How would you express your fondness for fruitcake?
Seasonal video: Bing Crosby meets David Bowie, in 1977. 'The two musical spokesmen of different generations met for the first time on the morning of the taping, rehearsed for an hour and finished their duet in only three takes. Bing was impressed with Bowie, and gave him his phone number at the end of the taping. Bing told an interviewer four days later that he considered Bowie "a clean cut kid and a real fine asset to the show. He sings well, has a great voice and reads lines well. He could be a good actor if he wanted."'
I definitely must highlight this thoroughly charming seasonal tale, too: Special Delivery, by poetigress. Quite lovely, and I'm not just saying that because it stars a famous rabbit. Entirely safe for all ages, and indeed, something you may want to share with non-furs.
Perhaps the most wonderfully geeky romantic moment I've ever seen, at a book signing with Neil Gaiman. Quite marvellous. ^_^
Alternatively, you may prefer to enjoy a brief educational video, Reproduction Cycle In Lower Life Forms Under the Rocks of Mars.
You've seen link banners to places like The Hunger Site, ne? Here's something along similar lines, with a twist: it's vocabulary challenge. Pick the correct synonym, they make an additional donation, with your vocabulary level and best score tallied. Freerice.
I did appreciate reading this account of renewable power in Berkeley.
A brilliant example of "logic" on display here, explaining why someone is particularly short. Or there's this trilogy..
And what do you get if you take a pile of photos from the Creation Museum (they of the Adam Rode On Dinosaurs fame) and turn them into LOLCreashuns? This. =:D Or, as the site owner puts it: "Imagine, if you will, a load of horseshit. And we’re not talking just your average load of horseshit; no, we’re talking colossal load of horsehit. An epic load of horseshit. The kind of load of horseshit that has accreted over decades and has developed its own sort of ecosystem, from the flyblown chunks at the perimeter, down into the heated and decomposing center, generating explosive levels of methane as bacteria feast merrily on vintage, liquified crap. This is a Herculean load of horseshit, friends, the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Augeas.
And you look at it and you say, “Wow, what a load of horseshit.”"
I'm sure everyone's seen it by now, but just in case - Sony's "Play-Doh" TV spot:
Fighting Robots and Demons in Second Life:
"I went to Second Life to escape the stresses of my Real, or "First" Life. I wanted to be an elf – a desire held since I was a child. Second Life was the chance to do that. It was a chance to be seen and accepted as an elf – to fly and leave behind the stresses of life in the condition.
Then I found myself involved in a science fiction role playing game and all of that changed.
For it was there that something strange happened. Between dancing and fighting robots, I found myself drawn back into what I do in real life – nurturing, counseling and supporting young people."
The Prim Hearts theme park!
By the wings of La Rêve
An interesting musician: Cyberpiper. Celtic pipes and hard techno make for an unusual combination. Plays in SL and around Europe, apparently based in Luxembourg; next gig's at the fa3rik in KaChing (184,103,21), 2pm Jan 8.
Excellent Google Calendar kept up to date with current scientific events in SL. (Being hosted by Google Calendar means it's easily web accessible, or by RSS, or automatically refreshed in iCal or any other diary app that understands ICS files) eg NPR's Science Friday with the host in attendance, every Friday at 11am, in Science School; and a talk on "Nanotechnologies: Opportunities and Threats", 9am Dec 11, by Dr Kamal Hossain, Director of Research and International Cooperation at the National Physics Laboratory, over on the Nanotechnology sim. (Now in the past, of course - but it gives you some idea)
If you're feeling creative, the British charity World Society of Protection of Animals is holding a fashion design contest: "The clothing should contain some sort of reference to the charity, whether it be the charities logo or simply an animal." Top prize is L$50,000, closing at the end of 2007.
Superb short, combining live action stop-motion and drawn animation: Kung-Fu Bunny 2. =:D
A neat, simple artistic project: buy a small cornfield in SL, and the proceeds go to Heifer International, which provides livestock and training to communities most in need of them. (The initial goal was $500, buying one cow; he's $55 short of being able to provide two.. scratch that, he's now almost up to three!)
An interesting competition run by Osram - propose and develop an idea involving artificial light, with a grand prize of L$1m, plus five each of L$75k and L$25k. They'll help refine the concept in the second stage, with the winner intended for commercial production. The prize is, it has to be said, tiny in commercial terms, and almost certainly at the cost of signing away all rights involved. But, maybe you could be responsible for some form of novel energy saving lighting, and receive a pleasant little bonus into the bargain.
Life without Megaprims, illustrating some of the wonders made in SL for nothing but the joy of creation. So very cool.
Another fine selection of choice SL images is New World Notes' New World Tableau, a showcase for the breadth of imagination on display every day.
Personal license plate of the year has to go to this Virginia resident. =:D
A virtual Nabaztag. =:D One trick it can play is if someone comes near your SecondNabaz, your real Nabaztag will let you know, or even relay what's said to it.
The 48 Hour Film Project comes to SL. "The competition kicks off Friday, January 11th, at [4pm] with a representative from each team meeting in Second Life to receive a genre, a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue to be worked into their film. Teams have until Sunday, January 13th, at [4.30pm] to submit a completed entry." No money involved - it's all just for the fun of it. Entries will then be screen in-world, and the winner shown at Filmapalooza, at Cinequest in San Jose, running Feb 29 to Mar 1.
A bit old when I stumbled upon it, and likely to be even moreso when this gets posted, but here's a Harvard Extension Class on Virtual Law. eg, from Nov 19's class: "Now that we’ve all been convinced of the power of code to shape our environment, we examine the boundaries of that power. Today we’ll consider actions in virtual worlds that cannot easily be regulated by code even for those who are in control of the code as well as the questions of what input residents of virtual worlds should have into the control of the code itself."
And again in academia: "Terry Beaubois had a problem when he was offered a position teaching architecture at Montana State University. He wasn't ready to move to Bozeman, Montana where the campus is located. So he figured out a way to teach the course from his home in Northern California by creating a virtual classroom in Second Life."
I admit freely to not knowing much about MMORPGs - there are plenty around, but for whatever reason, I've not really been lured in by any of them. (Is it perhaps the flexibility of SL that attracted me? Probably, in retrospect) In particular, of any such setting you can name, what ones permit you to be any species you choose, including ones of your own design? I think that might be the critical factor, or a highly prominent one, for me - as lovely as WoW artwork can be, I don't feel I'd be comfortable being anyone else's choice of species. How pre-canned are they? Can I make a cozy home for myself, from scratch, maybe adding in geegaws from others?
Two new-ish animated shows I've been following are Dogstar and Animalia. The former's an original work, Flash animated by people who obviously know their way around the medium, and with some enjoyably snappy writing. The premise is simple enough, feeling somewhat H2G2-inspired - the Earth's become an environmental disaster, so everyone's headed off to New Earth. Catch is, the ship carrying all the world's dogs - the Dogstar - lost its way. It's up to our plucky heroes to try finding the ship and reuniting everyone. It's not quite that simple, though, as one Bob Santino's made an empire out of selling replacement robotic dogs to everyone - he's more interested in ensuring the would-be rescuers meet with an untimely fate.
For now, it appears to be carried only in Australia (even then, it's presently off the air until sometime in the New Year, with the holiday season in full swing). Worth keeping an eye out for. As it appears to be almost unknown to the net, even unto the mighty YouTube, here's a sample episode: Sit, Drop, Stay. Just fetch the five segments, unrar, and enjoy. ^_^
And then Animalia, based on the superb illustrated furry book of the same name, by Graeme Base. It's set in the world described in the book, with the McGuffin being "the Core", a glowy ball thingummy in the center of Animalia's library, which appears to be lately in the habit of ejecting "spores" of different kinds, without which the world abruptly loses specific characteristics, like civilisation, memory, or the all-important ability to rhyme. The CG's very simply animated, but functional, and stays nicely to the style of the original. The writing I feel lets it down quite a lot - rather than being adventure-driven, there's a good deal of comedy wedged in, which usually doesn't mesh well, despite the script lead being animation old hand Tom Ruegger.
I finally got around to actually doing something with my Flickr account. ^_^ (A little unfortunate free accounts are limited to only three sets, but then, it's easy enough to just file them within the two main categories I've wound up using so far)
I'd actually been unaware of the Schengen Agreement until recently. Certainly a principle I'd like to see applied even more broadly - the fewer passports and borders the better. I found it interesting that Switzerland's joining in the fun, too.
Am I the only person who's filtered that FA donation button with skeletal Fender? I can't bear seeing him that way. ^_^;; Still, I'm pleased to see the site's returned to normal (for now), following its recent DoS attack.
Not that I'm currently in the market for one, but can anyone suggest particular models or model lines to keep an eye on? Eventually, I'd like to lay my paws on a reasonable camera. I don't mind much what resolution - megapixels are meaningless with a bad lens in front, or any other number of design flaws. Ideally, though, I want two generally contradictory things: compact enough for a pocket, and a useful zoom, preferably at least 5x.
In a highly welcome move, the Dutch government "has made the fight against homophobia a priority at home and abroad", noting that "In 18 of the 36 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, that the Netherlands supports with development aid, homosexuality is an offence, with penalties ranging from a fine to a prison sentence. The Dutch will plead in bilateral contacts for the legalisation of homosexual contacts, said Koenders, adding: 'We will not shy away from difficult discussions.'"
A neat Leopard tip, if you've got multiple systems in the house, or even remotely: enable hidden options in the Screen Sharing feature.
Movie for the day: The Man from Earth. It's about a professor who's packing up the house in readiness for moving on. His friends throw an impromptu farewell party, where, eventually, he lets something slip - something he's never told anyone else about before: he's 14,000 years old.
This is an extraordinary work. It's low budget, and would probably adapt to a stage production very easily, as it mostly takes place in just the main room of the house. What makes it such an uncommon work is the sheer intelligence of Jerome Bixby's writing - there's no pat acceptance of what he's said, but also, largely, no outright rejection either.. these being University folks, they begin by postulating that he's telling the truth, and enquire about his origins, and what he's done in all these centuries. How can they, or he, prove he's telling the truth, when any verifiable fact would necessarily already be documented? How could he be disproven? But it's not all about ambiguity, but rather, driven more by a sense of inquisitiveness and wonder.
There are no special effects, no stunts, just people, talking, building one of the richest evenings of conversation you could ever hope to participate in. Highly recommended. (Amazon)
As an amusing coda, I noticed this letter from its director, on what its leaking to the net meant for the movie. ^_^
Perhaps even lower budget is Xenogenesis, a 1978 student film from an aspiring director by the name of James Cameron.
Rather special. ^_^ An excerpt from "a baroque oratorio composed by Igor Keller. Libretto uses verbatim transcript of sexual harassment complaint brought against Bill O'Reilly in 2004". I feel the wind players are to be commended in their professionalism in refraining from laughing while playing. (Thanks to rabitguy for pointing that Jesus' General entry out)
A good interview on playing a child in SL. Not something that has any appeal to me personally, but it explores why this might be so appealing to some people, and the benefits - in her case, as one who suffered abuse as a child, it's a way of enjoying a better childhood than her first one.
ScummVM for the iPhone!
Amusing little OS X vs Windows Mobile tidbit: "According to the latest survey releasse by Net Applications, the iPhone's Safari browser is responsible for 0.09% of all Internet traffic (the iPod itself has a 0.01% marketshare). That translates to the Apple mobile platform being used for one out of every thousand page views across the Internet. While that number is rather minuscule, after only six months on the market, Apple's devices are used for the Web far greater than Windows CE devices, which have been around for the past 10 years and only have a market share of 0.06%."
If you recall Phoo Action, I noticed it's apparently going to be directed by Euros Lyn, late of Doctor Who. It should air "early next year", alongside the werewolf/vampire sitcom, Being Human. Speaking of Whom, here are the trailers for the Christmas Special, currently airing on BBC1: one (60s), and two (30s).
I did enjoy the ending of this customers_suck tale.
SL in 2004, when there were, apparently, a grand total of 108 sims. =:D And here we have one photo of each one of them.
This is a wonderful hack to deal with an unreliable server which couldn't be replaced, owing to a lack of money.
Grundfos have been in SL news a little lately, but I'd not actually seen mention of quite how folks in-world can actually help. It seems they offer a variety of means, including L$300 for a tree, in-world and in RL, or a water pump for L$500, the proceeds going towards an RL pump for an African community that could use one. The Danish pump maker can be found on the sim by that name.
Revolution Money could be quite interesting, if it pans out as hoped. "Later this month, Revolution will launch on AOL's AIM instant-messaging service. AIM "buddies" will be able to transfer money to each other or to participating merchants via an instant-message window. From there, Revolution hopes to be on Facebook, MySpace and anywhere else young people gather online. To use the service, like PayPal, you sign up and type in your bank account information. Revolution transfers the money from your bank to the vendors, at no cost to merchants. However, if consumers want to pay with a credit card, their only option is the RevolutionCard. Merchants will pay 0.5% of the sale, with no monthly fees."
If you're in need of a little more disk space on your LAN, how about this cluster that kyootfox noticed? (No payments for 90 days, too!)
Finally, I must thank KuronekoTenshi deeply for this outstanding portrait. ^_^