Wednesday, 24 December 2008

It's Christmas!

How have I missed that particular line of a very well known Christmas song so far this year? What a delightful time of year. After a pretty dreadful autumn weatherwise it is very mild here. I have been cooking and just taken the dogs out for a walk, it will soon be time for visitors to arrive and the celebrations to begin.

As usual, in between times, I am playing around on the computer. I have followed someone else's (thanks Gavin - your words are better than mine) recent blog back to its source and created my own word cloud based on my Twitters from the last seven or eight months.

I think it is easy to see that I don't take my life or work nearly seriously enough :-) Maybe I should put MacBeth in and see what a sensible word cloud looks like!

Hmm - no comment on that :-)

I have suddenly been asked to do several small things in Second Life, and am preparing to run, with a colleague, our very first course in there. It has taken a long time to start to break into the educator's group in-world but it is happening, which I find very exciting!

Ah well - I have nothing really to say, just rambling - so I will give up and wish you all a very merry Christmas and the happiest, best possible 2009.

Monday, 15 December 2008

First Teaching Session in Second Life

Last night was, for me, a very exciting event. It was the very first session that I have done in Second life. It was a demonstration of some new language teaching tools at the request of Anna Begonia. I imagined it was going to be a very small event but actually quite a lot of people turned up, that was more to do with Anna’s persuasiveness than anything that was on offer. J

Having not been even remotely excited about it before the event, training is very “normal life” for me and the preparation for this was no different to anything else I do, but, after the event, which finished at midnight, I was so exhilarated that I could not sleep.

I am not going to beat myself up over a first training event, and on the whole, it was not bad. People enjoyed it and went off with two new items to use in their teaching, but, it could have been better!

I was demonstrating and talking in English, but most people there were Italian and did not speak English. Anna was translating everything I said. I am used to cutting instruction to bare bones, simple steps etc., so we worked well as a pair, however someone’s sound failed. At this point Daffodil stepped in and typed what I was saying in English. So we had a three man presentation. Many, many thanks to both Anna and Daffodil without whose help it would have been disastrous. Of course I should have had everything that I was going to say already prepared as a text, and the text available in a note card – why didn’t I? This I knew but somehow had not associated it with what I was doing, very strange! Anyway I am doing a repeat event soon and that will be greatly improved.

The biggest problem that I found was that people present had rezzed their own prims, not just used mine and when I came to clean up I selected everything, hit the delete key and only about two thirds of the stuff disappeared. I could not clean up what others had made, neither could I return it. So I had to write grovelling apologies to the landowner, put it all in a neat little heap and ask him to get rid of it.

So not an SL virgin teacher any longer, I am delighted at having done it and with lessons that I have learned! It is a pity the audience did not get the best performance possible but we all have to start somewhere.

I have just seen Anna's video clip of the event  :-)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Second Visit to Twinity

In the frequently asked questions section of the Twinity website it says that

"You can explore different locations, meet new people, pimp your avatar and apartment, and generally have fun!"

It seems that you cannot build or script.  I can buy stuff and set up an apartment if I want to but I don't so apart from wandering around there does not seem to be a lot for me to do. That maybe because I don't know anyone here, though I seem to have one friend and that is clever, I had no idea...

It would seem that there is a plan for people to be able to upload artefacts that they have made into Twinity, "we are working on that" but I guess scale etc. could be an issue here and it does not look as if they are working to enable building and scripting.

I walked around virtual Berlin - the advert says to "take a walking tour and see the sights," yes they are pretty and I guess I could learn my way around if I wanted to. I started to investigate several buildings that seemed to have doors, but really they don't. They are external images only, unlike SL, where someone would design and build the whole building down to the tiniest details, all that is missing from the buildings in Twinity - mostly because avatars cannot build I guess!

So doors are not for walking though, bicycles are not for riding, daytime (CET) is daylight and night-time is dark. Avatars are, or can be, fairly realistic.

It is easy to chat to people and listen to the background music that is already set up.

I guess all that is left for me to do is make my apartment :-(

In Twinity at the moment there is not much to capture my attention. In Second Life - where I am happy to spend hours, I have a group of friends, places that I like to spend time and places to investigate. I am delighted to meet up with friends and chat, about life, the world, education etc., but if I am alone, as I frequently am, I can build and pretend to script and still really enjoy myself. I am not too bothered by being there alone as I am occupied. Sometimes, between projects I am looking for inspiration, the next project, then I may get fed up, but as soon as I am hooked on a project idea I enjoy it again. The big difference between the two is the ability to create.

I can't go back in and make an apartment or house or flat, I have a real life one to look after and clean etc., that project just holds no fascination at all, I would put my avatar in it and she would probably never come out. I can't cope with that :-) I will leave her outside and free, then if I visit again I will join her in looking around any new builds.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

First visit to Twinity

I have downloaded and joined Twinity and am trying to visit Berlin. The first thing I can say is that it is incredibly slow! I thought Second Life was slow at times but not nearly as slow as where I am now.  I guess virtual Berlin is made up of very high quality pictures that have to be downloaded. It is taking forever on a very high spec machine. We are talking minutes here to get into the city centre!

Not being able to fly is a bit of a surprise, I am used to it :-) only running, walking and teleporting seems a little strange after all this time.

I have created my avatar and bought a top, that seems to have disappeared with the first teleport and I am back in the standard blue Twinity t shirt again.  Maybe it will turn up in some sort of inventory when I can find it.  I am  still trying to load Berlin at the moment so I can't do anything else. 

After a quick look at the museum, which did not seem to have much in the way of artefacts in it, I visited the 80s club in Almeria, Spain and enjoyed the pop-art Marilyn Monroe images, there was English music playing  - but I guess that is fine :-) 
I can't open the door to get out though - stuck here forever - Help!!

Ah - I have been here about 30 minutes and crashed out twice - well that is familiar at least!

As I enter for the third time I seem to be in a mens'  shop in Berlin, they are talking in German on the radio but there are no people in sight, in fact the whole place seems very deserted!

If I click on the globe to choose somewhere to go it takes ages to load the page, in that time it is loading I can't talk to anyone. I can't talk to someone and say let's go to XXXX, it does not minimise and if you close it to talk it takes ages to load again - strange!

I can buy a flat, but do I need one in a virtual world? My answer is no thanks! I want to build and create. That is to be my next investigation.

The Twinity motto is "Be nice" but after about 12 minutes waiting for a destination to load I do not feel like being nice I feel quite frustrated and have cancelled the teleport deciding I am never going to get there. Well it seems to have slowed beyond being able to do anything at all so giving up for tonight!

A few general comments, I am there at night and it is dark - reasonable - but I can't find a way to make it light so I can't see much of the town, it is not all lit up as it may be in Second Life. I am used to visiting clubs and seeing a huge variety of artefacts,  furniture, club paraphernalia , lights, decks, drinks, bars and dancers, all of these are missing in Twinity. Musical backgrounds are there, and I think videoing scences is easy but I can't find a way of taking a snapshot. I think, at the moment, I have not found much of what Twinity has to offer, I will keep investigating.

More tomorrow :-)