Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The virtues of deadpan delivery

Mel Tormé was a magnificent singer and composer, but you may not know of one of his recordings unless you're a fan of the obscure and twisted.

On Was (Not Was)'s album Born to Laugh at Tornadoes, the closing track, "Zaz Turned Blue", is a gorgeously arranged ballad about a young man who was choked and who may or may not have suffered brain damage as a result. Tormé sings it beautifully and utterly straight, and that's what makes it work. Playing it for laughs would have been totally wrong.

....and I had a point, or at least another example, and I've utterly forgotten what it was. Ah, well--at the very least, do find and give a listen to "Zaz Turned Blue." It's worth your while.

UPDATE: David Was wrote a short article for NPR about how the song came to be, with a link to Torm
é's wonderful performance.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On its way...

From the End User blog on "Lenovo debuts first nVidia "Ion"-powered netbook." Be careful; the first versions won't have the Ion; you'll have to wait until later in the summer.

The remaining question: can I get a version that's not contaminated with Windows?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Google Analytics: slightly less embarrassing

For a long time, when I'd look at Google Analytics, the map option was a little embarrassing, because the state with the most views was Iowa, i.e. I was viewing my own blog rather a lot. Maybe I made more typos then, or I was repeatedly checking for responses—goodness knows I'm embarrassed at the number of comments I've missed for a long time.

So, it's a great relief to look at Google Analytics and find several states showing more views than Iowa. Comes from how I was brought up, I guess: pride is a sin; don't blow your own horn, and so forth.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yet another must-read: "The Thin Line Between Victim and Idiot"

helios doesn't mince words, and particularly not in "The Thin Line Between Victim and Idiot"... but sometimes you have to be thankful for someone with the courage to point out the elephant in the room.

Must-read from Lillie Yifu

Lillie nails the real issue with permissions in SL.

(BTW: In RL, there's the Doctrine of First Sale. If I buy something and decide I don't want it any more, I can sell it to someone else, or give it away to the tenth caller or the first person I see walking down the street. Copyright doesn't preclude my doing that, as long as I haven't made any copies of the thing I'm selling or giving away.

SL could implement that--if copies are identified as such, they could all go along with the original. Why isn't that allowed in SL?)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Defleur Fashions

I received a notice of a new outfit, "Cloth of Gold", at Defleur Designs, and had to check it out. I'm glad I did... Defleur Designs makes gorgeous historical dresses and gowns. I will buy and adapt one of the Byzantine outfits, or as they say on El Tigre, "This I swear!"

Even more impressive than the fashions is the fanciful building housing the store on the GIOS sim. It's a strangely-shaped castle, built of stone but with curved shapes reminiscent of the huge tusks that edge the benches on Apollo.

The textures are gorgeous...

...and the doors have what I imagine stained glass would look like if it were done by Native Americans of the Northwest Coast:

So, whether your interests are in fashion or architecture, check it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A must-read from Zonja Capalini

In "The OpenSpace fiasco: six months later", Ms. Capalini writes about her experiences moving to OpenSim after suffering the OpenSpace double-cross. It's an honest account, particularly interesting because it proved to be a good solution not just for her as an individual but for the company she works for.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Women and the History of Computing

Women have been involved in computing from very near the beginning of the devices we'd call a modern computer.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, understood the implications of Babbage's Analytical Engine probably better than Babbage himself. The world might be very different had she not died at a tragically early age.

For a time, alas, "computers" were the people stationed at ten-key calculators grinding through numerical calculations, and women certainly occupied many of those positions.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was the first programmer of the Harvard Mark I, wrote the first compiler, and was instrumental in the design of COBOL. (COBOL is, to say the least, not highly esteemed these days, but you have to remember its historical context to realize just how much of an advance it was in its time.) The Navy needed her expertise so badly that her first two retirements each lasted all of a year.

Jean Sammet was also highly involved in the development of COBOL, but will forever be known for her monumental book comparing and analyzing the programming languages of the late 1960s and before.

If you use languages with iterators (e.g. Icon, Python, C++) or object-oriented languages that constrain inheritance in accordance with the Liskov Substitution Principle, then you have Barbara Liskov to thank.

When you crank up the optimization level on your compiles or watch both CPU cores grinding away on a parallelizable problem, you have Frances Allen to thank for her pioneering work in those fields.

OK, VLSI design isn't the same as programming, but you may know about Jeri Ellsworth, self-taught in the field, responsible for a couple of remakes of the C-64.

That's a short list, but OTOH, a list of men of similar stature wouldn't be very long either. Not all women in computing are Grace Hoppers or Frances Allens, but darned few men in computing are Alan Turings, Edsger Dijkstras, John Backuses, or Tony Hoares either.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Meditation on Whimsy

Still more proof that there's more to Whimsy than whimsy...

Cheyenne and Sweetie are ever busy coming up with ever more amazing things to do and see, and recently I discovered a beautiful spot for meditation surrounded by greenery that I'd not seen before. It's subtly lit by night--the photo was taken a while before local sunrise.

Do pay Whimsy a visit. It is a place of wonder, whimsy, and beauty.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still no pictures with shadows

Alas, the new 1.23 RC client still has the problems I've seen with shadows, most notably that if you take a picture with shadows on, the sky won't show up in the preview, and essentially nothing will show up in the saved photo!

I hope that will be corrected soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Away for a bit

A few days ago I wound up going in to see the doctor, and since haven't been very much up to visiting SL. I am improving, though, and hope to be on more soon.

Thanks, all of you who've wished me well; it means more to me than I can say.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Must-read: "How to Beat Freebie Culture"

Virtual World Business has a very good and insightful post about freebies, and how vendors should best deal with the issue. From reading vendors' descriptions of jerks demanding freebies or complaining about the ones they get, I can't say I'd blame anyone for not giving them out, but I think the recommendations in the post make sense.

I make a point of doing business with makers of freebies I like. To do otherwise is to shoot myself in the foot. As Milton Friedman would say, I should communicate my desire for what they make via the communications medium the market understands: money.

Do read the post, and check out the blog in general.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another JIRA entry that I believe merits your vote

VWR-6467, add avatar "scale" parameter.

The sliders that affect avatar height interact in subtle ways, and it would be very nice to have a twistable knob that would simply scale one's avatar up or down, preserving all proportions.

I have some lovely luna moth wings (thank you again, Pavig!) and would love to be a fairy from time to time... but somehow, a 7'+ fairy is a bit of a stretch. I tried editing my appearance, and couldn't get the results I wanted. I didn't want to change my proportions, just my height, and there wasn't a way to do that.

So, I hope you'll consider casting a vote for VWR-6467.

Friday, May 01, 2009

"How high the moon..."

So I was trying out the 1.23 RC client, with shadows enabled. I set the time to midnight, and was a little disappointed; I had a faint shadow as if from moonlight, while the much closer and brighter lantern didn't cast a shadow.

I looked off to the west at the Sun Gate just offshore.. and was amazed to see that the moon was positively huge! I took a snapshot... hmm, I don't see the moon in the preview, but I'll save it anyway... Later, I opened it up under GIMP, and it was solid black!

To show I wasn't just seeing things [um, wasn't that just what you were doing? --Ed], here are screen captures:

It's a neat effect, but... I've made a JIRA entry for it.

Now, I did have Compiz Fusion turned on. I will try with it off, and see whether that makes a difference. (BTW, that video is almost two years old. It's even better now.)