Tails From The Cat Shop

Great new book out from Storm! Must Read! Click on the picture to buy.

Fantasy meets Reality in Cyberspace, in a world where our online and offline experiences, friendships and even, our identities are excitingly entangled. Avatars are extensions of us, leading lives parallel to our own dull everyday existence. There are no limits to our Virtual Lives and we are free to live in any World we choose. Having a Virtual Life sets you free to dream and some dreams do come true.

Storm and Dude are partners. In spite of the fiercely opposing time zones, they meet and fall in love on the dance floor of the Junkyard Blues Club in the Virtual World of Second Life. They begin collecting breedable cats and their Second Life gets very crowded, so together they open Not Another Kitten, a Cat Shop in Cyberspace. Then the Cat Shop meets the University and both Worlds collide with laughter.

Meet the Divine Penny, the Italian-speaking Siamese cat, with the delicate chocolate paws, and find out if Professor Poppett’s poodle recovers from ‘indoor barking syndrome’. Go on an adventure in the alligator infested bayou to hunt for the Golden Kitten and find out why love always wins the day.

tails book

Quite an achievment. Started as a blog and became a book. Well done Storm very proud of you!


Heres the URL again : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IFRFR7G

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Not Another Kitten

Our Kitty Cats have become a business! Yes we love our bundle of pixels and we are eager to share. To this end we have set up a shop in The Junkyard to sell kittys. They are so much fun to have an animated critter running around. You can set their roaming distance and various animations. You can also set them to follow you and just like a real cat they will pause then amble after you.  They have animations of course; cleaning their whiskers, scratching, rolling over, jumping and yes they even talk. Storm has started a blog that chronicles our Not Another Kitten experience! Click Here!


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bronya jiselle menelea  ormond penny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geneology

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Storm says:

Put two good-looking cats in one room together and they get ………..frisky! Your cats will be adult when they are 7 days old and to breed they need to have; 25% Energy, 75% Happiness, 100% Love, (we would all like that!) and not more than 25% hungry.

The cats need to be in range of each other and this is the hard bit, your cats need to be awake to get a kitten – (wake up you little monsters).

The new kitten appears ready packed in a box and you have a tense fifteen minutes waiting for the box to open. You can save your boxes for later if you want.

Register with KittyCats.biz and you can see all your cats on a pedigree chart. If two cats have some interesting traits you can pair them together as partners and try for a “wunderkind”.

Your Kitty has various characteristics, traits and some of these will be dominant. Fur, ears, colouration, whiskers, eyes can all be bred for. Each kitty has a history and going back to the grandfather / mother you can see what traits might appear. Genetics for our kittys is somewhat hit and miss however our experience is that you can produce some very cute and interesting cats. The “boring” ones can be left in their boxes in your inventory. When you get your kitty you can register with KittyCats.biz and see your cats pedigree.

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I don’t know what you think of all this but I will say this: The experience of being an avatar in second life becomes very real. It is not so far fetched to extend this reality to other objects in the world. Where these objects look like cute kitty cats that move and act like real cats, can be petted and show response to this petting; have to be fed; can get sick then they become very real. If we have a cat in real life we find they have personalities. Likewise we can give our secondlife pets a personality. This all goes to make the whole experience very real.

 

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Settings revisited

I have learned a few new things sins I posted Appearence so here is an addendum.  I have surveyed some people most were running sl in high graphics wise . I got a bit miffed with one person who had a very bright face light. I sent him a picture:

earniebrightI was blinded by his light so I sent him the above picture. Prior to this DJ Siani ( who is getting a web site ) told me I could derender lights. I managed to do this with one lady who was bright with four lights however I couldn’t do this with Ernie. I IM ed him He told me that he was running low on graphics and only went on high when he was photographing. He told me I could turn off lights globally by unchecking Local Lights. Which works but gets rid of ALL local lights including the DJ which I may want and the lights built into the sim. So. Below is a video I made about it all. I’m still getting used to voice narration and I used the stream from http://JunkyardLive.com . I am also still learning Camtasia 8.


settingspenSome people have different settings for different settings lol or for different activities. At the moment I’m sticking to one and seeing how it pans out for different sl environments. There is a balance between quality and speed I have yet to fine tune. I’ll let you know.

 

WARNING! AVATAR THEFT!

While I was chatting to someone about settings she told me her avatar had been hijacked. She was sent a bogus market place url that looked like the real thing. It captured her user name and password. She caught it in time and used Linden Labs fraud dept to get a new password sent to her. No damage but just a reminder to be careful.

 

BTW my best videos are now going up on RavensKiss (dot) org

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A Bundle Of Pixels

jiselleinfoGetting a virtual pet in second life is quite a remarkable experience.  You go to the shop and choose your pet, in this case a cat.You can see the genealogy of your cat. Opposite are the details taken when she (!) was three days old. The “birth” is an experience in itself. You buy a box with your kitty in it and rezz it. You have to wait 15 minutes and you are presented with a dialogue such as ” Your kitty’s eyes are just opening and she is fumbling around” This goes on for 15 minutes detailing what would be the birth of a real kitten. You, well we did, you sit and wait and watch as the box starts to move. Then the kitten is born. A kind of reverse imprinting occurs.

A rapid learning process by which a newborn or very young animal establishes a behavior pattern of recognition and attraction to another animal of its own kind or to a substitute or an object identified as the parent.

The kitten is tiny and has a name. You can see its menu detailing its love, happiness, food status and age. You set its area of travel . She can sit on your shoulder during the first week . (Sorry having trouble with “she” and “it”).

This is a bundle of pixels. Yet psychological mechanisms are at work here. Throughout second life a process goes on whereby identity is given to an onscreen representation of yourself. Here an identity i.e. your cat is a being. It is a primitive expert system that responds to your input.

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This kind of behaviour is not uncommon in children. Their toys take on a life of their own with likes and dislikes, a pure projection of the child’s imagination. How much more real is having a “toy” that  has a degree of autonomy but is still dependent on you for love and food in order to grow and live? Bonding occurs. But the bonding is with the avatar so we are even further removed from the actuality. Isn’t this wonderful. first we have an identification with the avatar which becomes an extension of ourselves then we anthropomorphize even further to give life to a bundle of pixels.

 

Storm holding Ormond with Bronya on her shoulder Dude with Jiselle
Storm holding Ormond with Bronya on her shoulder Dude with Jiselle

 

You notice that set above the animals head is a menu. This shows the cats energy, love factor, happiness factor and if it is hungry. These change according to your interaction. The more you pet the cat the greater its happiness factor. In the first seven days your cat will grow. Initially she or he will sit on your shoulder but after six days will become to big to do this. Food is rezzed and the cat will find it (Its placed within the roaming range) . Your cat will roam around sniffing at things, cleaning itself and will chase butterflies from an emitter. There was an incident with Ormond where Storm (my partner) made a mistake with deeding him to the group. Ormond became sick and lay in his basket not eating and was covered with a blanket. It was quite upsetting.

Kill The Robot

In the 80s while researching expert systems I came across the following study, reference lost sorry. A small robot was created with LED lights and could traverse a counter top. It had sensors whereby when its batteries became low it would plug itself into a wall socket. It would emit “happy” beeping sounds and its lights would pulse and glow. A subject was asked to observe the robot then was given a hammer and told to “kill” it. It was after all just a bundle of transistors and servos. The subject was reluctant and the robot with the aid of proximity sensors was able to avoid the hammer. It could run away. Eventually the subject caught the robot a glancing blow disabling one of its wheels which began to leak oil. It ran around in circles bleeping. The subject became very distressed and demanded that the researcher kill the robot and put it out of its misery.

Eliza

Many of you might know of ELIZA (after Eliza Doolittle , Pygmalion)  created first in the 60s. It had a sub routine called DOCTOR. It was not AI but simulated it so well it became famous. Based on Rogerian psychotherapy a dialogue would go something like this:

Patient: “Everybody hates me”

DOCTOR: “Why do you think everyone hates you?”

Patient : Because my mother told them to”

DOCTOR “Tell me about your mother”

etc……key words could be identified or a response could be simply turning a statement into a question. It was phenomenal how people reacted. Some said when discovered using the program that it was confidential or personal even after having the program explained to them.

Paro, a robot used in the treatment of dementia.

Paro was developed by Takanori Shibata, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Paro is a therapeutic, pet-type robot with the appearance of a baby harp seal.

paro

Paro has tactile sensors and moves its tail and flippers and will respond by opening its eyes and moving its face toward the sound of voice. Paro’s sensors monitor sound, light, temperature and touch and Paro respond’s appropriately, such as responding to its name and being stroked.

Paro can show various emotions including surprise, happiness and anger, and Paro will cry if it is not receiving sufficient attention.

Anthropomorphism, or personification, is attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being.  This isn’t good enough to explain what is going on here with cats.  (Got to laugh there is a group on Facebook: P.E.T.R.A: People for the Ethical Treatment of Robot Animals. ) Our cat are robots coz  they are exhibit AI. They have there own mechanisms to handle their environment and respond to avatar owners. They can be petted and will reward the avatar with an increase in happiness. Just as a real cat responds to stroking with purring. But all they are is a bundle of pixels.

 Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative. Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres, as well as in professional wrestling.

Can it apply here? We have already come some way with this with our avatars in second life we consider them to be real. We go beyond them being merely representations and almost have given them a life of their own. Our cats have a certain autonomy but just like their real counterparts need food and attention in order to flourish. We are also “fooled”  into bonding with them through psychological techniques. It is therefore easy to pretend they are real.

I think this is worthy of further study. I think second life itself is worthy of further study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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