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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Phi Security and It's Features
Phi Security is a sophisticated yet easy to use security system that provides a number of features to secure your property in Second Life.  It works by having a central security system and one or more security zones that are projected by orbs spread throughout your parcel and each of your skyboxes.  A single orb can project a region 96m in size although we recommend that each orb protects only 30m at a time.  The only reason is that we use a particle field to denote the boundary of the security perimeter and this doesn't work beyond 30m.

Phi Security implements the following features:

  • Sophisticated hierarchical dialog system that allows easy navigation, and allows a user to go into menus and back out of menus.
  • Uses a timeout dialog system to prevent an unauthorized user from hijacking an authorized users security session.
  • Security ignores the land owner, so no security settings in the main system can prevent the owner from accessing the property.
    • Important Note: In order for the security system to eject or teleport home an unwanted guest, the land owner must install each security orb.
  • Define the radius of protection for a single orb independently of other orbs.
  • Control security from a single location and one or more security orbs to protect as many buildings as you want.  Great for individual owners who have ground and several skybox locations. 
  • Define which individual buildings an avatar has access to.  Not all buildings need to have access to all avatars.
  • Allow avatars the extra ability to define access for others.  This means they can add/remove/change the authority of any user in the system.  
    • As well, they can turn the system off for a few minutes to hours to allow a party to occur on the property without having to define all the individual party goers.
  • Allow avatars the extra ability to configure the security system:
    • Update security orb settings.
    • Define the delay between avatar warning and when they are ejected or sent home.
    • Define whether uninvited guests are sent home or simply ejected from the parcel.
    • Get a security report on the settings of the system.
  • Add new avatars to the system by entering their user names in Local Chat or turning the system off temporarily and using a sensor then get their names from a dialog box.
  • Define security for the general public.
  • Ban avatars on an individual basis.  Banned avatars get ejected/sent home immediately without warning.  It's recommended that if they continue to violate the security that they be banned from the land parcel using the SL Land Options.

Security Management for Avatars with Access Levels
To set the security for Phi, begin by selecting the security panel:

This brings up the main menu.

Next select "Add AV... to add a new avatar to the system:

Selecting "by Sensor" allows one to select any avatar within a 20m radius of the security system:

Simply click the avatars to add.  Only avatars not already in the system are listed.  If there are none, they are already defined or not close enough to the menu system.  Click back, then click by "By Text".  Type the user name of the avatar to add.  Make sure you are using their user name (with a space) and not their display name.  Enter in as many avatars as needed.  The type BACK or touch the security control box.

From the next menu, click "Change AV" to change the access of the individuals you have defined.  This menu is accessed from the "Add AV" menu or the main menu.

For regular users, simply select the security areas they have access.  "+" next to a name means they don't have that item and clicking it will give it to them.  Conversely "-" next to a name removes that access.  Be careful with the "BANNED" entry.  If it is you, you can instantly ban yourself and need the Land Owner to give you a hard time about it before fixing the problem.

When setting security for the general public all the options are the same except that BANNED is not available:

The final option is to specify how long you want the security system to be off for.  On the main menu you can set it off for 10 minutes while you TP in a guest and set their security.  Otherwise, if you are throwing a party lasting a few hours, the security system can be turned off for several hours. 

Important Note: It's not possible to turn security off permanently except by removing the central security object.  This allows one to set a reasonable time, then have it automatically come back on without worrying about security.  Such as being unable to log back into SL.

Configuration Settings
  • EJECT MODE - defines how avatars are removed from the parcel.
  • UPDATE++ - refreshes the list of orbs in the system.  Used after a new one is added.
  • WARNING - Defines how much time an uninvited avatar has to get off the property if they aren't banned.
  • TURN OFF - Turn off the security system.  Same menu as above.
  • GET HELP - This page.
  • SECURITY RPT - Get a report on the security.

Setting the removal method:

Setting the warning time:

The Security Report:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Introduction to live DJing with Virtual DJ

This is the next instalment in the series on how to DJ in Second Life.  In previous blogs, I described Repear and Winamp, but I've put all those aside for my new favourite tool, Virtual DJ.  This $49 software gives me everything I need to DJ live.  You can get more expensive versions of the software all the way up to $300, but the $49 Broadcaster version does the trick.  At first I used it to have an intelligent mix of tracks, and a nice smooth transition from one track to the other.  These days, I am playing, looping and remixing tunes live and have had a ton of fun each time, I won't go back to just playing tracks.

Virtual DJ an Overview

At first glace, Virtual DJ (VDJ) is a bit overwhelming:

There is a lot going on in this interface, but now that I'm used to it, I can say that it's well thought out.  VDJ's interface is skinnable, and this is a snapshot of the 4-deck (1280x1024) interface.  Each deck has it's own settings and they are repeated on each deck:

A simple blog won't go through all the details but this deck tells me the song and gives a song graph.  The white vertical lines in the sound graph are the cues I predetermined, and I use these points so that when I am mixing live, I know where the important bits in the music start and end.

When you play live, you can see a detailed sound graph at the top of the window:

In a live set, you will do live remixing.  This is accomplished by looping a large sections of music within the same tune.  When one section ends, you loop back and replay the same section, and make the sound transition completely seamless. 

To achieve this, you load the same song on the left and right decks and fade between the two.  Notice the position of the colour of the deck in the sound graph.  The right deck (orange) is further along in the play than the left deck (green).  Also notice how the right deck in the top-left corner is highlighted orange.  This is the active deck. 

Note: Above the SYNC button there is a "master" indicator.  When you click the SYNC button, your track adjusts the the master track.  So to do a fade, I first line up the cues then do a SYNC on the green track to solidify the connection.

The important bits from the display are shown below.

The brighter orange (overlays the lighter green), as the Orange part music changes, you can slide the crossfader all the way to the left, to go from the sound on the Orange track to the sound on the Green track.  Practice and the sound style determines how fast to slide it.  With skill, you can now repeat a section and make it as if the music was meant to sound that way.

You can continue to fade back and forth between the two tracks to repeat sections over and over again, and as you practice, you can fade to the beginning, skip entire sections, or automatically repeat sections and listen to the looping part while overlapping some part of the song.

When done right, the sound is entirely seemless and a song, that was on 7 minutes originally, be looped and remixed and last 15-20 minutes, and be completely unique rendition of it each time you play it.

Practice, Practice, Practice

It took about 4-5 hours of practice before I was ready to play for friends.  Even after playing live I still make oopsies, but don't worry about it too much.  It's not like I'll stop the music, write into IM ... I messed up and restarting now.  Just chalk one up and continue.

I do know that it's really hard to play live AND IM at the same time.  So I generally avoid it unless I know I have at least a few minutes.  That's pretty rare, since some sections I am repeating are only 30 seconds long.  Lot of work and concentration.

To DJ Live or Not to DJ Live

I won't go back to just picking a set and playing it.  You can do this, and set it into automix mode and just let VDJ do the fades for you.  But there is simply too much fun and creativity that happens as a result of playing live.  It's always different.

- Gin