Thursday, 30 October 2008

Scratch for Second Life

During the summer MIT Media Lab’s Eric Rosenbaum released Scratch 4 Second Life. I heard a fair bit about it at the time but never got round to trying it out.  Yesterday a new SL member showed me what he had created with it so I decided to have a really good go and see what it can do.  So now, whilst on leave, I have had a play with it.

Like the educational Scratch program it is snap together blocks so very easy to use. Basically you make choices based on what you want it to do and choose the relevant blocks, e.g. choose a control block based on a touch start, collision, something received or on rez, add motions, looks, sounds etc., to suit your needs and ask it to create the script. This can be pasted into a new script facility in your item to be activated inside Second Life. The two programs run side by side.

I have managed to make a spinning cube art build, see photograph, something that I have been puzzling about for a while, so am actually quite thrilled with that. However I am a bit worried that the script generated is so long and seems rather cumbersome. Other people have said Scratch can produce laggy script, looking at this one I can easily believe that. As I replicated the script I had made about 20 times in 20 objects I fear this could be a problem. Sadly I cannot understand the script enough to be able to build it better myself, though I am still trying.

I am going to use the several scripts that I have created and see how it performs. I am really pleased with the one that I have been puzzling about and it has inspired a new one that I am going to make now.

It is certainly a very good option for people with either no or only rudimentary knowledge of LSL scripting and really good fun!

Music files in Second Life

I have been making Christmas decorations in Second Life and felt quite hampered but the ability to play only 9.8 second sound clips in some of the items. For many, the animations, Christmas lights etc.  9 seconds  is fine but for other pieces - central decorations like the wall or Christmas trees I felt I wanted the whole piece of music.

I have been playing with Psyke’s music script and using it very successfully. I am really quite pleased with it as others had said it was not good. I think it is a matter of getting the clip lengths right in the first place – that is a bit of a long winded job.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Coffee with Gavin Dudeney

Sunday evening saw the start of a new series of seminar type events on EduNation - A Coffee With...

The first of these was host Nik Peachy interviewing Gavin Dudeney about language teaching in Second Life. 

As I arrived the two men were just getting set up, the audience quickly gathered with a few people who had arrived early coming back. The change of clocks around parts of the globe had confused timings.

Nik introduced Gavin who talked briefly about his work. He was to be talking about language learning / teaching in Second Life. 

Nik asked about how successful langauge learning is in SL and Gavin said that he felt there were problems with trying to learning the basics of a language in Second Life but benefits of actually practising the language once the basics are acquired. He talked anecdotally of his own experiences. After my attempts to learn Spanish I am inclined to agree. I am pretty well convinced that I need to find a real life Spanish class, I can’t converse with anyone in Second Life in Spanish without rapidly resorting to using Babel Fish or an in-world translator to translate for me. That somewhat defeats the object but enables a meaningful conversation. After about nine months of attempting – sort of – to learn Spanish I still have no clue :-)

Nik asked about the use of Moodle, and was it still important with teaching in Second Life. Gavin responded that it is important as a tool to be used alongside Second Life, it facilitates much of the learning process. It is quite possible for people from a variety of places to work together in real time and in-world but each of these sessions ideally should leads to work that can be done either individually or in small groups as follow up, Moodle can help in that process, it can be a store for digital resources and enables a discussion forum so that course participants can communicate with each other asynchronously. 

One of Gavin’s main concerns about language teaching in Second Life is the less than adequate text facility. Voice is well established and is very stable but text facilities still leaves a lot to be desired with note cards being the only really safe means of exchanging written information. To try to overcome this problem he has been developing a whole range of word games which people can use. They are all freely available from Dudeney’s shop on EduNation 11

It was well attended and a very pleasant event, the atmosphere lovely although quiet. The audience is still a little shy. There was text chat asking Gavin various questions but none of the audience spoke.

It was entertaining to listen to and watch - especially to watch Gavin throw his coffee over his shoulder with amazing regularity   :-)

Addendum 1st November - a video clip from the event filmed and poduced by interviewer Nik Peachy


Wow – a long time since I have written an entry! It has been very busy at work and I have been very busy in Second Life – so no spare time :-) Now I am on leave for a week so lots of time to catch up.

I started playing around with sound files for Halloween, and after the success of the Burning Life display built some Halloween themed musical resources along the same lines – walk through, step on etc. So many people who visited my little plot on EduNation enjoyed them they started nagging me to start selling them. 

We had already given up the shop just a few weeks after opening it so there was not much chance. On looking around for somewhere suitable I found that the shops are all small, have a fair number of prims but not much physical space. It just did not seem possible to be able to sell them from a shop as they need to be seen and experienced rather than flat packed with a picture. My search led me to the island of Sadie where Sexxxy Bliss runs a Halloween mall. She was happy for me to have the front lawn – so a new shop was created! 

Sexxxy has only just acquired the sim so the island mall is not well established yet but it promises to be good and to change with the festival. So with Halloween this coming weekend, I am trying to create Christmas stock to replace the Halloween stuff.

I have learned a new technique from in world from an in-world friend, see Tidal Blog on the right!   
After going to Information Island in-world and asking how I could upload animated gifs to be used in-world and told specifically it could not be done, this was a really nice find. I can now upload animated gifs to add to posters to play in-world. I am adding music to them that plays with a touch script and they are proving popular. One prim, action and sound – not bad value, especially if you are trying to add seasonal decorations on a shoestring of prims. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Burning Life part 2

Ah well ... I had intended to keep this up to date with events during the week but failed :-)

I had a wonderful time, made new friends some of whom I intend to keep in touch with, took a load of pictures, a few of which can be seen here and had a look a lots of inspiring builds. The music machine was out of this world - synchronised loops, with extra bells and whistles - it was quite amazing and kept me interested for several hours.  I loved the teacups that reached the sky, the temple that was falling down and out itself together again, the snowcamp... and many more bits I can't think of at the moment.

Lolly's paintings were just wonderful, I am going to go into Second Life in a second or two and add them to the start of this page.

From somewhere I picked up the most beautiful blue flower, a ball gown and lots of other bits. It will take me a week to sort out what I have and what to do with it - but - the inspiration for next year's build is in my mind already. I have a year to get it right then need to hope for a place to put it.

So thanks to all new friends for making it a wonderful experience, and to old friends for the amazing support I feel very lucky and privileged to have been a part of it.