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.