Streaming the viewer: a Bright Canopy update

Bright CanopyNews is spreading on the efforts, spearheaded by Bill Glover, to bring a new cloud-based means of access to Second Life (and other grids).

Bright Canopy is the name of the project, and Bill was stirred into action following ruminations on this blog relating to Amazon AppStream, and more particularly as a result of Nikola Bozinovic’s invitation that people take a look Frame, the company he has established to provision Windows applications and web applications to a range of clients across the web, something I did couple of days ago when looking at one of the two options for Frame: that of a do-it-yourself option.

As mentioned in that article, while the DIY approach works, it is not ideal in some respects. Far better to have a fully managed service along the lines of SL Go available to users. As noted in my article, and in posts like Ciaran’s, linked-to above and in the SL subreddits, this is exactly what Bill is working towards.

Since word of Bright Canopy initially broke, the response has been overwhelming. So much so that the beta invitation has now been closed, as it was getting to the point where too many people were wanting to try things out. Those signing-up now will instead receive news on developments.

So, in the meantime, what has been going on? Well, in brief.

The project is on a solid footing, with a core group of beta testers; a Github environment has been set-up for issue reporting and tracking, managing code, and running the project’s internal wiki, and channels of communication established. In addition, the LL viewer has now been added to the project alongside Firestorm.

Testing has already raised a range of issues, and these are in the process of being addressed, with the Frame team are working closely with Bill to overcome some of the stickier issues around provisioning the viewer in this way.

Bright Canopy now runs both Firestorm and LL's viewer
Bright Canopy now runs both Firestorm and LL’s viewer

One such issue is getting viewer settings to persist across multiple sessions, another is upping the overall performance, and there are more. All are being looked at,  but it is going to take time to solve things, so it might be a little while longer before things can be opened-up some more and invite more people to try it.

In terms of performance, various options are being looked at, and one thing that may help is that Nikola informs me that Frame are working on a new set of native terminals covering OS X, Windows and iOS, which should be in their own beta soon.

Because there is a lot to be achieved, a work list is being drawn-up, and some key decisions for the short-term have been taken with regards to focusing efforts.

Bright Canopy now has LL's viewer enabled, and things like performance are very much being looked at (the 30 fp seen here is fairly typical of the upper end of the performance scale at present
Bright Canopy now has LL’s viewer enabled, and things like performance are very much being looked at (the 30 fps seen here is fairly typical of the upper end of the performance scale at present

This means, for example, that the current work is focused on getting a non-mobile solution working.This makes sense because the majority of people using the SL Go service did so from low specification computers rather than mobile devices, so ensuring there is a service which can fill the void for them is key.

A mobile solution also requires much more in the way of specialist work – such as providing an overlay to allow users to control things like avatar and camera movement via a touch screen (just as was the case with SL Go), and a means of interfacing with touch keyboards. While this work will be tackled, it is not on the immediate priority to get sorted. Having a service that works and provides the level of performance users will be happy with is currently key.

Also in the running is a new Bright Canopy blog, which we intend to use to help keep folks up-to-date on progress, offer screenshots of work (and maybe even a video or two), and more as time goes on. This will hopefully be up and running in the near future, and you’ll likely see me writing there 😉 .

There’s obviously a lot else to be sorted as well – including pricing. Right now, however, the effort is in exploring exactly what can be achieved and how.  However, this will hopefully give a flavour for what has been achieved in just a few days of effort. There will be more to come as more progress is made, and I’ll have a link to the Bright Canopy blog once it is up and running.

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Playing with a Little Bee

Testing the Foilborne AD25H "Little Bee"
Testing the Foilborne AD25H Little Bee

Back in January 2015, I wrote about my impulse buy of the Kv23H FoilStream power boat, designed and built by Ape Piaggio under her Foilborne Industries brand. At the time, I wasn’t sure how well it would grow on me – although I can now say it is one of my firm favourites.

That review lead to Ape and I making contact in-world, and we’ve discussed boats and vehicles extensively since then (I’ve also had a lot of fun with her tried-out her autogyro). So when she invited me to help beta test her upcoming new release, I leapt at the chance. Ape has been working on the design for at least five months, and it will still be a while before it reaches production status. However, she’s given me permission to preview it here, and I’ll be reviewing it in full once it is available on the market.

The AD25H “Little Bee” is actually a release I’ve been looking forward to for some time – and trying the beta version has only increased my desire to grab one once it is officially released. A tender style speedboat a good deal smaller that the mighty FoilStream, it is no less packed with features.

Fancy taking friends parasailing? The Little Bee will let you!
Fancy taking friends parasailing? The Little Bee will let you!

And when I say packed, I mean packed. Single and couple poses; working instruments; mouselook driving, deployment mooring fenders; canvas weather cover – even a coffee percolator should you need warming-up on a cold morning’s outing! All these and more are included in the boat’s features. You’ll even be able to take friends parasailing or wake boarding on the finished model (no wake boarding on the beta I’ve been testing).

If that’s not enough, Ape has also include her “auto-mooring” system, multiple camera options, a voice messaging system, her fuelling system (complete with a neat animation), ACSS system to assist with region crossings, a racing mode, repainting capability – and more. And for those, like me, like the hydrofoil aspect of the FoilSteam, Little Bee includes its own deployable hydrofoils and an optional camera positioning control which allows you to see them being deployed / retracted.

The Little Bee has working cockpit instrument and is a superb drive in mouselook mode
The Little Bee has working cockpit instrument and is a superb drive in mouselook mode

There’s no time frame on availability (other than “coming soon” 🙂 ), nor is there a price-point. However, testing so far has revealed the Little Bee to be very stable and agile, and it handles region crossings with as much ease as can be expected with one or two passengers – and even with one of them dangling behind the boat in the parasail!

If this is enough to whet your appetite and you’d like to try a basic pre-release version of the boat (options like the hydrofoils, parasail, etc are not enabled on it), you can do so via the Little Bee’s pre-release demo area.

As noted, I’ll be reviewing the boat in full once it is available on the market. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a short video (best played at 720p, if you can) I put together when testing the beta version.

Fantasy Faire: save the Fairelands, save us all!

In all the realms of the Fairelands, none were more renowned than the Ten Champions of the Queen.

Each of them had a tale to tell and a unique set of skills and abilities to share, and to teach – for it is to the Champions that the Bard Queen entrusted the care and guidance of her only daughter, the Princess Flora.

For the Princess they were her teachers, her companions … and her friends.

But the Unweaver never sleeps. Through his wicked designs, the Princess is now lost beyond the Sea of Mists, a captive of the Winter King.

Thus opens the story of this year’s Fantasy Faire hunt: The Lost Land.

Among the many events that mark Fantasy Faire, the hunt is one of the most loved, and most eagerly awaited, immersing all those who participate fully in the wonder and joy of the Fairelands and Fantasy Faire. Not only will this year’s hunt continue the tradition, it promises to be something rather special.

Written by Saffia Widdershins,  featuring a specially designed region by Rynn Verwood, scripting by Encaitaron Korobose and produced and directed by Aisling Sinclair,  The Lost Land commences on April 23rd, and runs for the duration of the Faire – and you will not want to miss it.

Once the Fairelands have opened, you will have the opportunity to purchase the Hunt HUD and become a Hunter, helping the queen recover her lost child. Along the way, you will encounter mystery and magic, and discover things are not always as they seem. And, of course, there will be rewards for those who do not falter, generously donated by the merchants participating in the Faire.

The Princess has faded from memory – except for that of the Queen who keeps and cherishes one last lock of golden hair, bright and unfading.

But the Champions have become stricken by a strange indifference; any thought of their noble purpose has fled their minds. They await you, brave Hunter, to reinvigorate them and restore their will to serve.

And here, each day of the Faire, the Champions will reveal themselves to you, one by one.

Will you be the one to recover the princess, and in doing so, save the Fairelands – and save us all? The adventure begins on April 23rd.

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