room to live for a few days would be more interesting.

The Zum Nussbaum building as it looked in 2010

The Zum Nussbaum building as it looked in 2010

After some research I found a nice looking building that wasn’t too big and an actual building in Berlin, with my very basic knowledge of how to build, basically walls with pictures and alpha texture windows, I recreated the first building for the sim that was based on a RL location.

Because of its age, the Zum Nussbaum has become a much loved little corner of our neighbourhood, people enjoy sitting there and chatting, having a meal and for many its tiny, dark, damp rooms were the first place they could call their own.

And although I rebuild it once or twice, it clearly was an older building.
As part of my massive “mesh Berlin campaign”, I’ve been meshing, and in many cases improving and rebuilding all the Berlin buildings from scratch.

Drawing by Heinrich Zille, 1922.

Drawing by Heinrich Zille, 1922.

Most of the time meshing a building means that its land impact goes down but it actually looks better.
But sometimes I don’t care about the land impact and just want it to look great, even if that means the land impact goes up.
I especially feel that way when I am building something that is an actual RL building or that I just really really like.

The Zum Nussbaum (Or Zum Nußbaum) restaurant is one of those buildings.
Originally build in the 16th century, it was destroyed by bombs in 1943 and rebuild in the 1980s.
But that didn’t keep it from becoming one of Berlin’s few typical old fashioned bars.
Unfortunately for me that meant that most modern day photos of the building were pretty useless for reconstruction purpose as the modern rebuild version doesn’t look much like it looked in the 1920s.

zum nussbaum

So all I had to work on were old photos, pictures and paintings.
Together with the building next to it, I think I succeeded pretty well in making the building looked like the way it did before the bombs fell.
Someone alive back then would at leas  at least recognise it.

So, after 72 years people can once more head over to the Zum Nußbaum restaurant for a good cheap meal.

zum nussbaum rebuild


The Future of VR Is User-Created, Ebbe Altberg’s presentation at SVVR



Missed Ebbe’s presentation at SVVR (Silicon Valley Virtual Reality) Conference & Expo or just want to watch it again?

The video is now online, courtesy of Ruthalas Menovich.

Besides a sneak peak of an artist’s impression of ‘Project Sansar’ (the next generation Second Life made by Linden Lab), there wasn’t a lot of news or things to make us excited.
Still, worth a watch, especially if you, like me, enjoy Ebbe talking of one of his favourite sims…


First look at Project Sansar, the next virtual world Linden Lab is working on


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During his speech at the SVVR (Silicon Valley Virtual Reality) Conference & Expo Ebbe talked a bit about Second Life, mentioning again some interesting (but not new to most of us) facts and figures, spoke of how The 1920s Berlin project was one of his favourite sims (hurrah!) and again had to tell everyone there that I am such a cry baby.

I never cry but when I explored my sim with the Oculus Rift for the first time and saw the Zeppelin fly over, something I’ve been dreaming about ever since I was a little girl, I did shed a little tear ;)

Most interesting to us was of course his talk of Project Sansar (working title), the next virtual world Linden lab is working on.
And Ebbe showed the first image related to Sansar.
Even though this was just a picture, not a screenshot or anything, it is still the first image we’ve seen, as far as I know.

I know Sansar is already running on some Lab’s screens but they haven’t shown us that yet.

So here it is, the first Sansar publicity picture;


show #68: minecraft in the classroom = better than sl?

Jo Yardley:

New Drax Files Radio Hour episode with an interview with Hamlet Au regarding the Atlas Obscura article and a wonderful story about using Minecraft in schools, not to be missed!

Originally posted on the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]:

show #68 show #68

dear listeners, if you want to go straight to german high school teacher mirek hancl explaining how he uses minecraft to engage 6th to 12th graders, skip to 35:00 in the show.

for those who want to know everything about the recent drama regarding second life journalism – please listen straight from the top:

after your listening pleasure = read on for context as per usual?

the atlas obscura article that started it all

atlas obscura on sl atlas obscura on sl

hamlet’s post in response & honour mcmillan’s rebuttal of the response

cica ghost's balloons - art without deviant sex [by ziki quesit] cica ghost’s balloons – art without deviant sex [by ziki quesit] – d/l unedited 30 min convo with hamlet [if you have the time & don’t trust us!]

– last week’s show also had to do with journalism…just saying…

– our musical guest slimmie

slimmie formerly slim warrior slimmie formerly slim warrior

mirek hancl teaches minecraft [he appears in “virtualize it!” from…

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The positive SL article, Wagner Au’s story, the public response and the finale on The Drax Files Radio Hour


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How is that title for click bait?

Recently a journalist who wanted to write about Second Life did the right thing, he asked for help.

As soon as reporter Eric Grundhauser realised how massive our virtual world was and how impossible it would be to write a proper article about it without exploring it for many days, he reached out to Linden Lab and asked for a guide.
Linden Lab pointed him in the direction of one of the best guides  imaginable, Ziki Questi.

She showed him some of SL’s most impressive sims (but forgetting the best one, mine ;)) and the result is a rather nice, positive article about Second Life.
One to counter all those negative stories with.
But he didn’t forget to mention the more adult side, luckily, unlike with most media, it was not the main focus of his story.

The story was published on a website called ‘Atlas Obscura‘, “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places.”, as they describe themselves.
So not a tech website, not a blog about games or virtual reality, but more like a travel guide for those interested in the unusual.
It is very interesting that they choose to publish a story about a virtual destination, I like that a lot.

Make sure you read it, you can find it by clicking here.

But a few days later Wagner James Au on his website ‘New World Notes’, wrote an article about the Atlas Obscura article that was rather surprising to many.
He felt that the adult side of Second Life, ugly outdated sims and things such as lag, old graphics, etc. did not get enough attention and that the article thus “presents a distorted picture of Second Life that ultimately does a disservice to SL and its best creators, while doing nothing to help grow its userbase.”

You can read his entire article by clicking here, make sure you also read the comments below it.

Unsurprisingly many Second Life users were confused, annoyed and angry about his story.
Finally the media writes something positive about our virtual world and now this.

Honour McMillan wrote an interesting reply to Wagner’s story here on her blog and of course there was lots of talking about the subject on Twitter and plurk.

So Drax and I decided to invite Hamlet to our little attic studio in Berlin (AKA Skype) and interviewed him.
I think the result is rather interesting, an edited (for time) version will be part of the Drax Files Radio Hour to go online this Friday and we will also put the complete unedited interview online.

I personally think that just because sims are catagorised as adult, they don’t necessarily are ‘rated Adult for extreme sexual and violent content’.
Interestingly enough yesterday Linden Lab organised a ‘Inworld Linden meet up’ in the adult themed (stunningly wonderful) sim Basilique Town… where public nudity or even (wearing or walking around in?) underwear is not allowed!
And although the place has a few corners here and there where the rules are more relaxed and hanky panky probably goes on somewhere, these areas are for members only.
So their rating as adult may be legitimate, I definitely wouldn’t call it a sex sim, if it was, I wouldn’t even dare visit it, Lindens or no Lindens.

Then again, my rating system would be even worse, I’m such an old fashioned prude, I’d probably rate 99% of SL as perverted.
I mean some women walk around with skirts that don’t cover their knees!

I also think that a lot has to do with the words you use.
For instance Hamlet says Second Life is dying, I’d prefer to say it is declining or even better; evolving into the Next Generation virtual world that Linden Lab is working on now.

Anyway, I’ll leave the rest of my opinions to the interview we did with Wagner, a link to our podcast will be shared here on this blog, and on of course on the Draxfiles website as soon as the show is online.

atlas obscura

Kickstarter promises VR with smell, heat, cold and shows the future


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An interesting kickstarter is offering us a glimpse into the future.

By attaching a device to your VR headset you’ll be able to experience heat, cold, wetness, vibration and even smells while exploring virtual worlds or playing a game.

Right now this is of course all still in a rather early phase and while everyone is trying to make VR work with fewer wearable tech, they are adding to it.
I doubt many of us will want to wear more stuff or even that helmet they show at the end.

But… the idea of walking trough 1920s Berlin and smelling the coal fires, ‘feel’ the rain, experience vibration while driving the tram, being cold while rushing trough dark streets to get to that basement bar where I’ll feel the heat and experience the cigarette smoke, the smell of sweat and lukewarm beer of this busy place while having a schnaps is one I’d love.

Kickstarters come and go, especially VR related ones are a dime a dozen.
Many amount to nothing and are just plain silly.
This one may also never make it big, it may be a bit ahead of its time, but it is interesting because it does show us what is already possible now and what will undoubtedly become mainstream one day in one way or another.

As soon as advertisers realise that one day they will be able to send you the smell of their newest Pizza while you’re watching a film, they’ll be pumping money into development.
Games,movies, virtual worlds… the journey has only just begun.

Check out the kickstarter page here.

Feelreal helmet

The Rift is coming! Shipping first quarter of 2016.


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The news has finally come; Oculus will start shipping its consumer version of their VR Headset ‘The Rift’ in the first quarter of 2016.

I’ve written before about how I think VR is going to change the world as one day VR devices will become as common as Radios and television sets once were.

We’re already being flooded with VR games, software and technology, VR movies and TV are following rapidly and a few ‘virtual worlds’ are being developed.

Not to mention the other headsets that have already popping up all over the place

We are at the dawn of a VR renaissance and with a bit of luck, we’ll be the trailblazers.

Second Life is in a rather good position to take advantage of the situation.

Because no matter what people think of our virtual world, it is still the oldest, most experienced one out there, has its own stable economy, more content than anyone and is working on a brand new up to date version.

If Linden Lab manages to get their Next Generation Virtual World ready before or shortly after the release of the Rift, it could bring in a LOT of new users and start a second ‘Golden Age’ for Second Life.

So, exciting times ahead, one way or another.
VR is here to stay this time.

There is no word on the tech details or how much the Rift is going to cost but I’m sure that will all come soon.
Personally I can’t wait to buy one, I hope I can afford it.

Some more details here in this interview;


Picture; Oculus VR.

Next chapter of Ole Etzel’s Berlin film series premiered

Jo Yardley:

A new video made by Ole Etzel, recorded in my 1920s Berlin Project!

Originally posted on The 1920s Berlin Project:

Well known machinima maker Ole Etzel has finished chapter two of his film series ‘Ein Deutsche Geschichte’ (A German tale).
It tells the story of a simple Berlin family during the last century. From the first world war to the Weimar Republic, through the dark years into the cold war.

It was shot in our 1920s Berlin Project sim and features many residents of our community.

We’re very proud to have been able to help Herr Etzel with his project and with its result.

The film was premiered today at our Babylon cinema on Unter den Linden, we thank Fraulein McMahon for her hospitality and work as manager.

We look forward to the next chapter of the series even though we foresee dark clouds ahead for the family.

Both chapters can be seen in our Babylon cinema in The 1920s Berlin Project for the next couple of days, or online.


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First pictures made with Bright Canopy, looking good.


During the annual re-enactment of the bloody riots in Berlin of May day 1929, I decided to try Bright Canopy on my ‘game laptop’.

Bright Canopy allows you to stream Second Life via a web browser and could fill the gap SL Go has left after it stopped being available earlier today.

Although I was very disappointed to find that using it on my 6 year old MacBook was just asking a bit too much (at the moment), it worked rather well on my Alienware laptop.
You may think that this is obvious, but sadly the Nvidia card stopped working some time ago so it only has the intel card left.
So no groovy ultra graphics with shadows for me without some sort of streaming service.

As Bright Canopy is still in an early stage of development, it may get even better in the future.
Watch this space.

Anyway, you can see all the pictures I took with Bright Canopy here, sorry about the gruesome subject of them, but in our sim we try to recreate the past and well, History has some rather unpleasant bits;
Bright Canopy Photo album on Flickr

More BC news soon.

blutmai riot bright canopy


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