Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

Mirror Man in a Second Life

It's 8:00 AM; do you know where your employees are?

Well, if you work for Sun Microsystems, today we're in Second Life. Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world in which Sun has bought some land and built up employee and partner pavilions. And today, April 29, is the coming out party for the Sun Islands.

You need to download and install the Second Life application to visit.

Thankfully, Sun put together a few workshops to help us newbies understand how to interact with the Second Life environment. Basically, you use the arrow keys on your keyboard to turn around and walk where you want to go. (There is also a Fly button which is pretty cool.) I got up to speed with the workshops but I couldn't go faster than 30 MPH when I logged in for today's events. I started out in the Sun Pavilions and teleported myself to a few different places within the Sun Islands. All employees present have virtual world names so it's a bit difficult to figure out who is who although I did get a shout out from Ken Harper who recognized my virtual world name, DocTeger Weiger.

I had no idea where to go so I searched Sun Microsystems. I found Club Java in the list of results and teleported to the night club. I danced but no one was there to join me (except the concierge who I strangely ignored and vice versa) so I moved to the Main Pavilion to see what was happening. A group notice popped up telling us to start moving to the theater in the Sun Islands for the executive speakers. It took me a bit of time to walk and fly there (I can fly, I can fly) and then to get my tush on the cush. Here is a screen shot of the view from my seat.

Now I just sat and watched the speakers. (I might've smoked once or twice.) The first speaker was Bill MacGowan of Human Resources. While he said a lot more, my ears honed in on his discussion of Sun's Open Work program. I am on Sun's Open Work program; in other words, I work from home and go into the office as necessary. It's a great way to work; and Max enjoys it too.

Then I realized that this was a great way to have all-hands meetings for a global company. Now I get it! I couldn't figure out why Sun was putting resources to Second Life but now I see that this is symbiotic with the Open Work program. They needed a way to bring all employees in disparate parts of the globe together, and Second Life is it.

OK, the whole interface of Second LIfe is a little confusing if you are not used to it. The arrow keys work really fast (and sometimes really slow). Redraw was, at times, painfully long. (Could be my Mac. It's been two years and its time for a new one. Should I get the Air? Without a disc drive? Big step.) I also couldn't figure out how to get a larger scale view of wherever I was but, in the long run, I found it a great way to disseminate information.

And disseminate they did. After MacGowan, Rich Green got on stage and spoke about...ta dah...software and the open-source solution. (He also mentioned how anonymity and a virtual world together can bring to the fore some questionable behavior. There were a lot of nudies walking around this all-hands. I'm just saying.) Some guy then spoke about MySQL. That's when I went skiing and crashing cars, knowing full well my insurance rates would not go up. (Yea, yea, someone else used that today.) Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to use Racer's Island. (Some other issues I had were alleviated with the help of chatting and IMing with Second Life/Sun mentors but no one was at Racer's Island. Thanks, mentors.)

After my activities (or lack thereof) I got back to the theater in time to hear Scott McNealy and Karie Wilyard. Then there was a half hour break before Jonathan Schwartz came on. So I teleported around some non-Sun places: Japan Resort, Panda Mall, a rave. That's when the whole thing got a little boring. I'm not much of a video gamer and that's what this seemed like. So I returned to the theater to listen to Jonathan, and then John Fowler started his talk. Second Life is a great option for Sun employees all over to get together. It'll also work for partners and the like - once the learning curve is traversed. I appreciated the workshops and time to get to know the environment and will gladly visit Second Life for Sun meetings - although I'll leave the dancing and other chazzerai for my first life. Sun employees only can check out the Second Life in Sun internal web site but everyone can follow along at the external virtual worlds blog.

And in honor of all the avatars in Second Life, here's Human League singing Mirror Man.

And when I left the room to use the WC in my first life, can someone tell me what my avatar was doing? I'm just asking.

Monday Apr 21, 2008

CommunityOne, Second LIfe and Three Dog Night

Just a few reminders to start your Monday morning:
  1. CommunityOne is coming on May 5, 2008. This FREE open-source conference is piggy-fronted on the Monday before JavaOne begins. There are many, many workshops and sessions to choose from. Those that might interest users of OpenSSO include:

    A PDF of the full CommunityOne schedule can be downloaded here.
  2. Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world. Sun Microsystems now has a few islands in Second Life and are planning a big employee party on April 29. (Sorry non-Sun employees. The party though is only on one of Sun's islands; the other islands are open to all.) I'm not a gamer so I don't usually play around with these types of things but I am attending the employee party. I've already created my avatar - which took forever to finish and looks as much like me as a cartoon character can. Sun employees only can check out the internal web site but everyone can follow along at the external virtual worlds blog.
  3. And to turn this couplet into a triumverate, here's a video of Three Dog Night singing Out in the Country. Sad how relevant this song is today, almost forty years after it was initially written.

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