Checking out SkypeJournal before starting work this morning, I noticed their post "SecondTalk: Skype in a Virtual World" about a new tool to allow people to "easily" use Skype in SecondLife. Intrigued, I read the blog announcement, press release (back on Jan 16th) and FAQ and decided to try it out. I'll suppress the standard rant about SecondLife technical issues and say that when I was finally able to get in to SL and to the right place, I was able to obtain a "headset" that I could "wear" to theoretically communicate with others via Skype.
Now I will say that the process of obtaining and configuring the headset was not exactly intuitive. I had to:
- Touch the appropriate sign to be given a headset and then accept it into my inventory.
- Drag it from my inventory to the ground near me.
- Right-click on the headset on the ground (which I initially couldn't find) and edit the properties to put my Skype ID in the "Description" field.
- Click on the headset again and "Take" it back into my Inventory.
- Click on the headset in my Inventory and "Wear" it.
- Turn it "on" by typing "/1 on" in the Chat bar (which meant opening the Chat bar up)
After all of that, I wound up with this headset on my virtual ear and received a message from a "scan" that there was someone else in my vicinity who was able to talk (i.e. was also wearing a SecondTalk headset) and asking if I wanted to talk. (I didn't right then.) My understanding is that as long as I have the thing "on", I will will receive these type of messages and be able to talk to others. (It is apparently connecting out to some external server run by Centric that is connecting SecondTalk-wearing users. In the spirit of experimentation I'll try hard not to get hung up on the security ramifications of that.)
You can see the headset on my avatar in the pic to the right (click to enlarge - taken when I later returned to sit in the Crayon diner). Now, given that I didn't really have time to spend in SL and there didn't seem to be any other SecondTalk-equipped folks around when I was there, I never actually got to try it out. But I did see this one incredibly fundamental problem with the whole setup:
IF MY CPU IS ALREADY JACKED TO 100% BY THE SECOND LIFE CLIENT, how in the world is Skype or any other VoIP application going to be able to work with any kind of quality?
Just to test my real-world headset, I tried making a Skype call while SL was running, just using regular Skype and not the SecondTalk thing... and couldn't get Skype to work because, as I mentioned, SL was jacking my CPU to 100%. Now, maybe it is just my PC and its CPU, memory, video card, etc., but everytime I run SL my CPU goes to 100%. Actually, this is true on my other PC as well. Now I understand why... there's a lot of rendering going on within SL. But to me it does beg the question of whether or not something like this could actually work. It's an interesting idea because SL definitely could use voice communication... but at least on my systems I'm skeptical of how it could work.
I don't know... I'll have to try it out again sometime when I have some time to do so. Anyone else try it out?