Letter to Participants (Sept 30)


State of Play at Sept 30

Since I wrote to you inviting you to become a consultant a lot has happened. Firstly, almost everyone has replied, and everyone who did said 'yes'. There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about the idea, and Marcus and I arranged for coverage of the GNA and VSNS to be featured in the Times Higher Education Supplement of Sept 16. From the interest that this has generated it's clear to us that virtual education is going to be very important, and this will be the first course to use many novel and powerful techniques:

Requested Action

Please look at all the material in the course and try it out. It took Marcus about an hour. Please don't assume that any of it is final - it's just a starting point for the Simulated Annealing! Please try everything out - there may be some missing hyperlinks and also some of the technology may not work on your browsers - we need to know!

I shall be away next week but Alan Mills will be back. If there are problems with the course, please copy Alan in; if there are problems with the Daresbury server, please contact Alan Bleasby.

Please look very carefully at the timetable, the proposed structure of the course, the suggested prerequisites (note: these are very rough suggestions - I expect that many students will come in knowing a smallish percentage, but they must know some!), and the way that I hope we can put the course together. Please be very open with comments - my role is facilitator, not enforcer.

I'd like you then to provide me with as much of the following information as you can:

That's probably enough for now :-)


We need to start thinking now about which technology we can get onto people's local machines. I've noted RasMol (now runs on Mac - haven't yet seen it Roger :-), Kinemage (?which platforms), tcl (for running scripts to drive RasMol - not essential, but nice to have and portable). Do we intend to have movies?

For the MOO gurus :-). What recommendations about clients? Do we know which run behind firewalls? Do they all work with Web-MOO (I can't see why not...). I assume we are going to have a classroom in the MOO. Any thoughts on what it might have? Also, if we announce this course in 2 weeks time you'll probaly get a lot of visitors - will this work out OK?

(For other consultants who don't have experience of MOOs, Gustavo and Eric and others have built an interface which works with Mosaic but allows you to interrogate objects in the MOO. The MOO has a rich OO data structure which we should be able to put to use, and also, of course, you can talk to people. Despite what you might have heard about other MOOs, BioMOO has an excellent atmosphere and you can find your way around very quickly. I suspect the PPS will have quite an impact on the MOO, especially if we start holding classes with graphical material and access to databases. Gustavo, do you think any present inhabitants will want to be students or consultants on the course? - I'd be happy to treat them as a special case.

Registration and Admin

Alan, I'd be very grateful if you hold the fort here. I have specifically said that we are not registering yet, but there may be some anyway. We don't want to lose their names, and they deserve an encouraging reply. (Other consultants - if you get enquiries, can you plase copy names to Alan and let him know whether you have replied to the students.)

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pmr for pps
Sept 30 1994