The unified 3D web

I made a very brief comment on a previous post that said “X3D + AJAX = …I wonder”.

This was a simplistic first thought about a converged online 3D world, a 3D extension of the web. A website, but with X3D instead of XHTML. In fact, I think that a single web “site” should be available in both, but that’s a different discussion about sick uses of XSLT.

I first got interested in Second Life when I heard about the open source side of their development on LUGRadio. I set up an account but couldn’t play it because my hardware wasn’t good enough. Now I’ve just been watching a Google Techtalk Video on SecondLife and I’m even more interested. It really is an amazingly complex online world where people “write” objects in code and even make real money. I can’t help but make a parallel here with The Matrix. This is voluntary habitation of a world which is purely virtual but shares an awful lot of properties of the real world with a complex physics engine and social organisations, currency etc. And it’s huge!

I also know about another project called Open Croquet and it all got me thinking. Why are all these online worlds separate? Shouldn’t the online world be as much a unified thing as the web? Why can’t you just pop your WoW avatar into SecondLife? Not that I currently have either.

When I first heard about people buying “Real Estate” in SecondLife I couldn’t believe people were actually paying *real* money for *virtual* land which can be copied for virtually no cost, I really couldn’t comprehend why anyone would do that. But watching the Tech Talk I’ve realised that isn’t actually that insane. The entire simulation of SecondLife exists on servers, the client is very thin indeed. What you’re actually paying is a hosting fee, you’re paying for them to rack mount and maintain a server!

When they add land to the SecondLife world they literally just add a new server and have code which connects the edges together. Lindon Labs who make SecondLife have talked about Open Sourcing their code. What if *anyone* could host their own land on their own server in a unified 3D online world and registering it’s location in that world was just like registering a domain name with DNS? What if the web was 3D?

After thinking this, an article popped up on Wired suggesting that perhaps all of these separate worlds are just a transitional stage and eventually we will have a unified 3D world on the Internet. Exactly what I’m thinking 🙂

Of course there are massive technical challenges here in allowing the distributed and decentralised hosting of an online world and lots of open standards to work on. The SecondLife online world is transferred to the client by a complex combination of vectors, textures, sound etc. and all of these need to seamlessly interoperate. There are huge social and legal issues touched upon in the Techtalk to think about too.

I’m just pleased that the people in SecondLife and the people in OpenCroquet are the right kind of people to be building this unified online world, I just hope that they don’t keep SecondLife tucked away on their own servers forever as a propriatory solution. We don’t want one company playing God in the virtual world.

Martian Karting

Rover Simulator
Was up until 5:30am working on our Software Engineering Assignment (the write up for the Mars Rover Simulator) and finally got it finished. As for the actual code, there’s loads of things I’d like to improve, in fact I’ve asked the lecturer if we would be allowed to GPL our code because they’re not using this project again next year.

I would just like to quote part of the assignment which I wrote at around 4am when I was starting to lose my mind.

“data type alien

overview: an alien is a primitive constructor which represents the status of an alien artefact. Aliens are immutable. You can destroy an alien like any other artefact and it will disappear, but its spirit will live on until the end of (run)time. In this sense, it will never die.”

The EIC and BEES set up a networking evening in Birmingham which included free food and free karting!

There were around 16 heats and a final which meant I got to do five five lap races (well six actually because Jon disappeared early so I filled in for one of his races). Bombing around an indoor racetrack in a 12 horse power electric kart was exactly what I needed to unwind at the end of term. Being electric rather than combustion engines the karts run quietly and without smog and my goodness do they move. They have a top speed of 45mph.

I only came 16th out of 26 but I had an awful lot of fun!

In other news…

I need to find a house!

Programming, guitars, reading and earthships

So far our Mars Rover Simulator (currently requires password for the interesting bits) consists of 1900 lines of C code and several data files. Needs a lot of polish but all the basic functionality is there so samwwwblack and I felt it necessary to go out and celebrate version 0.09 with a few pints last night 🙂

I also have to program a railway journey planner for another module (anyone remember my A Level coursework?) and a padestrian crossing in assembler.

Looks like my “alternative to the traditional office suite” prediction is the last one to come past the post following the big G’s latest acquisition.

And quinophex, yes my predictions were crap but unlike most outlandish technology predictions, they actually came true. Mostly.

Went to Tom’s house to program but ended up spending hours playing with his many guitars. Telecaster and lurvely valve amp, mmm.

I unexpectedly received a bible through the post today, the New International Version with a leather case and zip. I’m considering reading it from cover to cover, just so that I can say I’ve read it. I don’t think it will beat Hitchhikers on the humour stakes, but a lot of people make a big fuss about it and I’m interested to know if it’s a good read. I’m curious whether it’s possible to read the bible just like any other book but I suspect that trawling through all the tedious history in the old testament will make me lose interest before I get to the good bits like the prophecies in the book of Daniel. It’s weird what contemporary culture can get us interested in.

This is pretty neat. I’m working on pie-in-the-sky plans for a hippygeek version 🙂

Predictions coming true

Back in October I made some predictions about technology. Most were quite obvious but I’m impressed how many have come true.

Already there:
* iPod Video People suspect the “real” iPod video is yet to come and it might even be a lot like the next prediction
* Handheld device which is basically just a lot of storage and a big display with approximately one button and *lots* of connectivity Just need Apple or Nokia or someone to make it look prettier now.

Very nearly there:
* Google Calendar
* the death of 3G by 2009

Not there yet, though there’s plenty of work in this direction:
* a replacement for the traditional office suite

In other news…
I have C programming coming out of my ears, assembler programming and psychology reports to do and the perpetual webmasterness continues. I’ve now done two sets at an acoustic night, I sleep for about 4 hours a night and my pile of washing is taking over my room.

Twisted Lemon now has a website, albeit a temporary one until we do a better template design.

lauperr seems to be changing (in a very good way) and if I had a spare second to think about it I’d probably say I’m enjoying life a great deal 😛