Mark McCahill: The living dead: Robots/Animatronic Avatars/NPCs for Croquet

Sorry for the blockquote again but checkout Mark McCahills Blog.

Besides working on better looking avatars, my group has been exploring easy ways to get robots into Croquet.

If we are going to build synthetic worlds, it makes some sense to populate them with both live people and simulated characters. The simulated characters can be a sort of automated tour guide, among other things. Beyond the obvious, record-able avatars give you a way to capture the interactions in a social setting and play them back for later study. Even better, during playback, you can hop from one avatars viewpoint to another, and do things like replace the audio track. This fits in nicely with the work we are doing for the immersive language instruction project. Being able to watch a scenario from different viewpoints, play it back and reflect on what is happening is powerful. I keep realizing that this sort of mutable time is at least as important as the 3D visuals for creating learning environments.

The architecture of Croquet makes it straightforward to capture all the messages for a given avatar as you drive the avatar around the space, and then later inject those messages into a robot avatar to do the playback of what happened. So… a sort of robot by recording live interactions was pretty easy. What helped a lot was realizing that this could be thought of as a virtual multitrack recording session, but instead of music, we are recording sound, motion, and gesture. I need to get some of the dance and theater people interesting in all this…

This verges on desktop animation movie making but with the difference that you can walk through the world that the movie is taking place in while it is playing. So instead of just using the synthetic world to create movies (which is the normal approach to machinima) we can do much more interesting things by NOT dumbing the virtual world down into a non-interactive movie.

Next steps: getting a way to edit/tweak the motion/sound that we record/playback, getting a programmatic scripting method in place to augment the recorded motions/sounds. I still need to create the immersive Croquet world version of the immersive language demo movie we recorded a while ago, but now the tools are fairly functional. Our user interface is still clumsy to use, but overall this feels like a good approach to making it possible for anyone to create robots/NPCs. But maybe we should call them Croquet zombies instead?

Dutch city of 175,000 people drops Microsoft Office for


This link is in German, but basically says that the Gronigen, the capital city of the Province by the same name, will save a net of 140,000 Euros by the move in the first year. I’m sure someone can translate the full article and post it in the comments section.

For Educations Sake

richard stallman

Richard M Stallman-What should it mean to promote free software?

Towards the end of this speech Richard explains why its important to use libre software in education, below I have transcribed the deepest reasons, you can download the video or download the audio for the whole speech.

Non-free software prohibits education, non-free software is the opposite of education. it says you are not allowed to learn because everything inside the software is secret.

When students are in their teenage years some of them become fascinated with machinery with software, they want to learn everything and these are the people that are going to become the great programmers, they’re the natural born programmers and all you have to do to enable them to become great programmers is give them free software, and say to them you can learn anything you want, its all exposed, nothing is secret because their going to want to learn about the software they’re using, they’ll type the commands to do something and wonder “how does the program do this when I give the command”, if they’re using non-free software the answer is “its a secret, your not allowed to learn, your not allowed to learn anything, all your allowed to learn is how to run it, your supposed to be ignorant” but with free software the school can say, the teachers can say “oh your curious, well go ahead, the program your using right now is this one and the source code is here, and I’ll even help you find the part of the source code that relates to this problem so that you can start learning”, and the next thing the student will do is say “I don’t think this program is exactly right, I’d like to try changing it”, with non-free software your helpless, non-free software keeps you helpless that’s what it means that its non-free, you cant study it or change it, with free software you can change it, the teachers can guide the students until the students don’t need any more guidance because they’ll learn, by the time they graduate from secondary school they can be accomplished capable programmers, capable of taking a job to do powerful programs, I’ve seen this happen plenty of times.

But the deepest reason applies to every student, schools are supposed to do more than just teach facts and skills, the most important thing for schools to teach is a good attitude towards other people, an attitude of cooperating with other people, helping them out when they need help so schools should say to the young students, to the kids when they first come to school “if you bring software to school you cant keep it for yourself, you must give copies to the other kids when they want copies”, of course the school has to practice its own rule, it has to practice what it preaches so the schools should supply only free software to these kids and that will teach them good habits of living, habits of sharing with other people, if I had a child who was in school, and the school starting trying to teach my child not to share with other people I would tell the teachers “don’t you dare say that to my child, I want my child to be a helpful, kind, cooperating person, don’t you dare say that sharing is wrong”, you know what they say, they say that if you share with other people your a pirate, they’re saying when they use that word what they mean is that helping your neighbor is morally equivalent of attacking ships and that is the opposite of morality, attacking ships is very bad, sharing with your neighbor is good and we should all encourage other people to share with our neighbors and anyone who says that sharing with neighbor is piracy , we have to say loud and clear that they are wrong.

A little while back I was interacting with a group known as TALO and some of their members recently watched this movie so thanks for finding the time to watch it, maybe more about them later. I worry that some of the people in adult online education are like the Don Kings of elearning and I don’t want to get dragged into that so we’ll see what happens.

Dead Children, Absolutely Heartbroken

I read Pascals Blog mostly for FOSS news, one of his recent posts really caught me off gaurd and messed with my head. I want to you to see what I’m talking about. I have to warn you that its absolutely repulsive.
It really breaks my heart to see children educated like that. Sorry if this is a bit much. I’m not taking sides in this and when I try to take a neutral point of view, but this seems so horrible.

Croatian government adopts free software policy

I have a few Croatian/Australian friends so check it out guys time to break out the Velebitsko and Ozujsko Pivo.

Croatian government adopts free software policy

The Croatian government has decided to adopt a free software policy and move entirely to Open Source. Proprietary software leads to too much dependence on suppliers, which can damage the market competition..OSS makes the government’s business more transparent, it will save tax payers huge amounts of cash and strengthen domestic industry.

Screencasting in Edubuntu and windows with Libre Software

I finally looked at Cortado and got it working, a bit of a milestone, it means I dont have to bother doubling up anymore with the flv(flash video). The screencast shows and tells you all the details. Here’s the main topics.

  • Screencasting in Edubuntu and windows with Libre Software
  • Converting AVI to Ogg and flv
  • Displaying the video on a webpage using Cortado for the Ogg and an open source flv player for the flash video(flv)
Continue reading Screencasting in Edubuntu and windows with Libre Software

Bring down the RIAA lawsuits!

Ray Beckerman, one of the leading attorneys standing up to the RIAA, will sit down for a conference call with members and supporters.

Ray will explain how we can fight 3 critical court cases, and he will demonstrate how the record labels collude to produce defective products — defective because they are crippled with DRM.

read the full story