We Love Computers Too

It’s a funny time in Hursley at the moment. With lots of people being away on holiday it feels a little empty. That’s not to say it’s been very quiet. The last two weeks have been work experience time in the local area, so there’s been a lot of school age people on site. Being such a big site, Hursley can cater for a lot of of work exp students and it’s a pretty cool place to come and spend a week or two. As you can see from the High Performance Computing office (Emerging Tech’s neighbours), they’ve been making their mark.

We Love Computers

It’s also about this time that people on our regular student schemes start to arrive. We have IBM Futures students (aka PUEs), who are taking a year out of education, normally between college and university. There’s also ITs (Industrial Trainees), who are on the industrial placement year of a sandwich degree. Finally, there’s Extreme Blue students who work on a specific project for 12 weeks during the Summer.

These schemes are important to IBM as it’s a good way to get some of the best people in. A lot of people who start on IBM’s student schemes end up coming back as graduates. Roo, Ian and myself all started in IBM as students (though this was a long time ago). It’s also good experience for the students as they work on real projects right from the start and help keep us (slightly) older people on our toes. There’s normally a pretty active student community, Winchester and Southampton’s nightlife does very well out of IBM students. It’s a great way to spend a year.

Hursley’s Melting

Over Christmas we were having lots of debate about the temperature and lack of a cold snap, in the Hursley area. To be a little more scientific about it I climbed out a stairwell window, braved the thorny raspberry bushes and attached a thermometer to to my old office window (now belongs to Roo and Rob). Anyway, it’s been in the shade all afternoon and its still showing a rather pleasant 32 degrees.


Emerging Tech T-Shirts

As well as producing software products, IBM Software Group has a high output of T-Shirts. If you work in Hursley as part of the Java, MQ, CICS, WebSphere or Lotus development teams, the chances are you have one/several/a shop of team T-Shirts. Now, computer geeks like T-Shirts and not being part of an IBM brand, us people in Emerging Technology were lacking in any group merchandise. So, a couple of hours in Flash and a few experiments with Cafepress later and we have T-Shirts.

ets tshirts

Check out the full range of Emerging Tech fashions here. Coming Soon… EightBar products!

Hursley Bloggers Meetup

We had a bit of a Hursley bloggers meetup today. There’s now quite a few UK based IBMers blogging inside and outside the firewall. We’re lucky to have a good internal blogging setup and most of the people who now write publicly got to grips with the whole idea in the relative safe waters of the IBM intranet. One of the things we’ve all found from writing internally is that we’ve made a lot of new contacts that we wouldn’t otherwise have made. Apart from that, we talked about Singapore (which I think I should get Hannah to write about here), Blogher, Brian’s growing team and the excessive noise made by the Hursley Cha Bar drink making machines.

More reaction to the baseball in secondlife from Cnet

Cnet has a post saying that MLB.com were suprised at the extent of the positive reaction they got to the homerun derby in Second Life.
I did get taking to someone from MLB.com at the home run derby event in the foyer. The reason was simply we had the same game surname. Potato being one of the less common Second Life choices.
This is another example of a strange trigger for interaction. So we have choice of surname ‘cousins’ we obviously have a whole set of mandelbrots in eightbar, location of virtual land next to other influential land being more important than a catchy URL, newbie greeting and helping because other people helped me when I arrived and being at the same ‘webpage’/3d build at the same time, to simply liking someones work enough to tell them. All very intersting extra things that drive interaction in the metaverse.
Anyway hi to Justin Potato from Epredator Potato.

Baby Linden Second Life in Second Life

After a late night at the SL baseball last night, I had to excuse myself early from the event. I announced to all in earshot that I had to be awake for my RL Wife’s scan on our new baby. This scan is the 13 weeks one. I also mentioned, as people do, that we have a nickname for the baby. Last time it was Herbert/Herbertina. This time I have started calling the baby Linden.
My Regina Spektor cd had arrived that morning too so things were all getting very circular.
I could not resist putting little Linden into Second Life, the baby being our second.
Now this is getting confusing!
I dont think this causes the same problems as Scoble letting his son use second life

Live at MLB second life game

I am currently having a late night session sitting here in a baseball stadium with quite a crowd. There are all sort here Lindens (including Phillip). Cory Edo and Satchmo Prototype and the rest of the Electric Sheep Company. The ubiquitous Spin Martin is in the same section as I am. FlipperPa Peregrine, who happened to be around in London during Wimbledon. Busy at work on the Second Life Community Convention
A few people from mlb.com, including a virtual cousin in Justin Potato (Me being epredator potato) are also present.
Algernon Spackler even managed to get in late.
We all gathered in the shop at the start, looking at the great merchandise. Getting our free foam hands to wave.
So far my L$1000 is well spent. As with all these events its the crowd that make it. Avatar wise we were all fairly well sorted. I dropped my usual predator look to help with any lag.
I am not sure I managed to follow the event, thats just a cultural thing.
They had cute little big headed representation of the players, a live updating scoreboard, three screen to watch the live stream and a well crafted live event. It was low lag, all very entertaining, good conversation, a sense of spirit. Everything a live event should be. As lindens improve the platform you can see how the events will easily get more and more crowded.

More pictures here

Trademarks, and presence in the metaverse

Over at Terranova there is a good article on trademarks in a virtual world. This is something that I have a keen interest in. in particular given the work we have been looking at for Wimbledon. Doing a proof of concept, but as an individual who hapens to work at IBM, partnering with the AELTC at Wimbledon, I was very aware of the risks to the brand values of including trademarks and player likenesses in a Second Life Demo.
Equally in a metaverse environment such as second life, it is not just the fact the logo placement is there, its the fact other people can see you interact with that placement through your avatar. People can sit on things, dance on things etc.
Trademarks guardians therefore have much more to worry about than just ‘being’, they have to worry about people ‘doing’ things with them.

Baseball Sneek peek

Hank Hoodoo from the electric sheep company sent me an IM that I got this morning in Second Life, saying the baseball stadium for tonights MLB.com HomeRun Derby 2006 was open for a look around. I had wrriten about this before but at the time I could only look it it from afar.
So I popped along and took a tour. All this is linked to the work on Wimbledon Tennis this year that I have been demonstrating to customers and fellow IBMers, on the potential of Second Life and general metaverse technology in several areas. One key are is the ability to represent a brand and an experience in a much more immersive and sociable way. Event are attended by othre people, interested people. The more events I attend the more I learn how they can be run and the benefits and risks that they bring. This is aside from the other trends around avatar based marketing, social computing and education.
The baseball stadium has been built by people who specialize in this sort of building. Designers and programmers working together. Some people focus on structure others on textures, others on code.
On approach this is very impressive. It has a very authentic feel as a ‘real’ place

The foyer is a shop for branded goods, some team medallions, free foam hands and some nice baseball caps, as you would expect

The approach is suitably stadium like

The internal of the stadium is a baseball diamond representation. I am assuming this will allow avat or object positioning to indicate which base a player is on.
The event will be video cast on the giant screen. There is also a scoreboard on the side of the screen. I am not sure if this will be scripted or manually changed. I am assuming there is some sort of data feed from the event.

The seating areas look a little sparse, but this is due to ensuring that there is a low lag environment. As Second Life scales up these seat numbers will increase.
One approach to event scaling is simply to clone the build on multiple servers, this could even be done automatically as sims filled up. It certainly the on demand approach we would take if we had control over our own servers for such events.

I am looking forward to attending the event. I am not a huge baseball fan, but I appreciate it enough, and want to see how it goes with my metahporical rather than virtual research hat on.
Good luck to the team doing it.