CHUI: no, not a Wookie, a viewer from LL – with feedback requested

Linden Lab have launched, somewhat unexpectedly, a new project viewer, called CHUI. While sounding like a character from Star Wars (CHU-EE, geddit? *Ahem*. Sorry), it stands for Communications Hub User Interface. The blog post states:

With so many ways for users to communicate with one another in Second Life, there are quite a few communications tools in the Viewer. To make it easier to find, learn and use these tools, today we released a project Viewer that introduces CHUI (Communications Hub User Interface). In addition to bringing most of these communications tools “under one roof,” CHUI also introduces some new and improved features.

Among the listed features are:

  • The Conversation Log: providing you have enabled the option to save chat and IM logs to your computer, this allows you to open the entire history of a conversation with another user held in the past 30 days directly in your viewer, or review off-line IMs received from both friends and non-friends
  • Expanded conference calls: with CHUI it is possible to add people to a conference call after it’s started, or add someone to an existing one-on-one IM session
  • The ability to easily move your voice connection between open conversations including nearby chat, private IM, conference chat or group chat. Click the “add voice” button on any conversation to move your voice connection to that conversation. Click the “hang up” button and your voice connection is returned to nearby chat.
  • The ability to access chat preferences in a single click from the Conversation window
  • Change the volume of a single person’s voice by simply clicking on that person’s speaking icon in the Conversations window
  • A multi-line chat entry box which expands as you type.
CHUI Conversation Log

These features primarily found in two floaters: Conversations Log and a revised Conversations floater. The Conversations Log window lists all recent and past conversations, allowing them to be to scrolled through and opened for reading. As I’ve only jut started using the project viewer, I’ve actually not investigated this in-depth. Clicking on a listed conversation will open in the Conversations floater, and the Conversation Log contains two buttons for sorting the listed conversations (by name, by date, etc.), and a gear cog button for access various options – start an IM, enter a voice call, view profile, etc., for a selected conversation in the list.

For those who use TPVs with tabbed IM capabilities, the revised Conversations floater will look remarkably familiar,  bringing as it does local chat and all IM conversations into a single floater panel. Any conversations in the Conversation Loge will also open here as well.

The Conversations floater

The panel includes a number of buttons. These again allow conversation to be sorted, closed individually, etc., and also include a number of additional options:

Add someone else to an existing IM conversation, and establish a conference call. This will open the Choose Resident Floater, allowing you to pick a friend, someone nearby or search for someone.

Start a Voice conversation with a person or hang-up from a Voice conversation (the icon will change on the button, depending on the status of the call)

Open the Choose Resident floater to select someone with whom to start an IM or Voice conversation.

Break-out any conversation into its own floater.

The Conversations floater can also be compacted down into one of three sizes, using the left / right double chevron arrows. These help reduce the amount of space the floater takes up on your screen when not actively in use. It can be expanded either using these buttons or using the right-pointing arrows next to the names in the conversations list.

The three compact views of the Conversations floater

Overall, this is a significant attempt to centralise in-world communications, and there are some nice features here, particularly in the extended Voice options.

For Linden Lab, this is very much experimental, as noted in the blog post itself, and they are asking for people’s feedback on the features:

We’ve been testing CHUI inside Linden Lab for some time, but any major redesign requires a lot of people using it to make it as smooth and useful as it can be. This is where you come in.

Please think about these questions as you use the CHUI project viewer:

  • Are the new features useful?
  • Do the functions you commonly use seem more streamlined, or do they require more clicks than before?
  • Are all of the functions, both old and new, easy to find?

We’ll ask you to complete a survey in approximately one week to gather your thoughts on these questions.

There is a publicly accessible JIRA (https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/chuibug) available for the viewer, and if you do try it out and find a bug, LL request you report it there.

Also tucked away in the blog post is news that blocked users and objects can now be viewed from within the People floater, rather than via a separate menu option, and can also be unblocked from here via the right-click context menu.

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The beauty of a Scribbled Heart

Update August 19th, 2013: Scribbled Hearts has returned to Second Life in its own region. Find out more in my review!

There are many beautiful and inspiring regions throughout Second Life, some of which I’ve explored through the pages of this blog. Thanks to Ziki Questi, I discovered one more recently, which completely captivated me.

Water Reserve is the home of Scribbled Hearts, a collaborative group with a focus on photography, one of whom, Randi Lenroy, is responsible to landscaping the region. There are two small stores to be found here, *. emm { shop }, operated by Snowy Melody and Clementine Ishtari’s Hello, September. However, Water Reserve is not simply a sim-with-stores-and-landscaping.

It is a work of art.

Water Reserve: Scribbled Hearts

From the moment you arrive, it is evident that everything in the region has been put together with considerable thought, artistry and an eye which looks at the world oftentimes through the lens of the camera. Everything is composed to present a stunning array of photo opportunities and a place which can be truly and completely appreciated and savoured. Just make sure you accept the local windlight settings on arrival, as they are very much a part of the region’s beauty and atmosphere.

Water Reserve: Scribbled Hearts

This is a place where you can wander and admire for its simplicity and for its attention to detail. While it may well have been carefully designed, it is nevertheless entirely natural – perhaps the most life-like natural setting I’ve ever seen in Second Life.

I’ve no idea if the region is updated to suit the season, but right now it is autumn at Water Reserve, the sky is lit by a beautiful September sun dipping towards the horizon, the trees are mostly golden brown, with the odd fir-tree standing as a green sentinel, and as you walk under the trees, falling leaves tumble and swirl their way to the ground.

Water Reserve: Scribbled Hearts

There are trails here to be followed, together with wooden walkways, or you can stroll at your leisure – the entire region is open to public visits. Rezzing is allowed (Autoreturn set at two minutes) if you have anything you’d like to use as either a photo prop or as something to sit on somewhere and admire the view.

Water Reserve: Scribbled Hearts

The stores here are small and blend perfectly with their surroundings – so much so that it is easy to miss the fact that they are stores.

I’ve been in a solitary mood of late, preferring to spend much of my time in SL on my own rather than among people, and Water Reserve suits that mood perfectly. Which is not to say it should be only experienced alone; there is much here that demands to be shared with a close friend or two. But it did speak to my prevailing mood and resonate with thoughts and feelings, particularly given the autumnal look and feel to the island and my frequently-changing moods towards Second Life.

Water Reserve: Scribbled Hearts

This is a region which has done more than scribble a message on my heart – it has written it in indelible ink. It will on yours as well.

(view slideshow full-screen)

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