Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sculpted prims and (oh, geez, here she goes again...) prim breasts

OK... Anyone who's interested in building things in SL should go and check out Torley Linden's announcement of the coming of "sculpted prims."

What's a sculpted prim, you ask? I'm glad you asked that. It's one whose shape is determined by a "texture." Rather than being used to describe colors, the (R, G, B) values of the "texture" are interpreted as (X, Y, Z) displacements from a center point to a matching point on the surface of the prim. The idea is that you generate an arbitrary "genus 0" 3-D shape (i.e. one without any holes in it—it can have dents, but no holes, at least in the first version) with the program of your choice and then use something to convert it into the "texture" that the SL code interprets to generate that shape on the grid. A converter exists for Maya; more will follow for other programs ("hopefully exporters for
3ds Max, Blender, and ZBrush will be available soon").

Sculpted prims will greatly expand the available shapes for building. I'm expecting a great improvement in non-human avatars, and for that matter, the possibility of a fairly good-looking built human avatar—maybe I can finally be a giantess! XCite will have a field day with this, I'm sure, but of course (here it comes) the thing of most immediate interest to me is prim breasts.

Sculpted prims mean that a prim breast can be a single prim. This in turn implies that they can be "clothed" by being painted with a texture, just as basic clothing in SL is painted on. Right now, tops for prim breasts have to be built to match; a top that works with one maker's breasts can't be used with another. (They also have a detectable thickness, which shows up in some cases.) Textures, on the other hand, have a chance to be used in common, if a convention about orientation is established.

"Gee, you're bringing back the problem of straps," you say. Yes, I am, but I think the tradeoff is worth it. The big problem of prim breasts is that their wearers are essentially cut off from the enormous treasure of exquisite fashion developed by mainstream houses of haute couture. The ideal solution would be one that makes those tops immediately usable, but barring implementation of Prop 125 we won't get that. Next best is one that makes it so trivial to accommodate prim breast wearers that clothing manufacturers consider the effort worth it for the income gained. If prim breasts can be clothed by painting, and the same texture will work no matter whose prim breast one wears, then perhaps clothiers will consider it worth adding right and left textures for prim breasts to their products.

(OTOH, they may see that as something that simplifies the theft of their IP for minimal gain... sigh. But at least it makes it more feasible for someone to set up shop making tops for prim breasts than the current situation, which chops up an admittedly non-mainstream market into even smaller pieces.)

I note that some like the effect of bulging from too-small tops. Given an operation that composes two sculpted prim control textures (adding the corresponding displacements, along with normalization to avoid overflow), I think one could accomplish this. Along with a top you'd need a sculpted prim control texture that is (0, 0, 0) wherever the top is, and then nonzero where the top isn't, with values designed to give a realistic bulge effect. It would be nice if the composition could be done on the fly, but as long as it's possible, one could get the effect at the expense of growing one's inventory.

Sorry for going on at length... again... but sculpted prims open so many possibilities, and it's hard not to think about them. I hope that prim breast makers will consider getting together and seeing whether I'm just blowing smoke, or whether life can be made better for their customers.

I become a tenant

"Home is where you hang your hat! I feel so break up, I wanna go home!"
--Lord John Whorfin, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension

Being homeless in SL is not a difficult thing. Certainly it's nowhere near the problem it is in real life. In SL, the weather is always good. Food and drink and shelter in SL are even more ephemeral than childhood tea parties and doll houses, rather than desperate necessities. With a little thought, you can change clothes in an order that leaves you decent throughout.

That said, humans have a wired-in need for a home. It's a place to relax and to entertain and to be intimate (if one is so inclined), and even in SL, it's nice to have a place to change clothes.

At the moment, though, I can't afford the membership needed to own property in SL, much less property taxes.

In steps my dear friend, Cheyenne Palisades, who, as she describes in her blog, has decided to rent portions of the land she owns on the Forsaken sim. One of those places has proved wonderful for my limited needs (one can be a pack rat in SL with far fewer bad side effects!) and affordable, and thus I am now a tenant.

I'll be taking some pictures of it now that it's furnished (SL moves faster than me making blog entries!), but for now, here's a shot of it from outside, taken before the jukebox was moved to the top level.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Terms of Endearment

I've been fortunate to have mostly found kind and pleasant people in SL. Some of them, very dear friends, address me with terms of endearment. You know, "sweetie" and the like.

One such term, though, always makes me do a double take. I know that it's intended as short for "honey," and that it's just my own weirdness that makes me react so, but every time I see

[name]: thanks, hun

I hesitate and want to double check that my name hasn't been surreptitiously changed to Attila. Maybe this is an argument for voice in SL. :)

Ah... there we go. I will tell myself that my dear friends are Winnie the Pooh fans. After all, his beloved jars were labeled "hunny," so "hun" is a perfectly reasonable short form!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gotta Dance...

Update Day (thanks to Mordecai Scaggs for that name!) does have at least one good point: it causes one to go places and meet people one wouldn't normally see or meet.

This latest time, it also had the advantage of letting one actually look as one wished. The asset database snapshot was relatively recent, and we weren't all Ruthed.

So, there I was in beta, and in Luna, wandering lonely as a cloud... and I came upon some people. One of them asked whether I run the Linux SL client. "Yes, I do," I answered, and was pulled into a delightful meeting with friendly people.

One of the delightful friendly people urged us all to touch her head... and after doing so, we were all dancing!

You have no doubt noticed the woman in front and to the left, and that gorgeous outfit. She is Kami Singh, and she in fact is a tailor and hairmaker and made that outfit, Sexy Tuxedo. United by dance and the admittedly minimal adversity of being out in the beta grid, we pledged friendship (which we had to renew upon return to the main grid; I'm glad I wrote down everyone's names!), and Ms. Singh kindly told me where she sells her wares.

A rather frustrating series of login attempts later, I was back on the main grid and upstairs in the alcove in Hooters 'n' Shooters where her creations can be bought.

It took a little adjustment to put the hat on my head (without hair poking through) and to keep the tails from magically disappearing into my, um, posterior with the gentle background motions of my body that take place even when I am standing "still". That done, I was a happy camper. Now, all I need is a cane and a Bob Fosse-inspired dance animation! (Jazz hands... must have jazz hands...)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'm embarrassed to say that I'd not seen Tiessa Montgolfier's blog entry that lists all the reasons we should in fact envy Barbie before today. Do read it; it's fun and clever. (And while you're there, read all of Tiessa's blog and bookmark it or set up your aggregator for the RSS feed. It's a great blog and insightful... and the "Mistress Strangelove" series especially is not to be missed!)

She says "I'm glad Melissa is enjoying her time with massive breasts and has the guts to do it." Thank you, Tiessa. To me, it's sad that it should take guts.

I've made a point of wearing them in "everyday" contexts (whatever that means in SL :)), e.g. to musical performances, or just while going from place to place. I'm not a dancer or escort, and my tops are no more daring than many, if not most, in SL. I just happen to have large breasts. (In SL... sigh.) With some help? Yes, but OTOH, <announcer guy voice>in a world where LL implemented Proposition 125</announcer guy voice>, I would have cheerfully run the slider up on day one. Then I'd have the nearest equivalent of "natural" large breasts there is in SL, avoiding any of the connotations prim breasts might have by analogy with RL implants.

There are some women who manage in RL to avoid the Scylla of medical problems and the Charybdis of cruel peers and popular culture's stereotypes and single notion of beauty, and actually have large breasts. Should they not be able to make their avatars look like themselves? If they can have large breasts in SL, why then, oh why can't I? (Or anyone, and I promise I won't sing again...)

Please let me know if you take the plunge with prim breasts, Tiessa; I think a solidarity movement for the well-endowed would be a very good idea. (Maybe I'm a bit stuffy; I can't bring myself to type or say that other B-word. :))

(Whew... I promise I won't get carried away like this again. Unless the subject turns to Windows Vista, maybe... :))

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


LiveJournal, a blogging web site, lets one name some people as "friends." It's a bit of a misnomer; all it really means is that that person's LJ entries are gathered onto one page (along with those of any other "friends" you have) that you can look at for convenience. The connotations of "friend," though, lead to misunderstandings. When people cull their friends list, they are often apologetic, and people removed from one's "friend" list evidently are sometimes hurt ("Don't you like me any more?"). I think that it would be better renamed to avoid those connotations.

SL has a way to select some people as your friends. Unlike LJ, both parties have to agree; friendship in SL is a symmetric relation, and either party can break it off. Do I think it's a misnomer, like the LJ arrangement? Not as much. In SL, it's more directly about the other person, as opposed to "just" his or her writing.

Some people don't want friendships offered lightly, and that's certainly understandable. I am perhaps too quick to offer friendship; if I talk to someone and seem to get along well with him or her, I'm likely to do so. It's only bitten me once or twice, and thinking back I was a bit uncertain at the time and should've listened to my instincts.

OTOH, it may not be fair to the other person. I can think of one person I've become friends with, and have never seen since. What must they think of me? ("You never write, you never call..." :)) I hesitate to break off such friendships, lest I offend... and even worry that writing this will give my friends the impression that I don't hold their friendship in high regard. (I do; right now, a goodly number of my dearest friends are people I've only seen as their avatars, and very likely never will see in RL.)

I have become a little less ready to offer friendship as time goes on. Perhaps everyone goes through an initial stage of offering lots of people friendship... like wearing boxes. :)

Though I am trying not to be as shy in SL, it still strikes from time to time, as it did in the case that provoked me to write this blog entry. Recently I saw someone so magnificent in dress and in avatar that I was utterly intimidated. I probably never would have dared talk to her, much less offer friendship... but yesterday she struck up a conversation with me, and now we are friends. Thank you, dear lady.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Last night I attended a performance by Bill and Pam Havercamp, and had a wonderful time.

That, of course, is much the same sort of news as "Sun Rises in East in the Morning;" Bill and Pam are a joy to listen to and their enthusiasm is, as one often hears, infectious. What was new for me was the venue, the Multi-media Arts Center, or MMAC. The Center includes a variety of performance spaces as well as an art gallery and two theaters (one being a drive-in).

It's great to have all these places in one spot... but doesn't that lead to problems with the number of residents that can fit in one spot, you may ask? Well, I asked; you've probably already figured it out: MMAC is sited over the spot where the corners of four different sims lie, so they can either have multiple smaller performances going or one big one, and possibly other combinations as well (I haven't looked closely at the layout).

So, check it out. I look forward to attending more performances there.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh Lord, Stuck in First Life Again...

I'm most of the way through an upgrade, but I don't have the nVidia driver that gives reasonable 3D performance (which is thus a requirement for running the SL client) installed yet... so I'm stuck in First Life for a while.

I hope I'll get past this and see you all soon!

P.S. I'm really, really sorry, Mr. Fogerty...

[UPDATE] Thanks to the good folks on the Ubuntu Forums, I was able to install the newest nVidia driver,. and it now seems to be running reasonably. There's a little remaining work to do, but we're over the hump, I can return to SL... and Feisty Fawn is well worth the move.

Interesting panel at VW07

Check out this summary at

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thank you, Sofia!

Today I noticed that someone in Sofia, Bulgaria has read this blog. That set me thinking and made me remember something that happened some time back...

I, like many others, had fallen in love with Le Mystére des Voix Bulgares, an album of Bulgarian art song inspired by folk music, and most especially with Philip Koutev's "Polegnala e Todora." I could never find the sheet music for that song.

Well, today I saw Google Analytics, thought of that song, Googled "Philip Koutev" (which I should've spelled "Kutev"; the album, as one might guess from the title, transliterated in a way suitable for French speakers) and "sheet music" and ZOT! One of the links was to a Wikipedia page that in turn pointed to Vox Bulgarica, where one can purchase the sheet music for $1.50. They have a sample page, which shows that the lyrics have been transliterated for us nikulturniki who can't read Cyrillic, and also shows me why I never managed to transcribe the music. It's in 11/16 time! (Eek!)

Once I am again employed, off my order will go, for enough copies that I can track down other people and we can enjoy giving voice to this music. Thank you, whoever you are in Bulgaria, who happened across my blog.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SL restless leg syndrome

If you've ever been in a place thick with prims, you've probably seen it. At various places and times you stand still, and suddenly one leg sticks straight out, as if you decided to do a kick and then froze in mid-kick. If you move, the problem goes away, at least for a while... but back it comes, as long as your in a prim-heavy region.

Does anyone know why this happens?

UPDATE: a good friend tells me it's not the number of prims, it's whether you're standing on a level surface, or more accurately whether there's a discontinuity in the spot you're standing on. I guess that (1) the places I've been so far with uneven terrain happen to have been places with many prims and (2) unevenness smaller than I can (or do) notice suffices to produce the effect.

A New Profile Photo

In ten days I will have been in Second Life for eight months... and it's sort of like dog years. "Eight months... how much is that in people years?" Several, I think. Things seem to happen very quickly in SL.

I've written a few times about how I've changed phys--uh, in appearance, I mean!--in Second Life. (See "Experiments in (dis)proportion," "My (Second) Life and the Rush of Breasts," and "Melissa Evolving.") After one brief false step at the beginning, through all this I've kept a single profile picture here on Blogger. Surely that makes no sense! (OK, it makes sense if you know how lazy I can be, but aside from that, I mean.) Besides, it's spring. Yes, every woman needs a Little Black Dress, but it's spring! I don't want my blog to look like I'm mourning.

So, here's the new profile photo. I hope you like it as much as I do. (Somehow I feel like I should be offering you a glass of tranya.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Another Brief Deviation into RL

You may have read about the problems of keeping old data accessible. Old hardware eventually gives out; tapes get old and lose data; programs that understand the layout and semantics of the data aren't ported, or aren't portable... all kinds of things can happen.

You may not realize it, but... data you create or receive are, in a sense, held hostage by the program or programs that understand that data. If your data are stored in a proprietary format, your data are not fully under your control.

Businesses may do as they will; for the most part, one can choose not to deal with a particular business. Government, however, has a monopoly on coercive force. If government decides to only provide data in a proprietary format, or to only accept data in a proprietary format, it forces us to patronize the company that provides software that handles that format. That is fundamentally wrong.

Therefore, some governments have passed or are considering laws requiring open, non-proprietary data formats for data files they create. That is not going over well with the companies with proprietary data formats, and is leading to things such as this (via Slashdot):
A legislative staff employee who would lose his job if he were quoted here by name said, "By the time those [Microsoft] lobbyists were done talking, it sounded like ODF (Open Document Format, the free and open format used by and other free software) was proprietary and the Microsoft format was the open and free one." Two other legislative employees (who must also remain anonymous) told that the Microsoft lobbyists implied that elected representatives who voted against Microsoft's interests might have a little more trouble raising campaign funds than they would if they helped the IT giant achieve its Florida goals.
(I added the [Microsoft] to the quoted text.)

So, if you use Windows, and especially if you use Microsoft Word, that is what you are implicitly supporting via your purchase. Please give serious thought to switching to OpenOffice or another word processing package that supports Open Document Format if you use Microsoft Word, and consider switching to Linux if you use Windows.

For more information, check out Slashdot or Groklaw has lots of information about Microsoft and Linux (and about SCO's attempt, partially funded by Microsoft, to kill Linux via bogus claims of copyright violation), and I expect they will cover this issue shortly.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Piano Recital

I had the good fortune to be able to attend a piano recital by Catherine Moody, an excellent pianist. The varied program included Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Brahms, and other pieces I didn't recognize (her cute mobile cat/tip receiver/program distributor became hard to find as the audience grew to lag-inducing levels; next time I'll know better and get a program early!).

All I can say is, if you have a chance to hear her, by all means take advantage of it!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I am drawn

Recently I happened to meet beepvic Beaumont; we chatted for a while, and the topic turned to his art. He showed me some of his work, which I like very much, and he offered to draw me.

A few days ago, he took some pictures of me, and set to work. The result, which I like and am very flatttered by:

A Day Without Hair

Today is Hair Fair Bandana Day. (Or is it "Bandanna Day"? Had you asked me, I'd say there were three "n"s, but fashion blogs in SL only use two, and after looking at them long enough, they both look wrong to me!) This is a day to take off your hair and put on a bandana.

The point is to support a worthy organization: Locks of Love. They provide hairpieces for girls and young women who are without hair due to medical conditions.

If you buy any or all of the bandanas (with however many "n"s) on sale associated with the day, the proceeds will go to benefit Locks of Love. I am very late in writing this, alas, but there is still some time.

A while back there was some controversy about a suggestion that people switch to an African avatar for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. I was among those who thought it a minimally useful gesture to make the politically correct feel good. Maybe I was wrong; I can say that spending today without the flexi-prim hair I normally wouldn't be seen without did a little to drive home how it must be to really not have hair.

Serenity (no, not the movie...)

Recently Cheyenne invited me over to ride on the Pele Light Rail. It's a great ride, even if I did shriek when I saw the giant squid and the octopus!

What was truly wonderful, though, was the Pele Garden.The photo above gives you a small idea of the wonderful place that Cheyenne and Exuberance have created, but can't do it justice. For that, you should be hearing the gentle wind chimes and birdsong in the background, and should have a panoramic view of the place. The entire area is a demonstration of their genius.

Now, if I can only persuade an SL publication to do an article on the region...

Friday, April 13, 2007

HUDs, Fine Music, and Disappearing Skirts

If you look at a profile in SL, you'll see a little button labeled "Rate". If you're in that person's presence, you can click on it and choose to rate him or her either positively or neutrally in the categories of behavior, appearance, and building skills, along with an optional comment that the person rated sees. Positive ratings cost L$25 per category... and I really hope that that money goes to the person rated, because I've tried to make a point of rating people positively when appropriate. (Judging by the comments on the below-linked blog entry, though, I appear to have been naive about that...)

LL has recently announced that the next Beta Test Grid will have an associated Beta client that removes the ratings system. Apparently it's not all that widely used, and eats enough resources that LL has decided to phase it out. There are a lot of third-party ratings systems for SL out there, which the linked SL blog entry lists, and I decided to check out RatePoint.

One goes through a process to register with RatePoint, and then goes to RatePoint Island to pick up a box with a HUD to let you rate nearby people (I think those who are also so registered), and with something you can wear to publicly display your rating if you are so inclined.

I did so... and saw a bunch of people inside the RatePoint Café. In I went, and when I clicked the audio stream on, there was some sweet jazz with, if I remember rightly, piano and flugelhorn. I listened, and then the light came on... and I typed

/me realizes that this is live music!

Fortunately, Kurt Jano, the excellent performer who was responsible for the music, was amused... and said so between songs. *blush*...

A bunch of people there had on their rating displays above their heads, so I figured what the heck and put mine on. The music was really good (if you ever have a chance to hear Kurt, by all means take it!), and I was into it... and suddenly I noticed that my skirt had disappeared! *blush* again, and thank goodness I wasn't, um, regimental.

Yup, that display attached to the pelvis, just like prim skirts do... so I'd better read up on how to make it attach elsewhere (is there any place left, I wonder?).

I guess we'll see which of the third-party ratings systems survive as time goes on, and I'll see how useful RatePoint proves to be. I am glad I tried it, if only for the really good music!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut leaves First Life

I just heard the news... thanks, Mr. Vonnegut, for some fine books. (Something tells me that in all the TV and radio segments about his passing, no list of his works will include his short story for Harlan Ellison's Again, Dangerous Visions anthology.)

Best Wishes

In about a day, two very dear SL friends will be meeting in RL: a joyous event, and I wish them both the very best.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Speaking of Goldie Locks...

I was headed out from there this morning, just before going out into the non-shopping region of Nantli Xolal, when someone appeared, walked right into me, and determinedly continued, pushing me along. "Hey, wait a minute!" I thought...

...and then realized that he'd just teleported in, and rezzing was slow. I'm sure he didn't even see me. Besides, there's a double bind for people teleporting to a popular place: wait for one's surroundings and other people to rez, or get out of the way of other people teleporting to the same spot?

I'm glad I didn't follow my initial impulse.

Nantli Xolal and the Rainforest

If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for hair, and especially for long hair. I therefore have been to Goldie Locks a few times... OK, more than a few times. It was only this morning, though, that I decided to head out the gap between stores and explore, and it was long overdue.

I hope you'll go exploring there if you haven't already. Nantli Xolal and the adjacent Rainforest are gorgeous, with giant flowers, a railroad, and Mesoamerican and South American buildings and lush plant life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Back in the saddle again...

I'm back from a trip to see family, which was very good.

RL may keep me off the Grid as much as I've been, but it's for a good cause, namely potential, and with effort and luck, actual, employment.

Not much to say at the moment, save... thank you to all my friends. I can't adequately describe how grateful I am for your friendship.