Sunday, November 30, 2008


Emily, our soft white snow bunny, died today.

It looks like she had a stroke, it was very sudden and we were with her at the end. She was 7 years old and has lived with us since the boat. Seems only yesterday she was so very tiny.

We'll miss her a lot, and so will Harry (our other bunny). It's been a very sad year for loosing pets.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Days

Things have been happening in the @Lactose & @SparklyJem household in the last few weeks that have made me, frankly, reluctant to blog.

As many of my mates and casual readers will know, I work for a large newspaper company (DMGT) and have recently moved to another division within the company (Northcliffe Media Ltd.). I have a new manager, with new priories, and (seemingly over night) Northcliffe Media has now decided to make a number of people redundant, of which I'm one. I'm currently going through the motions of justifying my place in the company and justifying what I do (i.e. New Media Specialist in an ever expanding online market).

Yes, I know, this sounds crazy considering a big chunk of the future for the newspapers is gonna be online/video journalism (just ask the BBC). Add to this the redesigns, plans, scoping, wire-framing, and full-blown ongoing projects that we're thick in the throws of, but it's a crazy time which clearly calls for crazy measures. I'll reserve my opinions here, pending final decisions, as to why I was one of those chosen...

I've stopped counting (at 3480) the number of British jobs lost in the past week, with big companies in print media announcing wave after wave of fresh redundancies just prior to Christmas. I work just a couple of desks from Hold the Front Page, the local journalism news site, so get to hear all the numbers first hand (and they at least seem busy). It's not pretty. The Daily Mail and General Trust says it's gotta cut 300+ positions (6%). Jobs are going all round at Northcliffe, especially in the regionals, and they are closing the Grimsby print works and splitting the load between Derby and elsewhere. It's not a good time to be job hunting either, no matter what ya industry.

I like my job. I like it a lot. It's interesting (for a 'futurist type' like myself) and I get time for research and experimentation. It's a rare thing (outside education) to have a remit that allows you to constantly look at new ways to gather and deliver the news, plus I've worked with an awesome team for nearly 6 years making some top draw Webby and BAFTA winning sites.
The 'original 3 of us' still sit together on one desk. Frankly I'd rather not go back to just SEO or video, but might just have to. I've got a lot of strings to my bow and I know this industry (and new media) pretty damn well. If things go badly I'll miss this place, and my mates here, one hell of a lot. I'll also probably miss having a roof over my head and solid food.

So, please excuse the lack of posts (see the constant barrage of Twitters for updates). I'm taking my mind off it by hitting the gym, smiling through, but speculatively cruising the agency sites in the evening and picking up more lecturing. Not much time for virtual worlds, alas, but trying to tidy stuff up there professionally just in case (please don't worry about our ongoing projects, I'll personally make sure everything is properly covered in SL etc. if the shit hits the fan).

@SparklyJem is being a star (as ever), and has a new round of costume and jewelery workshops up if you're interested. Everyone has been very kind around work.

I'll know more next Monday (in a week) when I have my next meeting to discuss all this and 'present my case'. There's a long process to go through here, and I have no intention of "going quietly into the light".

My CV is here, if you're curious. I will work for bandwidth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dead Lively

It was only a matter of time.

Google has announced today that Lively is no more.

Hardly a shocker, they were having a sod of a job policing it and it was pretty much empty, but a shame prior to the integration of some of the other Google fringe services.

It had rapidly fallen into the same camp as
IMVU (which essentially looks the same, but they don't mind you bonking the furniture) and they were spending much of their time trying to sort out how it'd appear in search rather than improving usability or granting rating access to keep the cybersex lot out of the public eye (which is hardly Google policy, lets face it).

This whole policing issue is one Sony are going to have to face too, if there's any 'PlayStation Eye' integration in Home (good luck to 'em). After chatting with Ninian at Virtual Worlds London I was looking forward to getting GMail voice and video chat, maybe Sketch-up/Google Earth, Google docs (for collaborative working) etc., but alas integration denied.

Back to core search projects for you guys, sorry.
You users better start taking some screen shots, make some of those Facebook groups about how unfair it is and have a good moan on your blogs (but tough titty, that's just how it goes).

It was hard for us, here. We set stuff up, then the 2 project managers we set it up for just simply couldn't access it with there Google accounts, even from home, so initial positive ideas just went by the wayside. It was exciting, for a week.

What's the bet the popular press, this being Google, sees this as some sort of negative indictment of Virtual Worlds. Like we don't have enough problems...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trying to ignore the cat... [from iPhone] it sits on my head and pats at my face, wanting breakfast. This frackin animal has zero concept of how wretched a Monday is, youngsters never do. Not too thrilled at starting the week with a paw in my mouth.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Movie Studio!

PAIN Movie Studio out now on the PS3 store.

Nowt like flinging David Hasslehof into a Panaflex Millenium to cheer you up.

I may be gone for some time...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Doctor Who Christmas Preview

The Dr Who preview thing they invariably cram into Children in Need.

Sorry, but this looks utter sensationalist media playing
Russell T horse twaddle.

Anyway, do
donate but try and think of last years cos I'm not coppering up (with a looming redundancy) for this load of old popularist mainstream cock...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Watchman: Bigger and Better

Shit yeah...

...and if I may be so bold, one nice quote:
Laurie Juspeczyk (Silk Spectre ii): Hey, you remember that guy? The one who pretended to be a supervillain so he could get beaten up?
Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl): Oh, You mean Captain Carnage. Ha ha ha! He was one for the books.
Laurie: You're telling me! I remember, I caught him coming out of this jeweler's. I didn't know what his racket was. I start hitting him and I think "Jeez! He's breathing funny! Does he have asthma?"
Dan: Ha Ha Ha. He tried that with me, only I'd heard about him, so I just walked away. He follows me down the street… broad daylight, right? He's saying "PUNISH me!" I'm saying "No! Get lost!"
Laurie: Ha Ha Ha. What ever happened to him?
Dan: Well, he pulled it on Rorschach, and Rorschach dropped him down an elevator shaft.
Laurie: PHAAA HA HA HA! Oh, God, I'm sorry, that isn't funny, Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
Dan: Ha Ha Ha! No, I guess it's not...
Laurie:Ahuh. Ahuhuhuh...Jeez, y'know, that felt Good. There don't seem to be that many laughs around these days.
Dan: Well, what do you expect? The Comedian is Dead...
Alan Moore, forever 'The Man'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NY Bin Bag Zoo

Street artist Joshua Allen Harris
makes rather nifty semi-animated inflatable critters and NY Cloverfield monsters with gaffa tape, bin bags, and the air from subway exhausts. I like it :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spontanious Virtual Silence

A few minutes before 11am today, avatars began to arrive at Tribute Island [SLURL].

This year, there was no official presence on Remembrance Day for the fallen soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, only on Tribute Island and Debs Regents London sims, and so people gathered at our own cenotaph amongst the tribute markers to the fallen of the Gulf and Afghanistan conflicts. This wasn't something we'd planned to do, it was totally spontaneous by the avatars who showed up. Because of that, it meant so much more.

Some 24 people, English, Scottish, Dutch etc., gathered in silent contemplation and left their own virtual messages to family and friend from past and recent conflicts. I was thanked by one lady, disabled in real life, who couldn't make it to a 'real' cenotaph this year. Many commented on the value of having a space like this to share the memory, and to use Second Life for a real world purpose to raise awareness like this, lamenting the passing of the official sim. I was rather chuffed we were of help :-)

Last year the big Remembrance Day presence had been built by The Royal British Legion (in association with Rivers Run Red) who's spectacular rebuilding of the cenotaph, and a walk through poppy fields to reach it, I didn't actually get to see except on video.

At the going down of the sun, the last post played, and we stood in silent contemplation sharing the moment of respect together.

If you get the chance, come over to Tribute Island [SLURL], pick up a poppy to wear, spend a quiet moment, or rez an tribute. Today is a day for us to remember, even in a virtual world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cloud Busting

Here's a rather nice one. Generating your own tag-clouds c/o Wordle.

In short, Wordle is a gizmo you can use to generate “word clouds” from text. You provide the feed, text, or URL and the cloud it generates gives priority prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with folks. The old 'PrintScrn + drop into Photoshop' is always an option too, maybe even when using this as a catalyst for art.

Anyway, nice layout options. Could look very cool. Would like to see it deep trawl the full blog but single page will do for now.

Ta to @jennhienrichs for Twittering this one and giving me the heads-up.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Time-lapse Coop

Full details over at the Big Green Switch chicken blog. Please comment over there, or on the YouTube.

Ta :-)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Watchmen: Girls Kick Ass

Okay, I had to remove this cos it was autoplaying and pissing me off - it's HERE if you wanna watch it. Crap design for an embedded player if you ask me, typical frickin' MySpace. Anyway:

"Girls Kick Ass”,
a new Watchmen featurette on MySpace that looks at the relationship of Malin Akerman (strong willed daughter Laurie Juspeczyk) and Carla Gugino (pushy mom Sally Jupiter), with a chunk of the tasty fight scene when SilkSpectre and NightOwl are busting Rorschach out of jail plus some cool retro shots of the original heroes line-up.

I still have high hopes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cockpit Arrives

Okay, I know, I know, my job is officially strange. To add to the ongoing surreality of working in virtual worlds, with a gazillion social networks and a bunch of people who put the backstage crew of The Muppet Show to shame, I'm now proud keeper of the Big Green Switch chickens. /sighs.

A bloke arrived with a delivery from Cumfy Pets this morning, bearing 2 flat packed boxes. There was a brief issue of getting it up the ginnel at the back of the houses, it being blustery and me being in a bathrobe, but the guy dutifully did all the hard work and we are now 'avec coop'.

Kershaw is coming over on Sunday to give me a hand putting it together (hopefully with stop-motion webcam video, over a few beers, and in return for a spot of Sunday lunch). When it's finally strapped together it should look like the one up there on the left, fingers crossed, but with my notorious DIY skills we'll just have to see. It looks massive, I've lived in smaller flats. All this needs to be blogged, filmed, photographed and reviewed over the coming weeks in exchange for cheap chicken ownership. You can go there now to vote on the chickens names.

As it happens, my "
Keeping Pet Chickens" also turned up from eBay this morning so I'll give it a good shufty tonight and see if I need anything else. Maybe cross reference a few websites.

Better start looking for some chickens.

All further Big Green Switch chicken stuff will be on the purpose written blog that @SparklyJem and I will be updating from time to time (stealing the RSS feed off it to import into the main site, etc.). Please check there for details and follow it if you can :-)

In the spirit of the US elections, and for a bit of fun, we're gonna let the users of Big Green Switch pick the names of the new pets. Just nip over to the Big Green Switch site and cast ya vote before 21st of November.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Remember Remember

Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason...
Should ever be forgot...

Funny, but these words were ingrained in my memory long before I read V for Vendetta.

This poem, if you can call it that, refers to our national pariah, Guy Fawkes, with it's origins way back in 17th C British history. On the 5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes (can anyone say 'patsy') was nabbed in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder.

Fawkes was subsequently tortured to delirium, tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators, and convicted of plotting against the government. He was tried by one Judge Popham (the Pickles of his day) who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor in Hungerford, Gloucestershire (pronounced 'sheeer' on the end for our collonial visitors). Fawkes was sentenced to death and was hung, drawn and quartered to 'reflect the serious nature of the crime of treason'. This I know from my classical education (having studied hard at both York Dungeon and Madame Tussauds in Blackpool).

The Tradition begins...

In 1606 it became an annual custom for the King (and Parliament) to commission a sermon to commemorate the near miss of the year before. Lancelot Andrews delivered the first of many Gunpowder Plot Sermons. This practice, together with the nursery rhyme, was to ensure that this crime (treason against the state) would never be forgotten, hence the words "Remember, remember the 5th of November". The poem is sometimes referred to as 'Please to remember the fifth of November'. It serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten and The Tower is still open for residents and the skillet hot if you fancy giving it a go.

In England the 5th of November is still commemorated each year with billions of pounds worth of staggeringly lame home-bought fireworks and the incineration of unwanted furniture, culminating with the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes (AKA, "The Guy"). The 'Guys' are constructed by kids (who probably think we have Bonfire Night to celebrate winning the Worl Cup in '66) by cramming old clothes with crumpled newspapers, banging an unwanted Halloween mask on it, then semi-legally extorting money from passers by with the words "Ere, penny for The Guy, Mr.?"

This year, the tradition has apparently crossed into virtual worlds with the ceremonial burning of a n00b Voodo Doll mannequin bearing the floating text "Philip Linden (away)".

I'm off home early to check on the cat before England starts to small like burning tyres...

Congats America!

Good choice in a President, but shame about Proposition 8.

So, let me get this right? Whole states dislike people who are 'different to the majority' so much that they will change the fundamental constitution on which their whole society is based? Incredible. One step forward, 2 steps back.

I've got an avatar that's a celibate Victorian with less fracked up priorities than that.

Guess your not that '21st century' yet then eh?

Even electing Boris Johnson in as Mayor of London isn't this crazy, well, okay, it's borderline.