Monday, 28 September 2009


Meta Place is an online Flash 10 based game making environment and social networking tool that is totally web based. It is similar to Kodu from MS research but not as slick. Some of the tools are a little bit flaky and because the underlying scripting seems to be based on action scripting, the behaviours are limited and a not very intuitive. I think Kodu’s Xbox controller based menu system is more intuitive (with the menu system very similar to that of the Lego Mindstorms code builder). Gamemaker is also superior from a (visual) programming perspective. But MetaPlace does allow for customised avatars, quite a bit of content and customisation I think. You create your own home world and then you can share and jump from world to world. Worlds can be games also.

You do get the feeling that the collection of worlds are populated by a younger audience. Although one game (a weak exploration game called Verik Online) was quite artistic. I believe it is created by two traditional fiddle players from Finland.

The co-creator of Meta Place is Raph Koster. I found Raph Koster through his book “Theory of Fun for Game design” which is an interesting read (so far anyway). It’s available on Ebrary, a library facility provided by IT Sligo Library and other places. I’m sure it’s on Amazon also.

The State of Third Level education in Ireland today - Should Lecturers carry out Research or indeed any additional duties, in the IOT sector

Now that I’m back Lecturing 16 hours a week. Ok that seems like a little, but the Amount of preparation, that goes into being innovative and constantly improving delivery and updating content, with the ever changing technology, is 3 or 4 times that (Ask my wife and family). I am facing the question; “Should I take on the two research students that I committed to at the end of last year”. If I am expected to source funding, to vet students applications, and then take on additional responsibility in supervising research students, it does not seem possible to do all of this and still have any kind of the life. Indeed it begs the question should any lecturer in the institute of technology sector in Ireland take on any extra responsibility. It seems to me at the major problem in the institutional sector is poor management. If management wish lecturers to partake in research then surely a properly resourced research department should be able to approach a lecturer with a student, a research proposal and a source of funding in order to alleviate an already time poor member of the institute. Rather a situation exists at the moment where by either the student approaches a lecturer expressing a desire to to do research in some area or indeed the lecturer themselves have to go looking for a student for a research idea that the lecturer might have. It's another example of a badly organized system in the third level sector. A lack of understanding on the part of management and indeed the public in general, of the workload on IOT Lecturers, especially those working in neck breaking leading edge technologies such as computing and technology is increasingly eroding the will of Lecturers to continue the fight to deliver quality education to Learners. This coupled with the gross mismanagement and corruption that is systemic from the highest levels of the Government down through the educational model, is frankly demoralising the front line staff who are genuinely trying to make education an enriching experience in this Country. For myself I am a professional person, with 20 years experience in lecturing and researching new technology, and I work damn hard to try and keep up with what is going on in my fields of expertise and delivery, but sometimes I just feel like giving it all up and just doing what will get by (and let the dice role were it may), when I see my conditions of service being eroded and my salary to boot. I worry for the education of current and future generations of students, when I see the ineptitude that filters down from on high. Can of worms? Open!

Irish Return Home for a chat

Today at Farmleigh the successful Irish came back to tell us how to get out of the mess this government have got us in. Did the politicians listen? Will they remember what is said? Now I’m looking at the Late Late show at David Mc Williams and Gerry Robinson a guy who sorted out a hospital in the UK, Alan Joyce the CEO of Qantas from Tallaght. All day I have been hearing education being lauded by these returnees and politicians including Brian Cowan talking up technology and Research as the way forward (Yeah right, politicians are ignorant and so full of it and it shows around the midriff, especially the older Fianna Fail fat cats). Politicians are too far removed from reality and are too incompetent in their portfolios to allow anything useful to be done. They make bad decisions for the wrong and usually selfish reasons, rather than fro the greater good. When was the last time an Irish Politician resigned on a matter of Principle or even as a result of a scandal. This together with poor appointments to key positions in State run institutions, FAS, HSE, etc, corruption, back handers, excessive expenses by key members, the list goes on. So lets hear it for education. But lets support it eh? Stop cutting funding to research that would have an impact and help drag this country out of the toilet. Stop hassling educators and trying to fix something that is not broken, stop cutting jobs in the education front line and increasing the stress on those who are trying to make a difference by turning out quality graduates from the third level sector to support recovery. Those who teach teach and those who can’t become politicians!If your going to cut, cut from the top they are the people we can do without. Stop crippling farming, fishing and giving our natural resources away for free. Revive farming and protect and nurture fishing (we are an Island for Christ’s sake!). There is a shortage of food in the world this is set to get worse in the future. Anyway the plan according to David Mac is to put forward 5 business plans and in 5-7 weeks roll them out and the government will support these business plans, but God don’t let them be involved. No free lunch from business though, they’ll make out of it and that’s fair enough. We wait and see.