Posts tagged ‘second life’

2017/02/02

Machinima! Scripting!

As reblogged (“reblogged”) over on the Secret Second Life Weblog, there is a new Second Life machinima out from the impressive (virtual, international) team of Randt and Hoisan (here is Natascha Randt’s weblog entry in German even). Both of them say nice things about me (well, about that Dale person’s) contributions, of which I am (Dale is) quite proud, even though (don’t tell anyone) scripting in Second Life is pretty much always very easy programming.

I should really do a weblog entry sometime about Second Life scripting, because it’s pretty wild. The language it’s done in is a bizarre little thing; the rumor that it was put together over a weekend just to have something working, without much thought, may be true or false, but it certainly feels that way. It’s almost-but-not-quite event-driven, objects are almost-but-not-quite immutable, lists are almost-but-not-quite first-class objects, etc, etc, etc.

And you can tell the built-in functions because they all start with “ll” (el-el, not eleven).

That weblog entry should probably be in the other weblog, though. :)

Besides recommending that you watch the machinima in the first paragraph there (which is very well worth watching!) I will just say here that Second Life is still out there, and still going strong, with constant events, DJs, live music, games, romance an’ drama, shopping (SO MUCH shopping!), building of castles and piloting of vintage airplanes, SF buildings and philosophy discussions lame and non-lame, many strippers on dancepolls, people being dragons and tiny otters and suchlike, and general wild creativity and madness and fun.

There are all sorts of other “VR” and suchlike going on, as the song seems to have come ’round on the guitar again, but I’m not convinced by any of them, including the ones done by Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life. I still strongly believe that enabling users to create content, simply and inside a shared world and without mastering any 3D modeling tools or knowing what a normal map is, is key to why Second Life works, and that all the new efforts centering on geeky 3D goggles and higher resolution displays and giving each creator their own private world, are pretty much entirely missing the point.

I admit I don’t know what to make of, or do about, the fact that the Second Life population has more or less plateau’d in size; but I don’t think anyone else does, either, or that geeky 3D goggles are the thing that’s going to get it to the next ten million users…

So we’ll see!

 

2015/09/24

This present moment is all there is

That’s the phrase / idea / thought / truth / falsehood that I’m currently working on (for some value of “working on”).

It’s especially interesting / challenging because it’s so incompatible (in some sense) with pretty much all of the tools of language, and even of thought, that we have available to bring to bear on it.

Perhaps relatedly, on Tuesday (which was my and Frodo’s and Bilbo’s birthdays!) I went for the first time to the Village Zendo, which is a ten-minute subway ride from the office, and treated myself to an hour of zazen (two bells, thirty minutes of sitting, one bell, a few minutes to stretch one’s legs, thirty minutes of sitting, three bells and done).

The space is lovely.

the Village Zendo

Here also is a picture of a pretzel:

pretzel

In other news, most of the team at work and I spent two and two-halves days in St. Thomas (!!!), which is unusual.  Some very random observations:

  • It was prettier, but unbearably hot, when the sun was out.  Mostly while we were there the sun wasn’t out, and it was quite nice (and still quite pretty).
  • Some kayaks are very much like canoes, and much less tippy and all than the kind that you basically wear.
  • During The Season (which had basically just ended) they have like three to five cruise ships a day, adding several thousand (!) to the population of the island.
  • If you are trying to sell a random tourist who is looking at the vendor stalls some illicit substance, you should probably speak loudly enough that they can hear just what the substance is.  Not like there were any police around listening.
  • In St. Thomas, you drive on the left (because of Danish heritage) but use cars with the steering wheel on the left also (because of USAian present).  This is terrifying.  Even for just the passengers.
  • Free Rum Punch in the lobby!
  • Instead of rabbits, say, they have iguanas.  Startlingly large ones!
  • I got a great hat.

And finally in news of other worlds, something for those of my readers who have yet to grok the whole Second Life thing: there is this set of videos / documentaries called the Drax Files, that feature all sorts of ways that Second Life can positively impact Real Life people and things (and they are pretty short!).  I recommend them to all; the latest episode covers a number of people who make movies in SL (“machinima“!).

Fuller coverage and more links over on the secret Second Life weblog.  (The present frame is all there is!)

2013/06/27

What a lot of things

So a ridiculous number of things have been happening! And I have been too busy (digging big soothing pointless caverns in Minecraft, for instance) to research them and write down Wise Things. I will therefore just Briefly Note them.

There is no more right to remain silent unless you first say some legalistic magic words, thanks to the horrifying decision in Salinas v. Texas, which expands on the prior horrifying decision in Berghuis v. Thompkins. (Source)

The Voting Rights Act has been gutted of one of its more vital pieces (the piece that says that places with a history of vote suppression have to get changes to their voting systems pre-cleared by the DoJ) in Shelby County v. Holder, on the theory that even though that part of the Act has been used many times recently, and voter suppression has seen a big upswing in popularity recently, we don’t need it anymore. Or as this guy puts it:

…it is the opinion of the Court’s majority that the enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act worked so well that to continue enforcement under the existing scheme is unconstitutional.

In the ideal world this would not be a big deal, as Congress could just update the formula to determine which jurisdictions have to get the pre-clearance. But given that Congress is currently incapable of doing anything significant, that will probably not happen, and we will be left in this situation (same source):

While preserving the purpose and the intent of the momentous civil rights law—as set forth in Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (“VRA”) which proclaims that no American can be denied the right to vote based on their race or gender­—the Court struck down the sole method of enforcing the intent of the law.

As well as finding that the federal government can’t meddle so directly with certain state and local voting systems in order to prevent discrimination, SCOTUS also found that the federal government can’t ignore certain state laws in order to further discrimination. Which is to say, DOMA is dead (finally!).

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

That’s Kennedy, for the majority, in United States v. Windsor.

I really need to read these decisions, see who was on which side, why DOMA went down to the 5th rather than the 14th, etc. Attentive readers will note that I myself would tend to support Federal power in the Voting Rights Act, while being against it in DOMA, because for me the important question is not “does this give more or less power to Federal or State governments?”, but rather “does this tend to protect the less powerful from the more powerful?”.

That is probably the thing that makes me a Lefty. :)

SCOTUS also brought back same-sex marriage in California, but on a relatively narrow technicality, so while that’s yay it’s not quite as interesting. At least that’s my impression so far (the actual technical finding is that just because you are the proposer of a ballot initiative, if that initiative is overturned by the courts and the government decides not to appeal, you don’t have standing to appeal it yourself just because of having proposed it in the first place).

NPR has annotated versions of both same-sex-marriage decisions, for your reading and analysis pleasure.

(And remind everyone to say “same-sex marriage”, not “gay marriage”! Bisexuals get to marry people of the same sex, too. Heck, even asexuals and straight people can if they want to! It’s all about Teh Freedoms!)

In non-SCOTUS news, Facebook had a bit of an embarrassment when first they accidentally leaked tons of data about millions of people, and then it turned out that lots of it was data that the people hadn’t even given them. Ooops! It was data harvested from the contact lists and address books and cellphones of “friends” (and “friends” of “friends”, and…) and squirreled away in FB’s vast subterranean vaults.

So basically, if you’ve ever given anyone any information about yourself, chances are that Facebook has it now.

Which you were probably already assuming, but this rather drives the point home. Along with the fact that whatever data they have, they may accidentally release to anyone you can think of in the future.

The xkcd comic “Time” is still going. There are various clever widgets around the Web to let you explore it, view it in time scales shorter than weeks, etc. I like this one.

Relatedly, here is a game in which you can take only one step per day. It is slow! I have moved a few steps to the right so far!

And also perhaps relatedly, I am rather plateaued on Lumosity (up in the “you are extremely awesome” range, natch, but still). I hope they add some more games or something soon.

Second Life, on the other hand, is still going strong, and I am still spending many hours a week there, building buildings, writing scripts, going to art shows, sailing sailboats, and so on. In fact it is having its Tenth Birthday right around now (see Community Celebration page), frequent rumors of its death to the contrary notwithstanding.

And that is all that springs immediately to mind! Now I will try to find time to read at least the most significant of the decisions above, and maybe come back eventually and write another post heaping scorn upon Scalia or something. :)

2012/08/19

Fish and Kasha and Hardcore Heroes

So the little daughter, now out of college and a Certified Adult in her own right, has been cooking things. Cooking, from the look of the pictures she’s been posting to The Instra-Gram and other young-person places, delicious gourmet sorts of things.

Which is really cool. :)

This weekend she is home visiting, it being the weekend after her birthday and a convenient weekend for visiting, and she asked me to show her how to make Fish and Kasha, which was one of the things that I used to cook for the family back when I was myself young and energetic enough to cook on weekends. (Age is of course a feeble excuse; maybe I will start doing it again!)

I couldn’t find a written-down recipe on any of the many recipe cards in the various recipe-card collections in the kitchen, but I thought I pretty much remembered how, and M helped remembering the ingredients, and so the little daughter and I went out to the local vast cavernous A and P, and we bought fish and kasha and chicken broth and bread crumbs and broccoli and cauliflower and cheese and stuff, and came home and cooked it all, and it was all very yummy and nostalgic and successful.

(They didn’t have any really familiar-looking fish varieties, but the little daughter looked up “swai” on her “cellular phone” and found that it’s basically a kind of catfish, which is what it looked like, so we got that, even though it was “re-fresh” (that is, frozen and thawed) rather than actually fresh.)

Then while we were eating and talking about when we had first, and last, had Fish and Kasha, I remembered where the recipe of course was, and found it in the old weblog, in the entry for 7 November, 1999. A while back! And reading the recipe, it turns out we followed it pretty much exactly, down to getting Wolff’s kasha at A and P, and it being Sunday. (Although we didn’t do the extra skillet-involving steps with the kasha, and it still came out perfect.)

Here it is again, just for fun (note somewhat twee Rocky Horror reference at the beginning there):

Sunday Dinner: Fish and Kasha

This is a great dinner, because it doesn’t have many ingredients. I don’t like a meal with too many ingredients (did somebody yell “slut”?).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut two catfish fillets (about a pound) into bite-size chunks. Take two bowls, pour some milk into one, and some bread crumbs into the other. Dip each chunk of fish into the milk, and then into the crumbs, and then put it onto a baking dish (mine is clear glass or pyrex or something; I don’t know if that matters). Cook 25-30 minutes, until tender. Do not overcook.

While the fish bakes, take about one cup whole-kernel kasha (a.k.a. buckwheat groats). We used to get this in five-pound sacks from Walnut Acres, but they don’t seem to have it anymore. Now we buy two-cup boxes of Wolff’s in the “funny furrin foods” section of the A&P. You can just boil it in chicken broth for about 15 minutes, but for a fluffier result: in a small saucepan, melt two Tbs butter in two cups (one can) chicken broth, with a dash salt and a dash pepper. At the same time, heat the kasha in a frying pan or heavy skillet over high heat, until hot and toasty. Pour the boiling stuff carefully into the kasha, lower heat to simmer, and cook covered about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has vanished and it all seems sort of done.

Steam some broccoli. That is, cut off the parts of the stem you don’t want to eat, and arrange for the top parts that you do want to eat to be exposed to steam (preferably in a steamer rather than just sitting in boiling water), until it feels right when poked with a fork. “Right” is entirely up to you.

While all that’s going on, melt another two Tbs butter in another saucepan (yeah, you’re going to have some dishes to wash, later). Dump in enough flour to mostly soak up the butter. Gradually add milk, a little at a time, stopping between each addition to stir until smooth. When you’ve got a good amount (use more milk for more but thinner sauce, less for less but thicker; it will thicken up somewhat when you add the cheese in any case), grate in some cheese (we like sharp Cheddar for this, but anything gratable that you like will work). Stir until the cheese is all melted.

Pour the cheese sauce over everything else, and eat.

The only hard part about this is getting everything to be done at about the same time. That, and cleaning up afterwards. But it’s all very yummy! The little daughter eats everything but the broccoli. The little boy used to eat the kasha back when he was a baby, but won’t anymore.

Tonight, all four of us ate pretty much everything. :)

On entirely other fronts, I’ve been playing Diablo III more, which surprises me somewhat given my not very enthusiastic first impressions. Turns out there’s something soothing (or something) about wreaking havoc through the same landscape and the same story multiple times, with varying character stats and types and varying nastinesses of monsters.

Most recently I’ve been playing in Hardcore mode, which means that if the character you are working on dies, it stays dead, and you need to start another one (or go back to leveling your comparatively unexciting non-Hardcore characters).

My first one, Ulf The Doomed, made it to level 30 before I got careless and he ended up surrounded by monsters, which isn’t usually a problem, except that multiple ones were taking turns freezing him so he could neither fight not heal himself, which definitely was a problem.

The second one, and my first what do they call them Wizard or Magic User or whatever, was Mary Death (a brilliant name, I thought), and she made it only to level 14 before dying due to my not having swapped the latest level of potions into her action bar, and left-clicking rather than right-clicking on the potions in inventory once I realized that, arg.

And that was all good fun, but I think I might be tired of Diablo III for awhile now, we’ll see. And I haven’t been in WoW or Glitch or anything that I used to play alot and have now temporarily forgotten about entirely, for some time.

On the other hand I’m still in Second Life for at least an hour or two, at least five or six days a week, even when real life is moderately stuffed with things (as it’s tended to be). Which says something. :)

2012/01/15

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Having said that the longer I stay away from WoW the less I miss it, I have now naturally started playing it again. :) I picked up a (human male) Warlock that I’d rolled up a long time ago, who was sitting at like level 28 or something being bored in Westfall, and looked to see what they’d done to Warlocks lately, and started leveling him, and now he’s like level 83 I think, doing Cataclysm quests and instances and stuff.

It’s been fun, I’ve been RPing him very lightly (it’s an RP server) as an Evil Necromancer type Warlock, enjoying going around drinking any souls that come to hand, consorting with demons, making diabolical (although in fact actually beneficial) alchemical potions, laughing maniacally at the Light-sucking fools RPing around the Stormwind Cathedral, and all like that.

But wow, WoW is easy these days. :)

Continuing to think how very very painful it must be to be an intelligent Republican these days, with all the anti-science and religious purity-tests and things that seem to dominate the party. Not that the Democrats are all that wonderful, but they are at least not so incredibly blatant.

Also in politics, fascinated to see the Administration coming out rather strongly against the whole SOPA/PIPA “let the music companies censor the Internet” thing. Brief speculation Twitter that maybe someone had just hacked whitehouse dot gov and put words into their mouths seems to have been unfounded!

Right now I am listening to some live music streaming in SL, with lil Dale standing at the back of the crowd swaying subtly while I do things in other windows.

Oh! Question for readers: there is an old movie, I think it is an old movie, although I’m pretty sure in color, and in this old movie there is an aspiring actress, and at one point the aspiring actress has this script that she’s going to use to audition with, and she goes over the scene with a friend or another aspiring actress or something, and it’s a relatively ordinary conflict between two people like yelling at each other, and then later in the movie she goes to actually audition the scene with some older and maybe famous and maybe slightly has-been (I’m not sure) actor, and the scene goes completely differently, still conflict between two people but this time extremely intense and passionately charged, with them snarling at each other with their lips like an inch apart, and although it’s the same words it’s amazingly different from the earlier runthrough.

So! Anyone know what movie that is? :) I have no idea. I’m pretty sure I didn’t just dream it though.

Drove the little boy up North into the colder and further-apart parts of New York, for an audition for the Music School of a College that he’s already been accepted to (we’re two and zero so far!). That was a fun little expedition; we got to stay in a Hotel because it was a bit of a drive, and the audition was in the morning, so we drove up the day before and drove back after.

We ate dinner at the Cracker Barrel next to the hotel. Cracker Barrel’s got quite a thing going there! There aren’t any very near us for some reason, but we’ve been to a few now. They’re all basically identical, they have big porches with rocking chairs and checkers sets (all for sale), and big stores inside selling all sorts of classic Old Fashioned Country stuff (did you know they still make Moon Pies and Cracker Jacks that come in cardboard boxes rather than metalized plastic bags?), and then big dining rooms with old-time ads and farm implements on the walls, and menus with lots of classic and high-calorie and not very expensive food.

(Humans were intended, I think, to eat the meals that they serve at Cracker Barrel, but only after having spent at least four hours in hard physical labor.)

I had the Chicken and Dumplin’s, the little boy had something with macaroni and cheese and shrimp, and we got the free corn muffins, and I had a Stewart’s Root Beer, and we both bought little candies in the store (malted milk balls for me, huge Smarties for him), and it all came out to just about twenty dollars.

There was snow on the sides of the road starting about halfway there, and on any cars coming from the north, but it didn’t snow on us at all. There was a detour on the way back, but we only got slightly lost. :)

Watched another episode of Buffy last night; I’m still somewhere in Season Three. Willow is extremely cute; I’m looking forward to the season where she becomes like a scary evil super-witch (although sad about the reason).

And now The Magnificent Seven is on the teevee, and I’m listening to CelticMaidenWarrior Lancaster doing a live set in SL (currently doing shoutouts to the people she recognizes in the crowd and anyone else obvious, and about to launch into “Lay Lady Lay”), and we’ve had our bagels, and I’m just sitting here relaxing. Maybe I will go make level 84 with that warlock…

2011/11/17

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Okay, so, random update! I’m on vacation this week, which has been very nice and restful. Some small (well, variable-sized) voice is telling me that I ought to be actually doing special vacation-things during it, but mostly I haven’t been.

I did go and get a massage at the Club, which was pricey but lovely (all that oxytocin!); tomorrow the plan (slightly tentative, but a plan) is to go down into The Big City, maybe see Steve (who yeah hasn’t updated for awhile), maybe go to Poet’s House, which is for no particular reason my current NYC Heart’s Desire (having finally accomplished my original one the other year, and my second one more recently (did I really not write about that anywhere? seems implausible)), maybe just sort of bop around insouciantly (WordPress thinks that is not a word, more fool it).

I didn’t go today because (A) it is Cold and Grey out, and (B) the city is all busy being occupied, and while I do support the protestors in spirit, I don’t seem to be prepared to either occupy along with them, or route around them, in person (and why not, another variable-volume voice inquires, why not?).

I have made basically zero more progress on the novel, which is somewhat surprising. I figured a week’s vacation (which means nine days all told) would be the obvious time to write an’ write an’ write, but it hasn’t worked out that way. I am not into forcing myself to do stuff while on vacation. :) I’ve tried a few times, but the Story So Far is apparently not something that I see alot of inspiring possibilities in.

(It is funny how Word Mavens and spellcheckers insist that “alot” is not a valid word, and everyone should write “a lot”. I am not quite descriptivist to think that anything where you have to keep telling people that they’re doing it wrong is probably therefore correct (I am a hard-liner on apostrophe-use, for instance), but eventually one does have to cede the field, especially on things that I like to use.)

I seem to be entirely bored with World of Warcraft (and apparently I’m not the only one); it’s amusing to see that in a break with some previous practice WoW is apparently getting playable Pandas in the next expansion. We’ll see if that lures me back; I dunno.

I’m sort of plateaued on Glitch at the moment also; I’ve done a bit of everything, I’ve run around everywhere; there are a bunch of more badges and trophies that I could get but… For now I’ve released my piggies, and I’m just poking my head in now and then.

For unknown reasons I’ve started playing Illyriad, which is one of those sort of multi-player online versions of Civilization, where you build tanneries and upgrade barracks and chop wood and send scouts and armies around and stuff. This is I think me here, but we’ll see how long I remain actually interested.

Second Life, in contrast, continues to be fresh an’ interesting (the virtues of user-generated content). I’ve been generally hanging out and exploring stuff as usual, and for the first time gotten into some PvE combat, which I’ve never really done in SL before. And in order to figure out how that works I’ve started fiddling with my own combat scripts; maybe I will post the sources to the Wiki once I have it all working (it will be simpler than the full blown open-source RPG system that’s out there now, so maybe easier to learn stuff from). Unless I get distracted. Which I usually do. :)

(Today’s distraction, while I was fiddling with combat scripts, was a friend I hadn’t talked to in ages IMing me at random and eventually mentioning that she’d gotten into SL Golf lately, and of course we ended up going off golfing a bit together, which was fun.)

What else what else? I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (in order from the beginning) on Netflix streaming on the iPad (did I mention that?). I last watched Season Three: Episode Five (“Homecoming”). It’s a kinda guilty pleasure :) but really it’s pretty good, most of the time. I get annoyed when things happen too obviously for plot reasons, but that’s only once in awhile.

Soon I will be caught up as of the end of 1998!

And finally, what’s up with people behind counters saying “Can I help who’s next?”? (Or possibly “Can I help who’s next?”) Is that an East Coast thing? A New York thing? A suburban thing? Do people say that around you? Maybe someone can ask Language Hat