Friday, May 4, 2007

Voice in Second Life

Voice beta!

Today, for the first time, I tested the Voice Beta client of Second Life. In the picture above, you can see a number of avatars with a white dot above their heads. The dot means that they have a microphone on. When someone speaks, such as the avatar in the center foreground, greenish waves eminate from the dot - this is so others know who is speaking. As the area filled up with avatars, this became useful... though if one has preferences set to show names, it is difficult to see. At work, I run SL on a very high end machine, and even when there were 21 avatars in the area, with music playing and with other avatars chatting with voice, there was no packet loss (though others reported it on their machine). What was neat, too, was to hear folks from Canada, UK, Uruguay, Germany, Holland, etc. who were participating in the conversation. The drawback for many of those who do not speak English as a first language is that some are embarrassed by their accents, and some even have trouble keeping up with fast-talking Anglophones. I heard many conversation groups where people where speaking their native tongue, but in large groups, I'm sure English will predominate. Another concern for some is the privacy that text provides. However, from the standpoint of an educator, the voice capability will help overcome some hurdles.

The voice performance, overall, is really impressive. I had to move my mic RIGHT on top of my mouth to be heard well, but even using a headset/mic that is a couple of years old (it has a 3.5ml jack, whereas LL recommends a USB-mic), I experienced no problems. Well, there is an issue with the microphone dB boost, but that's not an issue at the SL end. I am told LL will be rolling out voice to the main grid on May 15th - at least to some areas. The folks I chatted with seemed to be skeptical it would work, noting that it will probably take a few more iterations of the main client for it be fluid. The concern I have is how much of the voice cost will be passed onto the end-user. For instance, for an educational sim, institutions spend $150 per month for tier (1/2 of what others pay). But will adding voice cost much more? I suppose we'll see.

Another issue is how to capture voice conversations. Currently, one can get a transcript of a chat very easily - either by copying/pasting from the chat history window or using a tool like Eloise Pasteur's NoteTaker. It turns out that Audacity works great to record in-world convo. Simply select recording to "What U Hear," and it captures voice coming through SL just as it would coming through any other source. Here is a MP3 (2.5 mb) file that captures some of the conversation I had while in the Voice Beta today. I made sure to get permission from the speaker before putting this on the web!!

The conversation talks about how voice will be received in the SL community. Obviously, some will be very uncomfortable with it, as they do not want to give away gender identity. The speaker mentions software that will change a man's voice to a woman's & vice-versa. He noted that one could detect the difference, but only to a slight degree. The software (US $39.99) he mentions is MorphVOX Pro - Voice Changer 3.2.2 by Screaming Bee. I'm sure it's one of many possibilities. The URL is: (there is an evaluation version available).

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Getting Started in SL for Educators

Created by the good folks at the University of Cincinnati... "This page is intended to tie together resources out on the web for educators, administrators, faculty, and staff who are looking to explore the Second Life medium for teaching and learning. The first plunge into Second Life can be a bit overwhelming, but there is a large and welcoming community of educators out there ready to help you get started."

And their SL Wiki:

Here is another suggestion:
Search the SLED Listserv archives with Google (just type your question and find lots of answers!)

SL International Best Practices in Education Conference (May 25, 2007)

MAY 25, 2007

Planning is currently underway for the first Second Life International Best Practices in Education Conference!

The conference will be held on May 25, 2007 in venues all over the Second Life world, with exciting presentations, vendors and exhibitors, and everything an educator needs to know to get started exploring the possibilities for teaching, learning, and research in Second Life!

PLEASE NOTE: If you participate in Second Life, please be sure to consider joiningthe 'Best Practices in Education' Group. Use SEARCH --> GROUPS --> Best Practices(type this in the text box) - membership is FREE. You'll be able to access Group Notices,vote on proposals, network with interested parties, and stay abreast of Events.

Registration is free of charge and participants will receive in-world goody bags with donations from some of the best content creators in Second Life.

Volunteers, presenters, exhibitors, colleges, and sponsors are still needed! If you are interested in participating, please see the Call for Vendors and Exhibits page, the Volunteer page, or contact the appropriate member of the Conference Team to get started.

Adapted from the SLIC 2007 home page.

The Benjamin Center and Educator Training

The Benjamin Center offers workshops and private consultations to teach beginning, intermediate and advanced platform navigation in Second Life and training in basic educational tools, professional presentations and content creation.

We also have several free classes in basic building, texturing and helpful SL tools (notecard vendors, hovertext and basic signs).

Every Thursday afternoon (4 PM SLT) there is an educator discussion around the Benjamin Center Lodge. This is unmoderated discussion and takes on a life of its own. Usually several different conversations at different areas around the lodge.

Everyone is welcome to visit us in-world or take a look at the website, both are still under developement. If you have questions you can't find at either place, please email me off list.

Posted to SLED listserv, 02 May 2007, by Carla R. Herrera

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

SciLands Group Tells World "Hello, We Exist"

The SciLands is a new group of science and technology sims. They've been organizing for a few months and now they've announced their presence in an official press release, which you can read over at their website.

Photo: Mad Scientist by powerbooktrance on Flickr Creative Commons

SLEDucting Podcast

The SLEDucating podcast now appears in iTunes. If you have iTunes on your sytem you can subscribe to the cast by using this URL:

If you do not have iTunes, but some other aggregator, you can enter the direct feed which is:

This podcast is a text to speech service which means each time a new blog post is up it will automatically appear in the feed, and thus be the next episode of the podcast. Already we have some great authors posting very interesting blogs, more of you are very welcome. Simply create a new account and inform me you wish to be an author.

Chris Hambly will be distributing a SLEDucating radio player in-world this week, which will be free and copy/trans, so you can spread the sleducating podcast around and easily listen. Also direct episode codes can be obtained so you could for example have a listening parcel of the content you choose from the blog posts.

Revised from message posted to SLED listserv 30 APR 2007 by Chris Hambly.

NMC Spring 2007 Survey on Educators in Second Life

Since March 2006 the New Media Consortium (NMC) has been actively engaged in the frontier of virtual worlds with the establishment and expansion of its NMC Campus in Second Life. To further our understanding of how educators are using Second Life as well as to better frame the demographics of this audience, we are conducting an online anonymous survey open now through May 25.
If you are an educator (faculty, staff, student, adminsitrator) and have an active Second Life account, we appreciate your willingness to answer our 42 item survey available at:
It may take you from 15-30 minutes to complete. No personal information will be collected or used in this survey. All results will be made available on our NMC Campus Observer web site
( in late June 2007.
We appreciate the generous cooperation of the educational community we have met and connected with this year in Second Life. Please feel free to forward this message to your colleagues and/or students.

Posted to SLED listserv, 01 MAY 2007, by Alan Levine

SLCC 2007: Call for Proposals (SLED Track)

The educator track last year was one of the best attended of the convention. We had a standing room only crowd and over a dozen presentations, posters and panelists. Last year's presenters are involved in planning this year's events. And we are looking for volunteers!

Join us for the 2nd Second Life Education Workshop at SLCC 07, August 24-26th in the Chicago Hilton.

If you are teaching in Second Life, or want to, then this event is for you. It's also for you if you are interested in researching the tremendous possibilities of Second Life. Please join us! This is intended to be an informal event to support all of us involved with education.

Proposals are due June 29, 2007

Posted to SLED listerv, 20 APR 2007, by Jeremy Kemp

International Spaceflight Museum Spaceport Bravo Grand Opening Week

The International Spaceflight Museum (ISM) in Second Life is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of our second 16-acre sim, known as Spaceport Bravo. To celebrate the Grand Opening, the ISM will host a week long celebration beginning on May 5th 2007 starting with the official opening, and a celebration of the 46th anniversary of Alan Shepherd's historic flight into space aboard the Freedom 7 spacecraft. This week-long celebration will include the unveiling of many new exhibits, lectures, demonstrations, rocket launches and dancing.

Spaceport Bravo joins Spaceport Alpha as host to the premier space museum in Second Life and enhances the collection of exhibits pioneered on Spaceport Alpha. Included in the new sim are new highly detailed exhibits of the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), the Space Shuttle, new rockets and a full-size version of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) - the world's third largest building (by volume). The VAB, built by NASA to construct the Saturn V, stands 184 metres high and contains an interior volume of 3.66 million cubic metres, all of which have been duplicated in Second Life.

Lectures will include special lectures by Prospero Frobozz (Dr. Robert A. Knop Jr. in real life)entitled "The Power of the Dark Side : How we know that the Universe is filled with Dark Matter and Dark Energy", Troy McLuhan, ISM Director, who will tell the story of Alan Shepherd, Kat Lemieux, ISM President, who will speak on the History of the ISM, and Patio Plasma, Director of the Splo Museum in Second Life and Planetary Physicist in real life, who will give a presentation titled "Roving Mars: What is it like to be on the surface of the red planet?".
In addition to formal lectures, ISM builders will be on hand to unveil their new exhibits along with conducting information chats, tours and question and answer sessions. Throughout the week there will be an entertainment venue on Second Life's largest dance floor (the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building), Rocket Launches and Fireworks. In addition, visitors will receive a gift bag of special gifts including a commemorative model of the Freedom 7 Spacecraft, a T-shirt and other goodies.

Members of the press can receive a preview tour of Spaceport Bravo. Please contact Troy McLuhan, Lora Chadbourne or Emileigh Starbrook inworld to arrange a preview visit.


Schedule of Events:

Spaceport Alpha SLurl:

Spaceport Bravo SLurl:

Posted to SLED listserv, 27 APRIL 2007, by Troy McConaghy