Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Joy of moaning

Tree encroachments: 1 (bad); giant walls erected: 1 (bad)

Noticed recently that another new neighbour had started to erected yet another dull plywood house and on inspection saw that, as usual, my trees are poking through its wall. Here you see them encroaching, with view of edge of my property and next door's building on the left.

Decided that should forestall requests and move the trees away. Required a good deal of tweaking since there is a bank at the edge of the property and needed to be jiggled right and down. However, the building on my side there is a Ruined Palace so doesn't matter too much if a few twigs poke through the walls.

Ruined Palace wasn't bought as such and indeed was not intending to install it Ruined, but due to inexpert handling it ended up borked. Having seen effect, decided it was actually rather pleasing and Ruined it a bit more. Then added romantic foliage etc. as featured in various previous blog posts. It forms part of Bosky Glade which at different seasons has bluebells, snowdrops, giant pumpkins and so forth.

The top of the palace is unborked and have a couch on it, for decorous reclining and posing. As can be seen in 3rd pic, the spreading chestnuts still successfully block out the plywood monstrosity.
Are other undesirable developments in area. Fourth pic shows giant wall that someone a few plots away has erected. Not sure if is connected with some kind of night club situated nearby.

So here I am moaning about neighbours again. However, have decided that probably enjoy this. Is part of rich tapestry of being on SL mainland that neighbors come, build featureless, hideous or intriguing constructions, and then depart. Gives something to check as soon as get home, adding excitement to a dull day. Have also had a couple of very nice neighbours, and ones who WEREN'T nice have gone away quickly.

At present, people who want to depart are taking a while, it being a buyer's market. Can see the "for sale" sign on the right of the fourth picture. This has now disappeared since the owner has Abandoned part of the land, presumably to save on tier payments.

Suddenly occurs to me that have never exchanged a word with the only person who has been there as long as me, the owner of the smoked glass house on the left. She used to own a very large chunk of land, but has sold some of it off. Her profile is quite melancholy and hints at a sad love story. Perhaps I should invite her round for tea.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Cautionary tales

No. of presentations on SL given to librarians: 2 (good); No. of times that was assured that SL would be installed and it wasn't: 2 (bad); No of people stumbling into SL demo who turn out to be audience members: 1 (bad)

Gave quite a lot of talks at conferences during the last month or so, including some on SL. Two that were just about SL provided some lessons for the future:
1) Lesson 1: When people say SL has been installed, do not believe them.
In both cases we had said that "You will need to install the Second Life browser (at the venue) and you need to test out SL to make sure it works". Have decided that people interpreted this as "You need to make sure that you can go to and log in".
Time line for first talk was:
- zero hour minus 2 hours: arrive at venue, am greeted warmly, escorted up to room. Am not able to get into networked PC since greeter does not have password to login. She disappears saying techie will be sent.
- zero hour minus 1 hour 40 mins. 2 other conference speakers have put heads round door and said they are lost and can I help them. I have established that own laptop will sort of do SL with my mobile 3G stick in a laggy kind of way, and plug into the data projector. Co-presenter (Ishbel) arrives.
- zero hour minus 1 hour 20 mins. Ishbel establishes that her laptop works with her mobile stick. Then both our mobile sticks lose signal and SL goes phut. Someone arrives with password for networked PC. We establish that it does not have SL anywhere on it and we cannot install SL since we are not admins. Ishbel phones techie help desk several times and finds that techie has gone to tea; also confirms that that network cable is too short to fix to my laptop. 2nd co-presenter (Lulu) arrives. She does not have a mobile stick, not that this matters, since we have a superfluity of non-functioning mobile sticks.
- zero hour minus 1 hour. Someone arrives with a cable. It is the wrong cable. Finally techie arrives with correct cable, joins network to laptop and We Have Liftoff.

Similar experience with 2nd talk, but in more concentrated form. Networked PC was already switched on, so was quicker job to identify that SL was completely absent from it, and also work of moment to plug my laptop into network and data projector. Also it picked up strong Eduroam wifi signal. Thus seemed all roses at point at which techie arrived: however fraught 20 mins followed as both of us completely failed to get an internet connection, even though laptop insisted it was connected. Breakthrough came 5 mins before zero hour, when one of the audience (who had seen our fumblings via the data projection) gently told us that she had noticed that the WORK OFFLINE box had been ticked. oops.

2) Lesson 2: Do not make fun of avatars.

With 2nd presentation, done jointly with Kitty Mumfuzz (a recruitment specialist in RL), had not prearranged to meet anyone in SL during the SL demo. Have got to point where there are always a couple of Friends online, so thought could probably tp someone in to show there is Life in SL etc. However, this proved needless, since when rezzed, saw that someone was already on Infolit (unknown to me, but think he was from Open University) so was able to say Please Say Hi To A Roomful of Librarians and so forth.
Then yet another person turned up. Thought name was familiar, but couldn't exactly place it. Went through the Say Hi To The Librarians bit, and then went on to do a tour of Infolit. However, the 2nd avatar kept following on behind, which was Ok, but felt a bit awkward since felt I needed to explain what I was saying in RL, but really couldn't do that AND attend to the RL audience.

Thus I resorted to cheap laughs in terms of "Oh dear, here's XXX yet again!" and generally the whole talk seemed to go pretty well and the audience went away smiling. Except that is for the person who approached us at the end and revealed himself as - the 2nd avatar. He had meant to say who he was earlier, but once I started treating him like a joke stalker he felt too embarrassed.

Obviously, felt v. embarrassed myself and was feverishly trying to remember if had said anything really rude about his avi. Was also reminded that had met avi more than once, which heightened embarrassment.

Anyway is certainly something which will bear in mind in future. So, if you happen to meet me and I tell you to Say Hello To The Librarians you can rest assured I will not be mocking your clothes, profile or demeanour, for fear that you are lurking in the audience.
Photos: I didn't take any pics of these experiences. Instead:
The first pic shows the self-affirmation bear. You click him and he gives you random self-affirming thoughts, of varying degrees of humour. I liked: You have a beautiful smile animation. Secondly you see a dance I attended at Cafe Ristretto last Thursday, with live music and benefit to supporting HIV/AIDS awareness. Finally we have a pic of the SL Educators Roundtable that took place last night.

Watermelon addiction

No of watermelons gathered: 36 (bad); Melon shops hunted: one (good)
Potential addiction to fishing currently obliterated by mindless watermelon "Slice of Summer" hunt. Idea is you find watermelon in shop A which contains gift plus landmark to shop B (etc etc up to 100 and something).

So that SL Friends do not realise this (other than readers of this blog, obviously) have sent Dimitrova to do main hunting and here she is collapsed on a sofa (one of the gifts) surrounded by latest batch of boxes. Kept thinking "will just go to one more shop" and there one is, X hours later with a pile of stuff of mixed interest.
Are far too many short skirts, however is also good stuff, in particular v. cute birdcage necklace and earrings from Ginza Kohime and COMPLETE watermelon shop, with male and female watermelon-eating animations and pile of watermelons that tumble to ground when clicked.

With Dimitrova having done groundwork, went and just plucked good stuff. Whilst at K's Shop (source of watermelon ensemble) camped for 10 mins to get rustic bench with nap animation (see 2nd pic), and also snagged a free table and chair set and a sort of digging animation (with fork) from two of the lucky boards.

3rd pic shows watermelon shop temporarily installed next to Ishbel & Nigl's office, by the common room and underneath the 7 Pillars of information literacy bird flu exhibit. In front of shop is a bath/watermelon cooler that was a camping item (15 mins) from OBF (am bathing in it) last year. Was going to say that always knew it would come in useful, but "useful" might be questionable word here.

However, could be just the thing when people have been seriously examining information literacy exhibits and want to be refreshed by a slice of melon, and then, since watermelon is pretty sticky, an even more refreshing bathe.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

As night follows day

I bought the aquarium, of course.

(see last post)

So tally ho for the fish restaurant.

Friday, 24 July 2009

The 7 Seas

Fishing options installed: 1 (so far) (good); No. of demo rods have to sell before recovering cost of 7 Seas package: 3800 (bad)
Having been toying with idea of buying 7 Seas fishing package for a mere 750 Linden so that visitors to Infolit iSchool can enjoy premium fishing experience and on Thursday bit bullet or rather clicked vendor. For your 750 Linden you get a crate which specifies range within you can cast rod and catch fish (or not), plus a vendor from which people can buy rods, bait, and (closing the circle) their very own 7 Seas vendor pack. You get other stuff like a prim that gives a FAQ in many languages, a Contest unit and so forth. An extra which may also purchase is an aquarium into which people can drag their fish.
What it enables people to do is WEAR the rod they have bought, cast the rod (you get 5 casts with a 1 Linden demo rod) and then quite often you catch a fish. When you wear the fish it swims round and round your head (as in the 2nd pic). Cool. You can add extra prizes so e.g. can arrange it for people to catch an exciting Information Literacy calendar or information literate sheep. Or perhaps an information literate fish! Possibilities only limited by own rubbish building skills.
When people buy stuff (rods, bait etc.) it LOOKS like Sheila Yoshikawa is getting all the money which is indeed true initially, but at once 80% goes out again to the 7 Seas creator, which seems fair enough to me since all I've done is buy the kit and put it on some land. However think might put up sign explaining this, in case visitors think this is a 100% Sheila Yoshikawa benefit.
Since island is Educational, is issue of whether this counts as commerce, well in fact quite evidently IS commerce, which shouldn't really be doing. On other hand assume that if LL is at all bothered about this will simply ask for 7 Seas' removal rather than slapping another 1000 US dollars on island's rent.
Secondary issue is whether fishing is of any interest whatsoever to visitors and residents or whether indeed will resent having anything you have to pay for. Well, will wait and see. And put in the aquarium. And perhaps a fish restaurant. And some fisherperson clothes might be nice. And surely a boat .. (and so it goes on)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tag procrastination

Minutes spent procrastinating with Tag Galaxy: 40 (bad); Galaxies revolving around S. Yoshikawa: 1 (good)

A RL friend directed me to Tag Galaxy at
Initial impression: Cool. You type in words and phrases, and it matches them with Flickr tags. At first thought that you couldn't do phrases, since it mirrors back the phrase with spaces taken out, but here is the galaxy formed of Sheila Yoshikawa tagged items in Flickr (847 of them, all by me presumably). You can spin the globe (wheeeeeee), or click on a photo to bring it up in size.
With some v. popular terms you get some related tags pictured as satellites. It isn't at all clear how this works (e.g. all my pics on Flickr have more than one tag, so the Sheila Yoshikawa ones all have SL and Second Life as well, & lots have Infolit iSchool, but Sheila Yoshikawa doesn't have any satellites pictured). So perhaps not quite as cool as first thought. Also SL satellites include Second and Life which implies rather simplistic approach to tag association.
Googling the designer's name revealed that everyone ELSE had been saying how cool this was in MAY, and my interest ran out long before managed to find more info on how this coursework/ dissertation project actually worked. However if you need yet another thing to waste your time today, going to and typing in a random word may be the answer.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Trees moved: 1 (irritating); Wire fences erected: 1 (bad)
The SL blogs I follow are producing thoughtful and sane postings, but I will take the opportunity, being on my personal laptop, with a good network connection (in Reading for a RL conference in a student bedroom: free broadband!) to post some pics that are on THIS machine.
Yes, it's neighbours. Got a polite IM a couple of weeks ago, asking me to move a tree. In fact person even said how much tree would need to be moved (3 metres approx) so it no longer overlapped new neighbour's land. Apparently tree was causing anxiety, though is perfectly well behaved tree from the Heart Garden Centre.
Tped in and found - a a sort of compound.
You see here the offending tree (which I duly moved) and the compound. This is a beach with unrestricted view of protected water. So why would you want to spoil your own view with wire mesh and a bunker-like house? Oh well, at least it only spoils MY view if I look sideways.
In fact has been a lot of buying and selling going on around me: well, actually, more, land being put on the market and NOT selling. One chap IMed me to ask if I was interested and when said no as am maxed up to tier limit, he IMed me AGAIN only 5 mins later, obviously (to judge from the message) under the illusion he was IMing another neighbor. Interestingly, he was asking for more money from the neighbour than he did from me.
Neighbour on other side is also selling up 2/3rds of her land - the rain soaked graveyard scene has been turned into a cute house, as I'm sure any Relocation Relocation show would have advocated. Though of course the graveyard might have been a big selling point to goths. Perhaps she should get a holodeck so people with no imagination of their own can see it with the ambience of their choice. That would be a jolly useful feature when selling RL houses.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Students, Computers, Calendar

Calendars created with Factory: 1 (good); Student installations visited: 2.5 (good); No of different computers, data sticks etc. through which SL pictures are scattered: 7 (approx) (bad); No of SL pics on Flickr: 1000 (approx) (um - good?)
Time was that only place I stored pics of SL was on the hard drive of my work PC. They were organised neatly by month, since at the end of each month would move all the previous month's ones into new folder. Now and then would back these up by copying onto Departmental server.
Alas, all this went to pot when started using other computers: my personal laptop, my home computer, plus got new work computer last autumn (and still haven't transferred pics from old PC), and also started saving pics directly to a memory stick, or one of two different folders on the server. Have uploaded some pics to Flickr, but only a percentage: since there are 1000 on Flickr, dread to think how many there are in toto - 3000 perhaps? For someone teaching Information Mangement this is a pretty poor show, though could pretend am setting myself up as a case study for a student project.
All this is prelude to saying that have lots to blog about last week, but since am on home computer, only pics that can show re the week are from today, so that is where I will have to start.
Was intending to finish off marking, but wandered into SL to update the board that says when the next Infolit iSchool Discussion is going to be (23rd July BTW) and realised that a presentation from North's students was taking place at that very time. His message said: "summer students have been working on exhibits that can be used by middle school science teachers to "spark" interest in science. Larry Klugman served as the client for the three exhibits - Physics of a Homerun, Thunderstorms, and The Atom Bomb."
These are always interesting, so tped over (and that was the rest of the evening gone, essentially).
These were all designed so that a teacher could go inworld and then show their schoolchildren (in the classroom) round. The Atom Bomb involved sitting in an atom chair and having an automatic guided tour round: first of all some background on the Manhattan Project, then a bit of the science behind it, then experience of different effects (e.g. black rain (2nd photo), pulsing light), finally pictures of victims and the area affected (3rd photo). The end part was particularly powerful. Was impressed by all the parts, but only constructive criticism would be that it might be a long tour to have in one go, and might be better broken up into sections.
There was a queue for the tour, so first had visited Weather Experience, with Clouds, Mountain Rain and Storm. RL cooperated by demonstrating what a summer rainstorm is like, so had RL sound effects along with SL ones. All three exhibits were attractive, with the clouds moving, the signage on the mountain particularly good (first photo), and the tornado had some cows in it (but unfortunately didn't get a pic of that).
Almost saw the baseball exhibit, but when bounced out to watch accompanying Youtube video, crashed from SL. However, since baseball itself is a veiled mystery to me, possibly am not the ideal audience anyway.
Then spent a while trying to find things in inventory, and partially failing. However, thought could at least display my first calendar produced with the Calendar Factory. You simply rename 12 textures Jan, Feb etc., and pull them into a calendar blank. Also can insert a logo: in this case the international information literacy logo. Once calendar is complete, position it above the Calendar Factory (not inside it, that doesn't work, I tried) click the factory, and duplicate calendar appears. This 2nd one can be copied and transferred, but doesn't contain the actual textures, so you can set it for everyone to be able to copy around, or sell individual calendars. You have to keep the original in your inventory.
One catch is that each time you need to create another (different) calendar you have to buy another 100 Linden calendar blank. However, not like am going to create 100s of them.
Gave out the calendar at the Infolit iSchool discussion on Thursday, though perhaps people weren't as stunned as had hoped.
Other things done this week, that may or may not blog, were:
- attended launch of Centre for Study of New Literacies in RL, and met RL alt of Anya Ixchel, and spotted that in SL she was wearing a dress from House of RFyre (i.e. can recognise work of SL dress designers from back of room in dim light, how sad is that)
- gave talk about SL at University of York in RL
- attended Educators Coop chat
- had Thursday discussion (as noted) which led to demo from Graham on his island, then chat with Adra
- sent notecards to various people about the Information Literacy Week
That's quite a lot really, for a moderately quiet week in SL.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Slidecasts created: 2 (good)(in my opinion); Software installed: 2 (good); Deadlines met: 1 (almost)
If you like long, rambling posts with accounts of ill-planned attempts to create Web 2.0 presentations, then this one is for you.
On Thursday, or to be honest was actually early hours of Friday, finished almost-overdue presentation for virtual seminar. Seminar turned out even more virtual than had first thought i.e. even though it was scheduled for a particular day, was no obligation to do anything except provide stuff in advance & look at forums afterwards.
Topic was information literacy in virtual worlds. Decided to create a page with links to videos, make 2 slidecasts and put in some narrative to explain what was what. Original plan was to use page of iSchool wiki, but pbworks seems to be unobtainable a lot this week (memo to self: back up those wiki pages!) so plumped for my Netvibes space instead. To cut to chase, the page is here:
Had already had one page on Netvibes devoted to virtual worlds, but half of that was about Google Lively, which is of course an Ex World, so cleared it out and started again. Knew I wanted to link to some Gobal Kids material and also found an (I think) excellent video about SL in schools, on Teachers TV. Spent some time trying to find decent stuff showing libraries. Included the “I am Library” video that HVX made, but otherwise there seemed rather too many talking SL heads giving presentations of varying quality.

My own presentations include some slides that will be familiar old friends to anyone who has leafed through my Slideshare space, but of course put into a fascinating new order and DID create some new ones, since this is aimed at school librarians. Decided that had to do more than intended when dipped into logs of a couple of chat sessions from the virtual seminar in which participants were slagging off (politely, of course) the presenters for just putting in dry powerpoints and not focusing on the interests of the audience.

Doubtless own contribution will still be unsatisfactory as regards school librarian focus, but have Made an Effort. Biggest effort was in doing My First Slidecast. Indeed is My First MP3, since have not even done my own podcast before. Started by uploading ppts to Slideshare and looking at a v. useful Slidecast showing how to create Slidecasts. This was created by one of my Contacts, and it was only at this point (2 years on from joining Slideshare) that realise that this person is like Tom on MySpace, i.e. he is EVERYONE’s friend.
Hunted in a desultry way through programmes on own computer, but feeling that currently did not have voice recording software was confirmed. Could have used MP3 player, but this would have involved uploading software to work pc that currently was sitting on a CD at home. Therefore Googled “Creating MP3” and when that didn’t seem to bring up the right stuff, “Recording MP3”. A top hit was Audacity, which immediately recognised as being subject of various postings on SLED list. Was free, so downloaded it, hurrah.

Most troublesome phase was next one, i.e. getting Audacity to admit that I was saying, or later, shouting, things into my microphone. In sum, after reboots, countless trys at the Sound Test from the Windows control panel, several trawls through Audacity Help, plugging microphone into all possible computer orifices etc etc realised that problem was that had failed to set Microphone to correct device in Audacity Preferences.

Then seemed doddle to talk through slides in first presentation and time finally came to Export to MP3. Was minor delay when was prompted for unintelligible thing called LAME, and am still not exactly sure what LAME does. Anyway, was beyond asking Why at this point, so Googled LAME and turned out this was something that could download from web at only 2nd attempt (not sure where the first download ended up). Then it was scumble scumble and a sparkley MP3 was sitting in my Second Life folder. As recommended by Everyone’s Friend, I uploaded MP3s to Not quite sure why I did this, since it appeared afterwards that could have uploaded them to Slideshare, and also could have just bunged them on the university server. However, there they are, at ....
Finally the thrilling moment came to Synchronise slides with audio, which was actually quite fun. Then there it is, my first Slidecast. I will embed it here.

Second one obviously took less time, but did have upset in that when nearly at end of first recording Audacity Unexpectedly Quit. Hate it when that happens. When rebooted, Audacity told me that if I didn’t press delete the unsaved files would be in a manually recoverable temp file, so as you can imagine wasted time trying to locate temp file. Turned out that, since this was yet another thing had failed to set in Preferences, temp file had gone irretrievably to temp file graveyard. Second slidecast may therefore seem a little rushed as was getting tetchy by the second time round.
If this is podcasting, doesn’t seem too difficult. Of course would take much longer if had been troubled by any perfectionist scruples that required editing out background noise, adjusting audibility etc. May revive ideas for regular Information Literacy Hour, or perhaps Information Literacy 10 minutes might be more palatable. Perhaps should get feedback about whether people can understand what am saying before devise too many grand podcasting and slidecasting plans.
Pictures are: Me on Infolit sun deck with latest batch of DSN network, me in the National Library on the DRowsy sim, and me with new acquarium and cinderella shoe bench.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

What Information Specialists say about Second Life

Have realised that while I publicise the Infolit iSchool discussions in various inworld groups and discussion lists, had neglected to do so here. Oops.

What Information Specialists say about Second Life: Presentation to be held in SL on Thursday 2 July at 12 noon SL time (8pm UK time; time elsewhere )
Marshall Dozier and Fiona Brown of Edinburgh University, Scotland, (Pancha Enzyme and Zeno Silvercloud in SL) will report back on findings from their survey and focus group discussions* on SL for for networking, collaboration and CPD. This will be based on their conference presentation at the EAHIL conference in June 2009 and includes time for discussion
Location is Infolit iSchool

This is part of the University of Sheffield Center for Information Literacy Research discussion series.
* picture shows the focus group that was held on Infolit iSchool

Logga in

Error messages: 1 (amusing); Blogger languages: several (sometimes unexpected)

When logging out from Blogger just now received startling news that:

"Your client has issued a malformed or illegal request."

Shall reprimand Client immediately.

Took me back to Good Old Days of internet when 404 File Not Found & assorted other messages popped up with a regularity that reassured you that you were still at the pioneer edge of technology. In fact takes me back even more to heady early phase of online when you had to wrestle phone handsets into rubber cups to get some sort of online connection and the screen was one mass of enigmatic messages. In fact can even remember time when WAS no screen, everything got printed out onto thermal paper that faded and curled up almost before you had time to read it.

To return to blogger, other oddity that have meant to mention for a while is that if connect to internet using free wifi on National Express trains, for some strange reason Google and all its services (including Blogger) are displayed in Swedish. This being National Express can only assume that is because is cheaper for them e.g. perhaps they are getting some sort of cut-price IKEA wifi.

Fortunately is pretty obvious what to do since buttons and boxes are all in the same place and already knew that Swedish for Search was Sok.
Of course could be ruse to try and get passengers to talk to each other ('Excuse me young man, do you know the Swedish for "log in"?') or even altruistic attempt to teach us another language. However, given notorious disinclination of British railway passengers to talk to anyone they don't already know, and their adherence to the English language, fear both enterprises are doomed to failure.

The blog of Sheila Yoshikawa on her adventures in Second Life. This may be very thrilling. Or possibly not.