The Miniature Goal

The Miniature Goal
The Miniature Goal

“What if our physical world shrunk in proportion to the resources we drain from it?”

That’s the question Haveit Neox posits in The Miniature Goal, which opens at 14:00 SLT at the Art India Galley on Saturday February 1st.

It’s an intriguing question; one that results in an intriguing installation. Within the walled space, sits a Venice-like city in miniature, through which boats pass along the waterways; but this is far from the romance of Venice.

The Miniature Goal
The Miniature Goal

On the horizon marches a series of gigantic oil derricks, beyond which a strange weather pattern turns ominously. There is tension here between the city, the oil derricks and even Mother nature herself as a closer look at the city reveals that it is not build around canals and waterways, it is in fact slowly drowning in what appears to be a rising sea. Then there are the giants, wading through the water or perched atop some of the buildings at the edge of the city – how do they fit into this series of juxtaposed images?

“We deplete resources all across the globe,” Haveit warns us, “yet in our homes we may feel few repercussions. Though we don’t actually visit the oil spills, the cleared forests, or the mines, let’s imagine how it would appear, were our everyday life reflected proportionately to the current depletion. If our bedroom walls were to shrink at the same percentage as the forests or the extinction of species for instance, how high exactly would our walls become?”

The Miniature Goal
The Miniature Goal

And thus the truth of the piece is revealed. The city is wracked by the consequences of an ecosystem knocked completely off-kilter by our global activities, and the “giants” are in fact those who have found  their homes have shrunk as a result.

It’s a dark scenario but one with a visual impact which underlines the further questions Haveit poses about the future we may face if we don’t learn to control our appetites when it comes to the resources the world has to offer and we continue to ravage the ecosystem without pause. The various elements in the installation are each captivating in their own right, whilst flowing together as a whole.

The Miniature Goal will formally open at 14:00 SLT on Saturday February 1st, as mentioned, and will remain open through to March. The opening will feature music by Nnoiz Papp, which might feature tracks from his new album, Orientopolis – which has more than likely found its way onto my “things to purchase” list…

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Project Homeless: short film challenge, L$2.28M in prizes

Jayjay Zifanwe of the University of Western Australia brings word of a new film and machinima challenge

Project Homeless 2014 is a Challenge run by Screen My Shorts Incorporated and the University of Western Australia in partnership with, and sponsored by the Parramatta City Council.

Film-makers of all ages cultures and ability are invited to submit original creative digital content (conventional film and / or machinima) and win a share of the $10,000 Aus (L$2.28 Million) cash and prizes (with at least $700 Aus  reserved for Machinima), and have their works exposed on the international stage. Films may be individual or team efforts.

HomelessEntrants are asked to indicate two themes from the 22 listed by the competition, on which they would like to base their film. The organisers will then allocate one the selected options. Entrants then have full freedom to explore and interpret the allocated theme and create a completed film within 30 days. All entrants are asked to  be as creative as possible in interpreting their nominated theme.

All registrations should be received no later than Friday April 11th, 2014, which is the date on which entrants will be informed of their allocated film theme.

Completed films must be submitted by Sunday May 11th, 2014.

How to Register

  1. The preferred method is to register via the competition website– note that entry fees for machinima style film are being sponsored by the University of Western Australia.
  2. Send an email (or a NC in-world) with the following details to
        • Second Life name
        • Team name (if applicable)
        • Email address
        • City & country
        • 2 preferred themes as the subject of the entry, in order of preference.

Essential Rules

  1. Only G or PG rated films will be accepted.
  2. Entry length to be between 3 to 10 minutes.
  3. Registration is essential.
  4. All entries are to be made specifically for the Project Homeless Competition.
  5. Register before the 11th of April & must nominate two of the listed themes.
  6. $10,000 Aus in prizes available with at least $700 Aus reserved for machinima.
  7. The full official rules should also be read, together with the 10 Step Guide.


Please refer to the UWA website for a full list of prizes.

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The Drax Files Radio Hour: after Humble

radio-hourThe fourth show in this engaging series kicks-off with Rod Humble’s departure, as broken original by Jo Yardley herself (kudos, Jo!), and with interesting insight from Dean Takahashi on what might have happened – primarily focusing on the attempts to diversify, some of which as I’ve commented myself, don’t appear to have come out too well.

There has been a lot of speculation over the reason for Rod Humble’s departure. Many have pointed to it being a case that he “failed”, with the intimation that he was fired.

Jo thinks the decision to leave was his – and I agree with her. As she says, and I’ve alluded to, the Lab’s reaction suggests the move caught them off-guard (or as I have referred to it, they were caught with their knickers around their ankles); they simply didn’t see it coming.

Will Wright (image courtesy of Gamesbeat)
Will Wright (image courtesy of Gamesbeat)

The show also touches on Will Wright’s departure from the LL board, which was likely first noted by Ezra (at least in this context) in an NWN comment as the news about Humble’s departure spread.

In September 2013, news broke that Wright had, together with Avi Bar-Zeev, raised some $5 million to establish Syntertainment, a company which is “dedicated to changing the world through uniquely fun and lasting user experiences” and which will ” focus on the intersection of entertainment and reality. ”

Whether Wright’s departure from the Lab occurred at the time Syntertainment was launched (which would seem likely) or some time between that event and Humble’s departure is unclear. It does, however, lead to speculation in the show that it may be where Rod Humble may be heading. This doesn’t quite seem to gell with his own comments on his future, of which he says, “I am starting-up a company to make Art, Entertainment and unusual things,” suggesting he is creating a company, rather than joining a start-up. But, time will tell; and it may be unwise to discount his bond with Will Wright.

There is a lot of good input on the subject from a number of interviewees, and kudos to Harvey Crabsticks in particular for his comments on market segments, potential reach and on the future – and Rod Humble’s tenure. Well said on all! On a broader scale, Hanno Teitgens offers up insight as to why Second Life and virtual worlds remain hamstrung – although his view on the direction the company should take may upset some, and I’m not sure I agree with his summation of OpenSim, which shares all of the problems inherent with Second Life in terms of growing an audience, which the lower cost of land has failed to demonstrate itself as a deciding factor.

Perhaps the most fascinating interview is with Evonne Heyning and Joyce Bettencourt, who chart the evolution of the Lab and its outlook from the perspective of those who actually dealt directly with the Lab’s management on a professional level.

Beyond Rod Humble’s departure from the Lab, the show touches upon a range of topics, including the buy-out of Cloud Party and where it might lead. This was also touched upon within the interview with Hanno Teitgens, with he and Drax having an interesting exchange of views on the oft-pointed to subject of virtual worlds “needing” to be browser-based for access. 


The Drax Files Radio Hour undoubtedly hits a strong stride with this podcast. It provides a good summation of Rod Humble’s tenure from all sides, and an excellent piece with Evonne and Joyce which really puts the evolution of Linden Lab in a perspective many may not have considered.  The depth of the central subject is plumbed to great effect, and the mix of interviews and comments presented a strong narrative of their own which gives the show considerable flow – and considerable food for thought.

SL projects updates 5/2: viewer, GPU table, Rift, Leap Motion

Server Deployments: week 5 recap

  • On Tuesday January 28th, the Main channel received the server maintenance project previously on the three RC channels, which contains a single fix for a crash mode.
  • On Wednesday January 29th, all three RC channels received a new server maintenance project, which includes a crash mode fix and a fix for llModifyLand() modifying the wrong location in region, when called in a child prim – see part one of this report for further details.

SL Viewer Updates

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting of Friday January 31st, a video of which is included below. My thanks, as ever, to North for the latter.

Fitted Mesh

As noted in part one of this report, a new version of the Fitted Mesh viewer arrived in the release channel as an RC on Monday January 27th. Version includes a number of fixes, included a hoped-for resolution for FITMESH-6 and FITMESH-20. However, there is an issue with the fix, as reported by Latif Khalifa of the Singularity team, and which the Lab has confirmed.  The viewer will therefore have a further RC update in week 6 (week commencing Monday 3rd February).  If the new RC proves stable and reliable, then the Fitted Mesh viewer will be looked at as a contender to go to release status.

Interest List

Despite having been reported as having a much improved crash rate, the Interest List RC, version: released on January 14th, still appears to be reporting higher than expected crashes. The Lab is not 100% convinced the crash measurements are correct, and they may be measuring high. This is being poked at, but means in the interim the viewer will remain an RC.

HTTP Viewer

The HTTP RC viewer, version released on January 16th, is performing well and now stands as the strongest contender for the next promotion to the de facto release viewer.

Maintenance Viewer and GPU Table

The Maintenance viewer, version released on January 23rd has generated interest due to the inclusion of MAINT-3131 “Death to GPU Table”.

Essentially, the GPU table is used to define your graphics card to the viewer and the default graphics settings which are applied as a result when you first start the viewer. As many will be aware, the GPU table is manually maintained, and as a result is not a very effective mechanism for managing GPU evolution.

MAINT-3131 is part of ongoing work which the Lab hopes will eventually eliminate the GPU table. Discussing the work, Oz said:

The idea is to do two things: ask the [graphics] driver [on a local system] what version of OpenGL it supports, and use whatever capabilities that can be relied on to find that out;  and then to measure the performance of the GPU by doing a series of memory bandwidth tests. Basically copying big blocks of video memory back and forth a few times and seeing how long it takes. The theory is that it ends up being at least as good a predictor of what the GPU is capable of as we’re currently getting by the guesses in the GPU table, and maybe better.

The code linked to MAINT-3131 is believed to be the code needed to carry out the memory bandwidth tests (and likely recording the results), the idea being that it can be monitored to note how well it measures the performance of things the Lab believe they understand, and see if it handles them more effectively / efficiently. Should this work proceed the way the Lab hopes, then the hope is the GPU table can be removed from the viewer in the future.  It is thought that the bandwidth testing, which will likely only take place when or shortly after the viewer has launched (and then only after the GPU identifier string has changed), will be a “pretty good proxy” for measuring a GPU’s performance a GPU compared to just asking the OpenGL driver what it can do.

Continue reading “SL projects updates 5/2: viewer, GPU table, Rift, Leap Motion”