A Seacoast in Bohemia

Comfort Me With Apples
October 11, 2007, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Class Notes

This week, the genetics students had their first building session, in preparation for their class project.  It was wonderfully chaotic — they were working on two levels of the Atelier Sandbox, and there is now prim litter everywhere!  One of the students made apples for everybody, each one with one of our names floating over it.   

Apples for Everybody

To help get them started, I gave each of them four simple pre-scripted interactive objects with instructions on how to modify the objects and the embedded scripts.  Each of the objects was a prototype of objects to be found in many places around Genome Island. 

One object was a Notecard Giver, typical of the informational or instructive notecards associated with each of the activities on the island.  A second object was a URL Giver, typical of activities that ask visitors to use an external resource, like a stored spreadsheet, or a database, or a bioinformatics program.  Another was a simple Object Rezzer that popped out a cone when clicked.  The fourth prototype was a color/texture changer that changes the appearance of each member of a group of objects linked to a click-activated trigger. 

In each case, the students were invited to save a reference copy of each object and then make changes in either the object itself or its script.  The objects could also be unlinked so that the individual prims and their scripts could be saved to inventory as separate items.   An early result of this experimentation, after one of the students discovered the sculptie folder,  was the wealth of apples.  I think the apples actually started life as an object label!  Another of the students jumped right into experimenting with object dimensions and textures and filled her space with huge multicolored sculptures. 

I can’t wait to see what these items will morph into next!


October 9, 2007, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Class Notes

No, the title isn’t misspelled. 

Last week I put proximity sensors all around the island to see where visitors go.  There are twenty of them, carefully laid out and sized to avoid overlaps.  The sensors are the Freebie version of Hackshaven Harford’s splendid data collection system, which he offers at Maya Realities.  


The commercial version offers a huge amount of information to sim owners, but even the simple sampling I can do with the freebie version is making a data junkie out of me.    Basically it tells me how many unique visitors have wandered into the range of a sensor and how long they stayed there.  This gives me some idea of how much different parts of the island hold a visitor’s attention. 

It doesn’t tell me what time who went where, but it will give me readouts for the previous hour, day or week, so I can track visits just by collecting data periodically and pasting it into a spreadsheet.   So what have I inferred so far?

1.  People seem to like the Cattery.  The job of the cats is to demonstrate an X linked trait, so each of the parental combinations produces a different progeny set when clicked.  They will also meow at you.  One of my favorite computer simulations for genetics is Judith Kinnear’s CatLab.   The Cattery is my homage to Dr. Kinnear, who is now Vice Chancellor at Massey university in New Zealand.   

2.  However, near the Cattery is a sign that advertises NPR’s Science Friday, which has been broadcasting for the last few weeks from the Science School, my neighbor to the south.  The sign contains a landmark to the Science School Science Friday site and a link out to the Science Friday web site.   Sci Fri at the Sci School is attracting a lot of visitors, so I may be seeing some fallout from that terrific show.  Go Ira!

2.  The numbers of people in various parts of the tower seem to be similar, so people who get to the tower may actually visit all or most of its 20 odd floors! 

3.  The dihybrid test cross is seeing a lot of action this week.   This makes me happy, because my students are working on a linkage assignment there, and are actually spending a lot of time on the site.   YAY!

4.  The big cell on the Terrace gets a lot of attention.  I think people like to pop in and out of it.  I find it sort of energizing myself to get in there and hang out with the mitochondria. 

4.  Nobody loves my giant ribosomes.  I guess this means I need to finish the protein synthesis game!  Maybe the class would like to take this on as a project. 

Now that the sensors are laid out, I will report periodically on what seems to be attracting visitors.