October 2006 Archives

Guardian in SL again

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Observer in SL

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Having started with a simple RSS importer for Second Life I've now put together a scrolling RSS and text display. This first one has 10 "character" elements, with each element supporting the characters A-Z,0-9 and about a dozen common symbols. Scroll rate is user configurable, but running at about 0.5 second per move works well. There is currently an LED or Arial font, I may do others - but users can upload their own. Text message or URL of RSS feed are set by chat commands.

All my SL products are being made available at my Nari office, or through SLExchange or SL Boutique.

We Feel Fine

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We Feel Fine / by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar

Amazing interface, interesting content. Could be fun to harvest it for Halo.

Maps of War - The Middle East

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Maps of War

A great animated history of the middle east.

Rainbows End - Vernor Vinge **

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The book of the moment (at least in cyber-circles)

- or maybe not.

Whilst the whole thing about the Epiphany wearable overlaying different interpretations of reality on what people saw was fun, the whole plot side of things was dreadful - ditto much of the writing.

SL Podcasts

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Too numerous to mention, but Goddess and Banana is/was by far the best (they split up) for grass roots, and SLPodcast for more general stuff.

Ditching Outlook

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Having got Google Mail running nicely I've now re-installed Palm Desktop as my main PIM. All I need to do now is work out how to sync it with Google Mail so Deborah and others can get at my calendar on-line. This - CompanionLink for Google Calendar -- synchronize Google Calendar with Outlook and any mobile device. might help.

Colditz

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After Jena Nick and I headedover to Colidtz, although 3 1/2 hours parked on an autobahn meant that we didn't get there til gone 11pm. Ralf met us and showed us to a hotel (he was booked), although we moved into his Guest House for the Sunday night.

Colditz was wonderful. We feel we caught it just in time as the Saxony government is gentrifying it into just another Saxon Schloss, and half is a building site for the new Youth Hostel that is takign over part of the old german quarters. Our guide - Frau Lippman - was superb and we had plenty of time to look at everything, the remains of old tunnels, equipment, photos, locations and so on. What struck me most was not only the ingenuity of the escapers (the British being after points for style more than success), but the way that the Germans appeared to give them every opportunity to escape (eg allowing a theatre group so they could then justify access to costumes, a sowing machine and electric lights).

The town itself was very quite, and old east germany lay just below the surface - more so than in Jena.

On the way back we had a quick look round the old Soviet airbase on which the Altenburg airport has been built. There's a Mig 21 on display, and the old parade square is now being taken over by weeds, but is still surrounded by soviet murals.

All-in-all a great weekend, and having spoken to some re-enactors it looks like Nick and I are set for the Penninsular Campaign, then on to Borodino and Leipzig (back here again), before doing Waterloo when we 56!

All in

Jena Bicentenary

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Nick and I made it to Jena. Our hotel was in Apolda, but we spent Friday night in Jena having an excellent meal while Napoleonic soldiers marched round the town square.

We spent the Saturday morning looking round Hassenhausen, with the bivouacs of several Prussian and French re-enactors still in place. The museum there was small but good. En route from Apolda we'd taken in a castle and an amazing water filtration system at Bad Hosen. It was about 400m long, 20m high, made of wood and stuffed full of fir branches.

Trying to park at the battle site was impossible, every route in was blocked by police. In the end we abandoned the car up a side road, and just like the French on the morning of the battle legged it up the steep road to Closewitz.

I don't know what I expected but the scale of the whole thing was big. The battlefield was a natural bowl about 1km on each side. It sat exactly where the first part of the battle was fought between Closewtz and Lutzeroda. There were around 2000 re-enactors and some 50,000 spectators. We eventually found a near front-row spot close to the main stand and got some great photos of the troops. At one stage the artilllery was just in front of us - an amazing sight.

One of the reasons for being here was to get a feel for the wargaming issues,particularly visibility. What was immediately obvious was that altoughyou could see to the far side of the battle anything beyond 500m was just a blob, or a blob on a horse. Second was smoke. Even with 2000 men there was a lot of it. Cannon smoke tended to be concentrated and dispersed by the time of the next round (about 45 seconds, wind light to moderate). It was when the muskets started firing en-masse that the smoke became a significant cause of obstruction.

The other thing was the troop density. This re-enactment had about 2000 men in 1 sq km. Just under 3 battalions. At Waterloo there were 140,000 men in 6 sq km, that's about 20,000 per sq km, ten times as dense. It would have meant (a) not much room for manouvre and (b) a lot of smoke.

Jena Campaign - 14th October

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Midnight: Lannes 5th Corps and the Guard on the Landgrafenberg. Augereau's VIIth Corps coming up the Saale valley to Jena, Soult's IV Corps just clearing jena and Ney's VIth Corps just entering it.

Napoleon's plan was for Lannes to attack at 0600, and then expand the bridgehead on the plateau as the other forces arrived.

jena battle map

0600 - 1st Battle - By the Dornberg

Lannes 22,000 soldiers attacked Tauentzien's 8000 Prussians and Saxons in dense fog by Luetzeroda and Closewitz. By 0900 the Prussians are in retreat and the French take the high hill of the Dornburg.

0600 - Auerstedt

Davout's lead elements cross the Saale at Kosen and climb to the plateau, running straight into Prussian troops at Hassenhausen.

0900 - Auerstedt

The Prussian are deploying poorly and failing to exploit their numerical advantage. To make matters worse Braunschweig, their CinC, is killed.

0930 - 2nd Battle - Rodigen and Lehesten

Soult's IV Corps crests the ridge up the Rau valley N of Jena meet 5000 Prussians under Holtzendorf. After a fierce fight the French push through towards Vierzehnheiligen.

1030 - Auerstedt

Losses are heavy on both sides but the remains of Davout's III Corps is now on the plateau, and village to village fighting begins, going easier on the right thna the left.


1130 - 3rd Battle - Vierzehnheiligen

Hohenlohe has been waiting here with 20,000 Prussians since 9am when Soult and Ney start to attack. French cavalry persues the fleeing Prussians.

1300 - 4th Battle - By the Schnecke

An outpost of Saxons south of the Isserstedt-Jena road is attacked by Augereau's VII Corps and captured almost en-masse.

1400 - 5th Battle - By the Sperlingsberg

A counter-attack by 15,000 Prussians under Ruchel fails and they are stranded under intense French fire, their retreat leads to an uncontrolled flight.

1500 - Auerstedt

A general Prussian retreat is ordered


The following days see the Prussian army almost dissolve as it flees North. Davout is in Berlin by 25th October. By early November the Grand Armee occipied Prussian from the Danish to the Russian border.

Jena Campaign - 13 October

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napoleon on the landgrafenberg

The Prussians are fleeing North and West. Hohenlohe has taken up a position on the plateau west of Jena, almost half-way to Weimar to cover the retreat of the main body from the plateau to Leipzig, via way of Auerstedt. Napoleon is wasting no time in moving on the Prussians with Bernadotte's joining Davout at Naumberg, and Ney to Roda. But no sooner had the day started than Napoleon's intelligence informed him of the flight north by the Prussians so Davout and Bernadotte have been ordered to Dornburg, with the other troops concentrating around Jena.

3 pm: Lannes in Jena was reporting Prussians north of Jena, and soon after the sound of musket fire could be heard on the ridge. Napoleon hurried the concentration, told Davout to be prepared to swing round onto the right flank and Bernadotte to be prepared to come to Lannes aid should fighting start early.

4 pm: Napoleon has reached the Landgrfenberg, joining Lannes. When Lannes had reached the plateau earlier that day he had driven the leading Prussian elements back to the villages of Lutzeroda and Closwitz. Napoleon is convinced that he is facing the main Prussian Army and has ordered the remains of Vth Corps and the Guard to join him after dusk. All other forces except Davout and Bernadotte are ordered to converge on the position during the night of 13th and early 14th, with battle to be joined some time on the 14th.

Overnight Napoleon is working to pull the artillery up onto the plateau so as to be able to secure the Windkollen - the highest point there.

Jena Campaign - 12 Oct 1806

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Hohenlohe's Prussians left Jena this morning in disarray, as the early arrival of Lanne's advance guard pushed the Prussians into panic. Frederick William and Brunswick closed on Weimar - protecting their links to the Elbe. The French meanwhile have advanced as far as Naumburg, well to the North of Jena.

Jena Campaign - 11 Oct 1806

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hussars

The Prussians today have been falling back to the River Saale. Hohenlohe has passed back through Kahla and is heading for Jena. Murat's cavalry have probed as far North as Gera and even the edge of Leipzig. Lanne's cavalry have confirmed that the Prussians have not crossed over the the East bank of the Saale. Napoleon is convinced that the main Prussian force is to the North and West, and not to the North East and Leipzig as anticipated.

Jena Campaign - 10 Oct 1806

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Prince Louis of Prussia

French campfires burnt all night south of Saalfeld, and by 10am the French force under Lanne . Prince Louis had moved his 8300 men onto the left bank of the Saal, commanding the exit from the defile towards Grafenthal. As Suchet's division of 14,000 left the hills it was engaged by Prince Louis. While skirmishers and light cavalry pinned the Prussians, Suchet attempted a left flank, Louis tried to strengthen that flank whilst advancing towards Beulitz. The fighting continued here and around Croesten, but at 1pm Prince Louis, leading five Cavalry squadrons was killed by the Quartermaster of the French 10th Hussars. The Prussians and Saxons fled to Saale, and the French are reported to have captured 1800 men and 33 guns.

The Prussians under Hohenlohe are falling back towards Kahla and Jena, and those under Frederick William and Brunswick towards Weimar. The expectation is that the French are heading towards Leipzig, and they do indeed appear to be heading for Gera.

Jena Campaign - 9 Oct 1806

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The French have continued to push north through the Thuringgerwald. This morning Bernadotte and Murat (above) in the centre encountered some 9,000 Saxons and Prussians at Schleiz, just North of the Wald. Murat's light cavalry, dragoons, and some of Bernadottes infantry cleared the small force and have opened the way towards Gera. By nightfall Lannes on the left has almost reached Saalfeld and Soult on the right is almost at Hof, both clear of the Wald. The Prussians appear to be falling back already towards Auma, some 15 miles SE of Jena.

Napoleonic Total War

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The Lordz Modding Collective - Mods for the Total Ware Series | NEWS

A Total War mod for the Napoleonic period. Suddenyl buying Total War moves from a "nice to" to a "must have".

Jena Campaign - 8 Oct 1806

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Seeing as Nick and I are off to Jena at the end of the week I though it would be interesting to try and blog the build up to the battle in real-time. here goes....

Today (8 Oct 1806) Napoleon and his Grand Armee crossed into Saxony from south western Germany. It has been a phoney peace since the defeat of the Russians and Prussians on 2 Dec 1805 at Austerlitz. Both sides have been steadily building up their forces, and Napoleon now seems set to try and end things before the winter bites. His forces have been moving up from their concentration areas around Wurzburg , and in the last few days have crossed the Franconian Forest to take up positions on the River Main near Bayreuth. Napoleon is reckoned to have 180,000 men under arms.

The Prussians are arrayed along the north side of the Thuringerwald, around Saalfeld and to the north and west.

Napoleon is advancing in three columns each of 2 Corps, commanded by Lannes/Augereau, Bernadotte/Davout and Soult/Ney, with Murat's cavalry scouting ahead. There have been a few cavalry skirmishes with Prussian picquets, but otherwise the French are advancing un-opposed. As night falls the French columns have reached Coburg, Lobenstein and Munchberg - just on the south edge of the Thuringerwald.

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Right click View Image for full size map.

smart rss reader

We released our first Second Life product today - our smart RSS reader. It uses a proxy on our server to read RSS, RDF and ATOM, and then send into SL only the titles for display. The user in SL can then ask to read a particular story by any unique keyword. Put it on at L$100. Will be interesting to see how it sells. Also signed up to SLExchange and SLBoutique, the two main SL e-commerce sites which let you sell in-world and on-the-web.

Just finishing off the display screen, should have that selling by early next week.

Second Life Dreaming

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I dreamt of Second Life for the first time last night. Obviously spending too much time in-world! (that and counting the prims on every real thing I see!)

Google Mail

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I made the switch to Google Mail today. What joy. What with the cottage and doing more work on the laptop I was getting fed up with having all the mail in Outlook on the PC upstairs. That and all the spam. I got Huma from Robitron to invite me in (thanks Huma) and its wonderful.

As an AJAX app its so much slicker than most web apps. Almost all the functions you want are where you expect them - except Reply which is stuffed down the bottom. The use of tags instead of folders works well. Spam filtering is very effective, and yes, I can now use any of my computers to do my mail - will make life so much easier. There's even an in-built chat system for other GoogleMail users. And the real icing on the cake is the mobile access using the SPV's browser - it works like a dream, a well designed mobile interface makes it all so easy.

I'm now tempted by the Google Calendar if I can get it to sync with the Palm, then I can junk Outlook totally.

Better Life

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YouTube - Better Life

This video is actually awesome - particularly as I'm mulling over ideas for a Second Life interface for visually impaired users. SL Machinima at its best.

Economist article on Second Life

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Brumcon/Brum2600

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Brum 2600

So that explains why the Bullring branch of Borders stocks 2600. Good to know that phreaking culture is alive and well in Birmingham.

Broadband in the Peak District

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Got broadband into the cottage today. 2MBPS unlimited from Tiscali. Working within 5 mins of opening the box, very straight forward. Next step is to replace their modem with a WiFi ADSL router.

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