A holiday greeting

Every year, it's a challenge to think of a new way to send a holiday greeting.
  • I've done the generic buy-from-the-Hallmark-store packs of cards with handwritten signatures.
  • I've done the cards with your name already preprinted, so you don't have to strain your hand signing all of them.
  • I've done the personally designed handmade cards.
  • I've done the Plaxo e-cards.
  • I've done the email greetings.
  • I've done the scrapblog.com greetings.
  • I've done the create-a-website greetings.
  • I've done the stereoscopy greetings.
This year, I did a machinima.

There's still a very personal homemade feel to it.  That's me singing into my Logitech headset mic.  Complete with pops, scratchy voice, and sniffly inhales.  While searching for podsafe music, I found a website called ujam.com that generates an accompaniment for you in different styles and lets you add effects to your voice as well.  They were having a contest for Christmas songs and, since I was planning to do this song for the machinima anyway, I thought I'd shoot two birds with one song.  ;)

That took me a whole night.  It's HARD to sing karaoke.  You have to sing it in their style at their speed and you can't make any changes at all.  Anyway, after a gazillion tries, I decided it was good enough for what I need and I set it aside.

I've been having problems with my machine so I reinstalled the OS from scratch, and, after reinstalling the Second Life Viewer 3, it said that I didn't have an up-to-date driver or my equipment wasn't compatible with SL.  What on earth?!?  Phoenix gave me the same error.  Then I realized that Windows 7 thinks that all I have is a standard VGA graphics adapter.

Reinstalling new drivers from the amd.com website didn't fix it.  Nor did drivers from the Dell website.  I had to call Dell again yesterday to get their help for US$89.  (My warranty had expired.)  But the tech fixed it and it sees both my graphics cards again!  I can even do shadows now!  The shadows are pixelated, but they're there!  Geez, have I been missing out all this time just because Windows didn't recognize my graphics cards?!?

Anyway, I decided to film the shadows and I remembered I had to do my holiday greetings yet.  And I realized that if I don't finish it now, I won't have time until the new year.  So I spent last night doing the machinima portion of it.

I started filming my avatars, but it didn't quite fit the theme of the music.  I originally wanted to do a creche made up of my alts, but I don't have the time to do the animations and the costumes.  So I bought a creche in the Second Life Marketplace instead.  I set up a floating island in the sky above the Mer Betta store, added some rocks and palm trees (yes, I'm well aware these are the wrong type of palm trees but it's all I have), and chose the Midnight windlight and darkened it even more.  A little adjustment of the East direction to get the moon in the right spot, and I was taping.

I don't think I had enough footage to work with, so there's a lot of stops and starts if you look closely enough.  Next year, I'll start planning earlier.  And I'll have more experience with machinimas by then.

And for the first time in five years, it's the same greeting "card" for friends in both real life and Second Life.  And I'm not going back to static paper cards again.  See, I'm saving trees!

Happy holidays!

Gone blind

Well, nobody warned me that I'd go blind if I have too much SLex....  ;)

Anyway, I can't see anything in SL, so I've had to cancel the photoshoot for the book cover art for now.

I had been lagging severely the past week.  It started when I had to clean-reinstall Firestorm because llTargetOmega wasn't working.  But the lag wasn't just in SL anymore, so I ran some diagnostic tools online and they told me that I had more than 3000 registry errors.

Instead of shelling out US$40 for a fix, I decided to format my c: drive and reinstall Windows 7 from scratch.  After that, I reinstalled all other tools I use currently -- Gimp, Blender, and a whole slew of other stuff.  It took me all night.  When I finally got to installing the Second Life Viewer 3, it told me that my graphics card driver was not up-to-date or that I didn't have the right equipment.

So, I went to the Dell website and I kept getting errors when I tried to go to their drivers page.  So, I went to AMD's website because it's an ATI graphics card.  But after installing the app that installs drivers, it says that I don't have a compatible adapter.  I looked in the Device Manager, and, sure enough, it says I have a "Standard VGA Graphics Adapter".

So, I went back to the Dell website to see if I could chat online with a technician, but the website said that I had to call them because I own an Alienware.  So, I fired up Skype and called the number, and after wending my way through the convoluted phone menu, I finally got to talk to someone named Jonathan.

After I explained my plight and what I had already tried, he said that I should use the drivers from the Dell website, not the ones from the AMD website.  I argued that I couldn't get to that page.

Because my warranty had expired, he said it would cost me US$89 for him to install the right drivers.  I said, "WHAT?!?"  Thankfully, he agreed that it's not fair to charge me that amount, when it's their fault that I can't get to their drivers webpage and install it myself.  At that point, he had already taken control of my machine to take a look, so I was able to show him the error on the webpage.  It turned out that I had to use Internet Explorer to get to that page.  I was using Firefox.

Meanwhile, he was trying to upsell me to a US$329 one-year warranty extension.  So I asked firmly if we could escalate it slowly.  And we agreed that I'd try to install the drivers from Dell first and call back if it doesn't work.

It didn't work.  I got the exact same message from the drivers I got from AMD.  But, by then it was already noon and I hadn't had any sleep all night, so I went to take a nap.  When I got up, it was already after business hours.  So I have to wait until tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm logging into SL using Metabolt, which is a text-only viewer.  But I can't get much done with that, since it makes me practically blind inworld.

See? It had nothing to do with SLex.

Unfortunately.  :D

No lovers on the cover

Under the covers, yes.  But not ON the cover.

I'm talking about the cover of the book.  *grins*

I'm working on the artwork for the book cover for "Love, Like Dim Sum" and I sent out this call for male avatars.  I could have just asked my lovers to pose for me.  After all, most of the book is about my relationships.

But, I decided to exclude lovers.  And even potential lovers.

I don't want any competition among them.  And since many of them rarely log in anymore, it's not fair that some lovers would be on the cover and others would not.

And I need to get this done soon.  It's due Monday for a mention in a very important media newsletter that will come out mid-February, which is my target release date, so I don't have time to wait for scarce lovers to log in again.

So, if you were not invited to this photo shoot, it's because a) you were a lover, b) you are a lover, or c) you're a potential lover.  So consider it a compliment. ;)