It’s time to move all grids south

Hypergrid is probably one of the greatest and unifying features for OpenSim, and virtual worlds in general.

Basically, virtual worlds cannot be what they should be without the hypergrid. It is the same unifying feature and innovation as the hyperlink was – and still is – for the unification of the Web as we know it today.

Yet, we are still hindered by the 4096 region jump limit.

It is not the purpose of this article to define the technical reasons for this “bug” or whatever anyone would like to call it.

But the persistence of this issue is, obviously – or subtly – causing a potential distraction to usability, and the generation of the best user experience possible.

Many of us who teach others have to provide a wide variety of explanations and workarounds that really, in the big scheme of things, should be unnecessary. Sometimes the creation of these workarounds and explanations can take longer – cumulatively – than a true fix itself.

An avatar looks at Crista Lopes' model of hypergrid teleport connections between three separate grids.

I spent many years as a software engineer coding and providing solutions to corporations across New England. All I can say, it is code in an application that could be fixed. The effort to do so remains an unknown. But, if it cannot be fixed for whatever the reason, then I 100 percent agree with Diva – we should not be using coordinates above 4096, 4096 – and it’s time to start the conversion!

[Ed: Hypergrid inventor Crista Lopes, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, called for a grid migration in June. She is also known as Diva Canto in-world.]

Putting every region at 4096, 4096 or lower would allow for more than 16 million regions per grid. This is more regions than any particular individual grid will see in this lifetime.

And it certainly allows for more than adequate regions spacing, if that is important.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could just hypergrid teleport to anywhere we want without an error message or having to take and intermediary unwanted route? Then all we have to deal with are the normal “cannot teleport” messages we receive from time to time.

The situation will continue to proliferate as more and more grids and regions are added to the hypergrid, and as more and more new users become involved in the metaverse. Usability and a steep learning curve has prevented Second Life and OpenSim from really growing where it can, and continues to do so.

Perpetuating workarounds to deal with the 4096 region teleportation limit further limits the usability of the technology.

Diva, the developer of the hypergrid, proclaims that everyone should just not use coordinates above 4096, 4096. Certainly a permanent fix would be the best, but her proposal is the best intermediary solution. For 100 percent of us small and personal grids, it would take five minutes to change.

Many of the smaller public grids can change relatively easy, and yes, based on the model used by OSGrid and New World Grid, for example, it would be a labor intensive change, but not impossible.

A few intermediary jumps as an exception is certainly better than making intermediary jumps the rule for using the hypergrid.

The issue resides in the implementation of changing the coordinates in all of the Region.ini files.

It can happen though through the forums, social media, and just general word of mouth.

It would help if, when first loading the ini file, OpenSim can display a message to say, “your coordinates are above the 4096, 4096 – are you sure you want to do this?”

Let’s devote the time to fix the software issue permanently or let’s all work together to make our grids fit within the 4096-region hypergrid distance limitation.

John Rogate

John Rogate is the director of the Master’s in Managing Innovation & Information Technology program at Vermont’s Champlain College. He is currently running eight OpenSim grids, totaling more than 100 regions. Rogate started working in Second Life in 2007, when the Champlain College president got him funding to build a virtual campus. He became involved with OpenSim in October of 2008. He has a total of 27 years of industry-related technology experience.

  • For the larger grids, all they would have to do is find space further south for their main plaza areas, and, for the commercial grids, the mainland as well.

    So, for example, OSGrid could simply move the regions they own further south — and leave it up to the individual region owners to move their own regions. There are several big hosting companies working on OSGrid — Nova, Dreamland, Oliveira – -that could move all their customers down. Over time, everyone else will move as well, to be within teleport distance of mainland. If OSGrid does this, then I think most other grids will quickly follow suit.

    Big commercial grids will have the hardest problem, since they control all the land themselves and will have to find new locations for all the regions, but most currently have hypergrid turned off, anyway.

  • I agree, actually, we just moved our minigrid north, to be closer to the edu regions that reside there!

  • Joe Builder

    I have to Disagree on the statement "one of the greatest and unifying features for OpenSim, and virtual worlds in general". Its a door way for Other people To enter Grids, Regions and clear out there Items set for a Grids Residents. Now im talking about Grids with purpose like Economy and wanting to build a community of Merchants. As we know the Main Grids (Major Players) have locked out this HyperGrid ability. I would welcome Hyper Travel with open arms once the ability to remove objects from one place to another is Fixed. Major Business and Creators of value refuse to enter a Grid that isn't up to par with showing some start in security measures. OSGrid can have this feature (HyperGrid) there actually a Play Ground for Personel PC operators and Sandbox for others its not to be compaired to other Main Grids.

  • I agree with Joe. Its fun to be able to jump from one grid to another, message etc… But it leaves a lot of problems open.
    My main problem as a grid owner is how am I going to control a situation where a resident from another world comes in my grid and uses copy bot , copies an item or items and then goes back to the grid where he or she originated. How am I going to be able to find that individual and then when I find him or her; delete the item from the offenders inventory and Ban the offenders account?

    Hypergrid works in an UTOPIA like environment where everyone is not HUMAN. Because we humans unfortunately cant be trusted.

    What we are doing to kind of fix this problem is OFFERING a MINI GRID service . A private Mini GRID that can be up to 4 regions. Totally private and segregated from AvWorlds Grid. That way we can leave the choice of having or not having hypergrid travels up to the customer.

    • Alex — The CopyBot issue is a separate issue from hypergrid security. After all, Second Life doesn't allow hypergrid access, but illegal copying is rampant. Once an item is copybotted, it can be exported and re-uploaded to any grid — turning off hypergrid doesn't stop this. Turning off hypergrid — or simply turning off hypergrid content transfer permissions while still allowing teleports themselves — just keeps law-abiding folks from taking content off-grid.

      Even with hypergrid off, you still have to monitor other grids (including Second Life) to make sure that illegal copies of your content don't show up there, and file DMCA notices when they do. And you also need to ensure that folks who do want your content have a legal and convenient way to purchase it legitimately,

  • sargemisfit

    Eliminating the ability to remove items from a grid would have a negative effect on the growth of the HyperGrid. It would entail added expense to those who gridhop, with a resulting negative stigma to gridhopping. "Why go there? I'll just have to buy everything all over again."

    The reason the major grids do not have HG capability is due to IP protection. They do not dare allow the possibility of their being labelled as a place for content theft. Rather, increase the security of the permissions system. Perhaps even completely revamp it. This would allow more people to travel as they will without having to spend time and money re-purchasing everything. This would also support the growth of an inter-grid economy. A person would set up their Home on a grid, then gridhop to get a nice house, hop to another grid for furnishing and then to return to Home to set everything up.

  • Valiant Westland

    If we started insisting on RW verified user identities and hanging content thieves live on the Internet, our IP theft issues would rapidly diminish to near zero! Of course all the gender confused, pedophiles and other deviants would have a fit, but if that's the price you have to pay, you just need to decide what's more important.

    • sargemisfit

      Well, I am not gender confused, a pedophile nor a deviant, yet my RW identity is something I keep very private. Your characterizations of people who wish to protect themselves from stalkers, identity thieves and cyber-bullies is offensive and insulting.

      • I have to agree with Sarge here. There are many good reasons to keep identities private. For example, I don't put my whole name and home address on dating websites — and I wouldn't want to do so on dating grids. If I wanted to join a support group for "embarrasing rashes on feet," I would prefer to do that pseudonymously, as well. Or plan a revolution against a corrupt regime. Or look for a job without my current employer knowing. Or any of a million other perfectly reasonable reeasons.

        It would be a sad metaverse indeed if it if was built right from the start without any potential for privacy.

    • sarahblogging

      There is at least one person who had a similar Idea and posted Usernames of people who used copied items of this person on a webpage.

      I found this drama over the persons intellectual property quite funny. The product in question consisted of Stargates and Tardises, which I'm pretty shure were not licensed to the person.

      And that is, after all, a very common finding. The loudest yellers of "Content theft" and strong enforcement of Copyright are violaters themselves. Think of all the car-builders with "Respect our Copyright" notices in their shops.

      • dixie fatline

        yeah, its frankly hilarious. "HOW VERY DARE YOU STEAL THE NONE LICENSED KNOCK OFF OF A PROPRIETARY BRAND!"

        sheesh.

        If people are so bothered about their precious precious content, don't upload it and hoard it yourself on a LAN grid, as that's the only way to stop people borrowing it. me, I don't give a monkeys if someone copys my stuff about, as, I find it flattering that someone would bother to be honest.

        If real life worked the same way, I'd happily let people clone my objects. Not a problem.

  • Follow-up note from John Rogate:

    First of all figuring out a numbering scheme (coordinate scheme) to be closer to something is just another example of a workaround to solve a problem that needs to be fixed at the root. As I said, as the grids begin to grow, the workarounds become more and more difficult and extensive. As far as OSGrid, I do not want to minimize the effort, but for the grids in the education consortium, all just shutdown, change the first number "6" to a "3" in the coordinates (6000 to 3000 range) reboot, and we all move (yes, must check to see if the space is available). Total time: 5 minutes tops. I say, get your prime spots while they are available.

    HG is a great technology and the unifier of Virtual Worlds / OpenSim. The IP issue is a separate issue. OK, thwart HG and innovation because of IP? Well, Fix the IP issue. Yes, the "stealing" in Sl is rampant. Yes, many of the SL items permeate all over OpenSim (trees, animations, textures, more). And Yes, HG or no HG, IP is an issue. The issue does not reside in HG….the issue resides in code, and with open source code like Imprudence, for example, for an good programmer it is much easier to remove the permission / owner / security checks from the code and just export at will. What do you think does the checks for permissions, Owner, Creator – Magic? NO Code and the code is open source and at everyone’s fingertips. Welcome to the movie industry, the software industry, the video game industry, and the music industry – Welcome to the Internet.
    From an e-Commerce / merchant perspective…I would think HG would be a BOON to business rather than an obstacle. Instead of being open to business on some small closed grid (adverse to the technology) – one can do business with the entire Metaverse (what we would want…no?). And HG makes it all happen. Again, it is not HG that is the root of IP issues. But, there will be so much free content in the Metaverse, it may make it all a moot point.

    What about implementing the "going south"? From a technical standpoint, all things being equal, it could happen on a long weekend. It is the coordination that will take a lengthy amount of time. Or fix the code. MOVE, and then nobody has to think of this anymore.

  • Joe Builder

    Soon as HyperGrid Figures out a way to only allow visitors to look and not TAKE then im sure it would be open everywhere, basically thats the bottom line. People need to register to Grids they want to visit Don't be one of those people with the hg tag that everyone stares at to see if your up to no good.

    • Joe — "Look and not take" is already implemented, and some grids, like Nova, use this feature. That means you can wander around those grids, but you can't buy anything and take it home with you. That feature is available in the most recent versions of OpenSim.

      I'm not a particularly big fan of this, since there are time when you want, and should be able to, take stuff from one grid to another — say, if you created it in the first place. Or if you're wearing it, and don't want to show up naked after your hypergrid jump. I propose allowing only "full perm" items to travel — everything else stays on its home grid.

  • Marjon Klapwijk

    Apart from the copy issues, in which I agree you should be able to take your own creations with you, HG offers great opportunities in educational and business fields. But, indeed, you alway have to think where to jump first before you get where you want to go….

  • I agree with Maria, there are two different issues here. The ability to TP between different grids that allow doing so and the issue of content protection.

    I think that the 4096 TP range limit is as dumb as the 640KB accessible RAM limit of days gone by. Stupid design decision by people who should have really known better. Our system currently doesn’t support TPing between Kitely worlds (until we add some code to enable starting up regions based on viewer derived requests, also required for HG TPing into Kitely) so this problem is theoretical for us at the moment. Once we gain that capability it makes sense moving grid locations to a range that doesn't require people to jump through hoops to reach them.

  • There is no sound technical reason for this limit. All code that produces this limit should be change ASAP. I will volunteer if someone can point me to the assumptions and code patterns responsible reasonably succinctly. Moving grids around to get around a problem that shouldn't exist at all is a non-solution.