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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

In-World Planisphere

A while ago when I was making my first HUD, which is now available for free on in my Astro-Park Sky-platform. As part of the HUD features, I wanted to include an SL version of a Planisphere. So what is a Planisphere? Well it’s a tool for showing you what stars are visible at a given time from a particular Latitude, and as such is a good tool for improving your understanding and appreciation of the daily and annual motion of the stars. Anyway, I did come across some design issues, trying to make a HUD version as well as discovering a superb web based Flash version, that you can find at and I decided to include this into the HUD instead.

I still felt however that it would be good idea though to have an SL version, and so last evening I had another go. I found suitable free star chart and cover templates on the net and after making a few modifications mainly for accessibility and readability, I uploaded them to SL. It was then simply a case of rezzing shaping and texturizing two cylinders. Once in place and scaled, I set about putting together a rotation script. At the moment you will find that by touching the outer white ring, the chart rotates in 5 degree jumps, so about five days each time. The latitude setting for the original star chart is 50o North, which on the face plate I have stated is Northern Europe, but of course that includes all countries around the globe that fall within that particular celestial co-ordinate. I have checked the Planisphere against one of the handheld variety of my own, and it seems to work pretty well. So next time you are passing Shimmer Island, why not Teleport up to the Astro-Park and give it a try, feedback welcome

Bye for now, Skipper

Friday, 14 December 2007

Swivelling Information

Following the completion of the Interactive star chart at my Astro-park skyplatform, I decided to add some information content for the Solar System display. I had considered placing a notecard in each planet, but decided it would be more interesting, for me at least to try and utilise a screen of some kind. In the end I got down to some scripting and settled on a clickable slide board combined with an avatar scanner. Now depending where you stand, avatar wise, the board will point in you direction to be read. In the screen shot left standing at the Planet Saturn.

In the screenshot here, you can see that I, Skipper Abel, am positioned by the planet Pluto, and the board has swivelled right. There is of course the situation of how I get the system to deal with more than one avatar, making this an ongoing project.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Bringing the sky down to SL Earth

Continuing to look for ways of using Second Life as part of my teaching, not so long ago I decided to put a new skybox above my place at Shimmer Island that would act as a meeting place and resource center for an astronomy venture that I am moving forward as part of a more general enrichment programme. The Skybox I called the Astro-Park, and went about gathering and producing some suitable features to install, like a small observatory and the planets of the Solar System. I experimented with making a simple holodeck for the Milky Way, and a deep sky projector that casts images of nebula and galaxies into the dark night sky.

My latest addition to all this is an interactive star chart. If like myself you have occasion to look at the night sky on charts, you may have become aware that a lot more attention is being paid these days, particularly so with those appearing in popular magazines, by the inclusion of colour and images. And so my thought was, can I use SL to make them both 3D and animated?

Well this is the project so far.

At particular points on the chart you will find small 3D models of stars, planets etc. Just touch on any one of these to open and close the object. In the case of planets and stars, (not to scale), they will expand and rotate, as this happens the adjacent screen fills with an accompanying information slide. Guessing what the surface of a distant yellow orange star looks like has I must admit required some imaginative license.

For meteor showers I decided to develop a particle emitter, which I think looks reasonably convincing. I am still thinking about using short introductory voice-overs. If you feel like teleporting over for a browse around please feel free and drop me an IM by way of any feedback and if you would like to join the Shimmer Island group.

Bye for now Skipper

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Polling Second Life Style

I recently had the chance to run a live session in SL with a class of candidates. Up until this point I had either delivered walk through type presentations of the virtual world, so having people seated at machines and being able to give them some actual tasks and activates was something that I had been looking forward to. The event was a Continuing Professional Development session, and candidates were either completely new or newish to SL. One activity I was particular keen to tryout was my idea for a poll. Normally this would be a case of selecting some kind of option from a form, but as this was SL, and I wanted to cash in those particular aspects and unique social opportunities that the environment affords us. I carried out the exercise by first getting everyone to teleport up to a skybox, where I showed them a series of slides on one of my boards. Each of the slides would present a particular scenario on which that had to respond by indicating a level of agreement or confidence.

Now rather than clicking a panel or button of some kind, I had made a simple two prim scale from 1 to 10. To vote, each person simply stood next to the number they felt related to their measure i.e. 1 low confidence in the statement and 10 high confidence; there were five questions in all. When everyone was in place I took a screen shot, after which avatars made their way back to the board for another question.

I posted the results, by uploading the images onto a series of boards and used the llsettext to display each question. The exercise proved worthwhile I think. There was one moment of amusement and amusement though, when one new avatars keen to get in place ran to the high confidence end of the scale, failed to stop in time and plunged over the edge of the skybox 351 meters into the watery surroundings of Shimmer island.

Friday, 19 October 2007

SpeakyEasy at Shimmer Island

If I were to be asked "what is the main advantage of using Second Life over say using one of the more traditional delivery platforms for learning materails and resources such as a vle?". Well of course there are many, but I think my first reaction would be to simply recite what I consider to be the top three and they are "Social, Social, Social". And to put my committment where my opinions are, I have setup the SpeakEasy. While retaining the theme of my sub-tropical island, I used a Skyrock to house three breakout huts, where small groups can get together and either text or voice chat in the relative seclusion of the skies above Second Life. Given the seperation of the huts, you should find that conversations in one will not be overheard in the other two. To aid the sense of privacy, and introduce some sense of ambience, I have included the sounds of running water and random bird song.

So if you are looking for a venue with difference to hold those meetings, feel free to teleport over and up.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

he kev brace here

gl00b0y Grut

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

hello to all

igo Cioc

Friday, 5 October 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Great day for blogging at Shimmer Island!

Lorri Momiji

Monday, 3 September 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)


rad Zabibha

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hi, interesting blogging project!

Lorri Momiji

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Making a WiKi in Second Life

Following the previous post describing my attempt at producing a Forum in Second Life. I decided to complete the circle by making this post showing a similar project at making a WiKi. I regularly get my students to make use of Moodles WiKi for their project work, and every time given the unpredictable and organic way in which the pages of a WiKi are likely to link and grow, I find that the job of trawling through the project can seem to result an exercise of diminishing returns for me. And so my thoughts turned to the far more visual and semi-immersive world of Second Life.

You can see from the screen shot that the project has three main areas of Design, Coding and Testing; a specific example using the WiKi for Software Design. The intention here is to have submissions placed onto the appropriate surface starting on the vertical scale at day 1. Of course in a normal WiKi, pages would be hyperlinked, but here I am suggesting that relationships are formed by association, where related postings are placed next to each other on the same day or above on subsequent days.

Each posting takes the form of a prim cube, whose texture and text will have been generated and uploaded from a Word template.

Once in place, a posting can be touched producing a dialogue menu, with options allowing Notecard text to be emailed, or the full Notecard given. The third option is a feature that I encourage, whereby a screen shot of the topic, say a design diagram, code section or test strategy, can also be uploaded into the prim to be displayed on the surface of a 3D screen.

The screen is rezzed each time with sides in both landscape and portrait for ease of viewing. This last feature I included to encourage the social dimension of Second Life, now the group can arrange to meet at the WiKi and review posting together.

Even from a superficial look, you can see how easy it becomes to form an overview of the projects development and activity. I must admit here to also having an almost intuitive sense of anticipation that the sheer physical forms that will come to emerge will in themselves provide a new and valuable insight, though of course this remains to be seen.

If you would like to see the project in action then just follow the link here to YouTube.

Please feel free to post any comments and of course drop into my place at Shimmer Island in Second Life anytime.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Thoughts on Second Life Rollout

I have been having some serious thoughts lately, regarding the necessary rollout of Second Life to the much wider community of users, not least after reading the outcome of a survey posted on Wagnet Joneses New World Notes blog in May this year of current residents. Mainly we appear to fall into the groups of innovators, capitalists, fasnionistas, role-players and social gamers.

It would seem then that in order to promote the adoption of SL we are likely to be drawing upon a population that would fall within the larger three groups or from other possibly larger though as of yet unclassified groups.

For those of us already in and enthusing about Second Life, its all to easy to forget that we are in the view of Stephen Downes, who I heard speaking at this years Eduserve Second Life conference 'the rounding error'! A touch cynical maybe, but compared to the desktop user-base, there is some ground to be made up here.

Essentially Second Life will I suspect to all intents and purposes be a product that we have to sell, sitting as it does for most outside the mainstream of the more familiar Office type applications.

I decided to look into the possibility of making an SL application that could be seen to draw upon some of the standard desktop software, though here I am coming from a Windows perspective, equivalents are readily available.

The outcome has been a Forum. Like all forums you can post, reply, open and email users, features I readillyachieved through some Linden Scripting. More importantly though, because why reinvent the wheel when there are plenty of good forums out there already, there has to be some advantage, and this is where the attributes of working in a virtual world such as Second Life can pay off, because now a forum can be visual, almost tactile and sociable. Basically each post is a prim, whose texture is generated from a Word template, saved in Paint and whose main content it dropped into the finished prim as a notecard.

Once completed a user, in Edit Mode, a cunning plot to get them involved, simply positions the new posting onto, rather than into the forum. There is going to be an opportunity here to witness the emergence of some interesting forum patterns I feel.

Sound interesting? Well you can take a look, because I posted a video up to YouTube

If you have any feedback just drop me an IM, email or teleport over to Shimmer Island for a chat.

Saturday, 18 August 2007


Had a meeting with some of the team from EL4A (E-learning For Africa) recently, where we discussed working in partnership with team on their project. An opportunity we look forward to as a team here at Bromley.

Currently EL4A are developing a African centre that will host all African educational, health and development institutions. If all goes according to plan, then this will lead hopefully to a complete Africa Island in Second Life, sounds impressive.

The principle focus at the moment is on the development of e learning using Second Life in bridging the African digital divide.

The EL4A project currently has a presence at EduNation (224, 48, 22), which you can see here, where each country will soon contribute by placing content on their regional map. So why not teleport over when you get the chance and see what’s happening?

Monday, 13 August 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hi I`m Firefox Stransky

Firefox Stransky

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Low prim count low space

If this the way things are are getting for you then tryout the ‘Sky rock sculpted’ from Harmpie Rhode. As you can see it’s really a skybox, though I did have some difficulty getting it to altitude, just under 500m. But I ended up rezzing a copy of my sky workshop platform, then rezzing the Sky rock onto it and deleting the platform. Anyway for your money L$100, you get a scripted sculptured prim 40mx40m that only actually takes up 2 prims! As you can see I have relocated my breakout huts, planted a few trees and grass. The next stage will be to set the destination on my long-range teleport, but first I need to make a few home improvements.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

I'm interesting about interactive mode Moodle ans SL.

Renzo Amat

The Spacedome

I went along to the Galaxy Dome in the sim Spaceport Bravo on Tuesday at
Dr. Knop (Prospero Frobozz) was the guest speaker.
The venue for the event was really impressive skybox holodeck with a rotating image of deep space scenes. Today we apparently call that Dark Energy. From the fact that the Universe's expansion is accelerating, we know that Dark Energy makes up 2/3 to 3/4 of the total energy density of the Universe. The only disappointment for more was an interuption in RL that cuased my login to time out, after which I had some diffuclty getting back in.

Around the auditoria you can see that large slide images were put into place that change texture when they were touch by Prospero Frobozz as he presented findings and speculations from his work on Einstein's General Relativity *does* allow for a very exotic material which will have (effectively) a negative gravitational effect.
This was a nice venue in itself and well worth a visit just to look around.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

PBL event at Coventry

I went along to a conference in-world hosted by Coventry University for a discussion on using Problem Based Learning in SL on Tuesday. We gathered in an arena of standing stones, nice touch, and it soon became clear to me how International the gathering was with candidates from the US, Germany and Hong Kong. In fact while so many people in RL are wondering about the advantages that virtual worlds can possibly offer, this surely this must be one. Forget carbon footprints and think about the joys of industrial action, cancelled flight, terrorist alert and DVT free long haul travel. Anyway, coming from a computing background, it was refreshing to see such a range of interests that included Language and Design, Science, Architecture, Marketing Economics and Games Technology, and I must a have missed a few others, plus some very notable SL freelance developers. All in all this made for a good mix and I am sure promoted the lively discussion that followed.

Of course before you can get student or staff involvement for that matter, there has to a learning curve and this was discussed from a number of perspectives with estimates of 6 to 8 hours just to accommodate the demands of Inventory, Search, Maps and Events etc, in other words the day to day housekeeping type of activities. Then coming to the acquisition of reasonable competence in Linden Scripting, an estimate of 6x90 minute sessions for non-programmers was proposed, and 5 hours for building, which seemed to pass virtually without opposition, so that would seem to set a rough benchmark. So if you are proposing rolling these particular aspects of SL to classes, this I am certain will help your planning. And do bare mind as someone pointed out, that the general comfort zone with the interface probably doesn’t start until somewhere between 10 and 20 hours of use anyway.

There was a fair bit of discussion around PBL and builds in SL and again this is another of those curves, which along with all the other things that will need to be learnt in this new virtual world may be frustrated by access given the hardware and connection speed demands in running SL. Though having said that, I am reminded of the assertions that would emanate from the ‘one hand clapping’ school of philosophy, do you need SL to learn SL? Did I need a computer to learn programming? Well not all the time and with the availability of SL books and websites especially the numerous YouTube videos, you can and I do learn a great deal about SL in RL. From my own perspective I am currently pursuing a programme of encouraging students to work as online collaborative communities, and so building and scripting aside, for me SL is truly the ‘Killer App’ of all Social Networking software.

The idea of implementing PBL using SL as a roll play adventure, almost treasure trail, combined web link type of web quest exercise was an interesting one, that a few people seemed to have plans for and others latched onto including myself with enthusiasm. The whole idea of using roll play brought out a surprising raft of ideas surrounding the prospect of an avatar being more RL than SL, in that you could induce the need for food, water, the hazards of injury, survival etc.

I must say that for me utilising the net is central to many of my activities and plans for SL. The arrival web page on a prim is going to give us all some good in-world opportunities to make use of the wider Internet, and I look forward to that with eager anticipation, while at the same time of courses appreciating the substantial difficulties technically in being able to make this happen.

I left the session, with some new ideas in mind and a sense of growing fascination with the way that SL is being adapted to the needs of its residents and look forward to more long haul, short stay conference teleporting.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Voice in SL

I have just downloaded the and installed the Second Life FirstLook client that support 3D voice and it seems to be working fine on the main grid. Once you have the client running and logged into the grid there are a few new parameter that need to be set from the SL Edit/preferences option, but if you follow this link it will take you to a Flash movie tutorial for those specific settings. My first impression is that even using a pair of headphones for the £1 store, the results are fine, delays are minimal. From my perspective in using SL principally as a personalised learning and collaborative social networking tool for students, the arrival of real time in-world speech provides an even more immersive and engaging experience, though I know there are calls from those who see this feature signifying a loss of anonymity particularly for accent and gender. But take take heart on that one, voice distortion is I am sure is just around the corner for those out there for who this is a genuine concern. I know eagerly await the arrival of web page on a prim, but then isn't that just typical, some people are never happy are they.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Mag Rack

While browsing around SL recently, I noticed that a number of free or very cheap in-world magazines are being published, so I decided to create a new rack in my virtual library. Prim Perfect is a genearl type SL mag while Voodoo Extreme specialises in gaming. Hope you enjoy the facility and please be sure to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Mags and videos

While I have been busy publishing some more Shimmer Island videos and posting them on to YouTube this week, I have also come across an excellent online newspaper, the Metaverse Messenger, its a pdf with back issues, very well produced and packed full of articles, well worth a read.

Friday, 6 July 2007

SI on YouTube

I have been able to present my work in Second Life on two occasions this last week. Firstly at a CAMEL (Collaborative Approaches to the Management of E-learning), event held here at Bromley College and then at the Greenwich University 'Designing for Learning' Conference. It was at the conference that the use of pre-recorded videos really came into their own, when just before my slot, Linden Labs took SL down for a scheduled update. The day was saved though, because I had screen videod my material just in case the night before. I have now started to upload these with voice over to YouTube and you can find the first in the series at this link

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Student idea's on Second Life

I was impressed to find this blog the other day by Joe Sanchez (University of Texas at Austin) . He has been getting students to make use of blogs and other social networking tools including SL. And his studnts blog ' Social issues in a networked Society ' makes some very interesting reading . In fact all very refreshing from the often anecdotal views all too often banded around these days, well worth a look.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Virtual Museum

I recently decided to expand the features at the beach house by including the opportunity for collaboration. But with space running out on the island I decided to use a skybox, that you can teleport back and forth from. The content of the skybox take form of a museum of computing. At the moment you will find the top floor has some fully populated click and go examples, whereas the lower floor is waiting for some student activity, which given the time of year may not commence now until September 07, however anyone wishing to make a contribution will be welcome, just drop me an IM.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

The emergence of a metaverse

There is little doubt regarding the ever increasing popularity of Second Life, but what about the near future? I found this highly engaging and thought provoking article that explores the intriguing possibilities that will become possible through the mashup of SL and Google Earth, well worth a read and please feel free to post comments, just follow the link.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Populating the CLS

If you have not tried it out yet, then why not Teleport over to our Collaborative Learning Space here on the first floor at Shimmer Island. Interactive resources include C, CSS, HTML, Java, JavaScript, PHP, SQL, WAP and XML. And remeber you can comment to this blog in-world from the ground floor poster.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

this is a test SL blog ... very interesting comments from in-world :P

Oneibus Jun

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Does this really work? If so very cool..

ZombieBob Zenovka

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hello World

Yearn Au

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

greetings from Georgian College, Ontario, Canada

Daevas Masala

Sunday, 8 April 2007

XML content uploaded

I have created a new rack for xml and uploaded 6 books of content. Given the nature of xml in that unlike my other resources it is not a programming language, I have decided to use the Try It Live board as an in world access to an online xml validator, it checks to see if the xml is well formed. Please feel free to take a look at the materials and let me know your thoughts, bye for now Skipper Abel

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Java AWT tutorial installed

Second Life BlogJust upload the latest installment of the Java Tutorials. If you have yet to use the Java AWT (Abstract Windowing Toolkit) it provides the programmer with an integrated set of classes from the java.awt package for the construction and management of a graphical UI (User Interface) that include, windows, buttons, dialog boxes, lists, menus, radio buttons, checkboxes. And of course you can download a zip with containing all the examples and run them live at Shimmer Island using the Jxxx online compiler. Please be sure to let us know how you get on

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Second Life water is almost wet

Second Life Blog I must say thet when faced with latest regular download of the Second Life client from Linden Labs the other day, which has now grown to around 32Mb, I did so with my now sense of resignation, but I must say the effect this latest release seems to have had on the visual quality of the sea surrounding my island is profound, well done LL for that, now I find myself starting to look forward to the next version.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

PHP Live

I have just completed the upload of my first book in the PHP series, Introducing PHP. The tutorial includes a live interpreter, PHP-Interactive, so you just copy and paste the code out into the editor window to see it run, no need for ftp or access to a cgi enabled web server. Please feel free to come over and give it try and let us know what you think.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Learn HTML at Shimmer Island

If you look on the first floor of the beach house, you will see that I have installed Starting HTML. This is the first in a series of short tutorials, that like our other programming self paced learning includes an on-line interpreter, so you will be able to run all your HTML withhout the need to leave Shimmer Island. You can take a look and tryout the HTML interpreter by Clicking here.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

AI Chatbot Zaphod

I have just built and installed Zaphod. He is linked to an AI (Artificial Intelligence) engine at pandorabot. To have a conversation with Zaphod just Touch him on the head and from the drop down menu select Activate , Hush puts him back to sleep, and talk using Chat. I am currently training him in the art of Shimmer speak. Having tried some of the conversational engines in the past, I do feel there is some potential here, so do please let me know how you get on.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

New C programming volume added

Just added the latest volume of notes to the interactive C Programming rack. Come along and try out our C tutorial with online compiler, and do let us know your thoughts on the materials please.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

hi this is LULU this is cool i would like to put my blog in SL

Lulu Minnelli

Saturday, 10 March 2007

CSS text styling tutorial

Have installed the first in a series of CSS tutorials on the first floor of the beach house. The facility includes an on-line interpreter, so you can design and run your all at the same time without the need to leave Shimmer Island. if you would like to take a look at the CSS interpreter click here.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Interactive JavaScript

I have just installed the first volume of my JaavScript course on the first floor of the beach house. Students can read through the tutorial and then by clicking on the Try it Live panel run the scripts in real time, modify them and run them again. If you have tried this facility, then please feel free to comment on this post and let know what you thought of it as a learning experience. Bye for now Skipper Abel

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Excellent idea!

Desideria Stockton

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hi from Lola, I really enjoyed the learning trials

LusciousLola Losangeles

Welcome from Skipper Abel

Hi everyone, I shall be using this blog to post news and developments from Shimmer-Island. Here the whole concept is for a virtual world, where both learning and persona can be realized to such a degree that students move around in the comfort of a physically familiar and aesthetically pleasing environment, selecting materials and experiences that suite their own immediate needs and or those of collaborative learning activities. Bye for now Skipper Abel