Monday, December 29, 2008

Can't Log In? Check The Grid Status

Sometimes no matter how many times you type your username and password, you can't get logged into the grid. Remember- you can check the current status of the grid and any issues it may be experiencing at

It's been a quiet winter break... with statwide training and conference workshops and sessions coming up, we're looking forward to a busy winter! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Melany and I are working on still images and poses for the Small Business Development Center's simulations, and it dawns on me that when I first started learning how to move objects around in Second Life, it took me a while to put to memory which direction was which. Coordinates in Second life are still Cartesian, but in math classes growing up, the entire grid was tipped 90 degrees to what is "normal" to what I learned. This didn't come to light for me until I sat down today to work with Melany, and she insisted that this grid isn't the same as a "math grid. "

So, here's a little mnemonic that I've devised for myself that may help you- it helped Melany:

RGB = XYZ, where the red handle correlates to the x value, y correlates to green and z to blue.

Also helpful? Thinking of the way things will actually turn in the real world when correlated to values on the x y z plane - I did this thinking of the way my body moves. R, or red, is like tumbling head over heels, Y or green is like doing a cartwheel, and z is like spinning in place. Does this make sense? Let me know if a better explanation than this is desired.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Homogenous Forests?

If you've been on the island lately, you may have noticed that from our space has emerged a ton of pine trees- the basic Linden evergreen is acting as a placeholder, until we can grow more localized Oregon fauna. Did you know you can help sprout new plants to bring green variety to OR Community colleges island? We have a list of native species we're growing as a group- and making plants in Second Life is pretty easy- we'll happily help you, just come on by during sandbox drop in time! (Plant list, sandbox schedules and more are at our main info site. )

If you'd like more information on the island flora project, drop avatar Ruby Sol a note in Second Life.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lots happening on the island

I just got back from a two week vacation and got a chance to wander around the island this afternoon. It is developing so wonderfully. Go take a stroll! Here are some photos of our hard working builders.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Island Map and Signs

Information signs have been added back into the island landscape, and now includes an island map at our central landing point in the Willamette Lowlands. The tent just behind this spot will house general island information- project process, opportunities to get involved, and an island events schedule.

While the pathways need some fine-tuning adjustment, they are also in place to help aid you in interpreting the island layout. If you want to visit each available area on the island, just follow the path and read each sign to find out what's planned for the space, and who to contact to get involved.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beautiful Sandbox Chaos

For two hours last Wednesday, DharmaPuppy Pinklady and I went out to Rock Creek campus at PCC where we work, and helped introduce a class of 12 CIS133G-Introduction to Computer Game Programming students to the basics of Second Life building. What an incredible experience! Above is a collage of some of the wonderful things that sprouted up in our sandbox in less than two hours. This group of brilliant kids, I'll thank them again for playing. I also learned a valuable lesson. Give kids a system to game, and they will. Always un~check the "allow terraforming" box BEFORE you let the sandbox horde loose. ;)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Sandbox Returns!

The sandbox on OR CC Isle has been set back up, complete with streaming jazz from our very on KMHD at Mt. Hood community college. This space on the island is set to allow anyone who comes to Second Life a spot to try building- using public sandbox spaces in Second Life is totally free! It's also set to auto-return objects that are created there after six hours, so nothing permanent gets left.

Do you have a project you would like advice or assistance in building? Check our weekly island schedule for drop in sandbox hours- volunteers are available on OR CC isle during this time to assist. Or, just come on by, sip a virtual cup of joe, and hang out and watch others build while listening to some smooth, smooth jazz.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Construction Continues...

The island is nearly finished being terraformed- the general layout is stable and all of our planned land masses are in place. I've popped up a temporary tent city in for the Willamette lowlands- Regulus and I will be working on more permanent structures soon- it's been a busy project week outside of Second Life.

This week, I'll be having a meeting with possible partners from allied health- moving health care simulation space on the island forward is one of our primary goals. We know now that it's easy enough to construct a health care related space in Second Life- now what we need are subject matter experts to help us 'flesh out' a simulation script to test here. Will we do this through interactive objects, or a scripted HUD? Only time and a little formative evaluation will tell.

Also in our new build plans- we have talked from the beginning about wanting a large presentation space, like an outdoor ampitheater on the island- we've decided upon the Ashland open air Elizabethan theater as a model, and it sounds like we may have a theater arts instructor who will be interested in being involved- exciting times!

Now that the island needs only minor land tweaks, the next step is our flora project! Stay tuned for when the "how to make plants in Second Life" workshop will be held on the island in the next few weeks....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Upcoming Terraforming Plans

Hi Island team! (and anyone else out there keeping an eye on our project ;)) You may have noticed a few things like trees missing from the island lately...

We're moving into the next phase of our development, which includes running terraforming tests on the island, starting this Friday, October 17, through Monday October 20th. DharmaPuppy PinkLady and I will be making a terraformation mess over the weekend, so the island may or may not be available. At the meeting on Monday October 20th at 2PM- we will be presenting multiple possible terraformed futures to the team, and between the 20th and 27th, we'll put design plans on our main information site.

If you have items on the island, we will be returning them to you to be sure they don't get lost during construction. Come join us if you would like to be involved in terraforming or selection of the future island look! (Note- we do have some guidance on what plans we are aiming to meet, please see project documents at the main information site.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Term Prep- Next Meeting, 9/29- 2PM

Welcome to the 2008-09 school year everyone! Prepping for fall term is one of our busiest times at our individual institutions, so the island group is focusing on our campus needs for the next week- a new date and time has been set this year for our meetings- we're in the Cascades on Mondays at 2PM. Come join us for some virtual coffee, real camaraderie, island development and instructional planning!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SLCC 08 Poster Session Followup

In Tampa while we were giving our presentation, a number of questions came up during our session that we didn't get a chance to address- there were many interested people asking questions at once, which was awesome! It made for a bit of a chaotic session, though, and I wanted to make sure that everyone's questions about our project were addressed.

First, the SLURL for our island:
If you have Second Life on your machine, you can click this SLurl, and Second Life will launch and you will be transported to OR Community Colleges Island.

-How did we approach administration with our project? As a group! :) Group support for such a new and unique technology has really helped us bind together to create a salient justification for exploration of Second Life. I have a Masters of Arts in Learning and Technology focusing on Avatars, Cognition and Community in Second Life, which makes my physical administration of the island a good fit (though I will say I am just a conduit to organize everyone's incredible efforts- Second Life takes a village more than any other technology I've worked with.)

-How do we overcome security issues? We take advantage of system affordances that allow us to secure the space technically, like group permissions levels and land controls that don't allow pushing for instance- but in the end, we approach the space with the open hearts and minds of pioneer explorers, and know that if things go awry, well. Time is expensive, but pixels can be regenerated, and humans usually learn more poignant lessons from mistakes- great teaching moments can arise from strife. We all also realize that we can guide the space, but we can't really control it.

- What about our build or train priorities? We believe it is most important to train as many people as we can to think of this space with their higher order hats on- and that there is already a TON of incredible content in Second Life to utilize for teaching and learning. We will be putting the vast majority of our project funds into preparing folks to use the environment, rather than building out an elaborate build on OR CC Isle. Now, that's not to say we don't want to have a nice island that people want to visit- but we recognize that the success of this project is found in the human efforts atop the pixels. "The sauce", so to speak.

Whew! I think that's all that got missed, but remember, if anyone has questions about our project, please contact us in world, or come to the island. We're meeting this term on Mondays at 2PM. We'll be taking a small break for the next two weeks to get Fall term up and running, so our next meeting is September 29th- come on by and join us!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I'm here in Tampa, and Regulus and I just got through with presenting an in-world poster session for the conference proceedings that are happening in world. There were a few technical challenges, which I could expect in a hotel full of people using Second Life at the same time (incredible lag!)- and I was happily overwhelmed by the curiosity that seems to exist around our project. A HUGE shout out to Regulus who is an incredible presenting partner, without him I think the chaos of so many questions at once would have buried me! :) And THANK YOU to everyone who came to Rockcliffe to hear us speak about the project today- as I said at the end of the presentation, it may be that amidst all of those questions flying about, Regulus and I may have missed yours - I will be posting the transcript from our presentation at our site at - and will get to any questions that we missed during the presentation when I get home from Tampa on Monday - trying to take in as much as I can and meet you all while I'm 'here' is my primary priority this weekend.

I will say I was also excited to hear shout outs about others who are attempting similar projects, and very much look forward to continuing this dialog with you all as we grow forward!

Funny thing- that may have been the quickest half hour of my life! And, I meant to get a picture of the event to post, but was so involved in presenting, I didn't take a shot. Anyone got an image of our presentation? Please send it our way. :)

As we say in Hawaii where I grew up, Mahalo nui loa!! (Thank you very much)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

East and West Office/Condo Teleport Boards

Hooray! Just a few days later, and we have a functioning teleport board, that lists the names of spaces that are already occupied- so great thanks to DharmaPuppy Pink Lady for jumping in feet first and learning how to script by building items the island needs to do it- what a win win! :)

This makes it easier for all of you to come in and find a space to use - choose a numbered space, verify it is indeed the one you want, and then let DharmaPuppy PinkLady or me, MonicaMarlo Martinek know via a note card or IM in Second Life that you've found your new virtual office.

What exciting pixels! (A discussion of why they're more than pixels with human effort involved some other time...) We can't wait to promote the availability of this space to interested faculty and staff this fall. We've got a short list of tasks to complete to get the island ready for it's next stage of technical development- Regulus and I will be meeting to generate our timeline and project plan as a structure to seek a developer with.... stay tuned for a busy and exciting fall term here on OR Community Colleges Island.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Virtual Office Space!

Our project has received funding to develop forward with professional assistance, yay! For the rest of the summer and some of Fall term though, we've got temporary structures on the island- one of these is an office tower, that we invite you as Oregon Community College faculty or staff to come in and claim a spot to set up your own virtual space in Second Life.

A few guidelines:

-Some of the tower spaces are already busy being used, and it should be obvious by objects being present in the space when you get there. We're creating a system that will check each space out by the week, but until this gets completed, we're going by the honor system. If you are curious about which space you may use in the tower, please IM or send a note card to me, MonicaMarlo Martinek- I'm happy to assist!

-Please keep your prim use amount to about 150 prims. What's a prim you ask? Prims are primitive objects, the shapes that make everything in Second Life. A single item, like a chair or table, can have multiple prims. You can right click on an item and see how many prims it takes to make the item by the number of objects it lists from the general tab. Admittedly, 150 prims isn't very much, but we have an island limit of 15,000 and want to be sure everyone who wants to participate can.

-Island structures will be going away at some point during fall term to make way for version one of our island design plans. We will give you two weeks notice once this date is announced, and you won't lose any of your items when this happens, but they may be returned to your inventory all at once.

Keep in mind as you explore with us on Oregon Community Colleges island that we're all learning together- for example- I take the greatest care to assure experiments conducted on the island will have minimal impact, but as a space for pioneer exploration, it's difficult to give guarantees that all will be stable from day to day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Come Make Machinima!

I've taken a floor of our condo tower which is still pretty empty and made it all white, and set it's primitive shapes or prims to full bright, meaning they are fully lit no matter what the state of the lighting in the environment. I did this so that we now have a "Machinima Studio" - It's kind of like an enormous Hollywood lot stage, where sets can be popped up and filmed in at will. In the space in the tower there is a sign that you can click and get a notecard of a list of Machinima resources in Second Life and on the web- and a place at Alt+Zoom studios that you can get a free camera to start too! Be sure to read the Alt-Zoom manifesto, and thank BuhBuhCuh Fairchild if you see him wandering the Metaverse for enabling us all with a great tool. :)

Machinima are animations that are made using the Second Life environment and a virtual video camera to record scenes, just like making a real movie but a lot easier and less expensive-and it's a great way to use some of Second Life's abilities for expressing visualizations without having to deal with the complexities of an entire group's direct participation.

Are you an Oregon Community College instructor who would like to try producing a short piece of Machinima to explain something you find your students have trouble getting because it's such an "abstract concept"? If you can imagine a way to visually represent your ideas to express them more clearly for your learners, chances are, we can put our heads together and render our collective imaginations. Bring your ideas to our meetings on Wednesdays, or drop me an email, or notecard in Second Life so we can discuss what it would take!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Presence and Loneliness

It's funny, really. I never get lonely when I am Googling information, or digging through podcasts up on iTunes U, but sometimes when I am on the island by myself doing work as I am this afternoon, I find it feels, well.. pretty empty. I'm assuming this is tied to my sense of embodiment through an avatar, and the expectation that if I am present in a space it would be a very rare thing to be alone had I not sought isolation out. I don't necessarily expect anyone to be on our island yet- we've only been "open" to the public for a few days, and have done no promotions, events or marketing outside of the core exploration team.

So, strangely, I find a moment of childhood comfort in pixels this afternoon. I grew up west Hawaii- in my neighborhood, there were no children within walking distance of me, so many times my playmates as a kid were my stuffed animals and pets. Copping a squat for a few minutes of contemplation on DharmaPuppy's tie-died bear(which she'll be showing us all how to make in an upcoming Wednesday afternoon workshop, by the way)I'm realizing that the affordance of shared space communication offered by Second Life feels like it's quickly becoming something I expect, rather than find novel.

Hmmmm. What kinds of connections exist between my not wanting to be alone here, and humans peferring to learn from each other?

Ok, I think the bear's tie dye has worn off, and I can get back to work now! :)

What a busy week!

Yes indeed, a busy week! It started out with taking over stewardship of the island as owner, which gives me flexible control to do things like create a sandbox for us, and assign media URL's to subdivided parcels on the island. It also gives me build control to jump in and explore just what it might take to build out a space, say, for allied health or the medical lab tech program- both in need of distributed education models to help with capacity building requirements. We've got no choice as a state, it seems there's a dire shortage of healthcare professionals in our future, and not enough space to train everyone necessary in existing programs around the state.

So, I spent a bit of time this weekend looking at what value these spaces can have for health careeducation, and came across a TON of information- the best synopsis I found at - which is a wealth of links to articles, movies, locations in Second Life, all aimed to educate about healthcare topics. In all this searching through the sites of others, in the spirit of sketching ideas out in 3-d to save them, I popped up a few floors in the tower on our island, and created with about six hours and twelve dollars of purchased prims, a space for an example clinical practice simulation, and an example medical lab tech simulation space as well. No, they aren't fancy or interactive yet, but I hope they serve to show that building in Second Life isn't the difficult part of creating immersive simulations to teach- the greater challenge will be in writing the narratives that engage and challenge students enough to want to embody a necessary role to become part of the story, rather than just watching it - keeping them engaged long enough to learn through what one of my heroes 'Squi-dawg' ;) calls "seductive failure".

Another valuable tidbit was found with the Apple Ed community at -
According to Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989) there are six critical components for creating a situated learning environment- apprenticeship; collaboration; reflection; coaching; multiple practice; articulation of learning skills. All of these components are present in VICSR with a learning environment that is contextually rich and highly realistic using high quality audio, graphic images and content based on real life situations."

Important components to design toward as we go forward to imagine what kind of scripted experience within a virtual clinic in Second Life can impart the core competencies we need our future health care workforce to critically understand.

Personally? I hope to channel some 'Dan-tastic!™ inspiration' along the way, and maybe even gain some Sterling advice, as I plan to mine the wealth of creative genius that is in my pack of g8m4 friends heads for ideas on compelling narrative in a virtual space. After all, they've been playing simulation games of one form or another since childhood, and now all engage in MMO's.

...AND I need to invite the nurses and lab techs to an afternoon at Ground Kontrol.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Buggy Today

Here it is Sunday, and I'd like to get a chunk of island work done, but Second Life has been acting strange since last night. Its times like this when I wonder is it our island? Is it all of Second Life? Luckily, the human network there is pretty responsive- a ping out in a couple of directions to friends on separate server instances validate that indeed, Second Life is acting buggy today.

Ah well, sometimes the world makes us slow down and take a break, even when we don't want to. I got a good amount of my task list chipped at yesterday, including better info signage, path markers, the sandbox and it's temporary pop-up 2.5D "Cafe", where each community college has their own table. It's a neat thing to see all of our diverse logos clustered and represented standing together in physical form. I know, I'm a little bit of a sap. Hey, I've never hidden my Oregonian pride! :)

Terraforming changes have happened, a Island zones are better marked with explanation signs, and I am hunting some options for pre-fab buildings to meet our immediate needs for Fall on the exchange and in world instead of doing any actual building today. It takes a lot of patience practice for me to do the same monotonous task twice, so anything maintenance, I prefer to do at a time when the grid is being a bit more stable, even if there are never any guarantees.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Island as a 3D Sketch

While we were in Yachats for the OCCDLA summer retreat, Paula Ascher of CGCC(Ruby Sol) said something that stuck with me about the state of our island. It's like we began with our plans in 2D on paper, first by writing them down, and then doing some preliminary rough mapping graphically. Now between here and knowing what our island build out will truly be, we've been loosely using the space as a sketching sandbox.

We're developing both our vision of what we're doing here as a group, and also our team abilities to define what it is within Second Life at the same time- but there does have to be some point where we say enough is enough, and move forward toward a more cohesive island plan. I think in our collective vision we can all feel how this space can represent Oregon well, but it's difficult for any of us to express exactly what that is sometimes.

Donna Swanson (DharmaPuppy PinkLady) of PCC and I are spending a lot of time 'after hours' on the island to really bring the current island plan as forward as we can in "sketch" fashion now, and using signs on the island to express what our plans are. It's important to us that if you want to get involved, you feel welcome in doing so. It's also important with so many people's wishes being represented here that we be highly communicative about its development phases.. that way you know what's going on, and how you can participate if you want to. (I know so far I keep saying I will go back and blog after the fact, but that hasn't happened much, so for now, I'm trying a phase of blogging as I go... )

Do you have ideas how our group process in island development is going, perhaps you have ideas of how to aid the effort? Please come to our island planning meeting on Wednesdays at 2 PM, we meet around the fire pit in the Cascades.

More Communication Needed

Well, I face a challenge today with such open permissions levels on the island. Because we're all allowed in the current setup to terraform or change the lay of the land, even though I've asked for any major changes to be cleared through the group, we all respond to different levels of what is or isn't OK I think.

Even when a participant is well meaning, when so many cooks are in the kitchen at once and we all add a little salt, well, pretty soon the broth is inedible to everyone. I think I need more information on how to guide democratized spaces through the wisdom of the group, but I am challenged today by the idea that for some people, understanding a limitation toward greater goals can be void from a person's world view, and this is why limitations though not necessarily desirable, do seem to be necessary if I'm not going to spend my Second Life repairing well intended mistakes that change the lay of the land and make it lack functions for the majority of the group.

So my obvious solution is to create permissions levels for group members, and have people outside the admin group come through the same group participation process as everyone else, otherwise I get some group members upset at others for making unintended changes. I try to recognize my own irritation at these changes and neutralize it, knowing that change is just a challenge, but never seems to end up as bad over the long run... I'm making those groups today, but not necessarily happy to have to do it.

In a perfect world, no is understood, agreed upon, and actually means no to everyone participating. Thank goodness we've established one fact- Second Life and our interaction with it, imperfect. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why Persistent Monitoring is Important

I'm in on the island this evening doing some maintenance, and I get this message sent to me via a general broadcast from Linden Labs:

"There is a hardware issue which is affecting some resident’s ability to log in. Some residents inworld may not appear in search, or may appear to be offline. Affected residents may also experience problems rezzing items or making transactions. To be safe, we reccomentd all residents refrain from rezzing no copy items or making transactions until the all clear is given. Some groups may also experience issues related to group abilites. Ops is at work correcting the problem. Please monitor the Second Life grid Status Report,, for further information."

The thing that immediately strikes me- I am sure that this message will go to everyone logging into the system, and it could set people who are new to this environment on edge. It makes me as a seasoned user nervous to do anything in Second Life at the moment- considering if I do something irreversible, I may not be able to get help fixing it. I am not a SL rock star by any means.. so I am not likely to get immediate service, and I can't afford down time.

This is one of the things that piques my interest about the open source platform of Wunderland. When SL has problems, they only have so many people trained to respond. Were we as an academic community to embrace an open source virtual world standard, we could be our own response team. Our only limit then is time, and impetus- and I know MANY passionate folk in education around virtual spaces.

I post this in presenting the thought to our group- what will "support" mean for users of our environment? Can we expect to hold course learning experiences where students pay for a high quality interaction, when our avatars live through such great challenges trying to guarantee a safe and stable place to learn in the metaverse?

I believe it's possible, but then.. you all know, I am a dreamer. ;)

OCCDLA Summer Retreat Update

Howdy team!

I just got back from the OCCDLA summer retreat in Yachats, and the weather was pretty Oregon coast- half sunshine, half fog socked in so thick we couldn't see the beach 50 yards away. I can hardly complain, the coast is beautiful no matter what the weather it seems.

The fog did make it easier to focus on virtual worlds and other group concerns for OCCDLA- so Tuesday morning when Ruby(Paula) presented our progress, all eyes and ears in the room were riveted to find out that our project so far is successful and on schedule. We've asked for sustaining funds for 08-09, as well as a development budget so that we can seek and hire a professional design team to assist in our islands planned buildout. ( The next critical date for funding information is August 6-7th, when CIA/OCCDLA will be meeting in Salem to hash out the annual state budget.

Progress, exciting! :)


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Inagural Meeting

Wednesday May 3oth we held our first on island meeting, with participants from multiple institutions. It was a casual discussion- with a few tasks metered out toward next week's May 7th meeting.

Regulus Darkstone will be focusing on urban development/building plans. Ruby Sol and MonicaMarlo Martinek have enlisted the help of AppleAnn Finkel to add authentic local flora in localized zones that reflect the flavor of Oregon.

A suggestion box has been placed on the island for people to drop note cards into, to share thoughts at our weekly meetings.

Next meeting, Monica Marlo Martinek will be leading a how to basic building clas for 45 minutes, the second half of the meeting.