LIFE IN A NEW ZEALAND VIRTUAL WORLD
ONGENS gets its first ‘Kiwi Tavern’
as virtual ‘Aotearoa’ grows …
Sign of the ONGENS times … The Kiwi Tavern at Port Cook.
Even though the New Zealand National Virtual World Grid appears to be going through a difficult and, at times, fragile gestation, there is a small band of enthusiasts who are willing to put up with the frustrations of working in an Alpha test world to ensure that the ONGENS Grid moves through Beta on into a full-blown phase which will allow productive education research and possibly hypergrid access to other open-source, OpenSimulator virtual worlds.
One of those enthusiasts is Auckland University academic Dr Scott Diener who “shouted” the first “drinks” – a tankard of Kiwi ale – to virtual world builder Cira Emor, who is re-creating the build of a log cabin(piece by piece!), and your’s truely Johnnie Wendt, who is creating a beachside “slum”, Arcadia Asylum Memorial City, with a little bit of help from the creations of the late and much lamented Second life “artist” Arcadia Asylum.
Besides its two regions, soon to be three, in Second Life, the University of Auckland has something like 12 regions on the ONGENS Grid, some named Kapua (a small cloud) keeping with the university’s virtual world Second Life theme of Long White Cloud or Aotearoa.
As well as constructing Port Cook – it is still in the ongoing construction phase – Scott (SL :Professor Noaralunga) has also opened up two storefronts under the buildings which are giving away “freebies” such as office and home furnishings. Another has been allocated for the supply of freebie textures, to be stocked in cargo boxes.
Johnnie Wendt, Scott Diener (pink shirt) and Cira Emor at the Kiwi Tavern.
Designed primarily for research into the benefits of virtual world education and Web3D technology the ONGENS Virtual World Grid, within the ONGENS (Otago Next Generation Networks and Services) Test Bed Project, championed by Dr Melanie Middlemiss of Otago University, is a joint project on which the Universities of Canterbury and Otago and part of the GNI (Global Network Interconnectivity) Project, The GNI Project has been designed to develop research, enterprise training, and knowledge sharing activities to support new ICT technologies, such as JAIN SLEE, on the way to telecommunications, multimedia, and information systems convergence. It is funded by the New Zealand Tertiary Education Commission Growth and Innovation Pilot Initiative (The SLENZ Project is also funded by TEC).
One of the ONGENS residents, Wendy Steeplechase, at the Port Cook furniture store.
Since the launch of the grid Canterbury and Otago have been joined by the University of Auckland and WelTec, each with a node and regions within the ONGENS Grid. Students from WelTech have already used the grid for real world learning projects.
The grid is currently running on OpenSimulator software, and utilises the high-speed KAREN (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network) connectivity between New Zealand’s tertiary institutions, and research organisations as well as public Broadband.
The attractive stone buildings in Port Cook – the tunnel leads through a forest to a castle.
The Port Cook Harbour … from the inside
… and the harbour entrance from the outside with the castle in the background
THE ONGENS team plans to develop the ONGENS Grid into a New Zealand National Virtual World Grid initiative, and is currently seeking funding and expressions of interest for involvement in the project.
Meanwhile in a related project, an Otago Open Source Software Initiative has been set up by Otago University’s Department of Information Science to provide advice and support to schools and small-medium sized businesses (SMEs) in New Zealand on a range of open-source software technologies that have the potential to reduce IT operational costs, leverage productivity and enable companies to “work smarter”.
“The main issue holding back schools and small businesses from moving to open-source solutions on the desktop is the often limited support and documentation that makes much open-source software a difficult proposition to maintain and manage,” a spokesperson said. “This lack of documentation and support often results in the running cost of open-source software, i.e. the costs associated with lost productivity due to downtime and the cost of in-house technical-staff time required to support the software, quickly outstripping the initial purchase price of a commercial alternative.
“It is this situation that has lead the Department of Information Science to establish the Open Source Software Initiative to support the take up of open source software by schools and SMEs by using its expertise to develop standardised, tested software bundles that “work” and to provide a support forum with “expert advisers” to assist in the identification of appropriate open-source solutions,” the spokesperson said.
Filed under: Education, ONGENS, Virtual Worlds | Tagged: Cira Emor, GNI Project, KAREN, Kiwi Tavern, Melanie Middlemiss, ONGENS Virtual Grid, Open Source, OpenSimulator, Otago Open Source Software Initiative, Scott Diener, University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Weltec | Leave a comment »