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This is not Rheta

Hello. As it says above, this is not Rheta writing. And this is not one of the mind games she was so fond of either. You don’t know me. I am the guy doing the tech work for this blog. I have been happy to count myself among the friends of its creator for quite some time, the woman you probably only know as Rheta Shan. For reasons I will not discuss, she chose to gift me with the trust of her second life; in the past two years I have heard more from her about the magic of that game than I ever cared for, and she has heard more taunts from me about it than anybody deserved.

It seems that makes me the only person who can share the following piece of news, as it reached me from her husband, to the people who lived that virtual life with her:

… on April 3rd, my wife was hit by a van as she crossed the street to get to the bakery. She was dead before SAMU could reach the hospital. She was 9 months pregnant; our unborn son died shortly after she did, despite doctors’ best efforts. […]

I know how much Valérie loved an cherished the people she friended as Rheta. Even if your world is not mine, and howewer much I mocked her for it, I know her feelings were genuine, and I am sure the feelings she got in return were too: she was simply too warm hearted and wonderful a person not to love. In a way, her second life friends were the extended family she had not, and I present my most heartfelt condolences to that family. We all lost somebody very special.

I also know that among all the special people she met, there was one who held a place in her heart no one could rival, her lover Thaddy. Thaddy, if you happen to read this, I know this must be devastating news, and I am deeply sorry to be the one to have to tell it. But please, by all means, get in touch with me – you are the heir, and executor, of the virtual estate left, and I do not want to take any further steps without talking to you.

Valérie, you made the world around you a brighter place. Rather than mourn you, I will try to keep a bit of that light in my heart, and bask in its warmth and glow whenever I think of you.

Adieu ma belle.

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Eeep…

…it looks like I ended first in the SL Interface Contest finals. My heartfelt congratulations go to Jacek Antonelli and Rick van Wal, aka Digado, whom I undeservedly relegated to second and third rank, and to all other finalists. You did such a wonderful work — nobody should pretend I did better than you.

I’d also like to thank Dusan Writer for starting the contest, organising everything, and being a sweetheart all around, and also the judges, Keystone Bouchard, Vint Falken, Ordinal Malaprop and Eristic Strangelove. I’m still speechless and trying to get to grips with their decision.

Anyway.

Eric Reuters asked me yesterday what I was going to do with the prize money. In all honesty, I answered him I have no idea. Which is still true in a way, but I am thinking about it (or rather, thinking about what exactly to do besides blowing it on shoes, clothes, and hair). And one thing that has struck me since is that there is no need to sell my mainland plots any more. Until now, I have only had offers by land sharks, and have been loath to let go for the price offered. Now… I won’t either, but I will do this instead :

I will transfer the land, the total approximately 10.000 sqm located in Spinold’s Flats, as a whole or in parts, to any number of charities or artistic project(s) that can put it to good use.

This will take the form of a land sale for a symbolic price (I was thinking 1 L$ per plot). I can subdivide or merge plots if needed, too. Please contact me (in-world or through the contact form) if you think you’d like to take me up on the offer, and forgive me for announcing right away I’ll ask a lot of nosy questions when you do.

That’s all for now, I fear. See you on Plurk until RL relents.

And another kick…

…proving I’m still alive, albeit barely. Well, to the blogosphere, that is. Anyway, here goes :

Thanks to Dusan Writer’s and his judges’ incredible sweetness in accommodating my RL schedule constraints, I will have the opportunity to present my entry to his Second Life UI Design Contest this Sunday, June 27th, at 4 p.m. SLT on Dusan’s sim. Although this is not a publicized event, it is open to the public, and I for one would welcome anybody interested enough to watch.

As to the rest,well, all I can say is :

Our programme will resume as soon as RL allows.

[Update : well, I went, saw, and bored everybody out of their minds with an erratic, decidedly too long presentation. Still, everybody was very sweet, or I would probably have crumbled into a nervous wreck (or more of a nervous wreck than I was already, actually). Ta an awful lot for being so supportive and accommodating, all of you !

The results of the contest will be announced in the opening segment of the next Metanomics show, if I understood a recent communication by Dusan correctly. I’m having a little wager with myself on the results (don’t ask : I won’t be sharing what I bet on, beyond letting on that it is definitely not myself winning 🙂 ). I will be very interested to see how close my guess came to the actual decision by the judges.]

Alive, barely kicking

I will keep it short.

Maybe some among you have been wondering where I have been — after all, it has been over a month since I last gave a sign of life on this blog. Now, I’m not going to treat you to one of these «  why I did not post lately » posts — the only thing less interesting than a blog that is never updated is a blog that tries to simulate activity with posts on why there is no activity. So, unless you want to follow me on new social media darling Plurk, where the bite size posting and short bouts of inane chatter better accomodate both my current RL schedule and my frame of mind, all I have to offer is an apology.

Or rather, something as an apology.

Without further ado (drum roll on cue), I give you what has kept me away from nearly everything the last two weeks, and up and awake the last two nights straight : Rheta Shan’s entry to Dusan Writer’s Viewer Interface Contest — a contest that, as detailed here and here, is aimed at developing proposals for a newbie friendly revision of the Second Life client UI.

Yes, I thought I ’d better put my hand where my mouth is, seeing I’m on record as a know all on Second life’s interface deficiencies, and as an official Dazzle hater. So, fans of the current viewer — here is your chance to turn the tables and tell me how stupidly impractical, frighteningly ugly and altogether badly designed my proposal is. In fact, I point out many of its weak points on the first and last pages myself, first and foremost among them that I have no talent whatsoever as a graphics designer, and that the whole thing is a lost twin brother to a Swiss cheese, as it has as many holes as it has substance (time, and the lack thereof, being the issue here).

But this sounds like I’m apologising. I am not, even if the entry itself starts with two apologies. In fact, and although I am certain my proposal will at best fare moderately well against what the many brilliant minds of Second Life will contribute to the contest, I am still happy enough with it to want to show it around.

Here it is.

[Update : To my great surprise, I made it into the final selection, among such illustrious names as Jacek Antonelli, Damien Fate, McCabe Maxsted and Rick van der Wal (aka Digado / Roy Cassini). I presume the rather low number of entries Dusan mentioned in a short exchange we had accounts for this, but I still feel oddly proud. And I want to express my heartfelt congratulations to all my co-finalists !

Further update : It seems the finalists will have a chance to present their entries to the judges before they decide on the results of the contest — go to Dusan Writer’s blog for an announcement of the panel. I am very grateful to Dusan, who has been an absolute sweetheart trying to afford me the opportunity to do so, too, despite my stupid RL schedule restrictions. Ta, Dusan, and apologies to your judges I have had jumping through hoops. Don’t hate me too much, please.]

Dear passengers,

this is your captain speaking. We are scheduled for lift off in the next twenty minutes. Our flight will take us to Italy and back, with our return scheduled for Sunday, June 1st. The weather conditions are clear and we expect a quiet flight.

Please note this is a non smoking, non drama flight, and that our plane does not afford mobile internet facilities. Emails will not be answered and comments on posts might stay in the moderation queue until our return.

Unluckily, the on-board entertainment system has suffered from a slight technical setback we are diligently trying to repair. Until then, we kindly ask that you make you own entertainment ; in case you are stuck for ideas, we propose the following quiz :

  1. Read the instruction manual carefully from end to end.
  2. Answer the following question : it is widely considered bad style to escape from life. But if you consider escaping to instead, what is the place every escape leads to called ?
  3. If you wish to try for bonus points, answer the following question too : how do you call a place you are not meant to escape from, and the people who are making sure you don’t ?

Also, please take note the correct terminology for the crew of this plane is not escapists — it is escape artists.

Have a pleasant flight.

Amuse-gueule

I have to apologise. No, not for me, though I am the one unable to post the grand thoughts my numerous fans are clamouring for, but for my typist. My operator. Whatever you want to call her. Until a few days ago, I have been calling her my atomic me, but we have had, well, you might call it a spat.

The reason, you ask ? She has a new love. No, not a man, nor a woman. Worse. A machine. She has been stroking it, toying with it, and, honestly, drooling all over it in a disgusting way for days.

Poor Rheta, of course, only got the crumbs. A perfunctory « well, SL Y-K-W is in the app folder, now get off my back while I set up [oh yeah, right] things » was all I got for three days. When I finally got the run of the thing, it turned out even worse than expected. I mean, before, I had a very cosy little off-world home in the barren wasteland of Windows called Firefox. it was snug, fitted with everything I needed (Google Mail, Google Reader, Open ID identification, my Notefish notes, j’en passe et des meilleures). She said she had relocated it, and that I would miss nothing. But when I went to visit, finally, and after having had to listen to her waxing lyrical about how pretty it is, how polished everything is, how —well, you get the idea — imagine my dismay when I found out the one thing butt ugly was my home. The horror.

She promised to improve it. She had me try something called Fluid, saying « your mileage may vary ». Vary it did indeed, to the point Google Reader was about the only usable thing on it. And whenever I turned to her, she said not to pester her. All the while my news, mails and other things kept piling up. I would feel like crying just looking at my inbox. Insupportable.

Tonight, we had words. It was ugly. We were at each other like harpies. She said she would not spend more money for stuff only I would use. I yelled she’d spent enough already, and I that I was fed up getting the scraps from her ladyship’s table, and what the hell did she mean by « only » me anyway ? True to the law of opposite motions, tempers went up and things went downwards from there.

I have won. I think, at least : I now have a small budget to buy a new home. Strange names — Mailplane, Twitterific, gSync, PixelMator — are going through my head. I feel giddy.

And her ? I don’t know yet. She’s in a huff with me, but I don’t care. We will make up, that much is certain. After all, we are inseparable. But you, my dears, will have to be patient, just for a little while longer, until I get my home nice and cosy again. Things will be better after that, I promise. Stay tuned.