Monday, November 29, 2010

she could feel the ocean fall and rise, she saw its raging glory

This is not a gay man's outfit. This is a straight man's outfit from the seventies. It's considered gay now because it's so goddamned retro it seems insanely gay--and I mean that in the likes-to-suck-penis way, not the disparaging way.

X tries playing Vindictus--I bring you part one and part two. Vindictus is graphics-heavy, physics-heavy, and takes a terrible toll on my system, so I'm honestly not sure how long I'm going to continue to play it. Also, there are things about the game that profoundly bug me--in that, I want to track down the designers and KILL THEM WITH FIRE way, not something that's just mildly inconvenient.

Like, upon exiting the game, my computer restarts. Every damned time. Every time I open the game, I have latency--lag, in other words--like you would not believe, and every time I close it--boom. Black screen. Restart.

That is really, REALLY annoying, and it makes me dread opening the game, because I then know I'm going to have to close it, and I pray at that point that anything in the background I was working on, I'd saved before doing such a colossally stupid maneuver as close the damned game.

Nexon? This is on you. This is idiot coding. FIX THAT CRAP.

“December is the toughest month of the year. Others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, October, August, and February.” ~Mark Twain

The Twisted Christmas Hunt has started--I'll be giving you a list of linked hints, if not actually doing the entire thing with pictures. That was grueling the first time, I don't know if I'm up to doing that again.

I'm towards the end, because I literally finished everything the very last day entries were open, but hey--I'm in it! And don't confuse this with the Twisted Krissmus hunt--that's through DV8, those bastards that encourage folks to hide things INSIDE OTHER PRIMS, and other completely underhanded hunt 'tricks'. Whole separate hunt entirely.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

if you play, you play for keeps

I'm participating in the Twisted Christmas Hunt from December 1st to December 30th. As always, full details on the store blog, but I had to mention it here.

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I've even updated the Midnight Mania board with one of them, and--if you care to hunt around, and you don't care to wait until the board locks--there's a dollarbie ottoman somewhere in the store.

Just go upstairs at the store to see all six!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

this peppermint winter is so sugar-sweet

Still night, nothing for miles,
White curtain come down,
Kill the lights in the middle of the road
And take a look around...


Packed away the doll. Can't help it; I can't imagine being in her skin right now, and I'm shying away even from keeping out those pieces I like and wear with other forms. It hurt, though, the packing away. I poured a great deal of me into the form of the doll.

It don't help to be
One of the chosen
One of the few, to be sure
When the wheels are spinning around
And the ground is frozen through,
And you're


Now I'm finding myself at loose ends, wondering what happens now. Life stage next: there don't seem to be a lot of goals, and less in the way of landmarks to guide me.

Driven, like the snow
Pure in heart
Driven together
And given away to the west


I have a Tumblr account now. It is defiantly not safe for work. I have an established Twitter account, which is mostly safe for work. I maintain one blog nearly daily, another blog diffidently, and I just tied up a third stealth blog for NaNoWriMo. (I'm still not sure what to do with the fifty-one thousand words of output. It wasn't fiction. It was far from impersonal. And in spots it was raw and painful and bleeding to write. I seriously doubt anyone wants to read that but me.)

A white dress
'Til the river don't run
A black dress
Looking like mine
'Til the sun don't shine no more


All of which means I'm finding places to test my footing, places to learn new things, but very, very little of it has anything to do with Second Life.

Where the sky meet the ground
Where the street fold round
Where the voice you hold don't make no sound


I haven't moved on yet. I'm still holding my parcels (though I'm still looking to sell Caledon Morgaine), working in world; I'm still involved in building the occasional frock.

Let's just say, I know where the exit is now, even if it doesn't lead to another virtual world.

Look, snow on the river and two by two
Took a lot to live, a lot like you
I don't go there now, but I hear they sung
Their "Fuck Me And Marry Me Young"


So where am I drawing the line at present? Well, I can't conceive--now--of ever having another rezday party. I can't conceive--now--of going to another dance. I know maybe eight people in Caledon at this point.

Some wild-eyed dear in a big white bed
Now, you know better than that, I said,
Like a voice in the wind
Blow little crystals down
Like brittle things will break before they turn


In fact, it's gotten so bad, as far as detachment goes, that I wonder--when I get Lindens--why I'm bothering buying new things at all. I'm trying to gut out the inventory I have, and, since I still have this strong feeling Second Life may not be long for this world...why am I buying new things?

Like lipstick on my cigarette
And the ice get harder overhead
Like, think it twice but never never learn...


Which makes it hard to support the efforts I want to support. Like Woeful Wednesday, and even 25LT, though I'm not Gorean. Supporting sculpt makers who throw sales. Supporting the makers I do like, when I do have spending money over and beyond rent.

And the mist will wrap around us
And the crystal, if you touch it...


And more importantly, it makes it very difficult to consider buying Lindens. Why, precisely, am I supporting a company who's spent the past three years lighting any last shred of community support, and any established positive feelings, on fire?

And the cars lost in the drift are there
And the people that drive lost in the drift are there
And the cares I've lost in the drift are there
Theirs, ours, lost in the drift are
Are, are, are
Driven


Like Bettina Tizzy, at this point I think I'm just hanging around, waiting for the Labs to be sold off to whomever, and then figure out if I can cope with the changes that company may want to make.

Driven together
And driven apart


At this point, I come in for sale days, if I have extra money; for the rare build project; and for my work shifts at Solace Beach. Nothing else pulls me into SL without effort.

I can't decide if it's a good thing or not, but I know it's not a bad thing. It remains to be seen how permanent the absence will be, in time.

(Lyrics taken from "Driven Like the Snow" by Sisters of Mercy. "Driven Like The Snow". It comes off the album Floodland, published [and ©] in 1987 by WEA Records, Ltd. and SBK Songs. It was written by Andrew Eldritch, naturally.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

misery loves company, and company loves more

There's a fellow out there playing Minecraft in a really, really harsh way. He dies; he exits to the main menu and deletes that world, to give himself a death penalty. Damn.

People are still having problems with sit targeting and bounding box issues. Worse, the Labs (as usual?) don't seem to care. Vote for it if you want to show support, but I doubt it's going to be fixed any time soon.

I admit, the whole accusations of theft thing between Evie's Closet and Caverna Obscura got me pondering, but it took me a bit to come up with the coin to get involved. Still, it was something I felt I had to do. So up first: Evie's Closet.

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This is Discordia, in her Willo-the-Wisp line; I like the others but most of them are very pastel, very pale. This one had a bit of vibrancy behind it, and the texturing was lovely.

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The wings are flexi, all the little ragged silk bits are flexi. The textures are satin-smooth, and there's just a hint of cobweb around some of the skirt panels (repeated in all of them, but most obvious in the darker Discordia). Very little has been adjusted; apart from moving down the shoulder piece, this is straight out of the box.

Now, the Tattered Webs Outfit in black (I thought it would contrast better) by Caverna Obscura:

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I'm wearing it with the long skirt variant, though it comes with a shorter skirt option.

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It doesn't come with wings, so I'm wearing the Splash wings in Ink from Seven's Selections, still my favorite, favorite wing maker on the grid.

I'm trying to be objective about this, because to me, they don't even resemble the same genre of clothes. Evangeline Miles made an outfit, with wings; Elvira Ewing made...lingerie.

Don't get me wrong. I can see this being the perfect outfit for a captured fae in a cage, or tugging resentfully on a chain, in a dark fantasy sim. I can see this--in white, with a good Drow skin--being the lounging attire for a high priestess dripping with gems and contempt. In white, in fact--barring the torn stockings--it could easily be interpreted as wearing the 'divine favor' of Lloth.

And I like the way this one hangs--I like patchwork, I like torn and tatters, and frequently I'm seen in both or either, so I can see this becoming part of my wardrobe on my more risqué days (whereas the Will-o-the-Wisp outfit got shunted directly to the Fae folder for everyday fae wear). I like the way the tattered silk panels seem to hang from the waist on the thinnest of thin strands of spider-silk. I like the suggestion of a spider-silk belly-chain on the top.

So, the actual complaints were that Miles directly stole the design from Ewing, blatantly and boldly. I think that's an accusation made in error, because there's not even a similarity of template here. Do both have right-shoulder silk attachments? Yes. Do both of them have a right-shoulder strap? Yes. But--as Ewing mistakenly noted in Miles' blog--the Tattered Webs outfit also has a left shoulder strap.

Let me bring up one other thing.

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This is Adam & Eve's Unseelie Sidhe outfit in black. Why is this relevant to the discussion about potential theft issues?

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Because miss sachi Vixen designed this in 2006. So if anyone has a right to bitch about people 'stealing' the right-shoulder inspiration, it's her.

But she's not complaining about it. Why? Because this is not theft. Nor is it copyright infringement. It's not even intellectual property theft! Why? Because people are inspired by the world around them; by thoughts, ideas, fiction, nonfiction, fashion, architecture, poetry, music. Michaelangelo once said, famously, "Where I steal an idea, I leave my knife". Billy Joel once said that every single one of his big hits were plagiarized, in one sense or another, because he listens to a lot of music and that filters down to his work.

We are, all of us, influenced and influencing the world, every world, just by living and breathing within it. In this case, I don't think anyone stole anything from anyone else--they're three separate and discrete outfits that may share a common theme--and that theme is "fae attire", not "right-shoulder constructed demi-tunic".

The controversy is ridiculous. They're not the same outfit, at all.

All shots were taken in Oubliette. The AO is from Creative Insanity. And they were taken under the Windlight setting "FSOriginal".

Now, it's not that I often go political on this blog, but this also deals with emergent technology: upset over the TSA tactics and the full-body scans? Tell them. That site features underwear (upper and lower), as well as socks, in most sizes, printed in metallic ink that will show up on the scan. (I especially like one detail on the brassiere, which has nipple shields.)

Also, keep in mind that you have the right, when traveling, to request to opt out of the full-body scan. This will default you to the rather invasive search, but you do have the legal right to have that conducted in private, and by an operative of the same gender. And you have the legal right to have a traveling companion witness this search, both for moral support and for external verification that things are not getting out of hand.

Be firm; be polite; do not raise your voice; never threaten any TSA official. But insist on your rights, because they are your rights.

And I don't agree with any of her points, but there's an interesting perspective on virtual ownership over on the iliveSL blog.

Damien Fate is selling Loco Pocos. Yes, really.

Lastly, does anyone know if Prokovy Neva actually has a point buried in all the paranoic raving? Is Skills Hak involved in Project Skylight? If so, why? If not, how did this rumor get started?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

pray for me if you want to; pray for me if you dare

[05:19 PM] Copied key for 025327 Guest to clipboard: a704d3a6-8d55-4eee-993d-e4c446bbf534

To my mind? That means each and every Guest account is generated separately, so yes--this is all--or at least partially--a ploy to inflate end user numbers for *cough* "mysterious" reasons of Linden Labs.

Or mayhap not that mysterious--tell a prospective buyer that there's about three hundred discrete new accounts a year for Second Life, who's going to be interested? Tell them, however, they have about three to five hundred new accounts per week? Why yes, there would be interest in spades.

"This is for you, Mommy."
"Oh, how...sweet, honey. Um...what is it?"
"This is you...and this is me...and this is Daddy...and this is Nyarlathotep devouring Grandma."


Takes kids' art to a whoooole new level.

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This is zarael Hadazuma. Please, for the love of all gods, give this woman some clothes. And throw her landmarks for things. I was stunned into non-responsiveness, so I obviously failed my round of NewbieWatch (if I recall correctly, she's three days old as of yesterday). But she already has land, so she's determined to stay for a little while. It's in our best interests to help her.

The Desert Bus for Hope rides again! Every year, the people behind the Escapist (who are responsible for bringing you such wonderful net shows as Unskippable, Zero Punctuation and Escape to the Movies, among others) combine forces with Child's Play to raise funds for the charity.

What is Child's Play? If you don't know, it was established in 2003, and originally, it was a charity that had one specific target: children in hospitals and hospices who weren't going home. Since those desperate beginnings, they have expanded the program to cover any child who wants to play and who may be restricted on movement, energy, time awake; who is ill and under hospital care. Their goal is simple: to put a toy, interactive book, or video game controller, plus games and accessories for those toys, into the hands of any child who is ill who wants one.

As of this writing, they've been at it for ten hours, and have already raised well over fifteen thousand dollars.

You can help. Donate via PayPal or via credit card; access their chat room and make them a pledge challenge; buy something in one of their auctions, or, if nothing else, spread the word. And if you don't have it to spare now, keep Child's Play in mind; they take donations year-round.

To make it more worth your while...somehow...the staffers of the Escapist have pledged to play Desert Bus, the world's most boring videogame (seriously: you are a bus driver. Driving across the desert. To get to Las Vegas. Nothing else happens), from start to finish. Keep them from going mad by watching, chatting, or donating. Trust me, the pain is worth it, and along the way, you will see them geeking out in ways previously unknown to even fellow geeks, trying to retain their sanity and their consciousness.

These are smart, funny people working hard for a good cause. Get on the bus.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

touch the flame, burn like fire in the rain

More on Project Skylight, the SL web beta. I tracked down perspectives from the Metaverse Journal, Tateru Nino, and Fawkes Allen; Daniel Voyager pulled together half a metric ton of video footage of what it's like on the ground with the client; the Ambrosia Dance Club blog coverd the FAQ in depth; and part five of the Tinfoil Hat Theory goes into Project Skylight in a good, business-minded overview.

What's it all mean? Yet another step away from existing residents by the Labs. Yet another move to gain potential new eyes on Second Life, long after those potential new eyes have turned away for things that seem like a better deal. More pressure, more layoffs, more changes, and more US-centric policies.

That being said, I don't think it's a terrible idea--domestically, at least--but I think it vastly misses the point. You have to have a top-of-the-line system to access it; you can only travel to Labs-approved spots; and it doesn't give you a lot of options. Is it the start of technology that may allow your mobile phone to access the grid? Sure. But it's baby steps yet.

And by the time the Labs are willing to take off the training wheels, will they realize the train's left the station? That's the big question, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

nitty gritty dirty little freaks

Help Us Test the SL Web Viewer Beta

Hello,

As we explore ways to make the Second Life experience faster, easier, and more fun, we are testing a number of approaches to bring new users closer to the richness of our virtual world. Yesterday, we quietly launched a beta test of a new technology that opens up Second Life to new users like never before: Second Life on the Web! The SL Web Viewer allows new users to become Second Life "guests" through the Web and enjoy basic SL functionality while exploring exciting destinations in Second Life -- all without downloading a Viewer. We need your help to test the SL Web Viewer!

Just follow these simple steps:
1. Visit the SL Web Viewer Beta.

2. There is a 45-second video that will run while the system loads and then you'll either be offered an "Explore Now" button -- which means that you have successfully qualified -- or a "Join Now" button -- which means that you do not qualify for the test at this time*.

3. If you qualify, you'll be asked to share your email address to create a temporary guest account to use the SL Web Viewer.

We'll be running tests like this from time to time, and we may ultimately choose to further pursue some or none of these approaches, depending on what we learn from our testing, but we're very excited to make SL an easier experience for guests and look forward to hearing what you think.

Best regards,

Kim Salzer

VP of Marketing
Linden Lab

*Note: We're in the early stages of testing this technology, and not everyone who navigates to the link will be able to access the SL Web Viewer.


So, I went there. Waited through the overwhelmingly human-heavy "music video", only to discover I was being shown the "Join Now" button. This does not surprise me; to be fair, my system is on the lower end of the lower end of old systems. To give you an idea how old? There's a sticker on the front of the case that says "Protected from viruses, spam & spyware out oft he box with Norton Internet Security 2007."

What did surprise me was hearing from a friend who did get into the beta: apparently, there is no way to access SL from your existing account; this is purely a 'demo', more or less. You don't have inventory, Lindens, your own avatar or your own name, but rather a string of numbers plus "Guest". You can't change your clothes, your skin, your hair, your eyes; you can't buy anything, rez anything...it would be pure hell for creative sorts, but maybe they have other ideas in mind.

Even stranger, you can't port anywhere, but you can access a list of specially chosen destinations, and that list is both intriguing and mystifying.

Solace Beach is on it, for instance. So is Winterfell. But Caledon isn't, though Steelhead Port Harbor is. And Toxia's in there--which rather flies in the face of the new "Sex life? What sex life?" policies of the Labs. I'd love to have a full list of the specially-chosen places, and see if there's anything that links them.

Alicia Chenaux says you can access anywhere that's on the official "Destination Guide", so maybe the places will rotate in and out. And that's also the link--whatever's on the Destination Guide page is what the web client has access to. And nothing else.

To me, it's worthless, but I can actually see tossing a link to people in future and saying, "Well here, check it out, it's not as bad as you think." Because this seems to be what they wanted Viewer 2.0 to be in the first place: web-enabled, everything within whatever browser we use, not in its own client, and no one's carting around a ton of prims or a ton of inventory items. I guess that's a good thing, in terms of speed. But again, they're losing sight of the lower-end models (like mine), and it does offer a thread of unease up my spine that this may be the first stage introduction of the concept of inventory limitations, to match script and prim limitations (which are slowly but surely limping their way to a client near you).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

did you ever hear what I told you?

And then there were none.

All things end, every thing that begins bears the seeds of its own destruction, just as every thing that is destroyed bears the possibility of creation. This is just one more.

But as of now, I have no loves left on the grid.

There are those I adore, there are those who are friends, though poor enough company I've been for them these past two years. But there is no one, heart to my heart, left. Where I walk, I will walk alone.

The doll is broken beyond repair, and will never know another crafter's touch. She is currently boxed away where she will come to no harm.

I still believe that no door closes without opportunities arising; in time, this may be a good thing. When I can think clearly again, I may see it.

For now, all bonds are severed; I keep no binding on that other's heart. I will not, I do not, retract friendship; give me time, I'll talk again. For now, we live in silence, and the hope of healing.

it's not the tree that forsakes the flower

CStar Skins is having a "hunt" (I'm putting that in quotes because it's not exactly hard in any way) to celebrate the arrival of new skins. They're named Purity 01, Fresh 02, Courage 03, Agility 04, Happiness 05, Calm 06, Love 07, Strength 08, Tangent 09, Energy 10, Power 11, and Freedom 12. I didn't want to have a pic run of all of them, but here's five to show you the tone variance:

Purity

Purity 01, eyes closed, so you can see the thickly gold-rimmed lids.

Courage

Courage, tone 03.

Calm

Calm, tone 06.

Strength

Strength, tone 08.

Freedom

Freedom, tone 12.

I guess they're worth getting if you like burgundy lips and gold eyeshadow? The skins are very well done, don't mistake me; but it's the same makeup, the same shading, for each of the twelve; it's just the skin tones that vary.

(The outfit's from Zaara and the hair is from Feel China.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

imagine a city where everything's pretty

Imagine a place you can always escape to
An island off the coast of nowhere
A new destination of your own creation
Just waiting 'til you choose to go there


What lies beneath...

There is something beneath adminium in Minecraft. I thought--I had been told--that adminium was the lowest level, and absolutely un-mine-able: but I am wrong. Being a game in alpha, not beta, it does have its share of bugs, and this is one. On occasion, blocks in the adminium level will not rez, leaving an empty space reflecting the nothingness of the game beyond.

I wouldn't recommend jumping through to see what happens. I'm fairly sure that would kill you.

Blue tree-tops and velvet skies
Blue, ready to blow your mind
Ooooh...


Above several glass blocks

This is the "missing" adminium seen from the perspective of several glass block floors. The blue is still visible.

This is a place where your mind can escape
All the problems today and go far, far away
This is a time with no history
Welcome to mystery


Cube sunset

I built a sky tower in a new world. I'm not sure why, other than to prove it could be done, and I don't have pictures yet. But I do have pictures of the cube sunset, which is--as I've noted previously--not part of "Classic" Minecraft, the current 'free' version of the game.

Imagine a city where everything's pretty
And you sir, you rule the kingdom
You call the shots, you can do what you want to
Oh, just imagine the freedom


The cube moonset

And, since I was up there anyway, I waited until moonrise and snapped that, too.

It's very peaceful in the sky tower. No monsters will spawn that high, and no sounds reach me but the occasional music swells. Large slabs of cloud drift through on occasion, rendering everything grey, or pale white, depending on time of day. I have four furnaces, four chests, and a small farm for wheat. I also planted trees, but I haven't cut them down yet. I think I like them better where they are.

Blue tree-tops and velvet skies
Blue, ready to blow your mind
Ooooh...


Triple tunnel entrance

The same world that has the sky tower has this triple tunnel system. Why three tunnels going in the same direction? It's more to dig out, yes, but it also gives me far more in the way of coal and iron. It used to be iron was rationed because of its inherent scarcity (to me). Now, on that world, I have over 64 pieces. I have two buckets, several hoes for gardening, a few iron shovels, some iron axes for trees, and over thirty iron pickaxes for mining. I feel relatively well-off.

This is a place where your mind can escape
All the problems today and go far, far away
This is a time with no history
Welcome to mystery


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An older picture, from before I officially bought the game, but this one still warms my heart: a burning zombie, which means he will soon not be able to leap at my face and kill me. Aww.

Blue tree-tops and velvet skies
Blue, ready to blow your mind
Ooooh...


Fishing rod!

"This is my...BOOMSTICK!" Actually, no, this is my fishing rod. To make a fishing rod takes three sticks and two pieces of spider string. It lasts for 33 casts--whether you catch a fish or not--though you can "replenish" your rod by building another one and dropping it on top of the first. (The people on Minepedia are fairly sure this is a bug, or an unintentional exploit, that Notch will get around to fixing sooner or later.)

Imagine a room where the flowers, they bloom
Through the cracks in the floor and the ceiling
Just you and the missus, and rose-scented kisses
My, what a wonderful feeling
Ooooh...this...


Reeling in a fish

I don't care what world you're in, fishing takes a while, virtual or not. How to fish in a nutshell: stand in or near water. Right-click to "cast" your bobber and hook out. Wait. Listen for a "splashing" sound. When you hear it, right-click again to "reel in". You'll either get hit in the face with a fish or you'll flip it behind you.

There are those who say this technique can also be used to reel in monsters. Me personally, I don't want any monsters that close, but there you go. Really successful people stand with a basket of rods at the top of a tall pillar and cast and drop, cast and drop, cast and drop. Monsters auto-die when hitting the ground from a great height, and you don't get hurt. I suppose.

This is a place where your mind can escape
All the problems today and go far, far away
This is a time with no history
Welcome to mystery


Forest fire!

This is my first sighting of a forest fire, in a new world started last night. It's strangely beautiful, but I'm fairly sure it won't go out until every bit of tree is burnt to nothingness.

This is a place where your mind can escape
All the problems today and go far, far away
This is a time with no history
Feel no misery
Come and visit me.
Welcome to mystery...


Fire by night

And this is the fire by night, seen from a nearby cave (just before I bricked everything up so as not to attract monsters to feast on my tasty brains).

(Lyrics are "Welcome to Mystery", by the Plain White T's, from the Almost Alice soundtrack.)

I was cold and you were fire

So, in the midst of some personal changes, I decided to rebuild the skybox. I'm still deciding what I want to put out on ground level in Winterfell, now that Samhain has come and gone (I haven't gotten around to removing the talking well from Caledon Morgaine; first, I like the way it looks there, and second, the property is still technically for sale).

(I say technically not because I'm contemplating pulling it off the market, but because I've had nary a nibble of interest. Honestly? Don't expect to, either. It's a hard, hard grid for land sales at present.)

Side one of the new skybox

I know, most gentles on the grid wouldn't choose black as the starting point for a holiday retreat. But then, I've never been most gentles.

Side two of it (with some cropping)

The black wood for the walls, floor and ceiling came from inSight Designs. The stained glass inserts in the walls came from Twisted Thorn Textures. Side one of the skybox contains the little gold 'gloo' tree given out in 2008 as a group gift for New Trails, and an incense bowl I've had for at least four years, made by Azrazael Maracas. The reindeer wreath on that side comes via Prim & Pixel Paradise (it was made by Karra Babii). The skull-and-cane decorations came from Post Mortem Creations. The large holly wreath is from Niven Designs. The smaller skull-and-black-holly wreath I acquired last year at the Soup Kitchen.

I think it came together nicely.

The fireplace

And the inspiration for rebuilding, the De Baza winter fireplace. I honestly don't know if she has it for sale; I got an advance copy, because she's going to be one of the stops on the Twisted Thorn Christmas hunt beginning in December, and I'm tossing around the idea of being another stop.

But it's lovely, it goes perfectly with the black wood, it's double-sided, and all of that decorated pretty is just nineteen prims. Yes, seriously.

I'm so sorry that I couldn't play your songs for ever and ever

"My father told me never kill anything you're not going to eat. At the age of 9, I shot a porcupine. It was the toughest lesson I ever had."
~Ernest Hemingway
Indeed. That would be very nearly inedible.

When Kurt Vonnegut died, Fox News danced on his grave. Good gods. That's appalling, even for the soul-reaving bastards at Fox News.

In the meantime, Hatsune Miku is playing to sold-out concert crowds in Japan. There's even a DVD being sold of the entire thing. Which would be fine if she was just another idoru singer, but--she's not. Start to finish, she was created--her voice is generated using the Yamaha Vocaloid software--and she primarily still exists in virtual space alone.

How'ver, there are some interesting things about this particular idoru--in addition to possessing the ability to switch to programmed musical "moods" (which range from sweet to reflective to homicidal), she can--when given enough to work with--write her own songs.

So--action figure line, poster line, now a hologram, and already a limited AI--the future's here. Forget prefab music groups, this is an entirely prefab girl.

Also, I want to tip you off to a patient survey site. They host a lot of surveys for a lot of companies, and pretty much all they do at this point is plug in a topic, and collate answers for presentation later. This is what happens when they don't pay attention to their topic.

While the comic's mildly diverting, the main reason I want you to go here is to see the Engie-Tan skin at the bottom of the page. (For Minecraft, naturally.) Who is Engie-Tan? Well, this, I believe, is Engie-Tan's cutest manifestation, but Jo Pereira has drawn her a lot. She's something of a recurring character, in fact. Generally, she's just too cute for words.

The point is, now Engie-Tan can run free in Minecraft. Which...may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending.

Some of the gems if you don't feel like opening another link:
8. Family History. Do you have a family history of Death?

9. First Noticed. At what age did you first show symptoms of Death?

12. Effect on your life before treatment. What was the effect of Death on your life before treatment?
(with a 1-10 scale rating where 1 equals "No Effect" and 10 equals "Major Effect")

15. Satisfaction. Are you happy with your experiences of medical care for Death? Are you satisfied?

16. Misdiagnosis. Were you wrongly diagnosed as a result of having Death? Were you misdiagnosed?
Wild. Just wild.

My new definition of irony, courtesy of Sir Edward Pearse, still makes me giggle. But Adam Hills--the Australian comic who's performing in that clip--is bemoaning the diminishing of the English language. I sometimes wonder if this same sort of lingual "dumbing down" is occurring in other languages, because really, I'm only a native speaker of English. And I do notice it in English.

In a savage turn of events, an online magazine called Cooks Source--which I have decided I will never, ever support from this moment forward--has declared everything online "public domain"--which includes articles on cooking. Now, let me clear up a minor point--they're not saying specifically recipes are public domain, or protected--recipes, uniquely, cannot be copyrighted. That's not the issue.

The issue is that they lifted an article without permission or credit, published it, and then--when caught--claimed that if it's published online, then it's free for anyone who wants to use it.

This is the attitude that's killing copyright on the net, frankly.

Like Pokemon? Like pretty girls? Here. You're welcome.

In a similar picture vein, thinking of protesting something? May you look as good as this guy when doing so. Damn.

And keep in mind, especially as it looks like I'll actually finish the damned challenge this year, I'm still running a small donation drive for the Office of Letters and Light, the people behind NaNoWriMo, and--more importantly--the Young Writers' Program, which provides literacy training and encouragement to write, to youth who desperately need that encouragement. Help if you can.

And I do believe that's all for today. More later, when I finish the new skybox.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

when the trees are sobbing faintly, with a gentle unknown woe

Working my way back to posting on the blog. In the meantime, consider this brief mention, mercenary as it is, my less-than-yearly point towards the sidebar.

I updated the Amazon link. Still not ready for the winter holidays--in my mind, the preparations should begin no earlier than the day after Thanksgiving--but I tossed in some things to keep people warm, should they choose to acquire them. Hot cocoa, holiday mugs, warm scarves, warm gloves, along with a bit of music, movies and history to round things out.

Candy and chocolate selections I think I'll do later in the year. In the meantime, peruse if it's your will, and not if it's not, and either way--enjoy the days growing shorter and the bite of cold as you can. Slowly but surely, we are approaching the longest night.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

there's a curse between us

so that's it then

Please hold, your call is important to us. Your estimated hold time is 48 hours. Thank you for your patience.

Here we go again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

learn to be paranoid, fear pulls my strings, too

The dropdown upon entry, during the Tainted hunt, said:
Greetings Emilly Orr, Welcome to Venom Rahne (ALL HUNTERS IF YOU USE AREA SEARCH,DERENDER MY SHOP,SHOUT OUT THE LOCATION OR ANY OTHER FORM OF CHEATING YOU GET ONE WARNING AFTER THAT YOU WILL BE EJECTED AND BANNED I DO NOT TOLERATE IT.)Happy hunting!
Disregarding the grammar issues and spelling errors, this got to me. Area search? Okay, some non-official viewers come with that, and it may not be playing by the rules to use it. How is it externally detectable by a merchant?

Second, going into wireframe--which I'm making the big assumption he means when he says "derender my shop"--is not cheating. It's an option to understand the structure of the world mesh and the mesh of items; it's been in the official viewer for...ever, I think; and again, how can a merchant know I'm using that method to find things? First, I could be using it to trace the shape of prims in a sofa, or to understand what's flat and what's sculpt in something I'm seeing.

Though he could mean more direct rendering, like, removing alpha textures, or simple textures, which would partially de-render his shop, yes. Again, I have the same two questions: first, how is a merchant to know when one is doing this, and two, how is it cheating? What I don't render can't lag me. Some hunts get really laggy. It's either that or cut out avatars rezzing in, or killing flexi skirts and hair on everyone. Get real.

Third, "any other form of cheating" would assume that the methods listed above are cheating. They're not. And it's ludicrous that any merchant thinks they are, and will auto-ban for something that is a) largely indetectible, b) largely silent, and c) helps to find things in laggy sims...

I mean, shouting out locations in main chat or on voice? I totally get why that's a bannable offense. But the rest of the items aren't, or at least shouldn't be. He wants to ban me just because he wants to ban me, fine--it's a jerklife move, but hey, his store, his rules. He wants me to cave to things that aren't against the ToS or hunting in general and holds over my head the threat of being banned?

Bite me, fanboy. Unless there is a sure-fire way to detect when I'm "de-rendering" a shop or poking about in wireframe, you're not only not going to know, but I'm not doing anything wrong.

"[S]hutting down the teen grid, then a few weeks later saying they’d let teens access the main grid, then later saying costs are going up. eegads, if that isn't writing on the slowly rezzing texture, [I] don’t know what is [...]"

She's not wrong.

Also, this is beautiful and everyone should read it. For the funny, if not to make you fans of the show. (But if you become fans, you could do worse than Netflix, domestically at least, because Netflix has all the episodes.)

Now, then. More Minecrafting. This morning, in excavating another long hallway to...nowhere in particular, actually...I discovered one patch where I was hearing a lot of zombies. I mean, a scary number of zombies. I walked back and forth, and it was really localized. And right under my feet.

Dungeon, I thought.

In Team Fortress 2, I'm very reckless. I strap on my flamethrower and charge into the fray. I count it a good fight when I manage to set ablaze two of the opposite side before someone guns me down.

But in Minecraft? I'm very careful. It can be an unnerving game at times, and I don't like the sense of panic when I die, and I have to go back to where I died to pick up my toys.

So...slowly, carefully...I started to dig out the floor. Never straight down, always in small patches, and three cubes down, I finally cracked a corner of the dungeon. And it was packed with zombies. Yeek. I cracked through more of the dungeons and the zombies went crazy trying to get to me. Unnerved and slightly desperate, I started dropping cubes of gravel on the ones I could see. It seemed to kill them, and I went off to make iron swords.

When I came back, I'd created enough of a space to drop into, which I immediately filled with light. Then--carefully, again--I began to dig out the gravel, and put torches around the spawner, flickering with eldritch light, because I had been told that would stop the spawning.

It seemed to; now there was just the zombies already there to deal with. (I should note, I didn't think to take pictures until after it was all over, because I was pretty much fighting for my life!)

I managed to kill seven zombies in a row, a somewhat astounding feat for me, before the eighth one leapt and killed me off. Then it was a race against time to get back to the little dungeon before my stuph went poof; I stopped only long enough to grab a pickaxe before I ran for the opening in the tunnel floor.

I leapt into the far side, turned, fended off the last zombie, lost a few more hearts....but I was safe. It was dead, and the treasure--MUAHAHAHAHA--was mine!

Well...almost. There was the mossy cobblestone. Which I craved like a drug. With more care, and no little trepidation, I began to mine out the blocks. I didn't know if removing the torches to get the stones would start the auto-spawning again. It was mine and patch, mine and patch, mine and replace torch and patch, all the way 'round.

Miss Neome had come in to the computer room by now, and was watching over my shoulder. She swears a zombie was hiding under one of the cobblestones. I don't know how that's even possible, but it wasn't one of the blocks beneath a torch, so...I really don't know how he suddenly manifested and came for me, but he did. And I killed him!

Monster spawner from above

This is the dungeon--and the spawner--after clearing out a few things--like zombies, moss-covered cobblestones, and adding more torches. Also carving a mini-staircase into one wall.

Monster spawner, ground level

And this is the monster-spawner seen from the same level, looking over to the mini-staircase.

I found the mini-dungeon; I faced down the monsters; I survived (well, sort of.) My treasure (in the little chest)? A loaf of bread; three ingots of iron; 4 piles of gunpowder.

Healing, a new iron pickaxe, and my first chunk of TNT, and all I had to do was die once! That's a good day's work.

I am reasonably proud of myself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

and I don't remember why I came

white label on the backseat
glows an artificial green
I crave a midnight something
I crave, and something hunts me down


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(In Minecraft, pigs are arborial! This also taught me that leaves would support my weight, as well. Now in one of my worlds, I have a treehouse.)

I'm scaring everybody
I'm wearing everybody down


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(One night, preparing for a bit of deep exploration in the Catacombs, I heard this odd...thupping sound. Like someone slapping a piece of raw liver against a kitchen counter. I carefully rounded the corner and...saw my first Slime.

(Slimes are unusual in Minecraft in that they don't need patches of shadow to spawn, they just need to be deep enough. Deep enough, Slimes will spawn. And they come in three sizes. This one? Was a regular sized one. When I attacked it, it split into four small sized ones. Imagine what happens when a huge slime shlups along.)


white label on the backseat
and something bends me over, down
I crave an empty lifestyle
I crave the very loudest sound


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(And then I decided to build a giant tree. I named it Llyr. It doesn't entirely work, but it is a solid enclosure of wood, and inside, are narrow beams of stone and glass to hold up a glass ceiling up above the leaves.)

I'm chasing everybody
I'm shaking everybody down...
do you hear the loudest sound?
and you and me in the echo?


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(I have decided, even though they need a hefty amount of planks to build, I like signs. They're functional and enormously descriptive.)

white label on the backseat
and something warm across my lap
I never bitched at anyone
I never asked for my heart back


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(Even in a completely cubist reality, there are still sights which remain impressive. Lava flows are one of them. Deadly, absolutely; but also beautiful.)

I'm loving everybody
and hating everyone I see--


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(Did I mention I like signs? This was the first chamber where I dug all the way to the lowest level. The all-black square seen in the picture is my game's version of adminium, the unmineable substance. It cannot be blown up, dug out, or moved in any way; it is the lowest level possible to attain in the game.

(Also, note the glass cube I'm holding on the right side of the larger image; in my game, glass isn't blue and silver, it's black and white. You can alter the game if you want to; the programmer allows it.)

do you still remember me?
floating out on the echo...?


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(There are sights in any virtual world that feel, to me, like 'home'. The strength of the response varies; some part of me will always think of Rivula as my home in Second Life, for instance, though Caledon Morgaine comes in a close second.

(But this was the first place I ever build in Minecraft that felt like home to me. And strangest of all, it was the third home I built, and the one least equipped to actually be a home.)


Today marks the day I bought Minecraft. I haven't been playing a hacked copy, precisely; I've been playing the copy downloaded the day the servers crashed, and Notch threw the game free for a couple weeks. I only play it offline and only in single player.

Now? I can choose to play on the public servers if I want. Or still keep playing offline. My choice, my rules, for the most part. And I'm supporting innovation and creativity, and the spirit of play. No bad thing there, even if the Euros-to-dollars conversion rate went up.

(None of that has anything to do with this post, or the song.)


(Lyrics from Kristen Hersh's song Echo.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

too simple to trust me, too dull to engage, too shallow to please me

There's a lengthy excerpt from the recent Supreme Court case on what makes a video game too violent for the under-eighteens to play; I found myself surprised at how knowledgeable about video games, and the current (accurate) research ongoing on the presumed link between violent games and violence in children the Court was; especially since I thought Scalia was on the conservative side.

Go them.

In other news, I now get to add the word "neutrois" to "cisgender" on my list of Terms That Only Complicate Everything, because of a complaint over a bonehead error that DeviantArt recently pulled (and even then, it wasn't so much the mistake made, which was minor, but the way their cackhanded PR department handled it). Especially Daniel Sowers Jr., who is DeviantArt's designated agent. Bonehead that he is.

I'm not specifically trying to be exclusionary with this stance, it just bugs me. It's like the whole controversy around the gay movement. First gay, then gay and lesbian. Then gay, lesbian and bisexual. Then it was LGBT--the T for transsexual/transgender. Then 'queer' got added, and now intersexed is in there, which means pretty much the only expressions excluded from the community are strict heterosexuals (who are non-supportive, because supportive straights are apparently on board) and people who have pathological sexualities (see pedophiles, for instance). At what point does it just boil back down to "different people"? Or even better, just "people"? We're people. We want the same rights. Everybody should have these rights. Right?

Just stop inventing words, especially if there are already other terms in place that work with less effort. Get real.

The new CEO of Undead Games has decided his massive multiplayer zombie game will ship to consoles, not PCs. Interesting stance. Let's see if it works for him.

Finally, more oddity from Doomed. There's apparently a roleplayer (I shall leave off the hapless unfortunate's name, for once, because she may just be this clueless, not actively stupid) on the Doomed ship who thinks demons are big, fluffy puppies with bad teeth.

Or, to put it closer to what she said to a friend, because her (demonic) character is "nice".

How shall I best break this to the lass...In the story arc of the Doomed ship, demons are the enemy. There are no "nice" demons. If, out of sheer incongruent whimsy, a "nice" demon happens upon the ship, one of two things will happen:

1. The inhabitants of the ship will do their best to kill the demon, because of their prior experience. These are battle-scarred survivors on a ship that has literally been to Hell, and back (or local equivalent), and the inhabitants are paranoid, frightened, and occasionally insane.

or

2. The demons aboard the ship will rip the "nice" demon apart because the so-called "nice" demon is an aberration and must be destroyed.

Period. End of sentence. No negotiation. There are no nice demons on Doomed, just as their are no pure, untouched innocents on Doomed.

Or, put another way, if you are taking on one of these roles, on the Doomed ship? You're dragging in your own mythological subset, because on Doomed, neither virginal purity nor sweet, kind demonology is in evidence. (Because, as said, any evidence of either of these astounding creatures? Would be killed/raped/eaten instantly, before, after or during.)

Move on. Get a new character, dear. You'll just keep dying if you don't.

So what the hell happened to Katharine Berry and megaprim.sl? What new fresh hell are the Phoenix/Emerald devs responsible for now?

It's not going to be without its pitfalls, and likely severe ones, but when mesh uploads finally crawl their way onto the grid (assuming the grid's still there when that eventual day comes), the ten meter limit on prim size is apparently being raised to sixty-four meters.

While this will definitely help builders, especially with the loss of megaprim.sl, I'm fairly sure that's also only to be enabled on "official" SL viewers. Because we all "should" be using the official viewers, natch.

Meanwhile, for those specific-prim needs, there's always Prim Search Login. It sort of works.

At least, it's what we've got for now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

nothing heard, nothing said, can't even speak about it

To whom it may concern,

We have recently received a complaint regarding the following file(s), which you have been sharing through your Box.net account, and infringe on a previously-held copyright:

All Files/creepy songs/06 Pick up the Bones Alice Cooper.mp3

We have deleted the above file(s) from your account. Please delete any other files from your account that may infringe on any previously-held copyrights, as these go against the Box.net Terms of Service. Be aware that further infractions may result in account termination.

Sincerely,
The Box.net team


So...all of them, you mean?

On the one hand, I understand. Someone--likely, considering it's an Alice Cooper song, from a large corporate legal department--did some casual searches, turning up my account and who knows how many others, and blustered. And Box.net sent out these little missives.

Are they wrong? No. I don't have the right to share this music, even for educational purposes, as they've been sitting there since the last creepy-music post, oh, two years ago, now. (I think a case could be made for making a post, and having music that then expired, and I may be doing that in future. But not through Box.net.)

Am I disappointed? Yes. Box.net is trying to protect their interests; Alive Entertainment and/or Bigger Picture Group is trying to protect their interests. I'm the one actionable in this, I know that. And, had they really been jerks about it, it would have been a court filing, not a cease-and-desist order. Hells, it's not even an official order; it's just a warning.

But it was a depressing start to the day, deleting everything on Box.net.

There's now a tinfoil hat theory for Linden Labs and Second Life! Part one, part two, part three and part four in all their glory. Enjoy.

And I'm not entirely sure she's wrong...

I'm running in an oddly unmotivated space. It's somewhat bizarre. I know there were things I wanted to get done--finishing the Hunt for the Living Dead, the Tainted Hunt, the Fall into Madness Hunt, and Octoberville...and I ran out of month to do it in.

It's just...Maybe I'm just tired. I don't know, but it never seemed to be a priority with everything else. I wanted to...or at least I felt I have a social obligation to...finish these things, because at one point I had great interest in them. But whatever interest level they had been at, has ebbed nearly completely at this point.

Getting back to the Box.net thing...as my account slowly empties...they just last week announced new policies on Box.net that would have made my life--several peoples' lives--much easier. Personal (free) accounts (what I have, currently) were going up to five GB from one GB; and the lowest level of paid account, I believe, was going from five GB to fifty. Those are big leaps. More file storage--more music storage--save for now I'm going to have five potential gigs of...air. Whee.

I may put up a temporary file folder, and just cycle things in and out on a weekly basis. But that's draining, too. And even that is not exempt from copyright issues, because even putting files up for educational reasons (critique, commentary, analysis) may mean they'll run into further issues.

Speaking to disappointment, in general...former Linden Robin Harper had a short but pointed entry on the whole Digg situation. In short, for those who don't know, Digg made a lot of changes recently, most of them wrong ones according to the community who uses Digg; the new CEO heard the bitching; and he's pledging to do better. Gosh, doesn't sound familiar, does it?

Second Life is sinking. It remains to be seen if the Labs will find a way to patch the holes and save the passengers, or turn the gun they've been using for rounds of Russian roulette...and shoot more holes in the boat.

Me, I'm a pessimist. I'm fairly sure that before 2011, someone's going to pull out a rocket launcher. But in this--as in other things--I sincerely, deeply, hope I'm wrong.

But--because I'm a pessimist--my section of Caledon Morgaine is still for sale.

And that's about all the depression I can take for once, I'm off to play Minecraft. Or to sew something to something else. Or both.