All posts by Sue Thomas

Thousands of ‘Second Life’ Bunnies Are Going to Starve to Death This Saturday – Waypoint

Here’s a grim little curiosity for you; a story about what can happen at the intersection of DRM and virtual pets, straight from the reaches of Second Life.

One of the biggest markets in this unfairly sensationalized virtual world is in so-called “breedables.” These scripted, modeled and animated objects take countless forms—from cats to chickens to dragons to shoes to flowers— with the general premise being that someone buys them blindly (usually in egg or nest form) with certain odds of getting rare versus common varieties.

As their name might imply, breedables can be raised and “bred” with each other, which created a thriving niche of individuals breeding their virtual pets for resale. Beyond that, the features vary from brand to brand. Some breedables can play with toys and interact with their owners, some produce items as part of larger systems, some are more or less just decoration. Most need to eat, as a way to ensure their creators still get a cut of the action while their original product propagates without them. Most need to communicate regularly (if not constantly) with a database, to prevent any tampering.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

Read the whole sorry saga at  Thousands of ‘Second Life’ Bunnies Are Going to Starve to Death This Saturday – Waypoint

Biophilia for patients and visitors at the Khoo Tech Puat Hospital, Singapore

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

This week I’m in Singapore as a Visiting Professor in the Biophilia Research Cluster, based in the Department of Psychology at James Cook University. I’ve seen dozens of fascinating examples of biophilic design here, but this post is about just one of them – the incredible gardens at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

It’s a general and acute care hospital which opened in 2010. Laik Teng Lit, its CEO, commissioned a design which lowers stress levels and helps patients and visitors to relax in what can so often be a naturally very anxious situation. The result is an astonishingly vibrant environment with dense plantings, water features, and carefully designed natural materials across the six floors of the building.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

The hospital is keen to engage its visitors in auditing the wild inhabitants too, so it records all the many different birds and butterflies spotted on the site.

Some weekends there are free classes in yoga, tai chi, and meditation which are open to the public and take place next to the groundfoor waterfall amidst a biophilic riot of colourful plants and foliage.

And there’s another added extra. A rooftop organic community garden is cultivated and managed by local residents who grow a stunning variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of the produce is given to patients and some is sold to pay for the upkeep of the space.

Fig Tree at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Fig Tree at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden

Coincidentally, this week The Conversation featured an article about a rooftop garden project at a church in Sydney, Australia. This one was designed for patients recovering from mental illness, but the principles  remain the same – stress reduction, wellbeing, and general health benefits.

Giant melon in the Vegetable Beds at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden
Giant melon at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Rooftop Garden

At Khoo Teck Puat we were told that members of the community are encouraged to spend time in the hospital’s social spaces. In other words, you don’t have to be sick to go there. And indeed, many students take their laptops and study amongst the flowers, whilst older people and families also regularly go to the hospital just to chill out and relax!

This is the first report on my Singapore visit. More to follow.

For the un-Kindled – a free preview of ‘Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age’, no Kindle required

Amazon’s latest clever idea is the Instant Preview. It lets you dip into a Kindle book without having to install a Reader.

I admit I’ve been surprised at how many of my friends and acquaintances don’t read Kindle books. I just assumed everyone did these days! Anyway, as a result I will be producing a print edition later this year, but for now, if you are un-Kindled, please enjoy this Instant Preview.