Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What did you learn today?

As one who lived through the 1980s, I of course read Leo Buscaglia's Love, saw tapes of his lectures, and read his wonderful tribute to his father... and hence I remember the story about his father's asking him every day "Felice, what did you learn today?" which could prompt a frantic scan of the encyclopedia if nothing came to mind before supper.

Today I read Penance Sauterau's article in the Second Life Herald on "identity hunting" (well, at least the part where you find clothes suited to your identity), and she mentioned the place to find neko ears: Jungle Voodoo on Temenos Island.

I did a double take--"temenos" looked to me like Reverend Spooner in first year Spanish--but then, unable to let it slide, I looked temenos up, and was happy to have learned something very interesting!

Thank you, Ms. Sauterau, and thank you Dr. Buscaglia, wherever you are, for reinforcing that urge to find out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

(Second) Life is but a dream... least it is for me these days. More specifically, a dream I had long ago in which I could fly, but had minimal control over my position and couldn't land.

Yesterday and on into this morning, I've been stuck in the air in the "falling" animation, arms and legs flailing. Sitting down works, but stand up again, and away I go. This has happened to me once before, and similarly nothing I tried had any effect: teleporting, flushing cache, using the RC client or the "official" client. Beta works, but has its own problems... the biggest being that my friends aren't there.

Nothing to do but wait it out and go looking for similar bug reports, I guess.

UPDATE: putting on a saved shape somehow stopped the problems. I'll remember for next time, but should still go looking for similar reported bugs.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gutsy Gibbon now running...

As I type, my computer is now running Ubuntu 7.10 aka "Gutsy Gibbon". It at least seems perkier (ick, my computer is like Katie Couric?) than before. Even with trackerd chugging along and cataloging my files, things are snappy. So did SL, but it's the dead of night, and conditions vary so much that I wouldn't take that as much evidence.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Disappointed Goreans

I was at a store this morning. It's fall in the US (and autumn elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere :)), and the harvest decorations were out in force... as you'd expect in Iowa. Pumpkins, squash of all colors, and dried out stalks of corn. Very festive...

...and then I looked more closely and saw a little sign attached to a stalk. "Silks available in the Floral Department." I burst out laughing at the image of a kajira heading for the Floral Department, only to be handed a dried out cornstalk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Well... last night's episode wasn't bad; SL residents weren't all painted as perverts, and they didn't take very many liberties. (Would that SL were as lag-free as on the show, and teleports as quick.)

(Sigh... kind of sad when one is relieved that all they did was portray one resident as a hired assassin.)

I was online in the dead of night US time, and visited one of the CSI:NY sims. I didn't spend much time there, and as a Linux user I couldn't try the special version of the client. I wasn't able to hear the audio clips for some reason (though in a very nice accomodation of deaf users, you can click on a spot on the CSI HUD and see text). There did seem to be a respectable number of people there for the time--an insanely early hour on a weekday.

How many will come to SL, and how many will stay? I don't know. Some are rather eagerly predicting a flop. I won't predict one way or another, save that I suspect that those who stay will not be sheep herded by their version of the client. People are more resourceful than that.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"You woman!"

Long ago, Des Moines had a wonderful radio station that you could only hear if you had cable TV. At the time, the local cable TV franchise offered an FM hookup that not only gave you a good signal for local stations, but also brought in other stations as well, like Chicago's magnificent WFMT, and inserted a signal that never hit the actual airwaves, but went by the made-up "callsign" KBLE.

KBLE eventually made the move to actual radio with the call letters KMFG, and all was well in Des Moines radio until, shortly after the flood of 1993, one morning KFMG listeners discovered that the station had been sold and switched to a format featuring nothing but metal. It was the death of worthwhile commercial radio in Des Moines, and the corpse is still rotting.

All that is to explain how it was that I came to listen to "Mancow's Morning Madhouse." I didn't listen to it for very long, or perhaps very long at a time is the better term; I tended to cycle among the alternatives until I remembered why I despised them. In the case of Mancow, it was his being of the sick David Letterman school of "humor" in which the perpetrator features someone who is made to look stupid so that the audience and the emcee can feel smugly hip.

One thing stands out in my memory, though. Sometimes Mancow would include a person he at least said was his grandfather, and in one taped bit, this old man was berating someone, calling him names, leading up to his ultimate insult: "You woman!"

What kind of person must he have been, what kind of upbringing did he have to give him that sort of view of the world?

I'm reminded of it after seeing similar put-downs from a male avatar in SL. If the human behind the avatar is a man, I have to wonder the same thing, perhaps more so if he's younger than Mancow's grandfather--isn't this supposedly a more enlightened age? OTOH, if the human behind the avatar is a woman, I suppose it could be an attempt at verisimilitude by affecting the worst stereotypes of men, but if it isn't, what does that say?

UPDATE: KFMG has made a reappearance on MySpace--they have reincarnated yet again, this time as an Internet station!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Women In Art


A beautiful bit of video... would that they had added at least one CGI image at the end. Isn't SL an interactive art form?

P.S./ObSL: Now there's a source of shapes I'd buy! Wouldn't you like to have a Mona Lisa avatar, or Lady with an Ermine, or...? (Hmmm... probably not many takers for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Le Ubuntu Nouveau est Arrivé

The day has arrived. You can now retrieve and install Ubuntu 7.10, code name "Gutsy Gibbon," or if you already have Feisty Fawn, make sure you have the latest update-manager package, and it will offer to upgrade you to 7.10. It is very likely to be a slow process for the next few days, though, which is why many recommended downloading the RC (Release Candidate) CD beforehand, and installing/upgrading from it.

I will be upgrading when I can...after backing up my data, of course! I will also report on how things go.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

medieval/Renaissance clothing

I've seen the occasional ad in SL for a "medieval" or "Renaissance" gown. The items have often been beautifully done, but it's not clear to me that they're really based on clothing of that time.

I want to wear a houppelande in SL, or a cotehardie. Is that possible?

UPDATE: Mordecai Scaggs, whose blog you really should read, has graciously sent me a landmark for Avalance, Lightfoot, and Sputnik as a possible source. I went there last night when I woke up at a ridiculous hour. I looked for the outfit he specified, i really did... but spent so long admiring the other lovely clothing there that I had to reluctantly leave before I found it. I will return.

The "Sputnik" part of the name perhaps refers to the presence of some items of popular culture and SF. I couldn't help but notice the aliens from that classic Dr. Who episode, "The Loch Ness Monster," which has my very favorite Dr. Who line of all time, spoken by one of said aliens about the Doctor:
He was a formidable opponent, but he underestimated the power of organic crystallography.
UPDATE: Oops... evidently it's "Terror of the Zygons." Sorry.

Stage whisper

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual.
What do you call someone who speaks one language? American.
--old and inaccurate joke
I was window shopping for hair a while back, looking at the lucky chairs along with some other folks. Not much conversation going on, or perhaps it was all in voice; voice has yet to appear in the Linux SL client.. and then the occasional remarks started:


If it really didn't bother me, I wouldn't feel the urge to write about it, so congratulations, whoever said that.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Second Life Herald features prim breasts

An article titled "Second Life Inflationists Filling Up Fast" features an inflationist who uses a pair of "Implant Nation" prim breasts. Nice to see the topic under discussion--the last time I've seen mention of it in a mainstream SL publication is the interview that the SL Newpaper very kindly did. I hope it will bring the matter to more residents' attention.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

When you're on network TV...

...then I guess you've arrived in the general public's consciousness. The only problem is whether the portrayal is misleading, as the CSI "Fur and Loathing" episode, and the Law and Order hatchet job done on SL, were, or not. I have hope for the upcoming CSI:NY Second Life "story arc" (gosh, I hate that term).

All I can say is, the grid had better be ready for the influx.

T-4 and counting...

I've been remiss in explaining the little graphic that I've added to the blog.

At the time of this writing, at least, it shows the number of days until the release of Ubuntu Linux version 7.10, or as it's popularly called, "Gutsy Gibbon."

If you don't know what Linux is: briefly, it is an Open Source operating system, largely compatible with Unix, that runs on a wide variety of processor architectures and systems. Follow the links for more details... I want to list some of the reasons to switch to Linux.
  • Performance: Windows Vista is a notorious resource hog. The "Aero" UI effects take vastly more graphics horsepower to give the same kinds of effects that Compiz provides under on Linux. Big box office supply and electronics stores are heavily pushing huge USB flash drives to support the so-called "Ready Boost." Vista is memory hungry enough that it wants a cache faster than a hard drive with mechanical parts.
  • Choice: Henry Ford said of the Model T, "You can have any color you want as long as it's black." Similarly, Windows gives you a UI, and you had better like it. Linux doesn't depend on one specific GUI; indeed, you can get along without one--as many embedded systems running Linux do. (If you have a networked hard drive system, chances are it runs Linux.) With Linux and, you have a wide choice of windowing environments, some simple and lean, some with lots of eye candy and hand-holding. Pick the one best for your situation.
  • Owning your own data: If you enter your data into a program that stores it in a proprietary format, in a very important sense your data is held hostage. You are at the mercy of the owners of the software that understands that format. The most obvious case is of software that one rents--a model that Microsoft would like very much to move to--but there are other examples as well, such as mistakes in software that checks whether you own a legitimate copy of the software that understands the proprietary format.
  • Security: If you use Windows, I need say no more.
Friends who have tried both Windows and Linux on the same hardware tell me that the Linux SL client performs better. I've not looked at or profiled the client source code, so I can only guess at why this is.

So... I hope that you will try Linux. You can run it without affecting your computer setup, since it can be run from a "Live CD," a bootable CD version, though at some expense in performance. (Even better is to run it from a bootable flash drive, so that you can save your setup and configuration.) Even if you don't decide to install it, keep the Live CD around; some Linux Live CDs are stocked with tools useful for repairing scrambled hard drives.

(I must admit that a Live CD isn't the thing to try for running the SL client--to avoid touching your hard drive, the Live CD creates a "RAM disk" using much of your RAM, and SL is very RAM hungry...)

There are many Linux distributions; choice reigns supreme there as well as in windowing environments. However, I'd recommend Ubuntu to start with. The Ubuntu forums are friendly places. Women might also wish to look at the resources available at

UPDATE: Honesty compels me to admit that you can alter your Windows user interface, for a fee. Stardock offers software (that you pay for periodically if you wish to keep up to date) that permits such alteration.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Save the Megaprim

"Save the Texas Prairie Chicken." --Michael Nesmith

Prims were intended to have a limit on their size--in no dimension can they be more than ten meters across. However, people found a loophole that allowed the creation of larger prims. That loophole has been closed, but the megaprims that exist can be copied and distributed.

So far, Linden Labs has tolerated this--but there are concerns that griefers are using such prims for nefarious purposes. So, LL is soliciting comments.

Megaprims have legitimate uses: just for one example, walls, roofs, piazzas, any large space that would otherwise require a lot of smaller prims to laboriously build up--smaller prims that detract from the prim count that could otherwise be used for decoration or landscaping. Large hollow boxes can form a large part of a quick low prim count house.

Any builders and others who make use, or could make use, of megaprims for legitimate purposes, please make your opinions known to Linden Labs. The original LL blog posting is filled with comments; they've made a forum posting to allow more commentary.

Girls Gone Geek, and a minor rant

There's an interesting, fairly new podcast out: Girls Gone Geek. If your childhood heroines were people like
then it might not strike you as really geeky, but it's still very good, and fun, and they've had a pointer to, a neat way to introduce people to programming... and I hope they do more of that kind of thing in the future.

A bit of a rant... in the past, people have rightly taken the general public to task for its mathematical illiteracy, or, in a term coined by analogy with illiteracy, innumeracy. (See John Allen Paulos's fine book by that title, as well as that classic work on statistical fallacies and deception, Darrell Huff's How to Lie with Statistics.) Alas, it's not clear whether much has improved; people still fall for the Gambler's Fallacy, and misjudge the likelihood of various events horribly, with calamitous results in public policy. (Democracy, like the free market, gives even stupid people what they want... but I'll stick with them, thanks; the alternatives are far, far worse.)

These days, computer illiteracy should be added to the list. If you don't understand at least the basics of how computers function, or better yet know how to program in some language that won't inculcate bad habits, you might as well face up to not being able to participate fully in today's world.

I don't drive. I drove for a while, and then decided I'd be safer if i didn't. Because of that, I can't fully participate in RL. Do I rant about how RL is set up to favor the mobile? No. I face the consequences of my choice not to drive, and do the best I can.

So... if you're not a geek, I urge you to go out and learn about computers. There's been no better time to do so than now. Grab DrPython or DrScheme or Eclipse or Hugs, (or Alice!) and go to it. You'll be glad you did.

Actually... if you're reading this, most likely you are into Second Life. (Duh...) So, give some thought to learning C#. LSL is going to be retargeted to the bytecode that is used for C#, and I wouldn't be surprised if the language of Second Life becomes C# instead of LSL. I hate to suggest a language promoted by the Great Satan, but there is an implementation of it for Linux.

UPDATE: OK... that provoked me to visit, and there I saw an item about an "(un)conference," She's Geeky. (It sounds like it will be very good.) The urge to do a Rick James filk was almost overwhelming...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dankon, samideanoj!

In Esperanto, a samideano, literally "one with the same idea," is a fellow Esperantist... but a group of samideanoj in the literal sense that I've so far not written about are the dear friends I've made while exploring the world of prim breasts in SL... and I'm sorry that I haven't.

If I tried to name them all, I couldn't... women, some sweet, some mischievous, and all heartbreakingly beautiful, and men, some kind with a gruff exterior and some urbane and witty, some cute and some devilishly handsome. (And some furries ranging from cute to elegantly beautiful, or both at the same time.)

Among them are friends who have helped me through hard times in SL and indirectly in RL, and I am more grateful than I can say.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A New Skin...

I don't change my avatar often, aside from hair (and larger breasts when I can find or edit them... :)), but when I saw this skin I wanted it. I won't wear it all the time, but I like it a lot.

P.S. I swear I haven't chewed any gum.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Long ago, when the world was new (well, to me it was), a fellow named Don Lancaster was writing about strange things called "TV Typewriters" (hey, it was like a TV—it was some time before many computers had any graphics, much less graphics that needed more bandwidth than TVs could provide—and what you typed was displayed on it). He also wrote about starting your own business...

...and about self-publishing with print-on-demand. Computing and advances in printers made it possible to avoid the "vanity presses" and their fees (and scams, as the SWFA points out). Instead, you printed the books yourself at the rate you needed; no need to keep a huge inventory.

Things have gone even further, now; there are companies that will do the printing and shipping for you, in the same way that prints and ships T-shirts, mugs, and the like. For example, the Cannery exhibit in SL can be seen in printed form via a book available on

So... just as computers have made it far less expensive for people to do many other things once limited to a select few, they've made it less expensive to publish a book, and I hope this will have the same effects...

...but on the other hand, Sturgeon's Law does apply. Self-publishing isn't new, just a lot cheaper, and I found what turned out to be one example of it long ago as an undergraduate.

While rummaging through the stacks in an obscure corner of the math section of the university library, I found a small book, published some time ago--I forget whether it was in the early 20th century or the late 19th. It grandiloquently proclaimed that its author, a 33rd degree Mason (ooooh....), had solved the problem that had defeated mathematicians for so long; he had squared the circle! Except that he hadn't, really...

Squaring the circle, for the non-math majors, is, or rather was, a problem, and it dates back to the ancient Greeks: how, using standard geometrical constructions in Euclidean geometry, can you draw a square with the same area as an arbitrary given circle? Standard geometrical constructions means all you get to use is a compass and an unmarked straightedge. Mathematicians beat their heads against it for ages until, in the 19th century, algebraists described what geometrical operations let you do in terms of finding zeros of polynomials... and proved that pi, which is a factor in figuring the area of a circle, is not just irrational, but "transcendental," meaning it's not the zero of any polynomial with integer coefficients, so all those earlier mathematicians were beating their heads against the wall for nothing... well, except for all the math that resulted from trying to do it.

The mere fact that you can't do it, though, didn't stop some, um, determined folks... including the wealthy man (and 33rd degree Mason!) who talked himself into thinking he'd solved it, wrote and printed a bunch of copies of a little book announcing his "triumph," and then sent them out to land-grant colleges and universities across the United States. There they were obligingly put into the stacks, a curiosity left to molder between occasional looks from curious folk like my younger self.

I have to wonder what, and how much, writing of this era will be read by people who will look at each other with a wild surmise... and then burst into howls of derisive laughter.

P.S. Why the constraint to integer coefficients? Well... if you allow arbitrary coefficients, trivially every real number r is a zero of the polynomial x - r... and WLOG (without loss of generality) you can always use integers instead of rationals--just multiply out by the product of the denominators, or their least common multiple if you're feeling miserly.