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Blog by Ina Centaur » Designs

 

Between Then and Now

Written by ina on Thursday, 24 of December , 2009 at 12:18 pm

I haven’t been posting because, other than a few absent-minded releases and such, I have not had much time to spend on SL, and thus haven’t really done “much on SL these days” (of course, knowing me, my “much” is rather relative to my voracious appetite for more [read: insatiable ego]). Anyhow, I have been spending around 95% of my time in RL, which means dealing with plentiful politics in academia, and in trying to obtain RL funding for my virtual artistic endeavors. Both endeavors have proven to be complete wastes of both time and creativity, especially the latter. The epitome of bad PR aside, it doesn’t help that there are times when it seems that Linden Lab is imploding on itself.

This means we have basically less than 2 months left to try to raise funding for the SL Shakespeare sims. Last year, the SOS Campaign took us over a year to raise the funds whose original deadline had been 3 months. The good part is that we have some leftover after paying tier last round (as shown in SLSC Transparency); this is due to LindeX fluctuations and people donating directly (such as Wunderlichs), but we still have the better part of the ~L$700k needed for tier for 3 island sims, paid 6 months in advance. The bad part is that I simply don’t have the time or energy (what’s the point!) to run another SOS Campaign. And thanks to my merchant reputation being selectively sabotaged by Linden Lab, nor do I have the $L to secretly “pitch in” the missing and needed chunk of $L (like I have done each time in past SLSC fundraisers), without breaking my Fundamental Principle. Anyway, I want to be able to use my free time on SL to create shows, such as the stalled but long-awaited SL Shakespeare  Company’s Twelfth Night, Act 2! And, for the few of you who have actually seen SLSC main canon shows, you understand that we simply cannot do these shows without a four sim infrastructure! What to do, what to do…

Onto happier news… stuff that don’t relate to the maladies of a starving artist trying to paint in a borked virtual world…

About two weeks ago, I chanced upon meeting Hunny Larimore. Before I knew it, I started writing the code that would become the backbone of the HB Bunny SL “AI” application.  I was a total SL AI animals virgin, and it wasn’t until just a few days ago that I finally looked at other SL AI animals; as a result, I not only started coding from scratch, but also designing from scratch, thinking up my own ways of how to make certain processes work. More on my findings and musings about life, the universe, and everything per this project in the next post ;-)

Category: Daily Sumly, Designs, Projects, Reflections, theatre

Ina Presents @ SLCC

Written by ina on Thursday, 20 of August , 2009 at 12:00 am
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Alongside RL celebrities like Ray Kurzweil and Jeff Barr, I was lucky enough to present on the BizTrack and EdTrack, and sit on two panels on the FashionTrack at SLCC 2009 (Second Life Convention) at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. Here are my presentation PowerPoints (ppt) slides:

BizTrack presentation:

Branding for a Cause - Two Case Studies in the Arts” was a two-part presentation by avant garde virtual world artists Eshi Otawara and Ina Centaur, that tells the story of each artistic brand name that both sustains and is their art, in a very economically-materialistic virtual world. The presentation started with an introduction (slideshare | ppt) that set the “status quo” of Second Life, and how that really isn’t a medium for art or any endeavor that requires the input of abundant time, care, and love:

And continued with - Eshi Otawara’s presentation, which is available on Eshi’s site.

And, concluded with my presentation (and an informal Q&A), entitled “Ina Centaur and The Creation of the SL Shakespeare Company” (slideshare | ppt)

EdTrack presentations:

Shakespeare’s Virtual Theatre (The Ina Centaur SL Shakespeare Company - The SLCC Introduction) (slideshare | ppt)

Primtings: A Museum of 3d “Primmed” Paintings (slideshare | ppt)

sLiterary, Inc.: A Mini-Overview (slideshare | ppt)

Category: Amusing, Builds, Designs, Projects, theatre

Blackfriars Museum (Repost)

Written by ina on Tuesday, 5 of May , 2009 at 1:57 am
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Reposting an article I wrote on Bard’s Birthday 2009 on SLSC Blog:

As announced, the Blackfriars Museum (a.k.a. the Blackfriars Theatre Museum) grand opens TODAY on the Bard’s Birthday 2009! The museum is a humble shack adjacent to the north end of the Blackfriars Theatre, as such it’s more of a mini-exhibit, but should give you a good overview of the historic elements behind the construction of the world’s only complete replica of Shakespeare’s indoor playhouse, the Blackfriars Theatre in Shakespeare, Second Life.

While creating this exhibit (the sketches are modified from Irwin Smith and the Public Domain; the text is mine), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between a cathedral floorplan and that of a theatre, and so here’s my sort of “pet paradigm”:

Blackfriars Theatre Museum - Of Theatres and Cathedrals copy

The above, in context, is displayed on a wall in the Blackfriars Museum, unedited SL photos as shown below. (Clicking on the “Cathedral in a Theatre” panel inworld also gives you a free inworld info HUD so that you can take these three panels home–or anywhere on SL–with you!)

The Museum illuminates the historical basis for the construction of the Blackfriars Theatre, which was actually built within a building inside a lavishly *rich* Dominican Monastery (hence the name Black Friars — the Dominicans wore a black cloak over their habits). Conjectural diagrams of the monastery are shown, although only the building segment housing the Blackfriars is built (due to funding shortages — I can’t afford to buy another sim for my pet projects anymore :-( but, if you’re crazy enough to fund a sim dedicated to a build of the *complete* Dominican priory that the Blackfriars Theatre was set in, give me a poke!). In addition to… yet more diagrams… the museum also shows a scaled-down version of the roof structure, explaining for its historical basis. Faux-original documents, such as Piers Plowman and diagrams/photos from archaeological digs are also displayed in context (emphasis on faux-original — admittedly, they’re made to look da-Vinci-Code-esque, i.e., Hollywood style imitations of ori doc’s).

Theatre-Cathedral Analogue Wall
Blackfriars Museum Main Wall Blackfriars Museum Roof Explanation
blackfriars museum original docs - parchment book piers plowman panel 1 blackfriars museum original docs - parchment book piers plowman panel 2
blackfriars digs

For the detail-pious, just a note of excitement to look forward to in the next few months: The Blackfriars Theatre will have both rushes and candlelight installed for our summer staged reading series in preparation for our 2010 production of Henry VIII (and stage stools!). We’ll also make use of the rear-stage, and trap-doors as well even though it’s a staged reading series! Last year, we tried a costumed staged reading series, but this year, we’ll try a staged reading series with (perhaps?) some basic blocking. For sure, we will be going for an Tudor-accurate production of Henry VIII, when we start showing the full ensemble performances in 2010!

As future Challenge Productions, we also hope to try out a couple (at least?) of the many historic play manuscripts with explicit blocking for the Blackfriars!

But, for now, I bid thee check out the Blackfriars Museum! And, happy birthday Shakespeare!

Category: Builds, Designs, Projects, theatre

Edward Cullen is HERE!

Written by ina on Monday, 4 of May , 2009 at 1:12 am
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So, I finally forced myself to take a break from writing my… neverending novel ;-D Happy for you, because the long-awaited Twilight SL release of Edward Cullen on Second Life has come!!! Egahds. Ed Cullen. Yes. ED CULLEN!!! *zOMG* EDWARD!!! Available? Yup!

IC-Skins Ad Edward Cullen Skin

You can now *be* (or have someone else impersonate) Edward Cullen, the elusive telepathic yet ever-so-sympathetic vampire heartthrob hero of the Twilight Saga. Both photorealistic Edward Cullen and Bella Swan skins based on photos of the RL actors who portrayed them in the recent movie — are available… for your SL voyeurism purposes, and perhaps beyond.

[IC-Skins] Bella Swan Photorealistic Skin edward cullen square

Free Cullen Family vampire eyes are also released! And, Bella-Swan-grade band-aid’s are also still free! Grab @ Twilight SL Shop.

Be safe. Get Edward now - Only at the Twilight SL Shop! ;-P

Next up, Alice Cullen. And, the fun continues… The cast is slowly be SL’ed…

As always, all Twilight SL Shop proceeds benefit the SL Shakespeare Company, a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving Shakespeare a virtual life — so, really, this is your chance to get Edward and do good on SL! Go for it!

Category: Designs

iC - Seregel - Elorisse by Ina Centaur for FDC

Written by ina on Sunday, 19 of April , 2009 at 7:15 am
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M'Elorrise

Elorisse is my contribution to the FDC. It’s an entire outfit that I created from scratch — well, the “look” is inspired by this image from Seregel:

Seregel

And the rest took about 24 hours of insanity as I bootcamped myself to working blender into creating sculpties for Second Life, to meet my own random-ish personal challenge of migrating to open source starting with this project. All the sculpties were created using Blender, although I baked textures using modo. The skin is a pale hybrid of some of my old 2008 creations - Juliet and Gaeae.

In the final step, I wrote a ditty called M’Elorisse (well, the skins I create on SL are always attributed to a character in my urban fantasy), and braved the guerilla tools of SL photography, by having to use hack-ish ways to align the eyes and such.

M’Elorisse

The daughter of a bishop,
who should ne’er have been:
Silk’s way, fleece’s haven,
They call her M’Elorisse.

That visage of perfect haughty,
strong jawbones, thin arms,
half-painted lips on ivory skin.
They see her M’Elorisse.

Her mother’s elegance,
Her father’s nigh repugnance,
Flutters of satin aloft,
They bid her M’Elorisse

–Ina Centaur
April 19, 2009

Inworld notecard:

iCouture by Ina Centaur presents Seregel Elorisse, a virtual interpretation of a Seregel sensation,*
created as part of the Fashion Designers Challenge event, where two dozen fashion designers on
SL challenge each other to add some spice to our usual perfume of artistic creativity.

The outfit includes skin, eyes, dress, and extra’s, such as earrings, bodysuit, and draft variations.

Additional items to complement (not shown in ad photo) include shoes, hair, and hat. Find the rest
at the iCouture Grand Opening event on June 9, 2009… when Ina Centaur turns 25 in RL (zOMG!)

Please stay tuned to http://blog.InaCentaur.com for details.

* The FDC Challenge I received was to create an imitation of something from Seregel. I chose this
elegant dress, partially for the challenge of creating something that looks both special and elegant
in black (on SL!): Seregel Pic

iCouture is currently located @ http://slurl.com/secondlife/Skin%20City/186/175/563

iCouture seregel elorisse ad

I ended up using the Mona Lisa backdrop from my Mona Lisa Primting, and this video summarizes some of what I wrote above, and also shows in context where I took the photo at (although the entire backdrop, pose, shape, skin, eyes, and more, are included in the boxed outfit set)!

Category: Designs

Blender is AWESOME for SL Sculpties

Written by ina on Sunday, 19 of April , 2009 at 3:04 am
Tags: , ,

I used to use modo and zbrush to create sculpties (sculpted prims) for Second Life. Yesterday, I stumbled on Blender and spent a huge part of the day throwing things on various objects in draping experiments (it’s kind of mesmerizing in a similar fashion to action painting). It generally takes me a few days to get used to a new 3d modeling program, but I found myself getting into Blender in just a few hours, and even had time to record a tutorial on draping cloth in Blender that first day. Now, more and more, I think Blender is AWESOME for making sculpted prims because:

  1. You can reorient the bounding box of the sculpty simply by re-setting the Axes (Press F9, Center New).
  2. Realtime-esque Cloth-draping, and select whichever frame of the simulation you want to use, then 1-click export using the (also) open-source Blender sculpty conversion scripts by Domino! (See the 5-minute tutorial here.)
  3. Blender’s OOP-ness makes it easy to automagically turn things into other things (literally!), as well as to rewire things from a “holistic Matrix-sort of backend view”, and its non-linear layers make it fun to have a variety of sculpts (especially simulation-based cloth-sculpts) in the same file, without the scene getting grotesquely messy. It’s also an interesting way to get organized.
  4. Using a lattice modifier to sculpt is awesome!
  5. Blender is not only free, but also open source!
    1. If you’ve got that crazy idea weighing you down, you can go right into it and mod it from code!
    2. Also, I’m of the belief that traditional modes of software licenses will soon become extinct… While it used to be that o/s software often died out after their lead gets corp-cannibalized, it seems the exact opposite nowadays. Migrating to open source now is, interestingly, an investment for the future — both in funds saved and time saved.

Category: Designs, Reflections, Tutorials

April Fools SL Shakespeare Super Spoof Performance

Written by ina on Wednesday, 1 of April , 2009 at 9:46 am
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SLSC SUPER SPOOF MultiParody April Fools Special Apr 1 ONLY

The Super Spoof plays @ 5 PM on April 1. ONE DAY ONLY. The SL Shakespeare Company is going to multi-parody a whole bunch of things from 2008, and see if they flow with Twelfth Night–that is, this is the SLSC’s “Twelfth Night - Popular Culture Analogues” Edition.

Everything is summarized by the playbill above. Please feel free to link. This is a strictly unofficial fan production; the SUPER SPOOF-esque version of Twelfth Night just for April Fools Day 2009 - just for fun - join us at the SL Globe Theatre at 5 PM PST (GMT-8).

Category: Amusing, Designs, theatre

Inachi Presents Avatar Nyotaimori on Second Life

Written by ina on Wednesday, 18 of March , 2009 at 12:47 pm
Tags:

inachi* Codie is Nyotaimori on March 21 at 1 PM PDT

PRESS RELEASE
March 17, 2009
Contact: Lora Constantine

Inachi Presents Avatar Nyotaimori on Second Life

Shakespeare, Second Life and Skin City, Second Life—In the midst of a virtual reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England, an avant-garde virtual sushi restaurant named Inachi unveils its first gourmet dish. Dubbed “Nyotaimori,” the platter features an artistic arrangement of finely-priced sushi adorning the nude avatar body of virtual celebrity Codebastard Redgrave. The sum of sushi prices on this Nyotaimori reaches at about L$1,000,000; its purpose is to be dismantled by its audience as every “edible piece” of this virtual culinary sculpture is sold off in a single fundraiser to benefit the SL Shakespeare Company. The presentation opens to the public at 1 PM PDT on Saturday, March 21st at the Blackfriars Theatre.

Not surprisingly, the prolific Ina Centaur is both the founder and artist of Inachi and its Nyotaimori. As with many of Centaur’s projects, Inachi began as a hobby, “Inachi started out as a somewhat offbeat-obsessive project to document and semi-immortalize in virtual-world-3D, some of the sushi I’ve tasted. And then one day a friend showed me a picture of nyotaimori, or female body sushi. It all became clear to me that day—both the name ‘Inachi’ made sense, as well as how I might turn these sushi-Lego things I’ve created into… a feast for your eyes!”

Inachi in its most literal translation to Ina Centaur’s native Mandarin Chinese means “Ina, go eat!” But, since Centaur’s discovery of “female body sushi” last May, the translation, while still retaining its homonym, became ??? or, literally, “One Take Eat.” Centaur explains its significance, “The translation sounds flip, but I think it’s cool that the translation back to English also affords a theatrical pun. My SL Shakespeare Company project has been something I’ve been trying to raise funds for since its inception in 2007, and basically everything I do in virtual worlds goes to fund it. Also, I think the translation fits how we’ll manage to present nyotaimori as a viable artform in a very material and commercial virtual world: people will simply take (pay) and eat each piece of artful virtual sushi goodness.”

To Centaur, this Nyotaimori event is both art that represents Second Life, and a social experiment, “Art is essentially an interpretive representation of an object, in the general sense; in this case, the object is the virtual world of Second Life, and Nyotaimori is kind of like a satirical symbol of it. Inachi’s Nyotaimori recasts a nude female avatar into both culinary and ethnic art via an artistic arrangement of sushi. The individual pieces of sushi are cast in a state that will soon dissipate, as each piece is taken, just as the artful sims of Second Life are dismantled due to the decree of limited resource budgets. The avatar in this avatar body sushi presentation is famous and has media appeal, just like how Second Life has it. But, the art lives in the manifestation of its sushi, just like how Second Life wouldn’t be anything without its user-created content… The social experiment would be to see if people’d bite.” Despite its novelty and representation, Centaur is uncertain but hopeful about Nyotaimori as a means to fund inworld art, “Most of my fundraising attempts in virtual worlds have failed miserably. I hope this one is different enough to meet its goal!”

On a happier note, when asked to comment on her choice of designating Codebastard Redgrave as her maiden Nyotaimori, Centaur comments, “I think Codie is incredibly sexy, and Second Life might find it interesting to undress the sushi off her—literally!”

About Inachi (???)
Inachi is a fictional restaurant set in the virtual world of Second Life. Ina Centaur, its founder and head chef-artist, serves hand-made virtual sushi with exquisite detail and care in performance art settings. Its main store is located in the underground metros of Skin City, Second Life.

Category: Amusing, Designs, Projects

Extending IC-Skins - Some Tips on Working with Open Source Body Skins

Written by ina on Monday, 9 of February , 2009 at 2:40 am
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Certain body skins used in IC-Skins (_AR, _SR, ::RIO::, and others), SL Globe Theatre Gift Shop, and SLface.com products are open-source, and their textures are provided both with the skin package inworld in Second Life and on the web at http://skins.inacentaur.com/extend/body

You may do whatever you wish with the body skins under a typical BSD license. Credits and more stringent requirements of usage are included with each respective body skin in the above listed repository.

You can add your own details and customize the body skin to your desire. Some ideas - you may wish to add custom bruises, or put on tattoos or bandaids (for example).

Editing Skins (Outside of SL)

A simple way to do this is to edit the skin textures in Photoshop (if you don’t have Photoshop already, you can get a function trial copy for free for 30 days on Adobe’s website). You would then create a new layer (shift-ctrl-N) and put whatever funky stuff you have in mind on top of the base skin. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to put bandaid’s on a body skin’s lower body (legs). (You can also export just this layer to create “band-aid” underwear.)

  1. Fetch the files for the body you’d like to work on from http://skins.inacentaur.com/extend/body
  2. Photoshop Skin Mod Tutorial: Layers Hide UnhideOpen up the lower body texture for the skin you’d like to work on in Photoshop. To simplify things, each .psd file has two layers: a (hidden) UV map layer, and the body texture layer. To unhide the UV map, click on the far left “box” in the layer you want to unhide in the Layers panel. (If you don’t see the Layers panel, you may have to press F7 to toggle it on/off.)
  3. To save time in this tutorial example, we’re going to download some ready-made band-aid photoshop brushes (http://punksafetypin.deviantart.com/art/Brush-Set-07-Band-Aid-37285501), created by Deviant Art user punksafetypin. We’ll use these somewhat like stencils to quickly put some bandaid’s on our character.
  4. To install these brushes, unzip them and put them in your Photoshop Brushes folder. Press F5 to open the brushes panel in Photoshop. On the top right hand corner of the panel, you’ll see a down arrow - click that, and click Load Brushes and find the brushes you just installed.
  5. Now, have fun tattoo-ing on these band-aid’s *on a new layer*! Use the UV map as a guide, and try to stay within the lines so your bandaids will appear seamless. (Drop by the Twilight SL Shop in Skin City for some freebie bandaid underwear!)

Creating Skins (Inside SL)

To upload your skin to Second Life, fire up the Second Life software, and go to File > Upload Image. Upon success, you should find your upload in your SL inventory. To apply that to a SL skin, simply follow the steps below:

  1. In your inventory, make a copy of the skin you wish to edit. Right click the skin, and select copy, and press paste. (You may wish to rename this second copy so you can find it easily later.)
  2. Edit this copy, but double clicking the skin (in your inventory) to wear it. Then right click (in your inventory), select edit.
  3. You should now be in Edit > Appearance mode. Click on the skin tab, and drag and drop the body skin on the bottom two skin texture boxes. The body skin is made up of an upper body and lower body skin. You would drop the upper body on the middle texture box, and the lower body on the lower texture box.
  4. Click apply to finalize results and exit edit > appearance. This skin in your inventory will now be showing off your new body texture you just uploaded!

I had hoped to provide plentiful tutorials, but it looks like time may be an issue. There are plenty of tutorials that teach you how to use Photoshop on Google (so please google!), but feel free to ask the IC-Skins group inworld for help, though!

Category: Designs, Projects

SL Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night: Act 1

Written by ina on Tuesday, 11 of November , 2008 at 3:16 pm
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SLSC Twelfth Night Act 1 Playbill I

The SL Shakespeare Company Returns to Shakespeare with Twelfth Night:
In Their Usual Trademarked Extravagance…

Shakespeare, Second Life: The SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) will perform a full ensemble performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: Act 1 in a special short-run advance miniseason as part of their Fall Season 2008 repertoire. Opening on SLSC Thursday, November 13th (following a “sneak peek” on November 12th), the full-length Act 1 is the first part of the culmination of a summer’s worth of rehearsal-performances in SLSC’s tag-team staged reading series of Twelfth Night.

Maintaining their tradition of visual and theatrical extravagance, the miniproduction also introduces the usage of multiple rotating sets, incognito animation preloading, global lighting and weather control to SLSC stagecraft technologies. Live dynamic camera control by a director finetunes the performance with a cinematic appeal, while international subtitles, the SLSC’s “Pay as you Will” philosophy, and the play’s location in the confluence of four island simulators of the SL Globe Theatre make the performance accessible to as many as possible.

Directed by Ina Centaur and Voice Directed by Enniv Zarf, the production stars MadameThespian Underhill, Joff Fassnacht, Prospero Frobozz, Ludo Merit, Maedin Tureaud, and Lorne Harlequin, and also a motley cast of “silent actors” who create a different variation of a background crowd each time.

Miniseason schedule (All times SLT or GMT-8):
Wednesday, Nov 12 - 11 am “sneak peek”
Thursday, Nov 13 - high noon
Friday, Nov 14 - 1 PM
Saturday, Nov 15 - 2 pm - (ticketed)*
Sunday - no show
Monday, Nov 17 - high noon

*Most of our shows at the SL Globe Theatre are free, but VIP/ticketed shows charge a nominal admissions fee of L$500. The smaller audience may entice.

ABOUT The Company: <<<
The SL Shakespeare Company (SLSC) is a resident-funded and resident- supported professional theatre company that embraces the best of what Second Life (SL) has to offer. Since 2007, we have been making history by providing extravagant and unforgettable theatrical performances on Second Life. With each show, we continue to shape the field by developing and releasing a new technology for virtual theatre on Second Life. Our vision is to make live Shakespearean theatre available to anyone anywhere with a computer to create new possibilities in entertainment, culture, and commerce for residents of a diverse, unbounded geosphere. Those are the side effects of our mission: to make Shakespeare cool again! Latest News: http://blog.SLshakespeare.com

ABOUT The SL Globe Theatre <<<
SL Globe Theatre, sLiterary is a virtual reconstruction of the Original Globe Theatre that historians conjecture stood in Shakespeare’s days. It is meticulously adapted as a functioning theatre in the massively multiuser virtual world of Second Life. The SL Globe Theatre is the most historically accurate rendition of the Globe Theatre on the Internet. Its SL rendition is set in the confluence of 4 island simulators - thus allowing for the maximal number of local audience members. Web preview: http://visit.SLshakespeare.com

Drop by a free show (or a VIP-ticketed one), take photos, post to the group, and win! Drop by the SL Globe Theatre anytime before the show for a sneak peek of the sets.

SL Globe Theatre Pit entrance: http://SLurl.com/secondlife/Shakespeare/255/255/25
SL Globe Theatre Main entrance: http://SLurl.com/secondlife/sLiterary/23/13/23

Category: Builds, Designs, Projects, machinima

Who is Ina Centaur?

A 25-year old American polymath of Taiwanese ancestry pretending to be old and Caucasian in Second Life. Semi-retired independent scholar also dabbling as an independent artist in new media, particularly theatre and the humanities—notably Shakespeare. Programmer, playwright and novelist. Formal academic background in http://portfolio.inacentaur.com/ina/scientist, philosophy, and bioengineering.

This is largely a personal blog which isn't always up-to-date. There's no one definitive way to stalk me ;-).