Wednesday, May 25, 2011

these dogs will tear your flesh, you'd best give them a bone

Linden Labs is now offering a round-the-clock toll-free number for billing and login problems. This is indicative of a much larger problem, I believe, that should have been fixed before just adding more customer support--but hey, I'll take the customer support increase too.

A lot of this came to a head recently when the whole Elf Clan controversy went down, which proved to be nearly entirely about VAT fees, which are something the Labs have zero control over--they HAVE to charge them, they don't have the option of saying no.

Of course, the easy way around those high VAT charges? Put the land under the ownership of an American in the group. Of course, this involves a) trusting Americans (no easy task these days) and b) thinking ahead. Which I guess is something Wayfinder Wishbringer never does.

"If atheism means we just do whatever we want to do... then apparently, what we want to do is take care of each other. Apparently, what we want to do is help people who have been injured. Apparently, what we want to do is speak out against wrongdoing. Apparently, what we want to do is put a stop to injustice. Apparently, what we want to do is make sacrifices for people in need."

I state this publically here, as I have in private, public, and Second Life--I'm not Christian. This should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog. How'ver, that doesn't mean I have no moral compass, no ethics, no desire to help improve our society and our world. Same here--atheism doesn't mean chaotic rampaging mobs of drug-fueled psychopaths intending on watching the whole world burn, and you know what? It's never meant that.

Even worse, though, is the response from the Christians in this small town. Long ago, when Christianity was first rising as a movement, there was so much oppression, so many people imprisoned or killed simply for being Christian, that they developed secret signs and symbols to recognize each other. Any Christian was brother, sister, father, mother, to any other Christian. They would greet each other with kisses and embracing, because their faith told them that they must love, not hate.

What the hell happened? If they were truly Christian, none of this would have happened. When challenged, they would have understood, and thrown prayer meetings to pray for a change of heart. When presented with one student's discomfort, they would have perhaps spoken to his parents, not spoken to the press. When his parents learned of this difficulty, they would have perhaps privately prayed for their son's redemption.

Instead, what happened? The entire town is out for blood. They're calling him Satan in their midst. His parents threw him out of the house--I'm not exaggerating, they disowned him, threw his belongings on the porch, and told him never to come back.

This young man hadn't even graduated yet when all this happened, and what lessons are he being taught? That for standing up for what's right--what's legal--and respecting the laws of this country means he will be vilified. That by contacting a person in authority, he will be made homeless, and live in fear of personal harm. These are the lessons we want to teach our children? These are the lessons supposedly pure Christian souls want their children to understand?

I know Christians. I know many good, honest, loving people who are Christian. And those people I trust. But I have the same wariness. When it was discovered, when I was attending junior high and high school, that my family did not have a church we attended, I was forced to join one or face personal, long-lasting harm. I carried a knife on my person at all times through my high school years, just in case I needed to defend myself.

I needed it twice.

My mother was told she would never be hired in the town because we were "Satanists". She literally had to drive to a town forty miles away to get a minimum-wage job which barely paid our rent, and why? Because the town told us--publically, whenever they saw us out--that they hoped we would die like the sinners we were, and if they had a gun--

This is not how anyone should grow up. Period. And it happens, year after year, town after town. And the Christians who are pulling this insanity on their fellow beings seem never to see the disparity between what their religion says they should do, and what they actually do.

Maybe it's not precisely Christians who bear the blame for this, but churches. There is a difference between faith and organized religion, after all. And maybe the organizers have forgotten the tenets of their faith, in the race to build bigger structures, convert more followers, raise more money.

But even with all of that--even with the tenuous belief that most of the townsfolk were misled by some ill-meaning preacher or pastor--there's still this young man's parents. Who threw him out for standing up for the laws this country lives by. Maybe it's a good thing this happened--now he knows his parents for the hypocrites they are, and he doesn't have to worry about interacting with them ever again. He has college to look forward to, and people who are willing to care for him simply because it's the right thing to do. And at least one family member--his brother--has stood by him throughout all of this.

These are the experiences that define us. Not everyone is put through such harsh trials. But at the end of things, Damon Fowler will know three things: people will do insane things in the name of religious faith, family is where you find it, and he is not alone.

Perhaps that's the greatest lesson of all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

dress up for love, now, dress up for fun

Notch has announced the list of changes for Minecraft 1.6. It's a long list. Among my favorites:
* Severely nerfed fire so it spread slower, and doesn’t spread infinitely
* Fixed hair and cloaks being rendered in the wrong locations on sneaking players
* Fixed arrow physics, making them not get stuck midair when you open a door
* Fixed fire sometimes existing mid-air as an invisible block of pain
* Fixed fire effect on burning entities sometimes getting rendered in the wrong location
* Fixed arrows being animated really strangely in multiplayer
* Fixed pigs getting hit by lightning in multiplayer spawning client-side zombie pigmen
Now, these are all good things, yes, but why are they funny? Well, the fire thing wasn't funny. The fire thing was insane. Depending on how the fire started, it could--and has, on both single-player and multi-player worlds in my experience--spread pretty much infinitely in all directions and never go out. Notch says that's fixed now. That's a good thing.

If you think the hair/cloaks being rendered in wrong locations reminds you of SL glitches...yeah, you're not that wrong.

The arrow physics fixes...I've still got some arrow pics to post, but I am actually looking forward to leaving the days of perpetual arrow rain after pitched battles, in or out of dungeons. Though it was hysterically funny to open a door and have an arrow hovering in your face in defiance of physics (well, what little physics Minecraft has).

I've posted pics of the strange fire effects, too--this is essentially where some monster takes enough damage to drop, yet the column of fire stays merrily burning. It won't hurt players, it just looks odd. What I'm wondering, too, is--if he fixed the fire columns glitch, did he also fix the red-corpse glitch? Because that's the secondary bit of that--corpse drops, yet does not disappear.

Unfortunately, into every life a little rain must fall, and these things make me sad:
* Mushrooms now spread (very) slowly
* Seeds are now found in tall grass, using a hoe on the ground no longer works
* Fixed submerged boats rising very very fast
* Fixed placing doors next to cacti creating half-doors
* Fixed fences and wooden stairs not being flammable
* Fixed fishing rods being stackable
* Fixed mushrooms spawning everywhere during nights
* Fixed monsters not being visible for players with their difficulty set to peaceful
Yeah. I am really going to miss being able to gather seeds from grass. That is just not going to be good for me, because I'm hoping the wildgrass default look is only an opt-in thing, not mandatory. That, and the mushroom thing. I don't know what complaints he's been getting, but--in both single- and multi-player worlds--mushrooms are hard to find. Like, seriously hard to find. And he's going to make them insanely hard to find in the update?!? This is not a plus!

Fishing rods being stackable--I'm of two minds. In multi-player, it's a boon, because stacking fishing rods means they take up one inventory slot. So you can have six fishing rods hang out in a community chest, and take them out at need, and they stack back again when fishing time is over.

The reason that bug got fixed, though? Is because stacking fishing rods automatically restored them to pristine, never-been-used condition, if the rod beneath it in the inventory chest had never been used. And okay, I get that, that's not how he wants fishing rods to behave. But I still want them stackable, damn it--because fish? Cannot be stacked. And if you fish to restore health, each individual fish takes up a slot. Believe me, that adds up with several people fishing!

Hank's going to be sad with the submerged boat thing--that was a trick that worked really well as sort of an 'elevator' from the lowest levels. Spawn boat; get in boat; click lever; boat moves forward into a water stream. Boat, now being submerged, rises quickly to the surface, where it--and you--pop free, moving to the dock. That was handy.

Fences and wooden stairs not being flammable, that was just amusing. But wait--does this mean all wooden things will now be flammable? Including wooden doors?

That could be bad.

Finally, placing doors next to cacti creating half-doors, that was another amusing glitch I'm going to be sad to see go, because it created two fun effects--first, trimming off the top half of the door, so you essentially had half a door, which made it the perfect height for adjoining fencing, but also, it spawned another door that you could then pick up and put in your inventory, because the game read the half-door as having been knocked down. So yes, that is a glitch, it deserves fixing...but I'm going to miss half-doors.

The upcoming Wonder Woman has had her costume changed yet again, but it's a case of too little, too late--even with the trademark "booty shorts" (were they always called that?), NBC rejected the show.

Blogger explains the Turing Test to a sexbot--the best thing about that? Is not, actually, the story. It's in the comments.

While the price tag is prohibitive--over twenty thousand at this point--it proves that glasses-free 3D projection is on its way. I think we can officially state that 3D is here to stay this time, it's not just a fad--or if it's a fad, it's one that's going to last at least a decade.

The first Torchwood trailer is out, and while I will be watching the show however I can, I am pondering what the changes are going to mean to the show, moving it to America. It was such a uniquely Welsh show--not even British, but Welsh, with all the expansive, acerbic, Welsh confrontation intact. I fear that "Americanizing" it is going to remove what made it so wonderful in the first place.

Still. We get Captain Jack and Gwyn. So it's not all bad.

Finally, one of the best Minecraft videos ever has hit YouTube. While much that's seen in that video is not possible in game, it does include footage of both the Planetoids mod, and the Acid mod.

And the opening, with the switches, the music and the platforms? That is possible, in game, on the ground, with existing tools. And that? Is all kinds of cool.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

ten miles from town and I just broke down

Normally this isn't an RL fashion blog, but...some of these BEGGED to be linked.

So have some carbonated couture, Doritos ruffles, bloodspattered pasta, Lady Gaga, teacup heels, shoe spikes, idea, really. Enjoy.

From the Malfean Visions store group:
Someone broke things again, and a majority of sims are going batshit; whether Gwen is soon to catch the plague I haven't noticed yet but will be delaying the new releases until the all clear.

Watch or wait on transactions, rezzing/building, and no copy items, the usual stuff.
And I had yet to go on the grid for Solace work. I sighed, and hit up my usual sources: the Second Life status blog, and Twitter. There was nothing specifically on Twitter in the last hour (I got the usual, "older Tweets are unavailable" line when trying past that), but the status blog had this:
[RESOLVED May 22nd 11:35 AM PDT] The asset server issue has been resolved. In-world activities can now be conducted normally.

[Posted May 22nd 10:44 AM PDT] We’re currently experiencing some asset server issues. You may notice inworld issues such as failure to rez, and objects failing to return to inventory. Please refrain from rezzing no-copy objects or making important transactions until we post an all-clear.
Hmm. So it was supposed to be fixed two hours before Lokii sent out the message to her group? And it's half past four now, which could likely still be broken.


Okay, giving it another hour before I go in. Just to be on the safe side.

Friday, May 20, 2011

spare this child your sideways smile, the crack in your veneer

Meet Indus. The Indus system, btw, gives me serious technolust.

Tiki Dalek!

Thinking of something impressive for your next Hallows party? Inject a little science into the proceedings with Boo Bubbles! (A little dry ice, a little dishsoap, and clean-up after seems like it'd be dead easy.)

This next bit's going to take a small amount of explanation. So, Sony somehow (I don't recall how at the moment, but it's not at all difficult for me to envision multiple potential pathways for the specific how) pissed off a group of hackers, and they attacked, and took down the PlayStation Network, compromising some vital information on behalf of their users. The PSN was down for some time (longer, even, in Japan, who told them in no uncertain terms that they would not be reinstating it in Japan until they could prove their security was sound), but finally, a workaround was employed, and customers were asked to log in again after changing their passwords.

Whereupon it turned out that Sony had been compromised again, in what external commenters initially said was a second hack, and what Sony stated officially is just an "URL exploit"--which they say, by the way, is now closed.

Frankly, an URL exploit that allows anyone who knows the email and the birth date of the potential target account, to reset the password of the account itself--I don't care if that's a specific hack, an URL "exploit" would be bad enough! Especially because that was part of the information that was hacked out of the servers in the first place!

I guess the end result for the lot of us is: don't trust Sony. Ever.

And people are talking, once again, about William Gibson's Neuromancer hitting the big screen again. The one thing we're all hoping? Is that the director doesn't tap Keanu Reeves to be Case.

NOTHIN'S GONNA STAND IN OUR WAY: Joey Comeau wrote me back
NOTHIN'S GONNA STAND IN OUR WAY: I said how I'd been re-reading asw and finding it all relevant and shit and he thanked me
NOTHIN'S GONNA STAND IN OUR WAY: I have touched the face of God

This was the original tweet he sent; and yeah, I'm kind of in the same boat. I don't think I could ever write Comeau a fan letter, but I have A Softer World pretty much permanently linked on the sidebar with the (few, but sadly growing) selection of web comics I read.

Why? Because it's painful. Because it's raw. Because it's meaningful. Because it reminds me of my friends on occasion (that one, in particular, reminds me of Stiv). Because sometimes it's funny. Because on occasion, I go back and read the really hysterical ones in the archive, the ones that still make me ponder, the ones that make me shiver, the ones that still make me giggle even as I'm shaking my head.

It's definitely not a comic for everyone, I know that. And I know that part of the reason I resonate with Comeau so deeply, and by extension, comedians like Christopher Titus, is because Titus, Comeau, and I--and, let's be honest, some of my best friends, as well as the rest of my family--are damaged people. In greater or lesser ways, there has been past damage, and it shows.

Let me be very clear, here--I am not saying this is always a bad thing. As Titus says, at the time he wrote Norman Rockwell is Bleeding, 63% of all American families were considered dysfunctional. Father gone, mother gone, father addicted, mother insane, aunts and uncles alcoholic--something. Abuse, neglect, illness (either physical, emotional or psychological), addiction, compulsive behaviors, interpersonal violence, brushes with the law both major and minor--all of these leave their marks on developing psyches.

From then, it's up to us to figure out our lives around the damage. Integrate it, understand it, accept it, move to minimize it--whatever our personal responses are, and they do vary: but it's our call.

Christopher Titus? Became a comedian. Joey Comeau writes A Softer World, and the occasional book (and newly, a horror blog). Me? I'm working through things, and working on getting back to writing the Great American Space Epic in the background.

We all take hits in life. Sometimes they knock us all the way to the ground. Sometimes we find other people there. Sometimes, we find people who already found their way back up. In rare cases, people who've been there, who know how hard it gets--they help us stand again.

So I understand why Stiv got emotional over the personal thanks. Because for him, and for me, Comeau's one of those people that helps us get through the bad things, sometimes simply by reminding us the bad things exist, and can hurt us, still. Understanding that bad things happen, and that sometimes, there just aren't any good reasons why--sometimes, that's all we need.

Plus, Joey Comeau has a very similar life motto to me. From his mini-biography on the comic's bio page: Joey is a firm believer in the idea that if you can't be a good example, you have an obligation to be a horrible warning. Indeed. So am I.

Next entry: more Minecraft. I'm thinking I need more fluffery and nonsense after this entry.

(You can buy Christopher Titus' Norman Rockwell is Bleeding DVD on his site, btw. If you like his comedy stylings, it's well worth the value of the purchase, and it hasn't been out on DVD that long. And A Softer World has a web store, with products from Emily Horne, the photographer, and Joey Comeau both.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

when the lights go out, what's it all about, sitting there on your own?

City of Heroes has advanced a new level--into the steampunk past. That article, by the way, is not linked here only for CoH fans, but for Second Life Victorians as well--it goes a little bit into what one of the conceptual artists on the project views as "Victorian" versus "Classic" steampunk.

(from the random album)

(from the random album)

from the random album; taken at the Steampunk Fashion Show at Wicked Faire in 2009. All Rights Reserved to hisself.)

(from the random album; no idea on photographer or model. Picture named "katem"; no idea if that indicates the model's name.)

(from the random album; also from Dr. Grordbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators.)

(from the random album)

Get the idea? She's separated steampunk down into different flavors for iconic value, sure, but I like the way she's doing it. "Victorian" steampunk hinges on manners, formal society address--and formal society fashion. Think military zeppelins, shoulder braid, elegantly detailed accessories; canes and top hats, polished boots, captains of industry, not airship pirates.

On the other hand, "Classic" steampunk is make-do--corsets that don't lace quite as tightly (by design). Outfits that are designed to take a little oil and dirt before needing to rush off to one's valet to have them cleaned and pressed. Tatters, hiked skirts (for ease in movement through airship rigging or along streets that might not be in the best of repair). Scuffed boots, torn hose, crumpled brims on bowler hats, the ever-present wrench or tool best (because one never knows when something's going to break down). Vests with an abundance of pockets, and all clothing a mix between the rag-tag, the gypsy, the boudoir and the bazaar, because Classic steampunk travels, and not in high style.

Why, I do believe we're talking "bright" versus "dark" steampunk again, in a more specific sense.

While I was searching, "love the machine, hate the factory", I find, is still a good catchphrase...even if it's heavily salted with the irony of using factory-produced goods to make the point.

Also discovered whilst searching, I found this wonderful entry on steampunk cakes...and steampunk in general. She's very enthused about it. Of course, she made a winning cake.

And to wrap things up, go look at Bjorn Hurri's steampunk Princess Leia...I like this one better than a lot of the other fandom merges out there.

In other news, why is Bitcoin not a good idea? Find out.

Like vintage tintypes? Track down a group of folks who are taking everyday photographs that way.

Next, consider a purchase of the Tough Guide to Fantasyland. While it's not necessary, it will help you better appreciate the Tough Guide to Fantasyland's Exotic Locales. You're welcome?

Almost lastly, a little bit of Whovian controversy: first see this, and, if that didn't help you find What's Wrong With That Picture, check this one for a more direct look.

What's all the fuss about? Well, it seems that it didn't used to be that color, or at least some fans think so, and others are just confused as to what the fuss is about. Still others are saying it's this year's Tweed Patch Jacket, and Means Something--because, of course, as ardent fans know, it could never be just a prop glitch, so it must be Important and Meaningful.

I don't know which camp I fall in. I do know that in trying to search down the rumor, I discovered this video, which lead me to this Tumblr, and while I don't use the phrase "girl crush" often, I think I'm somewhat smitten with her style. I am now a furtive follower...though it means I may well have to cut down on other Tumblrs just to get a chance to see her posts in the massive picspamming output!

And sometimes it's all about the fashion. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

and the shadow singer will stand and linger in places no one ever goes

Goddamn it Steve--

"It looks like you're trying to play Minecraft..." Wau. A LOT of work went into that punchline.

Silk is the fiber of the future! (No, really. It is.)

Some cute little baby squids are going to die for the sake of humanity. That sounds melodramatic, and sure, it is, but be honest--the early research out of space labs is SCARY for anaerobic environments and micro-gravity conditions. For one, harmful bacteria become more lethal. (Look it up, I'm not kidding.) So what's the next experiment? Sending squidlings into space. What scientists are hoping is that, since squid have evolved cooperatively with beneficial bacteria, by sending up babies that have not yet bonded with these bacterial chains, then dosing them in space, we'll be able to see how good bacteria changes.

I'm hoping for good things, not the return of the Elder Gods. But hey, keep your fingers crossed.

As usual--Facebook being the source of all evil--a company has decided to use mathematic analysis of linguistic style to enter social media updates after the death of that account holder. I guess this is some persistence-of-life gimmick (which I also am hoping is a joke). Still, Envoy seems serious enough--if creepy beyond all reason.

Bet you just can't wait for the thrilling new game adventures of Hitman: Subtitle, can you? CAN YOU?!?

Sadly, I'm kind of with the commenter on that--I'd buy a copy. Just for the novelty factor.

Of course, you think that's bad, try the poster for the video game RUSE--which was actually published. Yeah.

"Yes, I'll take Things You Never Want to See in Minecraft for $500, Alex..."

I'm not sure if any of these are right--can there be "right" where mythology is involved?--but some of these mermaid anatomy drawings look amazing.

"Did you remember to have your man-servant crank the mill of the Analytical Engine?" I'm sure we've all been asked that question.

Based on a casual mention near the beginning of Mark Z. Danielewski's work, House of Leaves, I've been trying to track down more information on Ted Serios. I still don't know if I fully buy "thoughtography"--especially since he seems to be the only known "thoughtographer"--but some of the images are interesting. More to the point, no one seems to have been able, since then, to reproduce the work. How odd.

Finally, to end this meandering link-fest, there's a Flickr group exploring early spirit photography. It's worth a perusal or two if you're intrigued by Victorian paranormal activity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

life wasn't worth the balance, or the crumpled paper it was written on

Admittedly, it's a lot of theory at this point, and more research is needed, but the Weird Science blog is leading with the announcement that the heart loves alcohol and hates mornings. Sadly, I don't think this will result in medically mandated alcohol reserves and later morning rising times, but...hey. A girl can dream.

[20:32] Sonya Haight: they broke estate bans a long long time ago, said they fixed it, but they didn't
[20:32] Pauline Darkfury: More than a certain number of people on the list (250? 300?), and they don't seem to work properly
[20:32] Sonya Haight: now after you ban someone they can come right back unless you restart the sim most of the time

Wonderful. Good to know such a MAJOR bug isn't fixed yet.

I admit, I took a lot of pictures of the rain. I just kept marveling at it.

(from the Minecrafting album)

In some ways, I still do.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Remember when I said the new rain (at that point) went straight through the glass? Here's a capture of that.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And a look from inside the pit (level one), watching the rain pour in unabated.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And here's a shot of animated rain falling!

(from the Minecrafting album)

I hate when monsters stare at me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

reign in your power, over all my dreams

I have no idea how much these will retail for, and essentially, they're still a headband with cat ears, but--Neurowear is claiming their new Necomimi ears respond to the user's levels of concentration (ears raise), relaxation (ears flop), and happiness (ears twitch). Might be fun, but I'd want to see more than one girl in a short promo.

It's an amusing blend of tabletop and LARPing, but it's a stupidly catchy song, too--Connor Anderson and Zac Smith's parody of Far East Moment's "Like a G6", called--appropriately enough--"Roll a D6". If you've ever played D&D or LARPed in anything, you'll want to see it at least once.

Some announcements that bespeak good and ill from the Lindens...first, Rodvik remains pretty clued in, overall, to who's in SL and who's willing to support the game, so yay for that. And some of the recent changes--including the much-despised 'Basic' mode--seem to have helped to put SL on the map again, with a 33% raise in new resident registrations, and a comparable lift in premium account generation. Go them.

But there are a few things that leapt out at me. Starting with:
The Refreshed and Fun Registration Experience
On the registration front, we’re knocking down the barriers that can sometimes prevent interested users from joining Second Life. If you haven’t checked out the Join experience lately, then you definitely should. New users start by picking an avatar in a dynamic, animated interface that immediately draws them in. We’ve also removed much of the non-essential information, that we used to require in the registration flow, to make it a quicker and more delightful on-boarding experience.
Okay, let's break this down. "Refreshed" in corporatespeak, to me, means "dumbed down for the dim set". Never a good sign when a game does that. "Fun" in corporatespeak, to me, means "dumbed down for the knuckledraggers to whom dim seems really really smart".

I grant you, I may be wrong in these interpretations.

Another passage:
When we first launched Basic mode, we started with a basic set of human avatars that helped get new Residents immersed in Second Life without having to worry about configuring their avatar to socialize and find cool things to do, in the integrated Destination Guide. But, we know that the beauty of Second Life is the diversity and richness of how we choose to represent ourselves inworld. So, we’re adding 12 animal and 12 Robots and soon we’ll have Vehicles too.
So, I don't think anyone reading this doesn't already know, or hasn't figured out, how much I loathe the Basic system. It's essentially the viewer version of crippleware, and it's crippleware deliberately designed by the company providing it, with few provisions (beyond downloading the Advanced viewer, or giving up entirely and going to a third-party viewer) for ditching the crippleware features. That seems very shoddy design to me.

I guess it's not paying them anything to turn out new residents who have all the bells and whistles, and still do nothing with them, bugs me.

Another sentence I want to revisit:
So, we’re adding 12 animal and 12 Robots and soon we’ll have Vehicles too.
I sincerely hope I'm wrong in this, but...we're going to turn into cars? Y'know, instead of humanoids, fish, furs and clockwork? Seriously?

Who thought this was a good idea? (Please. PLEASE let me be wrong in this.)

Also, in unrelated perusing on the Marketplace, I found...the Tome Raider avatar! Nope. Not kidding. Also, this listing is NSFW. And...I don't think it's worth the asking price.

Of a Linden.

We move on! While I was still struggling to ditch the Inventory advisory, I discovered there was a 3D mode to the game.

(from the Minecrafting album) not recommend it.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And then, the thing that Notch had promised happened: it rained in Minecraft. I emerged from the third level of the pit and just wandered around, astounded at the look and sound of it.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Rain seen looking towards the mini-cavern to the north. Handy tip--if you ever want to know which way you're facing in Minecraft, as least from an internal game perspective: look up. Whichever way the clouds are moving--that'll be north.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Rain on the glass top of the pit build. At this point, rain was still going through glass as if it didn't exist.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Another view on the rain and the glass.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I was also somewhat taken aback that--at least in this texture pack--the rain was so much lighter in color than the rest of the water sources.

Monday, May 9, 2011

why don't you give yourself a rest, oh give yourself some room

There's a fellow who's reproduced his entire house--on an 18:1 scale--in Minecraft. That takes an insane level of devotion, and also...insanity.

(from the bizarre album)

Yeah, so...sometimes we get steroid warriors in SL: champions of the more-muscles-means-hotter macho school of avatar creation, and seriously, a lot of SL--in terms of skins, shapes, and tattoos--are designed for these musclebound yahoos.

This is the first time I've seen the look on a fur, though.

(from the bizarre album)

But he poses well, doesn't he? (Thanks to Sphynx for capping the shots.)

And I am shocked and appalled, I say, SHOCKED and APPALLED that no one bought Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when it was listed on eBay recently. Even at that price. What's wrong with you? GO BUY THAT THING. Good gods, the steampunk street cred alone...

And...Tim Burton now has the rights to Dark Shadows. Oh gods.

First up, before you hit the link, what you need to know about the Daily Drop: Buncha geeks pick one object a day to drop from a measured height. This is then filmed.

That's it.

The Drop I want to draw attention to: Ted the Cat. YES YOU HEARD ME.

Trust me, you want to see this, it's not animal cruelty, and it's fascinating to watch. Plus it's only two minutes long! Go onnn...cleeek the know you want to.

Really. You do. Go. Now. We'll wait.

Back? More from the pit build in Minecraft.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I stayed in the earthen hut for a couple days, until I ran out of chest room--and had rebuilt the structure four times due to creeper attack.

(from the Minecrafting album)

A shot of the original construction, showing the full glass floor for the first level, the ladder on the wall leading down, and part of the all-cobble wallwork finished (we'd decided to use all sandstone only for level one; all levels beneath were fully cobblestone-lined.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Looking up at the glasswork of the two previous levels, starting on level three.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And Hank in the corner of the build, contemplating a better way up and down. A solid ladder all the way down one wall seemed cumbersome, somehow. So he worked out a better way.

(from the Minecrafting album)

While he did that, I was stuck with a Press 'I' for Inventory popup on the screen. It took me a few hours to figure out that, with the new update, I could only clear this message by going into singleplayer Minecraft.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

colder than the moon, it's been so long

It must be an important machine, is all I can think. It keeps popping up in things. And it hasn't needed an upgrade in...forever.

There's a lady out there doing--in addition to her other art projects--historical recreations of the Disney princesses. This is actually really cool from a costuming angle: what she chose and why, what styles of that era look like in the token single-hue color variants of the princesses, what changes she's made to bring them more in line with the clothing of the time. They're very well done, and well worth a look. (My favorites: Jasmine in her ghawazee coat, and Ariel with the leg-o-mutton sleeves.)

"Every gamer has instant messaging, every gamer has a Facebook account."

Gabe Newell is an ass, and I think he's a large part of why Valve sucks right now. Frankly.

And back to Minecraft!

(from the Minecrafting album)

Avon calling.

Only problem was, this was post-update. And that update has meant doors are unstable in multiplayer. So I went up to the door, laughed, snapped a shot, then turned my back...

...and the door friggin' opened behind me.

*BOOM!* was the next sound I heard.

(from the Minecrafting album)

When I came back from the deathing, the impromptu earthen base I'd set up outside The Pit was half-missing. Oh, the joys of post-creeper reconstruction.

So. This is the reason I've been posting the glut of Minecraft pictures. It may only have relevance to me, but I'm going to do my best to lay this out in order.

The night I heard that Elisabeth Sladen had died, I took it really hard. She was one of the few Doctor Who stars I'd actually met in person, and she struck me at the time as almost endlessly patient and affable with her fans. Plus, no one knew that she had cancer. She didn't want to worry people; had, in fact, kept working right up until the day she died. (As Baker pointed out, afterwards, he was scheduled to do some voice recording work with her the day following her demise.) It seemed inconceivable to everyone who knew her--the first round of news struck nearly everyone not with grief, or pain, or even anger--all of us fell into near shock because it was just so unexpected.

I knew I had to do something, and there was nothing, specifically, to do. I didn't want to be in SL, I'd decided after a few hours Twitter was not the place to be, and I didn't want to console myself with my current Tumblr feed of nudes, Victoriana and retro oddity. What did that leave?

For me, my thinking went to Minecraft. So I started a project. Let me be clear--the project itself has nothing to do specifically with Sladen's passing. It was just what my mind seized on when I went into world. I wanted something that would require a lot of 'physical' activity, and digging out a triple-hundredsth-weight of stone seemed perfect to me.

I selected a high bluff and spent several hours bisecting a mountain--literally, carving it nearly in half and mining the halved section completely flat, then clearing away everything else in a flat sandstone plain. This took a couple days to get it completely leveled.

Just to the right of the above shot, in fact, you can see both the shaved sections of the mountain still left, as well as the first level of the glass plain.

(rom the Minecrafting album)

The original plan was for sandstone all the way down, but there's a potential problem with that. Actually, the same problem existed with sand. Namely:

  • Dig out cube of sand.
  • Take to forge.
  • Smelt into cube of glass. (1x1 conversion)
  • Dig out four cubes of sand.
  • Take to inventory.
  • Combine into one cube of sandstone. (4x1 conversion)
You can see, in a project that is planned to be primarily glass and torches, why this might be a problem.

[Insert from the Editrix: Hank tipped me that this was wrong; I plead tired when posting. But yes, to make glass, the above procedures are followed. To make a cube of sand, well, you dig out a cube of sand. Done. *coughs*]

(from the Minecrafting album)

Later on, we developed a better routine for digging out each level, dividing them mainly into sections, but the first level, it was mostly me poking around, digging things out. And then night fell.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I just planted torches and dug on. I had to get far enough away from the white space in my head. And then a skeleton showed up.

Skeletons sound very odd walking across glass. But moreover, occasionally he'd forget there was glass between he and I and fire an arrow anyway. Very odd. Then dawn broke over the horizon.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Well, then. Problem solved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

close enough to start a war

Artist Jan Voorman is patching the holes in the world--one Lego block at a time. He's calling this freeform art installation in and around Berlin's damaged walls "Dispatchwork". Fascinating concept.

And Julianna Santacruz Herrera, an artist working in Paris, is patching the potholes with yarn. Keen.

And someone's paired LED lamps with crystallized sugar to make power-efficient, muted light sources. Wonder what would happen if someone dyed the sugar bath? Think of all the candy colors you could get for your lights!

[05:31 PM] Lalinda Lovell: emilly did you hear about the elfclan/LL thing?
[05:32 PM] Emilly Orr: Uh-oh. No, what happened?
[05:33 PM] Lalinda Lovell: they said they were leaving sl on twitter, the ceo of LL saw it and offered them a 700 USD discount
[05:33 PM] Emilly Orr: Dang.
[05:34 PM] Emilly Orr: Now, Elf Clan or Ill Clan?
[05:35 PM] Lalinda Lovell: elf clan, they have 2000 members
[05:35 PM] Lalinda Lovell: they were leaving to go to inworldz, said they couldnt afford tier, and they got 2 free months of sim use now
[05:35 PM] Emilly Orr: Because Ill Clan did all their recent machinima promos.
[05:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Ah-ha. Key thunder, lightning, and the ratscrabble scratch of desperation.

For more information on the story, in the Elf Clan's own words, see their posting on the situation. It truly sounds as if they are taking this action not out of self-aggrandizing or drama, but because their members want them here. The upper management is swallowing a huge loss every month--and that's not okay, but that's tolerable (barely) because that's how roleplay sims go. But even knowing that, the current grid instability, the rash of invasive programming, the even larger rash of merchant and group closures all over the grid...all these things point inescapably to the fact that Second Life doesn't seem all that stable, once you're past the "refreshing and fun" intro experience.

And I do tend to agree with them...if Linden Labs don't change their policies, and reconfigure away from pure profit, and back to more customer service...they're going to lose more merchants, more estate owners, more sims, more of the society that draws people in...and we'll be left with a bunch of Residents who won't stay because there's nothing to do anymore.

Okay, enough sturm und drang, more Minecraft!

(from the Minecrafting album)

Aren't they cute? A happy dancing trio of slimes in front of a glowing lava pool. They wanted to get out of their little enclosure so badly...

(from the Minecrafting album)

And they went just mental when Fawkes and Hank got close! Sadly, this is the wrong image, and the right image was deleted in error. Oops.)

(from the Minecrafting album)

And I crept close enough to get footage of the big

(from the Minecrafting album)

Back to the wildgrass mod...The reconfiguration didn' out.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Let me just say this. If you ever decide to run the wildgrass mod, and you enable the wildgrass mod provisions in the Painterly pack...for the love of all things, don't select wildflowers as your wild grass!

It's...not pretty.

Friday, May 6, 2011

those who feel me near pull the blinds and change their minds

City of Heroes has a fashion magazine now. I'm not entirely sure how this is going to work, but I'm definitely intrigued enough to read the issues.

Moving a bit beyond the virtual to space, it took forty-seven years and the invention of thirteen new technologies, but the end result? Sending four perfect gyroscopes into space. But what they will learn in the process, what they have already learned, should be proof enough even for the greatest skeptic that the space program is vital to continue to fund.

The house that inefficiency built! It is definitely worth it--just from a games perspective, whether you like Minecraft or not--to read through all the links. Deliberately inefficient design, refined and purified to the most inefficient ways to do things...It's hysterical to read the commentary on the pictures. And oh yes, there are pictures.

And getting back to Minecraft, just in terms of pretty pictures, this one qualifies. The shape of the bow, the wildgrass's cubically lovely.

And now, more Minecraft? More Minecraft. (Someday I'll be done with the picture backlog...)

(from the Minecrafting album)

Why firing arrows in the base is a bad idea. Or at least is a bad idea if you're on a computer with a slow processor on multiplayer Minecraft, which--as said--is still buggy as hell.

(from the Minecrafting album)

But at the least I had fun taking pictures. Now you see him--now you don't!

(from the Minecrafting album)

The view from my cliffside base, towards Hank's base--which, coincidentally, is where everyone on multiplayer spawns at first. He builds huge structures, but they're monuments to protection and craft. This one in particular is a multi-layered structure that contains a mob harvester, a testing platform for redstone circuitry, the beginnings of what may well be a continent-spanning railway system, the wolf pack sleeping area, a small (four-bed) safe sleeping area, tunnels to all the other bases, and a passive mob/farming zone. All of it safe within high walls that are impossible for even spiders to climb.

Quite remarkable.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I installed the wildgrass mod, I believe I mentioned that. And the first time I saw it in action, it gave me scrub grass on the sand and little cacti flowers scattered about. Lovely, and it went far to creating a more 'natural' look to Minecraft.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Unfortunately, as I moved to more temperate zones, things got...furrier. Maybe it was time for a revisit of the original concept.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I want every town, I need you to know--for no reason, or so I'm told

(from the Minecrafting album)

Okay, so one more pic of Fawkes dancing with the homicidal slime. And yes, more Minecraft. :p

(from the Minecrafting album)

There are times when Minecraft gets surreal beyond description. This is one of those times. Even if I tell you how it happened, it may not make sense.

First, there are now undersea animals in Minecraft. Squid, namely. They're completely passive, but do give off ink when panicked or killed. They're also very curious.

Fawkes--being Fawkes--had found another bit of endless cavern under the ocean near what he was crafting into the underground island base for the first set of caverns. Being Fawkes, mainly, he just dug a hole in the ground, put in a bit of ladder to keep the sea out, and stuck some torches up.

The light drew the squid. They went to investigate what the bright light at the bottom of the water was. Fawkes, meanwhile, left to go get me and show me the new tunnel.

When we got back, the tunnel was full of squid. I mean, packed. Packed. Everything making small wet sounds, tentacles flailing...And, being virtual creatures who still seem rather confused at this whole 'existence' thing anyway, they don't simply expire out of water...

And that's how I ended up with 28 bowls of squid ink. Okay. So, moving on...

(from the Minecrafting album)

Another day, another texture pack. This one, unfortunately, I let Fawkes talk me into downloading the McPatcher set of water/lava fixes. This was the first thing in all my time playing Minecraft that actually broke water and lava. For the next month or so I had extremely ugly water and lava, instead of the smoothly shimmering, radiantly glowing water and lava I had before.

I was very disappointed.

But we'd also reached a very deep point in the endless caves, and had run into slimes of various sizes. At one point, Fawkes and I lost each other, and were trying to find each other by--I kid you not--calling out X/Y/Z coordinates in chat. At this time I ended up slightly below him, and we heard the wet liver sounds that meant a slime was near. I happened to look down and notice the pool of lava, and the slime frolicking playfully in it.

Still makes me shake my head. Slimes can dance on lava. So damned unfair.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Yeah. If ever there was something that could really truly depress you utterly in Minecraft...this is it. Slimes are really hard to kill, split into smaller slimes when you kill the big ones, all sizes of slime have an insane amount of push, and very little will kill them.


(from the Minecrafting album)

All right, all right, already, we get it, you're nigh-invulnerable. You don't have to act so happy about it--


Are they...staring at us?

(from the Minecrafting album)

I don't even remember what world this was from, but it was an epic cliff. Truly epic.

(from the Minecrafting album)

MUAHAHAHAHA...Proving that Girl Genius fandom persists, even in Minecraft.

What was the Madboy-in-residence building? A monster harvester. Monsters spawn, far below, in deepest shadow; monsters fall off into rushing water; water carries them down, up, around, and down again; then forward into a lava blade that sets them on fire and collects their drops--string, gunpowder, bones, feathers, and arrows, namely. AKA, everything you need to make bows, fishing poles, blocks of silk, TNT bombs, bone meal, wolf bait, and arrows--in addition to dropped arrows, yes--which you must admit, is diverse and useful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

the neighbors they tell secrets, the neighbors they tell lies

[05:46 PM] Fainora Pussycat thinking her drawing may not be enough catches and leaves a dead mousie on the coffin
[05:46 PM] Vina [Davina Innovia]: LoL
[05:46 PM] Azriel Demain: >.>
[05:47 PM] Fainora Pussycat: no good? i felt mouse was appropriate, dead bird is more of a wedding gift
[05:47 PM] Emilly Orr: Aww.
[05:47 PM] Vina [Davina Innovia] giggles
[05:48 PM] Emilly Orr: Don't worry, maybe it will become an undead mousie.
[05:49 PM] Emilly Orr: Running around squeaking in a high sepulchral echoey voice.
[05:49 PM] Eden Pyrithea: lol
[05:50 PM] Fainora Pussycat hides from the undead mousie
[05:53 PM] Deoridhe Quandry lures undead mouse with undead cheese! 8D
[05:53 PM] Fainora Pussycat: silly deo, you need brain cheese to lure an undead mousie

Some groups I stay in because the designer's a friend, some groups because I need rezzing rights on the land, and some groups--like Falln--I stay in because the people are a kick. Whether I agree or disagree, they are, in general, bright, vivacious people with strong opinions. Plus, it's also partially a roleplay group. While I don't participate in the storyline, per se, I love when I drop something into the chat and they run with it.

And yes, more Minecraft! Specifically, the arrow series.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Arrows function oddly in multiplayer--or at least, they function oddly for me. I see them hanging in midair, eternally being fired, and they persist for minutes. This is one example of what I'm seeing, but it doesn't really come close, because each photographed image captures what the server sees, not what I'm seeing--instead of the arrows being fired you see, I see each arrow position at the same time.

So it looks like Hank or Fawkes fired thousands of arrows at their prey, instead of just one, or two...or five.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Even stranger, they persist long after the battle's over. I have stood in place, watching the arrows rain down on participants that have either died, or wandered away long past the point I'm watching the arrows sing through the air.

(from the Minecrafting album)

In fact, as this animation shows, the arrows are still hanging in midair when the participants--in this case, Fawkes--wander in to figure out what I'm standing and staring at.

(from the Minecrafting table)

And of course, Fawkes being Fawkes, he had to walk up and poke me to make sure I was still there.

He could have just asked.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And then Fawkes found a slime!

Okay, not on the surface, slimes only spawn in the deep deep spaces. But we'd found a deep deep space--a seemingly endless series of caverns that tangled and twisted around each other, replete with resources and monsters. It took a long, long time to track through each corridor and light everything.

Honestly, I'm not sure we have completely, weeks later.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This is another shot, taken when we circled around the slime from the other side. Turns out in addition to a slime large enough to push us into the lava without even touching us, there were deposits of lapis, redstone, and coal to be had, and, on the far side you can't see in this shot, gold and iron.

The problem with a lot of the deposits, though, was--how were we going to fight the slime and dig things out of the walls without losing the resources gained to lava? It was a puzzlement.