i heart Maria from Hypergrid Business. why? because when subQuark tossed out the idea of doing OpenSim i was bikkuri collar deep in Second Life estate woes. i’m not sure why my leather collar is called bikkuri (it was made by a Japanese lady in Second Life), i can’t find that on the web, but it’s like the Karen People‘s brass rings except leather (and has nothing to do with submission)
anyway, when SubQ decided to go OpenSim i was in the throes of what to do with the iliveisl estate and the last thing i felt like doing was learning about OpenSim. i liked that it was open source like blender 3D but i was already spending 30 hours a week in Second Life and emotionally drained (awww, poor ener) =p
but me being tired never stopped my curiosity! =)
trying to find reliable information that i could actually understand was not easy. OpenSim is extremely technical and most things 10 months ago online were just way over my head. that’s where Maria comes in – she has a blog dedicated to only OpenSim and writes in a way that i can understand (well, most of the time). she is still one of the most comprehensive and useful OpenSim sources out there. i try to talk about it from my perspective – one of having been fully immersed in Second Life and evangelizing about it like it was the bestest thing ever in the world! (okay, second to a good martini) =)
thank you Maria for helping me learn so much about what i am now so nuts about
so when Maria saw we moved in OpenSim she was very supportive and had some questions. i think these are questions that will help others who are looking at OpenSim, especially teachers with the Teen Grid debacle
so we (yes, a real “we” for a change and we exchanged a few emails today, actually did this with a google doc, to get this post done) decided to treat this like a mini interview:
Maria: Were you able to easily move all your regions and inventories over?
Ener: i am a fanatic on backups and love that you can backup everything in OpenSim. parcel media, like music, even copies over. inventory also copies easily (once you remember to place a forward slash in the command, derr). you have to have server access, then you, or the person you are copying, have to be on the same sim as the opensim console you run the command on. it only takes a minute or two to copy someone’s inventory. then i placed them, the IAR files, online and went to the new grid and uploaded them. we did this for Dream Walker, Micheil Merlin, Nickola Martynov, and myself (subQuark is uber lame with his inventory and has nothing – he lost our $50 brainboard 8 months ago and never got another one). the uploads take slightly longer but were done in two or three minutes
subQuark: Thanks on the inventory smack. I can’t help it that I am MacGyver and only need prims to make anything. The only odd thing about OAR files is that anything uploaded will show the estate owner as the creator. I believe this is being considered by the OpenSim developers.
Ener: lol, MacGyver, more like you have MacEner to do all your work! =p
Maria: How long did that process take?
Ener: well as part of being a manic OCD-type person, i also have exports of everything i build. in fact, as i build and save versions into my inventory, i also export versions out to work folders. it is so fast and easy (and fun – ha ha philip) that it takes nothing to do exports on the fly. our server guy, the infamous James Stallings, admin of the OSGrid, is a super sweetheart and uploaded all our OARS (i simply placed them online and he snagged them). uploading OARs is very similar to uploading terrain files. you go to the sim’s console and type out a simple command and in minutes, voila! =)
i did swap a few sims around and placed the scripters on the western edge so they can enjoy sunsets (awww). we have three scripters and they each are on their own sim with big parcels. those swapped sims meant that i had to do a little terraforming to smooth out the borders. this is also a time to re-evaluate our layout to best support subQuark’s virtual field trip endeavor. i am so lucky to have such very dear friends from Second Life. SunnyGirl is part of that too and going like gangbusters in Inworldz \o/
subQuark: This was 100% Ener and it has all copied over precisely. The biggest part of this process was figuring out what to do. I know Ener has issues with resources and it was clear that we needed much more for the eventual field trips, which won’t be starting until next summer. I initially solicited Justin Clark-Casey to see if he would install OpenSim on my own Cari.net server. Fortunately, he was busy till next year because that led me to contact SimHost. SimHost has a package they are rolling out which is better than what I could have done going straight with Cari (their servers host many OpenSim grids).
Adam Frisby and James Stallings II are partners in SimHost and Adam is one of the core OpenSim developers. James is the admin for OSGrid and they both support OpenSim with their time as well as some of their profits. That is something quite commendable and worthy of supporting by using them as a host. SimHost also donates two servers for the welcome areas of OSGrid.
Ener: James has been wonderful, he explains everything clearly and is very patient with me. he has a deep understanding of servers and OpenSim. he has us setup using a domain we have, EnclaveHarbour.org, and has integrated us with this and that of which i have no clue. like the latest Apache php so that we have as many options available to us as possible. he is so into this that he played around with some hacks (hax!) and has it so that each sim could go up to as much as 4 GB of RAM! =) that’s monster in case the virtual field trips dealio goes bonkers
subQuark: Monstrous bonkers eh? *looks over at the pink-haired wonder brat* ;)
Maria: Who’s your new hosting provider?
Ener: oops, let that one out already, SimHost.com! when subQ first started looking at this last october, i recommended simhost. i liked their no nonsense website. it reminded me of hosting reseller sites and was right to the point (unlike me who never gets to the point!) =p
like subQ said, they are actual developers of OpenSim (Adam is a core developer and devotes much of his talent to OpenSim). i have not yet had the chance to deal with Adam – he is Australian and should love the Queen as much as i do. James has been wonderful and gone above and beyond making suggestions that i would have never thought of that lead us to a great experience (waves at James)
subQuark: SimHost, James specifically, answered a query that spoke to our concerns clearly.
Ener: that reminds me, their contact us thing is kind of weird. it leads you to their deepthink site (their parent company?) and you have to submit a support ticket, but James will answer you quickly, so don’t be put off in seeing what they can do for you. not that i know any better (our SEO is still higher than secondlife.com, my twitter finally scored a perfect 100% with HubSpot, and this blog is in the top 3% of all web traffic) =p
subQuark: Good grief, I created a monster with all this social networking stuff. Who knew! *sorry world*
Maria: How do you like them so far?
Ener: well it’s very early in the relationship. James has spent three weeks getting us setup. i was in no hurry (and subQ never logs in anyway) and i like to give people plenty of space. i figure James knows far more than i do and trust him to deliver an awesome experience. our grid only just came up fully last week but is running very well (i am so stoked about groups, omg, i don’t know how anyone can do real projects without them). James, and SimHost, are doing an excellent job and carrying on a very real conversation with both of us (no hype, just education and action)
for example, James sent me over an IAR file tonight with some WindLight scripted objects he has been working on for me to experiment with. that’s what he did to relax this weekend! make scripted WindLight things! how frigging cool is that! (ener <3s the geeky ones) =)
subQuark: James is careful to explain what he is doing and why. As a past professor and teacher, I appreciate his thorough explanations which include how we can benefit from his custom tweaks of our server.
Maria: Is it easy for you to create new users, make OAR backups, etc…?
Ener: we don’t have a registration page yet and we don’t need one at the moment. the only accounts we have are for us and our scripters. Adam has created some beautiful registration “pages” that we can use later. you can learn more about his “GridMix” on his blog and it comes free with any of their sim packages (it’s rather robust with captcha verification if desired). you can see that Adam is an expert at online apps, his GridMix is just fantastic from a web design point of view
James set us up with an automated OAR script that fires off daily and dumps a copy for me to save. they also do automated backups. BUT . . .
if you take the energy to make something, also take the energy to safeguard it
i firmly believe in taking hold of my responsibilities. nothing is perfect and accidents happen. subQuark has always told me that if you always drive legally you will likely never have an accident, and if you do, it likely won’t be your fault. i think that applies to many things in life
subQuark: There have been so many improvements in OpenSim in the last year and OSGrid is shaping up to be “the” grid. My current thinking is that an OSGrid account will be able to hypergrid to us and it makes sense to create one account that can be used for any HG-enabled grid.
As we approach actual student use driven, hopefully, by my workbooks, then we may need to allow registration to provide a level of safety. I think an option like you speak about Maria, being able to turn HG on and off makes sense. During certain hours, it could be private use only for students, parents, and teachers. Then be opened up for use by anyone.
Maria: For your $189 a month, how many regions do you get?
Ener: thanks to my uber cuteness *bats eyelashes & flutters wings*, we have a special deal. seriously, part of that i think comes from James recognizing that there is a certain benefit to having us on board. subQuark did create a beast with me and social networking. i would have never thought that i would be all over the web like i am. i am not being boastful, i work at it a lot and subQuark is behind the scenes leveraging what i do to the max. behind all my rambling is a focused effort on search engine optimization. and it works because i genuinely like it and i answer everyone that engages with us. lol, we really do have Lady Gaga following us and M.C. Hammer! now they do follow a lot of people back but we are “out there”. i even received a DM from Guy Kawasaki and it was not an auto generated one (i love what Guy Kawasaki preaches which is to be real and not all phony in social networks)
subQuark: We have 16 regions. Part of our issue in Reaction Grid is that we should have stuck with four and maybe nine at the max. Coming from projects in Second Life (Cisco, eBay, Sun Microsystems, the eLearning Guild, universities, and some small groups) we both had to learn to change our perspective on what a sim in OpenSim is. I believe that this is the largest hurdle for professionals coming out of Second Life. You get a four sim setup and think that it is just like 4 sims in Second Life and it simply is not. It seems to me that 4 OpenSim regions is close to one sim in Second Life. I base that anecdotally on four years in Second Life.
Ener: well with 8 GB of RAM, you probably could have more than 16, but now that i have been in OpenSim a while, it’s better to keep that total down imo
Maria: And how many users are you able to get in at the same time before lags starts to get too bad to work with?
Ener: beats me! i have been on with three others and it is fine. lol, that is not saying much but i was having issues with only two before. i have had no body for the last few days on our old grid. i have no idea why. i clear my cache, restart the server and i have nada. maybe it’s Hippo (i kinda think it is having an issue with my graphics card). i use Imprudence and viewer 2.0 with the SimHost grid (2.0 seems smoother to me when i fly)
subQuark: I am embarrassed to say that I have only logged on once. Sim work is best left to Ener and is always superior to anything I could have suggested.
Ener: oh brother, way to butter me up
Maria: Also, is your new grid accessible to the public? Education grids are often wary of opening themselves up to the public.
Ener: i guess we are isolated for a bit, except for the german grid. i have yet to hypergrid though (i will give you our login URI thing Maria, but it looks just like it did before, except that OCD me is replacing all the trees)
subQuark: Being open to the public is important to us. I want educators to see what can be done with OpenSim. When I did the eLearning lecture circuit, I spoke about using Second Life as an animation studio to create eLearning video. Rather than using Second Life as the teaching medium, I used it to create branched scenario training. Filming in Second Life lacks the detail that using Blender 3D or Studio Max can create, but it is rendered real-time and fairly fast to do.
For educators (my true passion and what my education and 10 years experience is in), I see that OpenSim can be a place to let students create, meet other students, attend guest lectures, and explore. My endeavor is to create discussion activities around Ener’s builds. Rather than photographs in a textbook or 3D classroom content, having virtual world representations of “things” allow students to be immersed in something their avatars can walk around in. Currently, 24 states have public virtual education and having an online resource, like a virtual world, is accessible to those students as well as those in a brick and mortar school and students that are home schooled (also a growing demographic).
Maria: If security is an issue, you can also turn on hypergrid during certain times – say, during construction, or during an “open house” where you offer tours to outside visitors. And you can also hypergrid-enable just parts of your grid, such as is the case on ReactionGrid.
Ener: see? this is why i heart Maria! the mention of doing this above was not an original thought by me or subQuark but from reading about this practice that Maria has in place for her very real business use of her grids
subQuark: Having one sim HG-enabled sounds like a very good approach. Students, teachers, and parents could see what we have from a welcome sim. This was a large issue with Second Life’s Teen Grid. Parents and teachers had a difficult time getting access. While this was done to protect kids, it also caused concerns with adults and rightly so. Reaction Grid has done a wonderful job creating a very safe “grid” and I would have no qualms with recommending them as a safe educational venue.
Ener: dang, now you know where i get all my blabbing from! thank you Maria for asking about this, thank you subQuark for your insight and time away from your zillion projects, thank you James for doing such an incredible job for us
- fini -
if you are thinking about OpenSim and looking for a robust solution like we are doing, then drop James a note here. we don’t work for SimHost (but they run an ad here, w00t on free enterprise), we don’t get anything from talking about them except to maybe think that someone looking for a very good alternative to Second Life might find the same results we have =)