Monthly Archives: February 2007

CoolJ Rising

coolj.jpgThere’s a certain feeling I get whenever I’m about to go on…kind of like the feeling of a racehorse in the starting gate, or of being backstage waiting for the house lights to go down…a sense of eager anticipation. I check my broadcaster one more time; the queue has been loaded, everything’s set. I flip back in world; I see that I’m properly dressed for the event, and I’m wearing my employee tag (with the “** Gin Rummy DJ **” title showing) and my titler, proclaiming to the world, “I’m DJ CoolJ…IM me with your requests!” In front of the booth, I’ve deployed my tip penguin, a spinning Tux with my “Good Karma” donation script installed.

Around me, the rest of the club is getting ready to start the event. The contest boards have been programmed and are ready to be turned on. Danielle’s already activated the Sploder, and I kick L$20 into it out of old reflex. The dancers are taking their positions on the poles or lapdance chairs, as they wish. But the backbone of any live event is always the DJ…and soon comes my turn.

7:59 PM by the SL clock. Go time. I punch the right buttons on the broadcaster, starting the encoder and the master playback. The first track loads and starts playing; by my convention, it’s an instrumental number I use for “tuning up” prior to getting into full swing. A touch on the Distributed Music Changer terminal, a button click on the resulting dialog, and the red logo of Infused Radio is replaced by an image of me, the “CoolJ” logo next to my photographed head. In the club, they’ll soon be hearing exactly what I’m hearing through the feedback loop in my headset. Another click on the broadcaster, and the mic is now ready to punch in. I keep an eye on the “Time Remaining” display, waiting for the moment when I’ll key up the mic and say, “Good evening and welcome to the Gin Rummy! This is DJ CoolJ with you…”

. . .

Danielle and I have both had to do a lot more DJ’ing recently, she as “Dani 2.0,” and me still bearing the DJ name given to me by her son. (We’ve had other DJs, but most of them have fallen by the wayside during the GR’s trek across the Grid.) She and I, along with DJ Chelle Moore, are the only ones working the GR’s booth at the moment…and now the two of us are helping spin over at Black Diamond, Chelle’s club, where there are 4 event slots a night and rarely enough other DJs to fill them. It’s helped me keep on my toes and improve my techniques. Last night’s marathon session began at the GR with the “True Blue” event, then moved to Black Diamond for a “70’s Disco Party/Dance Fever” event. (Thank you, Chelle! I love disco events!) It wasn’t until about 12:30 SLT that I finally closed down, somewhat enervated but happy, and several hundred L$ richer besides, thanks to the people who earned Good Karma Points by feeding the penguin.

DJ work, for me, involves a lot of preparation. I fill my queue in advance with 2 hours’ worth of music as appropriate for the event, then make adjustments at performance time based on requests, deleting some of my “planned” tracks to make it all balance out. Then there are tracks to sort and new ones to find all the time; I’ve taken to listening to BPM (XM81) in the car, and, when I hear a particularly good track, making a note of its artist and title using the voice-recorder feature of my cellphone so I can look for it later. Most people may never notice these little details…but I notice.

The big question is, am I any good? People seem to think so; a number of folks at the GR have called me “the best DJ in SL,” though I’ve no doubt they’re either exaggerating or haven’t gotten around much. Even Chelle has said “Why do you need me?” or words to that effect…but Chelle has one thing I don’t: a following. With her 110-strong fan club, her appearances at the GR are nearly a guaranteed draw of traffic. I can’t say the same…and that makes Chelle worth every L$ we give her for her appearances, and more. And I don’t have the perky voice of Chelle, or even Danielle’s sex-kitten purr…just a fast-moving style that is probably better suited to afternoon drive-time than to a club environment.

But, Lord help me, I enjoy this stuff. When I’m “ahead of the curve,” keeping all the balls in the air between in-world and the music timing…well, there’s nothing like it.

. . .

The song queue is almost empty now; it’ll be empty once the last track loads, which is my traditional closer and has been ever since I started as “Dr. Feelgood” at the Cutlass Club. I key up the mic and get that last announcement in:

“…and it’s about time for me to get on out of here. We leave you as always with Phil Collins, ‘Take Me Home,’ ‘cos we’re takin’ me home, here at the Gin Rummy. This is DJ CoolJ saying, peace out, GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY!”

I release the key and turn off the mic button as Phil begins singing, “Take a look around me, I’m an ordinary man…” People are already drifting out of the club, the boards are cleared, the contest long since over. Soon, it’ll be time for me to reset the Music Changer back to Infused, then kill the encoder, kill playback, and shut all the broadcast program stuff down. Then I can remove the titler, delete the copy of the Tip Penguin (now a couple hundred L$ heavier, thanks to generous club-goers), change outfits, and Danielle and I can go off and do our thing. But, for the moment, I just sit back and feel the satisfaction of another successful set in the books.

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Jacek Has Moved…And So Has The GR

Ms. Jacek Antonelli has been given an opportunity to align her blog with the Axis of Purple, and is now being hosted under the meratalk.com banner. I will completely understand if, at this juncture, Mera starts singing, “Purpurrot, purpurrot, über alles, über alles in der Welt…” 🙂 But Jacek is no stranger to passion, which is the essence of purple, as I’ve pointed out. So it’s all good.

Of course, we at the Gin Rummy are no strangers to change…witness the fact that we are now based at a new location in the newly-opened Joie sim, which is on a Class 5 server. Those of you who were reading here about a month ago are probably now staring in disbelief at this post. “But Erbo,” you protest, “didn’t you get such a great deal when you moved to Club Fairplay? Why move again just a month later?”

Well, things change, and we feel like we’re a little more in control of our own destiny this way, not to mention being free of the lag and other weird behavior on Club Fairplay. And we got our pick of spots for the new location, as we were the first to rent a parcel on the Joie sim. (Naturally, I’m trying to make sure we’re good tenants. Our contest boards are set to “say” their messages rather than “shout” them, for instance…and thank you, Nicholas Decatur, for adding that feature to your contest boards! I also carefully sculpted a “coastline” into our parcel, to make it look more natural and so that Danielle could put in some “waves.”)

People interested in a plot for their business or residence would be well advised to talk to Steve Mahfouz, owner of the Joie sim; you can get good land on a high-quality sim for reasonable prices and terms. Come visit the GR if you’d like to check out the vicinity; either use the SLURL I provided above, or, if you happen to be near a Stargate on the Cleary Stargate Network, simply “dd:Joie” to get here. (The direct dial address is 20:25:21:05:03:18:22.) And, if you’re setting up a business on Joie, shoot me an IM; I’ll put up an ad for your business in the GR to help promote you. Let’s help Steve make the new sim a roaring success!

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Important For All You Music Fans…

I try to steer clear of First Life politics here on this blog, because this is supposed to be a Second Life blog, and I have plenty of other outlets for political bloviation. However, an issue has come up which is, as I see it, of critical importance to the Grid as a whole.

Currently pending in the U.S. Senate (S.256) is the “Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM) Act of 2007,” sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). (Link goes to the THOMAS information page for the bill.) The bill’s title says it’s “A bill to harmonize rate setting standards for copyright licenses under section 112 and 114 of title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.” Well, one of those “other purposes” is, apparently, to kill MP3 streaming as we know it.

This analysis from the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals the smoking gun: a minor amendment to one paragraph that would require people transmitting major-label music under the statutory license (i.e. almost everybody who does so today) to use Digital Restrictions Management that would keep people from recording the stream. That means no more open formats like MP3 and Ogg, which don’t contain DRM. And all in the name of protecting the outdated business model–and obscene profits–of the RIAA and its ilk.

The implication for Second Life is obvious and all too chilling. Right now, “parcel music URLs” in SL are MP3 or Ogg streams…and a lot of SL’s culture, from its clubs to its live DJs to the entire live music scene, depends on those streams. Let them be made illegal in the U.S., and all of that would be cast aside in an instant. True, U.S. law wouldn’t affect all those of you outside the U.S., but consider two possibilities:

  1. Your own country could pass similar law, under pressure from the U.S. government, the RIAA, or similar associations. Bam, you’re in the same fix.
  2. Since Linden Lab is a U.S. company, what if they decide–or are forced–to remove the “parcel music URL” feature from SL altogether, lest they be accused of “contributory infringement”?

So, if you’d like to see the thriving music scene in SL continue, rather than be cut off at the knees, you might want to write your Senators (or any U.S. Senators, for you non-U.S. folks) and urge them to kill the PERFORM act. Don’t let the greedy record-company executives silence people like Frogg & Jaycatt, Cylindrian Rutabaga, Mel Cheeky, and all the myriad other SL musicians for the sake of their six-martini lunches, their limos and Learjets full of pneumatic blonde bimbos, and their bulging wallets.

The EFF has an action page here, which will help you send the message to your Senators.

(Hat tip: Jamie Zawinski, of the DNA Lounge in San Francisco.)

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The First Commercial Announcement

After some doing, I am pleased to announce the first two Erbosoft products are now available for purchase! Both are available from my brand-new vendor at Don’t Panic Designs in South Sunset, as well as via SLExchange and SLBoutique.

Erbosoft Distributed Music Changer AdThe first product for sale is the Erbosoft Distributed Music Changer Mk.I, to which I have already alluded in an earlier post. It’s ideally suited for large homes, businesses, and clubs that need to switch between music URLs on their parcel. Here, again, I outline some of the features of this fine system:

  • Distributed operation – many “terminals” can operate off the same “master component.” Use one to change the station, they all change at the same time. Ideal for larger houses, businesses, and clubs! (3 terminals included with system, of various sizes, all copyable so you can install as many as you like.)
  • Pre-program up to 12 stations, complete with custom textures to display on the terminals when the stations are selected. Additional textures can be added.
  • Manual override mode – speak a URL over a private channel to cause the changer to select the URL. Great for “guest DJs”!
  • Usable on group land, thanks to the included “slave tuner component.”
  • Easy dialog interface for selecting stations.
  • Owner and group security options.

Erbografix Windows Builder’s Pack AdSecondly, I am also offering the Erbografix Windows Builder’s Pack. (Don’t blame me for the name; Danielle used it as a “feature” in some of her homes, and now I’m stuck with it. 🙂 ) This is a package of 4 different windows, ranging from 1.1 meters square up through 4.4×1.1 meters, with built in privacy screening, activated by touch and dialog. The windows are mod/copy/transfer, so you can use them in your own building projects (though please, do not resell them separately).

Check back here often, as I have some more projects brewing for release under the “Erbosoft” brand, to be distributed exclusively through Don’t Panic! Designs.

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Puttin’ On The Ritz

If you’ve never shopped at Blaze, you need to. The store has been recently expanded to a new sim (Glory, docked just to the east of Triumph) and oozes “high class” from every prim. But both Danielle and I have known about Blaze for a long time; my most recent “Default Erbo” outfits are built around Blaze casual slacks and polo shirts, and I’m also quite fond of the Ultimate Wool Suits with flexiprim ties, as well as their tuxedoes. As for Danielle…her inventory contains many Blaze formal gowns and casual outfits.

While we were checking out the new store, I panned my camera atop the roof, and spotted Blaze Columbia herself. Naturally, Danielle wanted to fly up there and say hello. I let her go first, then, eventually, came up and joined her. And Blaze has a blog…so she is now eligible for addition to the Elite Group of Bloggers making up the Evans Avenue Exit blogroll.

One of the things that makes her successful, it would appear, is that she also works in the fashion industry in real life. Her clothes aren’t exactly cheap, but you pay for quality, in SL as much as in RL…and it’s a price that Danielle and I are often willing to pay. And, when you see some of her clothes, you will, too. Small wonder Blaze’s link title here is “Designer of Much of Erbo’s and Danielle’s Wardrobes.”

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On Shelves Soon

Tuesday night, Zues came over to look over a new house that Danielle was building (she’s always building houses; she both likes the building practice and hopes to sell a few one of these days), giving his input on the various aspects of the build and its textures. While he was there, looking at the scripted windows she’d put in, I rezzed a scripted window I’d built for another purpose, showing its various modes. Little did I know where this was going…

Zues has had ample opportunity to see some of my scripted gizmos in action, such as the Distributed Music Changer (used at our home, the Gin Rummy, and Velvet Dreamz), the Application Kiosk (which we use at the GR, and which Zues now uses at Velvet Dreamz too), and so forth. He immediately proceeded to give me a “good for my soul” lecture, the gist of which was, “If I had the ability you do with scripts, I’d be selling the hell out of them! Why aren’t you doing so?” My answer, rather halting, was that these things weren’t in saleable state right now, and, anyway, I didn’t really have a lot of time to do stuff like that these days, what with the GR and all, not to mention the very important time I spend with Danielle.

Eventually, it got me to thinking…maybe there’s some things I can do, putting together these items and bits of code I have, and actually produce something worth offering for sale. So I’m attempting to do that now…and the first candidate for the vendor will be what I am now calling the “Erbosoft Distributed Music Changer Mk.I.” The changer has the following features:

  • Distributed operation – many “terminals” can operate off the same “master component.” Use one to change the station, they all change at the same time. Ideal for larger houses, businesses, and clubs! (3 terminals included with system, of various sizes, all copyable so you can install as many as you like.)
  • Pre-program up to 12 stations, complete with custom textures to display on the terminals when the stations are selected. Additional textures can be added.
  • Manual override mode – speak a URL over a private channel to cause the changer to select the URL. Great for “guest DJs”!
  • Usable on group land, thanks to the included “slave tuner component.”
  • Easy dialog interface for selecting stations.
  • Owner and group security options.

So I took the pieces of my “beta version” changer and started tweaking them. The code received some minor tweaks, and I also documented the hell out of it (not that anyone but me will ever see those comments, but it’s the principle of the thing). I had to create a new “front panel” graphic for the master component; the one I’d been using is an image of an XM radio, which is obviously not gonna fly. In the past, I’ve basically whipped up terminals as I needed them; I’ve now created the “standard group” of copyable terminals, which will be used as needed. I’m writing an actual user manual; God, I hate technical writing, but it has to be done to provide something to throw in the box. And speaking of boxes, I’ve designed some graphics for one, based on a cardboard box for a piece of networking gear I found at the office. Naturally, I’ll have to test the permissions for the thing, making sure no one can tamper with the code, but can edit the configuration and things. And then I have to take a picture to put with the object in the vendor…

But, if all goes well, you’ll soon be able to buy the Erbosoft Distributed Music Changer Mk.I at Don’t Panic! Designs in South Sunset. (Zues will get a free upgrade, naturally, as thanks. And I’ll also upgrade the ones at the GR and at the Evans Family Compound.) And then it’s time to figure out where I go next…I have another project cooking that I know will result in a saleable product eventually, and I have at least one more good idea in mind…

“Real artists ship.” – Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computer Inc., January 1984

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