Lab presents “Tips and Tricks from the Community”

secondlifeA curious blog post appeared on the official blogs on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016.

Entitled [Tips and Tricks from the Community] Video: Lighting Tutorial from Brookston Holiday, it appears in the Tips and Tricks section of the blogs. As the name suggests, it features a video tutorial by Brookston Holiday (aka ProMaterials) in which he provides an introduction to using the viewer’s in-build tools and options for producing lighting effects, including  projectors (which I’ve covered myself). If you’re unfamiliar with using the tools, it’s a handy introduction.

I call this a “curious” post not because of the content – as the author of the post notes, SL users are generally the best placed when it comes to demonstrating capabilities in the viewer and techniques for achieving a desired result. Rather, I find the post curious because it is the first time anything has been posted to Tips and Tricks in almost four years – the last item having appeared back in June 2012; and even that came with just over a year’s gap between it and the preceding post.

So are we seeing a revival of the Tips and Tricks section of the blog in the form of a  new regular / semi-regular series, or just a one-off post? Right now, your guess is as good as mine. That being the case, I’ll leave you with  Brookston’s tutorial.


VWBPE 2016: looking towards the Horizons

VWBPE main Auditorium

The 2016 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) Conference launches at 11:00am SLT on Wednesday, March 9th and will be taking place in both Second Life and AvaCon Grid.

The theme for this year’s event is Horizons, and will include a presentations by keynote and featured speakers, panel discussions, workshops, social events and more, running through until the conference closes on Saturday, March 12th.

Full details on conference events can be found on the VWBPE conference calendar. However, for ease-of-reference, here’s a quick run-down of some of the key events and activities. As always, all times are SLT.

The VWBPE main plaza in SL
The VWBPE main plaza in SL

Wednesday, March 9th

  • 11:00 – 13:00: Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening Ceremony for the Exhibits, with music from Ari (Arisia Vita) as he streams soft and soothing piano music during the event. Tour the exhibits, learn what educators are doing and accomplishing in virtual environments, network with colleagues and friends
  • 15:00 – 15:00: Pirate Parade – put on your finest pirate clothes and join the procession to the concert marina
  • 15:30 – 16:00: Jimmy Buffett Tribute Concert by Lightning Productions
  • 17:00 – 17:50: Keynote address – Signalling a New Reality with Bronwyn Stuckey – at some of the signals in the past year of a blurring of what is virtual and what is physical, and how it is increasingly making any differentiation between the two redundant, challenging many of the assumptions we hold about the place of our work in virtual worlds.
  • 18:00 – 19:00: Grid Watch with Ebbe Altberg – Linden Lab’s CEO will discuss issues of importance to the Second Life communities with a focus on listening to SL residence and responding to questions.
VWBPE South in SL
VWBPE South3 social area in SL

Thursday, March 10th

  • 07:00 – 08:50: Virtual Worlds and Transactional Distance in Higher Education Online Courses – a Student Panel – seven students share their experiences in using a Virtual World to lessen Transactional Distance for fully on-line Higher Education
  • 14:00 15:50: OpenSimulator Featured Panel – Cynthia Calongne, Selby Evans, Stephen Gasior and Maria Korolev engage in a discussion on the different perspectives of people who use OpenSimulator as an alternative, or in addition to, Second Life
    • Location:  hop:// Library/25/26/78 (copy and paste link in-world on AvaCon grid)
  • 16:00 – 17:00: VWBPE Machinima Showcase – view this year’s VWBPE Outstanding Machinima films and earn about the art of machinima from a panel of experts
    • Location (subject to fnal confirmation via the VWBPE calendar):  hop:// Library/25/26/78 (copy and paste link in-world on AvaCon grid)
  • 17:00 – 17:50: Keynote address – Virtual Worlds on the Go with Stephen Downes – an examination of the intersection of learning, performance support, and mobile virtual worlds and simulations and the real world applications for this technology
    • Location:  hop:// Library/25/26/78 (copy and paste link in-world on AvaCon grid).

Friday, March 11th

VWBPE Gateway in SL
VWBPE Gateway in SL

Saturday, March 12th

  • 08:00 – 09:50: Virtual Pioneers panel – members from the Virtual Pioneers will discuss some of their major projects and contributions in virtual worlds, in particular how they feel their accomplishments have taken us toward a new horizon in immersive experiences
  • 15:00 – 16:50: Virginia Society for Technology in Education panel – members from VSTE will discuss some of their major projects and contributions in virtual worlds, in particular how they feel their accomplishments have taken us toward a new horizon in immersive experiences
  • 18:00 – 19:00: Closing Ceremony and Thinkerer Award Winner Announcement: closing remarks from Phelan Corrimal and other VWBPE Committee Chairs, the opportunity to learn about VWBPE 2017 and hear the 2016 Thinkerer Award recipient announced
  • 19:00 – 20:00 Grand Finale David Bowie Tribute Concert  – celebrating the eclectic and magnificent career of David Bowie

Notes on Attending

The VWBPE conference is free to attend, although there are donation options available for those wishing to support the conference.  Those wishing to attend all of the conference activities across the four days of the conference will need accounts for both Second Life and AvaCon grid – please refer to Accessing the Conference for further details.

Additional Links

Of Heritage and Wrecks in Second Life

Heritage: Wrecks
Heritage: Wrecks

Wrecks, which opened on Monday, March 7th, is the concluding element of a two-part immersive art installation created by Gem Preiz, the master of the high-resolution fractal landscape. It’s a piece, together with the initial part of the installation, Vestiges (which you can read about here), is presented under the over-arching title of Heritage.

“Heritage is the theme of the two exhibitions,” Gem explains of the pieces. “The heritage passed to us by our predecessors, and the one we shall bequeath to our descendants in the endless fight of life against Time.”

Vestiges, which opened in January, examined the first part of this statement: looking at the heritage passed down through the ages. We were cast into the role of archaeologists examining past (or perhaps even alien) civilisations; those which had come before us, as who influenced our existence.  With Wrecks, Gem poses a question to us: what are we going to bequeath to those generations that follow us?

Heritage: Wrecks
Heritage: Wrecks

The inspiration for Wrecks comes from the recent global summit on the threat of climate change held in Paris at the start of 2016, and what will happen if we continue to ignore the warnings nature is giving us as to the consequences of our continued abuse of the planet’s ecosystem, presenting one possible future our descendants might face.

Thus we are taken on a journey into the 22nd century, and a vision of a world which has come to ruin directly as a result of our failure to act responsibly. We become a part of the crew and passengers aboard what is perhaps the last vessel capable of leaving Earth in the hope of finding a new home far out within the Kuiper Belt.

Heritage: Wrecks
Heritage: Wrecks

This voyage takes the form of a physical journey through 15 rooms, each one with one of Gem’s magnificent fractal pieces standing together with a journal entry. Some of the latter appear to be from passengers, other are clearly from the crew. All make soulful reading: personal fears, anguish, melancholy, even despair, at  all that has come to pass, founded on a lament for an Earth thoroughly ruined by the hubris and folly of humanity.

What if, as one entry hints, as the space vessel Orpheus transit the Moon, we had heeded the gentle warnings of the first astronauts to stand on those desolate plains, only to look back at Earth and recognise it as a fragile, precious jewel of life suspended in a coal-black sky?

Meanwhile, the images serve to both underline and also counterpoint the essence of the text. While the landscapes and scenes presented may appear desolate and shattered, so to do they remind us that humanity and nature are powerfully creative forces: what might come from us combining our inane abilities with those of nature, rather than simply putting our needs before those of nature?

Heritage: Wrecks
Heritage: Wrecks

If this sounds an overly dark piece, rest assured it isn’t. Rather it is a layered, nuanced piece which aims to get us thinking about matter of ecology, climate change, and our relationship to this one cradle of life we have: Earth. Yes, there is the warning that if we don’t mend our ways, if we fail to act responsibly towards this fragile environment surrounding us, then we are ushering in the potential of ruin and heartache for future generations.

But so to is there a message of hope; a reminder that it is not yet too late. Just as the crew of the Orpheus, in the final chapter of their voyage, find the means to return to Earth, to reunite with those left behind and offer a way to recover and restore the planet, so to are we reminded that there is still time. We can still take the firm, committed step of ceasing our self-centred denials, excuses and procrastinations and decide we will act more responsibility towards this planet, and in doing so lay the foundations by which we can bequeath a rich, vibrant and healthy world to our children and those who follow them. All it takes is a little collective courage.

Heritage: Wrecks
Heritage: Wrecks

SLurl Details

Music with Anthony: Great American Songbook

Caitinara Bar, Holly Kai Park
Caitinara Bar, Holly Kai Park

Caitinara Bar will once more be hosting Music with Anthony on Wednesday, March 9th. To mark the return of the series after an absence of a week, Anthony will be presenting two hours of music from the Great American Songbook for your enjoyment from 16:00 through 18:00 SLT.

The Great American Songbook: classics for every generation
The Great American Songbook: classics for every generation

From the 1930s through to the present day, the Great American Songbook has enjoyed unrivalled popularity among singers the world over, and features some of the most enduring and best-loved songs ever recorded.

With songs by Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Kern, Mercer, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein and others, sun by legends such as Sinatra, Bennett, Day, Horne, London, Lee, Martin and “King” Cole, these are tune which are instantly recognisable and still loved and recorded today around the world.

To mark the theme, smart casual or semi-formal dress is requested. Anthony, Boudicca, Caitlyn and I look forward to seeing you there!

SLurl Details