Monday, June 13, 2016

Mental Health Symposium: Down But Not Out

Saturday, June 18, 2016
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability
in Second Life

Down But Not Out – what does this mean to you? What would it mean to a professional in the field of mental health? How about for a person with depression? On Saturday, June 18th, we will meet some individuals who are doing incredible work in their respective walks of life. You will see a broad range of perspectives and approaches to diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.

We invite you to come and engage in the dialogue with us. For more information about our guest presenters, visit Virtual Ability's website.

The schedule for the upcoming sessions of Virtual Ability's Mental Health Symposium is nearly complete. We are releasing it as it stands now. All times are given in US Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Time Presenter Title
8:30a-9:30a Dr. Vanja Duric Brain Mechanism Linking Stress and Illness
10:00a-11:00a Andrea Arzt Understanding the Emotional Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis
11:30a-12:30p Colleen Crary Hippocrates Wept: Psychologically Surviving Modern Medicine During A Health Crisis
1:00p-2:00p Rienna Rieko The ABCs of DBT
2:30p-3:30p Dr. Harold Koenig Faith & Health: Research, Clinical Applications, and Resources
4:00p-5:00p Dr. Tammy Fletcher Mental Health Outreach in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future
5:00p-6:00p Social Break An hour break for a reading of poetry
6:00p-7:00p Dr. Jerome Sarris Lifestyle Medicine and Supplementation for Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders
7:00p-8:30p Louise Dibbs & Lyn Ainsworth, House With No Steps The National Disability Insurance Scheme - supporting Australians living with mental health issues

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Other Observations of the Metaverse

Contributing Author: Chuck Lewis (aka Danger Lytton)

In the last article on this blog, The Tortoise made some excellent and helpful observations for a new entrant into virtual worlds, especially for one who has been in SL (Second Life), then made a first foray into OpenSim worlds like OSGrid and others. There are some differences that are immediately seen, and others that are more subtle.

There is one huge difference between SL and the majority of OpenSim grids: the ability to create and run your own full sized region (just like SL) and attach it to the grid of your choice. From this region you can then travel the Metaverse as a landed resident of your grid.

There were some other issues mentioned in the last article that are not entirely true. I want to clarify those things.

Cross-grid Inventory Transfer
I have passed items across grids from my avatar to others on my contacts list while both avatars were on their home grids. Admittedly it can be tricky at times and often fails, but it is possible to pass items across grids. It is helpful to be sure both are online at the time the transfer is made. Open an IM conversation first to make sure contact is established. If both of you are from the same grid and one travels to get an item on another grid, be sure to open an IM before leaving the grid. This helps the transfer. If the person staying behind has to relog for some reason, contact will probably be lost and a transfer will likely fail.

All of the grids have one thing in common regarding hypergridding. Hypergridding is basically teleporting between different OpenSim grids (the home and destination grids must both be "Hypergrid enabled") - this is not possible with closed grids like Second Life. Once your avatar has left the home grid, your home grid sees you as logged out. If a contact on your list logs out and then returns while you are hypergridding, they will see you as offline until you return to your home grid. In this case transfers, teleport offers and IMs will mostly fail.

It is also true that you must be on the same grid to initiate a contact offer.

About the Trash
Not all grids handle your trash folder the same way. OSGrid requires that you use the web page to empty your trash folder. My personal grid allows trash to be emptied in world and does not return following a relog.

Inventories and Backups
Avatar inventories are stored on the grid servers and not on an individual avatar's computer. If you operate a region attached to the grid, the items that are rezzed out on the ground are stored in the region's database, not in the grid asset server. Your inventory can be backed up on another avatar in another grid by passing items. It also can be stored as an IAR file. An entire region can be backed up as an OAR file. IARs and OARs have to be created on a region that you operate, or it can be done for you by the region's operator. To learn procedures for these and other operations in any OpenSim grid, visit the grid's website. Here is a listing of the largest grids.

You'll Be Among Friends
The best news is this: OpenSim residents are mostly friendly, interested and helpful. They are not concerned about making an income and are usually willing to share their finds and creations. Get out and meet people by going to regular grid events such as the Friday Party in OSGrid, or the Maritime Club on Sunday at 2 PM Grid Time (equates to SL Time, or Pacific Time). Ask questions and try things. When I first came to OSGrid from SL - it was much like packing up the covered wagon and heading west during gold rush days in the United States. OSGrid has come a long way since then.

Explore and have fun!

Photos Taken by iSkye Silverweb in OSGrid on Danger Lytton's islands

Monday, June 6, 2016

8 Differences Between Second Life and OpenSim Grids

Contributing Author: The Tortoise

Second Life is a 'closed', self-contained, commercial grid -- the ├╝ber-grid which, whilst not connected to the OpenSim metaverse itself, seeded the concept and provided the technology to create it. When the Second Life client was made open-source in January 2007,1 the resulting OpenSimulator project produced, in time, the OpenSim metaverse -- a vast digital universe of hundreds (possibly thousands!) of grids or worlds, many of which are interconnected through an interworld teleport system called the hypergrid.

Not all worlds on the OpenSim metaverse are connected to the hypergrid. Some, like InWorldz and Avination, choose to be 'closed' grids like Second Life. This means their avatars cannot visit other grids in the OpenSim metaverse, and their in-world market products, currency and inventory are not transferable to other grids. Hypergrid-enabled worlds, on the other hand, allow avatars to teleport, or 'jump' between worlds, share transferable inventory items, and message your friends across grids. One world, Kitely, has a market system similar to Second Life's which can currently deliver products to 134 OpenSim worlds.2

The Tortoise, a Second Life resident, visited the OpenSim metaverse for the first time last month, and discovered that Second Life and OpenSim worlds have some important differences, especially for new visitors from SL. Here are 8 ways in which OpenSim worlds differ from SL.

1. You Enter the Metaverse through One World.
To make your way into the OpenSim metaverse, you must first register your avatar with any OpenSim world with an open registration, through their website. That world becomes your 'home world', or home grid. From that point, you enter the metaverse through this world, and once inworld, you can teleport or 'jump' to other worlds on the hypergrid. If you log out whilst away from your homeworld, your next login will find you back in your homeworld.

Note: If you will want to hypergrid to other worlds, make sure the grid you are registering to is Hypergrid-enabled.

2. Trash Must Be Emptied Through the World/Grid's Website.
OpenSim world users cannot empty their trash in-world. The trash items simply return after a relog. According to blogger The Virtual World Technologist, the reason is that on a closed grid such as SL or InWorldz, your inventory 'resides' on the grid operator's server. On an OpenSim world, it resides on your computer.3

3. Your Inventory Can Be Lost.
Because your inventory is not retained on the grid operator's server,4 its safety may be precarious. If your homegrid/world crashes or breaks, your inventory may be lost, since what is stored on your computer cannot be translated back into usable inventory without a prior coding process. This coding process, unfortunately, is somewhat complicated and requires you to actually own a region. If you do, then you can access the 'OpenSim server console' and create backup files called IARs or OARs. These IARs or OARs can then be converted back into usable inventory.

4. You Can Back Up Your Inventory Without Owning Land.
This is a rough workaround for any landless avatar. You can register two or three more avatars at different worlds, under the same name if you wish, and transfer full-perm inventory and landmarks over to them. You then have a clone of yourself if your homeworld ever goes down.

5. You Must Give Items or Offer Friendship to Another Avatar While Both of You Are In the Same World.
In the Tortoise's experience, neither process works properly if the avatars are standing in different worlds. Other users may have different experiences. In addition, it seems that friendship can sometimes only be offered to someone if you go TO the recipient's world to offer it. The Tortoise could be wrong!

6. The 'People' Option in the Search Window May Work Better with One-word Search Words.
Type 'John' or 'Smith' when you search for John Smith, but not both words together.

7. The Search Window Can Only Find Avatars That Are Native to the Grid.
If you go to Craftworld and search for 'John', only Craftworld's Johns will show up, not the other 500 from the rest of the OpenSim metaverse.

8. Maximum 5 Items Per Attachment Point.
Only 5 items can be attached to the same Attachment Point on the avatar body (such as Skull or Left Foot). This is the case for many OpenSim worlds (as far as the Tortoise can tell), although the closed InWorldz grid, like Second Life, allows 38 items to be attached to the same body point if you wish.

NOTE: A different list of Second Life and OpenSim differences was compiled by Maria Korolov of Hypergrid Business and is available here: Second Life vs. OpenSim.


1 OpenSimulator, Project History

2 Kitely Market Hits New Highs, Maria Korolov, Hypergrid Business

3 OpenSim~OsGrid 'Emptying Your Trash' 'The Importance Of!', Avatar JayR Cela, The Virtual World Technologist

4 OpenSim~OsGrid 'Emptying Your Trash' 'The Importance Of!', Avatar JayR Cela, The Virtual World Technologist

Image Credit: DD Ra, Flickr

Friday, June 3, 2016

3 Ground-breaking Dietary Health Discoveries

Contributing Author: The Tortoise

Discovery #1: The (Super) Resistant Starch Discovery

This discovery took place in 2014 on the BBC television series of Trust Me, I'm A Doctor (TMIAD), a factual programme which focuses on examining the evidence behind health claims made in the media with the help of a team comprising a medical journalist, two doctors and a surgeon.1 With the help of researcher Dr Denise Robertson from the University of Surrey, TMIAD's experiment with a hitherto unknown effect of 'resistant starch' produced what team member Dr Chris van Tulleken called "a brand new discovery... something that could simply and easily improve health. We can convert a carb-loaded meal into a more healthy fibre-loaded one instead without changing a single ingredient, just the temperature. In other words our leftovers could be healthier for us than the original meal."2

So what did they discover? Science already knew about 'resistant starch' - the phenomenon where starch in cooked and chilled carbohydrates such as potatoes and pasta becomes harder to digest, thereby releasing less sugar into the bloodstream.3 But TMIAD found that if you chilled freshly cooked pasta, and reheated it AGAIN before consumption, the resistant starch converted to a form of 'super' resistant starch which strongly resisted digestion by stomach enzymes, allowing it to enter the lower intestines as fibre.4,5,6 This not only dropped unhealthy blood glucose spikes by 50% when compared to an equivalent meal of freshly cooked pasta, but, just as importantly, provided the right kind of fuel for the microbes of the lower intestine to use.7,8 According to medical journalist Michael Mosley, this discovery of a second level of transformation from 'resistant starch' in chilled pasta, to an "even more 'resistant starch'" by reheating the chilled pasta, was "an extraordinary result and one never measured before."9 Diabetes UK is now funding Dr Robertson's continued research on the effects of resistant starch.10

HEALTH TIP: Chill and reheat cooked pasta, potatoes or rice before eating.

Discovery #2: The Secret Behind the Mediterranean Diet

A British Heart Foundation-supported study says the secret to the Mediterranean diet's famed heart-healthy powers is the combined effect of olive oil and vegetables. Led by King's College London, the 2014 study found that combining unsaturated fats such as olive oil with nitrite-rich vegetables produces an effect which lowers blood pressure.11 When these two food groups are combined, the unsaturated fatty acids react with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables to form nitro fatty acids, which in turn inhibit an enzyme called soluble Epoxide Hydrolase which regulates blood pressure. When the action of the enzyme is blocked, blood pressure falls.12,13,14 Professor of Cardiovascular Biochemistry at King's College London Philip Eaton states: "The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks."15 The traditional Mediterranean diet typically describes a Greek, Spanish and Italian-inspired diet plentiful in vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and nuts, bread, eggs, fish and poultry, usually cooked with or eaten together with olive oil. While the various components of the diet have obvious individual benefits, researchers have long been interested in what made the diet so healthy as a whole. Professor Eaton noted that while the study was conducted on mice, "[H]umans have this same enzyme so we think the same happens in people." It would explain why the Mediterranean diet is healthy, even though it contains fat, Professor Eaton said.16

HEALTH TIP: Combine vegetable dishes with olive oil, nuts or avocado.

Discovery #3: Overturning the Glycemic Index

A November 2015 study by the Weizmann Institute of Science has called into question conventional understandings of the glycemic index, blood sugar responses to foods and standard dietary recommendations. The findings, published in the highly respected journal Cell, show that individual blood sugar responses to the same food vary dramatically, which could explain why some people are unable to lose weight and others stay slim, even if they eat the exact same foods.17,18

Conventionally, physicians and nutritionists rely on the glycemic index (GI), a numbered rating of the relative abilities of carbohydrate foods to increase the level of glucose in the blood, to suggest dietary plans for individual health needs. Carbohydrate foods which are quickly digested by the body and produce a rapid increase in blood glucose have a high GI rating, while medium or low GI foods are broken down more slowly and cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels over a longer period of time. High GI foods include sugar and sugary foods and soft drinks, white bread, potatoes and white rice. Low or medium GI foods include whole grains, beans and lentils, and many vegetables and some fruits.19

What the Weizmann Institute study found was that the GI numerical indicator was a poor predictor of the actual response of many people to the stated foods, and that the bodily response to all foods was highly individual.20,21 The study, which included the analysis of gut microbes (collectively known as the microbiome) from the subjects, suggests these individual glycemic responses resulted from each person's unique microbiome, which plays an extremely important role in human health and disease.22 Immunologist Dr Eran Elinav says: "It is a very young field, because we just realised in the last few years, that our microbes that live within us from the moment we are born, are extremely important in almost every aspect of our being. And the deeper we sequence, the deeper we characterise our gut microbes, we find that each one of us is unique in our microbiome composition, and our microbial function. We now understand that our microbes are an integral part of our body, even a neglected organ."23

HEALTH TIP: Eat a wide variety of fibre to increase the diversity and health of your gut microbiome.

1 Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
2 Is reheated pasta less fattening?, Michael Mosley, BBC Two
3 How to remove calories from your carbs!, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
4 Is reheated pasta less fattening?, Michael Mosley, BBC Two
5 How to remove calories from your carbs!, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
6 How to Make Carbohydates Good For You: Creating Resistant Starch, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
7 Is reheated pasta less fattening?, Michael Mosley, BBC Two
8 How to remove calories from your carbs!, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
9 Is reheated pasta less fattening?, Michael Mosley, BBC Two
10 Is reheated pasta less fattening?, Michael Mosley, BBC Two
11 Why You Need Olive Oil on Your Salad, King's College London
12 Why You Need Olive Oil on Your Salad, King's College London
13 Olive oil and salad combined 'explain' Med diet success, Michelle Roberts, BBC News
14 Protection from hypertension in mice by the Mediterranean diet is mediated by nitro fatty acid inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase, Rebecca L. Charles, et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
15 Why You Need Olive Oil on Your Salad, King's College London
16 Olive oil and salad combined 'explain' Med diet success, Michelle Roberts, BBC News
17 Blood sugar levels in response to foods are highly individual, Science Daily
18 The same food can trigger different sugar response in different people, study finds, Weizmann Institute of Science
19 What is the glycemic index (GI)?, National Health Service UK
20 The same food can trigger different sugar response in different people, study finds, Weizmann Institute of Science
21 Blood sugar levels in response to foods are highly individual, Science Daily
22 How your gut bacteria govern your health - and how you can change them for the better, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two
23 How your gut bacteria govern your health - and how you can change them for the better, Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, BBC Two

Photos credit: Pixabay; illustration image: iSkye Silverweb

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Humpday Hint: Test Your GFCIs Now!

Contributing Author: Gentle Heron

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. GFCIs are one of the top electrical safety devices in homes and workplaces. A GFCI trips the circuit breaker, turning off the flow of electricity, if it detects ground faults or leakage currents. If a person becomes part of the path of a leakage current of electricity, they could be severely shocked, burned, or electrocuted.

Unfortunately, over a quarter of US consumers don’t know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Even more disturbing, among those who understand the importance of GFCIs, almost none test them every month and after every electrical storm. It is possible that as many as 10% of GFCIs now installed have been damaged in the past by lightning or electric surges, and are no longer functioning properly.

Here’s how to test the GFCIs in your home.
  • Push the "Reset" button of the GFCI receptacle to begin the test.
  • Plug a small lamp into the GFCI and turn it on. The light bulb should now be ON.
  • Push the "Test" button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
  • Push the "Reset" button again. The light should again turn ON.

If the light does not turn off when the “Test” button is pressed, then the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. If the "Reset" button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly installed. In either case, the GFCI may not offer shock protection. Contact a qualified electrician to check the GFCI and correct the problem.

Photo credits (in order of appearance): Morguefile, OSHA, ESFI