Monday, October 31, 2011

don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore

Steamships? Sure. Steam cars? Fine. Steam bicycles? Well, apparently yes to that too!

Also, brace yourselves: Magic: the Googling now exists. (I know. Talk about your insane Tumblr specializations!)

Four words which most of you will dread hearing: "My Little Pony MMO". I know, I feel the same way. It's not out now, that's at least one good thing. We move on.

Want to pillow-fight in style? Now you can.

I don't often refer to things I'm watching online, but I am bitterly disappointed with the Project Runway finale for this year. Bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

To get over that, I've been wandering architectural and fashion blogs, and I discovered an intriguing new alarm clock. Meng Fendi seems to be advertising it for couples, but I'm absolutely sure when it's developed, it could be sold to singles, as well.

In a similar vein, the CG Society has a fascinating concept design--which again, I'm hoping becomes reality--with their mechanical ring clock. Just a fascinating concept.

And, again in honor of the day, have some incredible--and incredibly seasonal--spooky foods.

Possibly more later, but now, off for Samhain ritualizing--and meatloaf. (Yep, this year we went there.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

stifled, her touch is leprous and pale

Non-glare glass has been invented! I am really, really hoping this gets widely adopted, because it would absolutely revolutionize the electronics industry on a planetary scale.

Also, for anyone having problems with iDevices that play music, that ceased to play music after upgrading to iOS5...well, here's the 'unofficial' official solution. But it sucks if you have a large music library. Even worse, there also seems to be a bug in how the updated music app handles music files with variable bitrate, and...maybe it's just me, but I don't know where on the .mp3 file I'd even find variable bitrate settings!

The other problem is that the upgraded music app seems to be glitching with large album artwork. See, it didn't used to be a problem--whether it was a 100x100 or a 1024x1024 size album graphic, the app would just resize it appropriately and move on. Now? It doesn't. It wants it close to, or the exact size, that it needs the artwork to be, or it just throws up its pixilated hands and flips past the song. Argh!

Somewhat out of nowhere, because I had such trouble tracking down an online seller of this product today, have a recipe for candied winter melon. Also called wax gourd, it's popular in Singapore, but it seems fairly easy (if somewhat time-consuming) to make it yourself. For a short batch that you don't plan to be preserved for long, use the recipe as given. If you want it to be preserved long-term, then after the first batch of sugaring (and heating, and cooling), make successively stronger batches of sugar syrup, until you are left with crystallized, translucent melon sections. Good luck!

In the meantime, news from Octoberville:

[03:55] Peewee Musytari: ooh emily snuck in there....CONGRATS #274 EMILY ORR - YOU ALSO GRADUATED, PLUS ADDED CERTIFICATE FOR STEALTH FINISH hehe :))
[03:56] handyreecechalmer: Yeah. I thought she had called it a night.

I had! But then I got pulled back in for the last achievement for this year's hunt, and...well...

(from the scavenging album)

That number you can barely make out next to my name (which you can also barely make out)? Indeed, that's number 274. Used to be (back when we had wood-burning cats), the Wall of Fame capped at 250 names. This year, they hit 250, and people kept finishing the hunt. So they added another board.

Me, I'm just happy to be finished. That is a hard hunt, and pictures will be forthcoming, but in the meanwhile, I'm going to collapse somewhere. Hopefully not on a baby cobra, a burning marshmallow, or a can of gasoline. And my sincere, humble, and most effulgent thanks to everyone that helped me, which included CreamyGoodness Resident, Handyreecechalmer Resident, Dorrie Fredriksson, dante884 Reanimator, last year's Octoberville Queen, Elise Rodenberger, and this coming year's Octoberville Queen, Peewee Musytari--among others. I can't thank you enough.

there were stairs, they were steep, I was falling, falling deep

There's a lot of things I'm working up to talking about--I want to do a run-through of the last-name JIRA, and I want to toss up some of the pictures I've been taking in Octoberville, but today's going to be shorter than that; this is both advice and a posting of intense gratitude towards Cherub Spectre (who co-runs Octoberville, along with Master Kaos and Nathan Oddfellow).

Last night, I wanted to get a hunt item for the Indian Summer hunt held at 22769. When I ported away from Octoberville, I had 41 groups. I really don't like maxing out my groups, in case I need one for a job slot (....notthatI'mworkingrightnowbutshhh, it's habit). So I found a store group I could leave without too much angst, and joined the 22769 store group.

I had been at 41 groups; I dropped a group, making it 40; I joined a group, bringing me back to 41. Then I ported back to Octoberville.

When I returned, I had 39 groups. And one that wasn't there? Octoberville.

Frankly, I panicked. It's bone-deep in me now--I can't leave Octoberville as a group, I lose my ranking. And in that sense, I don't blame them, because Ms. Spectre was constantly (may still be constantly) getting IMs saying, "yah I left the group 6 mos ago can I have my rank back now?"

And the answer to that, of course, obviously, is no.

But I didn't voluntarily leave the Oville group. I know that because I've never taken off the notification button for leaving groups. If I leave a group, I want to be asked if I'm leaving. The only pop-up I had was for the Ambrosia group--and I was asked if I really wanted to leave, to which I pushed the Yes button.

I wasn't asked that question about any other group. And yet, I left with 41 groups, and came back with 39.

(I still don't know which other groups I lost--everything looks like it's still there, and--after rejoining Oville last night--I'm up to 40 groups. I know I lost something, though. And yeah, it bugs me.)

But I was in panic mode, so I sent a notecard to Cherub Spectre and Master Kaos. I didn't realize until I opened Ms. Spectre's profile that she states there to contact her, or Nathan Oddfellow, with requests.


But I hunted about in Octoberville, solving occasional quests, getting frustrated at not finding other items, until it was time for bed. Having sent the two "halp, halp" notecards, I figured that was really all I could do. The rest was up to them.

This morning, I woke up to this IM in my email:

[8:49] Cherub Spectre: This is why we have people register on the site. I was able to verify your rank and gave you your epic tag

Cue huge sigh of relief.

So yes, much gratitude and full props to Ms. Spectre, thank you thank you thank you, and for everyone else, if you're interested in maintaining rank at all, register on the website. It's, and they have forums (for those what like the chat option), a place to upload a pic of you for a little profile section, an online web HUD that tracks what you find in the game, videos, polls, Facebook updates (not that I care, but I know I'm in the minority with Facebook loathing), and more. And they're still working on making Octoberville a PC game.

For the rest, yeah, I'm pretty sure we're in another unstable portion of SL's weekly run. From the grid status site:
Ongoing Issue with Offline Regions
Posted by Status Desk on October 29th, 2011 at 02:10 pm PDT

[POSTED 10:08AM PDT, 25 October 2011] We are aware of a problem that causes regions to go offline more frequently than normal. Our developers were alerted to the issue over the weekend and continue to work around the clock towards a solution. We understand how disruptive this is to your inworld experience. If your region is offline, please go to your support portal and submit a case using the following types: "Land & Region" > "Report an Offline Region". This queue is being closely monitored to ensure the fastest turnaround possible. We will post an update as soon as we have more information on resolution.
So, did that have anything to do with losing groups on teleporting? No idea. Also, I find it odd that that paragraph was supposedly posted yesterday, yet is dated five days before.

Odd, that.

But yes, the grid's still flaky, it was flaky yesterday, it's been off-and-on flaky since the server upgrade...this really isn't anything new. What is new is losing the groups I lost...but at least one of them (and to me, the most important one) I've got back.

Sometimes, we get a simple, easy solution for things. It's always nice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

so let your light so shine before men

This is going to be another clip entry to dodge what I truly want to talk about, because this is a blog I've tried to keep focused on the virtual (and technologies, music and movies that support that virtuality), and what's happening in Oakland is all too real.

So, first up: have some instructions for a Jack-o-lantern flamethrower (which, by the way, the creators absolutely do not encourage anyone to make on their own). But the instructions are there, and the video on the page is pretty fun to watch in general--though if you blink, you'll miss it. (Head on over to Instructables for the technical details.)

Next, the "Not Okay" campaign--which has a valid, simple message to begin with--is (as are most things) perverted by the internet. Go us. Seriously, I think the 'parody' posters have just as much of an impact as the actual ones.

Next up, if you're the sort to favor tea or coffee (or absinthe), you tend towards wearing black and pairing it with more black, and you occasionally like to set a more formal table? Meet your new sugar cube purveyor. You can buy them decorated or plain, and you can even order a tall apothecary jar packed with delectable pale skulls to stir into things.

There's a Nyan Cat launcher on the Marketplace; apparently (at least in damage-enabled sims), it works fairly effectively (though people near the one wielding it might complain about being killed by rainbows instead of bullets).

Next, the Kickstarter campaign to "hire" Qarl Linden to fix mesh has been fully funded. Me personally, I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work--because if the Lindens won't integrate the code patches in their actual viewer releases, it's just going to be those TPVs that can get it to integrate with their own viewer code, which yet again is going to break down the grid into the "haves" (those that can see/interact properly with mesh objects/avatars/landscapes), and the "have nots" (those whose systems can't run the mesh viewers, and thus cannot properly see mesh objects/avatars/landscapes). The avatar thing is especially worrisome, still, because if you're not on a mesh viewer, and someone wearing a mesh avatar walks by, initial reports are still that you'll see them naked. Which is a reportable offense in PG areas, so...yeah. That's still kind of a big deal.

Next (and also from NWN), Will Wright is joining the Linden team. So...we seem to be moving from the hideous forced integration of FacebookLife, to the more "game-like" potential of SecondSimLife...and to be frank, well, we're already kind of there anyway. It's not so much a bad idea in my opinion, as it is a strange one. But we'll see what happens when he comes on board.

I'm wholly on board with cyberpunk; I've made my peace with steampunk; I'm even okay with dieselpunk. But "methanepunk" is going to have to prove to me it has a right to the name.

On the other hand, microbial home decor makes sense to me. We've had microbial waste reprocessing technology for some time, that takes waste material into the top of the column, and turns out oxygen and pure water at the other end of the column; it works faultlessly. (It was originally designed for the planned trip to Mars several years back that, err...never got off the ground. So to speak.) And expanding the concept to generate methane to fuel household devices, power lights, and be used to sprout hydroponic food seems like a great idea.

(Of course, on the other other hand, this is the sort of thinking that could lead to insular underground warrens, a la Vault-Tec, but mayhap I'm quibbling there.)

Finally, let's play a game of Find Your State, and then you can figure out what's coming to get you. You're welcome, and I hope it helps to avert great and monstrous catastrophe this holiday season.

I sleepin, not dead! plz do not bury me kthnx

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stepford wives, who are we to complain?

Why yes, it's another clip post. (I am trying to minimize them, I've just been scattered lately.)

But we're going to start off with a picture gallery of the world's largest pumpkin being carved. They picked a really, really impressive carver to do the deed.

Also, this is full of so much win I can barely stand it. Halloween light shows--who knew they were becoming popular? But this fellow went all out with it, stringing up thousands of LED lights on 1,144 controller channels (using the Light-O-Rama system), and a ton of song-based programming so actions mostly match up with lyrics. An incredible amount of devotion went into this.

(Amusingly, same house, completely different song and programming, and it's still cool. Oh, and if you didn't see the connection between LMFAO and Halloween? Well, their video for Party Rock Anthem features rock zombies. It also features singer and photographer Lauren Bennett, inexplicably, but hey, pretty girl in a party mix? Likely never a bad call.)

Ars Technica recently reviewed the Maylong tablet, available at the staggeringly low price of $99 from Walgreens, of all places. It's an incredibly harsh review, but from what I've been reading, also incredibly true. It seems like it would be a far better deal to take that $99 and buy several iStyle decals, a mirror, and a thick plastic frame, and glue everything in place, because it would work better than the Maylong.

Not to be outdone, though, BBYOpen's Joshua Kahn thought that Ars Technica may have been too strident about its utter uselessness, and to prove the point, came up with fourteen tried-and-true uses for the thing. I guess the end result you want a mini cutting board, doorstop, and portable whiteboard enough to pay $99 for it? (Because, seriously, in that case? Chunk of wood from Lowe's and a couple pieces of sandpaper, buying a mini whiteboard, and buying a mini cutting board will cost you $20, max, and that's IF you're not shopping around for deals.)

I'm also bringing you the penguin sweater project, courtesy of Mr. Drinkwater, because I can.

And the Gutters blog brings you both the one-page explanation of the X-Men: Schism series, and the one-page superhero reaction to Occupy Wall Street. You're...welcome? (Though to be fair, I am interested in reading the X-Men book, now, and that's the first new comic book in a while I've been interested in reading.)

Someone took a clip from the second ever broadcast Doctor Who episode, wherein they address the "First Question" to brilliantly minimal effect. (What's truly interesting is that I found that mention when Mr. Allen tossed me this link, to a special Doctor Who mini-episode written by a group of schoolchildren at the Oakley Junior School. Even more impressive? The winning students were invited to the studio in Cardiff, where Matt Smith congratulated them personally. Now that's a boost to educational efforts everywhere.)

Finally, getting to Second Life-based news, Ms. Uccello Poultry takes on the next generation of SL viewers, in a fairly detailed review. Good, clear pictures are always a bonus; but for me, what she says is more important than what she shows.

Also of note: when she uses it? She's still crashing on nearly every teleport. The new beta release is that unstable, still. We're all hoping it gets better, not worse.

Friday, October 21, 2011

it's such a shame for us to part

A new boycott of the grid begins. This time it's starting in the art world, because of the Lindens' incredible and inexcusable mis-handling of SL-to-HTML blocking. Without concrete communication and a prioritized technical issues queue, she's going to leave the grid.

And if she goes, there are a lot of artists that will follow, I have the distinct feeling.

Your grid is DYING, Lindens. Why don't you stop it?

In an update on the megaprim issue from yesterday, more information (if only on a slight amount) has been published. Including the start of a JIRA file on the issue--and a reminder, folks, WATCH, do not VOTE, the Lindens no longer respond to votes cast, only watchers watching the issues.

Keep in mind that only Crowley Avro's prims seem to be affected. Megaprim creators whose creations will NOT have been returned:

Anya Ristow
Ceera Murakami
Charles Fauna
Dawn Ireton
Gene Replacement
Moy Loon
MrsDay Oh
Research Projects
Winter Ventura
Zwagoth Klaar

But if you built with Avro's prims? Your builds are now toast. If they show up in your Lost & Found folder, again, you seem to be able to re-rez them without issue, as they've reversed the decision, but this still affects more than a few sims, and more than a few builds. This was a rash and ill-considered action, indeed.

In the meantime, this weekend the Labs are holding a land sale! Get any homestead at a $375 discount, get any full region at a $1000 discount--and that, to me, is nail-in-the-coffin time, because if they're that desperate to get new owners of sims onto the grid, then how many sims are leaving--or have left already?

I'm tasting ashes on the wind, people. This is in no way good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

these tears won't fall for you this time

First there was this:
[POSTED 10:35AM PDT, 20 October 2011] Due to a change we recently made to address a griefing problem, some megaprims were removed from the grid, which has affected users’ creations containing these megaprims.

The issue has been resolved, and the megaprim objects can be re-rezzed from your inventories at this time. If you do not have a copy of the affected build, please go to your support portal immediately and file a case.
Then there was this for (minimal) explanation:

[21:10] Txxxxx Mxxxxx: so [whose] mega prims got dumped this time?
[21:12] [axxxxxx Zxxxxxx]: Crowley Avro but they are back now

So check your builds, people, be aware there might be an issue.

Researchers at Microsoft are working on ways to turn hands into touch-screen devices. Well, not just hands, specifically--any surface. Right now, it's buggy, and the initial coding is not recognizing things efficiently, but they're working on improving it. Their concept is that it will be far easier to utilize computers if they are portable, and do not require specialized equipment to access. the painful bit. For once, I'm omitting the name of the store involved in this, because I don't think the main point is which store this happened in; for me, the main point is that it happened at all.

[Note: Because I thought this was an important point as well, I pulled up [Gorgeforce]'s profile. She has no responsibilities other than basic member in the main store group of the store I discuss below. She's listed as "Caller" in the lucky chair group I mention below, which I suppose is a certain level of trust...but certainly not the level of trust I'd need, were I this store owner, to give her all the powers she's threatening that she has.]

[17:46] [Gorgeforce]: OK, this is how it is. If your little group competes with the [store's lucky chair group] anymore, you and each of them will be banned. Already talked this over with [the store owner]. OK?

Now, first, I don't know if this was said in IMs or in main chat. I get the feeling it was in main chat, which to me strikes as inutterably rude and abrasive; but even in IM it would be galling.

[17:47] [Gorgeforce]: I know what is going on. We are not fools. We have a loyal group and the backing of the owners.

And sounds somewhat spoiled, to boot, but...okay, let's break this down, giving this personage the maximum amount of doubt I can summon.
  • They've noticed a problem with 'chair campers'; namely, people who simply hang around the chairs, blocking other people, and members of the group are feeling resentful about it.
  • For some reason (I am not privy to specific incidents), they are blaming the Kitties for this camping abuse.
  • For some additional reason, this particular soul has taken it upon themselves to be the shield and sword of this store (as if they needed defense), and is--for whatever additional reasons--threatening the Kitties with specific dooms.
Very specific, as it turns out:

[17:47] [Gorgeforce]: I'm taking each of their names as they arrive. They are not going to thank you.
[17:47] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxx: I'm going to talk to the owner I had no idea this rule was in effect.
[17:48] [Gorgeforce]: Go right ahead. It's not a rule. It's the sentiment about chair groups who come and strip the place and move on.

Okay--and again, giving this person the maximum amount of doubt here--there are lucky chair groups who call any random chair they happen to be at, so the members of that group can descend in droves, take anything with that letter, and vanish like locusts in autumn. Fine. We've all seen this behavior--I've even heard of worse behaviors, like rezzing out boxes to cover lucky chairs in places where rezzing prims is allowed (and personally, I think that's reprehensible for residents on the grid, selfish, and completely childish).

However--as far as I know, I've happened to check the chairs in this store when I stop in looking for a specific thing; when I'm shopping one of their special weekly deals; when I come into the main store but I'm actually aiming for one of the side ventures in the same sim; or when I'm checking back to see if an item has been revised (for instance, this store at one point made lovely thigh-high boots. I've been meaning to check back and see if they've been rereleased for Viewer 2 alpha layers). And I don't think I'm much different than most members of the Kitties: stores where I like the effort that goes into Midnight Mania items, or lucky chair items, or Mobvend items, I try to actually spend Lindens there, because I want to support that kind of care and concern. I don't think I'm alone. This individual seems to be referring to the Kitties as if we're all ravenous vultures, and I for one take offense at that.

[17:49] [Gorgeforce]: And get out from in front of the mob*vend while you are at it.
[17:49] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxx: What? Is there some [limit] where I can stand now?
[17:50] [Gorgeforce]: I am not going to race you for calls and you and your people are not going to block the view of the chairs and the vendors. OK?

Several problems with this statement:
  • It's again insufferably rude. The longer I read the chat log that was passed to me, the more I'm thinking this is either a person under great mental stress, or who has the social graces of a rabid badger.
  • The warnings against "stalking" the lucky chairs aside--and dropping into a store to peruse their chair letters while shopping is far from "stalking"--what if she was trying to seek help to get the Mob*vend lowered? What's wrong with that? When Mob*vends drop, you have several options, from waiting until the absolute, bargain-basement price (which is still paying the designer for work done), all the way up to judging one's personal time, and deciding to pay full Mob*vend price (or some gradation of the price; for instance, I've frequently decided at DV8 that I want the Mob*vend prize enough to not wait around for the lowest possible price, and tossed whatever was on the board in that moment so I could simply receive the prize and leave.
  • Finally, why warn someone away from the Mob*vend board--which is, in this particular store, situated between the chairs, not in front of the chairs--if you're not wanting to "race" someone for letters? Also, [Gorgeforce] has a starting letter of their name that is radically different from the letter Miss S owns. So there is never, ever going to be a time in which [Gorgeforce] and Miss S are in direct conflict for a chair.
[17:46] [Gorgeforce]: OK, this is how it is. If your little group competes with the [store's lucky chair group] anymore, you and each of them will be banned. Already talked this over with him. OK?

Now this person has moved up to direct hostility, and frankly, even if this person is speaking with the voice of the store owner, it's still a bad thing to say. Why? Well, just for starters:
  • With as rude as this person was, throughout this entire exchange, it's difficult for me to put faith in their words. To be blunt, even with later confirmation (I'll bring that up later on), at this moment I do not believe [Gorgeforce] is speaking the truth.
  • Second, it's not just Miss S that [Gorgeforce] is threatening. It's all of us. Every single member of the Kitties group, if we are seen by this abusive nitwit, we are being told that we will be banned.
    • Just for being in the store.
    • Just for shopping there.
    • Just for being seen.
And why? Out of...vengeance? Stupidity? Didn't have a puppy to kick that day? No real clue. But we've moved from rude, to hostile, to demented in the space of a half hour.

In five years of Second Life, I have never (and I do mean that, this has never, ever happened) been singled out and banned from a place because of my group affiliations. Because of my opinions I have been banned from stores and sims--and okay, fine, every store owner has that right, every sim owner has that right, and I am well aware that I'm a snippy wench.

But simply because I know someone? Because I'm in their group, this troglodyte is going to watch for my name? I mean, seriously, they have enough time in their day that they're going to hang out with a crate of Mountain Dew and scan profiles that obsessively?

It honestly makes me uneasy about going into the store. A store, moreover, I like going into. A store which is well-built, well-publicized, active, and with attractive products for sale.

A store, moreover, at which I have spent Lindens. And I'd like to spend more. But with [Gorgeforce]'s unsubtle threatening stance, I don't feel I'm able to go in unless I hide that group.

And screw that. If I'm traveling from one mature area to another mature area, there is no reason I should have to hide my groups. And that's still no guarantee.

I will admit, there is some small part of me that wants to walk in under the Lucky Kitties badge, just to see if this idiot can ban people from the sim. But if I get banned? Then this person will have succeeded in banning a customer (past and future); a reviewer of product for this store (unpaid and uncompensated; when I have reviewed this store's merchandise I have done it on my own dime); and as if that's not bad enough, this person will have banned someone in that store's group.

Frankly? That's insane.

So--with this sort of treatment, and with no clear answer pro or con from the store owner--my friend left. But she remembered the subscribe-o, and returned to unsubscribe. At which point from what it sounds like, she was either bounced from the store, or sniped at when she returned. The explanation? Was on the vague side:

[17:52] [Gorgeforce]: Sorry. But you were invited to our group and refused. You aims are clear.

What aims? She may not have had group space. She may have thought--as many of us do--that the subscribe-o system works better for notice management (I will say, sadly, that while my notices tend to cap either way, that subscribe-o notices tend to get through to my email, consistently, whereas in-world group notices do not always.) She may not have had the Lindens just then for any particular fee that was assessed at any point. Ascribing any additional motivation to her "refusing" the group invitation only demonstrates [Gorgeforce]'s enduring paranoia and lack of clear thinking.

[17:52] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxx: Forgot to leave the suscribe-o-matic, sorry for returning. I don't see why I have to be a part of any group to just watch lucky chairs.
[17:53] [Gorgeforce]: You were doing more than just watching. Don't be obtuse.

Again, these are the ravings of a paranoiac, not someone honestly and openly representing the store.

But remember I mentioned the store owner got back to my friend?

[17:55] [Store Owner]: The Subscribo is for more than that - but I did talk to her about people crowding and blocking the view - show some courtesy, or don't as you wish - I prefer people who will come and sample the chairs and also shop - so someone dedicated to chairs only and a chair blog is not high on my priority list. As cruel as it may sound - this is a business first, and I reward MY groups first as well.

Okay, as far as it goes, I understand that completely. We are still struggling through an economic downturn, more stores are leaving SL every day, and every store owner who wants to stay is struggling as well. Any store on the grid right now is resorting to extraordinary measures just to keep their heads above water, let alone turn a profit.

[17:56] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxx: Sorry but I have shopped at your store before and was on the suscribe-o for a long time checking updates when you sent them out. I did not think this was wrong and sorry if standing around watching the chairs is some form of ill will. I will not return, sorry.
[17:56] [Store Owner]: you didn't read what she said or what I said
[17:56] [Store Owner]: but leave if you wish
[17:57] [Store Owner]: the problem was *crowding* and *[blocking the view]*

I will fully grant, I may not have been given the complete chat transcript, so I may not have access to everything that these two individuals said. However, from what was passed to me, from what I read that was typed in chat (or IM), where in checking letters on lucky chairs does crowding and blocking the view come in?

You rez into a store. Maybe the lucky chair is there, mayhap you have to walk a little. Generally--at least for most of us--once we get to the chairs, we stand, and wait for the letters to rez in. Some people stand farther back, some stand farther forward--I can't see how it's blocking the view or crowding to stand there. That's a major part of this I just don't get.

[17:57] [Store Owner]: it's fixed as simply as *step back a few paces*
[18:00] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxx: She told me not to teleport in people, it was more than just step back a few.

Yes. I would agree, [Gorgeforce] went above and beyond all boundaries in what was said.

[17:58] [Store Owner]: and if you want the chair callers to be friendlier, try joining the [store's lucky chair group] and show them you're not just here to grab free shit and run

So...just to be sure I understand this...if I happen into the store, on the off chance that this person isn't there to take my name down and have me banned, I mean...I should then seek out the lucky chair group that, over a year back, I thought was dissolved because the store owner thought it such a profoundly bad idea that he gave it up?

But I should join it because if I don't, I'm just...what...stealing from him if I don't? Is that the thinking we're dealing with, now? Even if I make purchases at the store or the satellite stores. Even if I rarely check those lucky chairs, and sometimes, even rarely check the Midnight Mania boards? The mere fact of checking for my letter on one of the lucky chairs if I don't make group space for two store groups for that store is now theft?

[17:58] [Store Owner]: we do get a lot of 'chair-raper' groups through - people in it for nothing more than a load of free items
[17:59] [Store Owner]: if you *act like* one of those - the loyal [group members] are going to treat you like it

Here's my question about this one: what's "acting like" one of "those"? I'm all for avoiding consequences, but not without clear guidelines. And this is likely to turn away shopping customers as well as "freebie hunters", isn't it? Is that what store owners want?

Moreover, the inference I'm drawing from this is that being abusive, sniping, insulting, paranoid, and threatening to people who weren't even in the sim when the original incident happened is both lauded and approved by this store owner. Seriously?

All in all, this incident is profoundly disturbing to me, not the least of which is due to the store owner in question seemingly backing extraordinarily rude, aggressive and lunatic behavior. It puts further patronage of this store into serious doubt for more than just me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

there's a fire that's been burning right outside my door, I can't see it but I feel it, and it helps to keep me warm

From Thane Woodford of Raven's Heart Sculpts:
If you were a member of Builders Brewery or the name now intrigues you …
Their bot had an issue and ejected most of their members, from 16700+ to now 434. So, to help you rejoin, here is group slurl secondlife:///app/group/04f595b0-cdc8-97f0-e710-9564824c03b2/about
Thanks Azure for getting the info on it.....Thane
Now me, I don't know what the issue was, but I wasn't one of the 434, so I logged back into the grid and re-joined. If you were a member, check your group list; rejoining is free. If you weren't, right now they have a Halloween build (the same cemetary structure from Pravda, it looks just as wonderful on their sim as in the Lunitarium haunt) where you can pick up lots of group-made freebies--if you're a group member. Plus, Builders' Brewery has a long-standing tradition of classes, instructional help, in addition to having a lot of items to build with for free, for cheap, and for reasonable prices above and beyond.

Frankly, if you build in SL, there's not many good reasons not to be in their group.

Just in time for the sacrificial season, comes the cuddle altar! No, I don't know why either, but hey, now you know there is one. It...proudly?...joins its fellow WTF builds like the sex coffins, the sex bookcase, and the bondage pickle. (I wish I were making that last one up. Thankfully, it seemed to be a hunt item, so might no longer be available.)

Miss Tateru Nino talked with Rhett Linden about the upcoming new UI, and there's some good (as well as bad) news found in that article. It's well worth the read, and does at least seem to indicate that (at least on alternate Sundays, when the third appletinis have kicked in fully along with the local intoxicants of choice) they're listening to grid residents. Well, some of the grid residents. Well, some of the time.

At any rate, Nalates Urriah took the first iteration of the build for a spin (as she put it). She also notes the laundry list of current bugs:
  • The Viewer floater camera views and presets do not work.
  • The Nearby Voice panel does not update to a new call or from
  • nearby voice info once opened.
  • Viewer crashes when updating UI size in preferences.
  • The Speak button is activated when dragging and dropping between
  • toolbars and/or moving back to the Tool Box.
  • Viewer crash when moving the speak button from one toolbar to
  • another when there is an active call request.
  • Teleport history doesn't display visited locations.
  • Viewer crash when double-clicking the mini-map in People & Nearby.
  • Notification and conversation chiclets overlap.
  • WASD controls don't move avatar while the Move floater is in focus.
  • Closing voice controls while a group or p2p call also closes the
  • group call/IM window
  • Viewer crash after teleport
  • Hitting back in the 'Create Group' panel or 'Blocked' panel requires multiple clicks for action to occur.
Bolding mine, and damn. So basically, right now, it's extraordinarily buggy and glitched all to hell. But how does it look?

Like this. And frankly--and I know, this will shock some long-term readers--I'm not disliking the look.

I know, I know, I am a fervid, avid, if not actively rabid detractor of Viewer 2, and of everyone--Linden and non-Linden alike--who had a hand in coding for it being dropped into an oubliette without internet service for the next forty years. That being said, however, this particular UI build looks clean, uncluttered, and it still looks like I can find everything.

Instead of a massive sidebar eating real estate on the right-hand side, by Ms. Urriah's description, we have individual icons tucked away on the left that open into moveable, floating windows. Along the bottom, we don't have a massive set of doubled bars with buttons, we have again, individual icons that when pressed, seem to open up what we need, only as long as we need it--the friendslist, the chat bar, help for new users, et cetera.

Also, it seems to have adopted more 'game-based' movement options--instead of walking forward with the arrow keys, now it looks like we'll have the option to click the ground ahead of us--something I got far too used to playing Runes of Magic--and we will move to that spot. I'm liking this potential, if it stays in the viewer.

Now, there's a LOT of info in Ms. Urriah's post, and it's picture-heavy--both of which are good things when talking about a new viewer. Something did pop up for me, though, that's setting off alarm bells, and it's not the crashing on almost every teleport. (Like that doesn't happen now some weeks, this is not just the new UI, it's Second Life in general.)

Here's the passage in question:
"It is fast. In my cottage I’m getting 35 to 45 FPS on my 8800 GTS Duel Core2."
Why is that a big red warning sign for me?

Listen, I know the way of the world is moving towards multiple cores in computers, I get that. I'd love to have a dual core system. One of my friends has a quad-core system, and there's talk in the works of either releasing--or possibly already have been released--an octo-core--that's eight processors in one.

But right now? Single-core. Single-core old. That's what I've got, and I'm on one of the faster computers in my house. So yeah, that's siren time for me--it may work (eventually), it may be very fast for her dual-core personage, but on my aging Pentium 4? Not even sure I'll be able to run it. Which is definitely on the depressing side.

Still, for once, it seems like they're doing things that will work for the residents on the grid, not against them. Unfortunately, Ms. Urriah does not build; there's nothing about the build menu and what things were moved where on the viewer. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if a builder decides to download the new UI and try to build with it.

Won't that be fun?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I got secrets in my garden shed, I got a scar where all my urges bled

Oh, it's been a busy couple of weeks. In between doing everything else that my RL, more game-based virtual (and occasionally SL) lives demand, I've also been trying to put together this year's haunt!

Which has crept along, very very very slowly, for two reasons:

1. I just didn't have a lot of time; and

2. I started late and frankly, was dragging my heels about finishing, because I wanted to be done already (insert whine here).

Go to Lunitarium if you wish to see it; this year, it's mostly quiet, though there is a small dollarbie hunt, per my usual, and next year, I simply must start planning earlier in the year!

Assuming SL still exists...

ANYWAY! Haunt items! They are as follows:

(from the haunts album)

This is this year's Samhain season fire: for 2011, it contains a dressform, a hatrack, some utility horses, a tablecloth, a few large logs glowing with embers, and a few other scattered odds and ends.

(from the haunts album)

A Trick-or-Treat banner. Slight glow, and it flickers!

(from the haunts album)

I know, it's not December yet; just think of this as decoration in advance. T'is the season?

(from the haunts album)

This is actually an art piece. It has a fair amount of glow, and some very odd poses, and I've been poking at it off and on, in various iterations (I think I'm up to six in inventory). This was the Second Iteration, and--barring, you know, the poses on crack--looks pretty good.

(from the haunts album)

Two haunt gifts in one! Well, no, they're in individual prizes. On the left: a grouping of three Jack o'lanterns in red-tinted skin; on the right, a grouping of three Jack o'lanterns in black-tinted skin.

(from the haunts album)

And this is one of actually four variants--they're all square (and obviously, they'll look better on earth, not wood), they all have pumpkins, but two are green vines (like the one shown above), two are dying golden vines, and in the other direction, two have scattered smooth round pumpkins (like the ones shown here), and two have scattered multi-sized pumpkins.

(from the haunts album)

And this is one of two 'Pumpkin girls' I made this year--this is the charred version, with limbs starting to collapse at the joints, and propped up on different, smaller pumpkins. There's another version with more connected limbs and a star-covered, dark red pumpkin for a head, but she's...kind of wet.

Like, skinless wet. I figured I'd keep that variant off the blog.

(from the haunts album)

The bulk of this year's build (really, it's just the cemetary and an 'upstairs' skybox) mostly comes from one phenomenal set piece created by Pravda Dark Couture. It's amazing, it's fabulous, and both it and the space to hold it has been graciously donated by Hank Rucker. I only wish I had more coherence on the build (though from now until October 31st, when it closes, I'll do my best to add things when I can to fill it out).

(from the haunts album)

And this comes courtesy of Mm. Sphynx Soliel, who helpfully informs us that the road to Hell is paved with...yeah. Exactly.

If you get lost, just find the arrow--it points to the haunt.

Keep in mind, you'll be looking for large candy corn pieces. They're not hard to find. They're all set to buy for a Linden, and there's thirteen total.

Have fun, tell me if anything doesn't work, and enjoy!

*limps off and collapses somewhere in one of the disused crypts*

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I have taken the liberty to tell your ghosts to go

Well, I told myself no more clip entries. And at the time, I meant it. Days like today make that stance really hard, because so much happened!

We're going to start with Barnes and Noble, who's being very, very dim about digital distribution. Basically, they approached DC for digital rights to distribute their top 100 DC graphic novels (most of them Vertigo titles, originally) on the Nook Color. DC said no.

DC then said yes to Amazon Kindle Fire getting that same deal, and from everything we know, Barnes and Noble lost their minds. I do believe it is the first time that a brick-and-mortar business, to protest digital sales, has pulled physical printed books in retaliation.

And for me, that's far from a good sign.

Meanwhile, Facebook got caught in a direct lie; the problem is, it's not the first one. And the bigger problem is, they're not the only one doing the tracking.

Given ten more years, we'll have a whole new working definition of what privacy means.

It is now possible, says the New Scientist, to encode messages in bacteriological DNA. While I realize my musings on this topic reach into the realms of outer hyperbole, I'm still giggling at the mental image of some document service in the future being asked to translate a snake.

From Cute Overload (trust me, I don't anticipate linking from that blog that often) comes a walking AT-AT (Greyhound model). The pup doesn't look that comfortable, but at least it seems semi-well designed.

From the wilds of the SL Marketplace comes the Human Fish avatar! Um...I think when people say "Half fish, half girl", that is NOT what they mean.

Due to massive online (and offline) protesting, involving thousands of emails to their office, actual letters, letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and a ton of negative press, Netflix has decided to junk the whole Qwikster concept. Great idea, geniuses, but could you have done that before you made the announcements, so you wouldn't have lost 25% of all accounts and an insanely huge market share? Way to keep failing.

Some enterprising young Minecrafter wrote a program that replaced all mob spawns with Endermen. Then he sped up the day, removed sunrise and sunset, made every monster check for an action 40 times a tick instead of once, and...well. This was the result. About 200 years of Endermen-based ecological devastation.

Finally, someone found some archival footage of early motion-capture actors (wherein the actor sits and performs a scene, while being sketched; the days of dot location and greenscreening were still far, far in the future) leading up to the Alice in Wonderland animated feature, and paired it side by side with the finished reel. It's fascinating, especially as Walt Disney seems to have simply kept the audio from the test session!

And my goodness, isn't that enough for now?

Oh, wait, one more thing...

I'll just leave this here. (That image may be NSFW, even though the lass in question is facing away from the camera. You'll see what I mean if you click it.)

we would like it to be known, the exhibits that were shown were exclusively our own

Being awake and trying to return to sleep, I found mention of a notecard that arrived at my abode. I logged in to read it, and found mention of an old entry made during the Peaster's Castle hunt run:
Hi there,
i have just been reading your blog spot on Darkness Falls. You made it interesting and captured the feel of the sim well so much so i had to read it 'til the end. However, one of the creators of the sim is a personel RL friend of mine and [was] horrified to see that you are telling everyone you think the child sculpts are from Vooner. All the children, trees with faces, shrooms and monks are sculpts belonging to Lauren Bentham, and can be purchased ONLY from Bentham Manor (her mainstore). I too own a store in SL, and would be extremely annoyed and upset if a blogger did not research properly before commenting on where items can be purchased. I just thought i should bring this to your attention so you can correct it.

Thank you

Tamrielle Halderman
I checked it out; not that I don't trust either Miss Halderman or Miss Bentham, but I had made the error once, and I didn't want to do so again.

First of all, you'll want to go see Bentham anyway; I had been there, several years back, but it's changed remarkably (and for the better, I might add). However, you can find the Crying Child sculpted figure in the house (I believe it was retailing for L$275), and many of the other set pieces seen in the Bentham hunt sim are comparable, or lower. (Most do seem to be no copy, however, if you contact Miss Bentham directly, she states she's happy to sell no transfer versions instead.)

I would extend my humble and profound apologies to Miss Bentham for my oversight; my only explanation (not excuse) is that I'd seen a child sculpt for sale at Vooner and had mistakenly assumed that was the creative at hand. Both Miss Bentham and Miss Halderman are right; I should have verified who made it before sending that entry to print; I did not.

I have corrected the original entry, I am very sorry if this has caused harm to her business in any way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

never pull a punch for free

[20:09] ẔẍỷṰḧῒᾆῆ [Zxxxxxxx Wxxxxxxxxxx]: Yawns and closes.
[20:10] [Qxxxxxx Hxxxxxxx]: i never understood why ppl need to make a statement that they are closing the window lol
[20:11] [Vxxxxx Cxxxxxxxxxx]: because it doesn't make a noise otherwise??
[20:11] [Lxxxxxxxxx Lxxxxxxx]: i dunno [Qxxxxx]. maybe they think theyll make a silent point?
[20:15] [Lxxxx Mxxxxxx]: because it's not a flounce unless someone knows about it :-p
[20:15] Emilly Orr agrees with [Lxxxx]

As given in slightly more detail here, I am unfortunately driven to release my parcel of Caledon Morgaine. I have adored it there, and adore Caledon still, but without a steady income (and without my partner's steady income, as she's been released from her work as well, due to the estate company's sudden closure), I have to give up Morgaine. It is my greatest wish at this time that I do not have to give up my small island off Winterfell Laudanum, also...but I am something of a fatalist, and if it happens, I will find a way to cope.

It is a small 1024 section on the main Morgaine Bay, barriered on one side by water, and on the other by the range of mountains that lie between Caledon Wellsian and Caledon Morgaine. It is partially under Morgaine's Floating Mountain, and has a magnificent view of some very pretty builds.

I am asking L$950, solely to reimburse the week I paid so that I would not default; there are thirteen days (as of today, 7 October 2011) remaining on the tier.

However, as I want it to sell to someone who will both treasure it, and to transfer it before I have to hand it back to Desmond empty...I am entertaining all offers.

And tragically, I do mean that. Please leave a message here, or IM me in Second Life, or draft a notecard and drop it on my profile. This greatly saddens me, but I am trying to see my tragedy as a boon to some future tenant of Caledon.

Please, if you are at all serious about owning a section of Caledon, please contact me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

if you're gonna get involved with her, then tread with care, 'cause that girl is trouble, take it from me

I am so completely confused.

[17:30] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: [Exxxx Rxxxxx] are you stupid or you are born with

That's how a chat group popped open for many of us this afternoon.

[17:31] [Nxxx Rxxxxxx]: O.o
[17:31] [Ixxxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx] blinks
[17:31] [Mxxxxxxx Gxxxxxx]: huh?
[17:31] [Fxxx Mxxxxxxxx]: excuse me
[17:31] [Mxxxxxxx Fxxxxxxx]: born with what?

And it went on that way for a while, because we were all confused.

[17:31] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: never you can eject me for nothing
[17:31] [Mxxxxxxx Fxxxxxxx]: really
[17:32] [Sxxxxxxxxxx Pxxxxxxx]: O.O???
[17:32] [Sxxxxx Nxxxxxxxx]: Good for you, sparky? xD
[17:32] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: you think you are the king of world
[17:32] [Mxxxxx Ixxxxx]: BORN WITH WHAT?!?!?!

Still a good question. Of course, what with the server updates this week, group chat is fried right now, so chat lag is transposing a lot of things.

[17:32] Emilly Orr: Whoa, whoa, whoa, this is the first line of chat I saw. What's going on?

Hence, my seeming entry into the conversation two minutes in.

[17:32] [kxxx Kxxxxx]: O.O
[17:32] [Fxxx Mxxxxxxxx]: [Jiffy]
[17:32] [Mxxxxxxx Gxxxxxx]: that's not very nice
[17:32] Emilly Orr: [Jiffy], calm it down, we don't know what's going on here
[17:32] [Mxxxxxx Dxxxx]: ...We never said anything about ejecting. You have the wrong IM you're pushing enter into

Which many other people pointed out, after. She apparently would have none of it, and kept protesting.

[17:33] [Ixxxxx Rxxxxx]: i think he or she accidently put in wrong chat
[17:33] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: you are so stupid for hear me im here for play not for war stay at home
[17:33] Emilly Orr: [Jiffy], calm DOWN.
[17:33] [cxxxxxx Cxxxxxx]: dude its a troll i am pretty sure

So at this point, we were all pretty sure she were mistaking the group chat for main chat.

[17:33] Sakito Nakamichi: And you're still tryping into the wrong chatbox, sparky. x3

Some of us even told her so.

[17:33] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: yes sorry im up set so sorry
[17:33] Emilly Orr: Just remember, [Jiffy]--group chat here.
[17:33] Emilly Orr: Not main chat.
[17:34] Emilly Orr: Which makes me wonder--what's going on at the store, people?

I still don't know, but I did feel the urge to try and talk to her directly:

[17:35] Emilly Orr: Seriously--what's going on at the store?
[17:36] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: sorry just i think eecho hera that now i use this media
[17:36] Emilly Orr: No, there's a difference between main chat, and group chat
[17:37] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: yes i know lol but if im mute i cant lol
[17:39] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: im drow and one time i visit drow castle and im ban and now ejected

And here's where my head began to seriously tilt. Unless you're dealing with a psychopathic store owner, there is no earthly reason why a polite visit once will get anyone banned.

(And if anyone's thinking I mean the lass behind Grumble, I don't--I bitched about her fashion sense, she banned me, THAT part I have no disagreement with. And I'm not saying she's a psychopath.)

But while I was trying to figure that out, she said this:

[17:39] Emilly Orr: What happened the day you were banned?
[17:40] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: from taure ru and now drow groupp
[17:40] Emilly Orr: Alia doesn't have anything to do with Taure Ru, I don't think
[17:40] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: im for the justice eecho not king of world

So...if I'm processing this properly...Alia Baroque runs Fallen Gods. (Obviously). Someone else runs the Taure Ru sim (plus their nine thousand RP groups, and that's also obvious). Why is she thinking that Alia = Taure Ru?

[17:41] Emilly Orr: Fine, but you do realize you're trying to communicate that through the Fallen Gods store group, right? Which isn't a specifically Drow group, or an RP group
[17:41] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: i lost access and many friends
[17:41] Emilly Orr sighs
[17:42] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: yes its neccessary because this shop is very good and many drow buy there

Yeah, no, it's NOT necessary, UNLESS you've actually been banned from there--and if you were banned, why aren't you out of the store group? Most people with half a brain (and Alia is very far from stupid) ban troublesome avatars from their groups AND their stores, so...?

Still very confused.

[17:42] Emilly Orr: Okay. Breaking this down.
[17:42] Emilly Orr: Alia =/= Taure Ru
[17:42] Emilly Orr: Taure Ru is its own sim and guild
[17:42] Emilly Orr: Now, you were banned from the Fallen Gods store?

And half a minute went by with no reply. Then this:

[17:42] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: but its ok now have fun all huggz and kiss
[17:43] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: you can ban me i buy other place
[17:44] [Jiffy Wonderlube]: i want only justice

Okay, HEADS UP for the slow kids in the audience, which apparently includes the Drow princess [Jiffy]: I DO NOT RUN FALLEN GODS. Who the hell did she think she was talking to?? I'm a vaguely interested bystander, at best.

I mean, look, wrong windows can be forgiven, it happens a lot--I still shake my head at the woman who openly kicked someone's chained lady bits in Rag Dollz, and it took her half an hour to figure out why her chained submissive wasn't responding!

(Not that that wasn't an amusing half hour.)

But even so, this was profoundly not a wrong window. This was someone, essentially, protesting McDonald's and doing so standing in Outback Steakhouse. The wrong place, the wrong platform, the wrong concept--and to this very moment, I don't entirely think she's smart enough to figure out what happened.

Other than she has a complaint damn it and she will be heard for justice. From someone. Who most definitely isn't me.

You know, she puts me in mind of another Drow princess I met once, long ago...who happened to be blonde, blue-eyed and have tan skin...Now, I'm not saying that Miss [Jiffy] is a fake, per se...just a complete flake.

I'd also note that if anyone's banned for something, in general, they know what it was. Even I figure out the reasons why, most of the time, even when they're ancillary reasons like "you were mean to my friend so I'm banning you from my store because you're mean, nyaaah!"

This girl? Seems to have no clue why she was banned both from an entire sim, and then from a Drow RP group. Plus that mention of her losing "many friends".

No, [Jiffy], you know why. And if you don't, then you're just too stupid to breathe anyway, so it's not anyone's problem but yours.

(But seriously--people like her give Drow a bad name.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

jump in the line, rock your body in time

There's a lass I follow on Tumblr, who goes by LaurenNotJordan on YouTube, and she has some really insightful things to say about Doctor Who and about storylines in general.

Imagine my surprise when she turned out to be auditioning for season two of the Glee Project.

Personally? This would be a small-time fandom plus if one of the biggest Doctor Who fans on the net becomes part of the New Directions show choir, but...that's me, I happen to like the show.

Also? She's got a great voice. I'm looking forward to the possibility of her showing up on the fannish show of fannishness (because seriously, forget other reality shows--The Glee Project only exists because fans wanted more Glee. Period).

Continuing from yesterday's WTF entry on comics, now we have Dan DiDio commenting that no Crisis events ever happened in the new DC reboot.


No, he's serious:
"For those in crisis over Crisis, let me clarify. The topic of Crisis was much discussed among the editors and talent working on The New 52. With so many characters and histories restarting, major events like Crisis are harder to place when they work for some and not for others."
So, for the uninitiated, this is what he means:
And, as that article mentions, anything leading up to, or leading from, these events, is also gone, including:
That's kind of a lot of comics, DC, including some that were either hotly defended or decried (both of which drive up sales) or that were fan favorites (thus driving up sales). Now, every single hero has only been "hero-ing" for five years. None of them have that much past history, at all.

I can't shake the feeling that DC is shooting themselves in the foot, repeatedly, and changing guns on occasion to get more firepower and a larger blast radius.

Monday, October 3, 2011

that's really super, Supergirl

Do you ever look over at your collection of floppy discs and sigh, wondering what you can do with them? Are you not close enough to an ecological recycling center to just turn them in? Well, now there's hope. At least, for one disc at a time.

You can turn the best of the best floppies into USB drives. (In point of fact, he's even put up video how-to on YouTube. It's a little complicated, but a really fun rebuild.

So, first came a mention on the Gutters comic about the overt resexualization of Starfire. And I was confused, because, let's be honest here, I haven't had time to do more than follow the reboot mentions (though I have been assiduously following those). So I went looking. And a lot of things turned up, including Michele Lee's original 'open letter' to DC Comics, but the Comics Alliance article was the first one I stopped and really read thoroughly, over just skimmed for content and moved on.

It does pain me a bit to say this, but--after reading both Lee's and Laura Hudson's articles--I'm kind of on their side. Believe me, I am BEYOND tired of feminists ranting that female superheroes exist only for sexual gratification, because seriously, there are--and there have always been--tight outfits on either gender, throughout comic book history. But there is that issue of perception. The new DC reboot does seem to be saying that if you're a hero, you're a strong role model, and you don't need to do anything but be that strong role model.

But if you're a heroine...well, your main purpose seems to be posing. It's not about saving people, it's not about strong empowered women who serve and protect...No, really, it's about cheesecake poses, and that specifically arched back that pushes your breasts out to maximum advantage, and sleeping with everyone. For great justice?

Somehow I doubt.

Essentially, "hero" now seems to equal "strong empowered male" and "heroine" seems to equal "eye candy".

(from the media album)

I mean seriously, at that point you're wearing what amounts to a collar and a latex thong; just build your own dungeon and take clients, or go into lingerie modeling. Fighting crime in that kind of outfit just doesn't make sense.

(from the media album)

(But then, to be fair, putting Starfire in thigh-high boots as an interstellar teenager didn't make much sense, either.)

That costume makes me think, too. Mainly, of another comics heroine I used to follow rather religiously:

(from the media album; Vampirella in the Warren years)

This? Not exactly a good thing. Because let's be fair, in my town I was the only female who bought Vampirella as far as I could tell. Shocked the store owner for a solid year when I'd come in and grab the latest issue of OMNI, then tag on Vampirella, and Heavy Metal if I could afford it.

And, as much as I enjoyed Vampirella as a comic, it was pretty obvious she was cheesecake on parade. When she was threatened by some evil force; when she was sitting down; when she was simply taking a moment to relax and reflect.

(from the media album; Vampirella in chains...again)

Inside the comic it wasn't much better; but then, consider the character's origins. Forrest J. Ackerman wanted a vampire with go-go boots; that's pretty much what he designed, and that's pretty much what she was. Add in the bit where she's an alien fallen to Earth, and her work on the planet consisted of posing for photographs, modeling clothes, and being a showgirl magician's assistant, when she wasn't fighting her urges for blood or fighting Cthulhian horrors who forever waged war on a planetary scale. Even my favorite Vampi artist, Jose Gonzalez, drew her as a pin-up.

This wasn't a problem, per se; she was sensual, sexual, and it was one of those R-rated books that was okay with showing more skin, because her "Drakulonian fighting strap" (that still makes me giggle insanely) was so minimal to start with. And yeah, I admit, for both Vampirella and Heavy Metal I was trading on the perception that they were "just comic books" (even if magazine-sized ones) to get them at all; some stores would only sell Vampirella issues to adults. And they wouldn't have been wrong to do that in all stores, considering some of the issues.

But remember that "kind of agree with" stance I took in the beginning of this? Yeah. See, where my problem comes in is that all this exploded when a mother--one would assume, to be charitable, an elsewise responsible adult--gave a comic rated for teens and over to her seven-year-old.

Seven. I don't know about you, but when I think "teen", even if I'm thinking low-end teens, I'm thinking twelve, thirteen. NOT seven years old.

And okay, fine, her daughter really likes comic books and graphic novels, and is a huge fan of the Teen Titans, and Starfire is her favorite character. Starfire, in fact, as this child supposedly said to her mother, makes her "do good". (Which again, tells me she's thinking of comic books with fictional heroes as role models and not, oh, say, her parents. But I digress.)

What, in any of that, says "take a publication intended for a more comprehending audience and give it to a child to read"?

Because when this child thinks of Starfire? She's thinking of this:

Not this:

(from the media ablum)

And believe me, there's a big difference.

the simple way you smile, girl, tells me all I need to know

So, a long long long time ago (and I do mean that, seriously long ago), I got a comment from a former member of This Way to the Egress. At the time, I remember thinking, oh, that's wonderful, I'll just ask her...and then life happened, as it does, the love life likely exploded again, there were bits and pieces of dramadramadrama, most likely (I mean, I don't remember anything specific, but this is me we're talking about)...and that small comment from Jami Jasmine got lost in the shuffle.

For over three years.

So, okay, I'm a flake, that's nothing new; but in the meantime, what's been happening with the band?

(from the media album; image is Copyright and All Rights Reserved to M.J. McCauley [].)

Well, for one thing, they've released an EP and an album, near as I can figure, and they're going to be going on a tour with Voltaire, which sounds ideal for them, frankly.

And the Egress' Sarah also has a blog now. Go Sarah!

So for those who don't remember, who are these people, anyway? Well, the leader of the band describes them thusly:
This Way to the Egress...gypsy-gadabouts, pilgrims of the roads paved by song, traveling far and wide. There would not be an opportunity missed by these Katz of curiosities. Cut from dust and ruin, rises the shell of exuberant human tendencies. Shaking off last night's show, stitching together the holes in the knees of their pants, they got up to do it over again, for the thrill of the crowd, and to see their eyes widening with awe and disgust, before leaving the townies behind.
They set off on their journey that included vagrant freak-shows, carnival clusters, and cabaret concoctions of the seediest kind. A raunchy yet curiously wholesome feeling fills the air when this bunch comes marching down your streets...and you'll know to follow any direction they may lead...Just following the arrows...that claim...This Way To The Egress...
All of which sounds terribly artistic, but doesn't really describe their sound, does it?

Well, there's a musical embed on their main site, which gives you several songs to listen to and try to figure it out. YouTube initially wasn't as much help, but I still found a few here and there to weed through.

Unfortunately, they're mostly not labeled as to which song is playing! At least this one was labeled as being from a live show in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, in March of 2010. Even so, the actual song would be helpful...

This much I am sure about: Taylor Galassi started this thing, and he does most of the vocals, along with playing accordian (if not other instruments). Sarah I know plays accordion and violin (again, if not others), and Matt the drummer, who may just play drums, but I wouldn't put it past him to be as multi-talented as Taylor and Sarah.

Oh, and on occasion they do fabulous things with other bands. Witness their performance with Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band of the Harry Belafonte classic, "Jump in the Line":

Damn, yes. (And just because it amuses me, in the sidebar this came up. Hee!)

And--again, All Rights Reserved to M.J. McCauley for filming the video--here's "Flirtin' With Death" from one of their later shows:

This was filmed at their CD release party at the Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It was June 24, 2011, so their sound hasn't changed so much as evolved, while still keeping true to their vagabond street-performer/wanderer roots.

They also pull off some of the most intriguing collaborations--here's "Saint" performed live with Mr. Joe Black:

And that was recorded on the tiny stage of the Slipper Room in New York.

(Just while we're here, finding fun linkages between fringe performers, let me give you a little reference for what Joe Black does when he's on his own:

(Because, well, that deserved to be seen by a wider audience.)

My favorite line in that last one? "I'm going to send you into therapy."

Again while we're on strange linkages, here's Birdeatsbaby, recent finds and favorites, performing "Missed Me" by the Dresden dolls with Mr. Joe Black:

Which, weirdly, ties back into This Way to the Egress, because they've performed with Jason Webley in the past, who's half of Evelyn Evelyn and who still works a great deal with Amanda Palmer.

I swear, sometimes it's like playing Six Degrees of Amanda Palmer, you know? Name a cabaret noir/streetpunk/dark carnival/American roots band and figure out how soon you can link them back to Amanda Palmer or the Dresden Dolls. Extra points if you can fit Neil Gaiman in there somewhere...

But let's get back to This Way to the Egress--you can catch them on tour near the end of September on both coasts, so keep your eyes open; and if you want their full albums, just click here and you can buy either one directly from the band. If you have any liking for fantastic, frenetic street performance, gypsy cabaret, or just like the roots movement of music currently, I think you'll be pleased to give 'em a listen.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

and what I saw was something I’d not known before: that you are alone

On Monday, October 3rd, the grid goes to hell. Not even kidding, people--expect chaos, sim restarts, rolling grid restarts, chaos, controversy, dogs and cats sleeping together...And it's going to last at least a week while the Lindens upgrade the server OS software.

CasperTech sent out a message to all those in their group saying that having an extra dropbox to put on a secondary sim wouldn't be the worst idea--because with the anticipated time loss and potential down times of up to (or over) an hour for some restarted regions, any sales made will not complete until the sim with the dropbox comes back up.

A week of this. Buckle in, citizens, it's going to get scary out there.

I've been reading the SL Freebie Hunters' blog for a while now; the team behind it are dedicated to both giving out solid hunt information on the hunts they choose as well as following it up with reasonably detailed pictures of each store's gift. They've been an invaluable resource for hunters.

They've now got a poll up, on what makes a good hunt? They want a lot of responses, preferably, so go and take the poll. You don't need to give out your name (though I'm sure if you want to, you can), and it won't take more than a few minutes. I'm interested in seeing the results, when they get around to going through them.

"Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age." The article calls it "innovation starvation" and says we're right in the thick of it. It's on the long side for casual reading, but it's well worth your time.

How do we push past innovation starvation? I don't have the answers for that one. But there are inventors out there, and there are still wondrous, miraculous things to come once the intangible future becomes the very tangible now.

Finally, there's a second follow-up to the mesh/size post last week on Search Engine Watch, and this week Ms. Kurmin breaks down mesh for the uninitiated, and at the same time, explains why glitch layers are still so important for attire on the grid. It comes highly recommended, especially if you don't understand the difference between rigged and unrigged mesh objects yet.

DVDs and VCRs, fish tanks and jelly jars

This next one's on the difficult side to write, just a bit.

Perusing the SL Freebie Hunters' blog for potential last-minute snags on the Steam hunt, I came across this image. Number 191 on the Steam 5 hunt is Steam Whimsy's offering--a teeny, rounded steampunk robot avatar.

Hmm. That sounds...awfully familiar.

(from the Comparisons album)

This is Steam Whimsy's "Steambug". It has a charming little story card along with it, and is very frenetic, spouting steam now and again and whirling in place. It also has stubby little hands (though they aren't jointed) and a boiler on the back.

(from the Comparisons album)

I will also say the texturing is very well done, the verdigris fans in the head spin, and there's a very nice hover effect (because apparently, Steambugs only hover, not walk about).

The reason I'm bringing this up, however, is because of Clockwerk:

From Comparisons

Clockwerk has, beyond being the general imp underfoot and the wandering mascot of Autogenic Alchemy, the distinction of being the first of the Iron Tinies line. And while there is no way, in any version of life, that the Steambug and Clockwerk would be said to be even distant cousins, there were initial similarities that made me hunt the Steambug out.

(from the Comparisons album)

Most notably in the shade and shape of the eyes, and the shape of the head. And they both have a gauge in their tummies.

There's also some (and let me reinforce this: extraordinarily mild, at best) concern regarding Penny Featherwright:

(from the Comparisons album)

Again, Penny's basic construction, and the Steambug's construction, are not similar in many, many details--but there are working fans on either side of the Steambug's head, and there are working, turning gears under glass on either side of Penny's.

(from the Comparisons album)

All in all, while I felt concern enough to run through the variations, I am not going to state that there was anything more than being inspired by the same group of media, music, and literature that inspires us all, or at least, those of us who spend our days wading in the mythpool of steampunk craft. And I am glad I hunted Steam Whimsy down, because I wandered away not only with the gear containing the Steambug, but with a lovely decorative urn and two aged-copper textures that should be great fun to play with.

But please, for the love of all things, Miss Lutrova (should you happen by)--put your store in your picks! It makes it nigh impossible to find you otherwise!