Dan's Past Work

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This is the archive of Dan's bliki concerning Second Life and Schome work.


25 July, 2007

Another month has gone by. Not done too much on the island this month. This morning I added the sounds of crashing waves to the SPii beach, a new relaxing rug at the same location so folks can chill and watch the sun go down (we had one of these rugs on the original Schome Park and I recklessly got rid of it when adding the library - well it's back now!), and I've also started to add some bird sounds to various locations on the island. The addition of sound should help move us toward a more immersive environment.

Following some of the ideas that came up at the Schome team away day I blasted out a mockup of a page for a new Schome publicity-oriented website. Hopefully we can turn this site around quite quickly.

At the beginning of the month I gave a short presentation about Schome and the SL work at the AGM of the Publishers Association. Unfortunately it was slightly compromised by technical issues.

27 June, 2007

Video on SPii
New clothes

Good news! We now have streaming video up and running on SPii. Was a bit of a long-winded exercise to get this running but thanks to the help of Sean Fitzgerald from the SL Educators mailing list we're now up and running. The problem in the end was simply that I wasn't using the right URL for the video. Sean soon spotted this out and told me what I should be using. Nice one! And of course, you always learn far more from making mistakes than you do from getting things right first time. I won't be forgetting how to get video working any time soon.

In other news Woop Superior back on the main grid has a fine new outfit (actually I treated myself to a few). It seemed only fair to put a pic so you can appreciate my finery. Schomer Simpson saw me in-world (thanks Schomer for helping test video on Schomebase) and I believe his comment was "alarmingly OTT". No taste some people.

26 June, 2007

Kind of having a break(ish) having put a lot of time into the rebuild. I have however attended a number of events on SPii and it's great to see people back in and using the island. There are also a lot of great ideas forming about the teaching areas we can develop over the coming period. Fingers crossed for some exciting events there. At the moment I'm trying to get audio and video streams up and running on the island.

16 June, 2007

Oops, even longer has passed than usual. Well that's what happens when you've got your head down and don't have time to look up. Obviously a lot has been going on, most of which has been the conceptualisation, design and build of the second version of Schome Park, SPii. Some of the process has been documented (visually of course) on the SPii bliki, along with the most recent screenshots of students arriving back in just last night.

Alongside this I've been down to London for a round-table discussion of the impact of virtual worlds and social networking on publishers (along with Elsa), and have just returned from The University of Twente in Holland where I spoke about Schome at an Interdisciplinary Second Life event. Busy busy times!

24 March, 2007

First Arena Event

I know I'm always saying it's been a busy few days but.... it's been a busy few days!! I finished the all new Schome Park Arena in time for a meeting on Wednesday evening. Mark bravely chaired this and we had a good attendance from both staff and SParkers who wanted to hear the issues regarding building and of course chip in with their own thoughts and suggestions on how to proceed. I'm delighted to see the community getting hold of the issues and keen to resolve them. One of the major ones arising was that of 'self-governance', and hopefully there will be information on the forum soon regarding a future meeting to discuss this important issue.

SParkers library

Another idea that arose this week was that of a writers corner, and perhaps a library. To help get these areas off the ground a new building has been developed with input from Wintermute and Trixxiee, and is now in place in the area that used to be the 'plaza'. Why here? Well, the plaza is one of a number of areas not getting much (if any) use, something Olly and myself have been keeping an eye on as the sensor work continues to progress. We expect to identify further areas of low traffic on the ground, which should in turn be open for future SParker projects, and general Schome Park redevelopment/evolution.

21 March, 2007

SParkers building

Schome Park is well and truly live and running now, and has been for a week or so. For a statistical summary of the kind of usage we are seeing on Schome Park take a look at Schome Park Map. Many of the SParkers have been delighted with the freedom of building that SL gives them, and have taken good advantage, engaging in both individual and group builds.

That said it's not all been fun and games on the building front. We suffered our first grief attack when one SParker decided to see how many prims he could add to the island. Not only was it the sheer volume of prims that proved a nuisance, but the placement was specifically designed to block up entranceways to buildings and generally cause as much disruption as possible. What a shame. Thankfully such occurences have been a rare thing.

Arena 2 Takes Shape

Time waits for no man of course and so building continues with the attached shot showing the new arena under construction. There's also been plenty of ongoing work with the sensors and various odds and ends. Oh, and some fancy spinning rings I built above the Scho-op, purely for aesthetic reasons ;-) One of the hardest things has been cracking on with the building during 'peak' student hours. There's a never-ending stream of chat, requests and IMs that need to be responded to, which unfortunately does make it hard to progress. That said it's been really good to see so much engagement with the island, and I look forward to seeing how things progress over the coming weeks.

10th March, 2007

Can you get too much of a good thing?

Frantically trying to get lots of last minute changes made. Sensor scripts are all in place so that we can keep an accurate view on how much traffic the island is getting. This is crucial to us delivering the best experience possible, and helps to get a feel for the most popular areas.

Also managed to make the changes to the noticeboards this morning so that the strand boards should be modifiable by our subject specialists. I also took the time to get new event images up on them, but haven't done the main Schome board yet.

The framework for the presence indicator boards has been built and the scripts put in place, but pictures need to be built for each team member and the online script modified to be specific to them. That is bound to take a few days but we are getting there.

8th March, 2007

Schome Park Reception

That's right, over a month since my last update and an enormous amount has been developed since then. Only when I looked back over previous updates did I realise just how much work has been invented, undertaken and completed.

The most mammoth and shocking change came many weeks back when one long night I bulldozed the mountain and instigated a major layout rethink of the island. The dust has long since settled and we now have four major zones (one for each strand - physics, archaeology, ethics & philosophy - and one for the sandbox) with the 'Scho-op' bang in the middle.

The Scho-op itself hasn't changed either in design or intent. Sitting at the hub of the four zones it offers a host of freebies, various methods to obtain help, as well as presence indicator boards for the support team. The one change (only recently discussed) is that the first floor may now be used to house research elements of Schome.

In the south-west the Physics area has some superb displays courtesy of Dave that I'm sure will prove a big hit. I need to find time to show it a little love however, just in terms of the usual odds and ends each zone gets.

Ethics & Philoshopy now have a Japanese-style garden in which to spend their SL-time at the south-east corner of the island. I have a bit of japanese garden knowledge coupled with bonsai experience in my past so this was quite a fun area to build. We're just awaiting delivery of a few trees to finish it off.

Schome Park Temple

The final strand is Archaeology, towards the north-east corner of the island. They had some great ideas centred around Hadrian's Wall, so last weekend I built a cross-section of the wall earthworks. Over the coming weeks the students will build a variety of 'possible' walls to complete the reconstruction. Also last weekend I built a 'classical' temple on the archaeology plot which can function both as a meeting space and a gallery area for student work.

Schome Park retains the arena, plaza, meeting spaces and induction areas we created on Schome Base. The reception area is just approaching completion having been redesigned over the last few days. There are now event noticeboards for every strand, and a gallery of all the areas of interest on Schome Park, which additionally serve as teleporters to zip you straight to your location of choice.

With literally just a day to go until we expect our first visitors there remains plenty to do, and there are a great number of my personal creations I would revisit and improve if I had the time. However the whole team has put an enormous amount of effort into not just what is visible in-world, but also all of the supporting media and systems that we hope will make for a fantastic experience over the coming weeks.

4th February, 2007

Woop Kamachi
Which sign style?

Set up my new avatar this weekend, with the name Woop Kamachi. Not had chance to do too much over the weekend. However there are a set of signs on display in the plaza for people to look at and comment on. The styles should be familiar, but it would be useful to know which style to go with so we can then have a consistent look across schomebase/park. Naturally other options can be suggested, or modifications to those on display.

Also working on an 'AI' pet project. In the image of Woop Kamachi you will notice a floating orb with a faint white glow. This is a prototype of said project. I'm not releasing any details just yet, so watch this space...

28th January, 2007

The Schomebase helpstation

Schomebase has a help station. Should a visitor be in need of assistance they need only touch one of the buttons at the help station. The station is coded to check who from the schome team is inworld, instant messaging a "help request" to anyone online. If no-one is online it sends an email message to the schome help email address. It also sends a message to the local chat channel to inform the struggling visitor of the action taken. And naturally, it does something a bit more 'visual' as well, you'll have to push the button to see what that is ;-) (NB: although it has an auto-reset after a set time period, the help team can reset it manually by typing: /81 reset)

I've also been in contact with the Sloodle team to confirm the state of developments and how we would go about setting up an instance if we decided to work with Sloodle. I've also been designing a database scheme to support visitor data and reporting.

24th January, 2007

Woop gets a new suit

Thought I'd get some new rags as I was attending an event on Cetlment Island. Pretty smart I'd say. The event took the form of a welcoming, 'icebreaker' activity, and several group activities run by, and for, a group of associated lecturers. Personally I found it to be a hugely rewarding experience in terms of learning what does and doesn't work, and I'm sure much will come out of this that can be used to improve future events.

22nd January, 2007

Having had a wonderful time in Austria last week I've returned and been updating the sensor script this evening. Clearly we need to get this information into a database as easily as possible, so I've simply been writing code into the sensor script to better format the info gathered when it does a scan. Not rocket science, glamorous or exciting, but important.

Also thought I might as well put it up on here so here you go, sensor script.

12th January, 2007

Signs of progress

Plenty of progress being made in my last update before I head to Austria. As can be seen in the accompanying image, the helpdesk now has five online presence indicators, and two large information boards, one showing the wiki, and another with general help information on it. You can also see in the image that Zed is in the process of adding his collections to the ground floors, items that our visitors will be able to browse and take for free. Goodness knows how busy things will look by the time I return!

Additionally I've been doing the packaging up of items and areas in preparation for the move to Schome Park on the Teen Grid. Fingers crossed it will all go smoothly!

10th January, 2007

Library/co-op development
Online Status Indicators

In the run up to the move to the Teen grid (and the fact that I'm skiing next week) I've been busy again. It was decided a space was needed for both the 'co-op' area and the library, with the agreed way forward being to (at least intially) house the two in the same building. I had grand ideas about how to do this but SL, as always, makes life difficult. So in what was about five hours, with several failed attempts and considerable modifications to the original plans, I came up with the thumbnailed creation. Still has work to be done on it before it is 'opened', but it should serve it's purpose.Building these sorts of (relatively) simple structures shouldn't be this difficult! Time to go to bed!

Evening update: Tail end of the day now and I've added a screenshot of a couple of status indicator boards I've built (detects whether avatars are online and indicates presence as appropriate). Should be a useful tool to help provide support to visitors.

8th January, 2007

Lots done since the last post. In development are a 'game of life' simulation and an exciting remake of the Prisoners Dilemma game Elsa Dickens ran before xmas. The arena has had a little bit of work done on it (and successfully hosted a meeting of the UK Educators group on Jan 4th), as has Schomehenge.

My most important work of late has been scripting some sensors for Schomebase so that we can monitor how much traffic various areas of the island are receiving. These are all now up and running, and I've shared the code with Jacquie and Elsa so it can be re-used on Cetlment Island.

With the news that SL is to open-source the client I expect there are exciting times ahead for SL and it's community.


23rd December, 2006

Schomebase Arena
Schomehenge Discussion Area

Been a very busy few days. Attended the meeting of UK Educators interested in responding to the Eduserv proposal for research into use of virtual teaching and learning spaces like SL. Also participated in the strategy game run by Elsa Dickens in Schomebase Plaza. Hoping to rebuild and scipt the game to eliminate a few of the problems we identified. Would be great to have a number of these games as they are highly 'portable'. We could whip them out in limited space very easily.

Also been very busy building on Schomebase. In the South West corner of the island several breakout discussion spaces are being put together, including a 'Schomehenge'-themed space. Also I'm working on the formal lecture theatre-style space. It will be interesting to see whether this works or not.

"Schomehenge" - I love it, well cheesy! :-) --Mgaved 21:00, 23 December 2006 (GMT)
lol PeterT 08:28, 29 December 2006 (GMT)

20th December, 2006

Schomebase Plaza

Plenty more building going on. Peter and I agreed on building a 'plaza'-style place on Schomebase, an area conducive to informal discussion and socializing. The image shows my progress on building this space, a large flat square, simple column-surround, with a central fountain and stone-seating.

I've also built some new signs for the plaza: a large static one positioned to be visible from the reception area that might well serve as an event noticeboard, and one to contain images of our favourite places complete with a script to teleport to the displayed destination (although I've not quite got it working yet).

The plaza is also quite consciously designed to be large enough to continually showcase new signs/displays/activities.

17th December, 2006

Signs under construction

Busy weekend now that Schomebase has arrived. Spent some time tweaking the terraforming, pulling the mountain all the way up to 100m before building an upper and lower platform on which the observatory buildings/activities can be developed. Also redeveloped the cloud chair script to create a rocket chair that takes you from the Schomebase reception area up to the lower observatory platform.

Felt it was time to return to the Ivory Tower of Primitives to tweak my object building skills. This resulted in me building some low prim buildings and signs up in the Schomebase building zone. Nice to be building more creatively and more efficiently.

Finally built an interactive sign. This uses communication between objects in a linked set to change the image being displayed when forward or back arrows are touched. Nice thing to have cracked, although it took a while.

14th December, 2006

The Schome Group at Spaceport Alpha

Last night the Schome group had a guided tour of the International Space Museum at Spaceport Alpha. Many thanks to our generous hosts Troy McLuhan and Davee Commerce, who spent two two hours taking us round the museum and answering a neverending stream of questions on how the exhibits were planned, created and maintained.

The International Space Museum is well worth a vist from any Second Life tourst. It is visually apealling, well laid out, and clearly well run. For our group it was going into orbit that really delivered the wow factor. Arguably the most imaginative use of SL that I've seen to date.

The full report and more pictures can be found at http://schome.open.ac.uk/wikiworks/index.php/Second_Life-Fieldtrip.

11th December, 2006

Chairs on Cetlment Island

Completed a (what I'm going to call 'prototype') version of the cloud chair project. Currently sitting on Cetlment Island a suite of 8 chairs await to take avatars to a conversation in the sky. Sit on one, then 'touch' (.ie. left click) it and you'll whizz towards the heavens. Another click will bring you back down to ground.

It would be great to build a much more elegant version of this, as there are many ways to improve it and create much 'richer' virtual meeting space in the sky. From my knowledge gained doing this version however, I think it will reqire quite a chunk of time.

For fuller details (and more pictures) refer to http://schome.open.ac.uk/wikiworks/index.php/Agreed_Second_Life_Projects#Cloud_bank_9.

7th December, 2006

The OU group at The Three Lions

I attended the first meeting of the OU Group in the beer garden of the Three Lions Pub. Was great to see so many OU folk there. With such a positive bunch of people I'm confident we can put together some compelling educational activities within SL.

A full report can be found on the wiki at http://schome.open.ac.uk/wikiworks/index.php/Second_life_7Dec with more pictures, a list of attendees, and some observations around holding such a meeting in Second Life.