Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ebbe Altber's keynote speech at the Virtual World’s Best Practice in Education

I just listened to Ebbe Altber's keynote speech at the Virtual World’s Best Practice in Education. Ebbe is the new CEO of Lindenlab. The best news is that he wants to make the metaverse easier for all - consumers and creators! This speech was good news to us all!

He told us he was there to start the dialog, to figure out where to go from here. He has looked at branding and TOS and integration... “I am working with legal counsel to figure out how to make it more obvious or very obvious that creators own content” and Second Life are not wishing to lock it in but to make it easy to move to OpenSim.  “We have a breadth of content creators for many purposes. This is unique to SL. We should support everybody.
There is still so much to do to make the metaverse so much easier for all consumers and creators, even with all of the work that we are doing it is still too hard for many users.
Nobody else has an environment this open and where users take it where they want to take it.”

Future Technology
Most of the responses here are verbatim but not in speech marks in case there is something not perfectly accurate!

We are developing core tech, including Oculus. There is already a beta version
As the hardware develops, we will be next to it, we want you not to be looking at the world but being in it.
With Oculus we have worked focused on viewing experience, not yet the user interface.
The keyboard disappears; we want to explore how to make changes in how you interact with the world. With a full time liaison, you can think up a million things we COULD do but we need to prioritize. You won't all agree on what is top priority. It takes a lot of resources and time to engage in that conversation and that is a cost. Many are not up to speed on the topic, are biased, or are not experienced. It can add a lot of cost to involve everyone in design, we want to be more transparent, we want feedback, to learn from you, to correct things, we learn from watching what you do.”

Someone asked about the bad press and if it was possible to improve that status.  Ebbe said that SL got overhyped too early, some was self-inflicted, and maybe there was a hope that tens of millions would use it.
There came a backlash, it became bad or negative, that is unfortunate, there is a lot of good stuff happening here, not seen outside.  We want to correct this. The market is starting to embrace virtual reality.

Could the linden dollar spread outside Second Life?
Ebbe replied we would love to do that but it is a massive undertaking.
“I spoke earlier of compliance, to do compliance on a scale that bankers are comfortable with, we are fortunate to be so far along, nobody else is this far,  we want to make safer high volume transactions. We are talking about that, we have done all the compliance work to be in line with state and federal regulations.”

Are there any current projects you can share that will make the viewer easier to use and more intuitive?
One effort was not received well, to simplify it. I don't know why yet. Ultimately, in order for SL to grow, it has to become easier to use. It takes too much time to engage and immerse people and make them functional… we can't go mass market as we are today.

Following up, are there any plans in improving transparency with 3rd party viewer -  innovations may come faster
We do a decent job of collaborating with open source, Oz Linden interfaces with third party players.
That community adds value to provide other viewers optimum for other audiences.
WE can't do everything for all, those with disabilities, those on other platforms
We need those communities to help us.
I think we have a good relationship with the open source community.
It is a double edged sword, some open source developers took advantage and did nasty things.

What tech from HiFi be used in SL?
Ebbe- I hope it will create many advances many can benefit from to move virtual worlds and virtual reality forward. The more new hardware and interfaces, it moves us all forward.
 Philip and I know each other well, some of us will visit them in a couple of weeks to see demos
how we can help each other, it is early stages - I am transparent with Philip, we have assets that are valuable to them, and I hope we can collaborate.
I am interested in the work they are doing with bringing emotion into your avatar experience, see the expressions on a face, what emotions can be expressed visually, they are working in that area.
I want to be sure we provide that level of emotional capability to our avatars
We are aware that latency increases and impacts performance, further away from America you have increased latency and reduced sense of functionality , we are testing what aspects cause these issues, we have to create a lower latency tech, we need to push less data over the pipe.

You had mentioned that you were looking to allow people to export their content/  Will there be an export flag that will help?
Nothing we are doing technically prevents export. Many get their content out.
Maybe it is third party solutions, we are not preventing. Are we making it simple enough from our viewer?
Maybe we need to make that more streamlined, we are not preventing it, but we don't want it to be easy for others to rip people off.
I have to look at that. It's a permission issue?
Ebbe should there be permissions to allow export?
I need to understand it better. If you own it you can take it. Ownership is a complex issue for us to reduce copybotting and stealing.
We don't want to be inflexible, permissions, monitoring tools, preventing fraud, we want to protect you and your creations.
In the foreseeable future we will be working on the main grid without restricting what people can do, once we solve it so adults can use it, then we can go to attract other audiences, other special cases but no teen grid in the near term, I would love to do it, but it is priorities.
We need to make SL more welcoming, If ease of use and quality and tech more flexible, we may arrive at a place where it would not be cumbersome to offer to more dedicated special audiences, but this is not a top priority.
As people start to be inworld, with their relevant projects, they will see how their work can improve.
I hope more Lindens will come inworld to interact with users so that can be a more normal comfortable thing. If we do special meetings, what topics, who would facilitate? How do we make sure something actionable comes out of it? If there are interest groups, like an ed group, that wants to have a more regular check in, we can see which Linden would like to participate.
As in RL every hobby and interest group, there are only a few Lindens, how can we engage, that is a challenge. I am happy to spend some of my time learning but how to do it fairly and efficiently?
We have to do what will have the most benefit for the most people
None of this would exist without all we have done together.
If the community has things to do, if they want to invite us to participate, today you will find more people who can and are willing to participate.
We are all ears we want to figure out how to engage with all of you.
Unless we do something technical, nothing will change. If we have conversations, that won't be enough to create change.
My dream is to make this something a huge number of people can enjoy and contribute to, this is just the beginning, there is more to come.
Facebook buying Oculus is excellent. They see the future we have all been working on
OnLive third party using our open source technology will make a viewer for the tablet
We do have conversations; we collaborate with all 3rd party teams
They improved their pricing model.
You can reach out to individual Lindens if you think they are interested.
Ebbe -  like an interest group catalogue to know meeting times and formats.
I know Torley. I understand his role. He can go inworld and hang out as much as he feels he has the time to do so.
We are here. We are willing to listen and dialog.  We want to talk about the future. The doors are open again.
We want to know how to make you successful.
That's it. I'm here. I'm happy to talk with all of you.

I want to learn and listen. I want to make you successful.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Philip Rosedale talking about the future of education in Virtual worlds

A few notes taken whilst listening to Philip Rosedale talking about the future of education in Virtual worlds.

He says that in addition to hardware, we need fast networks and low latency, and software that enables high speed transmission - then we can be emotionally connected with everyone.  We can literally see into the eyes of our students. High Fidelity is starting to make this available right now!

The architect or structure for moving forward - identity continues to evolve, avatars need to express and experience empathy to create more dedication to their avatar. Choices - mechanisms to identify folks become necessary – so that you can prove who you are! We need a shared marketplace that is independent of all servers where you can exchange content. Hyperlinking, or a doorway from one place to the next has to be clear – with maybe a look-up system like DNS?

We will be developing an internetwork of virtual worlds – Opensim and Second Life have started. Open source and open protocols need to be used. (No off switch)

Currently we have to use a mouse, with 2 degrees of freedom, up/down or side to side, the new software has up to 12 degrees of movement!

We should be able to host a rock concert will need hundreds or maybe thousands of machines – we can do it! We are experimenting with this at High Fidelity. You can get a lot of machines on line quickly so it is technically feasible. If everyone on the internet were talking at the same time, there aren't enough servers. There are 1/2 to 1 million physical servers and SL uses a significant percentage of them.
The next generation of VWs is likely to be built on shared machines! The implication is that to get access to all those machines that is several orders of magnitude higher than we have now...

On a tech side note, like the Oh Wow of Oculus, we have to see more stuff in the world.
When you fly up in SL, why can't you see the whole thing? We need a technology even better than SL that allows us to see 10 miles in the distance.

The hardware that we are going to see come on the market are fundamentally open the doors
The new hardware, led by Oculus, will open the doors to higher and easier ways to interface with virtual environments. The Leap and Connect are powerful.  In High Fidelity we use the short range version.
Without the learning curve, the population will grow.

The Architecture needs to be open.

We will be able to teach, seeing the eyes of the students – students really looking at you and paying attention! We can do things with specialised audio with higher power machines. The big challenge is getting more machines in the mix.

The privacy issues are going to be rich. When people have their own VW servers, we make decisions of trust as avatars coming into servers. We must have negotiations with the server.

For lots more info read http://highfidelity.io/



Well having finally settled in mid Wales, New Quay to be exact we are developing a whole new lifestyle.



Things we do now that we never did before
  • Live according to the tide times – we plan the whole day around the tides being unable to walk along the beach at high tides we need to go when it is low tide J What a shock to go doggie walking and to find water up past the entry point to the beach because I was not watching the tide tables!
  • Do almost all of our shopping online! I used to live about 4 miles form a big, well known supermarket and dropped in most days to pick up odds and ends or do a proper shop.  Now, to get anything close to a big supermarket, and the term big is somewhat exaggerated here, we have to drive over 20 miles! When we do approach one of the two slightly larger towns, Aberystwyth or Cardigan we have a mile long list of bits and pieces to pick up.
  • Drink less coffee – I still can’t get used to the taste of coffee made with soft water
  • Wash hair less – again a soft water issue
  • I am still trying to perfect the art of drying and utilising seaweed – I know it is good for us, just not getting it right, yet!
  • Getting really good at remembering to take bags shopping – I get cross at having to pay for carrier bags but it is against the law for bags to be given out freely in Wales

Things I wish were better:
·         Bandwidth!  That and the hills will be the two reasons that we leave here in a couple of years. Every day without fail my internet drops – enough to put the router out and create the need for a full restart – it drives me crazy. One very famous internet provider say we should get better when I complain – then, two weeks later send me a text saying they hope my problem is over now – I ask why it would be – they can’t answer!

Things that we love:
  • Waking up to see the sea
  • Walking through the woods and on the beach
  • The people

Things we don’t love:
  •  Sandy, salty windows after a storm
  • Mud
  • The poor workmanship in the house meaning it is almost being rebuilt to get it into good order despite having a great report from the surveyor! 
  • Local Time – Pembroke time / Cardigan times / Welsh time etc – tomorrow often does not mean tomorrow, it is a term related loosely to some point in the future. This afternoon is not necessarily referring to any time today - just guess!
  • The nearest train station being more than 20 miles away
We will stay here for a while, we are too far away from out family really, have very mixed feelings about where we belong still talking about where our kids are as "home" but it is a complete change and mostly great :-)


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Testing a wordsearch maker


Make Your Own Word Search

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Aesop’s Fables - Machinima to aid language learning


Just recently I have been working with Hazel Workman to  create  whole new set of machinima based on Aesop’s Fables. We both love second Life and it has become great fun to see how we can be portray the characters, as there are just two of us so some crowd scenes have had to be done with various chroma key techniques, these are Hazel’s speciality!  
Machinima is such a new form of video we have been trying to think of new ways to engage language learners with them to enhance language teaching.
See the ones created so far:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTC04DLQU3U - The Bear and the Two travellers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCeFESuaEdg – The Fox and the Woodcutter
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SFuZKtvDhk – The Milkmaid and her Pail
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3mTRcmS5bM – The Dog and his Shadow

So what can we do with these machinima in language classes?


First thoughts:
·        To start with there is lots of discussion in these stories, there is unfamiliar, maybe old fashioned language to be investigated.
·        The quality of English is poor, it is hard not to improve it whilst recording them – advanced students could work to improve the language of the tales.
·        Students could do their own retelling of the story. Project the machinima, without sound into the classroom and allow students to relate their version of the story to their peers.
·        As a longer project allow students to use the video footage and make a new soundtrack and thus produce a new machinima.
·        Students could do a complete re-write of the story set in current times with two people instead of two animals, act them out in class, and possibly make a video of the new story.
·        Investigate how some of the morals have become everyday idioms, this could lead to lots more work on idioms. Following are the morals and a few idioms that I consider possible offshoots or at least would make good discussion openers in brackets.
o   Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. (A house divided against itself cannot stand.)
o   There is as much malice in a wink as in a word. (A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse.)
o   Not everything you see is what it appears to be. (All that glitters is not gold or aA Leopard can't change his Spots. )
o   Do not count your chickens before they are hatched. (Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.)
o   Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon. (Better to be safe than sorry.)
o   Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow. (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.)
o   We can easily represent things as we wish them to be.  (Sail under false colours, or, Something is not be what it is cracked up to be.)
o   Cunning often outwits itself.  (As cunning as a fox, or too clever by half, too clever for your own good.)

If you are able to use the machinima please share you experiences. To check on the rest, there are more in development, subscribe to my You Tube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmTOaApJW37OjkBmtkGw3xw

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Minehead and Estate Agents all over the place

One day we crossed the peninsular and went over to investigate all along from Minehead. We drove around looking at houses, eventually about 2pm we drove along the front, right out of the main area there was plenty of roadside parking and we came across a space right outside a pub with gardens. They were happy to have the dogs and we were happy to eat. We climbed the steps up to the beer gardens, ordered dinner chatted and looked around, it was lovely, lively, and there was lots of music at ground level. We did not spot any houses that we wanted to visit for a second time and returned to the caravan.

I was looking at houses on the web and spotted a house in Minehead that we had not seen. It was a good write-up, sounded like it had potential, looked nice, so we decided to go back and see it and another one on the Wednesday. Armed with the post code we retraced our steps and parked outside the house, it was right next door to the pub, the pub’s garden was adjoining the house garden, but none of the high level gardens showed in the picture! When we got back and looked at the picture on the web there were blue sky and clouds where we could see gardens… hmmmm – what a waste of a journey! The second house which we wanted to see, rural, large gardens etc looked pretty on the picture, no-one mentioned the electric pylon on the edge of the land overshadowing the house and garden – again it was not shown in the photos – what is the point, some of what I have seen goes beyond poetic licence and in my opinion is verging on blatant dishonesty.

I put a couple of requests for info in, stating quite clearly there had to be an acre of land or more, the condition of the house did not matter and it had to be rural and subsequently got blasted with hundreds of houses none of which had land or were rural… I think everything in my price range had been sent.

So far the British seaside around the areas that we have visited have been a huge disappointment. It is true that we have not been around the coast much in the UK in recent years. When and why did all the beaches ban dogs? That seems sad to me. Things have changed become more commercialised than ever and have largely been spoiled (IMHO) I am sure that others will disagree. 

Broad Haven Beach

Boton Haven - a pretty but tiny bay


Charmouth allows dogs after 6pm so each evening we drive the 13 miles there to walk along the beach and looked for fossils or just looked at what the children there had found as they walked along proudly clutching their finds. 



 As well as the beach there is the actual river mouth too.






Surprise in Weymouth

We searched along the coast towards Weymouth for suitable houses to buy and approached Portland towards lunchtime. We stopped to eat and were suddenly surprised by seeing The Red Arrows - it was a festival day in Weymouth! So from the suburbs we had an amazing presentation. Sadly most of it was behind houses and telephone wires, we had been totally unprepared to take photos, we never knew it was happening!

A friend posted this video link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRaK2ni9UAg&feature=youtu.be thanks Hazel :-)