Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Aether Salon: Howl! With Dr. Augustus Dayafter, December 14, 2pm slt

Despite the fact that we are still finding pieces of the east wall in various parts of Babbage Palisades (thank you Mr. Streeter) following the rather explosive end to the Weapons! Salon...

We are pleased to announce that The Aether Salon of Babbage will welcome the esteemed Dr. Augustus Dayafter for a discussion presenting the results of his medical investigation into the phenom of the Lycanthrope. Dr. Dayafter has informed us that he is uniquely qualified in this field, following a period of long study and careful observation.

Please join us one and all for Howl! with Doctor Augustus Dayafter, on December 14, at 2pm slt. Hair-raising craft to follow.

(we do note that perhaps some weaponry left over from the last, most extraordinary Salon might prove useful, however, we ask that participants check their lag at the door as much as possible. Bob... do I even need to say this? NO Explosives.)

Participants should experience no discomfort, although hysteria may be a possibility for those susceptible few. Dr. Dayafter assures us that great care will be taken to elaborate, in academic terms, the psysiological and cultural aspects of this rather dangerous species.

It would be somewhat lax of us to not inform you that, despite having a lunar calendar in hand during the planning of the salon, we seem to have missed the fact that a full moon does indeed begin just prior to the 14. Never worry though. Onward!

See you there -

Viv & Sera

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weapons! Transcript, Aether Salon the Second

Viv Trafalgar: Welcome Miss Malaprop

Ordinal Malaprop: Good evening all!

Sera Puchkina: Welcome to the Aether Salon of Babbage! Thank you all for coming today. We are grateful to many fine people who helped make today’s event a reality – Miss Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings, for her wonderful chairs. Miss Breezy Carver for the food and drink, and Mr. Jasper Kiergarten for his assistance with today’s craft. And my personal thanks to Miss Viv Trafalgar, my co-leader who put in many hours of preparation for today’s salon. If you would like to join the Aether Salon group and receive notifications of future salon events, click the lower right hand corner of the large brown sign by the entrance. If you click the lower left hand corner of that sign you can help contribute toward the cost of running the salon. The craft will be distributed after the discussion. As a courtesy to all, please turn off everything that feeds the lag monster -- all HUDs and scripts, AOs, and the like. I turn this over to the amazing Miss Trafalgar who will introduce our speaker.

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you Miss Puchkina, for everything, as always. My friends, fellow Babbagers, and distinguished guests, I find myself in the position of giving an introduction for someone who needs none whatsoever. And yet, I will persist for a moment because I do so love the sound of my own voice.Whether she is developing new ways to enchant and/or maim, teaching by example, or simply laying waste to stupidity with a wide-ranging and deadly wit, Miss Ordinal Malaprop is one of the brightest and most inventive lights on the grid. Should you have the opportunity later, please take the time to read her thoughts on a range of topics, located here http://ordinalmalaprop.com/engine/.  For the present, however, the topic is weapons. From pistols, swordsticks, revolvers, cutting torches, and throwable blades, to snowball shooters, remote controlled guns, and more, Miss Malaprop is a major supplier of mayhem and bodily harm to citizens far and wide. Moreover, she is well versed in the requirements and qualifications for systemic damage, in particular combat systems. And occasionally, devices that are more suited to punishment than siege battles. It is also worth noting that her devices are never, ever dull or staid. I could go on, but if I did, I'd likely find myself chased down by bees, or pelted with snowballs. What I really wish to do is pull up a chair and listen, and so I shall. Please do ask questions (and keep your mitts off the craft boxes, too) and welcome a great friend to both Babbage and Caledon, as well as the rest of the grid, Miss Ordinal Malaprop.

Ordinal Malaprop: Thank you kindly for the extremely flattering introduction, Ms Trafalgar! I find myself blushing but it should not affect my actual speaking, I hope. Well, as mentioned, I am indeed Ordinal and I am here to speak on the subject of Weaponry And Such. I would be delighted, should you have any questions during my ramblings, if you would mention them in order that I might have a guide as to issues to address. . .  . Or, if you wish, I can simply continue to waffle on indefinitely. One thing that I am not entirely sure about, for instance, is the level of interest in specific parts of weaponry design, etc, so, if there is a wish to hear more about scripting, please say so.

Actually, I appear to have gone temporarily deaf in fact. Eardrums are fragile. Let that be a lesson to all. Ear protection _on, before_ testing the munitions. In my journal I somewhat derivatively subtitled this address "everything I need to know about LSL, I learnt from weapons" which is actually almost true. (Apart from the vehicles.) While preparing myself for this evening I was pondering on the nature of what a "weapon" actually is and really, the conclusion that I came to was that, at base, it is in fact a communications device. And not merely in the usual "only language they understand" sort of way. The underlying nature of a "weapon" is to communicate certain information - be that by a built-in protocol such as the Linden Damage System or via some sort of other more custom one.

Incidentally, and I will be doing this all throughout, so feel I should warn you at this stage I will not be speaking much of weapons which are primarily intended to cause Unwanted Effects upon others. Well, by this I mean such things as Orbiters and Torus Bombs and all that sort of thing.
Of course, in practice, few wish to be hit in any circumstance, but there is a level of consent. Even in "free fire" areas, there is implied consent. Whilst in my youth I was known to experiment with such things nowadays, really, it is not something much of interest.

The most efficient weapons in this sense, after all, are the Ban Line, the Estate Panel and the Friendly Linden Ear. These beat any sort of "cage" into a cocked, and flattened, hat. In this case, then, what do I mean when I speak of a weapon? The term covers a multitude of sins, but the common factor I would say is, quite simply, appearance. In that weaponry on the grid does look rather like weaponry outside of it, or at least should. Or have certain commonalities. I would say that it should also be something capable of causing simulated injury, but actually, that is not always true. Much of precisely the _function_ of a weapon will depend on what it is meant for and who is purchasing it. In my experience, purchasers and users of weaponry tend to fall into a few main categories, each with specific needs. Of course, these categories often overlap. Doubtless, I have forgotten some very vital ones. But, moving along a line from concentration on form to concentration on function.... Firstly, there are people whose _only_ real interest is in form. "Fashionistas," if that is not an insulting term. A weapon is basically an accessory. It really doesn't matter an awful lot quite what it does. It should be able to be drawn and sheathed, usually, but the main interest is in how well it fits a particular outfit.... In this market, prims and textures are most important and communication the least. It should be able to go "bang," or make whatever noise is appropriate.  Please note that I make no value judgments here! This is a perfectly valid use.

Moving slightly on from that group are "collectors" and "historians" who are concerned usually greatly with form and its accuracy to a historical pattern but also are concerned that certain aspects of function are present. Accurate models of reloading, say, or an appropriate level of damage in an RP area. I generally use "historians" to refer to people with a particular interest in a particular period, and "collectors" to refer to those with an interest in accuracy mostly for its own sake.

Then we have a middle category that I call "toy lovers" who like form, but also like entertaining function that has some effect on the rest of the world. Possibly "casual gamers," but also possibly, um, firing rockets at a particularly ugly Shopping Centre next door something I have certainly _never_ done on the mainland, oh no. Or, you know, throwing paper aeroplanes. Or something involving bees. In other words, function is important but it isn't very specific. It just has to be entertaining. Finally in this overlong introduction there are those interested in specific types of function.

Firstly, "gamers," who wish to have weapons, which interact reliably with each other and with a specific system. This includes, say, Samurai Island warriors, or those using En Garde. Yes, En Garde rapiers and swordsticks are weapons here, very specific ones. Form is useful but really, who tends to see the weapon anyway? Ideally your opponent should not be seeing it for very long. And then we have "RPers," a term as you know that I dislike but have no good alternative for. RPers could possibly be considered as a combination of gamer and historian or fashionista, but do not quite fit the latter as the form needs to fit in with a choice of dress specific to that individual though, in towns such as Deadwood, there is a definite historical form requirement.

There is also a functional requirement, which is usually strictly enforced. At this stage, does anyone have any areas that they would like to hear addressed next? Or briefish questions?

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: scripts miss

Ordinal Malaprop: Scripts, yes. I can certainly move on to a more technical discussion if that is the sort of thing that people would be interested to hear. I will go through some of the areas of scripting which are essential, and why. I have to say that there are many different ways of scripting weapons and doubtless other people do things differently. But one thing that I think it is always essential to have a good grasp of is permissions and controls. All of my weapons have a central co-coordinating script and its most important function is to allow control by the wearer. Permissions and controls are actually quite easy to manage but can appear daunting to the novice particularly as they do use Bitfields. Master your |s and &s rather than ||s and &&s, and so on.

The major things that do use control events are weapons and vehicles, so these are good practice if you wish to master them. So, my main controls script gets control permission when attached and drawn, and also animation permission, which is rather essential. PERMISSION_TAKE_CONTROLS | PERMISSION_TRIGGER_ANIMATION It also responds to the appropriate controls being used, obviously it would be a little silly if it did not.

On the subject of weapon controls, there are two main standards, which should generally be stuck to for compatibility and ease of use in my opinion. Close-combat, "melee" weapons use the format I think first used in the Safezone system which is (hold left mouse button) + (move in a direction) to strike. And (button) + (down) to block. It is vital to use these controls as some of the most popular RP systems actually detect their use for melee attacks (DCS2 particularly) so if you don't, your customers will be annoyed and defenseless and possibly dead. And dead customers are Not The Thing One Wants. Anyway, ranged weapons use the format I think first used in, er, the Linden Popgun. Very simple, enter mouselook and then left mouse button and a Thing is Shot or Bees are Released, or Humbugs are Thrown, or whatever. I have a basic script for ranged weapons and one for melee ones, which I drop into whatever I am designing and then modify significantly given that basic scripts are dull.

Is there any particular aspect of the scripting that I might address as a priority here by the way? Methods to produce effects such as drawing and sheathing, particles, muzzle smoke, synchronizing effects, rapid fire, projectiles having effects, using APIs...? I can certainly speak about all of them. It might get past certain folk's bedtimes though.

Riven Homewood: I am very curious about drawing, sheathing and particle effects

Jedburgh30 Dagger: I am curious about projectile effects

Ordinal Malaprop: The second control mechanism apart from directly taking controls, to control a weapon, is via chat. HUDs and then particles then.  Of course no civilized weapon actually requires open chat. But, for instance, "/11 draw" is a fairly standard method of drawing and sheathing a weapon. I tend to have all user commands accessible via a positive chat channel like this, usually in fact 11 (this can always be customized by the user if you allow it) Now, a HUD is quite capable of also sending chat commands. So this sort of system allows for both spoken and HUD usage. Sometimes one just does not have space for a HUD after all. It is always important to check the owner of the speaker by the way, in the listen that the weapon has. If (llGetOwnerKey(id) != llGetOwner()) return; is the line I have at the start of the listen() event usually where id is the key of the "speaker". An avatar's owner is itself, so this will allow either the owner to speak or any of his or her objects.

By the way, some HUD data does not need to be transmitted by the user ever, so can use some sort of weird negative channel but the same principles apply, just the HUD must listen.

Breezy Carver: When you went to 191 channel was there a reason for that??

Ordinal Malaprop: Um, I used 191 because I had not decided to use 11 at that stage. Nowadays, I tend to use 11. Does that answer HUD questions or at least a reasonable subset of them? Particles. A very wide topic.

Greg Merryman: is there another way a hud can communicate with a weapon besides chat?

Ordinal Malaprop: Mr Merryman, potentially yes, in practice all other methods would be less efficient. I suppose it could use email. Or http calls. Any particular sort of particle effect might I enquire? In general, the two types used are just explosions and cones. When constructing particle effects for an actual weapon itself, I have specific prims devoted just to that. I have a few basic ones in my "toolbox" which I attach to designs and then customize, as they are so frequently used. A "muzzle smoke cube" and a "muzzle flash cube." Those have short-lived particle effects, which are triggered by link message.

Sending link messages is another one of those skills that is pretty vital in scripting terms, though that is not just for weapons. Oh, A point about link messages. Some of the more outré weapons, and indeed some which are allegedly simple, do use an awful lot of prims, as I am sure some may have noticed. Sending link messages to all of those prims at once might be inefficient. It is therefore best, if there is only one prim that cares about a message, just to send it to that prim. On the other hand, it is hard to isolate that prim sometimes, and its link number should NOT be hardcoded that is a very poor thing to do and certainly nothing that I have ever done *cough*  The way to get around this is to have a little function at the start which goes through the names of all of the prims, and when it encounters one which has the name "muzzle flash", say, stores that link number for later use. This should activate on CHANGED_LINK as well as on script reset.

I won't bore people with the actual code for that now but if anyone is interested I can provide a simple example afterwards. However_... pauses dramatically … sometimes it is best to use _semantic_ link messages in other words, the main control script (which is the one that should send all these out, really) says things like "firing!" or "drawn!" or "turned into camembert!" and then leaves it up to all of the subscripts which you have littered your design with, and forgotten to change the permissions on before sale, to work out what they are meant to do. So "drawn" might, er, in the case of my clock-loading pistol, say, trigger a change in the alpha of the gun itself, and also potentially the playing of music. This sort of thing is an awful lot easier to script on a conceptual basis. Distributing the processing also helps make the control script a lot simpler and really, the control script should just be, well, _controlling_.

Whiskers Beardmore: are there performance issues to worry about having too many scripts listening for events?

Ordinal Malaprop: If you are constructing something appallingly complex you might wish to have a modular system, and even turn scripts on and off when not used. Listening for events: well, they don't actually listen as such... not using a general sim llListen.

Whiskers Beardmore: is it possible to script turning scripts on and off from a control script?

Ordinal Malaprop: I try to only have one script ever running a sim listen. However, yes, I believe there would be a slight effect from having lots of scripts with link_message() events, though not in my experience a lot. Sending the messages is a more laggy process. Don't have, you know, dozens of the things, I would advise generally. Yes, it is possible to turn scripts on and off by script, let me see... the function is called something like lSetScriptSate *state I don't use it very much to be quite honest with you. I have in the past, though that was not for weapons, for an artificial lifeform thingummy. But if one has a horrifically complex subscript which is only needed occasionally, why _not_ turn it off and save its breath? I have digressed a bit from particles and effects. That is how I usually manage effects within the weapon itself.

Just quickly on the subject of projectiles... A projectile (and I usually have them as one or two prims - a long, transparent "spike", which is necessary to overcome physics framerate issues, and a visible prim) can sometimes have particle effects in flight, and for simple bangs and smoke, the controlling script within the projectile can make its own particle. Turn physics off, turn phantom on, trigger the effect and sound, wait a little and die. Yes, so I hear. I suspect spikes will still be necessary though. Just not, uh, enormous spikes the size of houses, which are rather required at the moment.

Greg Merryman: what is the purpose of the spike?

Marion Questi: So the spike is the actual projectile? The visible prim is for esthetics?

Ordinal Malaprop: The spike ensures that a fast-moving projectile actually intersects the target. Yes, the visible one is aesthetic. Every "physics frame," moving objects are moved forward by a certain distance, and if they are too small they may just appear on either side of a target and not trigger a collision which would be a bit silly. This took me ages to work out. Perhaps I should have asked somebody. Hey ho. Well, it took me ages a few years ago. There is no calculation of intervening positions still under Havok 4 I believe.

Anyway - collision effects. For more complex effects I usually find it best that the projectile rezzes another prim when it collides, and then dies.. An advantage there is that _different_ prims can be rezzed. For instance, in my hand weapons, there is a different effects depending on whether the "weapon strike" projectile (very short-ranged) collides with a person or an object. *effect I seem to recall that I used two different prims for this. On collision the strike projectile works out what it has hit, and rezzes the appropriate one, and then goes to join the choir invisible

Greg Merryman: so the rezzed prim would take the place of a particle effect?

Ordinal Malaprop: The rezzed prim, or prims, then generates the appropriate effect on rez. Some complex explosions can require a multi-prim object, seeing as how there is only one particle effect per prim allowed. Plus, one might wish to have shrapnel, say. Which involves a _third_ level of rezzing. I would not advise anyone to go much beyond that as it then becomes an utter pain packing all of one’s prims into other prims and then into other prims, during testing. But when making particle effects, I do advise that people always consider this possible method. A tiny and volatile one. It is much simpler to be able to rez a prim and know that it will do a certain thing and be able to forget about it, than mess around with particles in a control script. Also, some things are just impossible to do from the projectile, as particles must be emitted from different positions. Well, one could always setpos the projectile around I suppose. But that seems excessive. I constructed an "airburst" explosive at one point for instance, which, if close enough to the ground, produces a ring of dust, as well as having the usual explosion. That throws a dust ring prim downwards, which works out the radius that it should be producing dust in with a little trigonometry based on where it ends up. This was rather a nice idea I thought but in the end pretty useless and not very impressive. Hey ho. Such things are their own reward. Luckily. I hope that goes some way towards answering particle-related questions....

Ivniciix Wemyss: for something...larger, like a ship cannon, do you still recommend this procedure of an invisible prim for the actual dmg and accuracy.

Ordinal Malaprop: Ah, well, vehicle weaponry is much more dependent on the combat system in question. With hand weapons, one really just has to rez a bullet moving at over 17.5m/s and have it hit the target, and it will automatically be compatible with DCS2.

Ivniciix Wemyss: but is such a technique strictly incompatible with something like ics2 or spd?

Ordinal Malaprop: I have seen vehicle weapons, which are actually two separate systems. If they are sensor-based, the projectile is _purely_ a special effect, and may not correspond at all to scores, but looks nice. It will depend a lot on the system, yes. I did mean to read up on the VICE system, but unfortunately was not organized enough so to do but I understand that that uses projectile impact as well. In general though, vehicle weapons would work in the same way to generate effects.

Ivniciix Wemyss: quite true as it currently stands re spd and ics2 I believe

Ordinal Malaprop: If larger and more spectacular ones. In fact the subprim-rezzing method might be _more_ convenient for them. As one doesn't then need to mess around with modifying the system script in the projectile.

Ivniciix Wemyss: let me ask this a different way, is the size of these projectiles such that your technique is less necessary?

Ordinal Malaprop: Well, if the projectile is complex enough, it may have all of the prims necessary.

Ivniciix Wemyss: as far as improving accuracy?

Ordinal Malaprop: Ahhhh Sorry, I have misunderstood. The "spike."  Sometimes, it will be necessary, yes - I usually have a spike of 1.5 - 2m length just in case.

Jedburgh30 Dagger: for handhelds also?

Ordinal Malaprop: Specifically for handheld weapons. Though vehicles are quite big, so if there is no need to register collisions with avatars or glass, a spike may not be required. One can calculate the required size to be sure of collisions by dividing the projectile speed by the physics frame rate and probably increasing it a little.

Bela Lubezki: ah, like radio waves and antennas

Ordinal Malaprop: Along those sorts of lines, indeed! Well, it seems that time is ticking merrily on a bit. The Grid is an everyday illustration of the uncertainty principle. And prim tunneling. Well, I hope that I have managed to illustrate at least a little that a "weapon,"  whilst being a thing that goes bang, is also more than that when taken apart into component bang-ness. 

Very pleased to have been able to attend! Even if it was postponed a little, my apologies for that. If workshops and such occur I would be delighted to pop along to any, the hour permitting.

Viv Trafalgar: Folks, if you've been with us before you know we put out a craft as much to amuse as reward. This time it's a group project: a design your own target and a gag gun. And for you all - the community support is amazing. All of which will be given to Miss Malaprop now. The salon does not keep the speakers' pot. We thank you so very much for your support and encouragement.

Aether Salon the Second, November 16, 2008

The announcement posted in the New Babbage Ning

Given the minimum of destruction wreaked by the first event, we are pleased to announce the second Aether Salon will take place on Sunday, November 9 16, at 2pm slt.

Please note the scheduling change, from November 9 to November 16, due to a scheduling conflict.

All are welcome to join us at the Aether Salon in Babbage Palisade (located across the street from Her Dark Materials, & conveniently near the train station) for tea and a spirited discussion of:

with dangerous perilous stunning craft to follow.

We are thrilled to be able to announce at this time that our guest speaker will be Miss Ordinal Malaprop.

Known for her fine production methods, exceptional scripts, attention to detail, and ability to keep danger at bay with a variety of weapons and tools, Miss Malaprop will be well armed address the current state of weaponry in our times. Or, really, anything she wants to talk about at all. We've seen her armory and plan to be most attentive and polite.

Please bring your manners, keep your wits about you, and check your own fine examples of might and mayhem at the door. Sanus, wear a shirt.

Time allowing, we will attempt to revisit the ongoing discussion 'What's wrong wiff Bob?' However, should this need to be put off for another month, I doubt that anyone will mind terribly.

Looking forward to seeing you there (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Babbage%20Palisade/97/59/105/?title=Aet...) at 2pm slt

Viv & Sera

For additional information on Miss Malaprop's work, see "An Engine Fit For My Proceeding"

Curses! Transcript - Aether Salon the First, October 12, 2008

Viv Trafalgar: Welcome to the first Aether Salon of Babbage!  ::clears throat::  Many ladies such as myself hold salons as a means of both education and entertainment in their community – I hope today’s speakers assist us all in both lights. This salon, as well as those that follow, are intended to please and to educate. As well, because we in Babbage are noted far and wide for our busy hands (ahem. Please put that spoon back, dear.), Our salons will feature a “craft” portion at the end. In this case, as the craft contains eight very sharp objects, we will wait to put the boxes out until the end of the discussion. In hopes that this avoids any ... Incidents.

Jimmy Branagh whispers to himself "Ain't THAT the truth."

Almira Leopold covers her mouth so as not to be giddy..

Ceejay Writer tries to look innocent.

Sylvie Franizzi murmurs "Good thinking."

Sylvie Franizzi eyes Bob.

Viv Trafalgar: We are very grateful to a number of individuals – Miss CeeJay Writer for her support in publicizing this event, Miss Breezy Carver for her supplies of food and drink, and Mr. Draconis Neurocam for his recent public works that make the Palisades such a lovely place to reside.

Viv Trafalgar: (also eyes Bob)  We are especially grateful to today’s sponsor, Miss Canolli Capalini of Capalini Fine Furnishings, for her wonderful chairs, without which we would all be standing.  Many thanks indeed go to Serafina Puchkina, my partner in the Salon endeavour. Without her, I would have taken to my medicinals long ago. To our wonderful speakers, we are so pleased and honored to have you with us. Your experience brings much import to our subject today. We do have a Speakers’ Fund – the proceeds of which will be split in full among the featured speakers at the end of the salon.

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: django gets PAID?

 Viv Trafalgar: Now, as to the rules of the salon. There are several speakers today, and we ask that you hold your questions until the end. There will be plenty of time for all questions and discussion. The craft boxes will go out following the discussion. ::pats Bob on the head::

Ceejay Writer nods at Bob "He's working for it!"

Viv Trafalgar: Please observe common rules of etiquette, as well as SL niceties – in particular turning off HUDs and scripts that could cause lag and impair others’ enjoyment of the event. Please no biting or skewering of anyone with anything other than words. Duels to be taken outside.  And lastly, as Miss Puchkina introduces the speakers for our topic today - “Curses!” - please enjoy the afternoon!

Serafina Puchkina: Today's topic is an ancient one, encompassing several cultures and time periods. A quick perusal of the aether will reveals curses from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and China, to name only a few.  There have been professional curse makers and specific rituals to follow. Curses are serious affairs, striking fear in its victims.  Today's speakers will enlighten us with events closer to home, that of curses and mysterious events that have occurred here in Babbage. Our first speaker is Mr. Django Yifu.

Django Yifu: Evenin' All. Well I think most of you can guess why I'm here.  It's that dratted hand business. I dunno if it counts as a curse but it weren't good. My grandpa is an adventurer of sorts, and he was explorin the southern continents.  He discovered this island with all sorts of strange beasts... One of which was as tall as a house and twice as nasty!

Grandpa is a fiesty one and he was not put off by a vicious monster, and bein as how he likes to keep trophies he thought he would hunt it down so hunt it he did and kill it too...

Beq Janus: django is a gypsy name, a fear of houses is to be expected

Django Yifu: very true Miss Janus. Grandpa had a big fight with it that lasted days but in the end he stood victorious,and as a token of his love for me he decided to send me the hand. It was a nice suprise I can tell you to find it on the docks waitin for me, so I put it on display for the good people of Babbage and that was when the trouble started.  Only Poopers!  It seemed that about the same time some people started gettin sick

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: coincidence!

Django Yifu: there was this terrible cough goin' round. People hackin' up all sorts of green stuff and blood

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: coincidence i say!

Ceejay Writer mutters, 'coincidence my ... er, ankle'

Django Yifu: and the Mayor was all " We must take matters under control," "The Bow Street will be called," and "The thing should be burned."  It was most upsetting.

Ceejay Writer: And smelly.

Django Yifu: I hadn't heard from Grandpa for ages and now I was being threatened with legal action. So anyway... Bob had sold some of the meat and it was mighty tastey, specially with apple pie I seem to remember. Then another crate arrived...it was these bottles of stuff called nectar. Mighty powerful it was and me and Bob had a blindin' couple of days drinkin that stuff
that's to the point.

Viv Trafalgar: You were saying something about a HAND?

Django Yifu: can't remember much of it but I do remember eatin anything i could lay me hands on.

Ceejay Writer: I remember that. Drunken urchins everyywhere.

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: good liquor that

Viv Trafalgar: considers sitting on bob

Django Yifu: Anyways...the hand got burned cos the mayor said that he would put me in prison otherwise.

Beq Janus: sounds like any Friday night so far, drunken urchins eating dodgy meat

Django Yifu: and then right after the hand got burned things got really bad. I woke up one night with the most terrible hunger pangs. I couldn't find nothing to eat anywhere so I took to the streets.I searched and searched but no-one would feed me. Some even threatened me with guns
Then there's this hazy patch where things are a bit foggy, and I wake up in the mornin' with Captain Maelstrom stood over me. Captain Maelstrom mumbles something about creatures and fangs and stuff and he's holdin this big gun and I'm feelin hungry still...so he takes me to the boat to get some food. The next day people are sayin that I was like...attacking people and that

Ceejay Writer: Ahem. Yes, you did. That bite HURT!

Django Yifu: And I did some biting and others got infected with whatever was wrong with me

Myrtil Igaly: sounds like rabies

Django Yifu: and then they wanted to bite and it was all a bit strange really.

Viv Trafalgar: ::hands Myrtil a cookie::

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: Wasn't owt to do with the meat!

Myrtil Igaly takes the cookie and smiles big at Miss Trafalgar

Django Yifu: All I know was Dr Mason came up with the gun thing that Captain Maelstrom says he shot me with, and I felt better and me cough had gone and that was that... but... Since then there has been this feelin' of something watching me! I keep hearing rumours of something searching for Grandpa and me but I think it's just rumours
I'm sure it is...
sort of sure...

Myrtil Igaly: Weren't you talking about a big monster stalking you? The one with the missing hand?

Django Yifu looks nervous

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: It was a load of lies! He's sold out! Blame me for god's sake why don't ya!

Serafina Puchkina: Ahem! Our next speakers are Miss Janus and Miss Dagger.

Beq Janus: I should say that the hand curse of Master Yifu is but one of many that have befallen Babbage. I suspect that it is the fate of these shores as we encourage visitors from far afield and as a new state have a limited legal process to deal with quarantine 

Jedburgh30 Dagger: ...and limited forces to enforce it

Beq Janus: The hand curse was one that I nearly avoided altogether, I had been sequestered in my home beneath the waves for most of the time and luckily avoided both the initial cough and the spread of the disease through the inadequate efforts at incineration. It came to my attention however that despite the appalling effects visited upon the populace some were still keen to have the damned thing preserved.

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: some of us wanted it cooked, but OH NO!

Beq Janus: So I took it upon myself to take what remains I could and commit them to the deep. It was then that my own troubles with this thing began.Yes Bob, you wanted it cooked, and little did you think of those you might kill in your haste to fill your purse.

Django Yifu: in all fairness I think he gave most away free

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: no one died!

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: I did! I gave loads of folks a bit. I am generous!

Jedburgh30 Dagger: Perhaps we can discuss disease epidemiology on another date...

Beq Janus: The madness that surrounded this thing was beyond my ken. After I had buried it beneath the ocean I had thought us rid of the curse, but it was to be uncovered after just one night, and the thief, who is to this day unknown, made a failed attempt to lift the heavy casket from the ocean only to smash it into my own home risking flooding with luck it did not smash the crystal glazing.

Dreddpiratebob Streeter: And before anyone brings it up, it wasn't me!

 Beq Janus: it did however fracture the casket and a putrid green was seen to leak from it. There was talk of people having been infected by exposure to the tainted sea water and I felt guilty,  without my part in this it would not have been in the sea. I collected the casket and resealing it as best I could took it far away to a deserted island and through the remains into the mouth of a volcano.

Adventure is not something one should seek I feel. It seems to find us of its own accord. Which I guess brings me to my next curse. And one which brings Jedburgh into the story. The seedier taverns of the port area, those frequented by the pirates were all talking of a treasure lost upon the seabed. Indeed many of the pirates were looking to recover the item, lured by the alleged value of this item. The tales also included details, though somewhat sketchy, of a curse associated with the treasure but of course, those of the more mercenary nature, were inclined to ignore these things. 

As I stated before, adventure seems to find me, as I was wandering the seabed where I had been many a time before I encountered the corpse of a young lady. It was around this time that Miss Dagger joined me. I leant towards the corpse, that was sat, almost serenely, as if waiting for something.  Its hand seemed to move out, toward me, and it "handed" me an amulet. At the time I put the movement down to the shifting of the sea. I am not one to take superstition at face value., but it became clearer later as I shall recount I stored the jewelry inside my hard suit, which is built with many iron pockets for recovering small items that I may find upon the sea bed. Miss Dagger and I returned to my Vernian home and examined the amulet.

Mindful of the alleged curse we prepared a solid casket and stowed it in it as soon as was possible. Yet even as we did it called out to us, a siren song, the likes of which I have never heard before or since. At this stage I believed in the curse, its powers over women had been alleged and then witnessed, we promptly sealed it and took it to the Bow Street Police. The full extent of the curse however was only revealed in the following days. Jedburgh and I recovered the body and arranged for an autopsy. The most terrible news was then announced. The victim, who we know as Juliana from the diaries circulated through the taverns, had bones that had been broken many times and healed, her body was also quite well preserved. Indeed she had been dead for but a few days. It seems that in taking the amulet, accepting it even. I had allowed the victim to die. I had killed her. I was in a terrible state, as you might imagine, and since then I have had the most terrible dreams. The dreams give me solace, but I know not if they are of my own making, an attempt to alleviate the guilt.

I cannot go into detail. Suffice to say that in my dreams, I live the life and death of Juliana
[Beq Janus: her torment as the amulet that seeks to preserve the life of the one who wears it, condemns her to a hellish existence of repeated drownings. My arrival, the acceptance of the amulet, was her final release. Juliana now rest in the church, she is soon to be buried.

Serafina Puchkina: Our next speaker is Miss Dagger.

 Jedburgh30 Dagger: For my part in this matter, I arrived in town after the Hand incidents had ended. I have however maintained a sense of vigilance should the former owner decide to make an appearance.

Canolli Capalini mutters "never happen."

Jedburgh30 Dagger: For my part in Miss Janus' tale, I, too, found the rumors of an undersea treasure very intriguing, plus the thought of a treasure falling into the hands of someone with less than noble intents disturbing. So I began my own series of dives to locate the wreckage. On what became the last one, I found Miss Janus and the body. After we talked on the surface, we found we were of a similar mind on the matter, and we moved to her residence to examine the amulet. I would like to amplify what was said earlier...that the young lady sat in a trancelike pose on the bottom, not at all what I would have expected from a drowned person

Canolli Capalini coughs and mutters.. "Water currents put objects and drowned people in strange positions often."

Jedburgh30 Dagger: Once the amulet was removed from Miss Janus suit, I, too, noticed a strange feeling.: Thankfully for me, her suit is metallic. I do not want to think what exposure to the amulet for an extended period of time would do in the suit I use... Apparently, I was less affected at that time, and between the two of us we kept our heads and encased the amulet in a box for transport to Bow Street. We decided that it was best stored by the authorities until the legal status of the item could be decided. We then decided to recover the body... I was most intrigued by the change in the body, to one of repose... Without relating the grim details of the autopsy, it was as she said...the body was recently deceased, even though there were indications of a greater age. 

At the time, my experiences personally were not as extreme as Miss Janus, but I have had...what I would call a lingering aftereffect. A feeling of anxiety, and I find myself drawn to the station to look at the amulet. I have no desire to possess it, but still and yet...there is a call, somewhere in the back of my mind. I can only say that I was lucky to have a comrade in this affair, and only hope that I have been able to offer some degree of assistance to Miss Janus

Beq Janus: I could not have managed without you

Jedburgh30 Dagger: As she said, sometimes things come to us....

Beq Janus: I can recount the legend if Miss Dagger is finished. The legend states that the amulet was created as a gift. It does indeed preserve the beauty and youth of the wearer, though it seems only females, as our experience seems to confirm. The downside is that all those loved by the one who owns the jewel seem to suffer. Perhaps not even those beloved, as the loss of the ship may show.

Ceejay Writer: Are Beq and Jed doomed to a life alone?

Beq Janus smiles at Ceejay. MY life's love is already spent I am afraid. The legend recalls a chieftan who stole the amulet for his wife and then all around her died in a fearful blaze.

Django Yifu: Miss Janus and Miss Dagger I am impressed by your spirit. Is the amulet still in the station? And is it still just under glass?

Beq Janus: Yes, it is.

Dreddpiratebob Streeter shouts "swot!"

Beq Janus: IT is to remain there until the court hearing

Sanus Kanarik: Django, I will eat you if you touch it.

Django Yifu: So what's to stop some "pirate" from going and getting it?

Beq Janus: However, the justice is out of town at the moment.

Django Yifu: wink wink

Jedburgh30 Dagger: It was specially purchased by the mayor. I assume it is not normal glass

Viv Trafalgar: Have we determined that the amulet is not the ... ruby?

Beq Janus: I think the same glass was used to prevent the loss of the device that brought Mr Moriarty to us.

Jedburgh30 Dagger: The amulet has a ruby, but not THE ruby.

Sanus Kanarik: What type of jewel is it?

Beq Janus: That is unclear to me. I am no expert in gems.

Jedburgh30 Dagger: The amulet is a ruby, held by two golden snakes.

Viv Trafalgar: with that in mind, we have so much to thank Django for - and Beq and Jed. The craft is in the boxes I will set out - We have created a kit for voodoo makings. It is a rough doll
and pins. I do hope you all will be careful of the pins. It is our way of saying thank you for coming today !

Sylvie Franizzi is VERY glad the boys aren't around for this!

Viv Trafalgar: Please join the group - and let us know ideas for future salons as this is our first, I think it was fabulous much because of the speakers!

Serafina Puchkina: For safety's sake put the doll on the ground before inserting the pin

Viv Trafalgar: Thank you so much for your support of the Aether Salon!

Curses! Aether Salon the First, October 12, 2008

The Announcement posted as such: 

All are welcome to join us at the Aether Salon in Babbage Palisades (located across the street from Her Dark Materials, & conveniently near the train station) for tea and a spirited discussion of:

with a make-your-own-curse craft to follow.

Topics will include curses old and new - both Babbage-centric, such as the dreaded monster hand, the amulet, and our current wandering mummy - and throughout history.* We feel that a solid education on the topic is important to the moral fabric of the Babbage community. All are welcome, including believers, practitioners, and nay-sayers. Bob, you can come too.

We are very grateful to all who are supporting the salon with their experiences, wit, and wisdom.

Salons will take place each month. Participants are kindly requested to bring a low-prim chair (although this may change in the future).

Future suggestions for salons are already streaming in. Our favorites to date, in keeping with the theme of discussion+craft, are certainly Miss CeeJay Writer's: "Demonic Posession, and crochet your own Cthulu" and "Food safety issues. Canning and preserving your own food. With discussion of what not to eat in Babbage. Django Yifo, guest speaker."

*Due to popular request, "what's wrong wiff Bob" will be an optional discussion to follow all salons.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An introduction to the Aether Salon (declaration of intent to rouse rabble)

Aether Salon of Babbage

Purpose: To bring together people for the free exchange of ideas, information, and what have you. Ideas will be put forward, and in many cases, celebrated. For some, there will be great debate, and then tea.

Rules of engagement: Topics are always open for discussion, elaboration, praise, and skewering. In general, we ask that proper etiquette is maintained. Wit is of the utmost importance.

Participants need not participate: listening, lurking, and lollygagging is also welcome. However, should you have an Idea or a Thought, please put it forward.

Schedule: Monthly, at teatime (SLT 17:00) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hr.Location: Aether Salon, Babbage Palisade (97, 59, 105).

Monthly topics will rotate in this or similar order: literature, adventure, issues, and inventions. These to include steampunkery, expeditionation, didacticism, and mysteries at all stages of solution. Authors from throughout the era, as brought to us by the Babbage Library.

First Salon Date: Oct. 11 or 12 – to be announced.

Please contact Viv Trafalgar or Serafina Puchkina with questions, comments, etc.