Fiona, SpaceNavigator, SketchUp and Second Life

The other day, I received a product evaluation of the laptop version of 3Dconnexion’s SpaceNavigator for Notebooks. I am starting to test it as a navigation and building tool for Second Life. Support for the SpaceNavigator is part of the Second Life Client Release Candidate 1.20. The Release Candidate still seems a little flaky, and I need to do more testing.

However, SpaceNavigator also comes with some very nice demo applications and it works quite nicely with Google’s SketchUp. I showed Fiona, my six-year-old daughter SketchUp and she spent quite a bit of time playing with it. It helped with the old rule that I have about computer games. My kids are free to play any computer game that they can program. For my older kids, they started programming in Logo and MOO code. Yet as virtual worlds become increasingly 3D, they need to hone their 3D creation skills.

The older girls got a chance to play with systems like Open Croquet and Blender. It seems like the SpaceNavigator might be a great tool these systems, but I suspect that they don’t have a large enough user base to justify the development.

I explained to Fiona that I was working on a product review of the SpaceNavigator, and she wanted to add her how comments. They ended up being about SketchUp, instead of the SpaceNavigator, but I thought some of you might enjoy Fiona’s product review of SketchUp:

Well, first you make a square or a circle and then you see this little arrow pointer thing and you click on that and pull up the square or circle. After that, you can make the square crazy by clicking on the thing on the top line with four arrows. Then you might want to color them in. Click on a paint bucket that you’ll see on the top, then all different words come up. Click on any one of them. Then really cool pages will come up. Then click on anything you want to and then click on a piece of the lines that will appear there.

So, over the next few days, I’ll continue to test the SpaceNavigator. However, I’ll also be pleased to see Fiona busy building new objects in SketchUp instead of playing on some of the other, less creative, pre-packaged virtual worlds.

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A Message to ABC about the Presidential Debate

Submitted at

I hope you are truly ashamed for having produced the worst Presidential debate on television. Some of us want to hear the possible next leaders of the free world talk about real issues.

What you did was a grave disservice to our country.

If you found the debate as vapid as I thought it was and believe that we as American's deserve better, I would strongly encourage you to find your own words to express your displeasure with ABC's handling of the debate.

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Hokie Colors, Laundry List and Wordless Wednesday Political Activism.

I’ve encouraged many of my political and non-profit activist friends to participate in Wordless Wednesday. I’m tired of all the activists that spend all their time talking amongst themselves and never interacting with the rest of the blogosphere, or the rest of the world. It seems to me that WW provides a great opportunity to make small comments that help promote specific ideas and actions.

One group that I like is Project Laundry List. They are focusing on the small simple things in our lives where we can make small changes, that if enough of us do it, can have a great effect, such as hanging clothes out to dry instead of relying on electric clothes driers. In the United States, electric clothes driers account for five to ten percent of residential electricity usage. Kim and I hadn’t though about that, until talking with folks at Project Laundry List, and for the past few months, we’ve dried almost all of our clothes the old fashioned way and watched our electric bill plummet.

Today, one of the Wordless Wednesday posts was a picture of laundry hung out to dry in Imperia Italy. I added a comment there about Project Laundry List and I hope it will get a few people to check out their site and think about using solar powered clothes driers.

Also, one year ago, today, a gunman shot and killed thirty-two people at Virginia Tech. At 10:30 this morning, there will be a commemoration on the drill field, and tonight at 8:15 there will be a candlelight vigil. As my own part of this day of remembrance, I have changed the colors of my website to Hokie colors, Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange and will stop at the Memorial Park in Second Life. These actions won’t stop gun violence on college campuses, just as my drying clothes outside won’t end global warming, but it is a little bit that I can do.

And that is what is important, to me about Wordless Wednesdays, the photographs of peoples lives can all be little reminders about how we can work together to help one another out and make our world a little bit better place.

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Wordless Wednesday

Cleaning the saddle, originally uploaded by Aldon.

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Tax Day Odds and Ends

It’s been around two weeks, a fairly chaotic two weeks, but I’ve caught back up on my emails. At least, I’ve gotten down to no unread emails in my inbox. There are still plenty of emails that are flagged for follow-up. So, this post will highlight some of the things I’ve been reading.

On areas is on telecommunications. A few weeks ago was Freedom to Connect. This is an annual event organized by David Isen. I made it one year and try to participate as much as possible via chats and video feeds on other years. This year, I did tune in long enough to hear Dewayne Hendricks talking about Net Neutrality issues. He says that the battle for Net Neutrality was lost years ago, and urges people to pay close attention to what the IP Sphere Forum is up to.

Yet the battles for better internet access continues, and there are two articles that I recently read about these battles in Connecticut. Esme Vos has an article about an RFI issued by Manchester, CT about installing city wide wireless access. Speed Matters has an article abilt HB 5682, "An Act Concerning High Speed Broadband Access", submitted by Rep. Roberta Willis to foster the build-out of high speed Internet access for Connecticut's underserved communities and allow local residents to fully take part in the digital age..

This fits nicely with a recent discussion about digital divide issues that has emerged on the Second Life Educators mailing list. For more on that, check out Stan Trevena’s blog post.

One mailing list that I’m following is talking a bit about how to deal with crime, and I pointed everyone to a great paper published by Harvard's Center on the Developing Child entitled, A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy. I would encourage people to read this.

In other topics, it was recently reported that employees from the “Dr. Phil” TV show posted bail for Mercades Nichols. Mercades is one of the girls involved in the Victoria Lindsey beating. My blog post about the beating continues to get lots of hits each day. In a follow up post, I suggested that these girls need serious psychological help. However, I am not sure that Dr. Phil counts, and based on the photographs in this article about the bail hearing, I’m not sure that Dr. Phil chose the right person to work with. I may be reading more into the pictures than is reasonable, but Mercades looks to me like the ringleader trying to finagle something good out of this for herself. I was also struck by the looks of defiance by April Cooper and Cara Murphy. No, if I were reaching out, I’d probably start with Britney Mayes or perhaps Brittini Hardcastle who seem the ones closest to remorse, based on the pictures in the article.

Then, tomorrow, we remember the shooting at Virginia Tech. Friends in Second Life will stop by at the Memorial Park. In Stamford, Protest Easy Guns if organizing a “Lie In” at 11 AM at Stamford Superior Court, on 123 Hoyt Street. The goal of the Lie-In is “To Urge Congress to Close The Gun Show Loophole And For More Common Sense Federal and State Gun Laws”. Other events are noted at

All of this feeds into my mind as I prepare to speak Thursday evening at a talk about the Avery Doninger case, “Fighting to be heard”. The topic is how Avery’s case “informs our thinking about the types of experiences students face in high school and what they bring to community college.” I suspect that not only Avery’s case, but Tori’s case, the fight for better internet access, for safer schools, and even the issues of early childhood education should all fit into our thinking about “the types of experiences students face in high school and what they bring to community college”.

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