Introducing the Fashion Research Institute Campus on ScienceSim


We are pleased to introduce the Fashion Research Institute campus for fashion design education on the ScienceSim.  The campus spreads across 9 regions, including the original historical build Shengri La™ Spirit.  Fashion Research Institute’s “3-D website” is located at Shengri La Spirit 01, and incorporates a welcome center with an avatar customization salon and information about the Fashion Research Institute and its activities.  We are particularly pleased with our ‘3D Website’ which has now been instantiated into two grids, IBM’s vBusiness grid and now the ScienceSim grid, both installations were performed flawlessly.   Maintaining these two grid installations is remarkably easy, since the original region file is maintained on our private Fashionable Grid™.  Changes to the region are seamless, with the region’s OAR file being uploaded to the various grids where it is present.

Fashion Research Institute has also incorporated its Library of content creation tutorials and references into the campus.  The Library is contained on its own region, Shengri La Spirit 02, and is currently hosting a fashion exhibit about Edwardian men’s neckwear.  An array of art and design examples using virtual worlds are included in several other regions, which may be freely visited.

An additional two regions are reserved for the upcoming Threading the Needle conference for fashion design students.  Threading the Needle is the first ever virtual worlds-based fashion design conference, which is being presented for fashion design students to attend free of charge.  Such notables as Fiona Jenvey, (CEO, Mudpie), Beth Harris (Director of Digital Learning, MOMA NYC), and Kerry Bannigan (CEO, Nolcha Fashion Week) will be presenting to students logging in from around the world.

Fashion Research Institute’s campus for fashion design education may be freely visited in the ScienceSim grid, where all regions are publicly accessible.  Simply log in and locate the Shengri La Spirit regions in the world map. Please note the spelling “Shengri La”, which is our trademarked region name which labels all of our regions in all grids.

We would like to thank the Intel Corporation for hosting and hardware provided to Fashion Research Institute as part of our research collaboration with Intel Labs.  We would also like to thank Mic Bowman and coworkers for their efforts in managing our OpenSim-based regions on the ScienceSim grid.  We are pleased to continue our research into innovative methods for educating fashion designers for both the $1.7 trillion apparel industry and the emerging niche market of virtua designers.














It’s Coming…Shengri La Gallery


Shengri La Spirit OpenSim Horse Statue Escapes to Shengri La Gallery OpenSim

Fashion Research Institute is creating a very special region for our artist in residence, Callipygian Christensen, in our development environment based on the OpenSim platform.  Shengri La Gallery will showcase Ms. Christensen’s artwork shot in our Shengri La Spirit region as well as related work shot in Gallery itself.  When the region has been fully developed with premium avatar apparel available on site to our visitors,  and Ms. Christensen’s work has been installed, we will be opening Gallery to visitors.

This OpenSim exclusive art exhibit will only open on Shengri La Gallery on the OpenSim platform.  Are you ready? Details to follow, watch this space.

Spirit, Redux


We are pleased to have been able to restored Shengri La Spirit with all 41,793 prims of its original build.  Spirit has been quietly languishing in a welter of code since last May, when it was up and running on a version of the OpenSim code in the 4400s.  [1]

Spirit was originally built for performance testing. Spirit is an authentic build of very high complexity; it was not synthetic data generated programmatically.  Spirit provides an interesting data set to study because of the many prims of all sizes, some cut and convoluted and uniquely arranged; others feature sculpt maps, all arranged within a design that some regard as lovely, and others regard more as a compelling example of what the very early alpha code could be made to do.  Spirit was built when the OpenSim code base was in the 4400-4600s when the challenges to building were substantial. 

Spirit redux is now running on  r8737, which was created on 9th March 2009.  According to Justin, prim loading is a ‘heck of a lot faster than it used to be’.  It took 30 minutes on r4667 to load Spirit.  Now it takes about 10 seconds.

Logging back in to a build I had thought was gone forever was quite an experience.  Every tiny prim crystal was present; the great metal horses in the fountain continued their mad charge into the sea.  The flames in the candles still flickered, and drops of particle water rained from the central pillars in the meeting area. 

Justin and I are shown here, in Spirit version 1.  We have physics turned off, so the entire build is phantom and we floated for our snapped moment.













[1] We’d like to thank Dave Levine, IBM Research for collaborating with FRI on Shengri La Spirit.

Brief Peek Inside Shengri La OpenSim 9-sim Region


Just a few images of the newest project…some castles, a bridge and nature scenes.  I’ve been learning to script things, thanks to Script Wizard Dale’s patience.  I even managed to make a particle garden work, and petals float on the wind from my weeping cherry trees!

Now, if I ever get the terraforming done, I can perhaps finish the landscaping.  However, real life has this way…

Rambling Through OpenSim

Sunset over Bliss & Muse

Last week, Black Dress Technology’s sys admin, Frank Clark, brought up the OpenSim Shengri La grid inside the Fashion Research Technology firewall.  With 9 regions, it provides us a degree of freedom for testing, content development, prototyping, and of course, our actual work in developing enterprise virtual worlds applications.  The entire operation went smoothly, from instantiating the first region, to bringing up the additional 8 regions, to adding in the RAW files and terrain files. 

I compare this to our very first OpenSim region, which we instantiated last October.  I think it’s interesting to look back and see how far this platform has come since then.  That very first, raw lump of terrain that emerged from the endless sea was largely inert.  Scripting functions were a future dream; terrain editing was difficult at best; building required lots of math and almost no finesse.  Textures might or might not load and the platform itself was highly unstable for content creators.  Things content creators take as a matter of course in Second Life (TM) were just missing, having not been implemented into the code yet – things like Ctl-Z, all the clever witty scripts, attachments, and of course, avatar persistence.

The Shengri La grid, in comparison to that first raw OpenSim region last year, is stable – so stable that multiple users were able to work in the regions while building relatively complicated, high prim, scripted builds.  We’re aleady using the regions to instantiate some of our competitive business intelligence, to create demos and to begin developing virtual world-based fashion courses.  Working on the OpenSim platform is still somewhat challenging – there are things the platform doesn’t yet support like vehicle scripts and persistent attachments – but in some respects the platform itself compares more than favourably with Second Life.  Stability, lack of lag, security for starters – our region is so stable that we’ve (well, me as a rule, since I like to push the envelope) only managed to mangle the server once, and that was after restoring content from one sim to another one, where the same asset was trying to appear on two sims concurrently.  

The lack of lag is a delight – even with multiple users in the region all actively doing things in the regions, the regions perform well.  Security – for now at least, Shengri La Grid is a walled garden, with access limited to FRI and BDT employees, and soon to our IBM development team members.

We worked extensively on the grids running r5806, and overall the experience was great.  The asset server still struggles with massive bulk uploads of textures, which resulted in a client crash for the user who was uploading textures.  The server stayed up, and continued to function well for the other users working in the regions.  

It is with great pleasure, then, that I offer these views into our newest OpenSim project, the Shengri La Grid: Shengri La Bliss, Shengri La Dream, Shengri La Muse, Shengri La Belle, Shengri La Star, Shengri La Diva, Shengri La Passion, Shengri La Liberty and of course, Shengri La Spirit.

Shengri La arises from the depths

Shengri La arises from the Depths

Another view of the first grid region, Shengri La Spirit

Another view of the first grid region, Shengri La Spirit

3 regions up, a 4th coming in

3 regions up, a 4th coming in

Two more regions instantiating...

Two more regions instantiating...Playing with Terrain Textures and adding another region


Retexturing the terrain...

Retexturing the terrain...

Almost done with RAW files and terrain textures

Almost done with RAW files and terrain textures

A Particle Butterfly Farm

A Particle Butterfly Farm

Looking south over Shengri La Bliss

Looking south over Shengri La Bliss

Sunrise over Bliss, Spirit, Dream, Muse, & Liberty

Sunrise over Bliss, Spirit, Dream, Muse, & Liberty

A wild rose patch on Shengri La Bliss with the ubiquitous butterflies...

A wild rose patch on Shengri La Bliss with the ubiquitous butterflies...

Sunset over Bliss & Muse

Sunset over Bliss & Muse