My old lighthouse in Second Life

old lighthouse home in SLI was meeting some educator friends in Second Life today when I looked across the virtual landscape and saw this nice view of my old lighthouse in the historic neighborhood of Nova Albion.

Amazing to think I’ve owned the parcel for over 10 years (since 2004).  So much has changed in both my life and technology over that time, yet this specific virtual place remains constant and very special to me.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Magic Leap: Violence…With Love

John "Pathfinder" Lester:

Given all the excitement and hype around Magic Leap these days, I think this article by my friend Jeff is priceless.

Originally posted on Self-Animated Systems:

If you follow news on Augmented Reality, you may have already seen this video by Magic Leap:

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 11.05.11 PM

It simulates what you would see if you were looking at your office through augmented reality glasses while killing robots that are trying to attack you. At one point near the end of the video, blood is splattered onto the augmented reality glasses. Man, that sucks: those glasses are probably very expensive.
jw_glassesQuestion: do robots spurt blood when they are shot? Probably not – I guess the blood is coming from the eyeballs of the guy wearing the glasses.

To put it all into perspective, here’s a quote from the company blog, written on Valentine’s Day:


“What does love have to do with a technology company? Everything. At least for us here at Magic Leap. Our whole company is based on it. It starts with a love for people in general – wanting to bring joy and…

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Vanson Leathers (and the most awesome entrance of any store in the world)

Vanson Leathers is one of my favorite stores.  They make amazing hand crafted leather goods.  If you want a piece of clothing that will last forever and allow you to survive the Zombie Apocalypse in high style, this is where you shop.

I’ve purchased a number of items from them over the years, both for riding and for daily wear, and I had a chance to stop by their store in Fairhaven, Massachusetts this weekend.

The entrance says it all.

vanson main location in fall river

I was wearing my trusty Comet leather jacket, the first thing I ever bought from Vanson, and as soon as I stepped into the place an employee remarked “Oh, an old Comet. Looks good!”

Here’s a pic of me wearing the jacket a few weeks ago.

Not bad looking for a piece of clothing I bought in 1995.

Take care,
– John “Pathfinder” Lester

A Typical Lunch

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of new cooking and trying new foods.

Here’s a typical lunch for me these days.


Fresh celery with Frank’s RedHot. A toasted slice of Ezekiel sprouted whole grain bread with Nuts to You raw organic almond butter.  Half of a Bubbies dill pickle.  A handful of Mary’s Gone crackers. Baby kale salad sprinkled with lemon juice, dried goji berries, sun dried tomatoes and a few whole raw almonds.

There’s something about the wide range of textures and flavors in this typical lunch that makes it especially delicious to me.

ACES: A new system from ReactionGrid that adds live inworld customization to your Jibe 3d multiuser virtual world

If you’re looking for a powerful system that allows you to easily change in-world surface images/textures, make live modifications and add customized web-links within your Unity-based Jibe multiuser virtual world, then you might be interested in a new product from ReactionGrid.

It’s called ACES, and it’s now on sale in ReactionGrid’s Online Store.

Watch the above video for a complete walkthrough. Here are some screenshots from it.

aces board 1

Everything looks better with Wiener Dogs.

aces board 3

This beautiful 3d store model is made up of many high quality 2d surface images/textures, and I could modify any of them with ACES.

Use the in-world menu system to change surface textures and weblinks.

Use the in-world menu system to change surface textures and weblinks.


I just changed the junk food aisle into one containing healthy fruit using ACES!

What is ACES?

  • ACES is a system that adds user­-modifiable display boards to a Jibe world.  Any image on the web can be projected onto any display board, and boards can be configured to open any URL in a new browser window.
  • The content in an ACES display board can be changed in-situ (within the live published Jibe world) with no work required in the Unity editor.
  • All ACES display boards can be changed in­world by any user who has logged in with an account that has administrative level access.
  • ACES display boards can also be configured so that any user can “claim” an unused board as their own and then have full admin control over it.
  • ACES display boards don’t have to look like boards!  Imagine changing the image textures of storefronts, buildings, any surface at all in your Jibe world.

Live Demo:

Demo Accounts:
ACES Admin / password
Demo User / demodemo

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Take care,
– John “Pathfinder” Lester

The Art of Enhanced Reality: Video and Slides from my Science Circle presentation

Pathfinder_001-1024x542The Science Circle is an alliance of scientists, educators and entrepreneurs from various fields who gather twice a month in Second Life for presentations on a wide range of interdisciplinary topics.  They’re a very creative and engaging group, and I was honored to be recently invited to give a talk.  Here’s a summary of my topic:

“The Art of Enhanced Reality”

Innovative educators are constantly facing the challenge of matching pedagogical goals with complementary technological tools. Unfortunately, given the wide range of technologies and devices that vie for consumer attention, the right choices are not always clear. In this presentation, John Lester will describe how focusing on the way the human mind interacts with the world and other human beings can help identify the right tools for the right jobs. From a mind-augmentation perspective combining constructivist and behaviorist approaches, John will explore the “Art of Enhanced Reality” through tools for knowledge management, self-animated artificial life living in augmented reality, and the unique affordances of perceptually immersive multiuser 3d virtual worlds for collaborative learning.

Below is a full video of my presentation, and you can find all my slides online.

Thanks again for the opportunity!

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Tips on Exporting/Importing Virtual World Content and Speaking at OpenSimulator Community Conference 2014

15433151408_16e4142328_hThe OpenSimulator Community Conference (OSCC) is an annual conference that focuses on the developer and user community creating the OpenSimulator software. Organized as a joint production by AvaCon and the Overte Foundation, the virtual conference features two days of presentations, workshops, keynote sessions, and social events across diverse sectors of the OpenSimulator user base.

Last year’s conference was a fantastic experience, and I’m thrilled to be both attending and presenting again this year.  All the inworld venue tickets are sold out, but if you can still register for a free streaming ticket and watch all the presentations live on Ustream.


Here’s what I’ll be presenting this year:

“You Only Own what you can Carry: How to backup and move your content between Second Life, Openim and Unity”
Saturday Nov 8 from 9:00am – 9:45am PST

In this hands-on workshop, I’ll be demonstrating exactly how to export your own user-created objects (both prim and mesh based) and move them between Second Life, Opensim and Unity. Attendees will watch my desktop via a live TeamViewer screenshare and follow along on their own using freely-available software.

Requirements: Inworld attendees should be using the OSCC recommended 32-bit Singularity viewer and have pre-installed both the free version of the Unity Editor and the free TeamViewer application. No previous technical expertise required, just a willingness to learn.

The crux of my workshop will be a live demonstration of me creating something in both Opensim and Second Life and then walking through exactly how to get it into a scene in Unity.  I’ll also be demoing how to move content between Second Life and Opensim.  If you’re worried all this might be overly complicated, I promise it will be a lot easier than you expect.  Plus you’ll have the fun and “excitement” of watching me do all this live on my own desktop (what could possibly go wrong?).  The key takeaway will be that the whole process is easy enough for anyone to learn how to do, regardless of your level of technical expertise.

If you can’t watch it live, no worries.  My session will be recorded so you’ll be able to watch it later.  I’ll update this blog post with a link to the recording once it’s online.

[UPDATE – Nov 9 2014 – Here’s the full video of my presentation]

I’ll also be a panelist later in the day on “The New Era of Content Protection in OpenSim” where I’ll be sharing my thoughts about DRM versus content licensing.


Hope to see you there!

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Life Connected to Life: How to Revolutionize Environmental Education

[This post also appears on Wiggle Planet’s blog.]

There are many educational games out there that do their best to teach people about the environment.  And many of them do a great job.

For example, I really like how Earth Day Canada put together their EcoKids website.  The games on EcoKids are mostly simple simulations with engaging action and puzzle-based mechanics, and it’s great how they blend the computer-based games with physical-world activities (e.g., play a game on the computer then go outside and do some recycling).  Games that encourage people to make positive changes to their physical world, improving the environment for everyone.

In fact, both the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have sites that promote environmental education through games.  It’s inspiring for me to see large governmental agencies exploring innovative ways to protect the environment and educate the public.

But there’s another level of immersive environmental education we haven’t even touched yet.


First, a key fact about Nature that we often forget.

Nature likes to hide things.  Particularly when something is wrong.  

It’s a fundamental trait that has developed in pretty much every species on the planet.  Are you sick?  Weak?  Injured?  Well, you better hide it as much as possible, otherwise something will come along, notice you’re indisposed, and then eat you for lunch.  This trait also manifests itself in entire networks of interdependent and related organisms (i.e., ecosystems).  By the time it’s easy to observe a systemic problem, the damage is often irreversible.

So, it’s not enough for us to be well educated and observant.  We need superhuman powers to help us visualize what’s really happening in Nature.

I believe artificial life combined with augmented reality is the magic key.  We can help Nature tell us her secrets by creating artificial life forms directly connected to all the data repositories we’ve already created for collecting and tracking environmental data.  Imagine the appearance and behaviors of these artificial life forms changing based on these data, generating powerful human-observable moments.  And finally, imagine these artificial life forms living in an augmented reality space overlaid on the natural world.

For example, take the beautiful concept of the Kodama from the movie Princess Mononoke.

kodama on tree

Kodama are small mystical creatures living in the forest that represent the spirits of all the trees.  Their behavior and appearance in the movie is directly related to the health of all the trees they inhabit.  For example, when the trees get sick, the kodama can be seen falling from the air and dissolving into the ground.

Now, imagine walking up to a tree in the physical world.


Is that tree really healthy?  Not sure, since trees (like most life forms) are pretty good at hiding things (until it’s too late).  Is the forest in which this tree lives getting enough water?  Is the water table polluted?

Sure, you could pull environmental data up on your smartphone and look at graphs and charts and summarized reports.

But those are all cold data, with no sense of life to them.

Rather, imagine watching the data express itself through a family of Kodama that live around the tree.  Imagine looking through your smart phone into an augmented reality space full of artificial life with which you can interact and communicate.

Oh no, all the Kodama are brown and withered!  That means drought!   Oh, they’re all walking over to that other tree.  There must be water over there.  Wait, they’re mutating into something weird.  Some kind of pollution?  The imaginative possibilities, let alone the entertaining and engaging gaming scenarios, are endless.

Effective learning and true understanding comes from emotional resonance.

And nothing resonates more with human beings than life connected to life.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

My Little Autumn Park in Second Life

Fall is my favorite season, and I’ve been spending the afternoon setting up a little Autumn-themed park in Second Life.

There’s something wonderful about warm fall colors.  And it’s so much fun to tinker with sounds, shadows, crumbling stone walls, falling leaves and hidden surprises (can you find the weasel?).

You can visit my little park if you wish.  It’s one of my parcels in historic old Nova Albion (I’ve owned land there since 2004).

A view from the road.


Can you find the secret door? I wonder where it goes.

Crows keep watch.

Crows keep watch.


Could use a pumpkin latte right about now.


The arches are a nice sitting spot with peaceful sounds from the fountain and nearby birds.


Crumbling stone walls with old trees growing through them.


Hey.  Something is tickling my ankle.

Take care,
– John “Pathfinder” Lester