Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Well, I've been walking in SL for the past four mornings now. So far, it's working fairly well. It's making me want to continue walking, anyway, which I suppose is the whole point. I have noticed a few peculiarities arising from the unusual method of input, though.
Apparently, either the client, the USB interface, or both don't like it when you tap the forward key multiple times per second for several minutes on end. (Or have your motorized exercise equipment do it for you.) I've had a few odd bugs pop up in the course of extended walks. First, occasionally the F1 Help box will pop up unbidden. I can't find a reason for this, beyond a general "must be pressing the key too fast" hunch. Similarly, my av will sometimes decide to fly on its own, for the same inexplicable non-reason. The former, I've been forced to deal with by dragging my help box off the screen. (I seldom used it anyway.) The latter, well, all I can do is hit "F" again to turn it off. Irritating. I suppose I'm going to have to come up with some kind of hack to convert multiple keypresses (momentary switch closures) into one long, held keypress (continuously closed switch) until the multiple keypresses stop (or a bit thereafter). I honestly have no idea how to do that. If anyone has any ideas of general electronic circuit types that'd do the job, please drop me a comment! Even a general name for the concept would be enough for research; I don't even know enough to find the right search terms.
Well, it appears that the problem was simpler, and more unexpected, than I anticipated. Near as I can tell, the wiring was run too close to the treadmill's motor, and somehow (don't ask me to explain how) spurious signals were being sent back to the USB keyboard. It was kind of odd, really. In addition to other possible keys not bound to anything in particular, it would signal the F1 key, the jump key (don't know if it was the "E" or "Page Up") and, oddest of all, the calculator button. My desktop would sometimes have four or five Windows calculators spawned after a normal walk.
I discovered this accidentally after making some improvements (added a cooling fan) to the treadmill, and moving the wires out of the way. I didn't bother to neatly bundle them back as I had them (down the upright post to the floor) and, voila, no glitches next walk. Kind of weird, really. I guess I'll accept it as a lesson learned and move on. I got another code snippet out of it (a jump/no-jump key toggle), so I guess it wasn't a complete waste.
One thing I didn't anticipate, and probably should have, is that I'd run across interesting sights while I was walking. Funny how you miss the obvious when you're knee deep in a project! I didn't want to stop and make a landmark each time, so I decided to use the SLurl system. I came up with a simple script to do the recording for me, and put it in a HUD. Now, I just have to hit a single function key (a gesture mapped to a voice command on a hidden channel), and the location where I'm standing is translated into a SLurl and saved for me. Then, at the end of the walk, I have it dump the entire list to an e-mail for later perusal.
Maddeningly, there is no LSL command to get the name of the parcel you're standing on, so I'm left with a chronological list of mystery locations to visit. (That's not so bad, really. Most of the time, I'm walking down a road on Linden "Protected Land" anyway.) Here is the SLurl Dump script, if you'd like to try it out. Don't let the length fool you. There's more comment than code.