Thursday, 29 November 2007

Boosting performance

Torley's video tutorial are always good and this one is no exception, How to easily boost viewer performance. Well worth a watch.

Second Friends security bug - NOT!

At the virtual worlds session in the recent JISC CETIS conference it became clear that some people were of the opinion that Second Friends, my Second Life Facebook application, had a serious security flaw.

This is absolutely not the case and stems, I think, from a problem with another similarly named application (but not Second Life Link either!).

Just setting the record straight...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

On the road

I've been travelling (in RL) for the last while, hence lack of traffic here.

My last trip was up to Birmingham for a workshop on blogs and social networks organised by UKOLN which I'd agreed to video-stream onto the Web and into Second Life.

Not a completely successful venture, but some useful lessons learned. My report is available on eFoundations.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Long road ahead

There's a longish post on the Linden Lab blog by Philip Linden, Long Road Behind, Long Road Ahead, talking about where Second Life has come from and where it's going. Some interesting stuff, not least the reference to being able to view the Web from in-world:
Beyond stability, there is one new platform feature that still seems really important to deploy given the rising use of SL for education and collaboration, and that is being able to browse the web easily from in-world. So we have a small team of people working hard on that right now.
I guess I'm feeling charitable, cos I tend to read this at face value and interpret it positively. Looking at the comments, there are inevitably those who see it more cynically, as an attempt to make excuses for the current issues with reliability.

For what it's worth, my view is that (until the recent episode at least) reliability has got a lot, lot better over recent months than it used to be in the past. So we seem to be going in the right direction...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Will Wright on toys that make worlds

Via Second Life Conceptual I found yet another interesting TED talk, this time by Will Wright, creator of the Sims, talking about his new game Spore where you control everything from single celled organisms up to whole universes.

Early on in the talk he refers to the creativity that The Sims inspires in its players - a quote that could just as easily be applied to Second Life:
One of the things we noticed with the Sims, which is the game I did earlier, is that players love making stuff. When they were able to make stuff in the game they had a tremendous amount of empathy and connection to it. Even if it wasn't as pretty as what other people would make, as professional artists would make for games, it really stuck with them and they really cared about what happened to it.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

UK Guardian features virtual world crime

There's a long special feature in today's UK Guardian newspaper (Saturday, 17 November 2007) looking at crime in virtual worlds. It includes coverage of Second Life and several other virtual worlds. Not a bad article actually. It suggests that in South Korea 43% of the population is a member of the virtual space Cyworld. Wow!

An online version is available, though I'm not 100% sure that it includes everything that is in paper version.

Rosedale on Managing Virtual Distance via Second Life

There's a useful summary of Philip Rosedale's keynote to the Managing Virtual Distance conference available from Metaversed. Note that the keynote was delivered virtually, using Second Life voice. Most interesting for me though is his reaffirmation of Linden Lab's commitment to open sourcing the Second Life server code...
By allowing others to maintain their own servers, they [LL] ensure that the grid will continue to grow and have adequate support staff regardless of the size of Linden Lab itself. At that point their company would focus on the wider architecture involved in maintaining the Second Life Grid. Ultimately, though, it's seen as simply the only possible way to grow the grid. The title of the slide: "Only Open will Win"

Friday, 16 November 2007

Caitlin Kiernan on BBC2 via Second Life

Second Life will feature on UK television tomorrow (Saturday, 16 November 2007) when the BBC2 programme 'The Culture Show' uses it to undertake a remote interview with Caitlin Kiernan, whose novelisation of the new Robert Zemeckis’ film Beowulf, has recently been published by Transworld.


RICH 2007

Eduserv Island played host to the RICH 2007 conference today. This is a real-life medical conference on the treatment of hernias, held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but the organisers wanted to demonstrate the potential value of using Second Life as an additional venue.

The audio and video stream from the venue was very good, though we hit the (apparently known) SL bug that the stream appears inverted for some users. In the end, I vertically flipped the media texture on the main projection screen (which worked for most of the virtual delegates) leaving the side screens the wrong way up for most people, but the right way up for those people without the problem (if you see what I mean).

Having multiple screen in the same venue is quite useful for just this situation.

There weren't too many virtual delegates but enough to make it worthwhile I think.

I took a few photos during the morning session - I didn't have time to stick around all day. Rather than simply pick one to show here, I've mashed them together using Animoto (what a great tool!). Here's the result:

Eduserv Island under windlight

Brad Monnett was kind enough to pass me a Windlight-enhanced view of the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island this morning. Cool!

It makes it look like a different place! :-)

Second Life Learning Management Systems survey

Those of you with an interest in how Learning Management Systems (read Virtual Leaning Environments for readers in the UK :-) ) can be integrated into Second Life may like to note that the Sloodle project are currently undertaking some requirements gathering via an online survey.

If you have views on this area, please take time to complete it. Thanks.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

I am Art

This is me (see right) and this is part of my profile information, now being displayed on a Second Life Web page that is new, as far as I know.

I've known for a while that an avatar's profile image is available on the Web - in fact I display that image as part of the Second Friends Facebook application. But I'd not found this other profile information on the Web before, so I'm guessing that it's new.

Interesting... I don't object to my profile being made visible in this way. But I do wonder what the privacy issues are, if any?

The information has always been available in-world of course but surfacing it on the Web brings new issues with it. Issues around persistence of the information for example - what happens when the Internet Archive start storing this stuff (they haven't, yet!).

This stuff seems to have been rolled out as part of the new, Google-based, search engine that comes with release candidate 1.18.5. See the blog entry and commentary for some of the discussion. However, I found it using this unofficial Web-based search, Nothing official to see here, which is presumably based on the new engine?

The Awful New Search from Second Thoughts gives a nice overview of some of the issues.

Finally, hats off and a big thank you to Mal Burns for a non-stop Twitter stream that seems to pick up everything about everything to do with Second Life.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Vuzix - VR920 Head Mounted Display

If anyone happens to be looking for a christmas present to buy me, I'd like one of these Vuzix - VR920 Head Mounted Displays please.
The first video eye wear specifically designed to let you step inside virtual worlds. No more staring at flat screens. The iWear VR920 allows you to enter virtual worlds and communicate with others as if you are really there.


Just plug in and view extraordinary high resolution video on a virtual display equivalent to a 62-inch screen at 9 feet. iWear® 3D and integrated 3 Degree of Freedom (DOF) tracker and built-in microphone deliver the ultimate interactive online experience.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

New SL survey - results now available

A new set of survey results, SL Survey: Residents profile, gambling & engagement, is now available. I recall answering the questions in this survey what seems like a long time ago - back when it was first announced. At the time, I remember thinking that some of the questions where slightly oddly phrased. I still think so actually. That said, there are some interesting findings and it is worth a quick look.

657 people took part.

In terms of demographics, the 60:40 (men:women) gender balance feels more likely (to me) than the 50:50 one often hears quoted, though I don't understand why France accounts for 15% of the respondents? About a 1/3 of people log into SL 3 times or more per day with the majority (almost 60%) being in-world for between 1 and 3 hours.

About a 1/4 of respondents sell goods or services from a shop with slightly more (about 30%) providing education or training in some form. About half take classes to learn something themselves and about 37% promote art or culture.

Over 50% of respondents claim to go into Second Life to forget about RL problems (at least sometimes) and more than 15% say they have lied to someone in order to be able to connect to SL. Blimey... that feels slightly worrying to me. Even worse, about 1 in 5 respondents feel frustrated and/or depressed when they compare their real life with their Second Life and well over 30% consider SL definitely better than their real life! To which one is tempted to say, "get a life" - but perhaps that's the problem :-)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

TSL woes

There's an interesting post on New World Notes about why Katharine Berry, the creator of AjaxLife, has left Teen Second Life along with some suggestions about what Linden Lab need to do to improve things.

I must confess that my only attempt to help one of my children register for TSL ended in complete failure, with none of the age verification methods appearing to work.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Eduserv Island public sandbox

I've created a small Public Sandbox on Eduserv Island at the end of the SLashup Space. The SLURL is:

This has been created initially for MBA staff at the University of Bath, who want to bring a group of their students in-world for some activities, but anyone is welcome to use it.

There's a 4-hour return on anything you create in this space so make sure that you save a copy of anything you need before leaving.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Second Life in the mainstream US media

Barry Joseph of Global Kids provides an interesting analysis of the recent appearances of Second Life in both The Office and CSI:NY, A Tale of Two Second Live Promotions: The Office Vs. CSI. Not that I've seen either myself... but definitely worth a quick read to see how SL is being portrayed. The point being that the way the general public's attitude towards SL is steered by the mainstream media is critical to any significant integration of SL in education.
The more the public views Second Life as a place to extend their real life – like a telephone – the closer we get to it being viewed as a place for real world education.