If you have time to waste (and as you’re reading my blog, you probably do), then check out Ms Dewey, a video-fronted “search engine” from Microsoft. As a search engine, it’s not good. Search should be fast and efficient; this is neither. Flash is not fast or efficient, and I can’t copy and paste?

Search is not why you’d visit, though. As Ms Dewey responds differently to different search terms, you can get some pretty funny responses from some keywords. There are multiple responses to each keyword, so you might want to try them each a couple of times. Some discussion here and originally found here at herebenotions but you could try (in no particular order): police, halo, apple, google, weird, science, microsoft, soccer, tv, video, film, Janina Gavankar (the actress playing Ms Dewey), gun, colt 45, death, phone, police (very good), politics, xbox, pub, nerd, sex, love, girlfriend, marriage, porn, ipod, zune, second life, me, backwards, france (what?), australia, hotel, global warming, intern, funk, why, ebay, star trek, gremlins, lord of the rings, friend, paper, camera, live, everything, bondage, animals, matrix, money, monster, god, photo, los angeles, new york, seattle, san francisco, gambling, eyebrows, alcohol, read, jazz, comedy, coffee.

I do this for you, people. Oh, and don’t forget to start swearing.

SL textures live from a webcam, on a Mac

There’s a neat trick you can do with Mac OS X 10.4 and one of the free developer tools, Quartz Composer. You can create a movie that uses the built-in iSight camera to show a picture of you on a remote web page. You can even create something a little fancier. Of course, all data remains local, so there’s no security risk.

But here’s a variation.

1. Set the same webcam-enabled movie as the media texture for your land.

Now you can see a board with your face on it in SL. That’s OK, nobody else can. The movie is client-side only.

2. Set some part of your avatar’s skin, say, your head, to use the media texture.

Now you can see your own face on your avatar’s head. Only you, so far.

3. Save the skin as a new item.

4. The picture won’t update until you move the sliders, so keep jiggling them until you’re happy.

5. When you’re finally in the right position, hold really still, then press Save and Close.

The texture will now “bake”. Other people can now see your picture on your avatar. You won’t be able to save it; next time you edit appearance it’ll be wiped.

So, if you have a Mac and want to check this out, head to my land in Caldbeck (218,26,40) and press play on the movie texture. The movie will play onto the Default Media Texture from the Library. Only one movie can show the iSight at one time, so close down the previous links if they’re still open.

For everyone on PCs, and because nobody believes you unless it’s on YouTube, here it is on YouTube. Music is original — enjoy! The movie is CC-licensed.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License.

Hey Kids! Become a game developer! Look like this!

A friend of mine hit the big time a little while ago, directing the console game Mercenaries and the upcoming Mercenaries 2. Here’s a video blog (#15 if it’s moved) featuring him.. (Go Cam!) The reason I’m talking about that here is the t-shirt he’s wearing. Full bonus points to anyone who can identify the full reference in comments. (Katakana will help you, innate geekdom will help you more.)

New features… please?

Since I have more ideas than the voting system is going to let me suggest, I’ll suggest them quietly here.

It would be great if the texture tinting system could do something other than darken. Something like the symbol tinting functionality in Flash would be great, but something simpler would be fine. So… replace the current single color choice with color and texture strength. Default that to 100%, and at 100% it works as it does now: full strength colour change, white being no change to the texture. At the other end of the scale, the texture fades out, so that you can use a texture as a lighter tint.

What else? Scrubby sliders. They exist in the latest Photoshop and Motion, but not many people use them. Instead of using the little buttons or an existing slider, click on the label of a control (like opacity) and drag from side to side. Finer control without clutter. SL could really benefit from quick, accurate adjustment like this.

Haven’t seen Second Life yet? Check out these pics of Second Life in Stereo, i.e. 3D images you can see if you go cross-eyed, or stare at them for a while (wall-eyed). I do have a separate blog for this stuff, by the way, but with all the recent press I thought a kind nudge towards the future of human social interaction was probably in order.

Freak out! CopyBot’s about!

SL just freaked out. More info: check the official Linden response: Use of CopyBot and Similar Tools a ToS Violation, or Tat’s thoughts on the currency reaction, the word from the source and an extremely erudite post from Ordinal Malaprop (scroll down).

It’s just copying, people. It’s really hard to lock down stuff that needs to be unlocked *so you can see it*, that exists in clear form on your machines. The protocols are open, packets can be sniffed, etc. Textures have been potentially thievable for months now. This is the same for objects, but not contents nor scripts. Object copying is not even new; Jeffrey Gomez’s Prim Mirror script did this many months ago.

If you’ve ever seen a picture on a website, you’ve been able to take your own copy for your own use or redistribution. This is the same thing; sometimes fair use, sometimes encouraged, often not, but it can’t and shouldn’t be forbidden. Any web design I make public can be stolen, yet that doesn’t stop me from selling my designs.

Even if it’s all locked down, someone can just sit around and recreate your work by hand. Fake handbags in the real world aren’t going away. All the attempts in the world to stop piracy just screw over everyone, like the DVD region coding debacle that continues to decline (e.g. my new laptop DVD drive won’t read out of region discs at all, not with VLC, not ripping, not flashable). Like the forthcoming nonsense with HDCP on both high-def disc formats. Like software activation tied to companies that no longer exist or Windows licenses that can’t be transferred. You can’t stop piracy technically without pissing off a lot of people. You *can* find pirates, shut down their accounts and delete their assets.

Finally, to all the people currently worried because “my stuff is able to be stolen”: have you ever copied a music track you didn’t own? Run some less-than-legal software? Now that you’re on the other side of the fence, do you have sympathy for the RIAA? They don’t deserve it. Just relax, recognise that some piracy (or imitation) is inevitable, and take it as a sign that you’ve made something people like enough to copy. Now make something better.

I agree with most of the recommendations in Uncle Mark’s Gift Guide and Almanac, except I’d always recommend getting a higher resolution camera, with a zoom, and shooting on that higher resolution. I’m going to want the details in my digital memory substitutes when I’m old, or when I’m designing, or when making textures.

Back in 1997, travelling through Berlin, I was lucky enough to stay in a couple of amazing rooms in an art hotel called Kunstlerheim Luise. There’s a hostel just down the road called The Circus (Am Zirkus) which had just opened six weeks earlier — but it was full. Their helpful staff suggested trying Kunstlerheim Luise. Little English spoken, no advertising, and a very special find.

Every room is designed by a different artist; it’s amazing and still going today. I wish, wish, wish, I could stay in this room today. Or that I had a thick black marker and a spare room to outline myself.