Thursday, December 9, 2010

This blog is looking pretty dead, isn't it?

Too much Twitter and Facebook, too much other stuff demanding my attention. I am re-evaluating what I am doing and how, so this one might go away.

If you came here from a link in one of my profiles, I apologize for wasting your time. I'll try not to do it again.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

New voice services in Second Life

Basic information: and

I sat in on a conference in-world today with Joel Savard (Metanomics) and about 20 SL users (several pretty expert). The topic was the new voice services that Linden Labs announced Tuesday.

These services are still in beta, estimated release is Q3. Some will be of no interest for business or for e-Learning, some have potential, some seem to be just the beginning of probable future developments. All are currently free, this will probably change. Definitely worth keeping an eye on. Of the ones in the press release, we really talked mostly about four:

Voice fonts, aka voice morphing: This is not new technology (screaming bee is an app that has been out for a while). It enables the user to change his/her voice — trans-gender, foreign accents, “AM Radio”, elf, etc. Probably mostly for use in role play environment and machinama. It may be the first step to building voice plug-ins (voice fonts), possibly may lead to text2voice/voice2text apps (interesting for vision-impaired and hearing-impaired). Potential for criminal misuse. Of course, as it is now, when the other person is typing, you don’t know whether their gender in RL matches their avatar’s gender (and with Furries, who the hell knows?), so normal cautious behavior with people you don’t know is still called for.

Avaline: Most of the discussion was about this. Avaline is basically a phone number and voicemail for your avatar. The system gives you an avaline token, which provides a phone number that is good for a specified period of time — hour, day, week. The phone number is good for inbound (to SL) calls only. Calls go to you in-world, and may be made from any phone (landline or mobile), and (I’m not clear on this) from Skype. An IM window will pop up where you are, looks much like text chat (or voice chat request) box now, with a button to hit to accept the call. From that point, it works just like voice chat does now. You can record the call. If you are not in-world when the call comes in, it will go to a voice mailbox in-world, and you also have the option of having the voicemail sent as an MP3 to your email. (Joel has experimented with this — he says the MP3 feature is pretty sucky at this point — the MP3s seem to play back at higher speed than normal.) Apparently the calls into SL can be heard by others in the area (this is just like voice chat — not private), and the tricky thing is that if 10 people are listening to the call, the minutes used (remember that the token is only valid for a limited time) count individually. In other words, 10 listeners for 1 minute = 10 minutes deducted from the value of the token. Not so bad while this service is free, but when you’re paying for the minutes ... Some concerns expressed about the legal implications and possible abuses of the ability to record conversations — will it be obvious that the call is being recorded, does the law require you to notify the other person, etc. Considering this will go on across jurisdictional boundaries, everyone agreed that caution will be required. And maybe an attorney on retainer. This one is available to Linden’s beta testers, including some who were in the meeting who said it does work well.

SLim: One-to-one text and voice app that enables Residents to interact with other Second Life users without needing to have the viewer open. Essentially, this sits on your desktop like any other IM client. Several people in the meeting had tried this out in beta, and they all agreed that it doesn’t work very well yet. Still, something to keep an eye on for folks who live as much in-world as in RL.

Client-side Recording: This is, at the same time, the most potentially useful and the most potentially scary one. It enables Residents to record voice conversations for playback later. It is all client-side. Which means if you are having a voice chat with someone, ANYONE in hearing range can record your conversation — for their own (not necessarily ethical) purposes. YOU WILL NOT KNOW THE CONVERSATION IS BEING RECORDED UNLESS THE PERSON RECORDING IT TELLS YOU. There would be plenty of uses for this in e-Learning and business. Same legal questions, but since the recording is client-side, jurisdiction is potentially a minefield. The app has not been made available to beta testers, so nobody really knows how well it works.

SMS Out: This was in the press release, but nobody has used it and there aren’t many details. It will allow Residents to send SMS messages from SLim to any phone in RL.

The press release notes that in 2010 Linden plans to add conference calls, group chats, and browser-based voice applets on the SL Web site. Will have to wait and see.

ADDED 5/22/09: Dusan Writer has additional details:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Twitter yourself a job

Yet another way to use social media -- finding work after a layoff.

See this article.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Twitter for Business

Know someone who just doesn't get Twitter? Here's an O'Reilly Media webcast that is well worth watching. Just over an hour long, so make some popcorn.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wondering how to use Twitter?

Many professionals have asked me if Twitter isn't just a big waste of time. I don't think so. Here's an answer to this question that I recently posted in The eLearning Guild's group on LinkedIn.

It's like blogs, only shorter. Some people use their blogs to document and share their professional work, and some use their blogs to contemplate their own navels. It's like email. Some people use email to further their professional contacts, some use it to send spam and inbox clutter. Many of us use Twitter productively in our work. It's not the same thing for everyone. It's certainly not the End of Civilization As We Know It.

Some observations and some things you can do (if you want) that *might* help you find value in Twitter in 2009:

- Remember that it's more important to follow than to be followed.
- Remember that it's important to be selective about who you follow.
- Remember that you can UN-follow people if you are more distracted than informed by their tweets.
- Post useful stuff; minimize the number of "Putting on my socks" tweets you leave -- no point contributing to the noise.
- Learn how to use @, DM, hash tags, and RT to carry on a conversation and to share resources.
- Get familiar with the #lrn and #edu hash tags, and use to filter out a lot of the noise.
- During eLearning Guild conferences, use the hash tags designated for that conference to follow what is going on -- lots of good stuff gets reported this way, in real time. Better than reading the blog posts from conferences, in many cases.
- Suggest relevant hash tags to your friends (colleagues) on Twitter, so that you can, as a group, develop your own topics.
- Use Tweetdeck to further filter and organize your timeline -- this may be the most important Twitter management tool available for busy people.

I think that should get you started. There are a lot of good, solid Learning and OD professionals using Twitter. Here are some you might want to follow for starters (and don't be dismayed by the fact that even the pros use Twitter as a social chat channel -- many of us work from home or travel and we miss the chatter and bonding that people who work in offices enjoy).

Me -- @billbrandon
Brent Schlenker -- @bschlenker
Mark Oehlert -- @moehlert
Marcia Conner -- @marciamarcia
Tony Karrer -- @tonykarrer
George Siemens -- @gsiemens
Alan Levine -- @cogdog
Tim O'Reilly -- @timoreilly
Tawny Press -- @tawnypress
Scott Leslie -- @sleslie
Will Thalheimer -- @WillWorkLearn
Cammy Bean -- @cammybean
Jay Cross -- @jaycross
Kathy Sierra -- @KathySierra
Clark Quinn -- @Quinnovator
Inge de Waard -- @Ignatia

... and there are many, many others -- these are just a few of the ones out of the almost 500 people that I follow (and I am nowhere near saturated). When you follow someone, check out the people that they are sending @'s to. If they are interesting to you, follow them.

I hope this helps. Twitter is what you make of it. You really ought to check out how other professionals are using it before deciding that it isn't for you.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Twitter matters or

Even Business Week gets it. Why doesn't everybody?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Flip Video: How is it?

I bought a Flip Video (the 60-minute version) about six weeks ago. My observations:

Good quality video and audio for everyday use and for basic e-Learning apps, but certainly not to compare even with most consumer-grade camcorders. Better than most cell phone video, however. Be sure that you are shooting in a place with enough light: this is not a night-vision camera.

Controls are very basic. Holding camera steady while zooming in or out takes practice. On my camera, the red button is tricky -- hard to stop recording, takes several presses of the button, which is frustrating and also makes for more camera shake.

Editing software does not function on a Mac. Works well on a PC, though it is pretty basic. You can upload to your Mac easily, however. The instructions for converting the video to QuickTime format are pretty confusing, and I still have trouble -- the manual is not much help.

Files are very large, with no way to compress them unless you use third-party software. This means upload times to YouTube can be quite long, ditto for emailing your videos.

I overspent. Considering that most of what I've shot so far has been 1- to 3-minute segments, and I am never far from my PC or my MacBook, I could have saved myself $70 and bought the 30-minute Flip.

Bottom line: The Flip is a nice little camera, just don't expect too much from it. (My cell phone actually makes videos that are as good or better, but of course my phone cost about twice what the Flip did, so it better be good!) Good for interviews, getting video of expert performance/needs assessment examples, plus all the usual informal and family video opportunities. Think of it as being the early 21st century version of the Brownie box camera.