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Monday, 15 December 2008

Second Life Wind Farm

Though the facilities at the former Shimmer Island are in a state of redeployment as I install everything on a new SIM, to be announced soon, my work in Second Life still continues. One of the courses I teach is OOP (Object Oriented Programming), and for the project this year, I decided to task my students with writing an application that would calculate the energy in Watts that could be extracted from the wind by a turbine. I started with a lecture on the basic physics involved, and then presented them with a formula, the idea being that they would be able to assimilate the various values (attributes) and any associated calculations into appropriate classes, and generally this has gone well. The next stage will be for them to code and test this in Java. Once the applications are working I will then send them of in a research kind of way, to place their devices, in an imaginary kind of way, at various locations across the UK for which average wind speeds are readily available, should be good. Then I thought, how about getting them to create a wind class that emulates the way in which wind can vary over time, as indeed it does. Then I thought, the wind blows in SL, so why not get them in-world and have the experience of design / modelling? Of course the Java code will have to be translated into LS, but as I found this is not a major problem really. Anyway I placed my own working version on a small islet kindly provided by Tony Lusch at Greenwich Maritime, thanks again for that Tony, and now its just a matter of waiting for the turbine crop to grow. If you would like know how my students get on, then why not pay us a visit over the coming month or so at

Bye for now Skipper Abel

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Leaving Notice at Shimmer Island

Well the Daydream Island group is no more and with it goes shimmer island. After a number of failed attempts trying to contact the SIM owner, I finally raised a ticket with Linden Labs and Izzy Linden arranged for me to have limited access so that I could retrieve any materials that were not in my inventory. As you can see from the screenshot of the first floor library at the Beach House, everything has been copied and removed.

Still in an optimistic frame of mind however I did elect to leave a message fpr anyone who may happen past the island in the future, though I suspect that such an encounter is less than likely.

So is that the end of the Second Life virtual learning experience? Of course not, I have acquired another island and am busily preparing it for opening, so stay in touch and we will be back. Bye for now Skipper Abel

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Site Closed

If you are a regular or even new visitor to the Shimmer Island Site, then you will have noticed that the Daydream Island SIM is currently not available. I personally have no idea why this is, except to say that the plug seems to have been pulled no doubt as a result of issues between LL and the Owners. At this time I have been completely unsuccessful in being to extract any response from the SIM owner and must assume that they are no more. There is of course the possibility that the SIM will get a new owner and us residents get re-instated, who knows. Not wanting to be entirley at the mercy of forces that are clearly way beyond my influence let alone control, I have managed to acquire a new SIM and will be dropping a posting to this blog in due course. So I apologise for the inconvenience, but rest assured Skipper is on the case and from the dust of Shimmer Island a new and all together better SIM will arise.

Bye fro Now SA

Sunday, 16 November 2008

First Sunspot from SOHO

Having recently installed the SOHO feature in the Astro-Park, I was having a browse at the image yesterday when I saw the first sunspot, only a smallish one in the upper right of the image here, but there it is and given the obvious hazards associated with observing the sun, having a picture sent down from SOHO to the net each day is certainly more than good enough for me; a truly amazing project. If you would like to know more about SOHO, you can find out by looking the web site Basically SOHO Solar & Heliospheric Observatory is a joint NASA / ESA space probe that was launched in 1995 to conduct studies of the Sun. The spacecraft actually resides in an orbit some 1.5 million miles from Earth. Why place the SOHO at such a distance? Well in this position it will have an uninterrupted view of the sun while retaining constant a communication with earth, in other words we are all three of us, Sun, SOHO and Earth aligned, clever stuff.

I must admit to having some difficulty with this web page on a prim in SL of recent, as it seems links seem to drop at almost random times loosing the page, if you are suffering similar, or know of a solution please feel free to comment, it would be appreciated.

Anyway here's wishing you good SL observing while socialising everyone back soon Skipper

Sunday, 9 November 2008

LunarPod at Shimmer Island

I have decided to make more of a feature for our closest solar neighbour the Moon. If you have been regular visitor to the Astro-Park, then you will have now doubt seen the regular Lunar phase chart and my large rotating Moon with labels. The new feature, which I have termed the LunarPod, is a three sided panel and on one side you will find the Lunar Phases, but the other two sides feature Lunar Photo Of the Day, basically a web page on a prim and on the third face an innovative facility from Peter Grego in Cornwall UK, where at times of particular interest such as transits and eclipses and the like he streams live images. The next event is due to come on December 01 2008, with the transit of Venus, I am looking forward this and will try and organise some kind of Moon party maybe for SL residents.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

RL skies in SL telescopes

Recently, while I was completing the material for Septembers edition of the Astro_Park , which by the way covers the Aurigid meteors, the constellation of Aries and the planet Jupiter, I had a thought on a further implementation of the Sky-Cam board; If you have yet to visit the facility, then the Sky-Cam board features web-page on a prim, the web page in question being a minute by minute snapshot of the sky above Cambridgeshire England courtesy of Paul Beskeen at I must admit to being somewhat surprised as to why the thought had not occurred to me before, but why not have the live sky image textured onto the lens of a telescope? On your next trip to the Astro-Park you may like to take a walk into the observatory and there in the eye-piece of the telescope you will see the invitation to Touch for live image, RL skies through SL telescopes, maybe a first?

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Second quarter survey published

The second quarter visitor survey results for 2008 are now available at the Beach House on shimmer-Island. This is raw data and is gathered directly from visitors who are invited to take a simple two-question three-option survey on attending virtual classes at the sim and its aesthetic appeal. If you are considering setting up a learning space, a browse over these results may prove useful for you. If you would like to stay in touch with the work here then please feel free to visit anytime and look around and maybe even join the Shimmer-Island group, its open enrolment and free.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

New Learning Space, New Interface

If you have visited Shimmer Island before (slurl) then you will have arrived at the beach house and no doubt ventured to the first floor learning resources, which have been in place for a couple of years now and continue to prove popular. In creating these I wanted to produce a learning space with access to materials that allowed us to return to a more intuitive and tactile experience like books as a means of accessing information; when you think about it, asked if anyone would rather use a new library of operating system to get information, you can hazard a safe guess as to their preference.

Just lately though I have been thinking about the way we associate form with function, not just Oh its book and therefore has words to be read, but also, this looks like a library so it musty be full of books! So I began considering breaking with the traditional associations, form from function and explore the possibility, advantages and preference of creating a learning space that appeared to be more in keeping with a relaxing chill-out space, populating it with learning / information resources whose appeared would be more in keeping with their immediate environment rather than function or purpose. For a location, I bought in a new sky platform “Secret garden in the Sky”, which seemed ideal for the project.

To access these new resources an avatar simply approaches close enough, within 2 meters, at which point a label appears telling what it is, if you are not interested in the content then simply move out of range and the label disappears. Should you wish to open the resource however simply stay in range and the object will morph into a screen, retexture its surface to the opening page? At the moment until web-page on a prim achieves more functionality, I am still employing the use of pop-up windows.

There is I feel a more ambitious project waiting for me here though in the production of resources that respond to avatars, rather than avatars having to make all the selections and choices, but as I say that’s a further extension of the project. Please feel free to come along to the main beach house anytime and take the teleport to the sky garden and let me know your thoughts and impressions.

Bye for now Skipper

Monday, 11 August 2008

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hi, like how the place is developing

Flame Firanelli

Friday, 25 July 2008

All sky camera at the Astro-Park

If you have been along to Shimmer Island, then I suspect you may have taken a teleport up to the Astro-Park. In recent times I have been populating the park with all kinds of astro type resources, but the one resource I have been on the lookout for is a facility that will allow me to display a live image of the night sky, after all lets face it, surely one of the great pleasures in astronomy is actually seeing real stars. Anyway the other day I decided to get on top of this one and see what could be done and I came across a web site run by Paul Beskeen at Paul runs a whole sky camera linked to his server that streams images to the web every 60 seconds. Well it’s just as well web page on prim came along recently because it was no great task to get the images displaying. An avatar touches the screen and the stream switches on displaying the latest image, now if the avatar remains within 4 meters, then a scanner will reload the page every minute, if you move away then the default texture is returned and the stream closes.

So what can you see? Well as you can see this is a day time shot, but I would safely say stars down to magnitude 3 / 4, and we may be lucky enough to capture the odd meteor trail. All in all its well worth a look and by the way if you would like to join the Shimmer group and stay in touch with all our latest resources, then you can open enrol and membership is free.

Look forward to any feedback, by for now Skipper

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

My Tiny Life

The title of this posting as you can see is in fact taken from the book of the same name, you can pick up a copy used real cheap from Amazon and I can recommend it. I found my copy in a charity shop and it makes compelling reading. The story line is based around a journey through the RL-VR world of LambdaMOO. If you are intrigued by the blurring and merging of SL and RL, with all the moral, legal, aesthetic and philosophical connotations of functioning in both realities, then I feel you will certainly find this book worth a dip, and when was it published – 1998, that’s ten years ago and eight years before I got into SL!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

SL and Professional Development

I ran our first in college professional development for Second Life the other day with staff. Though I know many colleges have vulnerabilities regarding the ports that SL requires to be open, we have managed to get around that by having a subnet that bypasses the firewall and so is physically separate, though of course we do also require a partitioned open Windows build at the client. After demonstrating my place in SL and its main features, everyone went onto the net and signed in for an SL account, logged in and started the tour of Orientation Island. All in all the feedback for the event scored between Good and Very Good, so that’s encouraging. Having started , I guess the next stage is going to be in developing a strategy for the systems deployment as part of our main stream programmes.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Testing times at castle Bromlestein

As part of my teaching here at the College for 08-09, one of the new courses will be in ‘Games Design’ and not surprisingly Second life came to mind as one of a number of possible platforms that I could be making use of. Unlike the other games design packages at my disposal though, I realised SL would have to be adapted for the task of an action type adventure, so that while being able to extract a certain amount of adrenalin, would also be able to get my students to either learn or have their current knowledge in some way tested. I decided to go for the latter, and as a first attempt the result is Castle Bromlestein.

Having read ‘Exodus to the Virtual World’ by Edward Castronova, an excellent book, I became suitably convinced that my game should feature a mythology, and so I put together ‘The Illumni Chronicles’; if you feel in the mood for a short read you can take a look here.

The game takes place in a medieval castle, whose stonework has embedded into it a knowledge base of the Illumni. As players move around, scanners are able to detect an avatar and at random times rez either a spinning golden question ring or a defender of the knowledge; Kbot (growler). In the case of a ring, when touched by an avatar it will present a multiple-choice question, at the moment these are all based on html. The avatar responds by entering the correct option number through chat. In the event that a Kbot appears, it will attempt to home in on the nearest avatar, and if it engages, points are lost. There are two ways of dealing with these Kbots, try to outrun them, or use a hand held weapon like a sword to repel it. As I have only allowed Kbots to persist for a short while, avatars have a reasonable chance of keeping their score; I did manage to get guns and bullets working, but they required my students to have full edit rights, not a good idea on my own private land really.

I have a database logging all the scores and that seems to work well at the present time.

You can find a short a short video on YouTube: -

In the video clip one of my Alts is seen answering a question, and then shortly after finds himself getting attacked with pretty poor performance I must say, by a couple of random Kbots; not an easy task recording and defending at the same time, at least that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it. If anyone would like to come along to Shimmer Island and take the teleport for a try, then you are more than welcome, though you will have to maintain your own score for now. The whole thing is just about out of proof of concept I feel, though still in development, and so naturally any feedback would be appreciated.

And in keeping with the game theme, access to the castle is through a disguised teleport, located on the top floor of the beech house

Bye for now, good luck Skipper Abel

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Cyber Masonry

I was in SL recently and generally tidying up some of my LS code, when it occurred to me that given the rise of scripting communities in SL and the way in which scripters can move around cyber space plying their trade, we may soon witness the arrival of a new guild, the Cyber Mason. Since that first revelation, I often find myself using the term in conversation and so I decided to promote the idea by having an RL tea-shirt logo. I may even post a picture of myself wearing it.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

Hi Skipper, I'm from Orpington College and I'm currently doing a Foundation degree in Education & Training at Greenwich University. One of my lecturers, Simon Walker, told me that Bromley College had been experimenting in SL and I was interested to see what you've been doing here. Together with my ebuddies, we been using SL to collaborate on tasks for our Celtt course. I'm looking forward to learning more about SL and hope to get the chance to have a chat here in the future, particularly as our two colleges are merging.

Floydette Albatros

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)


mvashistha Agrawal

Thursday, 24 January 2008

What is immersive

I managed to get alonf to a meet the day on the 'Immersive experience' held at the ischool sim. The discussion was centred on the theme Is Second Life experience automatically immersive, simply because it is a virtual world? If not, what makes the experience immersive (or not)?
Some of the commensts at the meeting such as the lure of surrealistic environments and the ability or not to capture emotions in immersive worlds made for a good start.
Whether an experience is immersive or not or say the degree of immersoveness has much to do with the willingness of participants, and as someone pointed out; everyone finds this more immersive than say IM systems like MSN? So are good immersive experiences purely voluntary, which maybe you counter with tha fact that there are involuntary ones also, where you just have to join in. Do we compare the immersive with IM's .
Then comes the one we are all aware of in that with regard to students who are already interested in computing becoming immersed especially if they are already gamers. As you can see the meet was well attended and the chat was typed live I felt. This in itself added to the immersive experience, copy n paste text can be a little off putting I feel, and can reduce the awareness you have of the environment, so immersive reduces as you focus on keeping up with the reading, which of course is not restricted to just SL and the like. Anyway a good meet ischool, I will certainly try to get along some more

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Blog from a Shimmer Island visitor

Object-Name: SIBlog
Region: Daydream SE Islands (232960, 246272)
Local-Position: (18, 92, 24)

I am just a visitoy

Taken Takaaki