Thursday, November 29, 2007

Smashing Prims

I received email this morning from Kiera Jensen, referring me to a store called Smashing Prims. I'm very much in Ms. Jensen's debt, because Smashing Prims features not only lovely dresses, but dresses designed as a whole to work with prim breasts. I can't give you the full effect, because I can't capture the jiggle in a still photo.

The prim breasts are sculpted, and can, within limits, be enlarged:

Though the limits are less than I would personally like, I am still very impressed, and will, I'm sure, spend far too much money there.

Even if you have no interest in prim breasts, you should still go to look at the skins and the dresses that have no prim breasts, especially the lovely gowns. (And if you do share my interest, you should know that we may be seeing such a gown with prim breasts designed to go with it in the future.)

Smashing Prims designer Raven Ivanova is doing wonderful work for prim breast wearers, and deserves our support.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Wilhelmina Yoshikawa's blog has a very good entry about body proportion... though I fear my avatar serves as a bad example of the things she discusses.

One thing she did that I wish I'd known about earlier is to officially propose that the height slider should display the SL height that corresponds to its position, not 0-100. Under the old scheme, it was proposition 2133... but since a search of JIRA turned up nothing like it, I have entered VWR-3441, "Display virtual measurements for avatars when sliders affectng those measurements are being adjusted."

Whatever one's inclination about body size and shape, it would be very helpful to see the "actual" values for height, bust, waist, hips, etc. rather than a 0-100 slider value, or at least in addition to it.... so in addition to the other JIRA proposals I've made, I hope you'll consider voting for VWR-3441.

UPDATE: It turns out that I didn't search well enough; VWR-1094 effectively asks for the same thing. So, I've marked my entry as a duplicate and closed it. Please vote for VWR-1094 if you voted for VWR-3441... thanks.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Java Jive

In a, um, discussion of search facilities for Second Life, the question of "coffee pot" came up.

The old SL search simply looks for entries that have any of the words you type, presumably avoiding or including entries marked "mature" depending on your choice, and orders the results by traffic (hence the obnoxious phenomenon of camping), so a search for "coffee pot" is liable to turn up many establishments having more to do with marijuana than with the production of coffee, and indeed, one person tried searching for "coffee pot" with the old search, and said the result was "junk".

In the following discussion, this claim was made:
If you were to type "coffee pot" into Google, it would [sic--I presume "wouldn't" was intended] turn up anything for you in Google you needed, either. You might have to put in a different term, or more terms.
I couldn't resist... so I handed Google "coffee pot" (without the quotes, thus giving Google greater leeway to make the same kind of blunder the old SL search made) and clicked to get the results.

Here the first few are, in the order they appeared:
  1. A link to an page advertising a coffee pot.
  2. The Wikipedia "coffeemaker" page.
  3. Howstuffworks "How Coffee Makers Work"
  4. How to brew beer in a coffee pot
  5. How to brew a pot of coffee
  6. Two links to sites advertising coffee makers
  7. A page about tourist attractions in the shape of giant coffee pots.
  8. A page about one such tourist attraction in particular.
That's the first page of results. If you want to buy a coffee pot, there are three useful results, one of them being the very first one. Even if I were desperate for a coffee pot, I'd be likely to go look at the others, both out of curiosity (beer in a coffee pot?) and to better use the coffee pot I buy once I have it.

Google is looking pretty good to me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Prims and electric pianos

Once upon a time, people tried to create an electric piano, an instrument, ideally small and portable, that had the characteristics of a piano: velocity sensitive, polyphonic, with the kind of controls a piano has, most notably a "damper" (sustain) pedal. Various companies tried: Wurlitzer and Rhodes with mechanical methods, Yamaha later with FM synthesis. The resulting instruments didn't sound very much like a piano at all--but now you will find synth patches that do their level best to reproduce those sounds. What you won't, and probably never will, see are patches that do their best to reproduce a sampling instrument. They're not wrong enough to be of musical interest in their own right. It's a musical "uncanny valley," if you will.

(I take that back. The Mellotron was an early sampling instrument that played taped samples of instruments, and Mellotron strings are very tied to the 60s, in things like the songs of the Moody Blues, or Black Sabbath's "Changes". That's the one sampler someone may try to reproduce the sound of.)

I thought of that just now when I looked over the blog and saw the statue of the Buddha. It is very much an artifact of its time and of geometrical prims. Sculpture made from them has a style imposed by the constraints of the tools. (Not a new thing; see Oscar Ogg's book The 26 Letters, an entertaining, insightful, and beautiful work.) It encourages results reminiscent of the 1930s and streamlined objects. A Buddha made of sculpted prims would be very different. Closer to RL statues of the Buddha... but not necessarily more or less beautiful than what is now in Varosha.

It's not a good thing, really...

[Oops! There was originally a link here with a graphic claiming that the text of this blog is written at college level or thereabouts, but I guess the web site went away, and it now takes you to some generic filler site with advertising.]

It really isn't. If you want to communicate, especially to an international audience such as populates SL, you want people to concentrate on the ideas, not on keeping track of subordinate clauses other grammatical caper-cutting. If I had the time... yes, like whoever it was (St. Exupery?), I lack the time to make this short... I'd run the text through the kind of complexity measuring code the above link uses to rate the prose, and rewrite to a high school level. The goal is communication, not showing off one's command of sentence structure.

Thanks to Lillie Yifu at 2nd Sex for her blog entry pointing at the rating service.

A place of great calm

Something this morning provoked me to search for "Buddhist". A few seconds and one TP later, I stood at the entrance to the Buddhist temple at Varosha, ironically in the "Crazy Devil" sim.

There are notecards about Buddhism: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Way... and a free prayer mat and lotus. The lotus is lovely; I carried it with me for a while, then detached it--somehow, detachment from things seemed appropriate.

You're welcomed via the audio stream. It's very nice; the welcome is played twice, and then it returns to a gentle background drum. Prayer wheels spin serenely. You're asked to wash your hands before entering the temple proper...

...and you enter to see a statue of the Buddha in contemplation, lotus in hand:

Before the statue is a spot one can sit in contemplation, with the mantra "Om mani padme hum" recited in the background.

The lotus itself is eminently worth contemplating, lovely in its symmetry:

Before the Buddha is not the only spot for meditation; there are many places at the temple, all calm and beautiful.

They have a shop at which one can buy things such as a home shrine; all profits go to support the shrine, and they accept donations gratefully. If you need a respite, a place of peace, this is definitely it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Thought About Sculpted Prims

Sculpted prims are a major advance in economically making objects of a wide variety of shapes, especially organic shapes not readily built from the simple geometric shapes of the original prims. At the moment, at least, one has to create them outside SL, using any of several 3D modeling programs and converting the result to the pseudo-texture that represents a sculpted prim's shape.

The converters that have been written so far, at least the last time I looked, count on one's starting with a sphere--sort of like a globe, at least if there were only 2n-1 degrees of latitude and 2n degrees of longitude (or is that the other way around?); maybe a disco mirror ball would be a better image--and performing only operations leaving that invariant; you can shove the points where the lines cross around, but not delete or add points.

Surely to users of 3D modeling programs, that's like having one hand tied behind one's back. Tutorials and texts for those programs aren't written from the point of view of creating sculpted prims, and don't limit themselves to those operations that leave the conversion to a sculpted prim trivial. To make it easier to create sculpted prims, the converter has to be smarter, taking a shape made by whatever means and finding the sculpted prim pseudo-texture that comes closest to matching it. That may not always be possible, but I bet it is often enough to be worth trying.

"So write one" is the correct response. I haven't. Not yet, anyway. It ought to be doable; something like adaptive integration, but in 3D, and having to limit the number of subdivisions to match the limits on the sculpted prim pseudo texture dimensions.

Comments, especially of the form "Duh, look at [insert URL here]; someone's already done it!", greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: I delightedly announce that I didn't know what I was talking about!

Check out
Sculpted Prims: Resident-made Tools in the SL Wiki, and note in particular what at the time of this writing is the last five or six entries: in-world sculpted prim creation tools. So much for sculpted prims being the exclusive province of an elite, or of being "unfair."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cieli Toscani?

Sure, if you wish... or any other, for that matter.

Windlight is back, in the form of a First Look SL client. The results are gorgeous, as you can see from this photo of Forsaken:

You will, however, want to fiddle with the settings. I didn't go totally crazy running the sliders to the max, but still ended up at two frames per second on Apollo. It will take some work to get the best compromise... and I'm looking ever more longingly at my wish list on

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Speaking of ditzy...

OK... I changed the blog template; the blue of "Denim" fits better with the Fianna's Frocks window backdrop, and I didn't like the wasted space.

Oops... two days of no apparent readership later, it occurred to me that Blogger didn't preserve the Google Analytics script insert when I switched templates.

Might be worth a suggestion to Blogger.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank you

I hope that all have taken a moment today to contemplate what we owe all those who have fought and died on our behalf.

Here you can find not only the moving poem "In Flanders Fields" but also the story of how it was written and almost lost.

Why me?

OK, so was a bomb... surely I can get on to this cheesy site!

Well, I could, but... just has a little notice reading
"COMING SOON! The newfangled, greatly improved, totally updated, 2.0 version that lets you ELF THE HECK OUT OF YOURSELF!" which, if you click on it, just takes you to the Office Max web site.

As a programmer, I understand about the last 10% of debugging that takes the second 90% of the time... but I was hoping I could be a user this time.

Ah, well... there are enough SL residents who do that kind of kvetching, so I'll look for something else to do.

Speaking of jewelry...

Cheyenne Palisades, classy and multitalented person that she is (if you've never visited Pele, for heaven's sake do... see her blog for details), is setting up shop to sell her lovely jewelry and artwork. I promise to give a location when I can (sigh... I'm not sure whether I would prefer being absent-minded or ditzy). For now, here's a photo of the welcoming sign. It doesn't do justice to her wonderful landscaping, I fear.

I guess it's catching on...

Numb3rs had an episode featuring an MMORPG last Friday. Not SL, but a fictional more "traditional" game with an official goal designed into it, and the players, aside from Amita, were depicted as the stereotypical "get a life" sort. On the whole, though, pretty good. (Favorite scene: when "Kali" didn't let "Spectre" win.)

Of course, I'll forgive a lot for a series that shows mathematicians as human and math as the fascinating, beautiful, and useful field it is... just as I forgive David Krumholtz's occasional mispronunciations. (Oh, yes.)

P.S. I don't want to spoil the epsiode, but there's a concept at the end that is interestingly reminiscent of SL.


I finally got around to putting an image behind the blog title. I know, a further plunge into narcissism, but the contrast between the hair and the background was too nice to pass up.

(The photo, BTW, is taken at Fianna's Frocks, which has lovely dresses; also there is the wonderfully named "Ooo, Shiny!" jewelry.)

UPDATE: I did what I should've done first, namely found the aspect ratio I had to work with rather than just guessing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sad news

Last Call was recently closed for a short while and then reopened.

Sadly, the blog reports that one of the people behind Last Call and Dazzle Haute Couture has passed away unexpectedly.

Throughout my time in Second Life, Dazzle and then Last Call have been sources of breathtaking clothing of many styles and sorts, setting the standards. My heart goes out to the people of Last Call and Dazzle in this sad time.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cannery update

Sigh... evidently even the book about the Cannery exhibit will go away soon, so if you want a memory of it, or if you didn't make it to the Cannery and want to see what it is/was all about, best get it while you can.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Obscenity of Gor

Back when I was in college and minimally involved in the fannish world, once or twice the topic of John Norman's Gor series of books came up. It went down almost as soon as it came up. I never bothered to read any of them, though I saw them in copious quantities in the SF section of used book stores, all titled [Fill in the Blank] of Gor. The general opinion was that they were wretchedly written potboilers, not worthy of attention save for a few who took the time to parody them.

Because I didn't read them, I was blissfully unaware of the loathsome philosophy they promote. In SL, I came across a store selling silks, thought "how pretty!" and bought a set... but then I discovered their connotations as the dress of a Gorean kajira (slave girl), and I will not wear them again.

In the world of Gor, man's rightful place is dominant, while a woman is only truly happy as a man's slave. There are some free women, but they are subject to enslavement—after all, according to Gorean philosophy, it's for their own good.

A dear friend, Foxbean Liebknecht, is making T-shirts that express one opinion of Gor... and from the above, I dare say you can guess what that opinion is. It features the stylized lower case "k", called "kef" by Goreans, that starts the word kajira, with the international traffic sign symbol of prohibition. (The "kef" is one of the symbols that kajirae are branded with.) Here I am, shape adjusted to overcome the problems of the SL avatar shape when it comes to T-shirts with art or a message, wearing a beta test version of the shirt:

Foxbean plans to give this version of the shirt away. I hope it becomes extremely popular.

P.S. I will take advantage of this opportunity to remind you of Second Life JIRA entry VWR-1080, which requests a way to overcome the problem of SL clothing and non-convex portions of the avatar shape. Please vote for it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


The SLart at the Cannery exhibit is over, though I hope that it's not the last such exhibit and that even more amazing art is to come.

Thank you to Shoshana Epsilon and Vint Falken; I'm still amazed that you saw something worthy of display in one of my photos. Thanks to all who went to see the exhibit, and thanks to the artists whose incredible work was on display.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon! It's open until next Wednesday. If you haven't seen it, please do. It's a wonderful collection of art.

UPDATE #2: The first exhibit is over, but the call is out for images for the next one... yay! Keep an eye out for more news.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Not a happy camper

As I write, traffic is still taken into consideration as a measure of popularity or relevance in SL. Unfortunately, this has given rise to attempts to drive up one's traffic rating by means other than offering compelling content and goods.

They do this by setting up poseballs so that whoever sits on them is paid a pittance to just sit there (or in a few cases to be animated to scrub the floor, wash a window, or play a guitar). As you know if you've spent much time at all in SL, this is called "camping," and chairs equipped with such poseballs are called "camping chairs."

Camping is a blight on SL; campers consume server resources and increase lag for those who are actually trying to do something.

I've just discovered camping has been set up in a place I visit fairly often. I'm surprised, because it's near a store whose owner is making major advances in the state of the art in the products he sells. A hair vendor whose products I love and buy more of than I really should has also set up camping chairs--those who sit there long enough can get hair... to be fair, I think the equivalent L$/minute is considerably better than the average camping chair.

So... I'm driven to the point of announcing that I will stop doing business with establishments that have camping. It will take many people doing so to be noticed, and even then I think it will really take LL's abandoning traffic as a measure of popularity or relevance to put a stop to it... but I can't implicitly condone camping by rewarding those who cause it.

P.S. I just noticed that this is post #300. Good heavens! Thanks to all of you who've read my meanderings.