Saturday, 27 February 2010

I am millennial (official)

Score in millennial quiz: 73 (unsurprising); Houses claimed in Edu Informatics village: 20 (good)
Came across quiz on Pew Internet website, which gives you score that allegedly identifies whether you are Generation X, Baby Boomer or Millennial. Now in RL must be confessed that am middle one of these, but final score was only 1 point off the exact point for Millennials.
Makes sense, really, and explains why am likely to alienate friends through thoughtless blog posts, forget appointments and, after starting out very academic search for literature on information literacy, end up looking at site about the tree octopus. And latch onto spurious excuses for bad behaviour.

Had actually legitimately been quite busy in SL, finishing up arranging interviews for one set of students, and introducing a second set, namely our Educational Informatics students. Have again created an Edu Informatics village in the sky (1st pic shows me trailing hand in water feature in front of the 2 beach huts). Since people last year seemed to enjoy claiming houses and putting up their nameplates, made it more of a feature this year, and also did some on-the-spot deletion of unfavoured houses, and copying of popular ones, so the final village has more beach huts, japanesey houses and tree houses than originally.
Also visited Teesslife with some students, also Tour of the Testis, and Tim (co-working on a session) led a tour of the Canadian Border post at Loyalist College. Hope to post some of these pics, but feel should ask students first.

Apart from advent of Linden Homes (as claimed by Dimitrova, see previous post), big news has of course been advent of SL Viewer 2 in beta. Felt that, having only just introduced Edu Informatics students to old viewer, might be confusing to suggest they use the new one. As increasing number of problems reported, seems sensible decision. Is also a bit of an issue for the session that am holding on 18th March (which realise have not blogged about yet all), viz, event that has been accepted into official programme of the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences and even awarded grant of c. 50,000 Linden (at least, think that's how it translates), which aim to spend pricinpally on hiring someone to do a machinima. There is going to be an official press release and everything.

On a more trivial level, have a nice new washing machine.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

New home for Dimitrova

New homes: 1 (excessive)

Was tempted into SL action by the announcement today of the "free homes" available for premium residents. This is an attempt to get more people staying in SL and starting to pay tier. You don't have to pay for the land, the ready-made houses don't count towards your prim allowance (a definite bonus if you only have the minimum area), there is landscaping, and paths between the houses, and you are guaranteed not to have a nightclub start up next door.
It's an interesting move towards a "housing estate" approach to mainland, away from a North American free-for-all: though of course some people have been offering these kinds of environments on a rental basis for ages.

I went premium with Dimitrova, my main alt, when I cut down my personal land, but found that I was going over into to the next tier if I kept the amount I wanted to. It was cheaper to have Dimi go premie, so I could sell her the land for 1 Linden, and make her a buffer between me and nightclub land. However, I then found it was more interesting still to move her around to explore living in a couple of other different places. Now she has taken up the Lindens offer, abandoned her old tiny plot (land prices, already dire, will go even lower, so pointless to try selling) and opted for a dwelling in what appears to be The Shire, except they can't call it that for copyright reasons, I presume.

The pictures show her 3 roomed house from 2 angles, plus one of the rooms. You'll see it has integral mushrooms. The houses are not really state-of-the-art design, but I imagine that is so the commercial house designers feel they still have some sort of competitive advantage.
I think that there will still be issues for newbies, since the rooms, being small, are difficult to position things in (the only "furniture" in it to start with was the fire, the other stuff belongs to Dimitrova). There was also a curious glitch that meant that any rugs I tried to rez were disappearing into the floor, and couldn't be spotted with any amount of camming round. However, there is more of a feel of safety and possibilities for meeting up with neighbours.
There were a good number of green dots on the map when she was there: though if everyone's an alt like me, community building will take a bit of time...

Monday, 15 February 2010

Like, awesome, man

Parties attended: 1 (good); No. of bottles of vodka consumed: 1 (virtual, curiously non-alcoholic); Nights danced away: 1 (good)(but will regret it in the morning)
Tonight attended UK educators' party in which Usual Suspects met pleasantly together on Bluesky's island. Initial impressions were mixed as appeared we were going to spend party sitting round mystitool table, which is not my idea of rollicking abandon. However soon emerged that actual party was at beach bar complete with barstools, louche poses, glitter dance ball and soulful palm trees.

Had dressed up for occasion in what turned out as a sort of Helena Bonham Carter ensemble, lace and freaky hair, and felt that party had enjoyably retro 70s feel, but that is probably because the 70s was when was at uni, and just getting nostalgic flashback.
Bar dispensed bottles of Jack Daniels (always a fave, never tire of that drunken collapse animation you get after 3 sips), beer (my first tipple of the evening) and vodka (bottle or glass, obviously went for the whole bottle). Not that drank vodka in RL, in 70s or now, if going to knock back RL alcohol, it should at least have a proper taste (pref. of fine wine or malt whisky).

Kattan and Plymouth led way in disco dancing, at some point people started doing fairy dances (where you leap up and twirl round), and the chat seemed v. amusing at the time. Added later During banter, someone made joking remark, which remark I alluded to in earlier version of this post, as if it had not been a joke. If had allowed brain to intervene between self and keyboard would have realised that could not possibly be true. Consequence was offending someone that certainly would not want to offend, and having a general lord-I'm-useless freaking-out moment. Many lessons to be learned here, including 1) think before blogging, especially about friends; 2) don't blog at 1am when v. tired and therefore not firing on all mental cylinders. Just sort of thing I might tell to my students. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Buttering parsnips

Educators meetings hosted: one (good); Educators meetings attended: 2 (good); Tools demo-ed: 2 (v. good); Parsnips chopped: one (tasty, I hope); Simultaneous identities logged in: 3 (challenging, but only in retrospect)

Today was host to UK Educators "Second Tuesday" meeting, this being (unsurprisingly) meeting of UK educators that happens on 2nd Tuesday of each month. Had dithered about where to host it, but then opted for Farradane Centre, since felt had not shown off glories of winter wood to enough people, plus it has enough space to do SL tool demos.
Therefore prepared space by:
1) Installing hot chocolate cabin;
2) Removing Floral Bench;
3) Putting more chairs, cushions and cardboard boxes round edge of platform;
4) Cleaning aquarium and feeding fish - nothing more offputting than arriving at a meeting and seeing a tank full of floaters.

As witching hour approached had usual tension as to whether anyone would turn up, but in end was respectable number, including Csteph, who I had "shouted" at in Avatars United about the meeting. So, a use for AU, if only one so far.

Serious bits of meeting were about ideas for the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education conference, and Graham doing useful demos of 2 tools. Unexpected theme of meeting was vegetables, since emerged early on that Silversprite was balancing his Mac on his microwave whilst chopping vegetables for a stew (as pictured here: - the titular parsnip is at the bottom of the picture).

Was much banter which seemed v.v. witty and amusing at the time, and in fact STILL seems at least v. witty and amusing when read the chatlog, however it could be one of those "you had to be there" type of things so will not reproduce it here. At any rate, banter extended to demonstration of wiki tool and Graham's Story Machine, since the nodes in the wiki became parsnips (or to be more precise, pasrnips, lord how we laughed at that typo), onion, butternut squash etc. etc. Discovered that Anyone could alter nodes by clicking on them, so wiki morphed into strange pulsating object, which Graham has kindly left behind so can show it to students this Friday as example. Will have to decide exactly WHAT it is example OF.

VWBPE conversation is in fact mostly being carried out in Google Wave, which deserves a whole post to itself, should I ever get round to it.

2nd meeting was Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable in which was merely passive audience member whilst - to be v. frank - was processing pics from UK educators meeting. However, meeting was in Voice, so could listen on headphones whilst resizing, adjusting Brightness, uploading to Flickr and adding pictures to Groups and Sets. Did check back to look at local chat, but main questions had to be channeled via Google Moderator, which works quite effciently, but not sure about it as a combo with SL yet. You can add questions, and/or vote on other people's questions so most popular ones come to the top.

I happened to be logged into Blogger as Dimitrova at the time (finishing off a fashion post), so logged into Moderator as her too, and tried to vote on some questions, with mixed success (wasn't always sure why vote hadn't registered).

Until just wrote that down, hadn't really thought about how was logged into 3 different things simultaneously, well actually 4 since was also logged into the university portal, and all with different userids and with 3 different identities.

However, is all me, in the end.

Monday, 8 February 2010

I am 1013 days old

Profiles rediscovered on Avatars United: 1 (forgotten); HUDs activated: 1 (good); SL blip messages sent: 1 (pointless); No. of AU friends so far: 7 (ok); Of those, no. who are actually known to me: 1 (bad)
Linden Lab have bought Avatars United, so AU has suddenly become EITHER v. cool OR v. cool-to-mock. Was slighlty suprised to find was already on it, since had thought that social networking site that I had joined in October 2008 was Avatars REunited. Such a memory glitch will be unsurprising in one who had blogged the same thing in 2 successive posts (i.e. the VWER meeting on Jan 12 - though interesting to note that said different things about it in each post. Interesting to me, anyway).

Had also unsurprisingly forgotten password, but once had requested new one, logged in, and since then have been accepting Friendship of all who care to offer it. So far this mostly consists of people who want to sell me things, but nice things (e.g. poses) rather than sort of stuff advertised by blog-spammers. Amusingly, saw one of my "new friends" complaining about how people SHE didn't know kept asking to Unite with her; rather sculptie-calling-texture-laggy, I would say.

Have discovered that actually feel embarrassed by lack of friends, presumably because of contrast with vast list of friends in SL itself. Disturbing; thought was above that kind of thing. Had short feverish burst of making Unite requests, but have calmed down now. Think it was when realised that in desperation for friends had agreed to unite with Emerald Viewer i.e. am now chums with a piece of software, namely an alt. SL browser.

Was alerted by a blog post to "SL blip", free on Xstreet, which is an inworld HUD that somehow links up with an app in AU. It tells you your age in days, which is where title of this post came from. You can send messages from SL to your AU profile, which automatically have your location attached. In the instruction sheet they suggest you send blips such as " I'm at this cool music event, come check it out!" This inanity probably tips AU firmly into "cool to mock it" category.

NB: picture is nothing to do with Avatars United, it's the cute new Educational Informatics Village I created for this year's class.

P.S. Balloona became a blog Follower again, with same pic. of her Assets, but presumably with different userid. Perhaps she really is a fan. Or perhaps she googles occurrances of her name. Shouldn't have said it was cute in last post, asking for trouble really.

Friday, 5 February 2010


Followers blocked: 1 (bad)
Have resigned self to clearing out my 2 Ning sites of unwelcome members who sign up and then proceed to spam Ning with posts about chemical substances and write-your-homework services (latter is rather ironic, considering both sites are about information literacy). Am also used to rejecting posts from all sorts of people spamming my blogs.

However today was a first in blocking an unwelcome Blog Follower, namely one Balloona, who attracted my attention since her profile pic consisted of a naked torso, presumably hers. On investigation did indeed prove that her profile had links to sites such as "My dirty habit" and "Balloona stellt sich vor" (Balloona introduces herself).

Hmm, having denied Don Tapscott the oxygen of publicity, am now giving rather too much of it to Balloona. Her name is quite cute, though. Do hope I was not doing her an injustice, would be shame if I was banning a serious fan of my deathless prose.

Photo is of the Wilting Heart Shrine, a freebie in a hunt, from the Julia Collection. The heart pumps and makes a beating sound, and there is a cool pose (illustrated) and a doomy sort of poem. Have placed it in winter woods area, and to counterbalance this have also installed a romantic table and chair set from Belle Belle, in the shade of a valentine tree (top right). So, take your pick, depending on your mood.

Moving in circles: it's time

Educators meetings attended: lots (good, if circular); No. of these meetings starting at 10pm or later: all (bad)

Have not organised any meetings since Christmas, but have tried to get back into swing of things by attending the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable meeting more regularly, and also organising committee meetings for Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education.

Unfortunately former start at 10.30 pm on Tuesdays and latter start at 10pm on Weds and Thurs, so means that am getting late night habit again. Broadband reception on mobile stick has also been v. variable, so means that if want to be sure that can actually attend meeting have to go into office (rather than stay at home, attempt connection, login and rez v.v. slowly, catch a few minutes, crash, then stare at little light on mobile stick til it turns requisite blue colour again, indicating some minimal connection, so whole cycle can start over again).

First pic is from VWER meeting on 12th Jan. Unfortunately am now totally unable to remember what topic was, am sure it was riveting at the time. [Added later: I just checked. It was "The Future of SL and VW through the Eyes of M. Linden." I think my contribution consisted of suggesting making it easier to add metadata to Objects. You can't get much more riveting than metadata, can you.][Added still later: realise that had already blogged this in previous entry. But am too lazy to take it out of this one]

2nd pic is from the VWER this week (2nd Feb). This was a talk about ethical and legal isues in SL. This was also revieting, obviously, but am afraid that chief memory is that one of the speakers was wearing a demo skin. Could tell this as it had DEMO written on it in various strategic places. Was distracted into wondering whether this was a mistake (you may remember I spent some time wandering round with demo eyes without realising), or some sort of anti-consumerist statement. Anyway, you can find all the VWER transcripts here:
3rd pic is me at a VWBPE organising committee meeting. This looks v. similar to other pics, except there are less of us. The VWBPE organising committee is chaired by Zana, who is a wizard person, being hardworking, well organised and pleasant. Actual conference is 12-13 March. This pic was taken at around the point when felt compelled to volunteer to do more work, viz being one of the leaders for the poster stream. Unfortunately this has set me up for yet another post-10pm meeting tomorrow, Saturday i.e. starting at 11pm. Hey ho.

On another note, have just seen irritating new essay by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams in which they propose doing various things that quite a lot of teachers have been doing for years, as if these were new ideas and they were lone radical voices. They include v. large number of dubious generalisations about collaboration, as if was always Good Thing That Students Love (evidently THEY haven't done much teaching). Not that am AGAINST collaboration, far from it, hasten to add, but is not solution to all world's problems, by any means. Essay is called Innovating the 21st-Century University: It's Time! Lord knows in UK can't get away without constantly Innovating, or at least producing Annual Reflections and Strategic Plans and so forth that say that you are. Perhaps is different in USA?

Was going to link to essay, but then thought, they have publicity enough, why give them another link. If you are v. keen, just copy the title in Google, and up it will pop.

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