Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The Time of the Doctor" Preview!

Thanks to Krypton Radio for this link!


Time is running out for the Eleventh Doctor as the Silence gather their forces for the final battle at Trenzalore! Tune in at Christmas to find out what happens!

I get paid tomorrow, and with any luck I'll be able to order a replacement motherboard to get my computer up and running again.  Having to rely on public terminals to get online is a real drag, and I'm falling so far behind it's ridiculous.  I've already missed the 50th anniversary special, but if I can get my computer properly repaired I'll watch that and write up a review for you.  Until then, wish me luck, and if you'd like to contribute to helping me get my computer fixed, please click the following link.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Night of the Doctor: 50th Anniversary Mini-Episode!

A prequel to next weekend's 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor", has been broadcast!  Called "The Night of the Doctor", it shows a familiar face transitioning into something -- or rather, someone -- he'd rather spend the remainder of his lives forgetting about.


Enjoy!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Day of the Doctor" Mini-Episode Confirmed

According to Kasterborous.com, we may get to see a mini-episode teaser in the run-up to this month's fiftieth anniversary episode of Doctor Who, "The Day of the Doctor".
While we knew we were going to get an initial Day of the Doctor treat at the upcoming Children in Need event, we now have a little more inclination as to what we might be seeing. According to information on the BBFC web site, two different minisodes have been classified and attached to the upcoming DVD/Blu-ray release of the 50th anniversary special: The Last Day and The Night of the Doctor.

The Last Day is slated to run just shy of 4 minutes and has no additional information attached to the description (although, Time War anyone?). The Night of the Doctor is set to run for almost 7 minutes and features David Tennant and Matt Smith (Note: at the time of writing, the BBFC page for this mini-sode has gone dark… Coincidence? I think not! Head to Who-natic to see the page before it was pulled). It’s anyone’s guess at this point as to what the minisodes will actually contain, but with only 11 days until Children in Need and 19 until the 50th, the wait is almost over!
Woohoo!

Friday, November 1, 2013

'Day of the Doctor' to Screen in American Movie Theaters!

I'm typing on my aunt's computer this afternoon while I'm over here washing laundry.  With any luck, my next paycheck (two weeks from today) will be enough for me to get a new power supply unit for my computer.  The old one is 400-watt and probably gave out finally trying to power my monster graphics card.  I really, really don't want the problem to be anything other than simply needing a new power unit.  If something broke in the C-drive, then my computer is well and truly dead.  UGH.

Anyway, it seems that the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, "The Day of the Doctor", is screening in select movie theaters stateside.
“Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor” will screen in select movie theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Minneapolis Nov. 23 in RealD 3D, coinciding with a worldwide simulcast of the special in 75 countries, including the U.S.


Yes, this event is going to be that big.  I just hope I'm able to see this when it airs.  SQUEEEE!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Day of the Doctor Trailer / I Hope It's Only Resting / SL Downturn News

Sorry it's so late, but I thought I'd post the trailer for next month's 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, "The Day of the Doctor".


Awesome, isn't it?  I'm actually looking forward to watching this.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Clarification

I logged into Second Life this morning to find some items returned and people upset with me over what I wrote in an earlier entry.  Apparently they saw my speculations as to how the new Linden Lab terms of service might — or might not — affect the Whovian community in SL as a form of bashing.  Really, I wasn't bashing anyone.  I was only making guesses as to what could happen, and I made it a point to stress that I might just be paranoid and cynical and that perhaps none of what I was speculating about would ultimately happen.  That's why it's called speculation: I really don't know the future and have no proof of anything, and so can only make guesses.  I'm sorry some people chose to take that as insult, but I intended none when I wrote that entry and I'm a little confused as to why anyone would take it as such.  At any rate, I'm sorry my opinions and guesses offended them.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lost Doctor Who Episodes Found In Africa, and the Regeneration Limit

Krypton Radio reports via the BBC and other news agencies that lost episodes of Doctor Who have been discovered in Africa.
Some new episodes of the popular BBC science fiction television series have been found in the archives of the Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency, and as the dust settles from the discovery it appears that 90 episodes are being recovered.  In fact, it is looking like everything that had been lost is now found again, according to Bleeding Cool, except “nine episodes of The Dalek Master Plan, plus Mission To The Unknown, two episodes of The Invasion, two episodes of The Ice Warriors, and two episodes of The Wheel In Space.
This is very good news for fans worldwide, who have had to be content with surviving audio and still photographs in place of the missing episodes.  What's more, with the show's fiftieth anniversary coming up next month, it gives fans another chance to become acquainted with the legendary William Hartnell, the first actor to portray the enigmatic Time Lord from Gallifrey in his broken old T.A.R.D.I.S.

Rumors frequently circulate about lost episodes in the hands of private collectors, but only seldom do they prove true.  In the vastly finite wisdom of its earlier days, the BBC destroyed or recorded over its video tapes and film reels, or sold them off, not realizing the future potential in raking in money from home video sales.  As a result, many episodes of many television shows are now "lost", and can only be recovered if copies are found from stations in other countries that preserved them, or from people who were prescient enough to record them when they were first broadcast.

So this latest rediscovery is good news for Doctor Who fans, and for the BBC.  I for one am looking forward to seeing the recovered episodes in all their remastered glory.

Oh!  It seems the issue of the Doctor's thirteen-life-limit will be addressed.  Departing actor Matt Smith, who plays the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor, is handing the role over to Peter Capaldi in the Christmas episode at the end of this year, leaving only one or two more lives for the Time Lord under current series canon.  But Stephen Moffat hinted back in August that a way will be written into the show that resolves the limit on Time Lord lives, and others have speculated on how the 12-regeneration limit could be breached.  Obviously the BBC isn't going to let one of its biggest cash cows be canceled for lack of a plausible writing gimmick, so don't be surprised to see the issue resolved soon.

I'll be back next week with a review of a recent Who episode, as soon as I dig my DVDs out of boxes.  Until then...see you in the Time Vortex!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Second Life's Terms of Service Are Creating a Major Backlash

New World Notes has been reporting for a few weeks now that Linden Lab's new terms of service have led a number of content creators to distance themselves -- and their products -- from Second Life.  First CGTextures, and then Renderosity, have revised their own terms of service to forbid the uploading of their content onto SL.  The LL ToS, which may have been rewritten so as to allow selling SL-generated content on the Lab's new acquisition, Desura, are clearly meant to cover things from a legal standpoint in the event content creators decide to sue over the misappropriation of their work, if NWN's speculations are correct.

For the life of me, I can't figure out how LL's CEO still has his job.  Is there no sense of direction at Linden Lab?  Something tells me there isn't.  Plainly, there's no accountability there.  How will the terms of use affect the SL Whovian community?  I have a few hypotheses about this.

1.) Sellers such as Novatech, New London Systems, and Hands of Omega will have to seriously consider leaving for other grids, like Avination and InWorldz, to prepare for when this newest screw-up on the part of LL blows up in everyone's faces.  (I may do this myself.)  Many of the items made prior to the rules revision are already under the copyright of their creators, so LL's new ToS may be seen as an illegal attempt to usurp those existing copyrights.  The cost of such legal battles may well bankrupt Linden Lab and perhaps even lead to the shutdown of Second Life itself.  Whether this actually happens, what the ultimate outcome will be, and how long it'll all take to play out, is anyone's guess, but it wouldn't surprise me to start seeing lawsuits pop up soon.

2.) People who've set up Whovian-themed regions, like Olyesti sim's Three Minute City, could face the very real prospect of having Linden Lab appropriate their work for purposes other than what the creators intended.  Exactly how this could happen, I don't know and can only speculate, but it may be worth thinking about.

3.) With LL being all too happy to shut people and regions down to placate copyright-holders, the new terms of service could be abused by vindictive jerks to press grudges in ways that even a certain egotistical ass clown couldn't imagine in his craziest delusions of grandeur.

All this is just speculation on my part, and none of it may actually come to pass.  Maybe I'm just being paranoid and cynical after so many years of watching LL find ways to screw up even the simplest policies and tasks.  But still, with people bailing on SL now because of the latest foul-up, I do have to wonder.

P.S.

Since I'm largely off-line while I get my living and working situations sorted out, I won't be posting as much, at least until I get fully established in my new accommodations.  I'm also re-evaluating the direction of this blog.  I'd like to focus more on critiquing Doctor Who -- the TV show, its spinoffs, and its related media, as well as fandom, conventions, and stuff.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ego, and Linden Lab's Bad Decisions

Someone's got a really inflated sense of his own importance in the SL Doctor Who fan sphere, and after a couple of months of absence is claiming that without him the whole lot is dying off -- people are losing interest without him there to do all the marketing yadda yadda yadda, and the BBC wants nothing to do with SL after seeing how many self-absorbed jerks are present not only in the SL Whovian community but across the sci-fi fan base in general.

Granted, there is a grain of truth somewhere in all of this idiot's egotistical nonsense.  Certain regions never got the sheer amount of daily traffic others have, due mainly to being clique-ish, elitist, drama-causing jerks.  No one likes to put up with bad attitudes, and word of mouth spreads rather quickly to kill off groups, businesses, and communities that engage in that sort of behavior.  "We're the best around and our sh** doesn't stink" and "those other peeps are a**holes" only gets you so far, and then all you've got is an empty region no one wants to visit because you're all too busy having yourselves a circle jerk to notice that your attitude is what's driving people away.

So the claim that certain Whovian regions in SL are dying has some merit, but it has little to do with not having a certain lying, conniving, warpath-trodding bully around to handle all the marketing and do the bulk of the public relations.  It has more to do with bad attitudes, and Mr. Loser has the biggest, baddest one of them all, which is more than likely the primary reason he was finally pushed out of the Whovian region he called home for so many years.  Yet he'll continue to blame everyone but himself for his troubles and gloat over the havoc he thinks he's wreaked, and all because he couldn't be the one and only big dog in the proverbial kennel.

Ego.  It ruins a hell of a lot for a lot of people, and in SL it's no different.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

But more than anything, if there is a decline in the SL Whovian community, I suspect it's more a symptom of a wider problem in SL altogether: ridiculously high tier and bad business decisions by Linden Lab that are combining to cripple Second Life itself.

Let me explain.

By acquiring xStreetSL and transforming it into the marketplace, even going so far as to convert to direct product upload instead of the magic boxes (which required at least some small bit of virtual land), the need for maintaining a highly expensive in-world store was effectively eliminated.  Why spend hundreds of dollars of real money per month on a virtual region and maybe barely break even, or worse, lose money, when you can use a sandbox to build and upload content to the marketplace, thus eliminating a huge chunk of overhead cost?  With tier remaining at an all time high and real-world incomes shrinking for most SL users, the writing was on the wall as to what the consequences would be, and the consequences include the steady loss of privately-owned regions that can now only be stemmed with cutting tier across the board.

To be fair, Linden Lab does seem to have finally learned from its mistake in eliminating the non-profit-education discount, and reversed that decision earlier this summer.  This may help attract educational institutions and non-profits to return to the grid, though many may not want to come back after having been burned before by LL and they may not like all the new restrictions placed on content ownership on the grid.  Basically, Linden Lab claims rights to all content created on the grid, and has moved to block people from being able to save their own created content for use on competing grids, effectively putting up a very high, very thick wall between Second Life and real-world people whose content has helped generate a lot of money for the Lab over the last ten years.  Other grids, such as InWorldz and Avination, have far fewer restrictions or none at all, and sim-on-a-stick has freed up a lot of content creators to save their work to a format that allows them to practically take it wherever they wish.

So right now Linden Lab is betting that its other computer games will salvage the company's prospects, while belatedly realizing that some of its past business decisions pertaining to Second Life simply aren't sustainable in the long run and is now slowly working to remedy those mistakes.

Will Linden Lab eventually lower region tier pricing across the board?  Sooner later it'll have to.  No business that wants to remain open keeps its prices high in the midst of record low demand, especially when demand is so low because of an ongoing economic depression that shows no sign of recovery.

Wages have to go up and prices have to come down, in order for people to start spending again.  That's economic reality.  Only time will tell id the geniuses at Linden Lab will wake up to it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Of all the bloody gall...

Okay, so someone was posting in a Phoenix Self Help group chat asking a question, and I responded with a comment that, while not very popular in some circles, is nevertheless absolutely true.
[2013/08/22 15:53]  Gulid Resident: Is there someone that can help me? My avi's body still looks grey even though I am on the v4.4.2 viewer, i did a clean update and everything and yet my avi si grey so idk what to do at this point :/
[2013/08/22 15:53]  Gulid Resident: i mean clean install
[2013/08/22 15:54]  Sophie Katsu: Guild you mean you're on Firestorm?
[2013/08/22 15:54]  Archangel Mortenwold: Might want to check the Firestorm Viewer support group, though I'll tell you right now their only response is likely to go out and buy a new computer.
[2013/08/22 15:54]  Mister Acacia: Guild, this is the Phoenix viewer group. You want the Firestorm group > secondlife:///app/group/3a1be8d4-01f3-bc1a-2703-442f0cc8f2dd/about
[2013/08/22 15:55]  Mister Acacia: Archangel, don't be an idiot.
[2013/08/22 15:55]  Gulid Resident: but mine says phoenix firestorm
[2013/08/22 15:55]  Gulid Resident: i dont know the difference
[2013/08/22 15:56]  Archangel Mortenwold: Who's being an idiot?  That's their response to most issues raised by users.
[2013/08/22 15:56]  Masdison Resident: You don't need a new pc other viewers work
[2013/08/22 15:56]  Mister Acacia: Guild, Phoenix viewer is a V1-based viewer that is now obsolete. Firestorm is made by the same people, it's V2/3 based and is current.
[2013/08/22 15:56]  XLR8RRICK Hudson: Guild I will IM you and help
[2013/08/22 15:57]  Archangel Mortenwold: There's Singularity and there's Cool VL Viewer, which both work well.  As for Phoenix being obsolete, that's true only so long as no one picks up the code and updates it.
[2013/08/22 15:57]  Mister Acacia: That's bullshit Archangel.
[2013/08/22 15:57]  Archangel Mortenwold: Isn't there anyone willing and able to that task?
[2013/08/22 15:57]  Sophie Katsu: why is it bullshit?
[2013/08/22 15:58]  StarlightShining Resident: really Arch - you told such troll rubbish
[2013/08/22 15:58]  Sophie Katsu: Jessica said anyone can have at it if they want to update it
[2013/08/22 15:58]  StarlightShining Resident: sure - go ahead - several have tried
[2013/08/22 15:58]  Mister Acacia: Because the support team does not automatically tell everyone to buy a new pc.
[2013/08/22 15:58]  Masdison Resident: Another thing the ssb has nothing to do with your avatar being gray, your av should look good its all the other av's that are gray
[2013/08/22 15:58]  Archangel Mortenwold: What's this "rubbish" to which you refer?
[2013/08/22 15:58]  Sophie Katsu: has that changed?
[2013/08/22 15:59]  StarlightShining Resident: sophie - go ahead and pick up Phx - many that actually know how to deal woith a viewer have tried and given up
[2013/08/22 15:59]  Sophie Katsu: oh ok i thought you were talking about his other comment
[2013/08/22 15:59]  Sophie Katsu: why are you telling me that?   i'm not a coder
[2013/08/22 16:00]  Sophie Katsu: i just repeated what Jessica said in one of the interviews that i saw on video
[2013/08/22 16:00]  StarlightShining Resident: as you said sophie - anyone can pick it up and take it forward
[2013/08/22 16:02]  Masdison Resident: I still use phoenix at time and its working fine in most sims but if you go to a sim that has the ssb all the av's look totally gray but your av looks good
[2013/08/22 16:03]  Mister Acacia: SSA (was ssb) is on all regions now.
At that point, the moderator blocked my ability to post in group chat.  Here's the screen cap so you can see for yourself.


Now, just to show you how true it is that the typical response to any and all issues with Firestorm really is to go out and buy a brand new computer, here's a screencap lifted right from the Firestorm blog itself.






Wow.  That looks like someone being told to go out and get a new computer, with the ass clown making the reply not even bothering to ask if the person to whom he is replying is even on a PC that uses Windows XP.  My computer runs Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit edition, with the following specs:

CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 260 Processor (3214.35 MHz)
Memory: 8192 MB
OS Version: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit Service Pack 1 (Build 7601)
Graphics Card Vendor: ATI Technologies Inc.
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 6600 Series
Windows Graphics Driver Version: 8.17.0010.1077
OpenGL Version: 4.1.10750 Compatibility Profile Context

And guess what?  Firestorm won't run for you-know-what.  If it doesn't crash on start-up, it does very soon thereafter, and in the interim all I get is blackness with nothing fixing it.  My PC was designed to allow me to run graphics-intensive programs on high settings without breaking a circuit.  Yet the typical response to any and all issues with the badly-programmed Firestorm is "go out and buy a new computer, come into the modern age", as though that and not the crappy programming by the developers is the only thing to blame.  And when this is pointed out, it's met with name-calling, profanity, and censorship.  This is what the Firestorm developers and their merry band of suckups are like, dear readers.  You don't usually see this kind of behavior, this sneering contempt for one's own user base, in a lot of other places.

So yeah, I left that group and have no plans to return.  Now that Server Side Baking has gone grid-wide, I'm using Singularity Viewer full time.  Its building features still aren't quite on the same level as Phoenix, but the developers are a lot more receptive to input than the Firestorm elitists are, so who knows?  It just may end up becoming the premiere viewer for builders.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Seriously?

With a host of bugs and security problems running rampant through their craptastic viewer, forcing many users to roll back to earlier versions, you'd think the lying douchebags who develop Firestorm would be smart enough to do something sane, like, you know, fix the damn bugs instead of denying they are bugs and ordering people to go out and shell out money they don't have for new computers.  But no, now they're seriously considering blocking access to older versions so that the only viewer users can log in on is the last three updates.


Many users can't use the three most recent updates because of insurmountable problems with the viewer code, so they will be effectively blocked from using Firestorm at all should the developers decide to pull this stunt.  Worse is that they are seriously considering blocking access to Phoenix, after a suggestion by one Firestorm user.


According to their own message on the viewer log-in screen on Phoenix, some 28,000 SL users still use Phoenix (I'm one of them).  If Jessica Lyin' and her merry band of assholes do decide to block Phoenix, it would mean further alienating, literally, tens of thousands of people.


This obviously is not sitting well with blog readers:


Honestly, I have never seen this kind of behavior before by any organization or business that wanted to remain open.  Do you think McDonald's got to be the top burger chain by ordering its customers to go out and spend money they don't have just to be able to make use of their product, lying to said customers, and preventing them from gaining access to their restaurants?  Hell no, not when the competition is so fierce.  It would be stupid and suicidal for them as a business.  Firestorm may not be demanding that people pay money for the "privilege" of using their viewer, but just as with any business, they are producing a product — a defective one at that — and if they want people to use that product, they had better grow up and start going to work fixing their many mistakes.

UPDATE: 15 AUGUST, 2013:

Upon logging in this afternoon, I was hit with the following window in Phoenix:






What this means exactly is yet to be known, but I will keep you updated as information comes in.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The End of an Era, and the Beginning of a New One

It's official: after five years, New London Village is leaving TARDIS region for a smaller, less expensive land somewhere.  The realities of Linden Lab's artificially high prices have necessitated scaling back.  So this year's London Village Festival has turned out to be the last at its present location.

Three years ago, when I was driven out of Who Island, the sim I started and initially ran, it was Kat, Laredo, and their core community who gave me a home in SL.  They forgave my monumental fuckup in 2011 and let me stay without banning me from the region, understanding that I'd made a mistake and learned from it.  They've endured relentless attacks from small-minded people who couldn't abide a more successful region than their own, endured through staff changes, kept things interesting and always strived to evolve the sim to see where and how far they could take it.

Now they're moving, and although things will continue, albeit on a smaller scale (New London Systems will continue with its store and lineup of goods), it won't be quite the same as before.  Yet change is a constant factor in real life and Second Life alike, and what really matters at the end of the day is how we deal with it.  I know I'm not alone when I say, "Thank you, Kat, Laredo, and all the others who have put in so much time and energy into New London, through the good times and the bad.  You guys rock AND roll, and I wish you success and happiness in the next phase of your journey through Second Life."

Just to show you how popular New London was and is...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

And the next Doctor is...Peter Capaldi!

It's official: foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker, aka actor Peter Capaldi, is the next Doctor, following the departing Matt Smith.  The fifty-five-year-old Capaldi, who was born in Glasgow, is the same age William hartnell was when he first stepped into the iconic role back in 1963.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but knowing the BBC and Stephen Moffat, maybe not.  At any rate, it'll be interesting to see how he handles the role.  He played a Roman merchant in Series 4's "The Fires of Pompeii" in 2008, and kept it rather clean.  Should be interesting to watch.

On a sadder note, actor Michael Ansara passed away July 31st at the age of ninety-one.  Famous for his presence on television and voice work, Ansara is best remembered in sci-fi circles as the Klingon commander Kang on Star Trek, and as the voice of Mr. Freeze in the animated Batman series.  Rest in peace, Mr. Ansara.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can Phoenix Viewer Be Resurrected? Yes. Will It? Unlikely.

Since the Firestorm elitists decided to kill off their most popular viewer, Phoenix, in favor of the buggy, crashtastic Firestorm, I've been looking for someone with the necessary programming skills to take the files I managed to save and use them to bring the viewer back in some form.  Unfortunately, there have been no takers as of yet.

It's a real shame, because Phoenix has always worked better than Firestorm and always will, mainly because of inherent flaws in the V2-V3 code that V1 never had.  The developers managed to fork Henri Beauchamp's mesh coding and incorporate it into Phoenix, and that helped keep the viewer alive far longer than they wanted to.  But when Linden Lab announced the move to Server Side Baking, the devs saw their opportunity to finally stop updating Phoenix, and so they did.  Far from LL throwing some nonexistent switch to shut down Phoenix and other V1-based viewers, the decision to kill Phoenix was always that of its own development heads.

Now, this isn't to say that Phoenix Viewer can't be resurrected in some form, updated to include SSB and other new "goodies" from LL, such as pathfinding.  Nothing is really "impossible".  But with no one willing to take on the task of updating the code and releasing it under another name, the chances of a comeback are pretty low.  That could mean an uptick in the number of Singularity and Cool VL Viewer users, however, since many SL users prefer viewers that work consistently, use fewer computer resources, and have an easy to understand interface.

So Phoenix Viewer is pretty much dead, and it isn't likely to come back, even under a different name.  That's too bad, because its building features were top notch.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Please Help

I'm going to need money to pay my storage fee for August, and I can't ask you for money again since you already donated but if you wouldn't mind sharing the donation link, that would be greatly appreciated.  The job I applied for at Vision Works is taking so bloody long to finish the paperwork to get me in, but I might actually start this week.  It still won't be in time for me to get my first paycheck before the due date though.  I also expect to have to pay out of pocket for tuition next month, unless the unlikely occurs and I get more financial aid.  Existing every day in mortal terror is wearing me down.

I need $143 by August 2nd to pay my storage unit fee, or I will lose everything I have left in the world.  I can't let that happen.  I just can't.  If I lose all my belongings, I'll never be able to get them back.  It's not important to anyone else, but it's all I have left.  Please donate at the link below:

http://www.gofundme.com/ClevelandVampire

If you've already donated, thank you.  If you haven't, I'm asking only for what you can afford.  If fifteen people donate just ten dollars each, I'll be able to pay off my storage unit for another month, and with any luck my paychecks from my upcoming job will help me pay for it the rest of the year.  It's said that Americans are a pretty generous people to those in need.  Well, I'm in need and I'm asking people to please help me out.  Thank you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Massive Ego

You have to hand it to certain people for having a lot of gall.  It's said that there are signs that a person might be a psychopath.  Among them are a "grandiose sense of self worth", Pathological lying", a tendency for manipulating others in ways that are often harmful to them, "lack of remorse or guilt", shallow emotions, lack of empathy, living a parasitic lifestyle (leeching off of others), poor behavioral control, and sexual promiscuity.  Also included are impulsive behavior, flagrant irresponsibility, and refusal to own up to one's own actions.

Most politicians and lawyers and corporate executives exhibit most or all of these and other symptoms (as do all serial killers, but that's a matter for another post).  But since they're considered the elites of society, they get to run the planet however they see fit and get obscenely rich doing it, rather than being locked away in mental institutions where they belong.

Now to the point of this entry: someone really has a monumentally inflated sense of his own importance.  According to his delusional rants, an entire "community" in Second Life will wither away and die now that he's "quit" it.  Funny, but there are regions in SL the traffic of which have always exceeded that of his own, and yes, his former group might have technically had more members, but really, how many of them were active?  I've been to the region he once called home in his particular circle of elitist fanboys-and-girls, and it's always been practically deserted.  Others in the same "community", if it can be called that, got and continue to get much higher traffic, and whenever I venture there the places are always busy.  People go there, they hang out, they chat, and they enjoy each other's company.  These places actually have a sense of community missing from this self-important person's former region.

All of which leads me to conclude that, despite his ego's desire to be the sole reason his particular "community" even exists in SL, that it never existed before he came and will now die because he's no longer actively involved in it, the "community" will actually go on, just as it did before he came.

The lesson to be learned from all this is that no one person is so important to anything that his absence means the decline and fall of the entire tribe.  That is only true so long as people allow it to be, and I don't get any sense of anyone letting anything go away because one person has left.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Watching a Meltdown

Looks like someone's gotten a dose of what was done to me three years ago by a certain bunch, and by that same bunch.  I could have warned him what he was getting himself into, but he wouldn't have listened.

Now he's threatening to shut down the whole Doctor Who community in SL, burn everyone, and it's incurred the wrath of some who have until now stayed out of the fray.

It's sad seeing someone melt down like this.  He's always had mental problems, but still, I can relate to what he's probably going through right now.  All those years busting his ass making his group the biggest he could make it, and his only reward was to be driven out.

At least, that's the story he's telling.  I have no idea how much is true, how much is exaggeration, and how much is fabricated.  But oddly enough, considering who he's bitching about, I actually have reason to believe him this time.

Anyway, I hope he takes this opportunity of more free time to get the help he needs.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jessica Lyin' Whines, Lies

Jessica Lyin' makes another lie-filled rant on her blog attacking readers while whining about nasty comments made on said blog.  The deceptions are numerous, but here are the ones that are, in my humble opinion, the most laughable.
I have never taken the liberty of speaking my own personal opinion on this blog as it is not a place for personal opinions. It is a place for political correctness, fairness and unbiased, unemotional facts. However, today I’ve decided to make an exception because I feel some opinion is called for at this point in time.
This is a flat out lie right in the very first paragraph.

Here's an example of her "speaking" her own personal opinion:
Not only is this a major update with loads of new features, as well as performance and stability improvements, but it is also a necessary upgrade for you if you want to be able to render avatars correctly when Linden Lab throws the switch for Server Side Baking (appearance). Because all Firestorm users will need to upgrade to this release, we have put it through unprecedented development and testing with no fewer than three levels of Quality Assurance: internal testing, Beta testing and our new Preview Group testing. We truly hope and expect this to be the best release we have ever issued. Grab the downloads from our Downloads page and enjoy!
It is highly questionable as to whether the "new features" are actually improvements, just as it is mere opinion that there are stability and performance improvements.  Given the sheer number of complaints about reduced stability and lower performance that has always plagued Firestorm, Lyon's remarks are nothing more than her own dishonest opinion.

It is also a flat out lie that Linden Lab will somehow throw some mythical switch and block access to "old" viewers.  It is true that viewers that are no longer maintained will experience an increasing number of bugs as Linden Lab introduces new code that the discontinued viewers aren't programmed to handle, leading eventually to viewers that will no longer be usable, but it is simply an outright falsehood to claim that Linden Lab will deliberately block people from logging in on "old" viewers.  The only significant instance I can recall when this actually happened was when the Lab shut down Emerald Viewer, and that really only because the head programmer inserted malicious code into it which he then used to launch a denial of service attack.

It is, again, a matter of opinion that Firestorm users "need" to get the latest viewer.  They may want to, but considering all the alternative viewers available, "need" is a pretty strong word to use.  Next:
Anyone reading the comments on our blog posts since the release of 4.4.0 would almost be lead to believe we were actually trying to ruin SL by releasing a viewer with bugs. They might even be lead to believe we intentionally put the bugs there.


Okay, this isn't a lie per se, but it is a serious grammatical error.  The past tense spelling of 'lead', as in to lead a horse to water, is 'led'.  By using the present tense spelling, it confuses the reader as to what the hell she's blathering about.  If nothing else, it exposes her poor communication skills.  One might think that Lyon and Co. are out to ruin SL for their user base, but I've never seen anyone make that accusation.  Ruining SL for the Firestorm user base is almost certainly an unintended consequence, but it is hardly the driving motivation behind Firestorm and as far as I am aware, no one has actually made any such accusations to the contrary.  Jessica Lyin' makes up more bullshit.
To those of you who have non-constructively complained just for the sake of complaining, flamed us, trolled us, attacked us, and criticized us publicly as if we were trying to release a broken viewer to ruin everyone’s SL experience…. Kindly walk away from your keyboard. Thanks. Your negativity does not help anyone and only makes it harder for us to remain motivated in spending countless hours of our spare time trying to improve your user experience.


This is both dishonest and arrogant in the extreme.  It's bad enough to falsely claim that people are making assumptions about Lyon's motivations that they haven't actually made.  It's a whole other level of batshit crazy to arrogantly order people not to use their computers at all just because their complaints about the instability and poor performance of Firestorm hurt her feelings.  Well, Jessica, maybe if you and your elitist clique of chronic bullshitters focused less on attacking any and all user complaints and actually devoted time to fixing the issues, you'd not get nearly as many complaints.  You'd also get a lot less grief if you pull the bug out of your ass and leave it out.  You and your team of amateurs aren't ha;f as clever or talented as you think you are.  THAT is the reason you keep getting so many complaints.  Your dismissive replies and arrogant commands to the very people whose SL experience you claim you want to improve are what attracts all the negativity you despise.  In short, hypocrite, a lot less negativitity from you will yield a lot less negativity from others.

Here's another bit that had me chuckling:
There are proper channels for support requests and blog comments is absolutely not one of them.


I'd like to know why people don't feel that they can use the "proper channels".  is it possible — indeed likely — that using the "proper channels" doesn't work because when people do use them their issues are ignored or dismissed?  The primary responses to any and all issues had by Firestorm users are to "get a better computer", and "we don't have any problems, so it must be your computer that's the problem", and similar condescending dismissals.  With that kind of response to legitimate issues of stability and performance, it's no wonder people feel they can't get any other response from Lyon or her lackeys except to post in the blog.
We’ve been accused of not caring and/or not trying to deliver to you a good product. This team works damn hard to make every new version of Firestorm better than the last.


You don't care, and obviously you're not trying hard enough because each new version carries with it more bugs than a roach motel.  Like I said, you're not half as clever or talented as you think you are.  Here's a suggestion you'll dismiss condescendingly: grow the hell up and go get some help from people who know how to program, like Henri Beauchamp and Siana Gearz.  At this point, having alienated so many truly talented programmers, I doubt they'll do it, but you never know unless you swallow your pride and try.  Then again, you could simply fork their code and insert it into Firestorm, like you did Henri's mesh code for Phoenix Viewer, but you don't have the programming know-how to make it work as well has he can.  Time to bite the bullet and start facing some unpleasant truths, bitch.
We’ve been accused of not testing enough prior to release.


This might be true — the making of the accusation, that is.  And the accusation is probably accurate.  It's pretty obvious that not enough testing went into the new releases because they were rolled out riddled with bugs ranging from black screens to constant crashes on startup to ridiculously low frame rates.  If you spent more time testing and less time patting yourselves on the back, and devoted more time to working out all the bugs before release instead of insulting your user base every time they point out the bugs in Firestorm, you'd have a lot less stress to deal with.
While the development of 4.4.0 was somewhat rushed on account that we had to get the LL Server Side Baking code out into a release, we were also extra diligent in testing everything to the best of our ability. knowing that everyone would need to be on this release when LL flips the switch for SSB, IT HAD TO BE GOOD. So I even created an additional level of testing with our preview group, re-purposing it as a third tier of QA with roughly 1700 users to run the release builds prior to officially releasing it. And they tested it… and it took several different release builds before we felt we had it right… before the consensus among our internal development and support tests, our beta testers and preview group testers said “This is ready for release”. Well perhaps it wasn’t ready, and as the leader of this project that blame should lie squarely on my shoulders not those of our developers, support personnel or quality assurance testers.


Again, it is a lie that Linden Lab is "flipping a switch" on anything.  Linden lab is at this very moment slowly implementing Server Side Baking throughout the grid.  This is done by writing new code into its default viewer and making changes to the code underlying Second Life itself, doing test servers to make sure it's ready before any gridwide release.  The whole reason it took mesh so long to be released was because the Lab needed to be sure it worked on enough servers before they could roll it out to the rest of the grid.  There has been no date set in stone for when Server Side Baking will make its official debut.

Obviously Lyin' Lyon has no idea how SL or computer programming actually works, and just makes shit up to tell people so she can look like she knows what she's saying, or she does know and is deliberately deceiving people for whatever reason.  I'm gonna go with the former hypothesis on this one.  She's not smart enough to engage in a deliberate campaign of deception, and there's no reason to do so anyway.  So chances are she's just dense and is pulling stuff out of her ass so people don't think she's an even bigger idiot than she's exposed herself to be.

It is nice, though, to see her take some responsibility for rushing a release out before it was ready.  Now, here's where she exposes her earlier lie about having done thorough testing:
For those of you disappointed with 4.4.0, so am I. Even though it seems the vast majority had few problems we did release with some significant bugs. None of which I might add, showed up significantly in our testing. Inventory not loading, Textures not rezzing, Black rectangles in snapshots, Prims not showing up, low performance are some of the problems that either did not show up in our testing or was missed but which did end up existing in the release.


First you said you went through all this testing to make sure there were as few bugs as possible.  But right here you're acknowledging a slew of serious bugs that have a big effect on the majority of users (at least the ones who have been brave enough to complain).  If you had actually done as much testing as you claim, then why did so many bugs get past your team?  You admittedly rushed out a viewer you knew wasn't ready, but now you claim you did thorough testing before releasing the viewer you acknowledged wasn't ready for prime time.  Make up your mind, liar.  You can't have it both ways.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Suggestions for Moffat

I was reading a blog entry by someone who had some ideas about how best to keep Doctor Who going for years to come.  It's a really good read, grammatical errors aside, and you can do that by clicking here.

The blog guest writer, George Edgington, posits that the show must be willing to tell good stories consistently.  He points out how some episodes of the post-2005 show are written basically as what-ifs, with the head writer (in this case, Stephen Moffat), tossing out an idea and the episode writer following through.  The problem is that this often results in stories that really probably shouldn't have been told, or rather, should have been told much better, such as in "The Rings of Akhaten".

Okay, that's a fair point.  Another one is that too often in the show's current form, monsters are created for no other reason than the writers thought they needed them in there somewhere, and that not only leads to poor storytelling but wastes time and money inserting a monster that will likely only be used once and then be forgotten.

I'll expand on this point by referring you back to the Whisper Men in "The Name of the Doctor", those minions of the Great Intelligence who were there simply to add an element of fright to an otherwise good story.  Did we really need them there, especially since Moffat went through the trouble to concoct The Silents and have them be on a quest to prevent the Doctor from ever traveling to Trenzalore?  No, we didn't.  Better it would have been to devote an entire episode to them, because the Whisper Men did have potential, but that potential was wasted.

Another episode in which a monster was created simply to have one inserted was "The Crimson Horror", which proved not at all horrific and indeed, came off as downright silly, as the episode was obviously a light-hearted one.

Moffat needs to stop with this, because frankly the quality of Doctor Who has gone steadily downhill since he took over as head writer.  With Matt Smith leaving after the Christmas episode, we'll have another opportunity to start anew, with a different actor stepping into the main role and a new set of opportunities for great storytelling.  But those opportunities can only be fully realized if there's real storytelling going on, and under Moffat that just hasn't been happening.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: The Name of the Doctor

Talk about titles that mislead, but don't!  The episode isn't about "the name of the Doctor".  It's about the Name of the Doctor: The Doctor, the title, the name he's chosen for himself, and the secret the revalation of which has ramifications throughout the Whoniverse.

Stephen Moffat left us with a cliffhanger ending that introduced (SPOILER ALERT) John Hurt as a future (?) incarnation of the Doctor.  Why the FUCK has he been holding out on us, letting mediocre stories get produced for the second half of Series 7, when he could have made them all awesomely epic and well written?  I don't know and I no longer care.  Moffat really ought to be sacked and replaced with someone who can write well and do it consistently.

Okay, now that I've gone off on my usual tangent, there was actually a lot to like about this episode and a lot not to like, but nothing I could really stay angry about.  Madame Vastra visits a prison, where a deranged convicted murderer waiting to be hanged offers information about the Doctor and Trenzalore in return for his life being spared.  The information turns out to be the location of Trenzalore, where the Doctor's future corpse is buried.  This sets off the story's action, and things get really bad really quickly.

There were a lot of things I didn't like, chief among them being the complete lack of the Silence, the group led by the Edward Munch-looking aliens, which has been trying to prevent the Doctor from ever going to Trenzalore for fear of what the revelation of his greatest secret will do to them.  Well, it seems that, going by what cryptic information this episode gave us, Trenzalore may in fact be the Silents' homeworld, or at least, their primary base of operations, or maybe just the place of their final defeat at the Doctor's hands.  We don't know, because nothing was revealed along those lines.  Instead, we got the Great Intelligence making another appearance, apparently trying to uncover the Doctor's Big Secret as a means of gaining its final revenge on the Time Lord, in an apparently completely unrelated plot.

Granted, the Doctor faked his death to get the Silence off his back, but still, for all the trouble they cause throughout Series 5 with blowing up the TARDIS and destroying all of Creation, and throughout Series 6 with their ploy to turn Amy Pond's and Rory Williams' daughter into a weapon with which to kill the Doctor, you'd think Moffat would have brought them back.  But no, instead we get the Great Intelligence, with no hint as to any previous involvement in any of this, on his own quest to kill the Doctor.  That just annoys the hell out of me.  Moffat, you botched it again in that department!  A pox upon your house!

On the other hand, we finally get the explanation for Clara and how and why she has existed in time and space before.  No, she's not Bad Wolf II like I initially thought.  Just watch the episode and you'll see.  I did like all the appearances of the Doctor's past selves, which included William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and (only as a stuntman dressed in costume) Christopher Eccleston.  We didn't get to see Paul McGann or David Tennant, either through footage or stunt doubles, as with the others.  That was odd, but we should really see all the Doctors in some way in November for the 50th Anniversary episode.  Anything less would be a huge letdown.

Now, as I wrote above, the cliffhanger ending was fantastic and introduced us to a (possibly) future incarnation of the Doctor — perhaps the Final Doctor — played by legendary actor John Hurt.  Only Hurt could portray a guilt-wracked Time Lord the way the future and Final Doctor must ultimately be played.  Brilliant casting decision there.  Oh, and if you're wondering how River Song could be in this episode after her doomed trip to the Library, well, it's Moffat's typically throwaway non-explanation.  I'll just say that even with that monumental cheat, the chemistry between Matt Smith and Alex Kingston was superb and undoubtedly caused quite the number of tears for many audience members.

So, I give "The Name of the Doctor" a B+ or A-.  Moffat still gets a big fat F- from me, but we'll see how the 50th Anniversary goes.

For an alternate take, go here.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Review: Nightmare In Silver

I loved the new design for the Cybermen.  The story was so-so, and had rather obvious flaws.  The chief of these is that the Mondas-originated Cybermen at some point merged with the Cybus Cybermen, according to episode writer Neil Gaiman (who wrote the Series 6 episode "The Doctor's Wife"), but we never actually got to see this, nor was any mention of it made in the episode itself.  So we end up with the Doctor managing to delay the Cyber-Planner's invasion of his mind with a gold ticket, a weakness the Cybus Cybermen never had, and no explanation as to why they have it.

The episode was saved somewhat by the incredible acting talents of Matt Smith and guest star Warwick Davis (of Star Wars, Willow, and Leprachaun fame), but neither of these two fine actors was given much to work with.  Smith, by the way, has confirmed that he will be returning for Series 8.

I don't know why Moffat is letting such poor writing permeate the second half of Series 7, but the next episode, "The Name of the Doctor", is supposed to be freakin' epic and from all we've been given so far, it's going to be yet another monumental letdown.  I don't know if Moffat is trying to get himself fired from the show, but if he is, a simple resignation would have sufficed.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: The Crimson Horror

This episode was kind of "meh".  Mark Gatiss, who wrote the teleplay, went for comic effect setting the story in 1893 Yorkshire, a year after the second Clara died.  People are turning up dead, petrified, and stained crimson, their faces twisted in expressions of horror, hence the title of the episode.  The impossible reflection of the Doctor's face in the eyes of the latest victim leads Madame Vastra, her wife and assistant Jenny, and Sontaran manservant Straxx to investigate an organization preaching doomsday and offering the chosen survivors a utopian vision of the future.

As was the case with every episode of Series 7's second half except Cold War, I just wasn't feeling blown away, and I blame that on the diminishing quality of the writing.  Head writer and show runner Stephen Moffat keeps promising us big things but always fails to deliver, and that is getting seriously irritating.  Neil Gaiman returns to pen the next episode, which features newly revamped Cybermen.  I'll let you know how that one goes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Journey to the Center of the TARDIS

I've got mixed feelings about this episode.  On the one hand, it was enjoyable seeing areas of the new TARDIS, which included a glimpse at the swimming pool, the library, an observatory, and even the Doctor's store room of cherished mementos.  On the other hand, the story was mediocre, which is to be expected from a show run by Stephen Moffat, and the ending was another "it never happened" cheat that abused time travel as a storytelling aspect.

Yes, I just gave you a major spoiler.  Considering how awful it was, you're not missing anything by knowing how the episode ends.

Okay, the plot revolves around the Doctor, Clara, and a trio of space salvage brothers as they try to save themselves from hideous burnt-mummy-clay-things.  At the same time the Doctor sets the TARDIS controls to a level Clara is able to handle, in an effort to bring her and the ancient time ship closer together, the salvagers lock a powerful tractor beam on the exterior, which happens to be materialized in space, heavily damaging the TARDIS.  Upon waking up from under the junk pile where the salvage team's spaceship dropped the exterior, the Doctor then proceeds to threaten them to help him locate Clara, who is lost somewhere inside the TARDIS, by activating a self destruct sequence.  And as is quickly evident, the five are not alone, and soon five become four.

There were a few nice touches, such as when one salvager removes a console panel only to hear the echoes of voices from the past, bringing us another reminder of the classic series, and another when Clara discovers the library and, irritated and impressed at the same time, reacts with the line, "now you're just showing off."  Also, while there, Clara makes an interesting if predictable discovery that, really, shouldn't have been included -- at least not the way it was in this episode.

So we have yet another contrived ending that once again leaves us feeling robbed of what should have been an epic moment in the development of Clara's and the Doctor's relationship.  I give "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" a C- for poor writing.  I give Stephen Moffat a big fat F for his atrocious handling of Series 5-7.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

LOLing All Over the Place

Remember how in my last post on the topic of craptacular Firestorm Viewer, I reported that development team head Jessica Lyin' claimed that even though they have a workable release, her team wasn't going to release it until after Linden Lab officially rolls out Server Side Baking?  Well, it looks like she got tired of fielding complaints about having to wait an indeterminate time for the next release because she went ahead and released it anyway...and no surprises, the new release is as full of bugs as ever.

Users are reporting the usual crashing-on-startup, voice not working, and now the entire viewer screen going black with no way of resolving the problem.  After replying to a few complaints with links to her never-responsive JIRA, Lyin' finally gave up on answering questions about the bugs and told everyone to just file a JIRA instead of posting their problems in the blog.

Now, this comes after Jessica Lyin' claimed the testing went through no fewer than three phases before release.  Somehow I doubt all that much testing was done.

Rubbing salt in the wound: lying and saying they've worked hard to make Firestorm look like Phoenix as much as possible, when they obviously haven't, and telling people to go use some other third party viewer.

Review: Hide

This was a 'monster in the house' story that turned out to be something else entirely.  No one actually dies.  I know.  It's a rarity, right?  Anyway, get ready for a lot of spoilers.

It's 1974.  Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) and his assistant, psychic empath Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine of Call the Midwife fame) try to summon the ghost of a woman who haunts the mansion they're working in when there is a knock on the door.  It's the Doctor and Clara, who identify themselves as "ghostbusters" sent by military intelligence to help find out what's going on.  The Doctor gives away Palmer's past as a military intelligence operative, contradicting the professor's story about having been a POW in World War II.  This would make more sense if actor Dougray Scott, who is forty-seven, wasn't too young to have held such a position in a war that took place over thirty years prior to the story, but for some reason writer Neil Cross felt compelled to give a nod to Third Doctor Jon Pertwee's service during WWII and didn't feel any need to get his chronology correct.  Damn lazy bastard.

As things start to get weird, and then comically frightening, the Doctor and Clara take turns playing matchmaker to Alec and Emma, who have feelings for one another but are each too timid to express themselves to one another.

So basically, it's really a love story set against a haunted house.  But there are some darker elements thrown in.  The TARDIS, still not fully liking or trusting Clara, gets under her skin by using a holographic interface to irritate her.  Clara's response: "Oh, you are a cow!" was hilarious.  It was kind of creepy and funny at the same time.  And when the Doctor reveals his true reason for coming to the mansion to Emma, grilling her about her impression of Clara, which turns out to be quite normal, his disbelief, his refusal to accept her for what she is, suggests hostility on his part toward his own companion, masking it in his usual friendly, buffoonish demeanor.

My favorite part came when Clara, after having witnessed Earth in its distant past, near-past, and far-flung future, practically traumatized by the weight of it all, confronts the Doctor about how he must view human beings: we're all ghosts to him, because from his perspective he's seen everyone come and go — literally.

And yet for all those smaller, brilliant moments, there were obvious flaws in the story that kept me from enjoying it as much as I did "Cold War", the preceding episode.  Writer Neil Cross's bad chronology, for starters, and the lack of any real tension or fright, just didn't mesh well with the ending, and when we learn who the "ghost" is and what her relationship is to the mansion, Alec, and Emma, it all felt very contrived and fake.  "Hide" is only slightly better than Cross's other episode script, "The Rings of Ahkaten", but that's not really saying much in its favor.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Review: Cold War

Alright, nothing bad really to say about this episode; I actually couldn't think of any major problems I had with it.  I did enjoy it, so count this review as a positive one.

The year is 1983.  A Soviet nuclear submarine is performing a launch drill somewhere near the North Pole when it is interrupted by Professor Grisenko (played funnily and brilliantly by David Warner).  The first mate opines to the captain that the Americans' aggressiveness is an indication that the Cold War is about to become a hot one, and that they must continue with further drills.  The older, less hot-headed captain informs him that the crew has practiced enough for one day and orders a stand down.

A little later, we see a sailor thawing out a block of ice in which some kind of specimen, thought to perhaps be a mammoth, is trapped.  Suddenly an armored hand bursts through the ice and grabs the sailor by the neck.  The submarine soon begins to sink, and it is then that the TARDIS appears on board with the Doctor and Clara exiting thinking they've landed in Las Vegas.  And from there "Cold War" really kicks into gear as we get to see an Ice Warrior for the first time in almost forty years!

Doctor Who contributing writer Mark Gatiss did a very good job with this episode, and director Douglas MacKinnon handled the story quite capably.  Gatiss had apparently been wanting to do one featuring the Ice Warriors, and after much begging finally convinced head writer Stephen Moffat to let him give it a go.

The rest of the episode revolves around trying — not always successfully — to negotiate a non-violent resolution to the crisis at hand, mirroring the handling of the Cold War itself.  The Ice Warrior, a famous Grand Marshall named Skaldek, is compelled by Martian law to go to war against any who attack an Ice Warrior, and having been attacked upon waking after 5,000 years in a block of ice, he's understandably cranky.  The episode really did a good job of playing on this as a reminder of the Cold War during the 1980s.  Although it was actually winding down at this point, with Russia going bankrupt as a result of overspending on its military and growing disillusionment with Soviet-style communism, paranoia and rhetoric on both sides were still running high.

David Warner as Professor Grisenko illustrates this disillusionment with an almost carefree attitude and a love for American pop music, which he listens to through his headphones.  By contrast, First Mate Stephashin is all too eager to see nuclear war break out, figuring that the Americans will launch their missiles soon so the Soviets might as well beat them to the punch.  Captain Zhukov, played by Cunningham, represents the middle ground between these two extremes.

Also well handled was giving us, the viewers, for the first time, a glimpse of what the Ice Warriors look like underneath all that armor they wear.  Although the CGI makes him look a bit silly, the practical effects are much better, and thankfully the CGI isn't used too much.  Check this out and tell me what you think:

"I floss my teeth with the tendons of vanquished foes."
Actually looks kinda badass, doesn't he?  The creative team wisely decided not to deviate too much from the classic design, opting simply to give him a gigantic size and body-builder physique (as opposed to the barrel-shaped costumes worn in the classic series).  Actor Spencer Wilding, standing at 6'7", was the perfect choice to portray the Ice Warrior Skaldek, having previously acted the part of the Minotaur in "The God Complex" and the Tree King in "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe".

All in all, I give this episode a B+.  For another take on "Cold War", Den of Geek's review.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: The Rings of Akhaten

I'm not quite sure what to make of this episode.  A lot of it reminds me of "The Beast Below", meaning the alien marketplace set, the kid in distress, the new Companion saving the day instead of the Doctor.  I hate it when Moffat recycles stuff.  Can he not come up with anything new?  On the other hand, there were moments I liked that made the episode worthwhile.  And so, swiping Jayne Gudkov's format once again, here I go...

WHAT I LIKED

The Doctor stalking the latest incarnation of Clara through time as he tries to figure her out.  His exclamation, "She's not possible!" revealed his frustration upon realizing who and what she might really be.  It conveys once again that, as usual, the Doctor is several steps ahead of everyone else.

Showing how Clara's parents met, establishing before our eyes that, yes, she is — at least on the surface — pretty much what she appears to be: a normal human woman.  That this stands in stark contradiction with what the Doctor might or might not know about her only adds to the mystery surrounding the character.  I like a good puzzle!

The TARDIS doesn't seem to like Clara, much as it doesn't like Captain Jack Harkness (who is a fixed temporal "fact" because of the actions of Rose Tyler in her brief time as the Bad Wolf entity).  The reason for this might seem obvious: this is a woman who has existed with the same body and name at three different points of space and time, for reasons yet to be revealed.  The TARDIS, being temporally aware of the past, present, and future, knows who and what Clara is even if she and the Doctor don't.  I can only guess, but she's got to be the product of an entity similar to Bad Wolf, possibly even Bad Wolf herself.  Think about what the entity is capable of: fixing things and people throughout space and time as a message to the Doctor and her past self.  Why wouldn't this be something along the same line?  Is it possible that Clara or someone who knows her somehow morphed into Bad Wolf II by absorbing energy from the Time Vortex, just as Rose did, and orchestrated the events within the story by replicating Clara throughout time and space?  If I'm right, it's Moffat recycling things that have already been done in recent memory, and it's a huuuuge cheat for which he may never be forgiven.  On the other hand, depending on how it plays out, it could be epic.  We'll just have to wait and see.

WHAT I LOVED

That whole speech toward the end where the Doctor tells the monster about everything he's seen and experienced.  Matt Smith revealed again just how awesome a choice he was to fill the role.  I couldn't help but get misty-eyed.

WHAT I DISLIKED

You just know I'm gonna have problems with anything in a show run by Stephen Moffat, but this one is (relatively) minor.  When the Doctor and Clara rush to an asteroid-based pyramid to save a little girl, they take time out to buy a space moped instead of using the TARDIS.  HELLO!  I understand Neil Cross, the writer of this episode, wanted emotional moments, such as Clara having to trade her mother's ring for the moped (the people on this planetoid use things that have sentimental value as currency).  But really, this whole not using the TARDIS just because it makes things more difficult for the Doctor and Clara and allows the excuse of making the episode longer, doesn't work at all.  Shame on you, Moffat, for letting this plot point be used.

WHAT I HATED

The smiley face on the monster gas giant.  LAME.  That Clara and the Doctor essentially snuffed out the star or "mother" planet around which at least seven inhabited worlds orbited and it had no apparent devastating effect (thanks, Jayne, for pointing that out).  That, in defiance of the laws of physics and what we know of the vacuum of space, Clara and the Doctor are able to ride a hover-moped through space with no protection from the vacuum of space whatsoever and not freeze or die of asphyxiation.  It is unforgivable that a science-fiction show completely ignores good science, and presents horrendously bad science, so frequently.  Come on, people!  You can do better than that!

QUOTES FOR THE WATERCOOLER

The Doctor: I've seen bigger.

Clara: Really?

The Doctor:  Are you joking!?  It's massive!

NEXT EPISODE

"Cold War", featuring an Ice Warrior on a nuclear submarine in the 1980s.  David Warner guest stars.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Jessica Lyin' to Firestorm users: Don't Expect Working Update Any Time Soon

Well, at least she's not springing any big surprises on anyone.  Jessica Lyin' posted an entry on her blog April 5th stating flat out that there will be no usable update to Firestorm any time soon.  With server side baking coming at some undisclosed date in the near or not-so-near future, disgruntled users asking questions but receiving no honest or real answers, and as usual, Ms. Lyin' is, well, lying.

On the one hand, she says that the "coming Firestorm release DOES support Server Side Baking."  Then she turns around and says that she and her team of suckups won't release the new viewer now "[b]ecause Linden Lab has not released their viewer with Server Side Baking yet. And if we release Firestorm now, and then LL realizes there needs to be more code changes for Server Side Baking that will affect both their viewer and ours, then we will have to do yet another release immediately after."

Okay, so where, you might be asking, is the lie?  In the first sentence of the blog entry, Lyin' says flat out "that the release is quickly approaching."  Define "quickly."  If we go by the timeline Linden Lab has traditionally adopted, "quickly" could be six months or a year from now, or two years from now, or maybe never.  That's not what any reasonable person would call "quick".

So basically, Jessica Lyin' is telling Firestorm users that although the next update will be ready to roll out very soon, if not now, they're going to wait to release it until Linden Lab officially rolls out Server Side Baking, which could be a while in coming.

Commenter Bear Silvershade rightly called B.S. on this one, stating:

I had to think about responding to this thread, because invariably, the small number of people who voice an opposing view get bashed or labelled a troll. Sadly, that is likely to happen to me, but I am so frustrated.
So let me see if I have this right. You are not releasing a version of Firestorm you have, that you feel is stable, and would likely include the long awaited snapshot tiling fix, because… you don’t think it would be cool to have to release an update a few days to a few weeks after this one?
I admit I am not a loyal firestorm user. Though I think it is one of the best viewers available, the infrequency of updates to take advantage of newer code or newer features has always been a concern. That came to a head in December when the tiling bug fix came out. Since one of my main activities in SL is making images, that was a major fix, and one that many others had been waiting for as well.
That’s when Firestorm lost me completely. It’s now four months without that fix being implemented. The absurdity of including William Weaver’s phototools to make this an ideal viewer for image makers, even starting a flickr group to show off images made with it, but not getting out the tiling fix as soon as possible still has me shaking my head.
Other viewers, including LL, release regularly. Are you saying that you can’t even come close to living up to that standard?
More annoying, it appears from one blogger’s comments that there was a stable beta available some weeks ago, apparently only available to a select few.
Now we have to keep waiting, even though you have something you feel is releasable? I am sure I am not alone in being willing to update my viewer a few days after a release. It happens with all kinds of software.
Now, before the putdowns start, you really want users avoiding posting for fear of retaliation or otherwise being shut down or disregarded? Or would you rather have an inclusive group where users feel like they are contributing and their concerns are honestly being listened to.
I will likely try the new viewer when it comes out, hoping that it lives up to the wait, though I have some concern that it won’t.
But that’s as may be. The fact is, in the end, there are other viewers out there, including the Lab’s, that do offer regular updates, so problems are dealt with and new features/fixes are available.
Jessica, I applaud your and the team’s commitment to quality. But it’s time to leave this no beta model/favoured few model behind and show a little more respect for your user base.
Naturally, Lyin' went on the attack with her patented brand of lies combined with condescension and dismissal.  Bear replied:
Perhaps you could try not trying to pack so many changes into each release? You will always be chasing the next feature, and if you are waiting till a whole bunch is perfect, well this is the result, that needed working features aren’t released, because you are waiting on something else.
As to regular releases, well, I am not worried about how popular the viewer is. Exodus, like Zen, appears to have ceased development, though while they were developing, offered nightly builds. Singularity, when the tiling fix and others features/patches came out, got a baseline viewer out that they plan to build on, in a reasonable time frame.
But Dolphin releases regularly, usually every two weeks or so. Niran, while I think it goes too far wit UI changes, also releases regularly.
But as to “irresponsibly releasing a build” that’s what a system of development and beta releases are for… let us decide, instead of adopting this paternalistic and, frankly, somewhat condescending attitude. If I am trying a LL dev build, as I often do, and it has a problem, I don’t get angry at them, it was my choice. I’ve never got to report a bug, since others usually find them before me.
Though you say you are not dismissing my concerns, frankly, that is exactly what you are saying in your final sentence. “We have reasons, you just don’t understand” is how that comes across to me.
Maybe if I say it more clearly.
1) It is disrespectful of your larger user base to release betas to a special few so they can enjoy the benefits (and, yes take the risks)
2) It is a poor model that ends up with four months between releases, leaving users without fixes that are ready to go.
3) Incremental releases allow us to decide what level of chance we are willing to take.
4) Contrary to your comments, many viewers, including LL and TPVs, release more regularly, getting improvements into the stream as they are available.
More lies, condescension, and dismissal from Jessica Lyin', followed by a disheartened final response from Bear.  Again, no big surprise there.  The baseline response from Ms. Lyin' and her merry band of suckups is always to go on the attack, dismiss any and all criticisms no matter how legitimate, and engage in rampant dishonesty.

User Sorrow made the following observation:
Only issue is they generally don’t screw up either. Every CoolVL weekly patch has worked flawlessly, every Singularity Alpha build aren’t problematic, same as Nirans, etc.
Only up to date released problematic and buggy viewer is Firestorm.
With firestorm updates being so slow, by the time this next version is released, it will already fallen 1-2 months behind the Official, CoolVL, Singularity Alpha, etc as the other viewers are already far ahead in development with the next batch of LL Patches, code, and new features..
It’s almost like, instead of thinking ahead like other 3rd party developers and working with LL developmental code and beginning to code and enact their own version of the LL future development, instead you wait until the official LL viewer to implement it, then barely start working on it, while on the other hand, the other 3rd party viewers have already released their own updates as they already completed development of the new features.
Sorta like this Server Side baking.. it’s been talked about for months and months, implemented on the developmental viewer then beta viewer for months as well, however it doesn’t seem like the FS team bothered* to begin working on it during this time (like the other developers), instead waited all the way when LL was ready to roll it out on the official viewer, thus months behind everyone else.
“viewers with such a small user base can afford to screw up where we cannot.”
you should follow CoolVL’s or Singularity’s model, have weekly or bi-weekly (even monthly would be better than nothing) releases labeled as “Alpha (Use At Your Own Risk)” no matter how small the patch, having regular releases, even if they are alpha or beta versions, this will more likely keep everyone satisfied, plus help your team locate and identify bugs if you have an alpha version JIRA rather than previously where the bugs end up being located within the official major releases (much better idea than this “Preview Idea” as a few days probably isn’t enough to locate all problems in a viewer.
I put the key parts in bold-type. *: I corrected a grammatical error so the sentence conveys the writer's meaning.  Anyway, Sorrow makes a very good point: Henri Beauchamp and Siana Gearz update their viewers much more frequently than Jessica Lyin's team does, and their crews are smaller.  They do, however, have the benefit of being more talented programmers, and they stay ahead on the updates.  Lyin' is basically dismissing these and other TPV developers as being too small and insignificant to emulate so as to better serve her users.  Do you feel insulted by that attitude?  I am, and I don't even use Firestorm.

So there you have it.  Jessica Lyin' has what she claims (probably falsely, as usual) is a workable update to her crappy viewer, but won't release it until after Linden Lab rolls out Server Side Baking, which means it could be any time between now and never.

Oh well.

By the way, for any of you programming wizards out there who might be interested, I managed to download the code for Phoenix Viewer (not Firestorm), so that it can be updated and resurrected under a different title.  I have no programming skills, but I can pass on the files for you to work with.  What you do with them is up to you.  Send me an e-mail or reply in the comments to let me know if you're interested and I'll find a way to share the files with you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: The Bells of Saint John

So the Doctor has finally found Clara Oswald, after what appears to be (from his perspective in time) a very long search.  If you want a better review than this, I suggest going here.  I'll take a page from Jayne Gudkov's style and give you a breakdown of what I liked, what I disliked, and 'best' moments.

WHAT I LIKED

The banter and on-screen chemistry.  Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt Smith work really well together.  It's great when actors have a genuinely good working relationship, and it shows on the screen.  It's like Coleman is River Song (played by Alex Kingston) with twenty-five years taken off.

The mystery of Clara Oswald.  Who is this woman?  Why does she keep popping up throughout time, same face, body, and voice, dying only to reappear somewhere else in time and space with apparently no memory of her previous existences?  Moffat, if you screw this one up, you deserve to be sacked from the BBC.  Don't use your usual throw-away, non-stick explanations.

The reintroduction of the Great Intelligence (and other old school foes).  As we head into this November's fiftieth anniversary episode, the writers are wisely bringing out enemies from the classic series — not rebooted or alternate dimension versions, but the actual enemies.  The Great Intelligence has resurfaced now in two episodes of the "new" series (which is now in its seventh season, so it's hardly new anymore), and I can tell right now that its presence is tied up in some way to Clara, though we won't know until the Big Revelation.

WHAT I LOVED

The Doctor (and Clara) riding a moped again, a nod to the 1996 television movie featuring Paul McGann.  Oh, and he used the moped's anti-grav feature to ride straight up the side of the London Shard skyscraper.  Brilliant!

The Spoonheads robots.  They looked like something straight out of a cheesy 1940s sci-fi serial.  Awesome!

WHAT I DISLIKED

Are you seriously telling me that police boxes are now so rare in Britain that almost no one remembers them?  There are still a few scattered throughout the country, such as the one at Earl's Court, a location that was referred to in the episode when the baddies were looking for the TARDIS's familiar police box form.  So why does no one refer to the exterior as a police box, and instead call it only a "blue box"?

The lack of originality.  Didn't we already see people being downloaded into a network of monitors in the Series Two episode "The Idiot's Lantern"?  It's already been done before.  No need to repeat that.

WHAT I HATED

The Doctor keeps lying about his age.  During Sylvester McCoy's run as the Seventh Doctor, the Time Lord's age was established as being 953, give or take.  Then, when the series was revived in 2005, fifty-two of those years were shaved off — a writing error, no doubt, but one they felt compelled to stick with to maintain some continuity.  Besides, as he goes through his lives, the Doctor obviously feels much older than, say, a Time Lord might in his or her early lives, so it's understandable that he would want to lie to make himself younger than he really is.  But it's already been established in the episode "A Town Called Mercy" that he is now 1,200 at least.  And it's obviously been quite some time since he lost Amy and Rory.  So why, when he and Clara escape the Spoonheads and find themselves on a runaway airliner, does he give his age at 1,000?  Now he's shaving centuries off his age!  C'mon, really?  Dude...

LINES YOU JUST HAVE TO QUOTE AT THE WATER COOLER

The Doctor:  "Human souls trapped like flies in the world wide web, stuck forever, crying out for help."
 
Clara: "Isn’t that basically Twitter?"
Clara calling the TARDIS a "snog box".

(Thank you, Jayne!)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Did I mention I'm now in the Green Lantern Core?

This past Friday I was privileged to graduate from 'poozer' training in the Green Lantern Core group in Second Life.  I have to tell you, it is an honor to be involved with these people.

The GLC began roughly ten years ago as a fan group for the Green Lantern comic book series published by DC Comics.  Eventually they became involved in protecting a region called 'A Better World', which is dedicated to helping educate others on the crisis in Darfur (genocides, refugees, and so on) from attacks by griefers, and became more involved in anti-griefing activities as the years went by.

But the GLC is more than simply an anti-griefing group.  We are heavily involved in charity events, including Relay For Life in Second Life, helping to raise money to find a cure.


One part of 'poozer' training was the class collaborating to put on a charity event, which tested our ability to work together to create and run a charity event.  Unfortunately my participation in that was limited because of Internet connectivity issues, but those are (sort of) resolved now, and what I was able to contribute, I'm thankful to have been given the opportunity.

(Of course, with being a Core member comes my share of griefer attacks.  Last night, for example, as I was popping into the group's sandbox, I came upon a bunch of 'bees' being rezzed, and an object caused a drop-down menu to appear ad infinitum with a link to some random blog.  This all combined to crash the region, prompting a sim reboot on Linden Lab's end.  Attacks like this are frequent enough to require Core member presence at all times, though obviously this isn't always possible.)

Thanks to GLC member, ION, and trainer Trinatiana, GLC member Cathy Gray, and others for leading the training courses and putting up with all our questions.  You all rock AND roll!

Problems with Server Side Baking

Here are some links regarding the in-development server-side-baking feature being prepared for gridwide use by Linden Lab:

http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/sl-projects-week-8-3-viewer-materials-and-ssb-load-test/

http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/playing-with-ssb-and-viewers-quick-test/

http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/viewer-round-up-summary-week-8/

As expected, there are some issues with the feature, but many Third Party Viewer (TPV) developers seem to be getting their viewers up to speed, most notably Singularity and Cool VL Viewer.

Not surprisingly, the Firestorm elitists and liars are having a tougher time getting their resource-hogging, crashtastic, low-frame-rate to work, and are claiming that it will likely be some time before a stable version that can handle Serve Side Baking will be released -- so naturally, the Firestorm clowns will release a version of the viewer that has SSB before they can even get it working properly with Linden Lab's code.  "Genius" at its finest.

Also not surprising is that some commenters aren't buying the lies Jessica Lyin' and her merry gang of suckups are telling.  "Joseph" writes:
It really does not surprise me at all that Firestorm is in such a terrible state right now. And at the meeting it sure had a tone and implied like so many problems are caused by LL’s code even though Jessica did make sure to state that many problems come from Firestorm itself. The LL 3.4.5 is a GREAT viewer and certainly isn’t some mess of buggy code like it sounds like the Firestorm devs make it out to be. If any Firestorm user or any of the Firestorm devs truely used the LL 3.4.5 viewer for a decent amount of time they would see that not only does it perform a hell of a lot better than Firestorm it has a hell of a lot less bugs. Firestorm is a crappy clunky mess in comparison. All things considered the LL 3.4.5 viewer is an awesome viewer. The problems Firestorm is having right now is because instead of just adding features and UI improvements over the past couple of years to the LL viewer, they have delved and messed with so much of the internals of the program itself thinking they can do everything better than the lab. If one looks at the commits to the code since the beginning of Firestorm over two years ago, the developers have mucked and messed with so much more of the code than just adding features and UI changes. Instead of just letting LL deal with the internals of the program they have gone in and tinkered and messed with so much of the guts of the program itself and this is why now after merging it is such a terrible mess. If the Firestorm devs had a minimalistic approach to what they changed in the code other than UI improvements and adding features, the current internal version wouldnt be the unstable horrendous god awful mess it is now. Anyone can go to their mercurial repository and see exactly what they do to their source code, and see hundreds if not thousands of commits since the beginning of the project of them making changes to the core engine of the program so to speak and that is why they are in the mess they are in today. Often times Phoenix was described as a monstrous unmaintainable collection of hacks held together by bail wire, spit, duct tape etc…and the irony is that now a days that is exactly what Firestorm has become.
As evidenced from this and other comments, not everyone believes what Ms. Lyin' has to say, and for good reason -- people know from actually trying to use Firestorm that it's an unworkable mess of code, the very same critiques used against Phoenix, which actually works on more people's computers and which has now been abandoned by the developers.

As for the Server Side Baking issues, it's clear that the official roll-out may not come quite as soon as previously stated by Linden Lab or others.  It'll be implemented across the grid sooner or later, but it seems clear that the TPVs most likely to have stable viewers that have SSB won't include Firestorm.