You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2008.

I was working over the weekend on some machinima I have to complete for next week, and was keeping an eye on the Home Camp unconference in London, which was kindly being streamed to Ustream by Andy Piper.  I’ve used Ustream quite a bit in the past as it’s quite useful for streaming live video from events to the web.  However, I later started using the excellent Mogulus as it has SO many cool features that other sites like Ustream didn’t (don’t?) have.

Andy commented that it’s a shame he couldn’t include the side chat box on the stream itself (so he could record it?).  I had played around with that before after seeing Chris Prillo’s channel on Ustream, where Chris has live chat overlayed.

So, I captured the Ustream audio and video and then re-transmitted it live to Mogulus, and also added an overlay which included the text chat, AND included another overlay to one of the SlideShare presentations being used.  Using a feature in Mogulus itself I was able to add in a clickable Twitter feed ticker running along the bottom of the screen for the #homecamp tag, so viewers would be able to see what people are Tweeting.

I will be doing something similar next week for a Japanese event in Second Life, where the organisers want speakers bio’s scrolling across the screen in Japanese.  Sadly Mogulus doesn’t support Japanese, so I managed to create a local scrolling overlay that did the job (after fighting with Windows to install Japanese!).

Anyway, the possibilities of live annotation of someone else’s stream seems quite fun (although potentially illegal!).  A bit like bubbleply, but for live video sites like Ustream.



A quick thought on feeds.  I’m a big fan of RSS feeds for bringing the news to me, one of which is the mightily imporant daily dose of Dilbert.  But… if you just read feeds you are missing out on some very cool stuff out there.  I just discovered dilbert’s “Punch this strip” which allows you to create your own custom punchlines with Scott Adam’s blessing (!)  You can’t do that in RSS.

Also, I find that for some sites, I just like reading the news on the site rather than in an  RSS reader.  They put a lot of effort into making the page looks nice and readable and this meta-data helps the reader know where things are.  It also adds “brand” value – coffee tastes better if it’s drunk in a nice coffee house.

Of course, RSS links through to the sites themselves so no problem there.  Just a reminder to actually visit your favourite sites once in a while to keep the site designers happy.

You know how it is, you try out all the new toys on the block and gradually they fall by the web2.0 wayside using your electronic volcano filing system.  So I thought I’d capture those, “you really must have these” tools so I can include the link in my email footer.  There are lots and lots of others that would make the B list, but for now I wanted to capture the absolute, you really must get these, favourites.  For example when helping relatives with their PCs I almost install these without thinking (once I’ve got their permission).


Screen capture application.  It’s just so useful to be able to snap bits of your screen.  It’s saved to your clipboard ready for cut and pasting and is saved as a file for future reference.  Just assign it to your print screen button, and when you press it crosshairs will appear, you drag to select and your done.  If you are wanting to take pictures from webpages, say for inclusion in a blog, Kwout looks a promising way of quickly getting snippets straight onto Flickr or direct using html for use in blogs like this.  Indeed I’ve used it for the screen shots in this post!  The hyperlinks in the snippets still work too – amazing!

Firefox Web Browser

(I know this is a given for most self respecting web2.0ers, but amazingly some people still don’t use it).  This is the web browser of choice.  Many new applications seem to work better on than internet explorer as the people developing them use it.

Google Toolbar

Why go to google when google can come to you.  I use this many times per day.  I like the images button search too.  Available for IE and Firefox.  Firefox has it as standard, but I like the buttons and the way the search terms become buttons so you can easily search through the webpage once you’ve found it.

Boringly, most of the other “must have” tools relate to stuff INSIDE IBM, so for this post I’m gonna be brutal and keep it to these top 3.

What are your top 3?  Tricky eh!?

Over the weekend I caught up on some of the great material at the ReLive08 conference in the UK last week.  Roo Reynolds, previously of IBM fame, and now “BBC Social Media smarty pants” did a great round-up presentation.

Sarah Intellagirl Robbins

Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins

In it he cited Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbin’s REALLY helpful presentation on comparing virtual worlds.  I highly recommended it.  Skip over the first few slides.  The interesting conclusion on slide 46 is that two of the often cited virtual worlds, World of Warcraft and Second Life, are different in practically every “facet” that Robbins has identified.  In other words, they are hard to compare and contrast in a meaningful way as they differ so much.

I think that this approach potentially gives us a common language and approach to analysis of virtual worlds and which ones might serve well for what purposes.  As Roo noted it also educates us to a great new word (new to me anyway!) – Stigmergy.

If you do a quick analysis using her method and compare the real world with Second Life, they are largely similar.  What does that mean?  Is SL a good place to start for trying out things in the real world?

Ted Castronova’s talk suggested that it’s even better to use games rather than open-ended worlds like Second Life, for experimenting.  His presentation is also recommended.

Using the experimental “Shadowcraft” viewer which add shadows to Second Life. Note the large shadow of the elevated Pod and Boris’ shadow. Also note shadows on folds of Bori’s outfit. His eyes are a bit starey though! 🙂 The developer, Kirstenlee, thinks that Linden will add shadows to the main viewer soon any case. That’s something else IBM’s with laptops won’t be able to take advantage of then! 😉 Have now uploaded a video to youtube… see below…

Here at IBM, we receive many requests from academics interested in virtual worlds research, about our work in Second Life and other virtual environments.  For some time, we’ve been wondering what to do with these requests, as there are generally many more than we can field, but yet we’d love to engage.  So…. we’ve decided to use our own (new!) Lotus Connections community tools platform, to setup a community for anyone interested in engaging with IBM and their academic peers.  The idea being, that many of the requests we receive have similar themes, so by forming a community we can ensure that we don’t all reinvent the wheel and we can all address the big topics that are bubbling to the surface.

Bear with us… 

  • the tool itself is new (read Beta!)
  • it’s early days for us in deciding how best to “run” this community
  • it’s probably me that will have to go in and approve your request 🙂

However, rather than waiting for ages and navel-gaze as to the answers and issues above, we thought we’d be ibm2.0 about it and get the thing running and see what happens!  🙂

So consider this a very soft and quiet “launch”.  If you want to come and play:

  1. Register for an IBM ID.  You’ll need to use an “academic” email address from your academic institution so that we can verify you are an academic.
  2. Request to join the community.
  3. Fill our your profile so people know who you are.
  4. Get collaborating!

Please let us know how we can make it better too!

So… if it becomes something people find useful and is a “success”, we’ll make a bit more of a hoo ha about it, you never know, we might even do a proper launch!  🙂

Watch the video relating to this post here:

Flor and Kevin in GIBM Center

Flor and Kevin in GIBM Center

Today, Flor Estavez, Program manager for The Greater IBM Connection, and I took a wander down memory lane to discuss how I got started in virtual worlds – The Greater IBM Connection, IBM’s alumni network.  We streamed the tour live to my internet TV Station, Boris in Wonderland.

Over two years ago, Jack Mason and I initially held a Block Party, where Greater IBMers from as far away as Chile and Afganistan attended.  The event was a great success and had quite a buzz about it.

As IBM’s prescence in Second Life grew, I built a larger home for Greater IBM on IBM 7,

Opening of the Greater IBM virtual connection center

Opening of the Greater IBM virtual connection center

which is where Flor and I toured around.  We later held a Christmas Party, and later a Machinimania Challenge, to create a machinima about Greater IBM.  Here’s the winning entry:

Flor and I would like to run another Christmas party, so watch this space…

#borisontour Well, last night’s appearance on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe seemed to go well.  I was the first guest.  Take a look…

All done on Tonight Live

Originally uploaded by Boris Frampton

#borisontour Phew! All done on Tonight Live. Interesting to be on the
other side of the camera. Seemed to go pretty well I think. My skype
connection dropped right at the end, but we managed to re-record the end
after the show had done. It should be available over at
tomorrow 🙂 Managed to get in a blatent plug for dogear-nation at the end
for Michael Rowe.

Want to try out Second Life for yourself? Sign up at

#borisontour Full crowd in tonight. Lots of lessons on how to run a
virtual chat show – 1) accept the fact you will crash lots! 2) employ lots
more people than I use for Boris in Wonderland 🙂

Want to try out Second Life for yourself? Sign up at

About Kevin Aires

Add to Favorites

Flickr Photos

TwitterCounter for @kevinaires
November 2008
« Oct   Dec »