Jul 06 2009

OpenSim Terrain notes, and Darb has Process Credit history!

I’d read about this, but never before experienced the agony first-hand.  Extracting funds from SL, the wait for funds to arrive at PayPal was a bit slow.  In fact, in the time it took funds to go from Linden to PayPal, a bamboo shoot in my back yard could have grown taller than me (that’s my RL not SL height!), and would have been over 2 meters tall.  Anyway, Process Credits are quite lacking in symmetry with how quickly credit charges can flow into the Linden realm.

During this week of waiting my random prims have been cleared out from Amida and nary a trace of Berkurodam BART Station remains besides a video in Gualala.  The video screen was actually entombed by a neighbor, who may not like it but did not send any message.

Anyway–for me this week is all about generating maps and graphics while keeping up with work.  I’ve generated a 50cm terrain grid for parts of my county where perhaps 150,000 people live.  With computational process improvements I should be able to make production stable enough to generate a 25cm grid.  The point is to model terrain slope and aspect within urban parcels.  OpenSim can pack 64 terrain megaprim sculpties over each region to refine terrain more than the built-in 1-meter postings, and display 10cm orthoimagery at full resolution.

Last year, I used first-return LiDAR data of the UC Berkeley campus to generate a 25cm grid for 10cm imagery.  Now, I’m working with bare-earth LiDAR data from FEMA, topographic contours (densified to 1.5m vertex spacing), and most importantly, photogrammetric terrain and water break lines.

Throwing all those data into the mix, the data are built into an ESRI Terrain Dataset, from which I generate TIN and GRID models at various reolution and extent.  The ESRI ArcGIS 3D Analyst Terrain-to-TIN generator breaks down after about 10 mega-faces (so would I…)  And the ArcGIS Terrain-to-GRID generator seems to drift into Windows-unconsciousness after about 1.0 giga-cells.  So for the grid, I break it down and do the pieces, then merge the tiles using ERDAS Imagine, because the ESRI ArcGIS raster mosaic function does not produce output grids much over 10 GB.  As annoying as learning these ArcGIS limits can be, it is very satisfying (and instructive) to see huge swaths of seamless terrain with great detail once it all comes together.  Thanks to the break lines, many driveways and most home building site cuts and fills are resolved.  And it will be a lot of terrain by OpenSim standards–enough to calibrate terrain for over 20,000 contiguous regions–not that I ever expect to build it all at 1:1 scale!

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Feb 03 2009

SIMGIS Move: OpenSim for workbench, SL for presentation

Published by under Marin Civic Center,Scale Issues

Down in the “basement” a server awaits a bit of configuration to become an OpenSim lab to support the Marin Civic Center development.  How nice it would be to load terrain into a portion of a Second Life region, but alas–it seems unavailable to those of us without Estate controls.  The 1:1.00 scale terrain will need to be calculated to back the base ortho-image that has already been tiled over the site as shown in the last blog posting.  I have verified that one of the 40-meter sphere oversize prims in my inventory can be rebuilt into a massive terrain sculptie.  Placing a 32×32 sampling (30×30 at most that are usable for terrain) of 1-meter terrain samples will give me a guide, and then I’ll just need to diddle with the SL client bulldozer tool to approximate the terrain prim, before disposing of it.

Thanks to the frequent updates of the region map at SLURL.com, I can already see some of the build taking shape.  On the second image below I sketched my virtual moving van’s path from Gualala to Stanford.  To aid overview map navigation and VFR-flying avatars, I have constructed a large readable sky label in crude imitation of the long-standing skywriting by SL resident Web Page in region Da_Boom.

Da Boom -- probably named after De Boom

Da Boom — probably named after De Boom

From that origin, the old Gualala locale was at region grid (1008,998), and the new Stanford site is at region grid (1006,1000).

The heart of the old SL Mainland

The heart of the old SL Mainland

Oddly enough, Stanford appears to be the fourth-oldest region, according to this relatively ancient map.

Second Life regions 2002 11 21

Second Life regions 2002 11 21

On the ground, I’m still in process on some lot line adjustment I’d like to make before breaking ground. The terrain sculptie method has been proven, although I have yet to grid actual terrain values for the project site. Also, I’m trying to minimize RL dimension measurements if possible, by using best available historical information on the RL site.

Some things have changed in SL viewers in the last few months. About a year ago, it was possible to take an oversize prim and modify a single dimension, having that snap to 10 meters. Currently, any change in a dimension of an oversize prim results in all three dimensions snapping to values less than or equal to 10 meters. It’s a new challenge, but can be managed. Still, once a builder has tasted the freedom of OpenSim, it is awfully hard not to chafe at those sorts of restrictions.

I’m giving thought to a copy of Second Inventory to facilitate the use of OpenSim for dev and SL for production, but the issue of prim size shrinking will be a big issue for me.

Curiously, I have found that physical prims to not drop to the ground in Stanford.  This has never been the case in Gualala, so I’m intrigued and opened a ticket with Linden Lab.  I’ll see what they say. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eye on the sky for the project’s mark (in the old ceneter of OUTLANDS)

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Jan 31 2009

Marin Civic Center 1:1 scale texture in Stanford – feels bigger than OpenSim

Only the four-story Administration building (wing), not the two-story Hall of Justice. I’m tired so I’ll let the shot speak for me.

photo from 2009 01 30

photo from 2009 01 30

To me, it’s mildly amazing to realize that F.Ll.Wright’s design fits so snugly in 1/8 of a Second Life region at 1:1.00 scale.  The Civic Center Administration building is a Real-Life building that can be visited, providing an easy way to get a true RL immersive sense of its scale.  Building at 1:1 scale in Second Life for the first time, this has been my first experience of transferring that awareness into the multi-region contigous space of the very beautiful Second Life.  Sure, I’ve built large areas at 1:1 using draped LiDAR data, but to have a rather large single building (or at least its footprint for now) in context with existing builds that I’ve seen for months, well, at the moment SL seems larger than I’d thought.  That shift in my perception of SL scale may be the contrast between flying (quite fast as it turns out) around 40 to 100 OpenSim regions versus walking around the site and knowing how long it takes to traverse the RL building.

Anyway, check out the build’s progress at secondlife://Stanford/100/235/30

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Nov 19 2008

Immersive 3D article in BAAMA Journal – GIS in OpenSim and Second Life

The San Francisco Bay Area Automated Mapping Association is our local URISA chapter, and publishes a twice-yearly journal that covers some interesting local geospatial projects.  The latest,  BAAMA Journal Volume 2, Issue 2 was released today for GIS Day.  It contains one article that provides an overview of the work blogged here: “IMMERSIVE 3D SIMULATOR-BASED GIS: SHARING THE 3D EXPERIENCEThe shot below details Mulford Hall on the UC Berkeley campus where our local GIS Day event was held again this year.  Thanks to the GIF, ASPRS, and BAAMA organizers!

Detail of 1:16 Level 2 model, in Second Life Agni grid, Amida region, on 2008 11 19 GIS Day

Detail of 1:16 Level 2 model, in Second Life Agni grid, Amida region, on 2008 11 19 GIS Day

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Sep 15 2008

Second Life, OpenSim, and Civic Mirror Worlds

Published by under OpenSim,SL In General

From here on the west coast of the USA, the world has seemed a bit tumultuous in the past four weeks. In a more compact and local way, this has been a time of review and reflection for me. This week I drafted an article for a local GIS Journal to review some of the explorations I’ve made since 2006 of how to create a civic-scale Mirror World. The deadline for the article has motivated me toward a bit more recapitulation on this topic than I’d expected.

My interest in the topic was first kicked off by media attention given to Linden Lab around the registration of the one-millionth resident for Second Life. I checked it out, made a rapid getaway from Orientation Island in around 30 minutes, and within a week or so the broad outlines of some intersections between GIS data and Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVE) were taking shape in my thoughts. By Summer 2007, I’d made a fairly complex build on the mainland of the Berkeley BART station, and realized how hard it would be to justify the tier for 500 regions to host, much less build out, the entire city. But by October, I’d learned how OpenSim would solve the issue of tier, if only it were possible to make a build efficiently.

Then meshes arrived in the form of sculptie prims, and when an opportunity arose to collaborate with IBM on a multi-region terrain, I devised a way to drape orthoimagery over the region terrain. This Summer 2008 I was able to do that with LiDAR data that draped orthoimagery over terrain, buildings, and trees. The past year has been very much focused on OpenSim for me with this activity.

But behind the week-to-week excitement of OpenSim growth, and even before that, there has been a steady stream of good new stuff from Linden Lab–a stream that I haven’t reflected on so much. First off, the confluence of LibSL’s stabilization by the end of 2006, the open sourcing of the Second Life client in early 2007, and the initiation of OpenSim shortly afterward, together made possible the environment that I’m, if not taking for granted, really expecting to be there for awhile. Meanwhile, back in Second Life, there’s been integration of VoIP, new HAVOK physics, way cool Windlight enhancements to the SL client, a growth in land area that just keeps on going, plus new Openspace regions.

For reasons unrelated to my journal-article recapitulation, today I enjoyed a pleasant visit with a Linden person. It was more time to chat about civic Mirror World applications with a Linden than I’d ever had before, either in-world or real-world. In the course of our conversation, seeing the eyes of someone who is among those directly and personally impacted by OpenSim in the sense of unrealized revenue growth for Linden Lab, I gained an awareness of what is perhaps the largest contribution of Linden Lab to the OpenSim community. That would be Linden forbearance.

It’s growing late this evening for me to write much more on this right now. And as I noted, this feels like a tumultuous time for the world as viewed from west-coast USA, so I need my rest for what might be a tough week ahead. But I’ve felt a shift in perspective today, and wonder anew what the future of an operational civic Mirror World will really look like.

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Jul 11 2008

OpenSim holding the immersive middle ground?

While impatiently waiting for a local build of Mono to complete, I explored the new lively.com from Google Labs (the Mono build left some unused capacity in the XP+IE part of the lab ). It was fun to take keyboard knowledge of the SL client and guess the ways to zoom, dolly, pan, orbit, and dive around one’s avatar in Lively—and of course, find everything was there with googlish care.

I read a reminder (from a review of Wagner James Au’s book on early days of Linden Labs) that an original intent of that Linden crew was to build a representational and immersive model of real world.  And somewhere between rest and awakening grew a fresh recognition about OpenSim-type paraverses. They still occupy some application space not quite like, but spanning gaps in use that exist among Linden’s Agni grid, Google’s Lively, and Google Earth. A paraverse seems such a reasonable effort to pursue—for although it might seem a pedestrian app to describe, once it exists, its fidelity with real world should allow easier connections to all sorts of business, while offering all the creative possibilities that can derive from human-created worlds, like having both gravity and flying, having weather and having it the way you prefer it, and so on.

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May 06 2008

Berkurodam 1:25 map on Agni – 1:3 BART Station still online

Published by under SL In General

For ease of QA, there’s nothing quite like shrinking a big multi-region project to get through faster. And to share the joy a bit, this index map is in a public space, on Agni. at Amida 16/12/30

The parcel in Agni (standard Second Life public grid) now has a 1:25 model of Open Berkurodam loaded. There are 159 of the 160 terrain sculpties in place, all with full 1K x 1K ortho image textures. If you find yourself on Agni, stop by to check out the details and see the underside of the terrain sculptie diamonds.

1:25 scale Index map in Second Life 1:25 scale index map in standard Second Life grid

1:25 scale index map in Second Life standard grid 1;25 scale index map in Second Life standard grid

1:25 scale index map in Second Life standard grid

The location is just across the water from original 1:3 scale Berkurodam BART Station. The index map can be found in Amida 16/12/30. Give it a chance to rez, because uncompressed there are 477 MB of Targa image textures represented on 159 terrain sculpties, each of which is specified with a 132×132 bumpmap. In the interest of full disclosure, I have exaggerated the Z dimension here by 50% relative to X and Y, so that the 1:25 scale is horizontal only, and vertical scale is 1:16.6 just to make the terrain more apparent. At this scale, a lot of the immersive experience seems lost and the perspective is quite a bit like Google Earth.

Striving for multiple media channels, I have also uploaded some suitably grainy videos to offer a taste to those who can’t or won’t visit the Agni grid. Believe me, it’s a much sweeter sight at 1600×1200 with the new Windlight viewer, but if one is interested in this sort of rendering, the videos might offer some motivation to explore with the SL client proper.

The longest is 3:39 and starts in Gualala, shows a bit of rezzing of the 1:25 map, does a fairly good job of showing off the texture detail on football fields, then finishes up with a flight over to the Berkurodam BART station 1:3 model, with a glimpse inside the two underground levels.

The shortest video is 0:39 and can be viewed here

The next video shows some of both the 1:3 Berkurodam BART station model in Gualala, and the nearby 1:25 OpenBerkurodam index map in an adjacent part of Amida

There is a third one that is still uploading as of this moment

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