A Must-Watch This Weekend: 8 Minute Documentary The Pixel Painter


Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're like me and you need a little inspiration/motivation to get a particularly gnawing creative project done this weekend, look no further. The story of a partially-blind 97-year old digital artist named Hal Lasko has been going viral since an incredibly touching short documentary about his work was shared on Vimeo this week.

Lasko was a designer by trade, as well as a draftsman during World War II. In spite of his failing eyesight, his artwork is painstakingly precise, and done pixel-by-pixel entirely in MS Paint. When most people talk about pixel art, '80s, '90s, and modern indie game design might come to mind. If not that, then the little animated doll gifs you can find all over DeviantArt and Tumblr and anywhere else that creative teenagers call home online. What Lasko does has a much more vintage flavor to it. Some of his work would feel perfectly suited hanging in Pete Campbell's living room, while other pieces have a pointillistic style that could make Seurat blush.

You can see more of Lasko's work, learn more about him, and of course order prints from his website. Honestly after watching this mini-doc I feel pretty guilty for ever complaining about spending more than a half hour touching something up in Photoshop.

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How to Add Multiple SLurls to Your SL Land

Multiple SLurls to SL

Lusus Saule has a valuable-looking tutorial on how to add multiple teleport SLurls to your SL land. Instructions seem pretty time-consuming, but also quite useful: It's a minor pet peeve of mine when a SLurl teleports to an obscure part of a sim, instead of the actual location I clicked the SLurl to see.

Hat tip: Indigo Mertel's Metalibrary.

Coming Soon: 3D Plugin for OpenSim in Facebook with Dynamic Content Creation, Internal Economy, Virtual Land

Creating content in SpotOn3D Facebook

What you’re looking at above is a screenshot of SpotON3D, an OpenSim-based web plugin running in Facebook. Now in closed testing, SpotON3D is, as company Co-Founder Tessa Kinney-Johnson tells me, “A fully functional web plugin experience that can run in your Facebook page. In other words, just like FarmVille or any other Facebook app working with their API. Everything works as expected, minus the bugs we’re working on, of course.”

As the above screenshot suggests, you’ll be able to make prim-based content in SpotON3D in Facebook. “Of course you can create dynamic content. This is not Unity, where you have to basically know C# to make even the most basic environments. This is our flavor of the OpenSim platform, fully functional right down to content creation and deliveries, classified ads, offline messaging, full group support and much more.” (The company plans to roll out mesh next year as well, too.)

SpotON3D’s focus, she says, is “NOT on recreating the SL experience. It's about taking the Web 3.0 vision to reality and going where no other platform like this has been able to before.” Using proprietary technology, Kinney-Johnson declines to go into specifics on how the plugin works, except to say how it does not: “We are NOT server side rendering... [w]e are NOT a Unity based bridge system... We are NOT a trigger for a pre-installed client to pop up a simple login screen.”

SpotON3D will also come with an internal economy, and a basic form of land ownership/usage -- read on:

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How to Move Your Facebook Friends to Google Circles

Google Social Circle Second Life

Want to move your social network from your Facebook account to your new Google Plus/Circles account? Andrew Mager of ZD Net has a very handy solution for doing just that. Basically, you import your Facebook contacts into a Yahoo! account, and then import your Yahoo! contacts (which now include your Facebook contacts) into Google Circles. Like I said, it's a touch irksome, but I know a lot of NWN readers are not fans of Facebook (to say the least), or are afraid of losing their avatar-based Facebook account to a random purge (which seems to happen to SL users sporadically.) If you want to do this, however, I'd hurry: Some dude created an app for slurping Facebook contacts into Circles, and the social network killed it within days. I imagine Facebook may close off other avenues for exporting account graphs too.  Personally, though, I'm neutral on the coming social network wars -- I usually just end up using all of them, and I'm not sure if Google is a far superior alternative of corporate master, than Facebook. But in any case, looks like we're in for some fun future fracases on the social Internet.

Second Life Bumper Stickers Become a Twitter Meme

This is pretty hilarious: That "Avatars Do It in Cyberspace" bumper sticker I blogged yesterday has evolved into a massive Twitter meme of suggested SL-themed bumper stickers with its own hashtag, #SLbumpersticker. Behold below, the torrential Tweet-stream of inside baseball metaverse geekery:

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3D Browser Demo Shows Off What WebGL Can Do

This is a 3D graphics demo running in a web browser using WebGL, which you can check out yourself if you download Firefox 4, and then go here. (More from the developer of this demo on his blog.) This video comes via MMO/social game developer Raph Koster, who has a nice compilation of 3D web demos here. This above demo isn't interactive, but as regular readers know, WebGL is also the foundation of KataSpace, the virtual world platform from ex-Linden Henrik Bennetsen. We're still a few years away from getting extremely rich 3D experiences on the web, it seems to me, but at least that goal is viewable from here.

Behold Google's Body Browser in WebGL -- Google Earth for the Human Body (And the Shape of Avatars to Come)

Google Body Browser

The Google Body Browser is very cool application of WebGL, the 3D graphics protocol that was just integrated into Google Chrome's Beta channel today. To check it out, you'll of course need to download Chrome Beta or Firefox Beta. It displays a human body in full 3D, and at the moment (it's only a 20% complete application), you can move your camera view around it entirely. But that's just the start:

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A Sneak Preview of Canvas, the Browser-Based Second Life & OpenSim Viewer from Linden Lab Vet Chris Collins

Canvas, the Unity-powered Second Life and OpenSim web-based viewer developed by ex-Linden Chris Collins (which I blogged Monday), is rolling out next week, but I recently got an early hands-on preview. This is what I look like after logging into Second Life via Canvas to meet Chris there:

Logging into Canvas SL

As you can see, the graphics are rudimentary, because the conversion process from SL graphics to Canvas takes out Windlight and other shiny graphic baubles. However, Chris tells me that he’s not targeting an audience of power users who expect high-end visuals, but the education and real work market who may have slow computers or broadband. Through his start-up, Tipodean Technologies, Chris licensed the technology that runs Canvas from IBM, aiming to address "[The c]onstant challenge with more the casual usual [who] has low end machines, poor bandwidth, and [trouble] onboarding... there's a lot of work getting people to download or upgrade [Second Life]." With Canvas, he aims to go after the 95% who tried Second Life, had problems, and gave up.

That said, established Second Life users will probably find a lot that’s valuable in Canvas, as an option when they’re not able to launch the heavy 3D client. For example, all the thousands of Residents (including me) who groaned when Katharine Berry’s AjaxLife, a web-based SL chat client, was banned due to security concerns. At minimum, Canvas can work as a replacement to that. In future iterations, Chris tells me it should be possible to build with prims, and other features native to SL proper.

Still, Canvas is intended for the non-hardcore user. Controls are extremely basic: moving, flying, chat and IM, and that’s about it. Collins has added some UI functionality specifically for the casual user, such as an automatic click-zoom command, so you can look at an in-world display without the usual aggravations with the 3D camera control interface:

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Wiki Tree, Revolutionary Metaverse-Based Architecture Tool, Now Open Souce

Wiki Tree

Great news from Studio Wikitecture: the code for Wiki Tree, the groundbreaking, award-winning Wikipedia-meets-3D building architecture tool developed by Keystone Bouchard and Theory Shaw, is now open source, under a BSD license. "It is our hope," writes Keystone, "that the Open Source Wiki Tree 3D project will take on a life of its own, and grow to be something bigger and better than we can currently conceive of." More details for getting the code and helping grow the Wiki Tree dev community here.

How the Lindens Incorporate Second Life User Feedback

Q Linden

Q Linden, director of the Lindens' Applied Engineering group, has an extensive post on how the company incorporates user feedback, including bug reports and feature requests -- a topic that's often seemed obscure. (When T. Linden asked SLCC attendees if they were aware of in-world triage meetings, very few in the audience raised their hands.) This is the most thorough detailing of the procedure I've seen online.

Screenshot of Q. Linden by OpenSource Obscure.