Friday, 30 April 2010

Kirsten’s New Second Life Viewer

This evening I decided to try Kirsten’s new viewer and after the first five minutes I am very impressed. When I went into the new SL Viewer 2 it took ages to import my inventory etc., but this was instant.
The side bar does not have to be present, not even the tiny tabs and that really is a bonus. It can be minimised to the bottom bar out of the way giving a much clearer view of the desktop.

I love having the map and minimap as well as inventory buttons at the bottom of the screen under my right hand and mouse – being right handed it is instant access and switch off if I don’t want to see either, they are just where I like most of my frequently used icons, top of left is so far out of my normal reach I tend not to use icons over there :-)
The view controls are good, very versatile! I am sure that I am imagining it but the depth of vision seems to be much better and as the menu tabs are not on the left the whole image seems vast and clear.

The viewer is very quick. I was teleporting from place to place and the textures were rezzing very quickly. Admittedly they were places that I often visit, but these places were not cached – it was the first visit with this viewer!

For lots more information visit
To download it visit

Friday, 16 April 2010

Expanding training opportunities in Second Life

Well it is the last day of my 6 days leave, I have just about caught up and, though not quite ready for next week decided to see how our idea of providing Learning Platform training nuggets in Second Life may work out.

First I thought I needed to stream my desktop into Second Life so that delegates could watch what I was doing and then practice on their own computer – so stream I did, I used my laptop to stream from and my desktop to be in SL to explain the process etc. It was okayish but not as clear as I had hoped.

Thinking more about it I realised that I could do the whole demo live in Second Life – all I need to do is share my login details for the session. If everyone logs in as me they can see exactly what I am doing as if I was doing it on a whiteboard in front of them in our training room – also – just like using the IWB they could take over and try bits of it out! In fact each person attending could make a blog post and add to a wiki better than simply on an IWB in the training room as all have equal access all of the time :-)

As soon as the session is over I change the password for the login we are all using an the site is secure again. 

That is the theory – I need a few willing volunteers to come into SL with viewer 2 so that I can try it out!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

A life well lived & odd memories

Richard Gordon Rutter

Richard or Dick as he was affectionately known by many, was born in Walsall on 10th Feb 1925 and was the youngest of 7 children and last surviving family member.
He was a loving father to three children Carol, Lindy and Mike, with nine grand children and three great grand children.

His childhood days were spent at Palfrey school in Walsall, and when not at school he was regularly expected to work in the family allotment with brother Jim, for his few farthings pocket money.

His first proper job was for a transport company called Hickenbottom’s, this position was short lived because at the tender age of 19, he was called up for the army joining his three elder brothers. When posted abroad, not wanting to worry his parents he wrote several letters and asked a mate to post them periodically saying that he was training in the south of England and it was only when his parents read about him in the local paper did they realise he was at war.

During his army days some of which are well documented he was made up to Sergeant Major and courageously led his men into battle many times unfortunately loosing a lot of friends and colleagues along the way. During the war he was awarded the military medal which he was very proud of and was even talking about it the day before he died. He was asked where he won the medal and although he was very confused about most day to day things he clearly understood the question and replied “Normandy.”

In January 1948 after the war he was called to work in the Gambia with displaced Africans, trying to set up new villages, clearing forests etc.  During his time there he was presented with an ebony elephant to bring back to England. He arrived back in the UK in November 1948 to the family home on the Broadway in Walsall. The elephant was put away in a draw and forgotten about.  Soon after arriving home he started to have a run of bad luck.  A lady stopped him on the street one day and explained that his run of bad luck was due to the elephant. He returned home, found the elephant and burnt it, sure enough life seemed to get better. Apparently Elephants do not like to be locked away.

He started a new job working for the BRS as a long distant lorry driver.  Whilst driving he was away from home one night and parked up in a lorry park. Whilst walking about the lorry park he smelled something burning, he wandered around for a few minutes looking and realised it was one of the parked lorries. The solenoid had stuck on this lorry. Richard fetched a crow bar from his lorry and levered the battery leads off to prevent it setting on fire. The security people looking after the lorry park at first thought he was vandalising the lorry and got very angry.  He explained and left his name and address and walked away. Weeks later he was honoured and mentioned in the paper saying how his actions had prevented what may have been a very nasty lorry fire in the middle of a park full of lorries and fuel.

On the 1st September 1951 Richard married Patricia and lived in Lord Street, Walsall where Carol and Lindy were born and Pat ran a small hairdressing business. Richard’s elderly dad George, lived with the family until his death early in 1960.

After this, the family travelled far and wide. Richard had a motorbike and sidecar. Carol and Lindy rode in the sidecar, Richard and Pat on the bike, and Timmy their springer spaniel in the sidecar boot. Timmy had the sleeve cut out from an old army t shirt pulled over his head to hold his ears down. 

Soon an old Hillman car arrived which took the family on swimming and picnic trips to Swancote most Sundays, as well as trips to Sherbrook forest where they used to go walking for miles and deer spotting quite frequently. They would have many wonderful weekends visiting the family at Holt Fleet and Gloucester were they would have big family gatherings with his older brother Bill and his wife Ida.

Richard would often join shooting parties, all his life he enjoyed shooting, his father’s shooting diaries were always a point of interest, the shooting parties fed the family whist they were all at home as children.

In 1960 the family moved to Wolverhampton Road, Cannock. Where once again Pat his wife set up the family hairdressing business. It was there that Mike was born. Richard went to work for Columbus Dixon as a very successful salesman, selling huge floor cleaning machines.  During these years Richard was presented with three major awards for top sales man, winning family holidays abroad.

While Mike was still a small baby in 1964, the family moved to Cannock Wood where Richard and Pat set up home for their family. Over the coming years many family parties were held at the house and everyone was always welcome. The front door to the house was never locked and friends would always just let themselves in whenever passing.

On December 9th 1971 a car accident was responsible for the tragic death of Richard’s wife Pat. Carol was 17, Lindy 16, Mike 7.  Shortly after Pat died Richard was taken into hospital for a major stomach operation that was not successful, so was followed by further major surgery a week later. He was very ill. It was a difficult time.

Within a very short time the girls had left home, Carol to college, Lindy got married and Mike was home with Richard and the family dog; Buster.

In the early 70s Richard became a salesman for a double glazing and storm porch company run by his good friend David Ray. This was where he met his second wife to be Sheila. During the company weekly Sunday morning sales meetings at the T.I club in Aldridge, Mike his young son had great delight in racing his dad’s company car around the local car park.

In 1983, Richard married his second wife Shelia. During their 13years of marriage they enjoyed many, holidays abroad and attended many reunions and memorials to Epron and Normandy.

Richard now getting older, was asked by his brother George, if he would like to join the family antiques business in Walsall restoring antiques and regularly attended antique auctions. He thoroughly enjoyed himself during these years.
Sheila, Richard’s second wife sadly passed away in November 1996.

In the year 2000, Richard finally retired, and has spent these last ten years, catching up with old army pals and regularly attending Sunday morning meetings, together with voluntary work at Whittington Barracks Museum. He even carried out an interview with BBC radio stoke were he talked in detail about his experiences during the war.

Richard became ill at the beginning of February this year and following a short spell in hospital, spent his last three weeks in a local nursing home, where up until the day he died he was still playing up the nursing staff affectionately calling them his "Harem."

Richard was a very loving, proud, hardworking and generous person. He was always immaculately dressed. He loved life, his family and friends.  In his later years he sought particular enjoyment from his garden, wildlife, music and the occasional shot of whisky and lemonade. We will miss him.

RIP dad :-) 

Post script
The funeral was a celebration of dad's life, we were all delighted by the company and the whole event, and though sad it could not have been better. There was an obituary posted in the timesonline 21st Apri 2010:

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Tweet-up at Harrogate iatefl 2010

With family committments taking over huge amounts of time in my life over the last eight weeks I was not at all sure that I was going to get to the tweet-up at iatefl in Harrogate. However, as things worked out I managed to leave home on Friday lunchtime and arrived in Harrogate in time for the start of the Pecha Kucha – watch it at it is well worth seeing :-)

Not being a language teacher maybe I do not appreciate the finer nuances of humour when very famous language educators are mentioned but still found something interesting, inspiring or just entertaining in all of the talks. Marisa, Burcu and Karenne all did Pecha Kucha presentations which were brilliant but Gavin Dudeney’s "A Personal Reading List" it is just the funniest session imaginable! I have to treat him to the "Is your dog gay?" book from his wish list on the strength of it! This particular book rang a bell with me because my sons, when young teens, always called one dog that we had "Gayboy," I was never brave enough to ask why :-)They clearly recognised something I missed!

I was delighted to meet, for the first time face to face, many of the people that I have talked to frequently over the last year in Second Life, or been in contact with through Twitter. I met up with Marisa, Karenne and Shelly and stayed with them overnight sleeping on the sofa in their flat – thanks ladies! I had a wonderful time. We sat quite happily talking the night away, though deciding at about 4am we really should get a little sleep ;-)

At the tweet-up I met Olga, Maureen, Jeremy, Jeremy’s musician friend (sorry his name has gone), Ken, Amanda, Petra, Burcu, Anna, Sue Lyons, Shaun, Kalyan and Tamas possibly even more people, I am sorry if I have left you out!! As more names and faces come to me I will add to the list.

It was great to meet up again with those I had met before including Gavin and Nicky, Graham, Kyle and Joe, Jessie and Iffaf – again probably loads more of you. Thanks again to everyone for making me so welcome, I am so glad I managed to get there.

From home, via the iatefl Livestream, I had already watched the Thursday and Friday Plenaries and lots of the interviews from the presenters at the conference, I know they are directed at language teachers but so much of the session content and inspiration is transferable, it does not really matter what you are teaching! I still have more to catch up with, it is going to take about a month to get through it all – see all of it here: Many thanks to all involved in making it such as huge success and so much of it accessible to those of us who were not present. Massive thanks and credit to the team who made the on-line conference happen so fluently and smoothly. The quality was superb. The Sunday plenary, Jan Blake telling her wonderful stories, was an amazing conclusion to the whole event. I really hope that is available on video to rewatch!

I have three short video clips from the tweet-up that I would like to edit into a sharable clip – I will see if I can contain it to the people that I recognise and see if they agree to it being shared! Watch this space :-)

Redesigning an Island in SL

Over the last few weeks I have worked with a colleague to completely re-develop the Learn4 Life island in Second Life. It has been great fun!

The island’s theme is “Back to Nature” with lovely waterways, plants, wildlife and each teaching plot has its own stretch of beach. There is a kingfisher that dives in the water for fish, there are butterflies by the hundred, swans, ducks with ducklings and a heron feasting on fish from the pond.

The conference area has an amphitheatre built into the hillside and an area for large meetings or group work. The social area is slightly away from the nature theme but still outside under the stars! There are about six meeting spaces for smaller groups and fourteen teaching plots available for people who want to develop CPD sessions for teachers in the UK.

The island has a pirate ship where one can teleport to the crow’s nest or spin the wheel to move the rudder! It has an underground secret passage leading to treasure. We are designing a treasure hunt at the moment so soon you will be able to visit and do that! Near the pirate ship are hillside walkways with rope bridges and canoes to ride around the whole island.

The island has been built with viewer two in mind. It is based on users making best use of the new media opportunities.

Many people know that I generally reside on EduNation, one of the islands belonging to The Consultants-E and designed by avatar Dudeney Ge. It has always been my favourite place in Second Life and Mr Ge's influence will be apparent in the design of Learn 4 Life to anyone who knows his work :-)

To visit and look around download the free Second Life (make sure you get Viewer 2) and sign up. You will need to make an avatar. Once you have got that far follow the slurl:

The Naace Conference

It is a couple of weeks after the conference and I have not had the chance, until today, to start getting my blog up even close to being up to date. Now, sadly, I can’t even try pull together several half written posts to make them make sense :-)

The conference was held in the Hilton Hotel in Blackpool on the 16th - 18th March 2010.

This year’s conference was brilliant, a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring event. The conference centre itself was superb, the rooms lovely, swimming pool fine, food good etc. It was great that, once again, we were all in the same hotel, that brings so much more to the event, particularly to the social networking aspect! So many times in the past I have been chatting to a group of people and had to leave them to get the coach back to where we were staying, or left at the same time as colleagues so that we were not walking alone late at night.

In the main room there was a twitterfall wall used as a back channel; that added a whole new dimension to the event. Huge numbers of delegates had netbooks, notebooks or twitter capable mobile phones so the back channel was a rich source of information and discussion. Many of the presentations are available now at for Naace members, sadly not for others.

A new event added this year was a Teachmeet, sponsored by Vital and very enjoyable. We were treated to loads of 2 minute nano talks or 7 minute presentations on aspects of our work that is new, exciting, motivating or similar to inspire us all move forward in our ideas and ways of working.

During the exhibition many people agreed to provide us (Oxfordshire) with free access to their on-line resources so that we can hold an on-line resources fair through our learning platform in June and July. My next job is to organise that event!! Much of the entertainment was based around the launch of 2Simple’s Purple Mash and they hosted the first night party. Sat on my desk right beside me I still have my potato masher tied up in purple ribbon – not quite sure what to do with it now though :-)

Three of us decided that as we were in Blackpool there were two things we should do – take a tram ride and a trip up the tower for photos. The weather was glorious so we skipped lunch one day and charged down the promenade. The tram lines are all ripped up, being repaired or improved ready for the summer traffic and the tower only opens over the weekend out of season! We failed!

It was great however to meet up with many countrywide colleagues, some that we meet regularly in Second Life and some that we only see at big ICT events. I think we managed to persuade a few more to join us in Second Life and on Twitter!

As a really nice conclusion to the conference – I have since heard that I have become a Naace Fellow – not sure quite what that will mean yet but it is an honour :-) thanks Naace!