Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sometimes She Honestly Scares Me...

So today I’m sitting at the computer, working on something in Photoshop, when Sunny sits down next to me.

“Whatcha doing?” She asks.

“Just working on another design.” I reply.

She just sits and watches the screen for a few minutes. Despite the fact that Sunny is incredibly intelligent, and can master anything she sets her mind to, she has this childlike habit where anything she doesn’t understand is like magic to her. She’ll sit and goggle at my computer prowess, never seeming to understand that I could show her how to do exactly what I’m doing in less than 15 minutes.

In other words, she’s sitting there, fascinated by my rudimentary Photoshop magics.

Then suddenly, out of the blue…

“That looks like a chicken.”

“Huh?” I reply, scanning my design for anything remotely poultry like.

“That thing there…” she insists, “It looks like a chicken.”

“What does?” I ask, completely lost now.

“That thing!” She points at the screen.

I maneuver the cursor to the area I think she’s talking about.

“That?” I ask.

“No, the thing you’re moving around.”

Suddenly I realize she thinks the polygonal lasso tool looks like a chicken.

“You’re weird.” I say and go back to my work. She goes quiet for a few minutes then, inexplicably, starts giggling.

“What is it now?” I ask.

“It DOES look like a chicken!” She says, her voice filled with glee. “Look, it even moves a long for a bit, then it stops like it’s pecking, then moves a little bit more. It’s a CHICKEN!”

“Can you go away now?” I ask. “You’re scaring me a little bit.”

In case you’re wondering, that’s what the picture at the top of this post is. It’s a picture of Photoshop’s polygonal lasso tool.

Does anyone else think it’s even remotely chicken-like? Or should I just go ahead and call the men in the white coats?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman....

Ladies, I gotta hand it to you, I have no idea how you make it through the day.

Ok, as regular readers know, I play Second Life a lot, and have started my own clothing business in game.

I stumbled upon a problem. You see, you create clothes in SL by uploading your textures, then to create a new shirt or whatever, you have to put it on your character in order to apply the texture.

I’m a male. I have a male character. I make mostly female clothes.

Basically, I had one of two choices. Hijack Sunny’s character every time I make something new, or turn my character into an occasional cross dresser and get myself a ‘reputation’.

There’s also the problem that you need to take pictures of your clothes for your sales board…and it doesn’t matter how well designed that girly-pink strappy top is…no one’s going to buy it if it’s being modeled by a six foot tall guy with a goatee beard.

So obviously, I chose the first option…I make the textures in Photoshop and used Sunny’s female character to actually create the clothes and model for the pictures.

However, even that caused problems. I lost count of the sheer number of times I had to type “Sunny isn’t here, this is her husband, I’m just using her avatar to create some clothes”. Not to mention I was starting to seriously clog up her inventory.

So, I finally bit the bullet and made myself a female alternate.

…I know, I felt icky as well.

It solved a lot of problems. One, I didn’t have to hijack Sunny’s avatar. Two, I had a character to actually model the clothes for pictures for my sales board. Three, when the only items the new character has are clothes I’ve made, no searching through a massive list of items every time I want to look at something.

Then, to discourage conversations and misunderstandings, (after all, if I’m on using the female character, I’m ‘working’), I wrote in the new female character’s profile:

I’m actually a guy. This avatar was created PURELY for the purposes of being a mannequin for clothes design. Don’t take it personally if I don’t answer you or ignore friend requests. If I’m using this avatar, I’m working.

Seems simple enough, right?

Well, you’d think so, wouldn’t you?

So today, I made something new, log in as my female character, and apply the outfit. So I’m just checking to make sure everything looks right, when I get an IM:

“Hey Baby! How’re you?”

Another guy in the same area has decided he likes what he sees.

I ignore him. I’m busy…he’ll read my profile in a second.

“Hey baby, why are you ignoring me? Wanna go somewhere? I know a great place *wink*”

Jesus H effing Christ. I ignore him some more.

“What is it baby. Playing hard to get?”

Finally, I just say “Dude, read my profile.”

He does, and instantly vanishes. Obviously the idea that he just came onto a guy has disturbed him greatly. I chuckle to myself. I’ve been a female for 15 seconds, and I’m already starting to hate men.

So I finish checking the outfit. Then I decide to make some prims for it. (You make textures outside of the game, but to make actual objects, like flexible fabric etc, you have to make those in game).

I’m 15 minutes into making the object, when suddenly I get another instant message.

“Hey cutie!”

Sigh. “Read my profile.”

“OMG! Why do you have a female Av if you’re a guy?!?!”

Sigh. “Read the rest of my profile.”

“Oh, ok.”

This guy gets the message. He leaves me alone and I go back to designing…10 minutes later.

“Well, hello there sexy! How’re you this fine day.”

I’m about to lose it. I’m just trying to design some fricking clothes, and I’m being constantly hit on by guys who think watching two in-game characters have sex is actually a relationship.

I log out of SL, log back in under my male character. I search my inventory and transfer my adjustable title to my female character.

So I log back in under my female alt, and set the adjustable title up. Now anyone who looks at me sees a glowing sign above my head that says “I’M A GUY. PLEASE READ MY PROFILE BEFORE IM-ing ME PLEASE”

There, that should do it. I’ve got a gigantic sign telling everyone that despite the fact I’m using a female character, I’m actually a guy. I get back to work.

Then…no less that 10 minutes later.

“Hey Sexy! Nice tits! How you doing?”

This time I really lose it. I shout back:

“WELL, I’M DOING JUST FINE! MY BALLS ARE A LITTLE ITCHY THOUGH!”

Oh no. Now suddenly the pale friendless virgin sitting at the computer has had his sexuality questioned.

“OMG ur a fag! Why u usin a gurl?”

Ever just completely lose it? I typed so fast, smoke was coming off the keyboard.

“For FUCK’s sake!” I reply. “My profile states VERY plainly that I’m using this avatar for my clothes business. I’ve got a big glowing sign over my head that says “I’m a guy!” in foot high letters. I’m in a public sandbox that’s here purely for people to use to build things…Now what part of ALL THIS did you misunderstand as ‘I’m a girl who desperately wants to have virtual sex with someone who’s idea of a smooth chatup line is ‘Hey Nice tits!?”

The reply was a rather eloquent:

“Rofl! Ur a fag.”

Luckily, I’m a member of the sandbox group under both avatars, so I just banned him.

Now I should be clear that the vast majority of people you meet in Second Life are very nice people. I have used my female ‘mannequin’ a few times and not been bothered.

The difference is, while I occasionally get bothered under my female character…I’ve never been propositioned or bothered like that while using my regular male character.

I mean, sure, a good few women have hit on me in SL. (You can’t be listening to music in a virtual nightclub and not have people flirt with you). I also have quite a few female friends on SL…however, none of them have ever started a conversation with “Hey, nice ass!”…or called me gay if I’ve turned them down for anything ‘romantic’.

I mean, I’ve played as my male character and got ‘hit on’, and when I’ve let them know I’m married and not interested, usually the reply I’ll get is along the lines of:

“Oh, no problem, so where are you from?”

In other words, women can think “Oh, this guy’s not available or not interested. I’ll go look somewhere else or maybe he’ll just be someone fun to talk to.”

On the other hand, I’ve watched Sunny play, and occasionally she’ll get some freak who just walks up and says something really smooth, witty or romantic like “Wanna fuck?”…and when she tells she’s not interested, she gets called a ‘lesbo’.

In other words, the basement dwelling, teenage males can’t handle the fact that there’s a woman out there who doesn’t desperately want to virtually sleep with them

Seriously, ladies, I have no idea how you deal with it.

I’ve had less than an hour viewing a virtual game-world from the female perspective, and I found myself muttering ‘Men! Who needs ‘em?’

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Random Musings

God I’m sick.

Well, not that kind of sick. I mean I’m ill. In fact, I’m not just ill, I’m ill!

(See, not only did I use italics, I put it in bold as well…that should let you know how ill I am.)

Basically, it’s one of those ‘hit ‘n’ run’, cough/sore throat things. The ones that’ll let you go for a few hours and think “Hmm, I still feel pretty crappy, but I haven’t had a coughing fit in a while, maybe I’ve broken the back of it and I’m getting better!”

Then, five minutes later, you cough so hard you nearly pass out…then go throw up.

Seriously, I’ve not felt this bad in over a decade. Just to give you an idea of how I’m feeling, I woke up this morning with no memory of actually getting into bed. Then I looked at the clock. It said 2:30.

I had to get up and look out of the window to work out whether it was 2:30 in the morning, or 2:30 in the afternoon. My internal clock is completely screwed up

The only upside is that Sunny, who I managed to catch this from, is almost completely better now…meaning I only have a day or so of this left. So until then, I guess it’s all the hot tea I can force myself to drink, as many Hall’s Vapor Action I can stuff down my neck, and saying “This is all your fault!” to Sunny every 15 minutes.

On a brighter note, my Greencard came in the mail today, although rather disappointingly, it wasn’t actually green. It was actually a rather boring beige-cream color.

I poked it with a stick, in case it was a trick of some kind. Perhaps as soon as I touched it, hidden scanners embedded in the card would read my fingerprints, and the immigration police jump out of nowhere and drag me back to England.

Hey, I’ve dealt with these people for almost 7 years now, I know how their minds work.

Once I had the thing in my hands, I was reminded of Boromir’s speech from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’

(For maximum effect, think of the theme that plays every time Frodo looks into the camera with an expression on his face as though he’s about to burst into tears, and play it in your head….that’s the one, that ‘Doooo, dooo, da, do, do, da, dee, dooo doooooo” one)

“It is a strange fate we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.”

Basically, We’ve spent 7 years and more money that I wish to count on something that looks suspiciously like a Blockbuster Video rental card.

The one thing I absolutely adore about the Greencard though, is it’s the epitome of Government thinking.

Seriously, this thing has so many watermarks and holograms on it, you get the feeling that if you hit it with a laser-pointer at just the right point, a giant projection of George W. Bush will spring forth from it, like Superman’s dad in the Fortress of Solitude.

But why is this the epitome of Government thinking?

Well, basically, this thing has so many anti-fraud devices on it, they manage to completely and totally obscure all the actual identifying marks. Sure, it has an image of my fingerprint on it, but not many police officers carry fingerprinting gear around with them…and my picture is a very faint monochrome image, that only shows the very deep shadows on my face.

I’d scan it and show you, but I’m afraid if the light from my scanner hits it, I’ll end up with a 50 foot George Dubya telling me I’m the last son of Krypton.

Last, but by no means least, my Darling wife surprised me today.

Tuesday is our grocery and bill paying day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t work up the energy to leave the house. (Not to mention I haven’t showered in the past four days…when I get ill my skin gets so sensitive it feels like I’ve been burned, I can’t even stand to be touched…basically, imagine having fairly bad sunburn all over your body, so standing under the shower would be absolute torture).

Anyway, she arrived back at the house, and wheeled in a brand new office chair, and said “Happy Greencard.”

So let me explain why this is a big deal.

For the past two years, our computer chair has been one of those awful plastic jobs. Basically, it’s as uncomfortable as hell. As much time as I spend at the computer (That chair sees more of my ass than any other item of furniture in our home), and the fact I have back problems….it was pretty painful.

Well, the new one is one of those high-backed, leather pneumatic ones. Comfortable and stylish.

Best…wife…ever.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For...

A husband and wife where home alone together, when suddenly the wife put down her copy of ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’.

“This book is so true!” She said. “You men always assume that we want you to fix all our problems for us, when all we really want is for you to give us a hug and tell us everything will be okay.”

The next morning, the wife woke up to discover her car had a flat tire and appeared to be leaking oil. She told her husband.

He gave her a big hug, told her everything would be okay and left for work.

Friday, September 22, 2006

An Open Letter

Dear Politicians,

We, the public, understand that you’re desperate to get elected or re-elected. We understand the need for you to put your broadcasts on TV.

However, we would appreciate it if you would use your screen time to actually tell us your viewpoint and policies…rather than just using it to slag off your opponents.

These broadcasts prove either one of two things:

1) Either you’re both borderline criminals and only think of yourselves rather than the people you represent.

2) You’re both filthy liars.

I mean, seriously, think about this. We’re treated to back to back broadcasts of each of you telling us how terrible the other is. Either you’re both lying, or neither of you is worthy of our votes.

Vote liar or money embezzling, kick back taking asshole. What kind of choice is that?

People wonder why America, supposedly the greatest democracy in the world, has one of the lowest voter turn-outs on the globe.

It’s not that we don’t care. It’s just that every time voting season comes around, we look at you, and decide we don’t want any of you in office.

Do us all a favor and tell us why we should vote for you, not why we shouldn’t vote for the other guy.

Many Thanks

The American Public.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Most Extreme Idiots

So a couple nights ago, I was flicking through the late-night TV, and stumbled across a show called “Most Extreme Sports”.

Now, as a sane person, I automatically avoid anything with ‘extreme’ in the title. Not because I’m against taking it ‘to the max’, but because ‘extreme’ is one of those words that has been so over used, it’s become meaningless.

For example, you can buy ‘extreme’ potato chips now.

When a potato-based crunchy snack can be considered ‘extreme’, ‘slightly bored’ must describe being tied up in a chair and forced to watch the first half of an episode of ‘Full House’ over and over again for approximately 2.8 billion years.

Anyway, I digress.

This show used ‘extreme’ in the most common current usage of the word, where it means “People doing dumb shit and getting hurt for your amusement”.

So I left it on.

Hey, why not try to jump off a 30 story building on rollerblades and try and land in a bathtub of water? Could it possibly be inadvisable?

However, on this show, I found the dumbest man in the universe:

He appeared on the screen, gave the uniform grin of a short-bus rider… and proudly announced that he was going to break the sound barrier on a bike.

Now, let me be perfectly clear with this. I don’t mean on a motorbike, as stupid as that would be to attempt, he was going to attempt to break the sound barrier on a regular bicycle.

That’s right, one you have to pedal.

He was going to do this by riding his bike down the side of a mountain.

Wanna know the funniest part? He was taking this shit seriously.

I mean, don’t you think that at some point, someone would have told him that this was impossibleand by impossible, I don’t mean ‘highly unlikely’, I mean breaking the laws of physics impossible. About as possible as stopping a freight train by laying one of your testicles on the track

Ok, to elaborate on the, here’s physics 101:

Every body on earth has a terminal velocity. Terminal Velocity is the speed at which a freefalling object will stop accelerating and remain at a constant speed. Basically, it’s the point at which the force of gravity and the force of drag from wind resistance equal out.

For the average human body, this speed is roughly 120 miles per hour. If we’re generous and add a bit of weight for the bike, let’s say that increases to 130 miles per hour.

Of course, with terminal velocity, the only thing acting as drag is wind resistance, so the bike on the mountain etc takes away that little advantage.

So let’s be even more generous and say that through pedal power, he can increase that speed by roughly 30mph.

So, this guy is looking at a top speed of, at the very most, 150mph…

This is just a tiny bit shy of the 761mph required to reach the speed of sound. 611mph short actually.

It must be a bit of a hurdle to overcome, I can imagine his trainer:

“Ok, idiot boy, we’re a little short on the power, so I want you to dig deep down and somehow supply the same amount of forward thrust as a fucking passenger jet! You can do it! Harness the power of your stupidity!”

So there we go. 15 minutes research on the internet would have proven that this feat was impossible. With gravity and pedal power factored in, he still has to add to that the same amount of speed that a passenger jet cruises at…in fact, more than a passenger jet.

Even if he did it, it couldn’t end well. It would be like me sitting you in a wind tunnel, sitting you on a bike that’s vibrating like a bachelorette party-favor hooked up to the national grid…putting a 761mph wind in your face and saying “Hold on!”

However, one other thing about this bothered me even more than the physics of this.

Ok, not everyone knows physics (even the schoolboy stuff I just said), it is possible that someone is dumb enough to believe that if you ride a back down a big enough hill, that you’re going to just keep accelerating indefinitely.

But if you were attempting a land-speed record, no matter how dumb or inadvisable, wouldn’t you at least do a little research into other people who’ve attempted speed records and succeeded?

I mean, look at the car that holds the current land speed record. The Thrust SSC (yay, the brits!), the car that broke the sound barrier.

If you’ve never seen this vehicle, let me describe it. It’s essentially a cockpit that weighs about 5 ounces, suspended between two frickin’ jet engines taken from the British F4 Phantom Jet Fighter. These jets produce 50,000lbs of thrust

Even with all that power it just managed to break the sound barrier. It managed a speed of 763 mph

Don’t you think a single glance at even a picture of the SSC might have made him think:

“…and I wanna try this on a push-bike?!?!”

Put yourself in his position. Look at these pictures and imagine the pitch session:

“Ok, idiot boy, here’s what we want you to do. We want you to break the sound barrier on the ground.”

“Okey dokey!”

“Ok, here’s the one and only vehicle in the world that’s managed it so far.”

“Oh boy, that looks like fun! I’ll do it, I can’t wait to try!”

“Hold your horses there boy…we want you to do the same thing as this:”

“…but on this:”

Honestly, how many of you would have said “I’ll do it!”

Oh, and in case your wondering what happened…His bike snapped in half when he got to about 90 MPH. For some reason a racing bicycle didn’t appreciate being taken to 90mph on rough rocky terrain.

The guy attempting it broke nearly every single bone in his body as he left his bike and continued down the mountain.

This whole episode has proven one thing to me:

Nature punishes stupidity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Paulius Creations Inc

If there’s one thing about Second Life (henceforth known as SL), that I don’t like, it’s that the clothes for men absolutely suck.

I mean, even in real life that average men’s wardrobe is boring compared to a woman’s.

Think about it guys, what’s in your wardrobe? Jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts and a few suits and dress shirts for work and going out on the town.

What this means for SL is that each store is filled with pretty much the same stuff. Unless you wanna walk around dressed a Boba Fett or Superman, your choices are limited. Once you own a pair of SL jeans, are you going to buy another pair just because they’re a slightly different color?

It’s for this reason that I rarely buy clothes in SL, there’s simply not much difference between what you pay for in the stores and what you can find at the freebie places.

So today, deciding to strike a blow for male-kind, I pulled up Photoshop and decided to make myself some clothes.

Then I realized why men had so little choice.

Not only are men’s clothes boring to wear, they’re also incredibly boring to make.

You see, with women’s clothes you’re not just limited to ‘skins’. You can make skirts etc that have gravity, move when they walk, etc. It’s interesting.

With guys you basically pull up a T-shirt template, choose a color, write on a design or slogan, add a little shading or texture, and you’re done. Not very interesting at all.

I can make a decent T-shirt in less than five minutes and not only is it boring to make, it’s far too easy.

Even if you stick with just skins for female clothing it’s a lot more interesting…as I’ll explain further down the page.

So basically, after bitching that women are spoilt for choice while men almost have no choice…I started making women’s clothes for SL.

If you want an idea of what I mean about how much more interesting women’s clothes can be…look at the following pic and I’ll tell you how I made it:

Yesterday, Sunny had an idea for a new shirt design. So I handed her my sketchpad and my favorite pencil and said “Sketch it for me”.

Then, when she left for work, I got busy.

First was the actual cloth. Not too hard, just blocking in off-white and using the pen tool in photoshop to get a nice curve for the neck-line.

Then, I drew in the lacing at the front, also using the pen tool.

Now we come to the fun part.

See how the arms and upper body are see through and sheer, but the lower body and cuffs are opaque? Basically, to do that, you have to mess around with your image’s alpha channels.

Explained simply, the alpha channel is a black and white channel under your image. SL sees white as completely opaque, black as completely transparent, and all the shades of grey in between as various levels of transparency.

So once you have your design, you cut and paste it into the alpha channel, fill the image with black where you want transparency, grey where you want see through, etc.

Then we come to the other tricky bits. The template you use to create shirts for SL is made up of three elements. Front, back and inner and outer arm. (You only make one arm and SL just mirrors it for the other side).

Drawing something in 2D something that’s going to be wrapped around a 3D model is tough. For example, the cuffs on that picture took me forever. Setting the alpha channels to make them opaque was simple, but lining up the inner and outer arm was tricky.

The easiest way to explain why it was difficult is this: Imagine having two pieces of paper. You draw a line across one, put it away…then draw a line across the other. Then, when you put the two pieces of paper side by side, the lines have to match up exactly.

(Director’s commentary : This can also effect your design choices. I got so aggravated trying to get the opaque neckline to match on the front and back, I decided to simply leave the back sheer.)

It gets long and involved and every action counts…because the only way to ‘test’ to see if your design is working is to save your image, log into SL, upload the image (at a cost of 10 Lindens), create your shirt and see if it works.

If it doesn’t, you’re back in photoshop trying to fix it.

Now we come to the other design choices. What about color? Well, for this garment, the one thing Sunny didn’t tell me was what color she wanted it. So, I simply decided to leave it white so that it could be ‘tinted’ in game to whatever color she likes. This means you can’t shade and highlight very well (You can’t put light highlights on a white piece of clothing because they don’t show up and shading with black instead of a darker hue of a colored garment can just make it look dirty).

It’s a trade-off. Colored garments are very hard to tint in SL. If you have a dark red color, and try and tint it blue, it’ll turn out a very dark purple because the colors mix. I experimented with different tints and decided what with this particular top, I would leave it white…because as it appears to be made of very tight sheer fabric, it doesn’t need much texture anyway.

Then we come to the cleaning up part.

See the laces on the front? Remember what I said about how the alpha channels work?

Well, the white in the alpha channel tends to bleed over a little, meaning that the black laces have very unconvincing white edges around them. This means one thing…zooming right in on that alpha channel and manually cleaning up the edges.

(Director’s Commentary : When you create new clothes in SL, you essentially get a plain white skin. So for a new shirt it always starts out looking like a plain white sweatshirt. You then paste your image over this as the ‘fabric’, so if you haven’t set your transparencies well enough, you still see the white ‘sweatshirt’ underneath. With something thin like laces, the white edges stop it from looking like clothing and makes it look like exactly what it is…a drawing of clothing pasted on top of a model.)

The other thing you have to keep in mind is how the actual character will distort the clothing. For example, I made a T-shirt with a picture on the back of it. On my character, the picture was extremely noticeably distorted because my character’s shoulders are wider than his waist. On a female character, the shirt looked fine.

This can be frustrating, because you can create something to where it looks perfect. Only to discover you’re the only one who can wear it.

So to sum up, making women’s clothes in SL is interesting, fun and tricky. Men’s aren’t. You have a blue zillion different design choices and there a hundred times more challenging to make.

Just look at the picture…it looks simple and had a few problems. However, it took me well over an hour to make and put photoshop through its paces.

Beats making T-shirts and Jeans any day.

(Director’s Commentary : Currently, I’m giving away everything I design for free. If you play SL and would like some free clothes…send an Instant Message, in game, to ‘Paulius Griffith’ and I’ll be more than happy to send you some stuff. Also, if you have any questions on how the mechanics of making SL clothes works…drop me a line and I’ll be happy to help.)

I'm not dead

Hello everyone,

I’m not dead…honestly.

I’ve just had one of those weeks where I keep getting into a post, then either completely losing interest or realizing I’m writing complete crap.

So I’m not dead.

Ok?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ain't Gonna Get Rich That Way....

If there’s one thing I don’t like about Second Life, it’s the clothes shopping.

You see, I’m the exact opposite of the clothes horse in real life. In fact, I don’t even qualify as a clothes donkey. I dress for comfort, not for style.

Technically, I’m a clothes mule. Ugly, but I get the job done.

My entire real life wardrobe consists of about 15 pairs of jeans, a few hundred T-shirts and the grand total of 2 pairs of dress pants and 3 dress shirts. Oh, and two ties.

However, in Second Life, clothes truly are a status thing. If you’re new and have no money, you visit the freebie stores. If you’ve been playing a while, you own some decent threads.

In other words, if you don’t clothes shop, you look like a newbie…and let’s face it, everyone hates newbies.

However, my biggest problem with clothes in second life is how expensive they are. What I really should say is how relatively expensive they are.

For example, a T-shirt will cost you between 50 and 250 lindens. That’s between 20 real life cents and a dollar.

(I should point out that I’ve not actually put any real money into the game, all the cash I have in SL has been either earned or evil gambling winnings from in the game. Essentially, to me, it’s still fantasy money and I don’t count it as having real life worth…so why should I care about spending fantasy money on fantasy clothing?)

Here’s the deal, however… to actually upload the texture to create your own clothing only costs a measly 10 Lindens.

I want my fantasy money for buying interesting stuff. The same way in real life I’d rather buy a flat-screen monitor than a new dining room set. Why spend 250 of any currency, real or not, when I can spend 10 and get the same thing?

Creating clothes is also incredibly easy to do once you get the hang of it. You simply download the templates from the SL website and paint on your textures in Photoshop. The only difficult part is setting transparencies with Alpha Channels, (Otherwise you end up with what looks like a white sweatshirt with your clothes painted on top), but even that’s easy when you know how.

So basically, I look at clothes, think “150 lindens for that T-shirt? I could do better than that!” …then I don’t.

Anyway, today, Sunny was playing and as usual called me over to the computer about 150 times to show me clothes she wants. So I said to her:

“You’re going to pay 250 Lindens for that top? I could knock you one of those up in about 10 minutes!”

Then, in that wifely way she has, she moved from the front of the computer and said:

“Ok, go ahead, but I want it back when you’re finished.”

Shit…

At this point, all I’d made was a couple of T-shirts. The top she wanted had straps…meaning you had to line up the textures for the front and back of the model perfectly for it to work.

My mouth was writing checks, and my ass was complaining because it wasn’t sure if it had the funds to cover them.

Like most things in life, the male way is easy, the female way is hard. T-shirts? Piece of piss! New jeans? No problem. Strappy top with a sweetheart neckline, preferably sheer, but not too see through?

Uhhhh. Ummmm. Buh….

I’ll give it a try.

Anyway, I finally did it, and here’s a picture of the final product to prove it (With the lovely Adav Qi, AKA Sunny’s character modeling):

(In case you’re wondering why the straps look blurry, it’s just because the texture hadn’t loaded onto the model completely when I took the snap...click for a larger view)

.

Sunny loved it, but then she has that rose-colored glasses view of pretty much anything I do.

Then I realized something…

Hell, if that’s a first try, I could make some money off this!

(Well, what I actually first realized was I was technically a clothes designer and got this crazy urge to buy a beret, change my name to something like ‘Lance’, and the sudden urge to talk to New Yorkers about whether pumps are in this season. This was going to be an even funnier line utilizing the words ‘manola blanicks’…but I don’t know how to spell it properlly)

Anyhoo…

I wouldn’t have to rent store space, because I could sell them myself directly, you know, that old ‘word of mouth’ advertising. Sell ‘em for 25 Lindens a pop, seriously undercut the stores with their land rental overhead…and make a bit of cash.

Let’s see…25 Linden a pop, sell ten and that’s a real life dollar. Couple of weeks, sell my Lindens, and I could have enough to go and see a movie.

I know that doesn’t seem earth shattering or anything, but a free movie for what amounts to about 30 minutes work? I could go for that. Hell, any extra cash would be welcome right now.

My point is, if in 6 months I’ve only made enough for a pack of gum…that’s a pack of gum I got by dicking around on the computer. Can money be earned in a more pleasurable way?

Not that I know of, unless you plan on breaking plenty of laws…or I finally get that 80” plasma TV and La-Z-boy testing job I want.

…but this is where my business model falls down.

I make a shirt and obviously give one to Sunny. Then one of my other friends says she likes it. Well, I’m not going to charge her, because she’s a friend and has given me a bunch of free stuff. Then her friend likes it, and well, I can’t charge her because what kind of an ass would I be for charging my friend’s best bud? Then I’ve got a precedent set.

“Hey, why are you charging me for this? You gave everyone else one for free!”

Anyone feel like investing in “English Paul’s Clothing Emporium”?

Damn, I need to set up a paypal account…

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just Breathe...

Let me explain what receiving correspondence from Immigration is like.

Their letters sweep into your home like the Dementors from Harry Potter. They drain the color and joy out of life, leaving you feeling like a mere husk of your former self.

You find yourself atop the Tower of Despair, and with your chin heavy in your hands, you think of winter.

If you think I’m exaggerating here, think of this scenario:

You meet someone in a foreign clime, fall in love and give up nearly everything you have to be with them. You go through a very long and involved process, spend an average yearly wage on fees, flights and phone calls (ooh! Aliteration…I’ll make a writer yet).

You fly to the new country, and think the worst is over…only to discover that it’s only just beginning.

In short, Sunny and I have spent years to get to this point, and over $40,000 dollars.

…and each interview is an opportunity for all this to crash down around our ears.

Basically, if I go to an interview and discover I checked the wrong box on a form I filled out two years ago, guess what? I’m on a plane back to England, and have to start the whole 5 year process again from scratch…and that’s if I’m lucky and allowed to re-apply.

Let me absolutely clear on this. The process for moving to America as the spouse or fiancĂ© of an American citizen is complicated. I’ve lost count of the number of forms I’ve filled out, the meetings and interviews I’ve been to, the sheer number of court-houses I’ve visited to collect documents etc

Then we come to the things we can’t really prove. Even though it’s complicated, I can call my local Police Department and get a statement from them that I have no records. I can call my doctor and get my vaccination records. I can contact the IRS and get a copy of my tax returns.

However, imagine sitting across a desk from a complete stranger and them turning to you and saying, in not so many words, “Prove to me that you actually love each other and that this isn’t a marriage of convenience.”

After all that paperwork, my staying in the country can come down to me remembering Sunny’s favorite color, where she keeps her toothbrush and what side of the bed she likes to sleep on.

It’s no longer a matter of paperwork, it’s convincing a single person. If that person isn’t convinced, tough shit, get on the plane and you’re not welcome back in the United States any more.

If you’re still having difficulty grasping this situation, look at it this way. Look at your husband, wife or your boyfriend or girlfriend. Imagine it being in someone else’s power whether you get to stay with them or not.

There…now you have a basic understanding of the pressure we’ve been under for the past 5 years.

Anyway, Sunny and I received one of these Immigration missives seven weeks ago. It demanded that we appear for an interview today at 2:30pm. Just to make us feel a little better, written across the top of the letter in bold was:

FAILING TO APPEAR AT THIS INTERVIEW OR FAILING TO BRING THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION WILL RESULT IN YOUR APPLICATION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY TO BE DENIED.

I tried to blog about this over the past few weeks, but to be perfectly honest, I felt like I was going to have a panic attack or throw up every time I thought about it…so I steered as clear away from the topic as I could.

Despite the fact that Sunny and I are 100% legit, it’s still an absolutely terrifying experience to be interviewed by someone who has the power to, there and then, demand you leave the country.

So when I get one of these letters, I start to think of the worst. If I get deported, will Sunny be able to get permanent residence in England? If I move back I won’t have my own house anymore, and I’m certain my parents wouldn’t be able to support the two of us while I found a job. Is it going to be another five years before I actually get to be in the same room as my wife again?

In short…serious brown trousers time.

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce, I am now officially a lawful permanent resident of the United States. My Greencard should arrive within the week, and I’m eligible for Citizenship in three years.

If you’ll indulge me for a moment…

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! PERMANENT RESIDENCY, BITCHES!!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!!!!

Seriously…this is the first time I’ve been totally relaxed in the past two and a half years.

Now I just need to find me a job…

(I have also just noticed that this message also just happens to be my 400th blog post. I can't think of anything I'd rather write about at this milestone. Wow, Red Letter Day or what???)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Your Questions Answered

Ok, I got a few comments today on a couple of my SL posts. Rather than reply on a week old post, I thought I’d talk about it here.

First, from MC Etcher:

“Is there a version of the Imperious Curse? You could send people's avatars out to earn cash for you. Or rent them as slaves. Are there any evil wizards that need subduing?

What about a detective agency? Is there anything to solve? Are there (volunteer or otherwise) police? Hmn, could I start a detective agency, then kidnap someone prominent to have a mystery to solve? For a sizable fee, of course, bwa ha ha!”

I really should not play this game.

If you want to pay for the land and build it, you can do pretty much anything you want. People have art galleries to showcase their RL paintings and use the gallery to sell prints. Other people have made museums making use of streaming video. Other people make clothing and in-game object stores

Of course, SL works mainly around the three S’s, Sex, Socializing and Shopping.

In other words, plenty of clubs, beaches, waterparks, malls and ‘adult video’ establishments.

As for a detective agency, it would be possible. Someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend on SL, and wants to know what their partner is getting up to when they’re not around to supervise.

As for bad wizards…

It depends entirely where you go. Most people on SL are just there to chat and have fun. They come on to go to a club or a beach, listen to the music and talk to people.

On the other hand, there are hardcore role-players. They create a character, and never break character while they’re playing. You get the Star-Trek guys, the Star Wars guys, the Lord of the Rings guys and the Harry Potter crowd. (There are hundreds more, but I think those are the main ones.)

Now, as Kato asked:

Anyway... with all this freedom in the world, what prevents people from massively griefing everyone through any manner of nasty thing (such as misusing the wand you purchased)?

Well, I can honestly say I was surprised at how little griefing went on in SL. Don’t get me wrong, there are assholes on SL, just like on any other MMO, but you have very few problems.

Here’s how it works. SL is divided up into ‘Sims’…in other words, smallish areas. Each sim is owned by a different person, and they set the rules for their Sim. Each owner has admin rights to their sim, and can grant admin rights to other players.

So, if I went into someone else’s sim, and started throwing players around, blasting them up into the air or out of the sim, it wouldn’t be five seconds before I got booted out myself.

If I returned and started doing the same thing, they’d just flat out ban me.

So, if you act like an asshole, you quickly find yourself not able to go anywhere.

But SL is a HUGE place and it would take you months to get banned from everywhere. This brings me to the rap sheet.

Basically, other players can lodge complaints against you for abusive behavior etc. You get enough complaints, you just get your whole account banned. You can just create a new account, but if you’re actually able to grief people, you’ve been in the game a fair amount of time and accumulated a lot of cash and possessions…which of course you’d lose.

The other big thing is you get to know the people who own the sims, because they’re players to. You get to know them and like them, so each sim becomes pretty much self policing.

So there it is. Download SL and start playing…now!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Will Someone Get This Walking Carpet Out Of My Way?

So I was watching an advertisement for the release of the Original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD.

You’ve got to hand it to George Lucas, the only guy in Hollywood that’s made millions just by selling the same movie over and over.

Anyway, I was watching the advertisement and it got right to the end where the little girl says:

“I so want a pet Wookiee!”

I was outraged. Outraged, I tell you!

What? A pet Wookiee?

We’re talking about Wookiees here, the noble, tree dwelling species of the planet Kashyyyk. A species capable of piloting star-ships. A species with a very complex and intricate, caste-based social structure. A species’ whose darkest moment was their capture and enslavement by the Evil Galactic Empire, and use as cheap disposable contruction workers for the first Death Star.

Of course, they look hairy, and can’t speak English, so this little bitch wants one as a pet?

Isn’t this the embodiment of racism and discrimination? Doesn’t all evil spring from the act of one group judging another to be inferior? She’s talking about a free and sentient species, but wants one as a pet! Isn’t that, in a way, what the Nazi’s did to the Jewish people?

Chewie was critical to helping the Rebels defeat the Empire, he was indispensable….and this little bitch wants to keep him as a pet?

What the hell has she achieved in her life? I bet she didn’t help Han Solo make the Kessel Run in less than twelve Parsecs!

I was outraged!

…but then I realized it was just a movie, forgot about it and went back to watching Everybody Loves Raymond.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Laugh? I Damn Near Shit My Pants!

Ok, if you have a computer and don’t have Second Life…you’re wasting your computer.

Go and get it now. It’s free, so you have no excuse.

Even if you’ve never played a game before, even if you don’t like games, get Second Life. It’s free, and it’s a hoot.

Not only do you meet some interesting people, the sheer creativity people show in this game is amazing. I’ve seen nightclubs with genius-level artwork and design, and in game objects that just beggar belief.

For example, today, I logged in and went to my favorite club, just chillin’ and listening to the music while having a bit of a chat with my online friends.

Then, one of my friends decided to show me her new magic wand.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

First my character was surrounded by a thick cloud of smoke, which followed me and refused to go away…then to add insult to injury, she cast a weird ‘spell’ that made my character float and follow her.

…and she wouldn’t let me down until I’d asked ‘nicely’.

Bear in mind that this wand was created and designed by a player of the game…not a game designer. So obviously, the first thing into my head was, like Gordon in ‘Batman Begins’ “I gotta get me one of those.”

At first it was going to be just a fun purchase, but then I realized as I browsed the spells for sale, that it could come in useful.

You see, in Second Life, I have a job as security in a nightclub. This may sounds a little stupid, but look at it this way, this security ‘job’ is the same as a moderator’s on IRC or a web-forum. If someone comes into the club and starts to get abusive, it’s my job to calm them down or ask them to leave.

Basically, the club owner has spent a fair bit of real life money to rent the in-game land (read, server space) and to actually ‘build’ his club. If he can get enough people in the club, he might make a bit of real life cash (Like I said, some people make their real life living in the game…today I had 2000 in game dollars, if I’d wanted to I could have ‘sold’ my in game money for eight, honest to God, real life dollars).

So in other words, I work as a pretty much voluntary moderator.

Also, because this is a game where you’re free to do whatever you want, the stakes are a little higher. If you’ve spent a few hundred real life dollars to build an in-game business…and someone can just burst into the club and start shooting, it pays to be on top of things. (You can’t die in Second life, but getting shot ‘pushes’ your character, sometimes far enough to where you’re pushed off that plot of land…in other words, onto another server).

Basically, you’ve got a full club of people who are spending. Someone with a grudge or someone who’s just an asshole could burst in and empty a club in seconds.

Not. Good.

Well, I bought a wand and some spells for it. One of which was the very Harry Potter sounding ‘Impellious’ spell, which simply pushes the target out of the sim…in other words, kicks them off the server and onto a nearby one. I also bought a ‘shield’ spell.

In other words, useful. This means I’m immune to getting kicked off the server by getting shot or other means and can kick anyone off the server at will. In other words, woe betide anyone who causes trouble in my club.

Permit me and evil laugh….MUAHAHAHAHA!

Of course, I bought a lot of others that just looked like fun though…and that’s where the problems started.

I found a willing friend and tried out the ‘Obscura Jinx’. The smoke bomb spell that I’d got hit with earlier. She played the part well. She could have just stood there and waited for me to end the spell, but she chose to do something ‘different’.

Watching her character running around like a lunatic, streaming smoke from her back like a crazy red arrows/blue angels display…while shouting “ARGH! MY ASS” made me laugh so hard…well, I’m ashamed to admit how hard I laughed.

Ok, ok, it was an ‘Ass on Fire’ joke…if that’s too low brow for you, stop reading and go watch ‘Frasier’.

Later, however, I found myself on my own. I went to the club I work at to try out the other spells. With it being so early in the am, the place was deserted…perfect.

So I tried the Ignis spell…which turned my wand into a torch. Pretty

I tried the Nivos spell…which created a light snowfall that followed me around. Even prettier.

Then I realized that the rest of the spells required a target. Some of which were just fun spells, like showering your target in roses…but the others were reserved for either people you don’t like, or friends who can take a joke.

For example, one surrounds the target in a physics-enabled sphere, which you can drag around, or throw…or roll off a cliff.

However, I just wanted to make sure the spells actually worked and had installed correctly. You see, in the game, you buy the wand, and each new spell in a spell book. Then you put the spell book on the ground, click it, and it installs itself to your wand.

In other words, I wanted to check the spells were in the wand and that they worked.

To cast spells, you simply ‘say’ in the chat window “Wand (spell name) (target)”

So I tried the Impellius spell, without specifying a target. The wand replied, correctly, that it needed a target. It was there and it worked.

Then I tried the Kinetos spell, the one I previously mentioned that surrounds the target in the sphere. Again, the wand replied correctly that it needed a target. Two for two, it was working.

What happened next makes me glad that magic isn’t real, and I don’t have access to a real magic wand.

I’d bought a spell called the “Vertigas Jinx”. What this spell does is launch your target about 500 meters into the air. Now, you can’t actually die in SL, but suddenly being launched can’t be a pleasant experience.

So, I’m outside the club…and I raise my virtual wand aloft and speak thusly:

“Wand Vertigas!”

There was a sudden flash of light, and I felt myself tense.

Uh-Oh.

Now, what the manual didn’t tell me was that if you don’t specify a target with the Vertigas spell, it simply seeks out and hits the nearest person.

Did I mention on the other side of the wall there was a line of dance pads? Basically, pads you set your character dancing on, and it pays them by the hour? The club was deserted, but apparently the neighbors were still there.

Well, I whirled around, just in time to see some poor unsuspecting player rocketing skywards.

The worst thing is that people often leave their character on a dance pad overnight, to earn the maximum amount of money. Hopefully this guy wasn’t one of those…or tomorrow, he’s going to find he’s considerably poorer than he thought he’d be.

I’d like to give you a description of the guy falling back down and landing with a splat…but I’d already ran away by then.

Kids, just say no to magic wands.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Clear Cut Case of WTF

Ok, I know this is a little (read VERY) late, but I finally finished Half Life 2.

(Oh, and if you’re not into gaming, imagine I’m writing about a movie, because it’s mostly the story I’m going to be writing about).

I’ll be completely honest and say I’m surprised HL2 got the coveted ‘Game of the Year’ award.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent game, but for me it had a few fatal flaws.

First off all, the loading screens. While the story is good and deeply involving, the sheer amount of time you spend loading takes you right out of the experience. At times it feels like you play for 5 minutes, load for 3, play for another 5…

It’s like watching a movie on TBS…too many interruptions to get into it.

The other big problem is your allies AI, or more accurately, lack of it. It seems their job is to get in your way, get you killed and remind you to ‘reload’ as often as possible. The sheer number of times I did a heroic dash out of a door, let loose a perfectly aimed rocket at a gargantuan strider, then tried to duck back into safety only to be blocked by a so called ‘ally’, standing in the door holding his dick.

Then, to add insult to injury, just as the last shot blows my head off, the door blocking bastard says “Hey! Don’t forget to reload!”

Anyway, I promised I was going to write about the story, so here goes.

You play as Dr Gordon Freeman. In the first game, you worked at the Black Mesa research facility. (Think area 51). While helping conduct an experiment on teleportation, a doorway to another universe is opened, and in pour the alien beasties.

You fight you way to freedom, only to be put in some kind of freaky ‘stasis’ at the end by the mysterious G-Man. Apparently, you’ve proven yourself ‘useful’, and are kept to one side in case you’re ever needed again.

(Very little is known about the G-Man…is he human, or alien? What is his interest in you..etc)

Fast forward to Half Life 2.

The aliens, now known as ‘The Combine’, have taken over the planet. You’re awakened by the G-Man on a train on its way to ‘City 17’. The easiest way I can explain the situation is imagine you’re Jewish in Nazi Berlin.

This is where the storyline and atmosphere really start to show through.

On the train, you hear people swapping rumors in hushed voices. When you get off the train, you’re shepherded to a checkpoint, where a woman is standing by the chain-link fence, desperately asking everyone who passes if they’ve seen her husband. Apparently he was dragged off the train when they were traveling, and she was ‘assured’ he would be arriving on the next train…It seems he hasn’t shown up.

You talk to a guy sitting at a table, looking as though he’s about to throw up, and he tells you “He’s just working up the nerve to go through the checkpoint.”

Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. Let me tell you, this is just a game, but it’s scary walking through that checkpoint.

You get pulled to the side, and escorted by a half-club, half cattle-prod carrying Combine Soldier, and forcefully thrown into a room. In the center is what looks like a dentist’s chair covered in blood. Things look bad…

Then the combine soldier pulls off his mask. It’s Barney, a friendly character from Half Life 1, undercover. He fills you in on a few details, and sets you free.

And that’s your introduction to Half-Life 2.

The rest of the game is just as atmospheric. You’re surrounded by people in a constant state of terror. They could be summarily executed at any moment, or sent to the dreaded prison ‘Nova Prospekt’, where the inmates are genetically and surgically altered, then brainwashed to be turned into Combine soldiers.

It’s a game with heart…and one of the games that to me answers the question whether games are ‘art’ or not…and that answer is “Yes they are.” Basically, if you don’t get emotionally involved with this game, there’s something wrong with you.

This is down to three things. The first is the story, which is amazing. The second is that the voice acting is absolutely top-notch, feature film quality, and the third is that the graphics are amazingly good, to the point where even the character’s facial expressions really allow them to ‘emote’.

It’s these scripted scenes that really add to the sensation of ‘being there’. At the start of the game, when you’re walking through an apartment building and see two men discussing things with fear in their voice…or a woman broken down on the sofa, crying, with her partner trying to comfort her…it becomes as ‘real’ as any movie you’ve ever seen.

This is why the ending sucks so much.

There are spoilers here, so if like me, you’ve not finished the game yet, you have been warned.

You’ve fought your way to the Citadel, a gigantic structure in the middle of City 17. The citadel is where the Dr. Breen, the human administrator, )who has basically given himself relative freedom and comfort at the expense of the rest of the human race), resides.

You, Alex and Eli Vance (The two main leaders of the resistance) have been captured. In classic villain style, Dr. Breen gives some big speech about how he’s really saving the human race by helping enslave them, and starts monologueing.

He says basically, that he was keeping Eli and Alex alive in the hope that they’d convince the rest of the resistance to give up. Now you’re there, he can have them killed and force you into telling the resistance to give up.

He gets ready to have them killed, when Dr. Judith Mossman, who turned traitor early in the game has an attack of conscience and sets you free…Dr. Breen does a runner.

Basically, you chase him through the Citadel, until he reaches a teleporter, which will send him to another universe. He has to be stopped.

This last battle is a lot of fun. Basically, you’re charging around, trying to disrupt the teleporter, while he goads you from inside his teleport chamber…the fear in his voice getting stronger the further you progress.

So, you destroy the teleporter with him inside, as he begs you to stop…warning you that it could bring the entire Citadel down.

Tough shit, bad-guy…You’ve heard nothing but his illogical rhetoric through TV screens the entire game. This is what I mean about the game getting you emotionally involved. By the end, you’re not wanting to stop him because he’s the bad-guy and that’s the point of the game…you want to stop him because you can’t stand the smug bastard.

Basically, he’s not a ‘cool’ bad guy like Darth Vader, who you secretly root for…He’s the equivalent of the weedy, annoying kid at school who would piss you off as much as possible because he was best friends with the bully. Considering 20 minutes ago, he was strutting around his office like a peacock, telling you how you’ll do as he says ‘or else’…it’s a sweet moment of payback.

Then we get to the ending.

You’ve destroyed the transporter. Alex (The love interest) comes bounding through the door with a big smile on her face.

Let me talk about Alex for a moment. She’s the perfect movie love-interest. Tomboyish, fiercely independent and strong, while still remaining entirely feminine.

In short, the game makes you care what happens to her. At one point, she gets cut off from you, and through the gun fire, she screams at you to run…and all you want to do is go rescue her.

(Yeah, yeah…I know she’s not real. I know she’s a video game character…but you felt bad for John Coffee at the end of ‘The Green Mile’…and I don’t see this as any different just because it’s interactive)

So she comes bounding it, just as the floor starts shaking. After a moment’s celebration, she turns to you and says:

“Quick, we have to get out of here! The whole place might be about to bl…”

…and that that point, the teleporter chamber explodes in a huge fireball.

Well, it does, but it stops, like it’s frozen. For a few seconds, you sit there thinking “What the hell?” as you gaze at the tableau of Alex shielding her face from the blast, the fireball frozen above the teleporter.

Then the G-Man appears.

He gives a speech about what you’ve accomplished as the scene slowly fades, and says, in not so many words, that you’re being put back in limbo until you’re needed again.

I mean, seriously, WTF???

I know these questions will probably be answered in Half Life 3, but I felt cheated. What happened to Alex? What happened to Eli who is still in the Citadel a few floors below you?

The problem with cliff-hanger endings is there still needs to be an ending. There was absolutely no closure at the end of this game. Sure, we get the badguy, but that was just this one city. What about the rest of the world?

Basically, this game adds a lot of emotional content because you’re not just out to save the world. You’re out to save a handful of people who the game has got you emotionally invested in.

The fact you have no clue what happened to them is unforgivable. It’s like getting through a very long book, only to find the last chapter missing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Bad Case Of Blogger-itis

I appear to have come down with a bad case of blogger-itis over the past week.

For the uninitiated, Blogger-itis is the exact opposite of writers block. Whereas with writers block you can’t write anything to save your life, blogger-itis is the literary equivalent of a mind-enema. You just can’t stop writing.

This week, I’ve found myself writing and publishing a post, and then starting a new post mere minutes later. Then, I’ll finish and save that one…and find myself wanting to start yet another.

In the past week, I’ve published ten posts, and I’ve got another 9 sitting on my computer, just itching to be set free on an unsuspecting world.

That’s 19 posts in a week. An average of almost three per day…and these aren’t quick posts…they’re 1500 word jobbies.

This is a bad thing. Let me tell you why.

First of all, I have the attention span of a kitten who lives on a diet of chocolate, amphetamines and raw, unprocessed sugar.

So while I might be incredibly interested in a subject while I’m writing about it, if I don’t publish it there and then, I get so bored of the idea that it will never see the light of day. Even if I actually like the post I’ve written, when I get up the next day, my mental kitten has leapt upon a new ball of narrative yarn and whatever screwed up tangent I’m currently riding like a crazed bull-rider, instantly takes precedence over what I wrote yesterday.

Also, when I’m in the middle of a bad case of blogger-itis, my interest-filter goes completely off-line. I’m hammering away at the keyboard, all excited and interested…then just as I finish the post, I realize that what I’m writing about is of almost no interests to anyone but me.

Honestly, is anyone interested in the ins and outs of Oblivion’s ‘Radiant AI’ system? Or maybe maybe how far I think home-entertainment technology will advance in our lifetime? ...because I’ve got over 2000 words on the subject sitting on my hard-drive.

(That’s another blogging disease I suffer from. ‘Delusions of Grandeur-itis’. While many people might care what some big technology giant like Microsoft of Sony thinks will happen to entertainment technology within our lifetime…does anyone honestly even care what some random guy with a blog thinks?)

So, one or two of you might be asking: “Why don’t you just publish these posts one after another? It’s not like it costs you anything!”

Well, here’s the problem with that.

People seem very unwilling to backtrack. If they miss one or two posts, they’ll probably backtrack to give them a read…but let’s do the math.

I’ve written 19 blog posts in the past week. At roughly 1500 – 2000 words each, that comes to roughly…

(Start…programs…accessories…calculator)

…holy shit…

thirty-eight thousand words.

If you’re having a hard time getting that into context, that’s roughly the first hundred and ten pages of a novel.

(Actually, that’s kinda depressing. I’ve written more on here in a week, than I put into my latest book attempt in six months.)

In short, while most of you are willing to spend 10-15 minutes here, not many of you are willing to waste a couple hours reading 38,000 words of my drivel in a single sitting.

Basically, sometimes I write a post that I really like. If it’s at the top of the list for a day or so, I know it’s going to get read. If it’s 12 down on the list…no one’s going to backtrack through miles of literary effluent to read it.

So why not save these posts to publish at a later date when I can’t think of anything to write?

Well, the problem here is a lot of posts are time-sensitive. They may be (arguably) interesting and relevant the day I write them, but in a week? Hardly.

Hell, there not even that interesting to begin with.

Note:

(Since upgrading to the beta version of blogger, I’ve heard from a lot of you that are still on the old version that you’re unable to post comments. Firstly, if you can, upgrade to the beta (Click the ‘learn more’ link on the blogger homepage). If you’re unable to upgrade right now, just comment as an anonymous user instead of using your blogger credentials…that should solve the problem until the new blogger officially goes live)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mojo...

(Before I begin, I just gotta mention this. I can’t believe I forgot to mention it when I first heard about it. Remember when Sunny and I went to see Talladega Nights last week? Well, that movie was prefaced with a trailer for a new ‘Rocky’ movie.

That scene in Airplane where he’s in the movie rental store and you see a box for ‘Rocky XXXVI’ is gonna come true. What do you think this one will be about? I’m guessing either a close friend will get his ass kicked, then Rocky will avenge him, or he’ll get in the ring for ‘just one more fight’…and win.

Clutching at straws with your failing career, Mr. Stallone? Can’t you just go become a Governor of California like everyone else?)

…………………………..

So this morning (afternoon), I was rather rudely awakened by Sunny charging into the bedroom.

Well, to be honest, I was glad to be woken up, in my dream I’d just done a load of laundry for Rory McGrath and Simon Pegg and discovered I’d washed both their wallets…I wish I was making that shit up.

Normally, Sunny wakes me up by popping her head around the door and telling me in a ‘put upon’ voice what the time is.

Today she strode right in, got on the bed and started talking. Something was wrong

First thing in the morning, it’s useless talking to me…simply because I won’t understand a word you’re saying. For at least the first 20 minute I’m in Charley Brown Land. You can talk all you want, but all I’m hearing is “Waaah wahh waaaahh wahhh.”

Finally, I woke up enough to start making out individual words, such as ‘security’ and ‘password’ and ‘maxed out’. About 2 minutes later, when my brain rediscovered the meanings of those words, I proposed a solution.

I said “Huh?”

I should also point out that I get the ‘Sleep Bends’ really easily. If I wake up too quickly, or I’m forced to think within an hour of getting up, I get a headache.

Anyway, it turns out that Second Life had had a security problem, and was requiring everyone to change their passwords. Sunny had gone to the SL website, got them to send her the ‘forgot password’ email…and then had forgotten what the answer to her security question was.

“I’ve tried everything!” She said. She reeled off a list of possible permutations of the answer. She’d also tried too many times and had been told she’d have to go back to the website and request another lost password email.

So, while she went to get pizza, I tried to fix it for her.

I got an email at her email address, used the link in that to get to the security question page…and put in the answer she told me she had already tried.

It worked and I set up a new password for her.

There’s got to be some mojo involved here.

Now, I’m not going to tell you the security question and answer, suffice it to say, it was very simple…like “What’s your pet’s name.” I just don’t see how she could have got it wrong.

I think it’s just that ‘occasional user’ problem. Passwords hate anyone who they don’t have contact with at least a couple times per day. I get this horrible feeling that my computer has multiple personalities and it’s actually thinking:

“Heheheh. Sunny want to reset her password.”

“Who?”

“Sunny.”

“Oh, her…heheheh.”

“Give her the runaround? She hardly ever uses us, and then she expect’s a favor?”

“Yeah, change a couple letters of her security answer while it’s en-route…that’ll piss her off.”

…two hours later.

“Hey, look! It’s Paulius!”

“Master? What does he want?”

“He’s trying to reset Sunny’s password.”

“Quick, get it done!”

Mojo…it’s all about Mojo.