Finding Your Way Around Hypergrid-Connected OpenSim Virtual Worlds

So, here’s my OSGrid avatar at Lbsa Plaza, all dressed up and nowhere to go:

OSGrid 31 July 2018.png

Where to go? Well, it so happens that there are a few handy directories to Hypergrid-connected OpenSim virtual worlds.

The first one is called OpenSimWorld, and it’s a directory that you can search by keyword (e.g. “freebies”) or you can just click the Browse Regions button and then select by Popular, Latest, Most Liked, or by category (e.g. “adult”).

OpenSimWorld 31 July 2018.png

Another OpenSim directory is called Hyperica, which maintains a detailed spreadsheet of Hypergrid-connected OpenSim virtual worlds.

How do you travel from one OpenSim grid to another? It’s easy! Simply take the grid address (e.g. hg.osgrid.org:80), open up the Map on your client (I use Firestorm), and paste it into the address box and click the Find button. Once it locates the OpenSim grid on the Map, click the Teleport button. That’s all there is to it!

The OpenSimWorld and Hyperica directories also give you an option to click a button which then pops up the location in your already-open client software (just look for a button marked “HG” for Hypergrid in the OpenSim world’s description).

I have discovered that the overwhelming majority of OpenSim virtual worlds are Hypergrid-enabled. You can use OpenSimWorld, Hyperica, and other active grid lists like the one maintained by Hypergrid Business to find your way around. Hypergrid Business also maintains an up-to-date, handy list of the most popular Hypergrid-connected OpenSim worlds, if you want to start with the most popular ones.

Another grid list you can use is the one maintained by the OpenSimulator project website itself, although I’m not sure how up-to-date that list is. I have noticed that some of the grids listed, like Avination, have closed.

Another good spot to find out what is going on in OpenSim-based virtual worlds is the Google+ group called Opensim Virtual, which has over 2,000 subscribers.

Happy grid hopping!

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WARNING: Buying Sansar Dollars in Bundles is a Rip-Off, Plain and Simple

I have a major complaint about how Linden Lab is selling Sansar dollars. Hear me out.

When you are signed into your account and you have not purchased any Sansar dollars, you get a link next to your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner of the website, as follows:

Get Sansar Dollars 31 July 2018

If you click on the link, it will take you to a page where you can purchase “bundles” of Sansar dollars (see the image below).

So can somebody explain to me WHY, when you buy Sansar dollars using the bundle option, it’s US$99.99 for 8500 Sansar dollars, BUT when you buy them using the SandeX directly, you can get 9999 Sansar dollars for US$99.99? That’s a difference of 1499 Sansar dollars between the two methods! I thought that the purpose of bundling is make it cheaper to buy something, not more expensive!

When I asked about this, I was told by Eliot, the Sansar Community Manager, that “The purpose of the bundles is to make it easier”. Easier for WHO? The link to the SandeX is right there underneath the list of “bundles” pricing:

Sansar Dollar Bundles 31 July 2018

Who in their right mind is going to spend MORE to get less? Here’s the “market buy” SandeX display, showing you how you can get 1499 more Sansar dollars for your US$99.99:

SandeX 31 July 2018

Bundles are a rip-off, plain and simple. An unsuspecting consumer in a hurry, might click on the “Get Sansar dollars” link, and buy a “bundle” of Sansar dollars, thinking that might save them time and/or money, when in fact it does neither.

EVERY SINGLE ONE of those “bundles” offered is more expensive than buying it directly from the SandeX!

Eliot goes on to day: “So the Bundles could not adapt to changes to the SandeX up to the minute. But instead of having to wait for someone to sell, you can get your Sansar dollars immediately with the bundle”. Sorry, but I’ve never encountered any delays in buying Sansar dollars using the SandeX, it’s always been instantaneous, even when buying large amounts.

So basically, Linden Lab is charging you for “convenience”. This is the same sort of “convenience” charge I get dinged with when I use an ATM from a different bank than the one I have my account with. And it absolutely drives me up the wall!

So, take my advice. DON’T BUY BUNDLES. Go straight to the SandeX and buy your Sansar dollars there. I’ve never heard of anyone who’s had any sort of delay in doing that.

UPDATE Aug. 1st: Medhue says on the official Sansar Discord channel:

This is no different from SL. LL does the exact same thing there. The Sandex is meant to be the deal Ryan, because sellers are willing to go lower to get their money faster. If the package deals were better than the SandeX, what exactly would be the point of buying on the SandeX? LL’s package has to be less of a deal, or we’d never be able to cash out our Sansar dollars.

Happy First Birthday, Sansar and the RyanSchultz.com Blog!

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

July 31st, 2018 marks not one, but two one-year anniversaries:

Both this blog—and Sansar—have come a long way in twelve months!  In one year I have made 835 blogposts, which works out to 2.3 blogposts per day.

I’ve recently updated my blog to make it easier to subscribe. If you’re not already a blog subscriber, just look for the FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL section on the left-hand side panel of my blog (right under the Search box), enter your email address, and press the black FOLLOW button. Then you will receive an email message every time I make a new blogpost to this blog. (If you’re reading this blog on a tablet or smartphone, look for the three-lines menu icon in the upper right-hand corner and select that to see the subscriber option.)

Here’s looking forward to another exciting year!

Intellectual Property Issues in OpenSim/Hypergrid

I have been exploring a couple of OpenSim-based virtual worlds that were recommended to me by people who were leaving InWorldz. One of the features about OpenSim that fascinates me is the Hypergrid feature, which allows you to visit other OpenSim-based grids without having to create a new avatar from scratch.

OpenSim grid operators advertise their grids as “open” (Hypergrid enabled) or “closed” (you are unable to visit other grids from that grid). I must confess that I have never visited open grids before, so it has been quite the experience teleporting from grid to grid. Most of the time I didn’t even know what grid I was actually on!

At one of the grids I visited, someone kindly gave me a list of freebie stores, and I went exploring. I don’t even know which grid I was on when I came across this particular sim:

Hypergrid 1 28 July 2018.png

With this prominent sign:

Hypergrid 2 28 July 2018.png

I entered the Mesh Body Shop you see in the background of the first picture, and I found a lot of free items that looked very familiar to me from my time in Second Life: Catwa mesh heads, Belleza mesh bodies, Bento AOs from Vista Animations, etc.:

Hypergrid 3 28 July 2018Hypergrid 4 28 July 2018

And I thought to myself, “That can’t be right.” So I did a little investigating on the internet, and I discovered that intellectual property theft happens on some OpenSim grids. Moonrise Azalee posted an item to the Opensim Virtual group on Google+ a year ago (here’s a link to her post):

I know this isn’t a popular opinion – but when I see regions advertising themselves on OpenSimWorld with ‘freebies’ and those freebies are Catwa heads, Freya, Maitreya (clearly pictured), and upon checking these freebies out they also include Blueberry clothing and other rigged mesh items specifically for Freya and Maitreya – I find it really disappointing.

I don’t condone botting – but I know its pretty common. Someone has an item they paid good money for elsewhere and have no moral or ethical qualms about taking it out of the Big Grid so they can use it elsewhere. That in itself is a different topic outside of this. But to see these items taken from creators who spent a lot of time and money of their own to use programs and create items that take many hours to do – just offered for free to anyone as though it is some sort of good deed is kind of sad.

When I first found a body called Athena, I was pretty excited. Then I put it on and realized it was Maitreya’s Lara. Even some parts were still named as such, and the clothing for it was identical to the blueberry clothing I have for Maitreya in SL. So trying another body – one called Mesh Body I believe – I saw it was Freya and had freya clothing.

And in a few other stores I saw these same bodies not even being disguised but actually just called Freya – and the Maitreya sales box with Athena written on it.

It just kind of discredits the OpenSim community. I understanding wanting to be a free comunity – but commercial creators DO deserve to get paid for their hard work. I am sure we have people here talented enough to take on the task of creating great content and they can do so and then give it away for free. But using exported items without permission KNOWINGLY (i do realize some people might not know what these things are, especially if they weren’t familiar with them in SL) and giving it away for everyone else to use just seems kind of cruddy.

In fact, the owner of one OpenSim grid, DigiWorldz, has gone so far as to ban the Athena mesh avatar body from their grid:

Hello All,

I want to clarify a few things concerning the banning of the Athena Mesh bodies.

Some users are upset about our decision and understandably so. After you spend time setting something up, it tends to be a pain to have to change and start all over.. I get that.

Please understand, this isn’t being done based on “Rumors”. Granted, it started out with “Rumors” from users telling me the bodies were copybotted and are not legal. These rumors continued and finally I started telling people to please contact the creator and have them send me a DMCA claim and I’ll be happy to remove them. The DMCA never came. Meanwhile, other rumors started being spread about DigiWorldz allowing copybotted items and that we condone the use of illegal content, which is very far from the truth.

Since our inception that has been a basic core belief of mine.. to protect “All” creator’s content, no matter which grid they live on.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want to prove my point that I have always been interested in doing the right thing by protecting the rights of the creators in OpenSim.

I don’t care if the creator is on SL, OSGrid, Metro, InWorldz, or any other grid. I will always stand by them and do my part to help protect their content.

The facts are that this issue with the mesh bodies has been reported multiple times. We have been waiting for a DMCA claim from the creator of the “Lara” body in SL to come forward and put in this claim so that we could take action. This claim never came. Meanwhile our name was being dragged thru the mud as a haven for copybot content which simply is not true.

Today, we contacted the creator of the Lara body in SL and asked them specifically if the Athena mesh bodies found in OpenSim grids was a direct copy of the lara body. The answer was yes. We asked if she had given permission for these bodies to be in OpenSim, the answer was no.

Based on that exchange, it makes these bodies in OpenSim illegal.

Now, I don’t just remove something from the grid when I get a report from someone. I have to have substantial proof of the claim before I will act on it, otherwise, anyone could cause trouble for someone by claiming illegal content.

We now have legitimate proof these bodies are in OpenSim illegally based on direct communication with he creator in SL.

Unless someone can prove the creator of the Lara body in SL is wrong, these items will stay banned.

So, when exploring the Wild, Wild West of Hypergrid-connected OpenSim grids, you should be aware that some of the “free” items you are buying may be property stolen from Second Life creators.

UPDATED: The End of InWorldz

Today was InWorldz’s last day. Grid co-founder Beth Reischl estimated that Rackspace would shut off the InWorldz servers at the end of their business day, 5:00 p.m. CST, which works out to 3:00 p.m. InWorldz time. While the main servers have not yet been turned off as of this writing, the InWorldz login server was shut down around 5:00 p.m., leaving only a handful of avatars still online on a few sims. No users can log in. InWorldz is now gone.

Over the past few days, avatars gathered at spots like InWorldz Desert Island 1 (the site of the original welcome centre) to chat and commiserate with each other:

Inworldz Desert Island gathering 27 July 2018_001.png

After InWorldz Desert Island 1 shut down (as many sims did throughout the course of the day today), people went over to InWorldz Desert Island 2, which was still up, to spend their last hours together:

InWorldz Desert Island 2 gathering 27 July 2018_001.png

Despite heroic efforts by Beth Reischl and her team to do as many OAR backups of as many sims as possible before shut-down, many people are still facing the loss of most of their inventory. Some are bitter and angry; others are resigned. Nobody is happy about this turn of events.

InWorldz was the victim of some poor business decisions and just plain bad luck. In a period of sixteen months, two of the largest and most popular OpenSim-based grids—Avination and InWorldz—have failed.

Does this mean the end for OpenSim? No. Many of the people affected by the Avination and InWorldz closures simply decided to move to other OpenSim grids, such as Kitely, DigiWorldz and the Discovery grid.

But InWorldz is officially dead, as of this evening. Now we wait to see whether a new grid will rise from its ashes.

UPDATE July 28th: After they completed doing the OAR archives of all the sims, InWorldz staff turned the login server back on. If you try to log into InWorldz this morning, you will be able to get into InWorldz Desert Island (IDI) 1, which is the only sim that is left running. Even though Rackspace has not been paid, the servers still seem to be running! Right now there are about 50 avatars chatting with each other. We have no idea how long the sim will stay up, so you might want to come and visit with some old friends before InWorldz really is gone for good!

Here’s a snapshot of us at IDI:

InWorldz 28 July 2018_001.png

Administrative Note: I Have Moved My List of Social VR/Virtual Worlds to a New, Separate Page

IDIA 1 4 August 2017.png
IDIA Lab: 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair (Sansar)

Effective immediately, I have moved my popular alphabetical list of social VR spaces and virtual worlds to a separate page on my blog, with a permanent link on the left-hand side panel, called List of Social VR/Virtual Worlds (right under the Home button). Note that if you are viewing my blog on a tablet or smartphone, you have to hit the three-bars menu button in the upper right-hand corner of your screen to find the link to the new page.

I will now be keeping that new document up-to-date instead of my old blogpost, which will no longer be pinned to the front page of my blog. I now realize that doing this was confusing to many visitors who thought that my blog was not being updated, and I do apologize for any confusion this caused in the past. From now on, only the most recent blogposts will appear at the top of the RyanSchultz.com main page!

Decentraland: A First Look at Their Alpha

Decentraland has given us the first glimpse of their alpha platform at a presentation given today by company co-founder Esteban Ordano at the NIFTY conference in Hong Kong.

More information on the event comes from the DCLPlazas blog:

After many months of blood, sweat and tears from Decentraland developers, and with an ever growing community patiently waiting for their first real glimpse of the VR world, today Decentraland showed the alpha version of Decentraland which was presented by Tech Lead Esteban Ordano at the NIFTY conference in Hong Kong.

Judging by the reaction in the room it was very clear that after a long in time coming, nobody in the room was disappointed and it was well worth the wait.

As if the demo wasn’t enough, Decentraland have also opened up applications to get an alpha NFT allowing YOU to enter the world and have a look around.

If you want to get access to the Decentraland alpha, you can send an email request to Genesis@Decentraland.org.