Feb 212015
 

Vintage Village

A post over at New World Notes caught my eye : Visit in Second Life: In The Hall of the Centaurs, a Masterwork by Acclaimed SL Architect Havit Neox. That post itself links to one from Eddi Haskell : Great Second Life Destinations: Haveit Neox’s Gorgeous New Masterwork- In The Hall Of The Centaurs :

Havit Neox, one of Second Life’s most famous architects, builds fanciful structures and entire cities that employ a wide range of architectural effects. His latest creation, In The Hall of the Centaurs at Second Life’s famous Verdigris City, is another jewel in his crown and a must-see destination.

Hmm, I thought, I better go and see what all the fuss is about. So I did, and the fuss is most certainly worth it, not just for the Hall Of Centaurs, but for the whole sim of Verdigris itself.

Centaur Hall

The Centaur Hall lies on one side of a wooden bridge suspended in the sky and it offers some spectacular views. The building itself is stunning but the design and artwork inside is very much a joy to behold.

Entrance To Centaur Hall

There is, as one would expect, a distinct mystical feel to the surroundings, both inside and outside of the Centaur Hall.

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Feb 212015
 

Magralthea

The 2015 Second Life Science Fiction Convention officially launched earlier this evening and there were no glitches. As a Dwarfin this was unchartered territory for me as I boldly went where no Dwarfin has gone before, to experience space, the final frontier.

New Vegas

The convention, which is part of the Second Life Relay For Life fundraising effort for The American Cancer Society spans six intergalactic sims, the links are the SLURL’s :

The event opened with an opening ceremony at Merciless Ming’s, which is based in Fhloston Paradise, but don’t worry if you missed it, there’s more entertainment planned for today.

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Feb 202015
 

Remnants Of Earth Hangar

In my preparation for Sci-Fi Alliance’s Second Life Science Fiction Convention 2015, which is now open, I decided to get in the mood by visiting some Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk locations. I’ve mentioned this before, but there aren’t as many as I’d like to see. The Destination Guide has a couple of categories, Cyber and Sci-Fi under roleplaying. There aren’t a lot of sims and quite a few appear in both categories.

However one thing I have learnt is that Graves appear to be taking over the universe, but more on that later. The first place I visited was Remnants of Earth, which is a roleplaying location. You arrive in a rather impressive space station of sorts. There you can find plenty of information about the storylines, the factions, join the group, buy content etc.

Remnants Of Earth Streets

Outside you find yourself in a pretty damn impressive futuristic world. I really have trouble taking snapshots of locations that are best served dark and as with all three of the locations I visited, you will get a much better impression if you visit yourself.


Remnants of Earth

Remnants of Earth is a cyberpunk-fantasy role playing game, heavily based around classic pen and paper RPGs and with a focus on dice rolling, stats, MMO-like adventuring, and gathering. RoE takes place on Earth in the year 2130, after humanity has started to leave Earth behind to colonize the stars. Earth is now a crime riddled slumworld. This is it’s story of the Remnants of Earth…

Visit in Second Life

SLURL To Remnants Of Earth : http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Tron/129/78/3066/

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Feb 192015
 

Set your phasers to stun. Be prepared to go where no man has boldly gone before, well with the exception or the organisers, the builders, The Lindens and maybe some others. However besides them, the big news is that the 2015 Science Fiction Convention in Second Life opens tomorrow.

The event is part of the Relay For Life fundraising in Second Life effort on behalf of The American Cancer Society and as with many events there will be vendors, events and much more.

The event will be running February 20th Thru March 1st and features six sims :

Pern Sound
Source:
Pern – Planet, with dragons. And, Anne McCaffrey

Magrathea
Source:
Douglas Adams Magrathea will build planets specifically tailored for you. Want a planet made out of solid gold? What about one where everything’s made of jello? The pebbles on the beaches are all precious jewels?

Risa
Source:
The pleasure planet mentioned or featured in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In particular it was featured in the episode ʺCaptain’s Holidayʺ.

Fhloston Paradise
Source:
Fhloston Paradise was the name of the resort hotel/ship where Corbin Dallas/Leeloo went in 5th Element and got to see the Diva sing

New Vegas
Source:
Babylon 5, The Mars city New Vegas is very heavily implied to be such a place, right down to the name

Sihnon
Source:
In the TV series Firefly Sihnon is where Inara was taught the skills to become a Companion.

A good place to keep up to date with events is on the Sci-Fi Alliance website.

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Feb 192015
 

Clock Tower

A while ago Guardian Witness ran an assignment to share your favourite virtual cities :

We want to hear about your best-loved virtual places – from a beautiful view in GTA V to that 20-million-strong SimCity megalopolis you’ve been building (or possibly destroying). What would be the best video game cities to live in? The worst? Perhaps you’ve designed one you think would be better than your own city? Share your screengrabs and we’ll feature the best on Guardian Cities.

Well virtual worlds were always likely to feature here and Second Life certainly gets a good mention. There are OSGrid places there too. However one that caught my eye this evening was Whisperdale Village.

Tudor Village

Cranston Yardstorm described Whisperdale village as :

My wife, Shaylin, and I decided to create a medieval Tudor city on our sim. Sitting on top of our cave venue, you can enjoy a brew in the tavern or try your hand at spinning wool in the tailors shop, We hope you enjoy visiting Whispering Windz and our medieval city.

Unfortunately my visit coincided with a strange green gaseous storm, which infiltrated my snapshots! However, the place is quite beautiful.

Bridge and Giant Statue

Whereas Whisperdale Village caught my eye, the extended area is known as Whispering Windz and features some gorgeous scenery, statues, caves, rivers, lakes and waterfalls.

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Feb 182015
 
An Image Should Be Here

Flights In The Sky

Who is Callum Prentice I hear you ask, well it’s what I heard myself asking when I saw an article in, of all places, The Daily Mail : Watch the world’s ‘swarming’ flight paths in action: Beautiful multicoloured visualisation reveals air traffic across the globe.

So the answer as to who Callum Prentice is comes in the article :

The British-born developer currently works for 3D Virtual World Second Life in California and has released the code for his Flight Stream design, as well as his other interactive projects, on his website.

Then we land at the website, we finally find out who Callum Prentice is! Hurrah!

British bloke, in San Francisco via London, Singapore, Barcelona, and Hong Kong ● Second Life developer during the day since 2004 ● Enthusiastic WebGL hacker in the evenings ● Founder of Industrial Might and Logic Combat Robots ● Eager traveller ● Crossfit and indoor rowing aficionado ● Insanely happy husband and father.

As Callum has been at Linden Lab since 2004 he’s an oldbie, he’s been there for a long time, seen a lot of changes and I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know what Callum Linden does. However it appears he was involved at some point in bringing HTML on a prim to Second Life. Callum has a strong interest in WebGL.

However back to his flight stream, as that’s what’s making the news :

The site was created as an ‘experiment to map many of the airline flights between world airports,’ explained Mr Prentice.

Tools on the site let visitors control the opacity of the individual flight tracks, change the size of the airports as well as adjust the speed of the animation.

The animation has been designed for desktop browsers, but Mr Prentice has also created a video for people on mobiles to be able to view the animation.

Mr Prentice told MailOnline the visualisation was just a hobby, and admitted that there is so much data around major airports, ‘it just blurs into a mess’, but the visualisation was fun to do and ‘looks pretty.’

However besides looking pretty, flight stream is fascinating as it shows just how many flights are in the sky.

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Feb 182015
 

The mystery of why more females don’t embrace computing professions rolls on and on. Many feel it’s due to the boys club in places such as Silicon Valley, but research from The University Of Washington suggests there may be something else going on.

An article in The Journal was published recently : Research: Broaden Stereotypes To Draw Women into CS and Engineering by Dian Schaffhauser. The article itself is based on the following research : Cultural stereotypes as gatekeepers: increasing girls’ interest in computer science and engineering by diversifying stereotypes by Sapna Cheryan, Allison Master and Andrew N. Meltzoff.

The Journal makes the following claim :

The stereotype of the typical computer scientist or engineer as somebody who’s white or Asian, socially inept, obsessed with technology and almost always male is keeping girls out of those fields, according to a new study from the University of Washington.

That’s really not something that I’d considered as a barrier to females entering computer science and engineering professions. The research comes from an American perspective but I’d imagine a lot of the findings would apply to many western countries. The research also extends to looking at how females react in online scenarios and even cites past research involving Second Life.

So what is a stereotypical computing geek like? Well the research paper cites media representations :

Popular movies and television shows like Real Genius, The Big Bang Theory, and Silicon Valley depict computer scientists and engineers as mostly White (and more recently Asian) males, socially unskilled, and singularly obsessed with technology.

Ok so right away I’ve got a frowny face over this research, but ok those portrayals may be considered sterotypical but people look beyond stereotypes right … no really, they do? Well the research carried out some tests regarding this, one was quite straight forward :

To examine the extent to which exposure to stereotypical and non-stereotypical media representations influence women’s interest in computer science, women undergraduates read one of two fabricated newspaper articles. One article stated that computer scientists fit the current stereotypes, while the other stated that computer scientists were diversifying and no longer fit the stereotypes. Women who read the stereotypical article expressed less interest in majoring in computer science than women who read the non-stereotypical article. Furthermore, women who read the non-stereotypical article were significantly more interested in computer science than women who read no article.

However moving away from media stereotypes, what happens when females encounter real people? The researchers carried out a test, they invited females to take part in short conversation with actors, three male actors and three female actors. The purpose of this was to test how stereotypical geekiness might influence a female :

half of the participants were randomly assigned to interact with an actor who fit current stereotypes in appearance and preferences (e.g., glasses, t-shirt that said “I code therefore I am,” hobbies that included playing videogames) or one who did not fit these stereotypes (e.g., solid colored t-shirt, hobbies that included hanging out with friends). After the interaction was complete, participants were asked about their interest in their partner’s major and then asked the same questions again 2 weeks later.

Results revealed that women who interacted with the stereotypical student were significantly less interested in majoring in computer science than those who interacted with the non-stereotypical student, and this effect was equally strong regardless of whether the actor was male or female. Moreover, negative effects of stereotypes endured for 2 weeks after the interaction. The computer science major’s gender mattered less in influencing women’s interest in computer science than the extent to which he or she fit current computer science stereotypes.

That’s rather fascinating. So the non-selling point wasn’t just about the gender of the person whom females interacted with, it was how stereotypically geeky they were too.

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Feb 172015
 

Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University presents TIES Conference Feb. 18-20. Ok first things first, you may be wondering what a TIES conferences is. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not about ties. However it is about education and e-learning and these are noble causes which I very much support. There’s also some discussion on storytelling in virtual worlds too, hurrah!

Valdosta State University’s Center for eLearning will present the Conference on Instructional Technologies, Innovations, and Educational Strategies — commonly referred to as the TIES Conference — Feb. 18-20 in the Student Union.

This is a three day conference and the linked post above contains further information :

The TIES Conference is open to all VSU faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of the general public, who want to learn more about what educational leaders are doing to support student success both within and beyond the college classroom. Registration costs $69; includes all materials, breakfast and lunch on the second and third day of the conference, a social, and more; and will be accepted up through 1 p.m. the first day of the conference.

However for those of us who are fans of virtual worlds and storytelling, there’s even more details further in the post.

VSU Shops

Day 2 is where things seem to get a bit more appealing for virtual world fans, with Second Life 101: Creating an Avatar, Exploring, and Teaching in Second Life.

  • Dr. Michelle Ocasio, Valdosta State University
  • Dr. Fleming Bell, Valdosta State University
  • Dr. Karen Acosta, Valdosta State University
  • Dr. Beatriz Potter, Valdosta State University

For the beginning user, this Second Life workshop aims to demonstrate some of the practical and educational uses of virtual worlds in distance learning and face-to-face interaction. Four speakers will explain engaging spontaneous and fun conversations in foreign language clubs, academic advising for distance students, coordinating student presentations for online courses, and oral assessments for online foreign language courses. A hands-on workshop to create an avatar and explore some interesting locations (including Valdosta State University Island) is included.

Day 3 also has potential with Digital Storytelling in Virtual Worlds: Designing Lessons Promoting Student Engagement.

  • Dr. Steve Downey, Valdosta State University

This workshop presents and demonstrates the new Instruction for Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Environments, i-MMOLE 2.0, framework for designing lessons utilizing digital storytelling practices to promote student engagement and learning in virtual world environments. Participants will get hands-on time using the virtual world of Second Life as well as guidance for designing lessons using the i-MMOLE 2.0 framework.

Digital storytelling in a virtual world can of course go beyond Second Life.

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Feb 162015
 

Devestation

I decided it was time to go International with my Second Life explorations, so I headed to the International section of The Destination Guide. I looked around at a few interesting looking links and decided to brave a visit to a scary looking location known as K’Taclysme Town. Now first things first, this is a sim created by French speakers and the notecards are in French. Therefore you may struggle with the roleplay if you’re not a French speaker. However don’t let that put you off from visiting.

One of the beauties of a virtual world in circumstances such as this is that the landscape is painted for you, therefore you can get a bloody good idea of what’s going on. Another beauty of a virtual world is that if you’re familiar with the mechanisms, you can work some things out for yourself. For example I figured out how to get hold of a visitors tag by touching the prim that contains said visitor tag.

I could also figure out how to get hold of some of the rules and background to the sim, again by touching the correct prim.

Outside a Post-Apocalyptic Bar

Obviously, if you’re not a French speaker then you may well have difficulty understanding the instructions, but there are tricks of the trade to guide you, such as using Google Translate to give you a nudge in the right direction. However even before doing that it wasn’t hard to work out that something bad had happened to this town. Armed military figures, strange gases on the streets, crashed vehicles, collapsed roads, floating spores and blood on the street give you the distinct impression that it didn’t end well here.

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Feb 142015
 

The First Church Of Rosedale

A couple of posts from physicist and computer scientist, Giulio Prisco. The posts are linked to each other. The first post was published on Hypergrid Business : Virtual reality a new frontier for religions. In that post Giulio talks about churches in virtual reality. In that post Giulio revists some of the ground he has covered before, which I covered when Giulio had been talking about the book Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life by Robert M. Geraci.

In the Hypergrid Business article Giulio says :

The book reports that many groups in mainstream religions, including Christianity and Islam, established a virtual presence in Second Life, often bypassing institutional channels and creating grassroots communities instead. These virtual communities are often independent of traditional religious hierarchies, and much more open to inter-faith dialogue and alternative lifestyles.

Physical churches can and do work together, I know that the local Catholic and Baptist churches near me have joint ventures in terms of open days and money raising causes for example, but could virtual reality help people to make those links and alliances without the structure of their own church leaders? This is an interesting thought process. Giulio goes on to suggest that new religions may be formed in the metaverse :

The chapter “Sacred Second Lives” of Virtually Sacred is dedicated to new, emerging religious movements in Second Life. Perhaps more than established religions, new “native” metaverse religions will be able to take full advantage of the endless possibilities of virtual reality and offer a spiritual home to multitudes of people worldwide, especially those who search spiritual meaning independently, outside the legacy framework of mainstream religions.

I don’t think Giulio was talking about The First Church Of Rosedale when he wrote that. Especially as The First Church Of Rosedale is Second Life only and has as its tagline :

There is no Chairman but Philip,
And Torley is His Prophet.
The first church devoted to an entirely SL-focused religion!

Samantha Poindexter has a lot to answer for!

Inside The First Church Of Rosedale

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