See Copyright and Usage Notice

NOTE: this chapter was written in 1997 and some items may be out of date (technical and user interface descriptions). We encourage you to visit the Digital Space Traveler Home Page at the following address to get the latest version of Traveler and the latest documentation on how to use Traveler:

Fine Tuning Your World

Customizing or changing your avatar

Figure 9.26: on40.gif
Find avatar customizing under the Edit menu.

You can find the avatar customization options under the Edit menu. The most common thing people want to do is to customize or change their avatars. Note that if you entered Traveler for the first time, you probably did not set up your avatar's name. You may have to quite Traveler and restart it, selecting Create New on the very first dialogue. You can then enter a name for your avatar. Once you have a name, you will be allowed to modify your avatar.

Figure 9.27: on22.gif
Choose the Leola tiger avatar.

The dialogue box in the preceding figure displays the array of avatar models to choose from. Note that we have chosen Leola and given her a smile. We also could have given her a fierce tiger scowl! You can also color different parts of your avatar by selecting Appearance. This selection will open a palette of colors. Dragging a color over top of an area in your avatar will color that area. A famous avatar in Digital Space is an all-white tiger (except for the eyes and mouth) used by Sunset Dawn.

Figure 9.28: on23.gif
Customize your avatar's voice.

Once you have chosen your look, you should choose your voice. Traveler offers you the limited ability to disguise your voice. The preceding figure shows how you can change the pitch of your voice. This is like those interviews on TV crime shows where they electronically disguise a person's voice. You can make yourself sound male or female (although the disguising might be obvious).

Figure 9.28.2: on6l.gif
Setting up your Avatar Profile

Another useful option under avatar customization is the ability to set up a profile. As the preceding figure shows, you can give your real name (if you choose to), your nickname (which you also would have been asked for when you started Traveler for the first time), your e-mail address, Web page address (if any), and a brief description of yourself. In the example above, we are showing the profile of a Utopia citizen from Dallas, Texas, who chose not to give an email address, web page or comments.

Many Traveler citizens forget to fill out their personal information, but it can be very useful in starting conversations. I always fill out this information, my theory being that if I had anything to hide, I would not be talking inside virtual worlds for anyone in the real world to hear!

Other options

Traveler has several other useful options found under the View + Options menu, including Volume, Microphone, Cache and Connection.

Figure 9.29: on41.gif
Picking the Options dialogue.

Figure 9.30: on27.gif
Volume Options dialogue.

Figure 9.31: on28.gif
Microphone Options dialogue.

Figure 9.32: on25.gif
Cache Options dialogue.

Figure 9.33: on26.gif
Connections Options dialogue.

Saving favorite and starting places

Figure 9.34: on42.gif
Use Favorites to save your favorite places.

If you had a particularly good time in a Traveler room, you can save it as a favorite by selecting Favorites + Add to Favorites. You can then open the favorite area later with Favorites + Open Favorites, or stow your favorite room right on your desktop by selecting File + Create Shortcut. When connecting to Traveler in the future, your favorites are also shown. Favorite is one of my favorite features!

Traveler Tips: Headbangers and Boom Boxers

Ham, CB, and Radiophone: Protocols and etiquette from other technologies come in handy

Are you Hamming it up in your off hours? Did you keep on truckin' with your CB radio long after the 70s were over? Or were you a sad sack in the Army for too many years? If so, you probably have learned some pretty good protocol and etiquette from other communication technologies you can now recycle in the Traveler environment. Of course, two law enforcement officers talking in Utopia may be unintelligible to the rest of us! Here is a sampling of protocols that may come in very handy:

You say It Means Comes from
Ten Four I got that! CB, Police Radio
Say or Come Again Please repeat that Everyday life
Over and out Good-bye Radiophone, CB

Table 9.3

Common ham, CB, and radiophone protocols and etiquette help you communicate in Traveler.

And as any radio operator would tell you, if you have to cough or sneeze (or yawn) don't do it into the open microphone!

Things to Keep an Ear Out For

Excess noise, echo, and the open mike problem

On occasion, you will be having a nice, orderly conversation and then someone will come into your area with a lot of static or background noise. They might not be doing this on purpose, their microphone might just be open all the time. How does this happen? Seasoned Traveler users can be heard asking open-mike offenders to push the P key on their keyboards to shut down the mike. That person can then talk normally by pressing the space bar down when they want to speak. If you have the ambient sound set too high or your speakers set too loud, you can cause feedback through your own open mike to the other listeners. If you or they are hearing a voice echoing, then someone has a problem with speaker feedback. A solution is to turn the speaker volume down or try to better isolate the microphone from the other speakers. Many users get microphones that have excellent local pickup, such as boom mikes on headsets. These microphones will sense the speakerís voice and little else.

Little Billy is mute!

If someone cannot get their sound to work and they cannot hear you, you can ask them to just nod or shake their heads in a kind of simple sign language. If you find you can hear people but cannot send them your own voice (you don't have a microphone), just use the Left Arrow and Right Arrow to shake your head and the Tab+Up Arrow and Tab+Down Arrow to nod.

Don't fall down a manhole

Be careful not to back into a portal. Portals often resemble pyramids or telephone booths. If you do back into one, you will be swept away rather unexpectedly with no way to stop yourself. This can lead to rather abrupt endings to conversations!

The server is getting loaded

If you are in an area where it becomes very hard to talk or hear anyone, check the People+Where is dialogue. The server supporting this area may be getting overloaded. Sometimes we…had…to…talk…very…slowly so that our voices would go through. This is often the warning of a an overloaded server. It is a good idea to get out while the getting is good and travel to a different area supported by a different server.

Are we still on the air?

If suddenly you notice that nobody seems to be talking or moving, you may have experienced a soft disconnect. This means that you have lost your connection between your Traveler client and its server. You may still be connected on the Internet. A telltale sign of a soft disconnect is when some avatar heads just spin around, indicating idling. If you think this has happened, try to select View+Reenter or press Ctrl+R. If this does not work, you may have to shut down and restart Traveler.

Trouble in Traveler City

Dirty mouths

Rotten language can spoil a party and there are people out there who will try to do just that. You can click on their avatar and ignore them (this cuts off their sound) and encourage others to do the same. Better still is if you and the others with you can talk this person out of it. Try not to stoop to their level and resort to their language or worse, to headbanging (see below). Communities are forming in the new digital streets, and they are self-policing for the most part. Gaming worlds (see Chapter 14) and traditional all-text MUD and MOO environments frequently give individuals (often called wizards or gods) special powers.

The social virtual worlds like Utopia, on the other hand, often treat everyone as equals and let community norms evolve. I believe that it is a good indication for our future in digital space if you just give people equal access to a world and equal powers there and let them communicate face to face they create a functioning, decent, and sustainable environment for themselves.

Boom boxers

Boom boxers are users who turn their music up next to their computer and come into a Traveler world with their mike open. Boom boxers are often not listening to anyone's conversations, so the best thing you can do is ignore them by right-clicking on their avatar and selecting Ignore. It often takes a minute or two to identify the boom boxer (usually they are targeted by users working together… ìI think he just went past me"). You can also go away from the sound and engage in a private conversation with someone far away from the troublemaker.


Figure 9.35: on37.gif
Avabuse in Utopia. Headbangers hurt, OW!

Another set of hooligans in Traveler worlds are the headbangers. These pranksters go around and when you are not looking, start to bump you around. They usually come from behind or above and just hammer away. It can be very funny if it isn't you trying to have an intelligent (or even not-so-intelligent) conversation! Solution: bump back, complain, or just ignore that person. You can also call for help from others in the world; you would be surprised by the effectiveness of a community voice, even in this "artificial" reality (but how artificial is it really?).

Where are the cops when you need them?

With all of these problems, you can report the offending user (if they have a profile) to Digital Space or look for hosts or Digital Space technical support within a Traveler world, who may be able to come to your rescue on the spot. Most Digital Space technical support people have the ability to kick people out of the world, but they must witness the offending person in the act.

© Copyright Bruce Damer, 1997, All rights reserved.