Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Onward, onward...

...ever onward.

Today I had another meeting regarding this whole redundancy malarky, to look at positions in the group where my skills could be applied.

I've identified 3 areas where there's currently no one doing that job but we need someone to, all in a similar field and using my skill base. They were very well received, and this is going on for a while longer while these are presented to assorted areas of group.

I'm not holding my breath, but
these roles certainly need filling (for a sustainable future) despite our hiring freeze etc. We'll have to see.

Next news will be on January 5th (as @DigitalPulse, my 'witness', is away over the festive period). Gonna try and put it out of my head (save preventativly registering with a billion agencies) 'till then.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saga Continues...

Well, as of 10am today my position at Northcliffe Media has been made redundant. The job though, not me, technically.

Apparently, they do not need a 'New Media Specialist' for the future. Go figure.

And so we come to the next stage. They are now looking around the DMGT to "see if my skills fit in anywhere else" and, in addition to this, I'm to "spec out several potential positions within the wider group that could be created to utilise your talents". All very odd, and insanely convoluted. I'm still not really sure what the fracks going on now. Anyway, I'm to present options on Wednesday next week at our next meeting, and folks are sniffing around the corners of DMGT on my behalf.

So, no big Christmas presents and no days off over the festive period (in case I leave and they are deducted pro-rata), joygasum.

Alas, despite an ingrained fondness for the place, I just can't afford to mess about anymore. I'm a multi-award winning one man online marketing department, officially looking for work and open to offers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Carrying On

With current circumstances as they are, people keep asking me the same question: "But, if newspapers want to grow online, don't they really need people like you?".

By way of explanation, I'm obliged to hi
ghlight this very good/comprehensive article that @DigitalPulse slid under my nose, entitled "Why Are Newspapers Dying?". This covers the issue nicely in a couple of lines during the latter half.

The saga continues.
Will report back with an update on Friday, after the next meeting. In the meantime, lots of lecturing bits, gym with @SparklyJem, consultancy stuff, Little Big Planet, talking to agencies and curious parties, keeping fingers crossed, and flying the ETC around SL with @TerryLightfoot.

Fingers still crossed, and on the plus side at least I managed to avoid LeWeb (plus Sony Home is finally open for public consumption around 7pm tomorrow).

Monday, December 01, 2008

No Change

Well, no change in the current employment situation as of the meeting today.

Northcliffe have taken my documentation, of which I provided a seriously healthy amount, and are assembling a response. Next meeting is 12th December. I got a feeling it won't end there.

I have another 2 weeks garden leave if I want to take it. This time, unless I'm needed for redesign stuff, I just might. I got mixed feeling this time around, and Emily yesterday hasn't helped.

Twitters will continue.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Days

Things have been happening in the Hewitt 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.

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...

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.

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 :-)

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.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finally Got OpenSim Working [from iPhone]

Duncan (@digitalpulse) and I got OpenSim running today, at work.

Just started fiddling. Hmmm, localised machinima :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back to Weblin

Not been near Weblin for a while so thought I'd pop back over, download the software again, and see if it's grown.

Weblin is a kinda AV driven chat ap that lets you have a 'physical representation' on each page you visit in your browser and allows you to take your AV with you on your surfing day.

It's now not uncommon, as a user, to come across a site where there are other Weblins, sat chilling in your browser window with your own, that you can choose to engage with (not that you do most of the time) and strike up a conversation. On this page alone there's probably 5 or 6 you can't see right now, hanging around on the blogger domain so all showing on each others pages. What's nice here is that often chat is related to the common ground of the topic of webpage your visiting (I met 2 Who geek weblin frothing on about RTD's latest insult to the fan base on the BBC site). There's potential here, and Weblin Easter eggs for sites would be a great way to attract little swarms of community visitors, I'd love to get my hands on dev tools for this ("come to BBC Who and pick up your free Rassilon patch", etc.). The sports branding an AV's is starting to creep in, which means investment, which means money.

While seemingly very basic, Weblin also has it's own visual AV creation system and small virtual economy. This is one of those things worth checking on from time to time, and a great way of involuntarily promoting community by 'almost accidental' shared interest. I like it, but I'm not sure why.

Try it, it's kinda interesting, and tag/friend me as "Lactose" if you get the chance. It's possible to have more than one AV on the same account too, switching over as required.

I'll try importing a pic of an SL AV later, which looks easy enough, and I need to revamp my bloated Messanger contact list as it is, and this might be a better way to collect my virtual buddies together while still maintain some anonimity and character. In a kinda way, at very basic level, this is sorts like taking AVs from other worlds and letting them come with you as you go about the Internet, plus might be a nice way of supporting your virtual worlds identities :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

RL Meet-up in London?

6pm GMT (10am SLT) onwards, Sunday 19th October ‘08? Should be a grin.

It’s the night before Virtual Worlds London at the QEII Conference Centre and I wondered if anyone fancied joining us for a social in The Greyhound, Kensington, London?

RL London will be filling up with folks from all over Europe, and I thought it might be cool to have a get together in the RL Greyhound, the bridge between realities in Kensington, to have a drink and say hello.

Situated in Second Life, opposite Northcliffe House (the SL and RL Daily Mail building in Derry Street where I work in both worlds) it’s as much part of the virtual furniture of London as the real one is of Kensington Square. Run by the same staff (oi, oi, Kwame) in both worlds it often hosts real world and virtual world cross-over events and entertains real and virtual workers and locals from the Kensington area.

So, regardless, perfect place for a pre-conference meet-up of virtual friends and work-mates from 6, including in-world press, musicians, developers and ‘mirror-world’ Kensington staff from the sims at

All are welcome. The Greyhound staff will be streaming the evening to and from the virtual pub. Come meet some of the people who work in the local area (in both worlds), look at how the 2 cross, meet other people who’ll be attending Virtual Worlds London, and help break the reality barrier :-) It’s just around the corner from High Street Kensington tube station.

Join us in RL, or join us in SL. See ya there :-)

RL: 1, Kensington Square, London, W8 5EP: Review - Map
SL: Kensington Square, Kensington W8 London. SLURL: Kensington W8 London/225/64/22

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Which One of You... [from iPhone]

...put this on the back of my chair?

Confess now, make it easy on yourselves, I read your email.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Digital Team of the Year! [from iPhone]

Andy, Duncan, Hoony, Nav, John, Alex, Claire, guys, girls, this ones for for you. 'Digital Team of the Year' at the Newspaper Society Awards for Lasting Tribute, Big Green Switch, etc. as well as 'Niche Website of the Year' and 'Digital Innovation of the Year'.

Somewhat ironic with things having changed at ANDigital this week and that 'award winning' team being split-up all over the company...

Links added when sober.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caledon the Musical

Caledon the Musical, in aid of Relay for Life '08, from the Independent State of Caledon and Caledon Studios, Second Life. Raising over L$100,000 in the fight against cancer, the good people of Caledon donated money to be in this machinima.

In total, in '08, the fine folks of Caledon raised L$3,000,000 for Relay for Life.

Hopefully this film showcases some of the amazing sims in Caledon and the amazing variety of smashing people. This is filmed at peoples properties and at assorted locations around the steampunk Victorian sims.

May I just tip my hat, one more time, to the good peoples of Caledon and the Caledon RFL Team '08, without whom this wouldn't have been possible.

Yes, apologies, some parts of this are a bit rough and ready. When shooting so many shots with so many avatars one has to take the frame rate that's available at the time. As this was for charity, at least one shot of each group made it into the final edit. Also, being machinima, it has suffered somewhat from recompression issues during upload to YouTube so I'm displaying it above at the 320x240 (4:3) that YT likes best.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Features on LT Site

New features have been launched today on Lasting Tribute (the site that sponsors one of the the sims I run, Tribute Island [SLURL]), an' I gotta say "hat's off" to @DigitalPulse, AR, Hoony, AndyF, Wheelwright, and the boys and girls at AND for this one. Spot on!

Nice navigable tabbed browsing to all the content already on the site and, for the first time, you can add links to videos on You Tube (oh hell yeah, I'll be spammin' the strides off that tomorrow).

From small acorns, as they say. It's incredible that there's now memories and images been added to more than a million tributes on our site. It was getting big, and a redesign has created space for expansion and separate sections for memories, images and now videos.

Some examples of tributes with video already added today include:
Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard; rally driver Colin McRae; Pink Floyd members Richard Wright and Syd Barrett and footballer George Best.

The breath of content out there on YouTube for this kind of tribute/slideshow/montage is massive, and having somewhere for it to have a collective home is a damn nice touch.

"Hat's off" again folks, nice damn release ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LIVE Paisley Beebe Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald

A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald: Friday 19th September - 2PM SLT.

This week, at the island [SLURL], the one-and-only Paisley Beebe pays homage to "Lady Ella" and the "First Lady of Song", one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century. This is a lady who, over a recording career that lasted 57 years, won 13 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, her purity of tone, phrasing and intonation, was undeniably awesome. Ella is widely considered to have been one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Only Paisley could do her justice.

SL has few real divas, usually wannabe divas that are all mouth and mediocre talent, but not Paisley. Paisley is the real thing. Pailsey is what SL divas should inspire to be.

Paisley Beebe is the alter ego on Second Life of the beautiful Leonie Smith, an Australian jazz vocalist, and radio host. Leonie has released multiple albums and is a professional jazz vocalist of over 15 years standing. Paisley is also CEO of "In A Perfect World" which produces "Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe", Second Life's first, and best weekly TV talk show; for which I can always be available on the couch at a moments notice Paisley, you only have to ask ;-) This is filmed live in front of a studio audience in SL every Sunday at 6PM SLT.

All this,
Paisley Beebe paying live musical homage to Ella Fitzgerald, plus 2hrs of tribute tunes from our good friends the DJ's of Radio Riel, all in honor of Ella.

This is part of our ongoing live events season at Tribute Island, not many left to go now, sponsored by the good folks at Lasting Tribute, and in association with Prim Perfect Magazine (and my good friend Saffia Widdershins) and Radio Riel (and my good friend Gabi Riel), loverly ladies and talented divas in their own right ;-)

Being Friday, I may have to lay off on the voice chat out of respect (it being Talk Like a Pirate day) an' all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Up For Virtual Worlds London?

Early Registration ends this coming Friday, 19 September 2008, for Virtual Worlds London. Go sort it now, ya save ya'self 400 notes.

Billed as "
the leading European event for businesses seeking to understand and maximize business strategies within virtual worlds". Virtual Worlds London is the 5th such world event by Virtual Worlds News, and takes place at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (a cheery '70s abomination right across the street from Westminster Abbey) from the 20th to the 21st of October.

In my capacity as a business alt, I'll be propping up the bar and checking out a good cross section of the keynotes and presentations on both days (probably blogging it etc. as I go). If you do go, drop me a line or a twitter when you get there and we'll do booze and RL. An evening meet-up in The Greyhound in Kensington (that strange SL/RL crossing point of metaversal paradox in the centre of the city) is invariably a must :-)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Night of the Starlets at Tribute Island!

Slight change of plans this evening.

It’s now Night of the Starlets at
Tribute Island in Second Life.

Unfortunately, Penelope Fullstop of
Atomic Blondie was in touch with us yesterday to say Geoff (their lead guitarist) has health problems and can’t do the Marilyn Monroe gig tonight, which Pen was particularly looking forward. They'd gone to the trouble of sorting loads of new stuff for this special show so alas it's impossible to do it without him and Saffia and I (thanks Saffia) started fishing around to find other arrangements.

So, in steps our good friend "The Duchess" and the outstanding folks at Radio Riel with a tribute of their own. Night of the starlets, 3 hours of DJ'd Hollywood music, at the backstage sets at Tribute Island [SLURL] from 1PM SLT, NOT at the bar as usual.

Come dress to impress directors and join us to celebrate those loverly ladies of Tinsel Town. Have an evening in that Oscar frock, wear those Anna Sten eyes, that Ida Lupino hat, fiddle with those sliders for those Doris Day curves, from Rita Hayworth to Marilyn Monroe, you get the gist.

Also, we have professional Second Life Marilyn, the loverly Miss. Sasha00 Laryukov of The Gauskov Entertainment Agency to pose for pics etc. These people do the most amazing one-off shapes, skins, costumes, looks and attitudes you'll see this side of Hollywood.

Gentleman, dress to dance with the ladies tonight we’re nought but accessories to the likes of Jane Russell, Audrey Hepburn
, Jane Mansfield and (with any luck) Louise Brooks.

I'm off into Second Life to 'doll-up' the backstage area for some serious dancing. See you there.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Google Chrome First Impressions

Today is fracking about with Google Chrome day. Check it if you can.

The download was quick and after 2 mins I was flying along with it. 

The rendering speed rocks, though it's not filled up with my add-on crap yet and it'll probably slow down as that open source gets chipped add by 'indispensible' add-ons. I miss my spell checker in Blogger as I write, but I'll live. Loved the quick, if a bit scary, import functionality. Up and running in seconds.

I like the 'tear off' tabs (especailly as a duel screen user), and instead of traditional tabs like those in Firefox Chrome puts the buttons on the top of the window, not below the address bar. Thank god for the standard FF short cut keys and an address bar with auto-complete. 

The default homepage gives you an intuitive kind of “speed dial” feature, part of it's visual bookmark system, similar to the one with Opera. I like the idea of the Chrome privacy mode; you can create an “incognito” window “and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer” specifically for 'left handed surfing time' (well, what else is it for, really). Like Prism, it seems apps can be launched in their own browser window without address bar and toolbar. 

I'm an old school Firefox die-hard, and I'll have to spend some time tinkering to see if the multi-threaded architecture is really that robust and how the Gears can be cobbled to 'enliven my browsing experience'. I see it has it's own JavaScript Virtual Machine (called V8) which also open source and seems fine so far ('cept for a few niggly bits with upload in Flickr). I appreciate them adding the task manger too, which lets you see which processes inside Chrome are running, taking up how much memory, network resource and CPU. 

Editing my Blogger posts is a bit weird in it. Oh, and Lively doesn't seem to be supported (like anyone gives a shit anymore). Ironically, Google Analytics shows Google Chrome visitors as being from Firefox which strikes me as a bit of an oversight. I know it's a beta, but way to coordinate a product launch there folks. 

First impressions? Yup, I like it, I’ll be fiddling all day. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

TANGO Live Tonight for Astor Piazzolla

Tonight at 1PM SLT (9PM GMT), at Tribute Island in the virtual world of Second Life, Joaquin Gustav’s pays musical tribute to Astor Piazzolla.

One of the most important tango composers of the late 20th century, Astor was responsible for revolutionising the genre.

Argentinian artist, Joaquin Gustav (a composer, director, & teacher) is rich in smooth Jazz sound, tempered with classical rock, and steeped in those south American sounds of Tango, Milonga, and Candombe. When Joaquin first came to SL he spoke very little English and has used the virtual world as a tool to learn the language, now speaking what his fans affectionately call 'Spanglish'. His beautiful and passionate acoustic sets are legendary in Second Life, and Astor is clearly a great influence on his music.

The concert will be followed by 2hrs of dancing & music from the top draw DJ's of Radio Riel. Once again, an event not to be missed. These gigs are joint sponsored by Prim Perfect, Radio Riel, and Lasting Tribute. You can visit Tribute Island here [SLURL].

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another AV Creator

There's a lot of flash-based AV creators out there, WeeMee and it's clones like Digibody and Dream AV that are designed just to pull in traffic to other services, even to the likes of HeroMachine. All kinds of fluff without having to delve into Poseresque sliders and nose tweaking.

Here's a nice one that I was sent today, if you like this sort of thing.
Face Your Manga. Comprehensive enough to get a fair likeness to add to your IM or Facebook, but easy to get something looking like you in a couple of clicks.

Personally I don't have a use for stuff like this, but it's always nice to fiddle.
Doesn't matter to me, I always look like Tony Stark, Marcus Cole, a geography teacher, Boltar, or The Zohan no matter what I try to do with these things. I'll bet ya this one causes a fad though, watch out over the next week for those Twitter icons changing like sheep ;-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Elvis Lives

Now, I like Elvis impersonators, which is probably a sickness of that I'm aware.

Way, way back in our 'Heroes of Film' days, when we had the office in Bradford, there was this curry house we used to go to called 'Tandoori Nights'. The place had a fountain in the middle of it, a tiny stage, and used to have these 3 Asian Elvis impersonators (one of which was on of the waiters) on a Wednesday night. We used to take investors and funding people there, it never failed to impress. Everyone loves a decent curry, and a good rendition of 'In the Ghetto' sung by a grown man dressed in sequins.

Well worth hangin' around the house this Saturday night, on
Tribute Island [SLURL] in Second Life, come check out the BEST of SL tribute stars, the one, the only, a session from the soul, BubbaC John. BubbaC is an award-winning Elvis impersonator who can trace his Mississippi roots back to the King himself, and he's streaming live to a max of 100 guests August 16, this Saturday, 1SLT, 31 years to the day after the death of Elvis. Personally, to honour the man himself and the fine work of BubbaC, I'll be ordering in a vegetable Jalfrazi, tarka dhal, and a plain nan.

Get there early, this is bound to be packed. I'm getting the fireworks out for this one, come feel the lag. Hail to the king, and pass the lime pickle.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

50 Virtual Worlds

A Film by Gary Hayes © Personalizemedia 2008, which is going to be in every damn Power Point I do at work for the next 6 months.

Over 50 virtual worlds are featured including Second Life, HiPiHi, Kaneva, Twinity, ActiveWorlds, and LagunaBeach MTV., Habbo, Google Lively, FootballSuperstars, Weblin, AmazingWorlds, CyWorld, Whyville, Gaia Online, RocketOn, Club Penguin, YoVille, Webkinz, BarbieGirls, Prototerra, IMVU, Spore, vSide, Tale in the Desert, SpineWorld, Stardoll, The Manor,, ExitReality, Vastpark, Qwaq, PS3Home, GoSupermodel, Grockit, Croquet, Metaplace, Coke Studios, Dreamville, Dubit, Mokitown, Moove, Muse, The Palace, Playdo, Sora City, Voodoo Chat, TowerChat, Traveler and Virtual Ibiz. Amazingly, this doesn't even touch on some of the big MMOs like the epic-sized World of Warcraft etc.

Top work that beautifully highlights the scope of the virtual metaverse and in many ways, the user-base that's out there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This Friday at Tribute Island

This weekend, on Tribute Island [SLURL], Friday, 2SLT followed by Elrik Merlin of Radio Riel, Mankind Tracer plays his tribute to Syd Barrett - EVENT DETAILS HERE>

Syd Barrett! What an awsome chioice! My first record ever (I natuarally don't include 'Basil Brush Sings' or 'The Aristocats') was Relics, and I'm a long time Barrett fan. This one, as all the gigs in Second Life in this season, comes right from the heart, and Mankind (RL artist Seth Regan) is a top bloke, and a great artist, who (when ever I've seen him) never fails to leave his audiences applauding for more.

Make it over if you possibly can. Tribute Island live events are in collaboration with Lasting Tribute, Prim Perfect Magazine and Radio Riel

Friday, July 11, 2008

Live on Tribute Island

Right now, gold standard Second Life acoustic performer Cylindria Rutabaga (RL artist Grace Buford) playing a live tribute gig to Eva Cassidy on Tribute Island [SLURL].

Tribute to Eva Cassidy: TONIGHT

July 11th - 1PM SLT - event posted HERE.

Renowned SL musician and recording artist Cylindria Rutabaga has kindly offered to play a live tribute gig to one of her heroes, the vocalist & 'songbird' Eva Cassidy.

Tonight at 1SLT (pm)
we'll be having an evening of awesome ‘coffee-shop-folk’ and Cylindrians beautiful vocal style. Cylindria will be playing for an hour, followed by 2 hours of Eva Cassidy tribute tunes from Gabi Riel, at the Olive Reed Comemorative Bar on Tribute Island [SLURL].

Please get here early, this is bound to be a packed house! Tribute Island [SLURL] live events are arranged with the kind support of Lasting Tribute, Prim Perfect magazine & Radio Riel.

It's a wonderful world :-)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Eco Chat in VW

Quick chat environment I threw together this morning as an experiment for our eco site, Big Green Switch. Took about an hour to decorate and get up on the site.


I love this. Anyone can have a swift immersive chat environment in no time at all. Talk about catering for the long-tail, let's just hope everyone doesn't arrive at different times and it's empty (ah, there is the rub, stickiness).

I can see a few of our sites ending up with stuff like this, especially while it's hot and free. Not just jumping on the bandwagon either, but actually providing a user service (if anyone uses it other than curious SLrs). It'll be going up on the site tomorrow and it'll be interesting what, if any, traffic starts to show up. The hardest part for me was getting that BGS logo to sit properly in that frame...

Some folks, for no good reason, seem to be having trouble logging in with their Gmail accounts. I'm fine, but Steve & Sianos just can't log in, it say's 'joining room' forever, no matter what machine they are on. I'm told making the client.exe to be excluded from DEP made the thing work on a mates Vista pc (system->performance options->data execution prevention...) but that doesn't explain why I can login fine on this machine and they can't. Enquiring minds want to know. /shrugs

Hmm, couldn't help noticing the top listings in the
All Rooms>High Occupancy areas are sex,סקס,ישראלי, and SEX, though. Deja vue?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Looking Lively

Could Googles new VW Lively be the start of something actually worth-while? Wishful thinking has had me mulling a Google metaverse for a while.

Okay, it's slow and clunky and looks like (well, IS) a glorified chat room, but, add some user input using the likes of Google SketchUp, put those SketchUp buildings into their actual corporate locations in Google Earth, throw in the voice ap from Google Talk, drag in Google Docs and a bit more 'HTML on a prim', stir with the new Google supported Oauth stuff etc. and you got something REALLY usable and browser based. Relatively accessible and you can put it on any blog, website or page with 2 secs cutting and pasting, giving you instantly themed chat based virtual content for almost occasion no matter how niche or specialist.

I had a AV, dressed and up and running, in 10 mins. I'll be mooching about with it all morning, just got a Quick Meeting Room Environment done, give me a shout ;-)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rules of Merde de Tete: ‘Leeds Rules Shithead'

This page is being 'stored' on this blog, the domain name pointing here, to preserve continuity.


This page deals with a very specific version of the game, often known as ‘Merde de Tete' or, more commonly, ‘Leeds Rules Shithead'. Shithead is sometimes known by other names, I have heard it called ‘Karma' in the south of England, and I believe it is also know as ‘Palace' in some parts of the world. This version of the rules have been tried and test and were formulated and finalised, around the basic game, during the Autumn and Winter of 1995, at 41 Cliff Road, Hyde Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2ET . It has been played this way for nearly 15 years.

We have played the ‘Leeds Rules' version around the globe and encountered it in England, Holland, Finland, Prague, Ireland, Florida, France, Belgium, Las Vegas, Egypt and even in the excercise yard at Alcatraz. It appears that the basic game (Shithead) may well be vaguely related to a Finnish game called Paskahousu and has always been flexible in nature and thrown up a plethora of regional rules variations. Next year (it is hoped) will be the first year of theofficial ‘Leeds Rules Shithead Tournament', in the UK . Shithead is a great equaliser…

Shithead is a game without ‘winners', only a looser, in which the players try to avoid being the last to get rid of all their cards and, therefore, the ‘Shithead'. The loser typically suffers some minor forfeit, such as having to make a round of tea/coffee, being lightly mocked for their poor luck or incompetence, or at least (minimum, but complusory) has the job of shuffling and dealing the next hand.

Players and Cards

2–6 people are required, using a normal 52-card single deck of cards, for a single game. The game is best with at least 3 players (2 player games lack the option to employ any real tactics). There are no reason why larger groups cannot play, but beyond six two packs of cards should be used, and more packs for multiples of six thereafter. However, the larger the game the slower the game, and each player will see less 'action'.

The cards rank highest to lowest: 2/5+, A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5+, 4, 3, 2 (2's are high and low, 5's become their preceding higher card, we will discuss this later in Special Cards and Plays).

The Deal
For the first hand of any session the dealer is selected randomly. For subsequent hands the deal falls to the ‘Shithead' (or looser) of the previous hand.
  • The dealer deals a row of three face-down cards to each player, one at a time.
  • The dealer deals three cards face-up to each player, one at a time, covering the face-down cards.
  • The dealer deals a three card hand face-down to each player, one at a time.
Any cards remaining undealt are placed face down to form a draw pile (or stock) and the top card of the pile is turned over to act as the first card of the game discard pile.

Each player may now pick up their hand of three cards and look at them.

This is done BEFORE the players have exchanged face-up cards with the three cards in their hand so that the first player has the option to play against the first card strategically (see below). The players pick up their three card hands and look at them.

Before play each player may exchange any number of cards from their hand with their own face-up cards. A player may never look at the face-down cards until they are played.

Players invariably take lower ranking face-up cards into their hands and assorted strategies are planned and put in place at this point.

A card is turned over from the top of the face down remaining cards and becomes the first card of the discard pile.

The remaining cards become the draw pile.
Play of the Cards
The first player is the person on the left of the dealer, in the same direction one would apss a bottle of Port. The first player continues the discard pile on the table, playing face-up from her hand a card equal to or higher than the card currently on the top of the discard pile. Multiple cards can be played, but only if they are identical rank (e.g. two queens or three jacks). The player then draws a number of cards from the draw pile equal to the number of cards played.

Taking turns, initially clockwise, each player must either play a card or a set of equal cards face up on top of the discard pile, or pick up the pile. The card or cards played must be of equal to or of higher rank than previous play, or one of 2 special cards (the 2 or the 5, see below). This continues, possibly several times around the table, until eventually someone is unable to equal or beat the previous play. If you can play, you must play, but it is not essential to play all the cards that yo
u hold of a single type (i.e. playing just one Ace when you hold 3 could be most beneficial to your long-game). If a player picks up the discard pile, the next player has effectively a free table, and can play whatever she likes.

You must replenish your hand with the same number of cards you have just played. If there are too few cards in the stock (or draw pile), you draw as many as there are left. When there are no cards left in the stock at all, play continues as before, but without replenishment.

The Endgame
If you find yourself (during or at the beginning of your turn) with no cards in your hand (because you have played them all), you may now play from the face-up cards in front of you. When you are playing your face-up cards and cannot play a card of equal or higher rank than the card(s) played by previous player, you DO NOT add one of your face-up cards to the pile before taking the whole pile into your hand, you just take the pile. It is then the next player's turn to begin a new discard pile by playing any card or set of equal cards. Having picked up the pile, you will have to play from your hand on subsequent turns until you have once more got rid of all your hand cards and can begin playing from your table cards again.

When you have played all your face-up table cards, and have no cards in your hand, you can now play your face-down cards blindly, pulling any one card into your hand when your turn comes (but not until, for reasons of 'showmanship'). If the card is playable, it is played, and it is the next player's turn to equal or beat it. If your card is not playable (because it is lower than the previous play etc.), you take the whole pile into your hand including the new card, which does not have to be shown to the other players. It is then the next player's turn to start a new discard pile. Having picked up the pile, you will have to play from your hand on subsequent turns until you have once more got rid of all your hand cards and can choose your next table card.

When you completely get rid of all of your hand and table cards, you have successfully avoided being Shithead and can drop out of the game. When you play your last table card, you can only drop out at that point if it beats the previous play (or if you are playing it to an empty discard pile). If your last card is not playable, you must pick it up along with the pile. As people drop out of the game, the remaining players continue playing. The last player left holding cards is the loser (also known as the 'Shithead'). This player must deal the next hand, and/or must also make tea (or perform any other agreed minor duty the group require for general comfort and wellbeing).

Special Cards and Plays

Twos may always be played on any card, and any card may be played on a two.

A five may be played on any card, but must be accompanied by a higher card at the same time. Other special cards can be played with a five, in multiples if available, but must still be higher (so not a 2). Multiple fives do not require multiple higher cards. The value of the five, for the purpose of the next player, becomes that of the higher card that is played with it.

A seven is played on an equal or lower card , the next play must be lower than or equal to a seven.

A Jack must be played on an equal or lower card, but reverses the order of play. This makes for highly interesting larger games, where it is possible that some people may not actually get to take a turn for sometime due to play being ‘Jacked away' from them on either side. I once witnessed a 20 player game where myself and 2 other people didn't get to play for the first 20 minutes. Players ‘Jacking back' to players who have just Jacked to them can cause a jolly wheeze and many profanities…
Stashing 1 - a ten may be played on anything lower, in multiples if appropriate. When a ten is played, the discard pile is removed from play (or ‘stashed') and the same player who played the ten takes another turn, playing any card or set of equal cards to start a new discard pile.

Stashing 2 - if someone completes a set of four cards of the same rank (this still being a set of 4, or more, in a multi-deck game) on top of the discard pile (either by playing all four cards at once or by equalling the previous play), the whole pile is removed from play (or ‘stashed'), and the same player who completed the four of a kind takes another turn, playing any card or set of equal cards to start a new discard pile.

Accusing people of cheating is a serious accusation, and should not be done unless you mean it. If someone is believed to be cheating by all referees then they are a cad and should horse whipped accordingly.

There is a Facebook page for players and fans of Leeds Rules Shithead,
here. Thanks.

The development and constant play of ‘Leeds Rules Shithead' (or Merde de Tete) may be accredited to the following people - Nik Hewitt , Nigel ‘Pig' Kershaw, Phil Morris, Robert Murt, Paul Morris, Davie Dwan, Samantha Emmott, Stevie Emmott, Higgy, Roland Depper, Ian Peake, Jema Hewitt, Liz Johnson (and all at PP&C), Nigel McClelland, Helen Graham, Ian Parker, Alan Jaques, plus Col and Taff (wherever you guys are), amongst others. May god have mercy on their souls...