Saturday, June 15, 2019

scottmerrickdotnet drone adventures

Hey, all,

I recently came into possession of a Parrot Bebop 2 FPV drone and I'm beginning to use it for, well, FUN. I'll post more little videos here and on their own  YouTube Channel Playlist  as I collect images from on high with this tasty little tech tool!

I have been collecting filets in my freezer from fishing expeditions this summer, in order to have enough to feed us and friends at an end of the summer fish fry at Chez Merrique (our lovely little home in The Nations Nashville), and yesterday I had a good morning, bringing home 3 catfish and a good sized Redear, also known as a Shell Cracker. But before I ventured out onto my favorite little fishing lake I pulled out my new drone to get some video with the lake manager, Stevie: The swirling, rising mists on the lake were breathtaking on this cool summer morning.

I need to match up some music for this li'l ditty, and will, but for now, imagine some restful morning guitar and mandolin whilst you enjoy:

Saturday, June 08, 2019

VSTE VEN Will Relocate at the End of this Summer

Good morning, world(s). 

Because of my real life work and also my dedication to my volunteer work for ISTE via our Virtual Environments Network for that organization, I don't get out much--into other worthy organizations' activities. But since I do know that the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, a remarkably active learning network in Second Life, is at the top of the list for research and community about learning and teaching in virtual worlds, I want to share a recent announcement. The ISTE VEN made a similar change in 2009, downsizing to our cozy HQ in Second Life at, so it's not surprising, but it is noteworthy! I encourage one and all to quickly visit their Jamestown reenactment build at the link within the post before it goes away: I'm not sure whether it will be rebuilt in their new smaller location! Here's the message, posted on a sign at our HQ by our dear Beth Ghostraven (Beth O'Connell, former recipient of our annual Virtual Pioneer of the Year Award at the ISTE Conference)...

The VSTE VE PLN Is On the Move in Second Life!
June 1, 2019
For over 10 years, the VSTE Virtual Environments Professional Learning Network has maintained VSTE Island, a full region in Second Life, as part of our professional development program. With a shift in focus to expanding to other virtual environments, we have decided to downsize and move to a parcel on the Second Life Mainland, with significantly lower costs.
SAVE THE DATE - The new parcel will be revealed on Monday, August 19, 2019 at 8:00 pm EDT (5:00 pm SLT / Pacific time).
The VE PLN will very much still be in Second Life and other virtual worlds, meeting (almost) weekly on Mondays at 8pm Eastern time. Minecraft Monday will continue on the first Monday of the month at VSTE Place, our shared Minecraft server. Our other excursions include Opensim on Avacon, Unity (including SineSpace and ViWoLe), and other virtual environments new and old. As VSTE Island Facilitator Kim Harrison says, “We need to be good stewards of VSTE's funds."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Jammin' at Hippie Jacks!

Quick verbiage this morning. I'm up in my cheap but serviceable motel room at the Overton Motel in Livingston, Tennessee, having driven down Friday after the last faculty only day of the 2018-19 school year. I'm well rested and washed up from the great day at Jammin' at Hippie Jack's Americana Roots Music Festival down in Crawford, TN, processing pics I took and clearing some 360 videos off my Samsung Gear 360 cam. Stay tuned for the 360s. It takes hours to process just one of them and I have several...

Going to head back down again today and enjoy more music and hopefully play some more. I ran into some friends and managed to jam at their campsite with a fine band last night, The Fumblebuckers. Here, btw, are a few more links:

Lizzy Plotkin
Natalie Spears
Bios of all the performers at Jammin' at Hippie Jacks 2019

Here are some photos, including several panoramas, from early in the first day.

And here's the link to the Google Photos album of all my iPhone videos and pics. There is commentary and a promise for more when the 360 stuff gets processed. Enjoy!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Call to Volunteer

Hey, ISTE members and other curious humans,

Pardon the long and textual post, but I have an important question to ask: Have you been wondering what the meaning of "reality' is?

At the ISTE Virtual Environments Network, we've been exploring that question since before 2000! Surprisingly, we have found some answers. Our professional learning network orbits around the concept of "together at a distance," a term coined by co-founding member Peggy Sheehy. With the advent of new technologies like 3D goggles and rapidly developing innovations in virtual worlds--some of which are actually experientially accessible within 3D goggles--we might expand that concept to "together, anywhere, at a distance."

We meet at least twice a month, together, from wherever we are. It is not unusual for us to gather around a crackling campfire, seated comfortably, dressed stylishly, and everyone lookin' good, to discuss PLN business. I am on a kitchen counter stool in my home in Nashville, Tennessee; Mary is in her living room on an island in the shadow of Niagara Falls; Andy is at his home office table with his son laughing in the next room. Others are in Virginia, or California, or Canada. But--and here's the rub--we are all here. Sure, we could Zoom or Google Hangout, but this is somehow more fun. Everyone needs fun, even teachers!

Kurt Vonnegut's physician son is famously quoted for this comment: "We are all here to help one another through this--whatever 'this' is." That's what we do at VEN: We help one another through this.

Besides our monthly "OOH" (Open Office Hours), VEN produces, at our headquarters in Second Life, a monthly "Focus Session" which features an innovative educator sharing her or his innovative creation that leverages the unique affordances of virtual environments. Often, we teleport from these events as a group to a site within Second Life or Open Simulator, to explore together, communicating in text chat and voice our wonder and our insights, our questions and our answers.

Our huge annual culminating event traditionally takes place at ISTE's annual Conference and Expo. Ya'll, we invented the Playground. Initially that sort of event at ISTE NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) took place for several hours during the conference and was called a "Lounge." The Second Life Lounge at NECC 2007 was where I first met, in person, a core group of ISTE educators who already were meeting regularly in Second Life and whom I already thought of as friends and colleagues. There was even a working docent program within the virtual world, where educators could and did schedule themselves (themavatarselves) to be on duty to meet with other educators, both those familiar with ISTE and those not. The large building at ISTE Island offered a very large stone-paved front porch, where we would "widen the circle" of avatars as new arrivals joined the conversation. At that time there was no voice engine in Second Life and everything was in text chat. I always thought that made me more intentional in my comments than I would have been in voice, and there was a substantial backlash when Linden Lab did enable that feature. 

But I digress, as is my wont. I'm sending out this notice to ask you to join in the fun. Volunteer for ISTE wherever you wish to serve, but especially, serve with us. We will widen the circle with you. It will open up worlds of learning.

Visit and take a few minutes to work through the brief sign-up form. Choose Virtual Environments Netw1ork. We'll be in touch. And, hopefully, we'll see you at the end of June in Philly for ISTE 2019!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Written and produced this morning

I hear this as a sort of Irish folk song, lilting and lyrical, and I may yet make it a song. I had to get it down this morning, inspired by the snapshot of a native neighbor's backyard set. Can you guess which line came to me first?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

New Song

Hey, I've got a couple new songs in the works, but this one is nearly done so I'm puttin' it out there. It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I love fishing. I often say the fishing is excellent even if the catching is not. Well, not that often, since I do most always catch and release those finned and scaley denizens of the aquaverse.

Lake Marrowbone

Here are a couple pics I took just a couple weeks ago:

And here's my song, just invented today and put together with Audacity in 9 tracks: Lake Marrowbone

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Moving through 2019 (it's all going to be okay)

Blogslacker that I am, I drop in here on a Saturday morning to share with you that I'm actually really blogging more regularly at my classroom blog. To see a few things, head on over to the Falcons Tech Lab blog and subscribe to that one if you want to keep up. More and more, I'm focusing on my work at my work, trying to establish a solid learning environment for my ~800 students who cycle through it in the course of a school year in 9 week chunks.
It's a continually changing set of challenges, with 8 good-sized classes each 9 weeks, coming in in alternating A-day/B-day rotations. Our kids are largely in Hispanic-rooted families. Recently I polled a 9-weeks set of classes to see exactly how the language piece breaks down. This was in the way of an end of quarter reflections poll, using Google Forms as its vehicle. Look at this:
from Falcons Tech Lab classroom poll end of quarter 3, 2019
I do maybe have one little announcement. Those close to me may remember that I have been planning to retire at the end of the school year 2019-2020. Well, I'm rethinking that. Although I will have just turned 70 at the end of that May, I think I'm good to continue teaching, I like to joke, until they haul me out of my lab with a toe tag. I absolutely love my work, and now, after persevering through the extraordinarily challenging and frustrating two years that involved teaching in a very difficult inner-city elementary school and then working in two separate buildings with two less than optimal computer setups I am in a lab that is new (albeit with old, wi-fi connected, PCs) and beautiful and which I am making work to everyone's learning advantage. We got into Minecraft successfully this past quarter, and through initial forays into that platform I am inspired to tweak procedures and lessons to really take kids forward in digital citizenship, empathy, conceptual skills, and coding. Of course we will be elsewhere in each 9 weeks journey, but this development is, as I say, inspirational.

The weather over Spring Break, which ends tomorrow night, has been odd, which kept me off my favorite fishing lake, Lake Marrowbone; but that has led to some new organization of curriculum as well as time with my dear son Colin. Today, Saturday, Miranda and Tim are coming over to hang out and have a big vegetable dinner at home with us, then Colin and I will uber downtown to the Mother Church, Ryman Auditorium, to see and hear a favorite indie performer, Kurt Vile, with his band The Violators, opened by The Sadies. It'll be a great time. Tomorrow will be a good day, then I meet my ~200 new students Monday and we are off to new explorations and adventures in the Falcons Tech Lab. I'm good to go.

May you live and learn. Be Good and Have Fun...

scottmerrickdotnet drone adventures

Hey, all, I recently came into possession of a Parrot Bebop 2 FPV drone and I'm beginning to use it for, well, FUN. I'll post mor...