Sunday, December 25, 2005
A rather interesting, unique, and dear colleague of mine by the name of Michael Gettes was the one responsible for bringing his friend Mark McCahill and I together in the Fall of 2002. Soon after making Michael's aquaintance in a hotel lobby in the ski resort town of Snowmass Colorado, he quickly recognized that my early work on ViOS and my work on what is now part of Croquet would be of great interest to Mark. Michael immediately urged me to get together with Mark. Soon afterwards, on a cold day in the midwest, I made the five hour drive from my home in Madison Wisconsin to Minneapolis Minnesota. There, Mark and I sat for the first time to discuss our visions of collaborative 3D authoring and publishing environments. It didn't take us long to realize that Michael had it right and that our vision was a common one. On that day, a productive and enduring collaboration around what we now know as the Croquet Project was born.
At the time that I was introduced to Michael (by Carrie Regenstein, the then UW-Madison Associate CIO), he was working at Georgetown University where he played a leading role in the development and deployment of university-wide network computing services. Previously, Michael also played a similar role at Princeton University for over ten years. Michael has also played major roles in the development of BITNET & CREN and now works closely with the Internet2 Middleware Initiative and is a member of MACE working in the Directory/eduPerson, Shibboleth and HEPKI project areas. Michael has been at Duke University since 2003 as Duke's Senior Technology Architect and Strategist and was responsible for alerting me to the opportunity at Duke. Lately, I have wondered what life would be like for me sans Yenta Gettes' influence. Thanks Michael - you are a real mensch!
For all you gentiles out there, Yenta is a both the Yiddish word referring to a busybody or gossip, and also the name of the matchmaker in the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Depending on your experiences with Michael, I leave it to you to choose which applies best to him. ;)
Friday, December 23, 2005
As one of Croquet's architects, I'm often asked to provide assistance to people who have downloaded the Jasmine developer's preview of Croquet and who then discover the relative lack of documentation on the system and of the user options when navigating in Croquet spaces. Croquet is at present an unsupported system. Virtually all of the people working on the project are not in a position to provide any end-user support. However, there is an alternative mechanism for help for those in need which comes in the form of the croquet-user list server. Posting your questions to the list is the best way to have your specific questions answered. Go here to sign up for the list.
A lot of people tell me that they hesitate in posting questions to the list for fear that their questions are too elementary given the presence of more technical questions that many folks post to the list. The croquet-user list is there to serve the entire community. When the time comes, it may be necessary for us to maintain several lists. However, right now the community has settled on the croquet-user list. For every one person that asks a basic technical question, there are many more reading the list that appreciate the posting and its response. You should also keep in mind that all questions and responses on the list will serve well as many of us begin putting together Croquet's initial documentation. So please, go ahead and ask!
Monday, December 19, 2005
Last October, Preston Austin and I gave a presentation on the Croquet Project at an event sponsored by Accelerate Madison, a premier Wisconsin-based networking and business support organization focused on information technology issues. Fortunately, the organizers arranged to record the entire presentation and make it available to anyone via Webcast. The Webcast includes the full program and presentation including video, audio and visual graphics. Its one of the only resources on the web that can provide you with view of Croquet technology in action. Click here to view the October 13th, 2005 presentation.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Now that I've moved to Duke University, people often ask me what will become of the Croquet effort at UW-Madison. The short answer is that all of the technical development efforts continue uninterrupted. There is lots of interest in Croquet at Madison and the project enjoys a wonderful momentum there (thanks to the wonderful leadership and support for the project from the CIO's office). During my tenure at UW-Madison, I worked to build a viable Croquet effort there and establish a first rate development team. I hired Howard Stearns over a year ago as technical project manager for UW-Madison's Croquet development efforts. With my departure, he now provides leadership for the entire UW-Madison effort (technical and non-technical). At the time of my departure in late October we were doing three main things in relation to Croquet:
1. Contributing to the creation of the core open source technology
2. Developing specific educational applications in partnership with faculty and instructional staff on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus
3. Creating awareness of the effort and building and organizing an international community of effort
The first two areas will continue uninterrupted at Madison. And while I'm at Duke University, I'll also continue collaborating with the UW team on most of the technical and design efforts. It's the third area of effort that I'll initially concentrate on while at Duke University. Part of this involves setting up a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation for the Croquet Consortium. It is hoped that this will be kind of like apache.org and other open source umbrella organizations. More on that in a future post....
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Here is another interesting tid-bit: The Hong Kong-based computer game company, Artificial Life, recently announced that it expects to release a Java-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for third generation (3G) phones before the end of 2005 (hey - that should be right about now!). According to an article in The New Scientist:
"the game will let players assume a virtual persona and travel through a futuristic cityscape, the company says. They will be able to chat and interact with computer-controlled characters as well as other human players and tackle puzzles that can be solved more easily through cooperation."
If people actually begin using such handheld MMORPGs, wireless providers might profit greately since large numbers of addicted players would be compelled to spend many hours using their wireless devices. I actually don't think people will be inclined to run down their batteries to play an MMORPG over long periods on a small screen. It will be interesting to see how this all develops - and what role Croquet technologies might eventually play in the authoring of handheld social applications.
The complete article in The New Scientist may be accessed here.