See Copyright and Usage Notice

Time to Chat

The mysterious Mysterio

Figure 11.11 ch4c.jpg
Engage in a one-on-one chat with Mysterio.

I had just entered the Entry Plaza, and kept seeing this mysterious character called Mysterio. I clicked on his avatar name in the work frame and then selected the 1:1 Chat button to send him a page. When you receive a page, you can hear a telephone ringing (if you have a sound card and your speakers are turned on), and you will be presented with a dialogue box saying ìxxxx would like to chat with you,î where xxxx is the avatar nickname of the person calling. Mysterio accepted my offer to chat, so a new window opened in the work frame, and we started to chat. Chatting is easy; you just type into the text entry area below the chat window in the work frame, and press Enter to send the message.

Figure 11.12 ch4n.jpg
Chatting with Mysterio

The preceding figure shows more chat with Mysterio. His conversation sounded suspiciously like that of a bot (an automatic piece of software with no person behind it). He kept saying, ìI did not understand your comment,î and talking about riddles. Often, when you see long-winded talk like that coming at you quickly, you have a bot on your hands.

Figure 11.13 ch4o.jpg
The View Mysterioís own CyberCard

I decided to find out more about this Mysterio riddle bot, so I selected his avatar name from the list on the right side of the work frame, and pushed the Xchange button to offer a card exchange. Passport supports technology which allows public, business, and private cards you can fill out for yourself and then exchange. This idea came from Neal Stephensonís Snow Crash, in which the lethal Snow Crash virus was passed to the virtual Black Sun club owner/avatar Da5id. Donít worry about the cards in Passport, though, as they cannot carry a virus! As in real life, you can build quite a collection of cards. You can find your card, and your collection, by clicking on an icon called CyberCardsô at the very bottom of the list of people and chat lines on the right side of your work frame. (This is called the Participant list. You can see an example of the Participant list in the previous figure of the one-on-one chat with Mysterio.)

Mysterio agreed to exchange cards, and his appeared in my collection. Clicking on it brought it up on the screen, as seen in the preceding figure. From his card, Mysterio seemed like a well-informed riddlemaker. I decided to invite Mysterio to join my Home Chat line, so I clicked on his avatar name in the Participant list and pressed the Invite button. Now, Mysterio is a member of my permanent private chat group, and has an entry under my Home Chat Line icon. Mysterio had asked persistently that follow him and click on him to enter a riddle game, which I did, and like magic, a miniature Web page appeared in the work frame offering to let me play in the Keys of Mysterio riddle game. So thatís how bots operate!

Figure 11.14 ch4l.jpg
Mysterio Bot offers his game: The Keys of Mysterio.

More about communicating in Passport

Types of chat

Passport supports three types of chat: private (described in the previous example), public (a free-for-all), and group chat lines (these can be moderated discussions on specific topics). You can access all the chat lines by clicking on Chat Lines in the control frame on the upper left-hand side of the window.

Note that you can also see chat entirely as HTML Web pages by pressing Logs on the controls frame on the left-hand side of the window. This may be an easier way to chat, especially if your computer is on a slow connection, or the 3D scene is just too slow. More information about chat logs and 2D chat can be found in, ìA Closer Look at the Passport Interface,î earlier in this chapter.

Beam me to you, Scotty!

Another useful option is to use Beam to move your avatar toward a person in a scene. To do this, just click on their avatar name in the Participants list and then press the Beam button. You will travel until you are facing that personís avatar. Quickly type Hi, or something to let them know of your good intentions.

Mute and give me a break

The Mute button will turn off the chat (from your viewpoint only) from a particular person you find irritating. Their avatar will even disappear! Use Mute as a last resort, as it is a pretty severe measure in a social virtual world.

Start button and chatting with a CoolTalk voice

The Start button will start a selected tool. The Passport client provides an interface for a variety of extensions, such as voice chat, and a virtual whiteboard. The list of installed tools is available immediately to the left of the Start button. CoolTalk is distributed with Netscape Navigator 3.0 so that users of this browser will have CoolTalk installed automatically. Try clicking on an avatar name in the Participants list, then select CoolTalk from the list, and press the Start button. If the user you are trying to reach has CoolTalk, a microphone, and speakers, you will be able to talk to that person in your own voice. Of course, it is a good idea to text chat with a person first to see if they can run CoolTalk.

Avatar gestures

Figure 11.15 ch4w.jpg
Clicking on the Avatar gesture buttons and the resulting chat lines.

Your avatar may have a whole range of gestures. A row of buttons underneath the chat area lists the gestures you can make. Clicking on these buttons will create a gesture in the world by your avatar, and send a text version of that gesture into the chat area. If you want to see what your gestures look like, simply go to the Avatar Gallery by clicking on the Avatar button on the control frame in the upper left-hand corner of the window. In the gallery, you can look at your own avatar in the mirror and pick the gestures.

Filling out your own CyberCardô and changing your nickname

A big enabler in communications is to fill out your own CyberCardô . To do this, scroll down to the CyberCard icon in the Participants List and open up your own card. You can fill it out when it appears in the work frame, and press the Store button to save it. There are three separate cards to fill out for the different aspects of your personality and activities:

The CyberCardsô you exchange with other visitors to the Passport client are stored in a local database archive (its default location is C:\blacksun\passportclient\cards), which you can manage from this panel:

Note that in this release of the Passport client, your whole set of CyberCards is exchanged at once: if you give someone your business card, they get your personal card as well (unless you leave that blank!). In the future, you will be able to distribute these and other customizable cards selectively.

Fine-tuning Your World

The Options panel (which comes up when you press Options on the control frame) is a tabbed dialogue with settings for fonts, preferences, and firewalls. The About tab gives you the version of Passport. I will describe some of the Options panel settings.

Under Preferences

Figure 11.16 ch4u.jpg
Preferences are on the Options panel.

Under Fonts

Figure 11.17 ch4r.jpg
More about options: fonts

The text appearing in the work frame is under Java control, and not directly affected by your Windows Font preferences. You must specify the font size for chat transcripts, avatar lists, and other parts of the interface independently from Windowís settings.

Under Firewall

Figure 11.18 ch4v.jpg
Firewall is on the Options panel.

The Firewall options allow you to set up Passport to work through a firewall and proxy server.

Under About

Here you will find information about the version of Passport client you are using. The version number, its date of release, and copyright information are available here.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.