Nov 25, 2013

The Day The Music Died

#AOL to discontinue Winamp as of Dec 20th


After 16 years of Whipping the Llama’s Ass, it looks like the company that should never have survived the dotcom bubble is discontinuing the media player that is a hallmark and legend.






Of course, we’re talking about AOL deciding to shut down Nullsoft altogether, meaning Winamp and all related products and services go dark as of December 20th 2013. Users are (of course) looking for alternatives to Winamp while many are simply saying they’re going to continue using Winamp until it spontaneously explodes from being abandonware.


I have a mixed feeling about this situation... I’ve been using Winamp for the entire 16 years that it has existed (I remember the initial release in 1997), and it’s been my favorite media player since then. To see it being discontinued by AOL is like the ultimate “Are you fucking serious?” moment followed by the invention of a string of obscenities that are dangerously close to tearing a hole in the fabric of time|space and unleashing flying technicolor ass-cracks onto the executives of AOL.


Of course, I have an alternative player (being AIMP) but it has some quirks...


Screenshot_4As you can see on the left, you can make AIMP look just like Winamp if you really want to. At least a reasonable mockup, though I actually used the “Good ‘Ol Winamp” setting on the modern skin in Winamp to get the purple and green version.


I can’t exactly get that same color setup in AIMP so I’m sorta stuck with the blue and silver skin (for now). I have (most predominantly) taken to using the Eternity skin for AIMP which is dark with orange though I can’t horizontally resize it, which aggravates me to no end. Luckily I can resize horizontally with the Winamp Modern Skin for AIMP... To remedy the situation, I’ve inquired about having the skin author do a Good Ol’ Winamp purple and green version... so we’ll see how that goes.


It’s not like Nullsoft wasn’t making any money... last time I checked, they were pulling about 6 million bucks a year, which is definitely more than AOL was worth in their heyday (zing!)


There is (of course) the rumor that Microsoft is already talking with AOL about buying Nullsoft, which means Winamp and Shoutcast services. I think it’s the only time I’ve uttered the phrase “At least there is a glimmer of hope... Microsoft could buy them.”


I feel very dirty saying that out loud.



I really do like the darker skins for media players, and preferably ones that aren’t too busy. So, the Eternity skin on the right is actually pretty nice and it’s less of an assault on my eyes. Though I can’t resize it horizontally so the thing looks a bit small on my screen... Like I said, AIMP has a few quirks but overall it’s a good player.


I’ve attempted to use Foobar2000 and have come to the “Oh, hell no...” conclusion. I do have VLC installed as well, but it’s more of a no-frills Swiss Army knife.


At least one good thing about AIMP is that it has a nice docking feature where it can dock to a side of the screen and then slide out of view. Very classy. Then there is a ... information bar at the top which displays the current song and information when the song starts. It displays across the top of the screen itself (though I suppose you could disable it entirely if you wanted).


I think no matter what, I’m going to be a fan of Winamp. It’s been a part of my digital life for 16 years, and there really isn’t anything that captures the feel of it. Sure, we all had a fit when AOL bought it and made it bloated – after all, the Winamp I grew accustomed to was lightweight and powerful. Minus all of the bloatware baggage in the code, I think under it all there is still the Winamp we grew to love before AOL got their hands on it...


I think the best case scenario... despite my better judgement, is Microsoft buys Nullsoft and all related services in order to keep it going under the //shudders// Micro...soft... banner...


I think a piece of my soul just died.


What are the odds Microsoft doesn’t buy it up and AOL discontinues it but decides to Open Source the whole thing?


I can dream, right?


If you’re looking for a good lateral move from Winamp, you can check out AIMP at the following address:


And also the Winamp Modern skin on deviantArt. Just do a search.



Freeze-ray. Stops time. Tell your friends.


At this point, all I can say is that all sorts of crazy acquisitions are going on in the tech industry. Apple bought out Primesense (the company behind the original tech for the Kinect) – so you can take a wild guess what the iPhone 6 is going to have. But then, Intel and SoftKinetic are teaming up to make short range depth cameras to stick into laptops, tablets and smart-phones next year... so you get the gist about what everyone is up to.





There’s this sudden rush to the AR market, as I predicted from the catalyst effect stemming from Google Glass (and the real reason Google wanted to make Glass). And even before Google Glass (a few years ago) I forecasted the rise of Augmented Reality in a bigger sense. But it’s still a few years off at this point since everyone is rushing into it with half-cocked thinking just to be on the bandwagon.


I’m not sure why everyone is stuck thinking in localized space and PTAM. I never really had any faith in the idea of one trick pony apps for mobile that were AR. But that’s neither here nor there because that’s not something I have to deal with personally.


ptam_screenshot Speaking of AR, I had a wonderful meeting with Primesense earlier this morning, and will have a follow-up December 5th to figure out what the hell Apple is going to do with their 350 million dollar acquisition. In the bigger picture, it would seem Liza Roumani and I are both hoping Apple isn’t going to liquidate Primesense and lock the technology behind closed doors, but Liza isn’t sure yet what Apple is planning. Seems like they’re just as in the dark at the moment as anyone else about what’s going on (either that or they aren’t allowed to say publicly). I’m all for Apple and advancing their products (it’s a business after all) but I hate it when bigger companies buy up little companies and then lock it all up in a vault.


Doubly so when Primesense was facilitating OpenNi with the hardware worth using in conjunction with the open standard for 3D framework sensing. If Apple were to nix that, I’d be pretty pissed off at them for being colossal dickweeds.


But I suppose Liza wouldn’t have wanted to have another conversation on December 5th if she knew Apple was going to liquidate Primesense entirely. So there’s still hope that I won’t have to pay a visit to Cupertino and deal with Tim Cook... but I suppose if I have to, then so be it.


Though I’ve been talking with SoftKinetic as well about the possibility of a long-range RGB-D sensor. Considering ZCam and Canesta were bought out by Microsoft, I’m going to have to pick my poison...


Microsoft... Apple ... or Intel.


Maybe Apple actually is the lesser of the evils at this point.... or maybe I’ll get lucky and Primsense will continue being around to support OpenNI with their sensors while Apple just licenses it while using it for their own stuff. That seems to be the hope from Liza as well because she’s actually interested in what we’re up to with Parallel Worlds, and I think she sees that Primesense Capri3D would be a perfect fit. Probably a hell of a lot better than cramming it into an iPhone and iPad.


2014 is going to be a huge push for augmented reality and related devices, so prepare yourself now. Luckily, I’m already ahead of the curve and past the small localized spaces augmented reality and thinking into the very large spaces...


Honestly, it only dawned on me recently that the problem with AR is actually more to do with solving the long standing issues with Virtual Worlds, which I happen to already be good at. Turns out they have more in common than I thought, but for entirely different reasons than the industry thinks. Plus, those solutions are at a level of complexity that I’m pretty certain few are in a position to solve.


There is still the nagging issue that a lot of those sensors seem to fail when outside. It makes me wonder how the hell anyone was going to use them attached to tablets and smart phones if they only work indoors under very tight conditions... I wouldn’t think Apple would spend 350 million dollars on Primesense if the sensors didn’t work outdoors... but I suppose I’ll figure that out anyway at some point. That’s why I’m talking with a few companies to figure out a good solution that isn’t going to explode like a vampire in daylight.


Either way, I’m still about 5-10 years ahead of the curve, assuming Captain Hammer doesn’t throw a car at me.






I often forget I’m technologically spoiled. Kinda hard to stay grounded when you’re offered access to 32 geo-synchronous satellites, a super-computer, and all sorts of technology on a regular basis. It’s made me into the sort of person that doesn’t take something as read when people say it’s not possible – I’m almost sure a lot of things are possible, but nobody has questioned it enough to figure it out yet. Makes me feel like Dr. Horrible sometimes, building a Freeze Ray to stop time... I just hope Apple Computer doesn’t act like Captain Hammer, corporate tool...


Somebody has to think of the bigger picture and ask the proverbial “Why not?” – I think it’s just coded into my DNA at this point.


Anyways... yeah... 2014 is gonna be a huge augmented reality year. Tell a friend.


Also, the Freeze Ray stops time... it’s not an Ice Gun. That’s Johnny Snow.


Nov 21, 2013

Stockholm Syndrome

I truly think you’ve all lost your mind in #SecondLife





Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.The FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 27% of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.


Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be a threat.




Here’s the situation in a nutshell...


With the introduction of mesh into Second Life, Linden Lab forgot one very important detail that made clothing attachments not work correctly given the dynamic nature of avatar shapes. In response to this, the short term work-around was to create various alpha layers to hide parts of the body, and the community (seeing that Linden Lab had no intention of fixing this very blatant problem) decided to take matters into their own hands and started a crowd funding initiative in order to hire Qarl Fizz (former Linden) to code a Mesh Deformer that would natively and automatically resize mesh attached to the avatar.


The crowd funding was successful and Qarl was hired to do exactly this – create a Mesh Deformer code to integrate into Second Life in order to tie up that nasty loose end of Mesh clothing not fitting people without severe amounts of lengths with alpha layers or having to change your avatar shape


This project was ongoing for quite some time, and some places in OpenSim adopted the code (I believe InWorldz being one of them) while Linden Lab stalled, hemmed and hawed for as long as they could while pretending to be working on making this part of the viewer with the Mesh Deformer project. They dragged their feet so long that it turns out clothing designers were getting tired of waiting and created a quick and dirty little rigging hack called “Liquid Mesh” that sort of did what Mesh deformer was supposed to do in the meantime while they continued to wait for Linden Lab to get off their hands and implement Mesh Deformer.


Being that Mesh Deformer was (and is) pretty much complete and ready to go, it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been implemented already (or even long ago) since it’s been effectively collecting dust and consistently being buried as far as Linden Lab could dig the hole for quite awhile. In so much as logistics go, Linden Lab has effectively been putting petty politics and their own bruised ego over the common good of the community.


Come to find out, Linden Lab has now officially thrown their towel into the corner of Liquid Mesh and closed the Mesh Deformer project.


That’s not my biggest beef at the moment... but here is what is:


The community raised the capital needed to pay Qarl for his work in solving a problem Linden Lab refused to solve themselves. This was a shining moment (as far as I’m concerned) with the ability of the community to pull through and collectively make Second Life a better place as a whole. Many people put their hard earned time (and money) into the Mesh Deformer to make it a far superior solution to Liquid mesh, and Linden Lab has effectively flushed that down the toilet in favor of a method that will now force all clothing makers to re-rig all of their previous mesh clothing to work with this new system and make it harder going forward to accommodate this new rigging technique in order to utilize the simple resizing in less capacity than Mesh Deformer would have solved automatically and backwards compatible with pretty much all pre-existing mesh clothing without alterations (or very minimal at best).


As if that’s not bad enough... I’m watching the community act like this is a good thing and praising Linden Lab for this “innovation”, all the while forgetting that they’re now being served dog food instead of the 7 course meal they actually paid for. The community raised the money for a Ferrari and got a tri-cycle for the same price.


Linden Lab doesn’t deserve praise for this, they deserve scorn for this prolonged act of ego driven indignation and insult toward the community on the whole.







The analogy is this:


Imagine a Second Life pre-mesh. Sculpties were the quick and dirty “hack” to use textures in a way that simulated mesh but it wasn’t anything like it. It was a response to a community that really thought that Mesh should be a part of Second Life while Linden Lab didn’t give it a second thought. Now, under this scenario, imagine if the community said “We’ll raise the money and have it coded for Linden Lab and all of OpenSim, all you have to do is implement it.”


Sounds like a sweet deal right?


So imagine this happens and the community manage to get a working method to import and use mesh in Second Life (which technically actually happened if you realize that realXtend had mesh well before Second Life), and Linden Lab drags their feet on it coming up with every conceivable excuse why they can’t do it. This goes on for quite awhile and creators in the community (tired of waiting) create Sculpties as a quick and dirty workaround to kind of get the same effect as mesh while they are waiting for Linden Lab to get up off their asses and actually do something.


Linden Lab, seeing the “out” in a situation they never intended to support from day one (because it makes them look incompetent for their community solving a gigantic flaw in their own system and hiring an ex-Linden employee they don’t like to fix it) decide to play politics, support Sculpties and put the final nail in the coffin of mesh import. This being absolutely regardless of the fact that sculpties are a poor man’s mesh and nowhere near as good.


Now you understand the situation. You just got screwed over with sculpties when you could have had mesh. This is in no way good for the community, since it was the community that paid for and supported Mesh Deformer.


Linden Lab just told the community to go fuck itself, and flushed your $5,000 and year worth of work down the toilet like the piece of shit it thinks Mesh Deformer is for having the audacity of going over Linden Lab’s head and solving a problem they were too full of themselves to acknowledge or fix.


And here is where it gets ridiculous -


If I didn’t know any better, the community is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Instead of being absolutely pissed off and livid about this highest of insult from Linden Lab, the community is praising this as good for the community and designers!


Let’s weigh it out, shall we?


Quick and dirty rigging hack that now requires designers to go back and re-rig their entire mesh clothing line to use it, needlessly complicating their future workflow and still not being as capable or robust as Mesh Deformer, which the community raised the money and paid for...


or Mesh Deformer – a native system to automatically refit clothing without re-rigging the pieces, and was essentially backwards compatible, requiring only a “default” set of sizes to work with and the system would dynamically change the clothing across the board.


See, a rational person would be absolutely losing their shit right about now. But no, instead I see countless posts praising Liquid Mesh and Linden Lab for “solving” the problem by adding a few extra “bones” to rig to.


I’m sorry... I have a hard time believing the community is this badly afflicted with a case of stupid. I imagined you were all better than this. I believed that you weren’t accustomed to taking pineapples up the ass and asking for more with a smile. Complimenting Linden Lab for taking the time to pick only the sharpest ones from the supermarket.


First the ToS situation and Linden Lab’s outright disregard and indignation to the community for it. Then the whole Skills Hax situation... and now this. In combination with going totalitarian with the JIRA, forcing TPV rules that favor and give ultimate control to Linden Lab for everything, shutting out OpenSim, and effectively making TPVs have to kiss their ass in red-tape and Caesar-like approval in a Kangaroo court of personal opinion and Linden Approval to get anything that looks like an advancement...


The JIRA and TPV overhaul for rules and regulations, the decision to force TPVs to make separate versions for Second Life and OpenSim – they are all very calculated decisions and weren’t (as Linden Lab likes to assert) a situation where they had their hands tied because of other licensing issues that put them in the victim seat. They could have just as easily chosen something that would still have worked the same or better and been conducive to OpenSim and TPVs.


With Emerald viewer and finally Mesh Deformer, these are two very large examples of the community going over Linden Lab’s head to fix a problem or advance Second Life. In the pre-debacle days, Emerald was the defacto TPV to use, much like Phoenix and Firestorm are that today (for obvious reasons).


With TPVs being more popular than Linden Lab’s own viewer, they decided to play dirty and essentially force the TPVs to play with Linden Lab or get out. They changed all the rules for being a TPV, all the submission protocols, invented “Shared Experience”, locked down the JIRA because all the public access and the fact they were looking like incompetent morons refusing to fix long standing issues (over the course of years) made them look bad in public.


You know what Linden Lab did shortly after they locked down the JIRA? They went through and closed bug reports in the JIRA en-mass. Not even bothering to take a look at it, or saying “Will Not Fix” or “Closed”. Just that... and nobody could really be outraged about it because you couldn’t really raise awareness about it when they essentially locked you out.


But this just takes the cake...


I sit here in utter disbelief at the total disdain, disregard, and indignation Linden Lab has for the community, and sit here absolutely baffled that the community is now trained to get bitch slapped around and praise Linden Lab for it.


Please, Sir... may I have another?


Look, I know a lot of you are into the whole BDSM stuff and that’s fine... to each their own. But don’t you think this is taking it too damned far? Did we collectively forget our “safe word” or something when playing with Linden Lab?


Why are you acting like you have Stockholm Syndrome?






Nov 14, 2013

Emerald City Blues

Where’s a bucket of water in #SecondLife when ya need one?


Recently a partial transcript hit my inventory in SL and it looked quite innocent until I got to about 15:57 to 16:01 in the transcript. Apparently in a recent meeting with Oz (The Great and Powerful) Linden, a familiar name came up in passing like it was no big deal, when it should have been a very big deal.






[15:57] Oz Linden: maybe another commit hook test...
[15:57] Jonathan: Oz, do you still want me to file a storm for those gsavedsettings that should be cached or
[15:57] Phoenix-Firestorm Viewer Rocks: a lot of the headers need to be updated anyway to have the correct file name in thtem, or to add the file name to them thats missing currently
[15:57] Jonathan: do you want to look at the whole lot of them as a bigger study?
[15:58] Jonathan: (the settings in the music playing code)
[15:59] Oz Linden: Jonathan... sure, a collection of settings caching improvements would be most welcome
[16:00] Jonathan: I'll need that code from Skills Hax then
[16:00] Oz Linden: Tank... I ran a script to check that recently, and was intimidated by the number of files it would touch
[16:00] Mona: The one of Emerald "fame"?
[16:01] Jonathan: Oz, you had another prject in the works, and that was eliminating references to "dead" settings
[16:01] Ima Mechanique: Oz any news for onRegionChange best practise?
[16:01] Jonathan: from settings.xml
[16:01] Oz Linden: Skills has been making an apparently sincere effort to be helpful for quite some time now



Ok wait... you mean Skills Hax, notorious for the Emerald Viewer debacle (along with a handful of others), and who was essentially forced out and the imminent collapse of the most popular TPV of the time mandated by Linden Lab as a result, is and has been working on and contributing code all buddy buddy with Linden Lab all this time?


I’m trying very hard to parse this information... because really Skills didn’t change and suddenly see the error of (his) ways. But it seems like one of more notorious of the group (maybe except Phox/LonelyBluebird) wasn’t really exiled but given a chance to contribute to the official viewer instead as a consolation prize for having the biggest competition to the official viewer be dismantled.


Forgive me for this, but doesn’t that seem like a Borg assimilation scenario?


I’d write more on this, but I’m more interested in letting the community chime in and have their discussion on it. Far as I’m concerned... it’s a pretty big deal... but what do I know? It just struck me as a what dufuq moment...


It’s just another day in Pixel Paradise lately. I just wish somebody would throw some water on the Wicked Witch and call it a day, ‘cause all of these flying monkeys are getting on my nerves and I just wanna go home.




Meanwhile, back at the Lollipop Guild...


Lollipop GuildHaven’t been in Second Life much lately due to real life obligations and projects. When last I publically said anything on the ToS topic it was about the deliberate attempt to smear Bryn Oh on Metaverse Week in Review by LaPiscean who (a part of the LEA) was looking to justify victimization and “poor me” on the air while painting Bryn Oh as doing the wrong thing and hurting the poor artists and LEA in the process.


Bottom line is, if the LEA exists in Second Life, then it is bound by the same ToS and rules as everything else in Second Life, and that ToS is detrimental and hostile to content creators and artists. Ergo it’s not a leap of logic in any capacity whatsoever to say that if your stated mission at the LEA is to encourage the arts in Second Life, and convince artists to come into Second Life from the real world, then you are part of the problem in knowingly shilling a situation that is hostile to those artists and content creators as a good situation. You’re acting like an official Linden Lab lap dog too afraid to bite the hand that feeds you no matter how much that hand beats the ever loving piss outta you.


To say I was offended by the attempted hit and run of Bryn Oh on the air was an understatement. Bryn did the right thing in leaving the LEA because it was a conflict of interest and crisis of conscience to be the poster child for a hostile ToS under the guise of doing right by them as a public figure. Bryn did the responsible thing, while LaPiscean took the low road and gave us a tour of the gutter. To say I was offended that nobody else thought what was going on was unacceptable on their own stage, and instead repeatedly offered the platform for him to continue speaking like he hadn’t just tried to smear Bryn on the air is also an understatement.


On that same episode I made it a point to say that as a public figure (which a lot of us are) we are in the position to represent what is morally correct as if we were role models to be looked up to as the example. I take that seriously as a public figure, and so I lead by example (just like Bryn Oh did). I haven’t uploaded anything to Second Life since, and I have no plans on doing so until the ToS is no longer overtly hostile to content creators and artists.




MAME Showcase Cabinet: Series III


Dynamo Showcase CabinetHowever, like I also said, I have a few projects in SL that are unfinished and said that (given time) I would try to tie up the loose ends for them but start no new projects until the ToS is rectified. I’m quite serious about not uploading anything more to SL until Linden Lab get their chronic case of stupid out of their system. While time has been a commodity in short supply lately, I have been putting some time here and there to finish up or work on pre-existing projects that I didn’t finish prior to the whole ToS fiasco.


One of which is the last in the Arcade Legends Series III cabinets, which I’ve had sitting in inventory for months now and hadn’t really touched. The final arcade cabinet in the series is different than the others in that it’s a Showcase Cabinet for MAME, mimicking the Dynamo Showcase Arcade Cabinet in real life. The MAME cabinet also is scripted differently in that it allows for many games on shared media to be loaded by clicking the coin slot and choosing a game, which sends the information to the shared media screen to load the game. In this way, the MAME cabinet in-world acts like a true Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.


This led me to the idea of making a home console that would load games to a television in world playable, but as I’ve already said before – I’m not starting any new projects in Second Life until the chronic idiocy of Linden Lab is less obnoxious. I might have a very long wait judging from the transcript at the top of this post.


As far as the trade-in equivalent for the MAME Showcase cabinet, considering the amount of games I’m putting into it and the nature of it being a showcase cabinet and not a smaller cabinet, and that it’s running on an entirely new script, I’m considering trading two Polybius cabinets for it instead of one. I think that’s fair.









I’m pretty sure some are wondering what became of eureka! content discovery since it was announced in production a few months ago. Progress is coming along fine, though some things had to be redesigned and overhauled to compensate for some SL related glitches in how shared media was displayed (or not) consistently across viewers. So the UI and stuff had to be reimagined to handle it, as well as some other considerations in order to make the system a bit more powerful and robust.


Since eureka! counts as one of those “pre-existing” projects, the work continues on it. More-so the bulk of eureka! work is done on a server outside of Linden Lab and the system is not dependant on in-world for the bulk of its abilities. This was a conscious decision from the beginning of development so it could (theoretically) be ported over to OpenSim and Hypergrid at a later time. However, that would only happen when the 4096 issue is reliably wiped out across the Hypergrid – so it’s probably a good idea that people update as soon as that issue is resolved so you can teleport across the entire Hypergrid in one shot and not multiple hops.


Back-end and front-end overhauls aside, progress is coming along and we’re back on track again for beta testing. I’ll keep everyone posted just as soon as I find out if I can break it before private beta.




So what’s shakin, bacon?


What’s been happening in your world that’s keeping you busy or interested? What do you think of the transcript with Oz Linden? Are there any particular games you’d like to see on the MAME cabinet? Do you have any questions about eureka! that you’re dying to ask?


Feel free to drop your thoughts into the comments below, and remember to Share, Plus and Discuss in the social sphere.