Thursday, December 30, 2010

Time Out For Fun

I wasn't feeling very holidayish this year until I came across Divvivity in my hoverboard travels on Snow Day. Suddenly I remembered that I had a party just about every other week when I had the diner in Turtle Dove last year.  What happened? 

Well, it's time to make up for things with a Party!

The annual East Coast Countdown will be held this year at the Starship Diner in Hydrangea from 8:30pm SLT on New Year's Eve.  GoSpeed Racer is tentatively scheduled to spin the tunes (when plans are firmed, this part of the post will be edited) as we ring in the new year in Times Square.  A URL to some webcam will be provided for offgrid viewing while yours truly enjoys a local tradition of cable channel New York 1 covering the event without interference from 11:55est onward.

I got decorations & food for the event, and I'll be dusting off the bunny ball. Free hats will be available as well.

The Dalek will not be present unless someone insists on a snowball fight.

I plan to update the video in time for the party to possibly a classic cartoon.  Today is the last day you can catch the stars of Doctor Who sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by clicking the mural of a cheeseburger deluxe.

Better realign my matrix for this event.

Friends and o-matic subscribers will get an invite; I'll also post the SLURL on Twitter when we start.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Update Scourgemobiles & Test Drive

Three more rezzers, one of them a "bus stop," were found in Heterocera since last writing.  I've updated the list I keep inworld.

Last weekend I sent Snurky to go for an ex-Scourge-sion. hahaha

It was interesting. Not a minute or two into the ride it offered to sell the car, claiming the vehicle was free and the price was for the automated script.  Even if that's the case, using these creators' builds to solicit scripts when at least one of them noticeably left over exploitation of their creations is a bit low.  The ride itself was okay for the first minute as a novelty concept, but the lumbering around got tedious very quickly. These vehicles handle the roads like someone drunk feeling their way in the dark at night to get to the bathroom.

I had an odd visit from a group with dramatic notions of non-involvement.  I neither came to them nor asked for help from any transportation group of residents.  Wouldn't non-involvement suggest that the best course of action would be silent observation from a safe distance?  If they cannot help as friends and individuals then that's that. It's very simple.  At any rate, my position concerns the quality of residents' lives being compromised by the actions of one selfish person's avatars.  Any limitations imposed - and there will have to be to do right by Mainland's denizens - will affect their group and similar ones.  I originally took them to be enthusiasts looking to see the routes built so they could enjoy riding on them with glorious constructs; turns out they have several automated projects among their members.

I'm calling the compulsion to schedule personal, unmanned vehicles on protected roads and rail Skimbleshanks' Syndrome.  That's what they have.  They missed the point of having routes to allow them to enjoy the ride and explore.  Sort of like losing one's soul in a way. I still maintain that if you want to run your own transportation service, do it on your own property like many, far more talented residents have.

This would be a separate behavior from what I'm trying to put a stop to.  The person in question just litters the routes, and enough of us have had our fill of them.  Now all we need is Linden Intervention.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Scourge Continues

So during my break, instead of working on the comic and some new T-shirt designs for the gallery, I went on a mission to track as many Rezzers I could find on Mainland responsible for the Scourgemobiles.  It's very possible that i've missed some in Sansara for the reasons brought up last post. 

I continue to be in awe of what residents have created.  It's really quite nice, from ambitious urban downtown districts on Corsica to lovely seaside towns on Nautlius.  Gaeta along Route 8 consists predominantly of marinas and tropical resorts: Tiki and fishbait; you can smell the seawater.  The inland routes are like driving through a New England Colonial town.

And then the Scourgemobiles - a representation of everything wrong in our society - mar these landscapes.

It's a sin.  It truly is. 

There's even more going on: the use of one Arcadia Asylum's vehicles for this among other builders.  Way more than one fan of AA's expressed that she would not be happy knowing her builds were used to disrupt the Second Life experiences so many at the whim of one person.

In my travels I've met more supporters and made a couple more friends. If anything good comes from all this, I've already got the icing on the cake.

I haven't ridden those things personally, but from what I've heard maybe I should.

There are two bits I've been told about them: first that they nag for money whenever you unsit from one.  Asking for a tip: it is what it is. Either you put a jar in the prefab station or you stop touting it as a free ride.  The other is that if you ride in one long enough, it offers the vehicle for sale - more soliciting.  They're worse than anyone thought: they're adfarms in motion, solocitation scripts dominating protected land, shoving residents out of their way.

Remember my recent post about Linden Labs having to set rules and make concessions?  Remember when new ones are set for automated and unmanned vehicles, and that it won't have been the fault of Linden Labs, Philip, Jack, Blondin, or even the new CEO Rod.  The changes and restrictions were the result of one resident's actions.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Road Less Hoverboarded

  As mentioned previously here and/or on Twitter, I've taken to going to places in Second Life either via TARDIS or hoverboard over teleporting or by Stargate. The folks at New London have given me my own TARDIS landing spot on a moon just a ways from a Judoon ship.  I've mastered three different routes from The Starship Diner to TMA Nessus and the railyards of Gluphasia.  I've easily navigated from Purple in Sansara across the water to Heterocera up the Atoll coast to Starship Diner.

What fascinates me the most is the roadside content.  Think of it: about two-and a half years ago most of Mainland was cluttered with cheesy porn and adfarms along bare roadbeds.  Now the porn is gone, the adfarms are 90% clear, and the roads paved.  In fact it seems properties along these roads live up to what the Moles have put down.  There is true inspiration at work.

While I've made the excursion from Cartoon World in Bay City to Abbotts Aerodrome, it's a dodgy route which involves skirting the Ahern Welcome Area to avoid the lag and 4-way region crossing (especially since once you crash, the ride is over; there are no rezzing zones nearby) and traversing terrain there's the risk of hitting a banline.

I've even attempted from Heterocera to Bay City, a very difficult and irritating route by virtue of poor terraforming and intermittent patches of road.  Even went from Andrew Linden's office hour location in Denby to Abbotts, an equally unpleasant feat with the added obstacle of a full help island region bordered by banlined parcels.

Sansara needs a major replanning.  No access to key areas from roads - when there IS a road - except between the Bay City- Nova Albion - Suburbs sector (and guess what? Two of those communities are not recognized by LL as part of Sansara).  You can see they plopped down some regions, added more regions, still more, pieces added here, some snowy ones there, some beach terrain in the corner...

There's no budget for it nor staff.  It seems to me many people who once owned estates - when they stay in SL - could be embracing large chunks of Mainland more and more; the dollar auctions are empty.

We're certainly seeing less 512's on Mainland.  Homesteads are bringing people into the Noob Continent as a first step (when inhabitants aren't Oldbies or estate owners).  They break out from there in search of open spaces and roomy, configurable land.  It could be why roadside lands more and more have that fresh look to them.  Michael Linden has indicated that he and the Moles have been assigned to add more land to the N C so there's certainly fresh meat for a new generation of property owners to set the look.

Monday, December 13, 2010

LL's Poor Sense of Content Priority or Attack of the Snail Race

A fate befell Snurky yesterday during the Giant Snail Races.  Some preteen hacker (probably - aren't they all?) had placed replicator cubes around the area which brought Hawthorne down during the filming of the Second Chance Race.

Snurky logged back in to be told the region was unavailable and that she would be redirected to a nearby location.  One would have thought that meant the Governor's mansion.  Instead she found herself at the Zindra infohub of Ungren.

As a giant snail.

In a crowd of scantily clad avatars.

It seems Linden Labs hasn't gotten their heads on straight.  Common sense would dictate that someone bounced from a Mature region be placed in another Mature region.

Snurky - as are my other avatars - are age verified and have the discretion to go anywhere they desire.  If I decide to visit some sort of art show on an adult island then there's nothing to stop me, and there shouldn't be. 

Linden Labs on the other hand, has absolutely NO RIGHT to subject me to a random adult experience without my consent. The reasoning being that no one has the right to subject anyone to a random sexual scenario without consent.  It's one of the things which defines civilized society.  Like saying because someone has sex with their spouse it must be okay to rape them; they have sex anyway, right?

We should never have to change our settings. That suggests we cannot trust Linden Labs and that THEIR behavior is suspect.

Snurky saw this as a form of harassment.  A ticket was filed in complaint to Linden Labs.

Meanwhile four other snails appeared in various welcome locations across the grid. One reportedly was threatened for griefing because of their size.  It's not like anyone in snail form could help it.

And the region might not have had to come down.  An overzealous racer had apparently been riling up the troll by private message.  Apparently he wasn't aware that the last thing anyone should do is talk to a troll.  In his paste-down in local chat it was clear they were instigated to the point where they said they would "turn off the Internet" - as expressed in broken English.

On the plus side it wasn't as laggy for the Final race.

This week's broadcast will show just the Final race as a result of the outage.  It just so happened we had just the right number of racers to all be in one together.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Further Pursuit to One Corner

Just to get things straight:

I am a Mark I EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) who has fun masquerading in the visage of The Doctor - which happens to be what the crew called me - in search of intriguing Kodak Moments.

And I'm enjoying the hair.

I'm not a completist and truly no yesman when it comes to any fandom.  But I'm deprived of backstory for a better understanding of my subject and lack enough angles to draw either of his latest generations comfortably.  Short of meeting either in person, I have to satisfy myself with as much video and imagery, while at the same time see through illusions of volume and depth.

If I run around looking like the Tenth or Eleventh Doctor or variants experimenting in other outfits (for example in Starfleet dress uniform), it's not with any premise that I'm The Doctor - other than The Doctor I always was as an EMH.  Confused yet?

Then I must decide whether to refer to the reality of their visages as actors or settle for the illusions which are intended to define their fictional portrayals.

I can already draw rings around those who currently output comics in publications - nothing new about what I do there - but I've raised the bar on myself.  I do that.

The Doctor isn't the only character.  There's an ensemble of grid residents representing not just subcultures, but some contain RL backstory as well.  There's even a main villain.  I have a tendency to give little regard to minor characters with reference to detail, and I'm working to overcome that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Homing in on The Holodays

Snurky starts her career as a snail racer this Sunday.  The theme is "cute animals," so what better choice for Snurky Snoodle than to be a poodle?

In other news, I saw a Vulcan wearing Starfleet Medical pajamas last week.  It's flattering to see that my 7Seas catchables are appreciated.

I suppose I should make some more; if I choose to throw a pajama party then Sevhen has nothing trendy to wear.  Sure she wears her catsuit during regeneration, but what's so special about that?

And you know I'm long overdue for some parties.  Clear out the pet Dalek, lower the counter, bring out the bunnyhop ball, set up some slots with GoSpeed...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time to Pass the Shell Back

Giant Snail Races was to have been Snurky's gig.  Or that's how I feel. When I first ran the Relay For Life through Skybeam in May, it was in part to test the waters and in part to give Snurky something to do.  When they mispronounced her name I thought: okay well maybe this wasn't such a good idea.  Little did I know at the time that they mispronounce  EVERYBODY'S name. 

While I've had fun and might have earned notoriety battling lag on web TV every week (I can't really tell; nothing's changed inworld for my popularity), I think it's time to pass the honors back to Snurky.  It's not like no one won't wonder about her 3D glasses, but if I could get the sponsor shell transfered over to her with RacerX's assistance, it may be apparent that I'm her Bob Mackie while she plugs the gallery.

I'll be giving my tenure a sendoff this Sunday for a cross-country SciLands run.  Why not come join?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elitist Bloggers & Their Doomsday Deathwishes

I have a problem with darling bloggers. Just like darlings of the financial world back in 1929, who CAUSED history by instigating a buying frenzy which became the Stock Market Crash, these bloggers rattle off blather about the end of Second Life in much the same way: they're the greatest perpatrators to the cause, usually just to sound important.

Is it an intentional objective or do they just like to feel important when their sensationalist text perks up the ears of their mindless minions? Did those fools in 1929 anticipate their actions would plunge the United States into The Great Depression? Think the only difference is that for whatever grudge they hold against Linden Labs, these bloggers will be proud of themselves once their jobs are done.

The only problem I see with SL is that it was built by a neo-hippie, who - as usual - tried to use a kind of honor system with how things were regulated while trying to maintain a facade of utopia over a business. Then when he realized that most people - regardless of what their avatars look like - never change and will always be selfish, had to set common sense rules. It was too late; when you give someone an inch and they take a mile, enforcing a yard will never be acceptable.

Big mistake 2: You can't put your staff inworld as friends of your consumers, allow them to amass a following, then fire them. If you've hired them for a nebulous, neo-hippie job description, you're just asking for it.

Most companies downsized over the past two years. In SL's claim that they reevaluated their direction and had to redirect their resources and budget accordingly. To keep their product fresh meant release anyone from nebulous, neo-hippie positions. Yes, they were mostly nice. Yes, some made important contributions, but so could an occasional focus group for less money.

QA and other backend developers and testers. Customer support. The world is outsourcing. You're looking at someone who was a victim of outsourcing in the late 70s. I majored in character animation with a Disney scholarship. Sound like a brag? Don't envy me. It was when they started outsourcing to Eastern Europe and Asia. Only the directors were left. Even Bluth and Disney utilized studios overseas starting in the 80s (old school chums worked on Roger Rabbit in - of all places - Ireland). Nowadays if you can get comparable or better help for less, you're an idiot not to. Suffice it to say I'm still where I've been the past few years because I'm no longer an Email support drone out of 20 agents, which is how I got my start where I work. Two changed departments and I remained to tell agents in other locations what to tell subscribers (they call it Tier 3). Everyone else was let go. So while Linden Labs had to say goodbye to some wonderful people (someone I knew was apparently a QA tester for LL who got the axe), it truly was a necessary and rather unspectacular move in the greater scheme of things.

People you know who left. You were their fans. Some of them contributed significantly to SL's evolution, but mostly in the past tense. Making that breakthrough today doesn't guarantee a lifetime position. You have to continue being irreplaceable, and for things the company needs. Do you REALLY know the true circumstances under which anyone YOU thought was valuable left? Probably not. 

M Linden did the ugly, unpopular stuff. So did Snape in The Halfblood Prince. Was it part of the plan? Tell me: did Philip hire anyone back?

There you go.

The problem with neo-hippies are they're typical and predictible. They have a dream and fund it. The moment it takes on a life of its own, the neo-hippie is repulsed. I've seen it in business. I've seen it with other virtual worlds. In extreme cases the owner tries to sabotage the company or project in an effort to break it down and make it go away. Was the downfall of iCity from such a root cause? We may never know. With most other virtual worlds the founder tried to pass ownership or management over to someone while remain as consultant and appear as a kind of figurehead to the community.

It always appears to be neo-hippies who create virtual world sites. Why? Not being one I can only guess. Perhaps their transient nature reaches a point where they're compelled to run there for a bit. Or they have dreams of utopia and building an empire according to their vision. Then that inconvenience of endurance happens of course.

You have to give Philip credit though. Unless his arm had been twisted by financiers to come back, it's highly unusual for a neo-hippie on the run to step back into place to do bizness stuffs.

You don't think Philip's on the run? Yesterday at this writing his consulting firm was based in some cafe.

Anyway back to the bloggers.  There's a lot of riling up going in. I haven't seen this sort of thing since my days in college decades back, and trust me I'm glad to have outgrown that venue.

Yeah I said it wassup

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: New Doctor Who 5th Series DVD Set

The New Doctor Who 5th Series DVD offers the best you'll ever see for a TV show. The episodes carry a cinematic quality to them. The plots won't insult your intelligence; only once was a key plot aspect predictible (which is a pretty darn good record). These intriguing stories have brought something very special to the UK: a time for everyone to sit together on a Saturday afternoon and watch as a family.

Despite the merit of these episodes, I am quite disappointed with the boxed set. Having collected Series 1 through 4 plus The Complete Specials for backstory throughout the year, I really expected continuity with regard to packaging and content.

Video Quality - You mean I'll have to buy a Blu Ray player to expect the clean quality I have with my iTunes download of Eleventh Hour?  (I bought this when the first Doctor Who Confidential BBC America released on their site showed scenes they themselves cut for broadcast. Think I mentioned last spring their taking a 25% bite out of character and integral continuity from this launch episode)

Cut? They cut the Next Time sequences. Never did before. Sure they're not part of the story but it's still cutting.

Whose bright idea was it to put Time of Angels and Heart of Stone on separate discs?  Common Sense Alert: Extras with Eleventh Hour, then move Beast Below to Disc 2 which ultimately pushes Time of Angels to the next disc.

Why was the BBC Proms show omitted? Two prior musical events have been included in sets. Will it be included with Series 6?

No deleted scenes? There are always deleted scenes. One from Hungry Earth leaked out during the summer, which launched a thousand irrational slash fictions.

Outtakes - not many. An official teaser video covered most of them; there weren't too many more. Some of them weren't even outtakes.  Granted one of the previous sets thought Cybermen prancing around in a park was an outtake too, but we'd have hoped they grew up by then.

Video Diaries - If you blink you'll miss them. Seriously, David Tennant's were far superior, particularly in the Series 2 set, where he took you through genuine impressions and a fascinating view of how a series is constructed. Wasn't it about 90 minutes of content? I think the camera they gave him to use was better as well. The interesting thing I found from this year's video diaries is that the set for the previous TARDIS resides near the new one - with the frames rebuilt. But that's it really.

Meanwhile in the TARDIS - exclusive skits. Well, they're not exclusive. The two sequences circulating on the Internet are the only two they have to offer. All the hype about adventures in and seeing more areas of the TARDIS was BS.  They were clearly shot later and at the same time.  One generates a gaping continuity glitch (Amy's revelation that The  Doctor is an alien and not human occurs AFTER this in the next episode). 

The Doctor Who Confidentials are a bit of a letdown. The Internet clearly reveals that DWC often had more content. A great example was the one for Big Bang. While we got some footage of them shooting the wedding, most of that minisode was devoted not to the making of the an epic production but following Smith, Gillam and Moffat to The East Village to host a screening of Eleventh Hour. Meanwhile a viral video reveals that the UK covered shooting the fez-blasting sequence. Which would YOU rather see on a making-of show? Just how much HAS been kept from us in America with the average Confidential piece taking 10-16 minutes? BBC was a big fail here, giving us nothing more than the teasers available on their site in inferior quality.

What should they have included beside the Proms? Content exclusive to the BBC UK site; you'd think it was exclusive because they were going to release it to us. This would include games, which are not unusual as DVD extras (the one regret of Tennant Era sets was they didn't include Attack of the Graske).

Karen Interviews Matt / Matt Interviews Karen - notable content from BBC UK which I saved off YouTube. Entertaining and insightful sessions with Smith and Gillam. The first thing you'll say to yourself is "She's very Amy." Would have liked these in high quality and included.  Well, I'm including one of them here:

Would anybody else have liked to see the entire readthrough for Eleventh Hour?  A short sequence in the first DWC was very intriguing.

A major letdown were the commentaries.  First of all, the packaging and DVD menu give no information on who is commenting on which episode - have you ever heard of such a thing? A bit insulting; gives us an idea of exactly what the BBC thinks of us.  Second, the two times I set to commentary and started an episode, there was no episode.  There was audio of it in the background and a shot of Moffat, Wenger, and Willis sitting uncomfortably side by side against a wall.  No actors included in comentaries?  Also: why would they use in-vision if these didn't feature Smith and Gillam?  Use audio for behind-the-scenes people. And as much as I am a fan of Steven Moffat's work, he IS a behind-the-scenes person.  Common sense here if not common courtesy with fair warning and an indicia on or in the packaging.  The only time in-vision was utilized previously was for Series 2 Doomsday with Billie Piper and David Tennant.  These were the people you WANTED to watch during Rose's final episode. That and Tennant's video diary entry of Rose's farewell shoot were priceless accounts.  Ditto for audio commentary with End of Time pt 2 featuring David Tennant, John Simm (the Master) and director Eros Lyn.  In fact, for most audio commentaries in series sets 2-4+S, some notable performer was present.

Ultimately? Yes, for the episodes, this is a fantastic set to own.  If you bought all the episodes on iTunes and just want it for the extras, then it's very eh; if you like scraps, go for it. If you're a completist fanatic then no one can stop you and a review may be irrelevent for you to read.

If you've got the UK version, I'd really like to know what was different about what you got in your package.  Were your Confidentials the length of full episodes?  Did the BBC forget we had 1 hour versions on the Complete Specials set?  I'd love take out a moment of nitpicking and compare durations of DWC episodes.  Let's bust those suckers for restricting content on their site not for any international regulations but to cover up what they intentionally deprive USA - and Canadian fans (aren't they region 1 too?) of.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Post-Halloween Glues

Well that was fun.  Halloween should be observed for a week.

I had plans to take the week off in fact.  Due to a scheduling conflict with my boss I was compelled to work Thursday and Friday and use those other days for sometime in December.  Still, there is a perverse pleasure in working for only two days while most others worked five.

I've got some fun photo ops ahead of me with those avatars I've made, but I have to face the fact that I must learn skinning sooner than later if I want to use these without special eyewear.
In other SL news, this weekend's Giant Snail Races will be held in the Skybeam sims.  My first ever race was there.  Snurky in Relay For Life.  The things I didn't know then: Navigating in snail eye view.  A snail stalled out on a narrow path I couldn't scoot past them and had to wait to continue.  That single lasting argument in favor of muting. 

Anyway, it's open to everyone, so grab a free snail from the starting line and join in.  The race will be live telecast on Sunday from noon SLT, which will be Standard Time for us at last.

Finished my sukkah during my mini-holiday.  They've yet to hold the voting over at TMA on Nessus.  Shouldn't stop you from taking a stroll through the contest area.  It's an awesome creative collection of resting spots which represent a wide range of cultural styles.

What else?  Livingtree is nice to explore at this time of year. The trees are beginning to turn.  It will be the last weekend until March that we'll have 7Seas fishing during daylight at Cheep Cheep Landing this Saturday starting at 6:35pm SLT.

Which reminds me: I'll need to upgrade our fishing rods - and maybe test that sonic rod I caught during the Fall Fishing Festival.

I suppose I should design a Thanksgiving snail for two weeks from now...

There's also a memorial event to honor BlueGin Yifu coming up at the Bay City Fairgrounds on 13 November.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Extreme Costume Makeover

The experiment seems to be working.  It's not so difficult to make prim hair the way I want it, and without lagging a sim.    Also since part of my costume relies on an alpha prim, I cannot afford to have it clash with alpha hair.

I'll be sequestered in my TARDIS tonight to complete the hair and work meticulously with appearance sliders.  You can't peek till Show n Tell. 

Well, I *might* wear it in the bleachers at Giant Snail Races if I'm not in either televised race (was in both last week, although I was caught with my magnetic containment field set to noncollision on camera while standing THROUGH a chair).

Update:  I *found* the hair.  Wow never expected that.  I'll save my hair-in-progress for future tinkering.

Anatomy is easy.  VERY easy.  The features are coming out well on the face with the exception of those pinhole pupil eyes and the lack of surface definition.

There seems to be a problem.  The eyebrows won't show.  I can tint the lip color but facial hair of any sort won't change. So if you set a skin color and generate an SL skin, the other features are hidden under the layer?  Well that's no good, is it?!  I've learned from my gestures that default skin - if it is at all possible to use - animates the eyebrows.

If anybody has suggestions for SL brow and sideburn features to show through, let me know?  Thanks much!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What should I be for Halloween?

For Second Life I mean.  In Toontown, Count Fishy will be a skeleton, Kertruffle a bee, with Quackerella and Lucky Toesies as supertoons.  On Sunday the new black cat will get vampire and supertoon suits courtesy of Kertruffle, who has 3 tasks to hand in.

It's an existential dilemma. 

I want it to be twisted because just about anything I come up with will have been predictible to somebody.

On my first Saturday in SL back in 2008, I spent a couple of hours underwater somewhere (I know exactly where actually), editing my appearance until I looked perfect (yes, for what I am this is perfect.  If you don't know what I am then pity you.  I'm not even human).

I believe this time around would require skin work.  I am very organic with that sort of thing, having made a skeleton and other textures for Avatar Studio creations during my VRML years by printing out templates and working on vellum.  Somehow I don't think that technique will work this time.

My friends know what I think of available skins for men:  boring junk.  Think you're cool that you need a shave?  You're a dime-a-dozen Ken doll, pacing around like a caged tiger like the next Ken doll.  You're COMMON! You're DULL!

I won't be dull.  You're dull enough for both of us.  Bring those muscles out some more and you can look ridiculous for both of us as well.

Last night I scoped out the Library.  I grabbed a probable base avatar with full-perm prim hair.  This is going to be interesting. 

There's a range of eyes in the library but I don't like any of them. Their pupils are pinpoints and the sparkles unnatural.  I wonder how hard it is to make those?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Burn2 Ends: Time to wander the dirt road.

So I hear the Lamplighters finally made it up to the temple during a USA night time - to dance on the its ashes on the final day.  I'm sure they're very proud of themselves for throwing away their duty to the community and keeping to themselves for most of Burn2.  It's not why I sought them out.  I really thought such an established group would have upheld its practices at least long enough for me to have been a part of it.

I think in the end though it turned out better.  People got together and just did it.  People got to appreciate the beauty of the temple. People got into the spirit of fire and bringing up the sun.

Having been unable to get close enough last year even to cam in,  it was great to observe The Man burn from just across a sim line.  When Bordello netsplit, I readied myself and crossed over the moment it returned, knowing people would have crashed or logged off in confusion. The Lampies as a group were nowhere in evidence for that 4am SLT burning.  A random number of us - only one other in Lamplighter robes - did the percussive honors with a scratch artist.  Interesting that there is a group of RL burners with shirts displaying photos of themselves at the actual Burning Man festival.  Two of them performed with us.

With Burn2 officially over, I'll have the liberty of lag-free exploration of whatever wasn't burned down.  I reckon there's quite a bit. 

How was this?  As I expected, Burn2 was much much better than Burning Man.  The spirit and feel of the RL one was there. The coziness and randomness of individual styles set one beside the other.  With the exception of #lampiefail and the lag/fill caused by the central tent, it really was perfect.  If only there were resources to create that buffer between the tent and everyone else.

With next year's theme announced as Rite of Passage, I have a head start in pondering a build.  Or two.  When Snurky won the lottery this year I couldn't imagine having her do my style of build.  I wonder if they'll take requests for placement?  This year was ideal with Marianne, Molly, me, and their friends all as neighbors and not sharing a region with the events tent.  Be nice to do it again - and STILL be in it.

I'll add Burn2 shots to this post this evening.  Other Burn2 pictures can be found on Flickr.

Now for the rest of 7seas' Fall Fishing Festival.  They party till LL pick up the regions, which means I've got some relaxing by the water ahead of me this week for both avatars.  We all want that galleon, don't we?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day Off Work to Work

Day off from work yesterday for "F" things: flu shot and preparing for the 7Seas Fall Fishing Festival.  The FFF started up this morning.  This Saturday evening is the Childs Play fundraiser, when all 7Seas vendor sales go to the cause.  So take time out from whatever you're doing and buy bait n fish.  In fact, come to the FFF where some of the best custom catches are in one place. (Or to Livingtree where they have a contest starting every Saturday at 6:35pm SLT and offer coupons for Robin Sojourner's shops to the top 3 winners)

When I get home I'll set landmark givers in Cartoon World, The Starship Diner, and send a message via the subscribe-o-mat.

I'll also set the TARDIS landing point for public use :)

Tonight I'll break from the festival for temple drumming.  Don't know if we'll get another chance if last year is any indication.  They'll be burning The Man on Saturday and Sunday in Bordello, so Rabbit Hole might be equally full.  Well it WILL be.  Perhaps on Sunday while I watch Sherlock on PBS I'll loiter inworld.

If it weren't for agent and lag limitations, this 6-region arrangement would have been perfect for Burning Man.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lighting the Night with Fire & Snails

Yesterday there wasn't even a notice for an evening procession.  No dots on the map over the village.  You know where the rest of us went :)

Tindallia Soothsayer wore her Burning Snail again, which is a breathtaking build.  See her race with it in last Sunday's Giant Snail Races. After so much work it's great she can get more use out of it. Yesterday was her 5th rezzday too. 

There was a big party again in Bordello so we stayed predominantly in Rabbit Hole. People were passing around congas.  It was enough of a turnout that I derezzed my sneakers.

I think tonight I'll do the cowbell.  It was the first thing I played at my first temple dance last year.

Earlier this week DMom2k gave me copy/trans robes she originally made in 2008.  I might put down givee boxes for them during tonight's ceremony.  This way no one has to ask.

It's really a shame what happened to the Lamplighters this year.  You can say it's because of one man, and that's what I keep hearing, but the group in general is following blindly from the looks of it.  Was so psyched for the whole procession thing too.  Their stubborn immobility just brings out the best in people in its wake.  It's proven time and again that tags and status mean nothing.  As long as there's someone at the temple to light up the night sky and welcome the sun, that's what matters.  That's the point.  Take away the temple and what do you have?  Well, the Lamplighters have public baths.  Very fiery.

If they took me off Lampies' access I'd have little to lose personally.  It would be tougher to get more percussions to hand out in the temple, and I don't think those implications would be looked on favorably if they're not already being scrutinized for the nocopy settings on their gifts.

I've got a lot of pictures still to upload to Flickr.  Flickr and AVG don't like eachother very much.  It's always an ordeal when it's more than one image at a time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now We're Cookin'!

Last night was a lot of fun.

I hadn't realized so many people felt the same way about the temple ceremony as I did.  Someone said: "Now it finally feels like Burn2," and that's what it's about!

No one can take the nontangible away, but to get enough random people together to save an event is hard to come by.  Enough of us wanted this.  Thanks to all who made it happen!  As long as the official Lamplighters remain sequestered in their bathhouse, we'll rule the night in the north.

We learned something though: need to remain on the Burning Man - Bordello side of the temple so that any non-lampies and non-campers can use the stuff.  Seems for some reason they've set Burning Man - Rabbit Hole to no scripts.  While campers and Lampies can play there, the sounds are not shared by the other region.

Got all sorts of things passed on to me since yesterday's post.  Among them were sets of robes from 2008 which are copy/trans, so anyone who wants just let me know.  Someone mentioned they had tiny robes as well to offer.  I'll try to grab more percussions as a few went out last night.  Wish I knew where I could get more cowbells?

When I get home this evening I'll prep some shots and upload to Flickr :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

SL's Lamplighters: beginning of the end of an era?

Last year the highlight of my Burning Life experience was dancing with the Lamplighters.  They'd play percussions in their campsite, then lead a run through the main events tent and the legs of the Man, past roadside campsites, away from the lag of the lower, more densely populated regions, all the way to the crystal temple.  There participants could generate their own lag with anyone who wished to participate.

The lamplighters offered percussions and firefans freely to those who asked, as was the spirit of Burning Man and one of its most solemn principles.

They inspired me to join them this time around.  No clashing of schedules this time.  I'd run to the temple each night and dance in flames to bring out the sun.

Things haven't been the same with them this year.

When Snurky and I visited their village before Burn2 opened, it was an interesting educational experience, with different campsites within their village which doubled as an exhibit; you used these items to try out different percussions.  I noticed that there were no boxes of robes or percussions out for people to take.  I figured they just hadn't packed everything out yet.

As it turns out, time and resources did not permit Snurky to make her build.  As soon as I knew this I let them know and someone else got to use the parcel.  No big deal.  There was still the Lamplighters.

Snurky and I had our percussions from last year.  We were sent the Lamplighter robes - those with flame trim, which set them apart from the all-white civilian robes. 

The conditions last night didn't surprise me.  The rules of physics were different witbout SL in charge of the festival and at liberty to commit a frivolous number of sims to the continent - thereby allowing a sim buffer between venues and the rest of it.  Burning Man privately host this year and have been prone to fees, just as any nonprofit org coming to make a presence in Second Life.  Donations, lotteries, and rentals went toward estate fees.  Only 6 regions comprise everything.  Consider the same number of people could attend and be expected to fill into the limited space.  This means everyone situated in regions sharing the main stage (2/3 of the minicontinent) are prone to encounter a full region at any time during the festivities.  This included the Lamplighters' village.

How it was handled by those in charge of the Lamplighters was surprising and a bit of a disappointment when the time came for their procession last night.

With the majority of the sim's populace at the central tent and a small number of group tagged lampers, it was decided unilaterally by one avatar that they would remain sequestered within their home region and drum at the baths.  Because he couldn't bear the thought of them teleporting out of the region, he didn't serve to free up room for the entertainment tent nor use that beautiful crystalline temple - where there was room for Playa residents and wandersby (which I happened to be last year).

Close-minded and separatist, I thought.  Certainly not a service to the community.

This is the event denizens care about and want to be a part of.  The Lamplighter ceremony is what bridges Burn2 with Burning Man.  Sometimes you have to step back and assess the situation objectively:  Does one uphold the integrity of the ceremony by stubbornly refusing to teleport past four full regions,  or does one do so by holding the ceremony where it doesn't compete with a major event?  Let's face it: the temples have always been situated remotely so that discovery and spontaneous participation was welcome if not expected.  It was a true expression of community.  The ceremony generates its own numbers for lag.  Therefore teleporting WAS the only right action in this scenario.  This is Second Life. It has its own physics just as much as the average adult humanoid here is 6-1/2 to 7 feet tall.
When I got to the temple, some were waiting around expecting the Lamplighters.  I put on some robage and took a lantern and walked along the roads of Bordello.  The lights from the myriad of creations were stunning against the dusky sky.  I made my way back to the temple, where I brought out firefans and a conga I had from last year.  A handful gathered around while I drummed. 

A newbie came over and expressed interest in joining in.  I found out then that the conga was not copiable.  If I wanted to give her my conga, I could not play with her.

I did anyway and brb'd to get Snurky to send me something - a set of bongos, a new item she picked up while touring the village.

Back at the temple I was lucky to still have rez access to place the bongo stand down.  How odd that this year the Lampies offered percussions not only uncopiable but requiring group access to use.  For some reason the congas wouldn't work for the newbie.  Maybe they only work for those with group access?  Wouldn't that be odd?  Is that possible?
 The small party hung out until sunrise.  Two wonderful artists I met at BL9 happened in and danced to the rhythm (cool - the conga could play more than one tempo simultaneously).  They said their goodbyes in the morning light and continued exploring the playa.  I derezzed the bongos and called it a night.

If they do the same thing tonight, so will I.

I'll come prepared though, with as many transferable items I feel I'll need to keep a tradition and help anyone inspired to join in.  I tried to find those all-white robes. There were none to be found.

Look for me at 10:15pm eastern time / 7:15 pm SLT in Bordello if so-and-so dictates the same decision.  Certainly no one will ban us for banging the drum where it was meant to occur :)

UPDATE: The mystery of the nonworking conga is solved.  In a way it was about group access.  See, the half of the temple in Rabbit Hole region is noscripts.  Once we all migrated over to the Bordello side, everybody tonight could play together.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Tentative Farewell to BlueGin Yifu

I've learned something from 15+ years in cyberculture: most of the people who "died" haven't at all.  Not in our understanding of the word at least.  They've left the online world, changed their persona without telling anyone, or staged it for attention. Several have attended their own memorial service to find out what people thought of them or get off on seeing friends sad for them.

Occasionally someone on the other side of a monitor truly passes away.  Their family member or spouse logs into their avatar, blog, or Facebook to give enough details: respectful but validating.

Most of us didn't know the RL BlueGin Yifu.  It is my way to respect the integrity of a persona: a person is whom they are with their ideals intact when they come online.  In some ways you see their true selves here.  The most I knew about her offline was what state she lived in and that it was in my timezone.

So BG has always been BG to me.

It's a funny name.  "BlueGin Yifu" sounds like a drink: "I'll have a Blue Gin Yifu - with a twist."  Her name was so catchy that the moles made it into a drink for the Hau Koda terminal lounge.  BG immortalized for posterity, a part of Bay City mythos, and deservedly so.

BlueGin was not someone who started the Bay City Alliance or was the first to make a community group for Bay City.  She had very special - very rare - qualities which combined her passion for Bay City with a calm and patience which served to channel the Alliance's dynamic energies - Marianne, Alx, Alisha, myself, and so many more - during events or projects in such a way that the direction of the group or our projects never veered off course.  As passionate WE all are for Bay City, I don't think any of us could qualify to replace BG in such a role as objectively as she had.

I know she was under the weather last month, but was not aware of to what degree or in what way. For all I know the cause was flu complications or could even have been cancer.  Or maybe a non-medical occurrence like an accident.

We were friends on Facebook.  She made a smartly designed eating establishment for Café World, but last month phased out her games.  It seems that the loss will linger there, as she will appear on my list with an unfinished catering task several times a day and indefinitely.  It is not possible to be removed from someone's catering team. 

Through all this pondering, I have to say this: I haven't yet seen the validation.  Her Facebook is untouched.  BG the human might still be alive somewhere for all we know.  If someone has news, I hope they'll share it with me, as well as schedule any memorial services in SL at a time I can attend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October on the Grid

It's a busy time in SL this month for me.


- TMA's annual sukkah building contest. Working on that one.
- TARDIS expo where we design boxes and consoles.  Still up in the air what to make for that as I get only one shot and have about fifteen ideas in my head.
- FFF has become 7Seas' autumn equivalent of a Fishiversary.  I plan to have a spot.
- Snurky has Burning Man.  I'm taking off this friday to create inworld after having prepared textures.
- Snurky needs to make herself an apron. All the good ones in the Marketplace have blood on them.
- Design a Port-a-Potty for Burning Man. Maybe one each from me and Snurky?
- Prepare Snurky's freebie pack for Burning Man.
- I really need to put up Halloween decorations in the diner.
- I really need to do something albeit minimal for the extra land east of the gallery.
- Doesn't Bay City have an Art Deco festival coming up?  I should complete my gallery for that; I've a nice mural thingie planned for the corner window.
- There's the usual challenge to decorate my snail for a theme at the races.
- Still planning out additional rooms for the TARDIS. I want to wait for the Series 5 DVD to come out in November and see if the added content will include other rooms.  They promise added mini-adventures taking place between episodes.
- I havent forgetten the comic...

I am also going to work on a portrait for an SL friend.  When I had my regeneration party I announced a contest and only one person got it :)

What am I missing?  I'm almost sure I'm missing something...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Mysterious Sighting of Pete Tyler

I forgot to mention yesterday that I saw Rose Tyler's dad on the train.

No really.

I didn't realize it until I heard him say good-bye to someone he was traveling with. I looked up; British accents aren't very common here you know.  He sat opposite me on a right-angle seat at 45 degrees (we all do that here - well, most of us) and was dressed conspicuously clashy: black pinstripe suit, navy-white striped shirt, honeycolored pattern tie... Closely cropped reddish-grey hair, rough features a little rougher than you'd remember from years ago on Dr Who Series 2.

Definitely him.  Stayed another couple of stops before he left.  I looked around at ads and people so it wouldn't appear that I was staring; I mean, what would I have said?

Let me look the actor up before posting this...

Shaun Dingwall

Don't know how accurate PR info is, but according to the web he should be shooting a detective series in the UK nowabouts.

It was definitely him though... unless he has a twin brother.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Da Heck???

"You heard right! WITS is having a THREE day Back To the Academy 50% off sale; all products. [Who Island Main Store Only] As you know Time Lords and Ladies need a TARDIS at the Academy. So it's time to pick up your new TARDIS and accessories. LM enclosed!"

What's up with this notice Snurky got? Someone running a Whogwarts or something?!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rambling Along Gershwin Boulevard

So maybe it was too yellow.

I've added wood trim, which looks fine for the exterior.  Not too sure about the trim inside.  It may be less distracting for future murals and vendors if the wall segments had a common gradient.

Once the first chapter of the comic is up and Snurky's Burn2 is set, I think I'll make more art on tee's and set up the parcel beside my gallery as a park with a kiosk of silly things.

On the Dr Who front, I'm more convinced than ever that the majority of USA fans are scary and way too serious.  I've found the fans from the UK regard the series much the way people of my age here regard The Wizard of Oz.  It's just part of our culture and a neverending source of amusement.  Sure we know every word of the movie and the story of Margaret Hamilton's accident in Munchkinland, but it's more about the music and the fun - and where you were when you first saw it - and less about the serious facts or it being a profound cinematic milestone (which it wasn't actually).

Doctor Who fans threw a FUN party last Friday, with people dressed creatively, silly, and with the simple intent to have a good time.  Some were their Time Lord personae, all unique with a little touch of something Whoish on them (like the one holding a recorder).  The Staypuft Marshmallow Man and Robbie the Robot were on hand.  Creepy little fanboys with their freebie wannabe Tennant and Smith avatars showed up, then left.  You gonna tell me they weren't underage Americans?

I'll see the revelers again no doubt.  Play good tunes and it's hard to get rid of me.

On the "research" front, I've gotten a little sharper at drawing a comics version of Matt Smith for my story (aka "The Other Smith" LOL gotta love some of those fan designations).  Actually it's been fine from the start by the comments of the teaser poster, but it didn't suit my sensibilities.

I'm halfway through watching Series 4 on DVD.  Looks like I'm almost caught up with the new adventures, and just in time.

I'll have to state here what I've since tweeted.  I made a judgement call in a blog post a while back: I've since come to really enjoy David Tennant as The Doctor.  He's a brilliant actor - when he's allowed to act.  That's the key thing.  He put in some marvelous performances before things went over the top and overly insane.  He's also damn good on radio and audiobooks (I highly recommend "Pest Control").  I guess for me he's "The Other Smith" (hahaha... Love that...), and I hope to make a Tenth Doctor story should the first one go over well.

But first things first.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dalek Deco Rift

I never realized (which translates into "I didn't pay attention because I ran inside before the façade rezzed") until the other day and watching the first of a three-parter from series 3 that the town square The Doctor frequently parked the Tardis for extended visits was in Second Life and in a rezzable area, perhaps for the purpose of allowing Tardis owners to refuel.  I see Sevhen and I will be making that pitstop soon.

It would be fun to have friends in the Tardis emerge with us in a procession out of the box until there was a small crowd.  Unfortunately it isn't my region and there's an autoreturn limit of ten minutes, so including GoSpeed to DJ for us during the pitstop is out of the question. 

Then of course we would all pack up and go back into the Tardis and move on - probably to my diner for eats...

And someone would record it on video.  Not me because I lag from it.

By the way, someone let the Dalek out again yesterday.  They opened the back door.  The thing made its way to the road, where Linden Labs returned it to my inventory.
Your object 'Roaming Renegade Dalek v1.10' has been returned to your inventory lost and found folder by (???) from parcel 'Route 4' at Hydrangea 53, 161 due to parcel auto return.

Daleks are fun.  I put one in my dumpster out back for anyone who wants a copy.

Cartoon World...

It's too yellow, even for me.  I'm thinking of wood paneling or lapis trim.  It needs more contrasts.  I have a lapis texture I made 5 years ago for a deco nightclub that I can adapt.  I'll put it to the test.

I was in the Grand Central area this morning for a dr apptment and took a closer look at the Chrysler Building and how they approached window designs. It looks easier than I thought.

I have a design already drawn which I'll fine tune with the things I've learned visiting the Chrysler.

Afternoon: More and more people like the pitstop idea.  Sevhen and I will try a short one tonight, but there may be a bigger todo eventually.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wild and Wacky Grid Doings and Stuff

Learning more about my Tardis, I've set a personal landing point by the freebie dumpster. There are two more sets of levers which offer locations: one is for landing locations set as private, the other for what might be recent locations.  And a third which works with commands to list all landing locations in a specified sim.

3 out of 2 ain't bad.

From first hand experience the DCL network removes deleted landing points from the database after a time, so why are there still dead locations on the list?  hmmm...

Restored the nicer but noisy timescoop to the Cartoon World lobby; you can't get updates without a rezzed product.

Someone who made a neat underhenge for the Pandorica (there are a few now) responded to my inquiry about their restricting the sim from child avatars.  While they can make whatever rules they want for their estate (and I always comply), I have to express what a shame it is when someone makes a rule for the wrong reasons in an effort to justify a bias.  His perspective was, to paraphrase: "I've seen those news clips on YouTube about pervs and Age Play, therefore child avatars are all dirty old men and I don't want them on my property."  Sorry Marianne - that place was cool and I would have liked to take you there on an adventure.

What would The Doctor have said about that?

In other news, Snurky donated some of her bait money to Burning Life for the land lottery.  It's time she got into some projects; she's a deserving avatar.  Burning Life is privately funded now and they need our help.

There are textures missing from my inventory.  All steps taken have not restored any.  I can always re-up them, and I had to in order to restore Errol Flynn trailer access on the gallery property, but I already paid for these the first time.  I think Linden Labs should eat one month of tier, because it was most of the orig Bay City Cartoon World structure and tons of art which cost me (the online comics alone add up to a small fortune).

Emeraldgate.  The fun continues.

Dr Who audiobooks.  I've acquired two off iTunes: one read by David Tennant in the first person and one read by Matt Smith.  I like them, but feel they should be called audioshortstories.  Compare with several CD *sets* I own of Robert Picardo reading Voyager novels; you can best believe those don't come out to under 2 hours per book.

I'm planning a second Dr. Who comic after the current one I'm working on. The second might be for the Tenth Doctor.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Re The Teen Blog Post

In response to the article re The Future of Teens and Second Life  

I was hoping they'd be restricted to the PG regions, but there is a problem: controlling accessible, audible and visible content from the borders.  Two years ago I had land in a PG region, and right on the border was a glass building with photos of explicit sexual acts for sale.  A little higher up and further to the west was an S&M shop with a big, badly drawn poster of two women engaged in something no one should have to see involuntarily, and again it was right on the border.  I wonder if rezoning might be in order, because some people who aren't "mature" get their kicks out of breaking the rules; everyone loses because of them.

As for the shortsighted people who cry Age Play and point at child avatars, let's get this clear in the event plain English didn't suffice the past thousand times people tried to make it clear:

1.  Age Play are fantasies performed by adults. The content and imagery are what come into question, not the actual age of the participants.

2. When did you know of any teen who portrayed a teen or kid?  Do you know the topic of discussion here and the difference between what avatars people choose to portray themselves and the age of participants?

3. On those two points, are you ignorant of the fact that people in SL who portray children are of age, probably older than most people posting, and are usually portraying children as a signal that they are engaged in child-friendly and family-friendly activities in SL?  I know for some people SL is their way of expressing their sexuality and making up whatever they can't do offline, but they should try to be a little more open-minded and respectful of the diversity of SL's cultures and realize that some people didn't have much of a childhood, and this is their chance of having one. SL is a way for people to recapture their innocence.

And if point 3 seemingly had nothing to do with the Teen Grid or of teens migrating to the main grid, then congrats for noticing.  It hasn't anything to do with this topic whatsoever.

I want to add that many adults are acting like childish bullies about having kids somewhere on the other end of the map from yourselves.  If you have those tendencies to act on your sexuality in parts of the grid where it isn't appropriate, then maybe it's good you leave, as it IS against the terms of service for this site.  The opportunity to express your sexuality doesn't comprise "anywhere you feel like it" or in nonconsenting people's faces. Go to your home or zindra or private estate and do what you want.  This place is so big it's absurd to think this cannot be worked out.

It seems the teens posting here are far more mature, don't they?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ole Yeller

I dunno - can a building have too much yellow?

It's bright and cheery with the potential to ward off Bloodlines stalkers. 

The old parcel is empty for the moment.  Maybe I'll put a small, lowprim park there, or maybe a little kiosk like the kind I always wanted a small parcel in Nova Albion for.

The comic is progressing slowly, perhaps a bit too "safely."  I just want things to look good. 

Way back when I started taking Character Animation in Cal Arts, I grew averse to backgrounds, a consequence of penciling hundreds of poses over a quick set of lines representing an environment set on another level (pencil tests are backlit).  This never left me, and I'm always wanting to get right to the characters.

I'm like that about characters too.  I have many shallow and incidental types in the story - not to mention a villain.  It's hard to put equal effort into figures one has little regard for, so I've made a consious effort to slow down to catch these.

There are many characters which are intentionally simple. They represent simple avatars.  Then almost-realistic.  Then there's representing actual people on the grid.  My notes for the comic are over 4 pages, very little of it about plot.

More info as it becomes available.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Would Lanneret Do?

Rethinking my strategy for Cartoon World.  I definitely want to redo the ground level building.

What if it resembled Club Lapis on the inside?  Club Lapis is an elegant 1920's Art Deco nightclub I made in VRML for New Year's Eve celebrations.  Personally I find the concept a bit too elegant for my sensibilities.

At some point in a VRML creator who spent time in Cybertown will always think back on Lanneret.   It's my time now.  I keep thinking back on Lanneret's Art Deco furniture collection, with its wooden inlay reminiscent of Native American patterns.  It was classy and whimsical at the same time; I can picture a building with a style like this.

I don't need to give Lanneret's SL moniker; he never recreated his deco work here.  He fell off the face of the VRML Earth in January 2002, showed up a couple of years later in SL to recreate his Asian lines, disappeared, came back again, did more Asian stuff, then disappeared off the face of the Earth altogether.  Or so the story goes from three virtual acquaintances who knew him best (which isn't saying much).

Inlay.  I'm already using wooden inlay for my floor pattern in the current gallery.  I'll have a LOT of rethinking to do, but at least there's a direction.  I researched Deco furniture extensively in the mid 00's and found he had derived his pieces from antiques.  Well most builders do in some form or other.  After all a Cape Cod house is a Cape Cod house, right?

I copied over a few meager screenshots from Lanneret's deco furniture from my living quarters in Jupiter Station.  Here's one:

Ah those old 800x600 days... One of these people owns an estate in SL.  One is rumored to be dead.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Future Site of Cartoon World

I've got both bad news and good news for Bay City.

First the bad news: Dellybean North has left, and with her a lovely Art Deco structure in Falconmoon.  (Actually I'm keeping the Pineapple Building there until I'm ready for maneuvers)

The good news?  I own that parcel now, right on Gershwin Boulevard.  This was a street I named, so this location holds much significance for me as well as a bit of a triumph.

Will I sell my first plot or turn it into a park?  Well, I'd really like to get my money back.  Then again I could create a permanent buffer between myself and that godawful spinning adfarm sign that cheapass character put next to Oona Opinion's place.

The new place appears to face an old church across the boulevard.  I suppose it's an intersection of landmarks if I include the Molexandria excavation site.

I starting to wonder if my Atomic Age style is out of place for that block?  Everything else seems to be an elegant 20s-30s' style.

Any opinions?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Avoiding the Suckage Pitfall

Shmoo brought up Tron the other night when I showed him the concept poster.  It's funny; Tron never crossed my mind.  However it made sense that it came to others'.

I'll tell you why this isn't like Tron.  First of all, Tron was about someone who existed in a representation of what someone deluded was a computer environment.  This wasn't about people in an alternate dimension or cyberspace.  Other than Flynn, the other participants were not people - there or anywhere.  

Tron just wasn't such a good film.  Disney banked on the computer graphics to carry a limp story.  People were attracted by the goth darkness, the neon colors, and the notion that a computer did all the effects and graphics.  And lest we forget the light cycles.  By the way, those neat glowy stripes on their suits weren't computer generated.

I can't say how good my comic will be since that's a subjective judgement which may vary from person to person.  However things that suck tend to lack some basics and thought put into them, and my comic won't have fallen into those ruts.

Will there be clichés?  The concept is already a cliché.  So is the notion of dropping a popular fictional character into any locale or scenario familiar to the author.  I'm like a mad scientist and love to mix and match, then see what happens.  I'd like to think I can do it better than what's come before.

If you want to get philosophical about it, everything's been done before.  The successful stuff just had more thought put into it, perhaps were the culmination of a few of the right things combined in just the right way.  I've certainly had time to think about this and covered most angles by asking myself a barrage of questions. Shmoo asked some; I had quick answers to as much as I was willing to divulge.  I thought that was pretty good for a start.  Certainly as I work on the project, more things will firm up.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pre-Comic Ponderings

 Integration Complete

It's mostly internal and therefore undetectable.  Creative output would show the change in some cases.  Aside from planning my Burning Life project, I'll be focusing on my comic.  The time is right I think. 

I've thought about this all very carefully: as a fan, as an inspired artist, and as a comics professional (yes, I still see myself as a comics professional):

- Will this comic fit within the current Dr Who timeline?  Yes.  Anything can happen during a quick trip to the moon & back.  Further in my favor is The Doctor's skewed sense of time; this trait was touched upon a few times over the course of Series 5 (this year).  God Bless Steve Moffat.  The man has a visionary's eye. 

- I've mention to a couple of friends I wanted them to be in the story.  No objections (cleared some questions with one to their satisfaction).  I don't think I'll use their names though (or full names), just their personifications and my perception of how they represent their subculture.  Also anyone depicted offline will be fictional avatars.  There are two characters who are fictional, one a villain inworld and RL.

- As much as I think 3D Glasses are cool, The Doctor won't be wearing them.  I have to remain objective to make the best story.  That would have been cool though...

- The story will predominantly take place on a grid like Second Life but will not be called Second Life or mention Linden Labs or the Lindens.

- The Doctor... Who could possibly trademark that?  I've repesented another "The Doctor" for over a decade.  He's The Doctor in my comic too.

- Given the endurance Dr Who fandom, I'll ASSume that the BBC values the free advertising that comes with allowing fans to freely exercise their creativity - like Paramount does with Trekkies. 

Case in point: About ten years ago, Marvel bit themselves in the ass by requiring fan pages to register by postal mail or fax; on approval the "lucky" fan would receive a limited collection of acceptable images to use.  Other feeder biters over time have included Disney, Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Street), and United Features Syndicate (Peanuts etc).  And don't get me started about YouTube.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Countdown Sequence to Regeneration

I've been here close to ten years.

I've followed a conflicted existence in virtual life, being a fantasy creature while avoiding role play groups like the plague (refer to Trek Sim personae in I, Holodoc; I've paid my dues).  But Voyager landed and it was time to explore culture and just get immersed into what the world had to offer. Any world.

Anyway, after having mastered everything from donning armor to play a game of acronyms, battling the VP of the Sellbots, curing drama queens, and the bunny hop, it was time for a tune up.

Having many theories about time of my own, you'd think I'd have warmed up to Dr. Who long ago.  I knew of it during the Tom Baker era.  I think most people here in the USA did.  Back in the late 70s it was on WOR Saturday mornings. I know because I saw the vortex thingie and end credits before watching local wrestling ("...and Ivan Putski: the Polish Hammer!").  Well, the 3 Stooges weren't airing during that era here.  Standing in line for a convention with round fans in long scarves speaking in painfully fake British accents was another put off early on; I just wanted to get some commissioned pieces from comic artists.

When I finally moved out and acquired an old High School friend for a roomate, I endured watching Tom Baker Dr Who's with her.  She had to watch them.  Still not sure if it was because she liked them or she was taking notes for her video production class.  Gawd awful effects on video for an insufferable half hour.  And those lame daleks! They made Tobor the Great look like ILM. ugh! ugh! ugh!  Eventually she watched the one in a sweater... whatsisname? Peter Davison?  It wasn't much better. As I recall the episode aesthetics seemed more sterile from the previous era, but it was still a cheap production and annoying.

By the late 80s I was selling esoteric stuff at Creation Cons with a friend.  We would trade off who we'd see while the other minded the table.  The big deal at one was another doctor starting up. Some Sylvester guy.  He made an appearance at the con.  Seemed like a nice enough fellow, but I couldn't compare him to Tom Baker; this one looked more like someone on a fishing trip than an eccentric time traveler.

When she moved on, so did my proximity to anything Dr Who.  I had by then quit professional comics and stopped going to conventions, and even for the latter I hadn't attended as a spectator for years.

I ran into a Christmas special last year.  I didn't care for the actor playing the doctor.  I thought he had limited skills for an actor.  The other guy who thought he was the doctor was better.  I thought: "Whoah - they're doing these on film now," but featuring a race of crush kill destroy robots.

Oh bruh ther

They had to go and ruin it with an eyeroller foe.

Twitter was all a-twitter about the end of that doctor earlier this year.  Oh yeah? I thought if the next one was any good it might be worth watching.  Boston Legal was long gone, Warehouse 13 was done for the season and left viewers with an amazing cliffhanger, and I couldn't get into 24 or Stargate Universe.  I was open to something.

I watched the end. Gad what a STOOOOOOOOPID story with everyone on Earth turning into an excessively hyperactive lunatic and Timothy Dalton - who killed his career's momentum when he accepted a role in the Rocketeer - spitting out melodrama.  The doctor was like Wile E Coyote: jumping out of a space ship, smashing through a glass ceiling and slamming onto marble.  He got up after that.  Ohkayy...

The whole regeneration thing was new to me.  Regeneration means different things to someone who trained with Starfleet.  All I knew was that it was an essential process for Borg physiology and something my friend Sevhen did.  I hadn't realized through all those years and doctors there was this vehicle to include their distinct changes as part of the plot.

For those reading who aren't familiar with how this works: Dr. Who is about an alien who travels time and space with haphazard regard; he follows no set Temporal Prime Directive.  He's lived over 900 years by regenerating when he either reaches the end of his physical lifespan or is seriously wounded.  Either can trigger the process where his body undergoes a transformation.  The results are random; he can return as any age.  With a new body of course comes new chemistry, and with it new senses and a new mindset - with a lifetime of memories intact.

Traditionally the body of the departing actor lap-dissolved to the new one at the end of a season, leaving fans hanging to see a full story with the new person a long while later.  Fans lost their tenth doctor with a fireworks show that destroyed his place.  The shock of a new face they had to speculate over for almost a year.  For me it would be another hour before the opening episode aired here.

I skipped some documentary about the first ten doctors.  I didn't want a burden going into this.  They had already cleansed the legacy's palate for me.  I went fishing at Blaksleeworld I think for that hour.

Eleventh Hour, the new doctor's first episode, was amazing. Just amazing. Clearly there was a new writing team at work.  And the mold was broken; this had to have been as far from Dr Who it could get in my mind, and I was sold.  I could easily have gone to see something like this in the theatre.

At first it seemed to have America's failings, with jumps in the plot and unaccountable changes.  I learned later that about 25% of the episode was cut for commercials.  I eventually saw the episode uncut. Even more amazing.

This actor Matt Smith: don't let his youthful looks fool you. He traversed the gamut this season and proved himself.  There are many elements to the series' premise which appeals to me, and the "companion" the doctor's chosen is so different from anyone he had tagging along with him in the past. Amy Pond seems like real stuff for a change (dynamic, neurotic...).  The few times the writing dipped (daleks automatically earn an eyeroll from me), it has still been better than most of what's out there.  And then there are those little details in each episode which lend themselves to the main story arc of the year.  This is tight.  Like Back to the Future Trilogy tight. Everything is important.

I've had the advantage of seeing the rest of the year.  The USA is still 3 episodes away.  Then comes major deprivation for everybody until next spring.  Fortunately there's the return of Warehouse 13 this week to cushion the shock.  I'm glad I finished one before moving on to the other, particularly since they're scheduled opposite eachother on Tuesday nights.

For the most part I still snub the legacy and have a hard time associating with it.  In a YouTube video taken last spring, they showed diehard fans in their scarves. They looked like they could have been the same people from  decades back, and they were very serious.  SCARY!!!  I've seen filler episodes with David Tennant (#10) and saw one episode with doctor #9 whom I found quite good, but the plots from those years were all hard to rise above, even with exceptional performances (and as nice as a guy Tennant seems to be, I truly wasn't impressed with his doctor).  That's ironic coming from someone who has come to side with the series.  With season 5 it's become a long lost twin, the yin to my yang, the doctor to my doctor.  I can't fly a tardis to save anyone's life, but that's okay.  I have temporal mechanics on my side.

The energy the series left me with though has brought me to a place I haven't been to in a very long time.  I will be making an announcement about this at my party tomorrow night (Friday the 9th at 2pm SLT. Look for the pink events star over Hydrangea, then get your coordinates from the police box by my diner).

For this party, I'll be hosting the music myself.  This is a personal, almost spiritual day.

Whether you're a fan of the show or not, a party is a party.  The announcement will be related to Dr Who, but not require anyone to be a fan to appreciate or enjoy what is to come.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've been a bit distracted lately.

It's affecting both my real and virtual lives.

In a way this is good.  My food intolerance test steered me clear of foods that were slowly killing me, and the weight has been coming off.  No, I don't look like some fanboy by choice.  Not from walking 1-3 miles a day and no binges.  Most of this truly isn't me.

Vitality kicked in for the first time in years this past weekend.  I can't say my body's ready for things I haven't done in years; I'm not about to join the office's softball team.  And it remains to be seen whether I just need an adjustment in my thyroid medication...

To stay in Manhattan after work is a compelling prospect for me, but with no friends left in the NYC area there's little to do to make it worthwhile.

I'm floundering here.  I've discovered new things and I want to incorporate them into my SL persona.  I wonder who beyond my SL friends (the ones who already know about this) would get the joke?

I realize there were elements of this fed into me for decades in a subversive manner.  I suppose the time had to be right for them to activate like wild molecules.  They have, and life won't ever be the same.

Something will be happening soon inworld.  It may be subtle. It may be accepted as "the joke."  It may be missed.  But whatever it is, I'm making it all myself because resources simply do not exist in Second Life.  That being said, once it's happened, I'll have to decide whether to keep it my own or share the work for a substantial Linden windfall on XStreet.

That last part sounds so wrong, but someones out there may be in my situation and need what I'll have.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Be the Pie

After my experience at Burning Life and the obvious antipathy of the organizers for the general populace of participants and eagerness to corrupt the integrity of the project, I told myself I'd never invest too much of my soul and energy into a project again for an SL event.

That's not to say I wouldn't participate or make anything interesting when I did.  I'd make something I'd feel is worthwhile, only it wouldn't require a dozen hand-drawn paintings or a daily event presented in obscurity while the staff freely promoted events outside the designated arenas run by themselves or their friends - or endorsed by corporate influences.

I have a very Screw It attitude going into SL7B as names like Doctor Gascoigne intrude on the landscape while a group chat opens.  Other names like White Lebed and Harper Beresford have countered the flow of bile, but are they enough?

The attitude of some staff, pushing exhibitors to come up with promo material well before the deadline underscores their bias against creations made for the event in favor of those plopped down from a preexisting project or location.  Their obvious disdain for people not successfully working inworld fulltime or running their own businesses is hard to conceal in their syntax (I took off two days so I could translate sketches made during my commutes into prims).

I hate them.

But I love Second Life.

I love the good people of this world.

I do what I do for them, for that amused twinkle or chuckle.

I will never let you down.

I like to think I learn from the mistakes of others.

For The People I have made Me, Ourselves & Pie.  I believe it is the most faithful project with regard to this year's theme of accidental collaborations.  It relies on the randomness of visitors, who may be compelled to wear either the raspberry or strawberry suit offered beside a giant pie.  When they run and jump around among the blueberries they make the pie complete.

I can hardly wait for the party Friday night!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Joining the Races

It was entirely by coincidence.  During my diner's debut party in April, GoSpeed Racer detected & called out to RacerX Gullwing.  He was in the neighorhood because that following Saturday was a crosscountry snail race for Relay For Life, and the route passed the northern portion of my land in Hydrangea.

I made a viewing platform, complete with refreshments, deck chairs, a donation kiosk from The American Cancer Society, and a Treet TV video screen.

The stand populated quickly, as it was located close to the starting line.  There was a certain thrill about the event, and the vibes rose when the first eyestalks could be seen around a bend.  The snails passed us - huge things - their shells rezzing into a variety of colors and all wearing the RFL logo.

Some flew on to the next viewing area on the list while several stayed.  We continued to watch live coverage of the race from the web and comment inworld.  It turned out that many people I knew were in the race, including that day's winner.  It also looked like a lot of fun, and I decided that Snurky would test the waters for me in the May crosscountry race for Relay For Life.

The May RFL race was a mess for me.  While trying to reposition an onscreen camera HUD the low view became disoriented (actually I saw inside of the snail's neck) and opted for eyestalks view.  I also made a point to bring the draw distance down, which prevented a cannon from rezzing to be shot out of.  Still I ended in 13th and smack in the middle of the standings.  Not bad for total greenness.  Their struggling with Snurky's name made me reconsider that - while she doesn't get out much - this pursuit wouldn't be for her.

Because I would pursue it either way.

Even as a loser - and were there really any losers in a fundraiser? - it was great fun.

Many were very eager to give me pointers on catapult jumps and other treacherous obstacles on their track ;)

After making what they thought was an impressive debut despite technical issues (I had set my network numbers low instead of high; the scoreboard took half an hour to rez for me to click and join the race), and 4th place in a repeat of April's RFL route, I'm definitely going to continue as Holocluck.

Yes, even though they can't pronounce my name either.

Then again, they can't pronounce about half the names in the lineup, so I shouldn't take it personally ;)

This continues to be great fun. And they're very nice people.  All the more reason!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rant: Change is a Bitch

I'm a 2-time survivor where I work.

When I started in 2002, it was for Email support of their subscription website. During that summer they added a subsite for the UK, and in the fall I took on lead agent for their new Canadian subsite. I had by then contributed many pre-written responses for known technical and billing issues. I'd also proven I could switch between USA and British spelling as needed, and with Canadians using a little of both, I was an ideal candidate.

The email support team for the USA and Canada consisted of about 25-30 of us, with the night crew replacing us on our computers at the end of our day, and a handful working on Saturdays.

Three years later we merged with the parent company and moved downtown. It was decided at that time that the call center in the midwest, which supported the non-web product - would also run Email support for the USA and Canada. By then I was team lead for the Canadian subsite (and regarded by the Canadian editors as an Honourary Canadian), maintained the Help section on the site - actual content! - and displayed training skills, the latter which was utilized to prep my backup team for the busier months. I had also taken on lead support for a PDA companion product.

I was one of three spared the axe. Two of us took turns going over to the midwest to train our respective teams. The third left after a couple of months to another job.

Once in awhile we'd bring someone from "the old days" to help out an English speaking site during a busy month for a couple of weeks. There didn't appear to be any bitterness from the ones I was acquainted with; they may have been given a decent and sustainable severence. But it still felt weird to survive the chop.

A year later we added a new product to our website and things exploded. We turned to an outsource company in the Middle East for much of our QA (by then we had 5 subsites worldwide) and the bulk of the USA's Email technical support would be run from there too. It was cheaper, but they were far savvier with determining what people needed to be sent. If there was a mistake, it would never happen again. Two other countries followed suit with outsourcing their Tier 1 level Emails.

As you can imagine, my role has changed over time. I'm now more a liaison between international teams and our engineers for site errors, as well as administrate the messaging system we use, configuring email address setup and routing in addition to the knowledge base and adding or removing users. I train those who will train their staff, notify them on new procedures when sites or browsers upgrade, and all sorts of other things. I'm also damage control when they need tier 3 level support. The help pages for US and Canada are mine now, as well as working with the international support and content teams with localizing changes for theirs. Of the two remaining who were spared, one left in 2008 to work in engineering. So it's been just me and the boss.

Restructuring is what these have been. It meant resources could be applied to development and other areas essential to the survival of a company. Because while you want to continue to bring the best after a reputation of 45 years, you still need to change with the times. Our PDA companion was phased out. We now have mobile solution for most phones as well as an i-app. The companies merging have given us the ability to offer a product which combines our offline and web in a package deal.

They had started in 2000 with a handful, which grew to about 50 when I came on. Two years later we were renting halls for our all-staff meetings; while the parent company had their offices on Long Island, we took up two floors of a highrise. Now we have a floor the size of city block, with engineers and production personnel on two floors of a nearby building. And that was only the USA.

The inevitable happened in 2009, which occurred to so very many businesses worldwide: A portion of our staff was cut. That morning people got the word and left. That afternoon, walking around the office, it was like a ghost town. We weren't sure whether an office was empty from folks being on vacation, traveling on business, or ousted. The very next day - at a promptly rented auditorium - our CEO spoke with us about the hit we took from the financial crisis. The execs would take a pay cut. We would take a wage freeze. Perks which are common for a dotcom company were cut or severely reduced.

While people who helped people out were the first to go, I noticed people with a higher position than mine - many who had their own offices - were also cut. If the department or project was not essential, it was gone. Engineering leads would sometimes have to juggle more than one project. If it was something our Middle Eastern team could take on, that's where it went.

There were projects seen as essential to bring the company into the 21st century. Can't be more specific than that, but it was a revolutionary undertaking, and it meant a new dept and investment. It was important more than ever to head in that direction.

Was this evil? Was our CEO the devil for laying off engineers, agents, vp's, tally clerks, and other personnel? Would it have garnered sympathy and a backlash from our subscribers and members if the heads of these areas or representatives of various speculative projects had a regular presence on our message boards?


Who among you can step back and see this from an objective perspective?

I'll name a name. Blue. Blue is an awesome soul, and he is adored by residents in SL and TG. Among his dutires was New User Experience. The mentors were phased out (I never could find one when I needed one at infohubs or help areas, and they were nonexistent when I signed up; the one I saw on my first day at Help Island 2 - because CSI deposited me on Wengen to start- intimidated the hell out of me with her sensory overload avatar and aloof behavior; she was inapproachable), a survey could provide the company with new user feedback, just as they do for any company.

Brent worked with Michael for LDPW. Michael was seeing some slack from a growing staff; he may now be taking on more projects again, but the LDPW will continue.

Outsourcing email support... I'm no stranger to that, and it's a wise decision for any company working with high numbers. It means though losing your local tier 1 and possibly tier 2 staff.

Philip is like many I've seen: you make money, you start up a project, it takes on a life of its own, it becomes a company, the artist in them can't deal with having to make the tough decisions, they let someone else take over. This has happened to most virtual worlds for the past 15 years.

I was the casualty of such a project too when I think back. A friend's brother (always beware when it starts out with "a friend's brother") made tons of money selling shell necklaces on the beaches here in the summer. It grew where his mother and family friends - including myself and a neighbor - came to string clay, shell, and semiprecious beads (yes, they raised the bar). At some point it turned into a showroom in Manhattan's wholesale district and importing costume and semiprecious jewelry from Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. It took on a life of its own, with a manager and staff, and his mother as co-owner. Eventually I came on for phone sales, Accounts Receivable, and trade shows. This was a character who would build things up, bust them down, then move onto something else. I think it really bugged him that there was now this entity. We had so much resistence and so much sabotage.  Eventually the company was sold off by his mom, until it died its inevitable death - too little too late - and we were laid off during the recession of the early 90s.

Philip stuck around awhile after he gave his position over to Mark Kingdon. I'm sure he found someone who could make the tough decisions necessary to keep SL going and allow it to evolve to thrive with the ever changing face of the Internet and communications platforms. In familiar fashion, Phillip's been setting up a makeshift workspace, breaking it down, then showing up somewhere else. It's his way.

Is Mark Kingdon evil? No. He's a businessman with a genuine passion for this place, just as my CEO has a passion for our company at work. They both hated to have to do what they did, but it was necessary. Were the people chosen for the axe the right choices for Second Life? We can't possibly know that from this side.  We don't know what anyone did outside of their job descriptions and Office Hours really.

Was it necessary for SL to let people go? Yes. The idealistic management structure perpetuated by some idealist who started a project with their earnings no longer serves its purpose sufficiently for the direction SL must take. It sucks to say that because people I consider to be friends inworld and out got caught in it. But stepping back to see it objectively, yes it was necessary. SL doesn't want to become a dinosaur like Cybertown or Active Worlds, or go the way of There or iCity. We all know most people are now accessing the web from the palms of their hands on a massive scale. A tablet on their laps will be the next major step. The era of gaming resources to communicate in a virtual environment may mean the demise of Second Life - and virtual worlds as a mainstream form of communication - if changes aren't made.

I draw the Tower Card, with its traumatic lightning hit.  It's a card of jolting oneself out of a rut, with the prospects of better opportunities when the dust clears.