1.Install the “Sandbox” app. (We currently do not provide pre-built installers for Linux, but techies can build from open source for all platforms.) The “Sandbox” is the HighFidelity logo that appears in your system tray. (It is in the corner near where the wifi logo is on your screen, and may be behind the arrow if you have a lot of system tray apps. Sandbox starts automatically on Windows.)
2. Click on the Sandbox app and choose “Go Home” to visit your own personal domain. You can also visit another domain by clicking on a “hifi:” link that someone has given you on a Web page or email.
This is your user interface. While you use this, your actions are seen by others through your representation as an avatar.
3. Use the arrow keys to move, or the joysticks/touchpads on a hand controller. (You may need to turn on some controllers using the Avatar -> Input Devices menu.) Change between desktop display and Head Mounted Display (HMD) using the Display menu. (HMDs and controllers need to be plugged in and have their manufacturer’s software installed before starting the user interface.)
4. Most of the system behavior is defined by scripts that you can get from friends or from the Examples, or that are attached to the objects you find in the domains that you visit. Some initial behavior that you get “out of the box” includes:
- The Go To button, giving you a directory of places.
- The Examples button, giving you different avatars to choose from, or things to add to domains that allow it (like your own Home domain).
- The Edit button, which lets you edit any object in in any domain that lets you.
- Pressing the “return” key gives you an address bar to specify another place or user to visit.
- The microphone is on! Use a headset.
If you’ve got 10 people sharing wifi, or have a Comcast connection that turns into molasses on a Friday night, things might be a bit slow when your network sucks. This is especially true when visiting a new domain for the first time. Also, some domains are faster than others. If things don’t feel right, try again later, or see “Stats”, below. Read More
When an artist paints en plein air, they expect people to look over their shoulder and see what they’re doing. As an engineer, almost no one does that. I’ve had the delight of deliberately sharing my work with my children, and recently I got to share with unexpected visitors.
In High Fidelity, running your own virtual world is trivially easy, and I often do development work using a mostly empty workspace on my laptop. Nine years after playing hide-and-seek with my son (first link above), I played air hockey with him over the network. I was thrilled that this now jaded teenager was still able to giggle at the unexpected realtime correctness of the experience. But we had set out to get together online, and this time he wasn’t surprised to find me there.
It turns out that my online visibility had been set to “visible to everyone”. The next weekend I was online and someone clicked on my name and ended up in my world. I was startled to not only see another avatar, but to hear such a clear voice saying, “Hi!” Despite the cartoon avatar, it was as though she were in the room with me. I explained that I was “just working on some development” and that this space would be going up and down a lot, and her voice sounded crushed as she said, “Oh. Ok. Bye…”
An hour later, another visitor came. When I told him the same thing, he left immediately without saying goodbye. Then I was the one who felt crushed.
Of course, one can control access to your own domain — I can’t quite explain why I don’t feel like doing that. But I have turned my online presence visibility to “friends only”.
The cost of this photo shoot (fuel, chase planes, pilots, etc.) is estimated north of $75k.
The planes themselves are $300M each, or $1.5B for the five. BILLION.
But of the five planes, there are at least four different paint schemes. This is pre-release of the plane.
Think of of the direct cost to produce a new paint scheme for one of these, and the implications on schedule and coordination (e.g., getting the five planes in the same place at the same time with the paint dry), and that nonetheless, some number of project/program-managers approved the changes. Nay, demanded the changes.
- If it was right to do so, there is a staggering amount of costs at stake, for what most engineers would mistakenly think is silly. (Heck, I thought it was wrong. But I’m not sure I was right!)
- If it was wrong to do so, there is a staggering amount of money and time being mis-applied.
Am I nuts to wonder about such things? Have I been too long at startups, where all I can think of is what it takes to get it out the door and not muck with the schedule and the dependencies?
The answer is not Menlo Park. We’ve all made products that don’t work as well in the field as we’d like, but the Apple Maps folks really have to get out more.
Apple Maps labeling downtown Palo Alto as Downtown Menlo Park.
And Safari froze when uploading this image to WordPress. Had to use Chrome…
Impressive Steve Jobs product presentations are built around a unifying theme. Really, the theme of our last version(*) is scalability for large institutions. This is largely architectural work hidden from most users, such as network topology or administrative support.
So far, actual users seem to have been most taken with the manifestation of this theme in the ability to control their colleagues.
: After prototypes
and two commercial versions
During the post-9/11 dot com bubble-bursting, I worked at a dying company that had an “offsite” guided brainstorming session on how to save the business. I think it was on a disused floor of our rapidly emptying Tech Square office building. I had heard of various bits of brainstorming methodology before, e.g., no criticism of ideas; quantity over quality of ideas, and so forth. But I had never gone through such a complete formal process like the one the facilitator took us through.
Well, just as I had heard about early adopters and s-curves long before I had read Crossing the Chasm, there are now lots of software and general business methodologies built around Brainstorming concepts. The idea is to have a somewhat reproducible process to identify and explore everything that matters in the task at hand. Agile programming, including eXtreme Programming and Scrum, have the same general purpose. The key is diversity of viewpoints about specific questions.
Now we’re seeing a sort of slow motion explosion in the use of virtual worlds for this.
One of the great mashups going on now is not just mixing content, but media. WebTV. NPR on an iPod. MTV on YouTube. TV on the Radio. Some social virtual worlds are lightweight enough that they can run within the frame of a Web browser when you visit the associated site. While we have always had documents, applications, sounds, movies, and Web browsers running within our Croquet and Qwaq virtual worlds, we’re now doing a bit more ping-pong between the Web and Qwaq Forums.
< %image(20090816-ForumPage.gif|522|437|Web page corresponding to a room in a virtual world. Click for full size.)%>
Pages like this one make it easy to get information (e.g., documents) into or out of a forum without using the 3D collaborative client. Maybe you’re not at your usual laptop or desktop computer and only have Web access. Maybe you are an executive or assistant to someone working in the forum such that you can’t suit up and be seen.
People are often pretty good at walking into a room they are familiar with, and instantly knowing what has changed. That’s pretty useful for 3D operations team rooms. But what if things have been “redecorated” — moved around for better functionality without changes to the important content? What if the user has been away for a long time? If the user isn’t visually oriented? What if the “user” is an external computer system? < %image(20090629-rss-forums.jpg|363|472|Firefox RSS feed of some of my forums.)%>
We’ve created ordinary http URLs that teleport you to places in-world in Qwaq Forums, Being programmers, we could not resist the pun of calling them QRLs. The most common uses today are:
- meet me here – telling someone where to meet, in IM, email, or calendar invite
- I was here – recording a history of where you were in a bookmark or some sort of audit trail
- go there – even if working asynchronously, you can tell people where to go to explore more from a Web page, blog, or wiki
Most programs will recognize
http://… and turn it into something clickable that starts your Web browser if it is not already started. Our QRLs produce a page that displays instructions, which is nice if you don’t yet have the Forums client installed. But if it is installed, the page can automatically launch the client and place you directly at the designated location.