New Open Source Virtual World Platform


Sirikata is an BSD licensed open source platform for virtual worlds. We aim to provide a set of libraries and protocols which can be used to deploy a virtual world, as well as fully featured sample implementations of services for hosting and deploying these worlds. We are aiming for an alpha release in late Q1 2009 and this video teaser should give you some sense of what to expect.

Not a lot of information as yet, but you can check out their teaser video on Vimeo.

The Piracy Paradox


James Surowiecki, who wrote the highly recommended Wisdom of Crowds, has a great article in the New Yorker on the economics of the fashion industry and its notably weak intellectual property laws.

The paradox stems from the basic dilemma that underpins the economics of fashion: for the industry to keep growing, customers must like this year’s designs, but they must also become dissatisfied with them, so that they’ll buy next year’s. Many other consumer businesses face a similar problem, but fashion—unlike, say, the technology industry—can’t rely on improvements in power and performance to make old products obsolete. Raustiala and Sprigman argue persuasively that, in fashion, it’s copying that serves this function, bringing about what they call “induced obsolescence.” Copying enables designs and styles to move quickly from early adopters to the masses. And since no one cool wants to keep wearing something after everybody else is wearing it, the copying of designs helps fuel the incessant demand for something new.

While I admit that texture theft in virtual worlds is a different situation I think there are lessons to be learned from how the RL fashion industry handles intellectual property theft. Of course real life fashion designers aren’t happy about companies ripping off their designs either. The smart designers, though, are starting to directly compete with the stores that sell the knock-offs from their couture collections. Vera Wang at Kohl’s? Fantastic. The companies that peddle knock-offs will lose in the face of such strong, established brands.

What can you do?

Build a strong brand: create a cool store experience, design great packaging, build strong relationships with your customers and reward them for their loyalty. Communicate with your customers via in-world groups or something like Subscribe-O-Matic (haven’t used this, so can’t vouch for how good it is). Create a weblog. Get your stuff on onrez and SL Exchange. Keep innovating and creating new stuff. You’re the one with the talent so use it as best you can to beat the thieves. The reality is that they’re not going away.

Second Life is a huge place now, which makes it easier for the thieves to peddle your designs without your knowledge. The great thing about building up a loyal customer base is that they’ll tell you if they see your stolen designs. When that happens, take a deep breath, and handle it in a business-like fashion. Do what you can to handle the thief, informally at first and then via Linden Lab if need be, but don’t let it consume you and don’t let it dishearten you or keep you from working on your next piece, because then the thieves really win: they’ve robbed us all of your next design.

Photoshop 7 TGA Plug-in Alpha Channel Bug


A few people have recently been bitten by this bug, and I blame myself for not highlighting it more in my tutorials as it can be frustrating. The bug impacts saving 32-bit TGA files in Photoshop 7.0 — alpha channel transparency doesn’t work. So if you’ve done any of my tutorials and just couldn’t get Alpha Channels to work, my bet is you’ve run into this problem. Luckily all you have to do is download the free Photoshop 7.0.1 update from Adobe’s site.

From the 7.0.1 release notes: “Photoshop now saves alpha transparency data in Targa files in the same way it did in previous versions.”

Nvidia 7900GT, Forceware 93.71, and SL


Not a good combination. When I log into Second Life I get 10 second screen freezes, incredible psychedlic geometry artifacting, flashing and finally auto-reboots. Now, I’ve been around a video card or two, and generally these types of symptoms indicate bad hardware, many times due to overheating. Watching the card’s temperature though reveals that it’s staying relatively cool, so it looks like the drivers are the culprit. I downgraded to 91.47 and everything is great. Well, except of course for the normal SL issues!

Update: Ok, apparently I spoke too soon. The problems are back today, which makes me think that it’s either my GFX card or SL. A couple of hours playing a DirectX game without any problems makes me think it’s SL + OpenGL + my GFX card. At this point I can’t work in Second Life at all for more than a couple minutes.