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Friday, 2 October 2009

Outting life into Second Life

A little while ago, weeks, I was reading an article on the growing number of virtual worlds and their individual merits or not as the case may be; cannot recall now if this was in a magazine or web. Anyway, when it came to SL, the author made the observation and given the comparisons with other virtual worlds, it was a valid point, that there was not much life in Second Life. Sure you have your avatars wandering around with the odd tree blowing in the wind and of course the buildings that our avatars use or occupy; all signs of life, but apart from that very often not much seems to happen, well maybe. Anyway I thought lets try changing that and see if it makes a difference to my virtual impressions, so I went along to the Aminata Sim

Outside of the main learning space, I changed in waterfront to accomodate a couple of Dolphins. Like dolphins do, they swim around a predifined area, make dolphin sounds and click away with enthusiasm. My impressions very nice actually.

Tortoise seemed to be a suitable addition to a sub-tropical type of environment. These two and you get a choice of size and wandering area, crawl around just as you would expect, with I must say some very realistics movements, though there is no sound. In fact from my limited experience of the tortoise, they only make sounds when eating, though I am sure experts will correct me on that one. Impressions realistic

The Cranes are really good, they walk around a defines area moving heads bending over and making Crane noises, not those that I would have expected, so I learnt something there. Impressions very good and realistic.

The pink Flamingo's are really very much like the Cranes and I suspect much the same code engines driving them. I created a small wetland type of area for them to wander around and they perform reliably, as do their calls, something else I have learnt, you can detect I am sure that there is a thread emerging here.

On the other side of a small inlet, where if you have been a visitor I keep the boat. I purchased and placed two paddling Pelicans and a Toucan. The pelicans wander around their placement area very happilly, while the Toucan will fly off at random times returning to his perching place, have a look around and off again. And of course all the while making their calls, more surprises for me.

I have not mentioned the seven free roaming seagulls, a flying parrot, and two flocks if that is the correct term, and I bet it isnt of butterflies.

So Virtual impressions. Well I certainly learnt something about birds, and without a doubt it has put a whole new feel to the island, so in conclusion I do actually feel that its worth putting some life into Second Life.

Your feedback is welcome

Monday, 21 September 2009

Shimmer Island RSS on the move

If you take a look on the right side bar of this blog, you will see that we can now offer you an RSS feed to your mobile. Simply click on the image, a popup web page will take you to the site. From here you can either use the top left page controls to scroll content or more desirably post the address to you mobile. If you do try this option out, then naturally we would appreciate your feedback.
Bye for now Skipper

Saturday, 19 September 2009

REZ magazine

The September 2009 edition of REZ magazine is now available for reading at Shimmer Island, so feel free to teleport over any time for a browse of its popular and informative pages. While you are standing on the first floor reading area, you may become aware of some clicking sqwark noises, these are the dolphins, just look at the in-shore seaward side of the obersvation platform and you will be sure to see them jumping and splashing around.

Shimmer-Island, where eLearning and virtual worlds meet.

Running OpenSim

On the left here you can see a quick screen shot of our OpenSim(Open Source version of what amounts to Second Life), on a local server here at Bromley College. Though the software is at present only in Alpha release, we have been running some tests with building and scripting, including physics, which all seem to be performing very well and we certainly intend taking the project forward. If you are interested in setting up your own OpenSim, then you may like to stay in touch with the technical details by following this link to the blog maintained by Clive Gould


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Freebie Beach

Approaching the Shimmer Island from the sea the other day, I was surprised to see how many crates of freebies had washed up onto the shore. So if you are teleporting bye some time you may like to have a browse and see whats new.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wind Turbine case study published

For those of you who have been following my Wind Turbine project here in SL, you may like to know that JISC have now published a case study of it on their Excellence Gateway. If you would like to read the material in-world just wander over to the hill top News Gazebo and be sure to have your browser set to popups enabled.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Off-SIM Island

I was standing having a casual look out to sea from the beach at Shimmer Island the other virtual day toward an open horizon, when I began to think it may be nice to add something off-shore, beyond the boundary of the sim.

This is where I discovered an add on xstreetsl from Zunie Button, which read:- !!!ENLARGE YOUR LAND!!! Offsim /outside sim Island - with sit animations ENLARGE your land with this OFFSIM ISLAND.!!! NOT ONLY VISUAL, you can even sit on it !!!!ONLY 19 PRIMS, include:- 5 of my palmtrees and shadows- 1 sitting palmtree with lay animation- 1 sitting rock with bath animation- 2 boxes with sit animation(no script menu enable for offsim items).

This produced just th effect I was looking for, at only L$10

While I am not actually able to walk around on my new island residence, I can take a sit option from one of the wooden boxes and look back to shore or rotate the camera controls. All in all a good deal and easy setup.

Please feel free to teleport over anytime and give it a try

regards Skipper

Friday, 26 June 2009

Zen Meditation

Looking around Shimmer Island these days I think the old place is beginning to look a whole lot more comfortable and realistic. I then began to think about maybe including some new features that were not necessarily associated with virtual learning, maybe along the lines of simulations for my visitors. I know that dance areas are popular in Second life, but its not just about the popularity, I wanted something that while being at best of use and at least amusing, I remembered that the oldest of our girls had recently qualified as Yoga teacher, brilliant for that, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show that the avatar in the family was maybe not as disconnected from life as maybe suspected. The result was a couple of very cheep L$5 Zen yoga cushions from Ei Yue with poses and copy, so I only had to actually buy one even better. Next I purchased the Zen Flow water feature from Myla Carter, just to make for some ambience, and, not bad. If you feel like a teleport over to Shimmer Island for some meditation with poses to the sound of waves and seagulls then please feel free. Of course if you would like to try yoga for real, then drop Amanda an email from her weloveyoga web page.

Bye for now Skipper

Sunday, 21 June 2009

New palms

I was watching the screen from xstreetsl scroll through its random products the other day when I saw an add for scupted palms from Tobias Novi. These palms are 2 prims for eight and they can cover 15, 20, 25 and 32 mtrs. If you would like to include an animated shadow, then this is one extra prim, at just under L$500 they seemed a good deal so I teleported over for a closer look. I was immediately impressed by the graphical qaulity of the trees and the shadowing, so went for a couple of models to replace the foliage that I had been assembly over the last year or so for my sim at Shimmer Island. The effect was transforming.
After purchasing some very convincing wave effects recently from Real Waves, seven free roaming seagulls and now the palms, I am beginning to realise that modelling in Second Life is becoming incerasingly realistic and convincing from those early days a few years ago when I first joined.
Please feel free to teleport over at any time for a browse.

Skipper Abel

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The game nearly begin

My level 3 students following a Games Development module are currently exploring SL as a platform for developing Games. The storyline requires they collaboratively design and build a castle, and each group has just about completed this. Today they have been busy installing some transparent Sentinel (these are the guardians of knowledge) rezzers, in the grounds. If you would like to teleport over anytime and review the progress or wander around then feel free, though beware as you may be pursued by some rather familiar looking Sentinels.

My level 3 students following a Games Development module are currently exploring SL as a platform for developing Games. The storyline requires they collaboratively design and build a castle, and each group has just about completed this. Today they have been busy installing some transparent Sentinel (these are the guardians of knowledge) rezzers, in the grounds. If you would like to teleport over anytime and review the progress or wander around then feel free, though beware as you may be pursued by some rather familiar looking Sentinels.

Regards Skipper Abel

Monday, 8 June 2009

Free Plants

Having a stroll along the beach at Shimmer Island the other evening, and I came across a new box of free plants had been washed up onto the shore. Feel free to teleport over anytime and take a copy.
regards Skipper

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Making Waves

After completing the work on my Fun with Physics skybox the other day,I started to look around my sim at Shimmer Island and realised that it had been a long time since I last carried out any work on the environment itself. And so I decided to include some waves. There are a lot of wave resources avaliable in SL, some really lost cost or even free options, though these are often little more than moving textured water or water textures on the surface of a rotating cyclinder, OK it looks a bit like a wave but I really wanted something a little more ambitious. As usual with these things, my first reaction is to have a teleport around to find what I am looking for, and then see if I can make something similar, as good, or even better myself. After not too long I soon discovered that you can get some really nice wave effects for very low cost and went for 16x25 Realistic Waves by Antreas Alter, at just under $L200 and copyable, it just was not worth the effect of sourcing textures and scripting. Teleport over any time and take a look.
Bye for now Skipper

Monday, 1 June 2009

Fun with Physics

As part of the Developing Computer Games module for my level 3 students, and following the success of their Second Life Wind Turbine project, I decided once again to make use of the virtual world in the development of a quiz style shoot-em up scenario. While students had carried out some work with Linden Script during the first project, I felt they would appreciate a refresher and a little more depth in their knowledge, and so a few weeks ago I started to produce a series of short tutorials, which are free to access at the main hall on Shimmer Island. It was as I was producing the last in the current series, which looks at some basic physics functions, I realised in order demonstrate how objects behave when they become physical with regard to factors such as material type and applied forces, including the wind, it would be of some value to include a few actual simulations. The outcome is the ‘Fun with Physics’ skybox. I have included the slurl below, so please free to drop over any time and have some fun with physics. The project is I suspect going to be very much a work in progress, and hopefully will include some input from the group.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Castle Bromlestein good to go

With the work on the Castle Bromlestein progressing well, I decided to upload some video tutorials for the student to view. One to show in a very general way, how the game is played. Then a longer video on the way the SL Forum posting works. You can see the videos in the media room of the main hall at Shimmer Island.

Monday, 25 May 2009

More treasure washes up

More treasure seems to have found its way to the shores of Shimmer Island, with the recent arrival of a crate containing 18 free vehicles. Please feel free to teleport over and help your self to a copy.
Bye for now Skipper

Sunday, 24 May 2009

LSL particle tutorial

As you wander around the landscape of Second Life, you will sooner or later come across effects that replicate the appearance of such things as falling rain, snow and leaves, eruptions of smoke and explosions. These features, when inevitably you come across them, will have almost certainly been produced by the client side effect known as Particles. In this tutorial we shall be looking at particles and the means by which they are produced. After completing the tutorial you will have covered:

Appreciate the use, structure and calling of functions
Make use of various particle patterns
Understand the RGB colour coding system
Set the size, rate, speed and colour of particles
Set the location, transparency and colour change of particles
Produce a particle emitter that simulates rain
Produce a particle emitter that simulates smoke
Make use of textures as particles
Make use of particle name-value pairs
Use particle flags

Thursday, 21 May 2009

LSL decisions and loops book

I have rezzed a third LSL tutorial book into the main hall of the library learning space area of Shimmer Island, and as with others in the series, please feel free to take advantage of the popup webpage nature of the medium to to take a full copy for your own use.

In this tutorial covers the basic requirements for the implementation of decision or branching structures in a script and then goes on investigate various means by which we can execute instructions through a sequence of iterations in a loop

  • The tutorial will cover

    Logical Operators and their use
    Relational Operators and their use
    Making simple decisions with the if() structure
    Using the if…else combination
    Using the if…else combination
    Implementing multiple if() statements
    Using nested if() statements
    The for() loop structure and its components
    Implementing nested for() loops
    Making decisions within loops
    The while() loop structure
    The do..while() loop structure

Monday, 18 May 2009

LSL Numbers and Operators

The second book in the Linden Script series for my level 3 students is now available in-world. The topics covered here are the various types of mathematical operator and number types used in LSL, which is going to be very reminiscent of those they should already be familiar with in Java, so I anticipate no real problem here. The numbers side looks at the types of numeric variable available in LSL, this is less than those in Java. The means by which we bring variables into existence through either declaration or initialisation is essentailly the same. One area they should feel familiar with is that of casting variable types, though now its almost exclusively in relation to the llSay function, at least as far as my exercises go anyway. I have also taken the opportunity to explore the use of constants such as PI illustrating through example. I have also taken the opportunity to explore the way in which different types of rounding function are applied. Hopefully all this is going to prove of use in the comming project.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Linden Script guides

With my level 3 year 2 students set to commence their new SL project in Games Design this week, I decided to put together some introduction type guides for Linden Script. The first book simply shows them how to use the editor and compile scripts while introducing some of the basic functions and components. I have also managed to locate an online Linden Script interpreter that they can use as a validator for their scripts. This feature will be useful because access to the virtual world is restricted in the college a single computer room, so any script development will have to go on hold until they are either in that room or at home, now they can at least develop and test scripts from any internet connection. There are some more tutorials on the way for Linden Script that build upon my students current understanding of programming in C and Java. The books utilise a web popup, which means the materials can readilly be copied and pasted, so removing the need for a download option.

Friday, 15 May 2009

New Notice Board

As I am continuing to add new facilities to the sim at Shimmer Island, I thought it would be an idea to let everyone that visited know in some way. After looking around xstreetsl for a while I came across a cheap multicolour text display board and hung it in the entrance of the main tutorial hall. Oh yes, and just above is the new REZ magazine vendor; magazine reading seems to be very popular here at Shimmer Island.

Monday, 11 May 2009

SL Game Project

I am about to start a new project with my level 3 students in the design of computer games. The environment for the development will be Second Life and the game will be a combat learning zone, where I hope to see students exploring various strategies in their attempt to get the highest scores while under attack from aliens. I have also installed my SL forum block. My intention is to encourage the students to post essages including emails from the block. I have not used this before but I anticipate seeing the emergence of a 3D forum posting, which in itself may reveal some interesting and possibly meaningful development patterns. Stay in touch for progress...Skipper

Friday, 17 April 2009

Freebee on the beach

A new crate has been washed up on the beach here at Shimmer Island. On close inspection it seems to be full of particle scripts, so if you need any just Teleport over and take a copy.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Social networking vidos

For everyone out there who needs a quick reference to those questions that start, so how do I use or make use of this, here is a site that has collected some really useful introductory videos on a whole batch of social networking sites, worth a watch and bookmark.

Second life and eLearning

Looking around the blogs recently I came across this very encouraging view from David Hopkins eLearning Blog / Dont waste your time..., it reminds me of the comment I read, but cannot recall where exactly now, of the three main advantages that Second Life can offer over other candidates for an engaging eLearning experience, they are Social, Social, Social.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

This is what Second Life should be like

I found this on the sled, a fascinating blog and must see video

"This is what Second Life® should be like, (and sometimes is)." at

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Edu Faire 2009

I went along to the education faire 2009 and it seemed certainly from my impression though I actually have no statistics to be the largest to date. Some really interesting and unusual exhibits including a group featuring Shakespeare and it seemed a lot of languages. The universities and companies where out in force and there were plenty of freebies to collect and groups to join and people to chat with. These events are always useful as well as being just plain fun, so well done to the organisers and presenters.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Wind Turbine Project Feedback

Following the completion of my SecondLife Wind Turbine project January 09, I have published the raw spreadsheet results as a pdf file that you can access from this link. The project was the result of work carried out by a group of my level 3 students at Bromley College who are currently enrolled on the BTEC National course in Software Development.

At this point in time I have yet to produce any charts of analysis of the results, though a superficial look at the numbers do give some encouraging signs for the use of the Second Life platform in main stream delivery.

You will see form the data that students have not attempted all questions and this may be a reflection on the size of the final survey, which was larger than I originally intended.

The questions I used here represent a subset of those contained in an original student survey produced by Tanya Joosten, Learning Technology Center, Department of Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

If you have any comments or feedback on the data I would be pleased to hear from you

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Generating green SL electricity

  1. The screen shot taken here shows the second group working on the wind turbine project. having managed to accomodate the building they are now in the process of scaling the blades and scripting in the formula to see just how much electrical power is available. So far this has proved to be a very popular and successful project, my initial reservations of translation problems with students moving from Java to Linden Script seem to have been unfounded I am pleased to say.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Group B wind turbines

The first group today was B and by the end of the morning all students had their turbines rotating in the Second Life wind, with six out of nine generating virtual electricity in the form of screen messages.
A good mornings work really

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

The Start of the Project

This week I started to make formal use of SL as part of my course delivery. We get around the college proxy and closed port issues by have a parallel network on a Linux subnet and a dual boot PC facility in one of our workshops. The task that I had set my students, there are around 20 in all, was to create a wind turbine in SL, whose blades would turn in the wind. To keep the project easy I did not use a physical object but demonstrated how the value for wind speed could be found and then fed into llTargetOmega(). For the majority of the students this was their first time in SL. I sent them all a slurl address, which they loaded into their browsers. It did soon became clear to me that bringing anyone into such a rich, immersive and social environment is going to be a pretty overwhelming experiences for the senses, and so after a basic lightning tutorial I simply let them go and explore the facility and have fun for about a hour, which represented the first half of our double period.

At the start of the second session, I demonstrated building showing how to access my in-world video tutorials. In the first they simply used a note-card giver that provided them a wind strength script, that they placed into a simple block prim, every time they touch the prim, the chat channel displayed wind speed. This was followed by a tutorial on creating the turbine blades and the script needed to rotate them. Finally they all got to texturise their creations and take copies back into Inventories.

I must say that the end result with so many of the devices running though granted not yet generating power, did impress me.

The project will continue over the next couple of weeks so if you would like to teleport over to take a look then please do at :-

One aspect of the exercise that did surprise me was the way in which different personalities conduct themselves in an VR like SL, but more of this in the evaluation phase.
Bye for now Skipper Abel

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Back in-world

Well the Shimmer Island facility with its programming and scriptimg tutorials, museum of computing, educators resources and crates of freebies is I am pleased to say back in world and running. As you will find the the layout of the plac is different, as now I have a low prim quater sim. I have abandoned the beach house and made some accomodation of my own. This year I have finally gotten around to running more by way of formal classes and exercises in-world. The first of these is a wind turbine project that the students developed originally using Java, anyway you can read up on this and watch the supporting video material along with a slide show when you get to teleport along. Look forward to seeing you, please feel free to IM or drop a message on the post board, and if you would like to keep in touch with our activities here then why not join the Shimmer group, its completely free.

Bye for now, back soon with a project report, Skipper