Shipwreck Moon, my poem about a blue moon (or two)

Last night I went out near midnight in RL to look at the blue moon over California.

Then I came inside and looked at it in SL over the Farhaven Isles.

Here’s the poem that came out.

My star gets a little bling

Yobee, the robot co-star of my latest machinima Pieces of Your Heart and its outtakes spinoff Broken Pieces, won his very first prize today. He is so excited. He attended the “Sci-Fi in July” screening last weekend sponsored by machinima and media company AviewTV. Despite his shyness and avoidance of the paparazzi (read about it here),  he entered the CosPlay (costume) competition. To his astonishment, he was informed today that he won the 3rd place prize – among all those creative machinima makers and amazing costumes! Here is the portrait that won him third place.


He asked me to accept his award for him, as he is shy and, being a robot, not very good in English. He was also afraid they would ask him to talk in voice, and his voice is … well if you’ve heard it in my machinima, you know … umm, I’m trying to be kind here … it’s sort of like a machine that needs to be oiled. Anyway, Yobee was over the moon with his win and very excited to see his one-of-a-kind trophy, made by Doe Silverspar, when I brought it home.
Continue Reading “My star gets a little bling”

How to display videos in your hosted WordPress blog sidebar using Vodpod (a short tutorial)

Hello Chickadees! A number of you curious birds have asked me how I display videos in a sidebar of this hosted WordPress blog. If you self-host your WordPress blog, playing sidebar vids on your blog is a fairly simple matter: you just copy the video embed code into a sidebar text widget. BUT –  if wordpress.com hosts your blog, then as soon as you paste that code into the text widget and press “Save” – presto! – the code disappears, and there is no way to get that video to play in the sidebar. It is easy to embed videos into a post, but not into the sidebar of a blog hosted by WordPress. (Unless someone cleverer than me has figured it out? If so, please comment here. I’d love to hear it.)

But meanwhile, I have discovered Vodpod, and that is how my videos are displayed in the sidebar. It is a third party service enabling you to build your own video channel by importing videos from almost anywhere on the web, and then share them almost anywhere – blog, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. The vodpod process was fairly tricky for me to work my way through it, so I thought I’d post a quick tutorial to guide you on the way.

1. SIGN UP FOR AN ACCOUNT AT VODPOD
Navigate to Vodpod on the Web. You’ll see the screen below, and getting an account really is as easy as filling it out.

2. DESIGNATE VIDEO SOURCE

Vodpod will ask you where you want to import your videos from. I left this form blank, as mine will probably come from multiple places. I think this window is designed for people who want to import *all* their videos into Vodpod from -for example – their youtube channel.

3. CHOOSE YOUR WIDGET SKIN AND GET YOUR WIDGET CODE

Vodpod will then display a button for you to select to “Get a Widget for your WordPress Blog.” They also offer a short instructional tour, which is worth your while. It’s composed of only 4 slides, and they give you a good headstart. Then you click the “get a widget” button and see the screen below.

OK, still awake chickadees? I hope so, because this is the important part,  where you get to choose your widget’s skin which will determine how the video is framed when it plays on your blog, and how many videos play (see screenshot above).  This skin (sometimes called a “style” by WordPress) comes in a variety of skins, all accessed on this the “Get widget for your WordPress Blog” screen. These choices are three varieties of Large, plus Elegant, Floating, and Button. The Large and Elegant skins will place up to five videos in the sidebar, which may be too many if your sidebar space is at a premium. Floating will allow you to choose the number of videos, and Button (my favorite) allows the user to click through your videos one by one, showing just one video at a time in the sidebar. (As you make your choice of skin on the vodpod site, you will see a live sample alongside the menu to show you how how it will look on your blog.)

In this screen you will also choose whether you want Vodpod to order your videos in your sidebar according to the most recent, or the most viewed. You will also fill in the title of your widget, which is how your widget will be titled in your sidebar. I titled mine “Bay’s Latest Video”.

4. PASTE YOUR WIDGET CODE INTO YOUR WORDPRESS VODPOD WIDGET.

After you have made your choice of widget skin, copy the widget code that appears in the screen (it will appear in the “Short Code” text bos (see shot below). Make sure you wait til after you have entered your choices to copy the code, as it will vary depending on which skin you choose. Then navigate back to your WordPress blog. Choose Dashboards, Appearance, Widgets, and then drag the Vodpod Vodeos widget into your sidebar. Click its dropdown arrow, and paste your code into the widget’s “Short Code” textbox.

5. IMPORT YOUR VIDEOS INTO VODPOD

Next, you must import a video (or more) into your vodpod account. As soon as you do this, the video will play on your blog when users click on it. You can import videos direct to your vodpod account from anywhere on the web (youtube, vimeo, Facebook) by using the “bookmarklet” button by clicking here once you have a vodpod account. Just drag the button into your browser bookmark toolbar, and you can import a video just by navigating to the video on the web and clicking the button. (You can also add videos by clicking the “Add Video” button on your account home page and pasting in the embed code.)

Once you have the video in your vodpod account, it will be play on your blog when you readers click on it (presentation will depend on which skin you chose). That’s all there is to it.

Also, you can post videos directly to a post in your blog from vodpod with the vodpod “Importer” tool by clicking here once you have your vodpod account.

So . . . there’s your basic intro, chickadees. There’s lots more to explore, like setting up video collections inside vodpod and following or searching other vodpod collections. But I’ll let you figure all that out. No use ruining all the fun of discovery! But this will be enough to get your started.

Blogger Challenge! Enter virtual vidclip in youtube's "Life in a Day" project

Here’s Bay Sweetwater’s first-ever Blogger Challenge:  All you Second Life avies out there, open up your machinima capture programs on July 24 and SUBMIT VIRTUAL ENTRIES to Youtube’s Life in a Day movie making project. Film something personal in Second Life – something that matters to you – and upload it to the youtube channel in the following week.

Here’s the back story: Youtube, together with movie producer/director Ridley Scott and director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) has issued the Life in a Day invitation asking everyone (in the world!) to upload short video clips of important personal moments to youtube during the 24 hours of July 24. The idea is that Scott and Macdonald’s team will then stitch together the “most compelling and distinctive footage” into a feature length documentary film to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival next January called Life in a Day – documenting a single day on earth. (Imagine a video Twitter).

But hey, guess what? They only talk about filming the first world – never about digital worlds. Youtube hails the project as a “historic global experiment” (see their vid below). But just what does “global” mean here? Second Life inhabits the globe, and I really hope they don’t ignore it. And they won’t – if we all send them tons of clips of our important personal moments in Second Life.

So here’s Bay’s Blogger Challenge: On July 24, open up your machinima capture program and film something personal in Second Life that matters to you, and submit it to the designated youtube channel. There are no length limits. It can be 15 seconds or 2 hours. If your footage is used in the film, you’ll be credited as a co-director in the film. Those judged the top 20 contributors in the film will be flown to Park City, Utah, for the screening of the film next January.

If you accept this challenge and post your footage on youtube, please trackback or comment on this blog entry so we all can see what you’ve done.

Here’s what you do (straight from Tim Partridge on the official Google blog):

1. Visit the “Life in a Day” channel and learn more about the project. Be sure to read through the steps you need to take to participate and the guidelines for creating your video(s). Also check out some of the sample videos for inspirational ideas.

2. On July 24, capture your day on camera.

3. Upload your footage to the “Life in a Day” channel any time before July 31.

PSSST! from Bay: Macdonald says he wants to produce a “technically proficient film.” I interpret this that HD clips will have a better chance than blurry standard footage.

The prize for this Blogger Challenge is just this: You’ll make your avie famous and (literally) put Second Life on the map.  And hey, you might even get flown to Park City for Sundance.  Hmmm, now there’s a question. If your footage gets judged among the influential Top 20 in the film, just how will they fly your avie to Park City? LOL. Btw, regardless of whether your footage makes it into the final film, your video(s) will live on on the “Life in a Day” channel as a time capsule that will tell future generations what it was like to be alive on July 24, 2010.

Here are screen captures of guidelines and tips, direct from the youtube Life in a Day channel. Btw, if you go to the channel to read them, they appear in a chameleon-like menu bar that hides across the top of the intro video.

For more tips, here are youtube’s, Macdonald’s, and Scott’s vids on the project.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZFbDY3-eG4]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_4uii96xqM]

Whoosh. . . upon a dandelion

A wish upon a dandelion always comes true.

One of the events I enjoy most in Second Life is the weekly Bardic Circle gathering in the Elf lands. (Come visit! All welcome. Every 7 p.m. Tuesday, SLT – that’s Pacific time in the U.S.) Teleport directly by clicking here.) We listen to and read poems and stories that are funny, sad, touching, and … well, any adjective would apply here. I look forward to it all week. I have the immense honor of being Elf Circle’s Poet Laureate this year, and I usually write something new every week. A number of you have asked me to post some of these stories and poems – so here we go. This is the first one.

I call it “Gelid’s Wish” because that is the name of the little wizard here. He got his name because of a Bardic Circle tradition. Every week, the hostess Sairi Matova asks five of those attending to offer one word of the Five-Word Challenge. Then we all try to write a poem or story using those five words for the next week’s gathering. Well, one week one of the words was . . . you guessed it . . . “gelid.” It means icy or extremely cold. Well, I couldn’t fit it into my story, so I gave the wizard that name – LOL!

GELID’S WISH

by Bay Sweetwater

Gelid the wizard took a deep breath, then exhaled with a little puff as he studied the gleaming spaceport in front of him. The spaceport dock was suddenly pulsing with activity. Whole squadrons of spaceships took off one after the other into the cloudless summer sky. None of the spaceships would ever return, but that was as it should be. This was, after all, an intergalactic space colonization mission.

Gelid gazed after the trail of departing spaceships and admired their brilliant design: perfectly aerodynamic, fuel-free, propelled by the wind captured in a hundred threadlike wings. The wings, shaped as an umbrella, also served to protect the precious pod cargo carried below.

Amid the echo of the tumultuous launch, Gelid heard the nightingale sing its song of hope for the spaceships. The song made him wonder briefly if the ships would truly succeed in their dangerous mission. Would they really make it safely to their destinations in unknown worlds, drop the pods, and sprout whole new generations—who would then build spaceports themselves in those farflung, unimagined homelands?

But in his next breath, Gelid knew they would succeed. He was certain of it. For hadn’t he wished for safe hands—a mother’s hands—cradling  those spaceships, wherever they may go in all the worlds of the universe?

And, as everyone knows, whatever you wish for when you blow upon a dandelion . . . and blow all the seedlings away in a single breath . .  that wish always comes true.