It’s starting again…
A fun ride through the cyperspace
Archive for October, 2006
Thanks to Jörg who came up with this spontaneously when he saw the pen lying around at my desk. If you ever need a translator English/German/German/English get a quote from him!
Since nobody from my online life seems to have noticed – I celebrated my birthday yesterday. There were a few automated mails from several forums of course. The nicest one coming from the Friends of Laphroaig, who sent me a nice postcard and a 10% discount in their online shop. Unfortunately the discount was only valid that very day – too late when I checked mail this morning.
I got a little bit of blues these days. I intended to invite some friends but I made up my mind too late, so almost all of them declined. But an old and dear friend I only see 1-2 times a year made the 3 hour travel, and faithful Uli came along with his girlfriend too. It turned out to be a harmonic weekend nevertheless, and life feels good for the moment.
I was really angry and personally disappointed last May when a co-worker, who was new to the industry and got all his teaching at our company, quit and joined a competitor. Yesterday I learned that he has jumped horses again. Good riddance!
Well, my vacation is over and today was the first day in the office again. I always end vacations with mixed feelings – it feels good to have leisure time, but I really like to work as well… This vacation I had plenty of time for reading, and I actually “inhaled” 3 books – and I would like to recommend all of them!
Kristian recently blogged about Jack McDevitt – one of my favourite SF authors. In Kristians post I learned that the novel Omega is finally available as paperback. Omega is the fourth sequel of a loose cycle of stories centering in exoarcheology, a galactic phenomen cuasing civilizations to collpase, and the superluminal pilot Priscilla “Hutch” Hutchins (a lot of starship pilots and people in leading positions in McDevitts worlds are female). In preparation for this book I re-read all three previous “Hutchins novels” (The Engines of God, Deepsix & Chindi). While revisiting Deepsix I thought I encountered a logic flaw, and I emailed McDevitt about it. I was in email contact with him once before, and like the last time he replied less than 24 hours later. I’ll save this up for a seperate post though… McDevitt writes slow stories. He takes his time to construct his characters, and their relations to each other. He has a way of describing weeklong travels in hyperspace, while still maintaining en element of action and speed. The solution of the phenomenon of the planet devouring (well…. culture-devouring) interstellar “Omega clouds” was quite surprising. If you have the time, and if you are interested in McDevitt and Hutch, I suggest to read them all. Nevertheless Omega can be enjoyed without knowledge of the other books as well.
Almost forgotten by me, Amazon also delivered the advanced ordered paperback edition of Terry Pratchett’s recent fantasy novel “Thud!“. For the sake of the length of this post I assume the esteemed reader knows about the Discworld series of Pratchett – if not look it up in Wikipedia. Since Night Watch, the novels got darker, more intense and – in a way – more political (in the same sense as a parable is political. Thud! however is the most political of Pratchetts books so far. Basically, it is a book about racism, and due to the outstanding talent of the author you can both laugh, but still get some kind of message from the book. At first, the racism theme only shows up between the obvious conflict of the dwarfs with the trolls on the eve of the anniversary of the battle of Koom valley where the trolls ambushed the dwarfs (or the dwarfs ambushed the trolls – depending whose side you believe), but there is a conflict also between Sgt. Angua – a werewolf – and Lance Constable Sally – a vampire. But then there is also the level of conflict between acclimated city dwarfs and the “deep down” (read: fundamental) dwarfs – the keepers of the laws and the lore. Go figure. But don’t expect it to be a grave, complicated or instructive novel. No – it’s hilarious and pure fun to read. PLUS it gives you a bit to think about.
The last novel is by McDevitt again. Apart from Priscilla Hutchins, he has created a second character who appeared more than once. Alex Benedict makes his living by selling archeological artifacts (sic!), an occupation heavily frowned upon by his uncle, who disappears in hyperspace almost at the beginning of the novel. He leaves Alex a few clues to solve a puzzle of historical dimensions. Alex sets out…. well, to tell the truth I only proceeded up to page 76 by the time I wrote this. The novel is from 1989, preceding the first Priscilla Hutchins novel by 6 years. In many aspects so far, it seems a prototype for the later series. Many settings are similar, like the faster-than-light engines called “Armstrong units” in the older novel, and “Hazeltines” in the newer ones. Interstellar travel is measured in weeks and months. And also a female pilot plays a major role. However Alex Benedicts universe is more crowded than Priscilla Hutchins. And there is an intelligent, spacefaring alien race in open conflict with the humans – both ideas not used in the Hutchins books, where there is neither armed conflict in space, nor a second STILL LIVING spacefaring race. Even though I hardly read a quarter of the book, it is quite suspenseful so that I feel safe to recommend it.
Well, long post. Thank you for reading.
Well, it seems the folks at e-frontier wanted to do an enticing marketing campaign, but not disclosing any feature of a major new release is quite strange. As rumour had it a while ago, there is really a new version of Poser coming. But neither the release date is given in the press release, nor any details about the features. Only the packed 3D content gets mentioned – and of course the price. But – hey – a bit more would be nice?
What is interesting as well is that yet again two new characters get introduced. Admittedly e-frontier made quite a significatn leap in quality with the “G2 males” for Poser 6. However their characters James and Jessi from Poser 6 never really caught on with the community. What is predominantly used are the “Victoria 3″ and “Michael 3″ characters from DAZ. I would have expected a “G2 Jessi” and not a new character which the community might again not accept.
I learned about Second Life quite a while ago, not the least due to the coverage by BoingBoing. Being involved in 3D design myself, I was curious to see how an interactive 3D world actually works. But on the same time I was reluctant as well, recognizing the potential for addiction in such a community. After all I have a “First Life” which feels sometimes as if it consists of a handful of seperate lifes already, so what would I need an additional virtual life for?
Probably because I am on vacation right now, curiosity won and I signed up with Second Life. I was a bit disappointed because the selection of names was limited. You could pick a first name yourself, and then select from a list of last names. I tried “Technozid Link” but that was refused.
Once you sign up, your (then blank) Avatar goes through a few training stages, where you can do basic customization and learn your first steps – including flying around – in the virtual world. Thus “graduated”, the character is set loose to explore the new world. My first steps were a bit erratic. I enjoyed flying pretty much, but I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to do and where to go. After some stumbling around I found a “money tree” – a gift for new users equipping them with some cash since basically Second Life is a virtual economy of its own. In the course of my exploration I found some more trees, so my purse now holds almost 300 so called “Lindon $”. As of this writing, I am reclining in a seat watching a tabledance and get paid 2 L$ for each 10 minutes.
All the characters I talked to were very friendly. One gave me a whole wardrobe of clothing, so that I could get into something decent instead of the “newbie look”. I stumbled into three mature neighboorhoods with explicit graphics and Avatars. I didn’t mind, but I was very surprised since I have not expected this in a mostly US-based community. In one neighboorhood my Avatar got offered paid intimacy (which – even if it would have wanted, it could have not offorded anyway), and I found out that the owner of the place gets 25% revenue from all the “transactions” taking place. I mentioned to the character offering it to mee that – as far as I have seen – my Avatar wasn’t properly “equipped” for this. And without hesitation my counterpart beamed the necessary tool into my inventory…
Apart from that, it runs a bit bumpy. Textures seem to be a major problem – a lot of characters are dressed into “Texture missing” images. The world freezes a lot, teleports are often blocked. To me it looks like the server hardware can’t quite cope with the user requests.
I’m still hesitant. It looks like some fun, but I don’t know what to make of it yet. Nevertheless, if YOU are in Second Life too, drop me a line.
The 3D community is speculating for a couple of weeks on the next release of Cinema 4D. As the Maxon Webpage became unaccessible this morning, rumours immediatly started to surface. A few minutes ago, Maxon went live with the new Version 10 – and since then their servers are pretty much swamped with all the demo download requests. The release-date coincides with maxons 20th anniversary.
Among the features:
- BodyPaint now included with every licencse
- Enhanced workflow with filters, bookmarks and layers
- Completely rewritten timeline
- Enhanced OpenGL and interactive render regions
- Lots of enhancements in MOCCA and character editing
Demo download is available at http://www.maxoncomputer.com/download_demo.asp – but beware the servers are quite slow right now.