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Virtual Cornucopia this Weekend with Burning Life and Warhammer

Someone asked me at the last TechChat if I only participate in virtual environments for business reasons. It made me pause because I have found myself getting away from exploring purely for personal fulfillment since I spend more and more of my time in virtual environments for professional reasons now, all though I must admit that sometimes personal and professional can get blurry when you love your gig. That being said if you are into gaming, creativity, exploring new virtual environments, and making new or connecting with old friends like I am for personal and/or business purposes then woot for you and me because Warhammer is now available (and all ready 500k+ strong) and Burning Life opens tomorrow for its 6th year running.Warhammer is supposedly the bell tolling the demise of World of Warcraft (WoW)…remains to be seen for myself as I didn’t get my act together to take part in the Warhammer public beta but have been playing WoW for years. It was early 2006 that WoW starting getting touted as the equivelant of golf for techies and it is amazing to me the number of my professional contacts who are now personal friends as a result of WoW. Now many of my friends have been and still are raving about Warhammer; this weekend will be my first toe dip into those waters. It must be somewhat up to the hype as 500k+ folks have all ready logged on to Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Now that is an impressive number for sure for a first week release of a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) and from what I read is a record. However, for me to I retire my WoW account (hard for me to even type that) I need a bit more proof that this pudding is the pudding to shame all others off the shelf. For me what has always defined WoW’s successful was its ability to go beyond the launch with continued growth in player numbers and players engaging and playing for years.In addition to Warhammer I know I will have lots of interesting activities to partake in via Burning Life. Burning Life is modelled [somewhat] off of Burning Man…

Dusty Linden explains the Burning Life concept, “Because Burning Life is a mirror in spirit of a real life event, albeit with the unique and creative twists only Second Life can offer, we follow suit. Together, we will build a city, and we voluntarily accept many of the same restrictions that Nature imposes on the real thing. We do this to see how creative we can be with the same palette of materials and to revel in the beauty of simplicity. We use the same blank, desert landscape, and many of the things we build are naked or primitive in structure, easily revealing to the casual viewer how they were constructed. Just pretend that you’re bringing everything you need with you in your car or truck and you’re going camping. Extreme Camping. Really Extreme Camping.”

Watch the below to get a feel for what you can experience by participating in Burning Life.There are some excellent pics of various creative builds over on the Second Life Conceptual Creations blog site. The unofficial blog for Burning Man will help one get a lay of the playa and has links back to the wiki event listings and a map of the area.So what are you doing this weekend? Me I’ll be at Burning Life and trying Warhammer out!

Secure Unified Communications – Cisco Live in Second Life TechChat

This TechChat featured Craig Sanderson, Unified Communications Security Solutions Manager for Cisco’s Security Technology Group, and Danelle Au, Senior Product Manager in the Security Technology Business Unit at Cisco. During this TechChat, Sanderson and Au discussed secure unified communications in the branch and new features to protect against attacks.View this discussion to hear: – Cisco’s architecture for secure unified communications- An introduction to remote access options such as Cisco adaptive security appliance (ASA) phone proxy for secure endpoints and ASA mobility proxy to secure mobile endpoints- How businesses can select the right options for their needs in order to prevent security breaches in both unified communications and other applications Click play below to view the archive of the event.We need your feedback, please complete our survey.To learn more about Secure Unified Communications go to:Enterprise Solutions — Secure Unified Communications Empowered Branch SolutionSecurity in Today’s Empowered Branch webcast seriesCisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security AppliancesASA for Unified Communications Video Data Sheet

Up Skill’ Education Puts the E Back in Effect

The education effect of Web 2.0 is creating many ground breaking initiatives in the rapidly growing Virtual World of Second Life. The premier media academy down under, The Australian Film TV and Radio School (AFTRS) offers the only diploma courses in the real world that explore the link between games or virtual worlds and the cinematic story. There expertise in computer animation and interactive writing has been coupled with their experience of rapidly prototyping digital content through their Laboratory of Advanced Media Production (LAMP)The average age of people in Second Life is in their young 30’s, and they tend to be good at creating unique experiences. The current generation coming has a lot of personal experience gaming and multitasking. They are used to collaborating on projects together on many kinds of platforms at the same time. Gary Hayes who has created the AFTRS Virtual Worlds course and led the LAMP initiative understands the true effect of designing an immersive experience can have. Actively engaging in Second Life doing things creates your own story that others can experience with you. The students are given the tools to create this kind of experience and leverage it across other types of story rich creative media. Such as previsualisation for films, virtual scenes that aid the filmmaking process, real life motion capture, cinematic writing, sound and music for virtual worlds and the roll of artificial intelligence. AFTRS virtual location in Second Life known as Esperance Island is very creative visually and audibly offering an easy to navigate interactive virtual environment for future Oscar winners. Esperance Island immerse students and up skill them by teaching them how to make Machinima’s rich in story developed with improvisation and identity experimentation, hosting screening festivals, presentations and other learning events. They get an E for Effective.

Home Page Update

As you may have noticed we’ve just updated the design of the home page. First, let me note some things that we didn’t change:

  • The top of page navigation works the same way and has the same items. We looked at changing these, but they’re working well today and we felt there was no reason to toy with success.
  • We haven’t removed anything from the page. You can get to all of the same destinations as before.

Here’s a picture of the new home page design as it rolled out this past Sunday: image The changes from the last version of the home page are subtle, but we hope you’ll like them:

  • A bolder, interactive center area (see more below)
  • A section featuring new products that you can click through to see a series of new featured products (not just the one product we used to show)
  • A new link to the Cisco site area
  • An overall cleaner, simpler look

I think a really neat feature is how the center area expands out to become more interactive when you click on the “expand to learn more button”: image We’ll be posting more about the new home page in coming weeks. Enjoy!

Browser Overload

Lately I’m having flashbacks to the browser wars of the last century. For those too young to remember, that was the era circa 1997 when browser purveyors (Microsoft, Netscape, the Opera team, etc) were releasing a browser update about every week, and those of us in the business of running Web sites were constantly scurrying to make sure our sites For those of us who work on Web sites, this was an exciting time but also a nightmare of browser compatibility issues, where every new browser release held the possibility of making some of the millions of our pages appear inexplicably broken. As the world stabilized a couple of years ago with Internet Explorer 6 and 7 and Firefox, it seemed all was right in browserland, and we could move on to other challenges. But, it was the calm before the storm. First, of course, there are all the new “web clients” in the form of browsers on mobile platforms. At Cisco, we’ve made a conscious decision to keep our mobile interface simple and fast, since we know that’s what users on the go really want. You can visit it at our mobile site, But new desktop browsers are flooding in again, too. First, Safari for the Mac — which sometimes behaves differently from the other two — appeared on the scene. IE7, of course, has undergone several updates, all of which need testing. Firefox 3 was recently recently released (or escaped), with a much faster renderer but enough bugs and incompatibilities to drive some early adopters to downgrade back to the earlier version. Very recently, the Chrome browser from Google was released — which of course drove our team to scramble in testing various key pages to make sure they behaved well with this new kid on the block. And, if all that weren’t enough, when I was visiting the Web 2.0 Expo this week I was reminded that Microsoft is readying Internet Explorer 8, which is available for beta download today and should be ready for the masses in a few months. Here is Microsoft’s Sharon Cohen demo’ing it: image This first thing that indicated trouble brewing was the “compatibility” mode button built right into the IE8 interface. I am sure this will go away with the final release, but it’s scary to anyone like me who works on the Web because it means some of my pages might not work in the new browser — even if they have been painstaking tested to work today. For instance, mostly our site looks fine in IE8, but one page that Sharon and I looked at had an odd layering problem. This is a page that works fine in all of the browsers today. There’s actually a line of code that Microsoft is providing us Web types to make sure that our pages will be compatible with the new browser if you can’t test and fix each page. You’re supposed to put this in the header of every page to ensure compatibility: <meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=EmulateIE7″ /> or make sure the equivalent is send in the http header on a per-site basis.All of us here on the Web team are hoping this won’t be necessary. Oh, I knew there was something I didn’t like about the last century!