New virtual world coming from Australia

I just had lunch with Randal Leeb-du Toit, CEO of Yoick, and John Wolpert, executive producer of Outback Online, a 3D virtual world that Yoick is working on.

Who said cool stuff has to come from Silicon Valley? Not these guys (main developer is in Austin, Texas, and most of the team’s management is in Australia). They are building another virtual world, similar in many ways to Second Life from Linden Labs.

Anyway, why does the world need another Second Life-style thing?

Well, here’s some reasons that Outback Online gave me:

1) The quality of graphics on Second Life aren’t good enough to do lots of things.
2) The scalability of Second Life isn’t good enough to hold really large events (only about 100 people can fit into a single island, in Outback Online they claim they can get 10,000).
3) Second Life is too restrictive globally for kids and families (in Second Life it’s OK to have virtual sex almost anywhere and only 18-year-olds are allowed into the main world and adults aren’t allowed to work with kids in the teen grid). Outback Online says they’ll have much better granularity of age controls and parental controls and community controls. If they can control the flying penises, that’ll be a big driver for many of us who want to play online with our kids.
4) They see that by focusing on Windows only at first they can push the edge of graphics (and, they are working on an Xbox version too that’ll bring lots of people into this world). It’s among the world’s most graphically intensive C# applications.
5) Instead of hosting everything on centrally-located servers they are using P2P to get more people onto islands and bring better graphical performance.

Their world is under development and is way behind Second Life in lots of aspects (these worlds are built by their inhabitants, so an empty world looks pretty dull) but I saw some brilliant things here that are worth watching. An alpha starts this summer (you can sign up to get early access on the Outback Online Website) with beta coming later this year.

The geeky “sister” behind Vatican’s Website

Some fun videos on ScobleShow today. First, the geeky “Sister” behind the Vatican’s Website. She breaks all sorts of “geek stereotypes” in my head. We don’t know the OS that God uses, but the Vatican uses Linux, she reveals. This was a little conversation right after her talk at LIFT. She’s an interesting person because she comes at technology from a much more spiritual/faith-based perspective than most of the geeks I hang around with do. At about 20 minutes into this interview she talks about the tools and technology that the Vatican uses.

Oh, and if that’s not geeky enough, check out Maryam’s interview of Nicole Simon, one of Germany’s best-known tech bloggers. Both from the floor of the LIFT conference. You can read Nicole’s blog here, she shows up at many conferences around the world and does excellent podcast interviews of speakers who are coming to them too.

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/02/PID_010264/Podtech_ScobleShow_WebSister.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1363/meet-the-techie-sister-behind-vaticans-website&totalTime=1509000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

[podtech content=http://media1.podtech.net/media/2007/02/PID_010265/Podtech_ScobleShow_NicoleSimon.flv&postURL=http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/technology/1362/meet-best-known-german-blogger&totalTime=740000&breadcrumb=3F34K2L1]

Jon Udell’s value to Microsoft

Today Jon Udell is showing you how to blog from Word 2007.

Yes, my Google Reader is working again (it was a munged up Firefox cache or something).

But, anyway, this is something I’ve noticed since leaving Microsoft. When you’re up at Microsoft all you think about is how to work with Microsoft stuff. Conversations like the one Jon is participating in seem normal and commonplace.

Then you get out of Redmond and the conversations are very different. I’ve never had someone ask me how to blog from Word outside of Redmond.

Their heart is in the right place, though. There are hundreds of millions of Word users (I saw some in a Starbucks in Geneva, Switzerland, and I see them everytime I travel on planes). So, how do you get those people to see that they can post stuff right from Word into blog tools like WordPress?

Jon Udell will be there if they show up.

The problem is that Jon uses a language that most normal people don’t. He is writing for us, the geeks, the developers, the passionate computer users who know more than how to turn the thing on.

And if he’s talking to us, the geeks, I don’t think his message will fall on listening ears.

What do you think?