Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 is a little late...

There's a leap second this year, so 2009 will arrive a second later than it otherwise would. If you listen to WWV in fifty-three minutes as I type, you'll hear sixty-one clicks between minute beeps.

May 2009 be a better year for us all in both First and Second Life.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


OK, so I went to the SL Wiki to find out how to build the SL client, and decided to use subversion to retrieve the code. Ah, there's the command, and I fill in which version I want.

Which version do I want? Well, I hope I'll be able to try out the version with shadows, but for now, I want the current version. I looked at the page explaining about the source branches... oh, OK. I want the current release version, so I typed the command and asked for release... yeah, that's the ticket!

Good thing I haven't used much of my 500 GB hard drive. :)

(Actually, it's not that bad; just a couple of gigabytes of source, and I will be pruning a bunch.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Now how much would you pay?

Apparently PCI Express 2.0 graphics cards will work in PCI Express 1.0 slots--though they won't have the added bandwidth to play with.

So, I'm thinking of getting a better graphics card... but I'm a bit astonished by the kind of power supply the high end stuff wants (not even getting to the question of SLI!). I thus have to ask myself: what do I think is good enough? After all, I made a point of getting a CPU with low power consumption. I don't want to run my electricity bill up for a few extra fps. (Have you seen those kilowatt and above power supplies? OMG!)

I hope that graphics card companies are looking towards efficiency rather than just throwing more hardware at the problem--not just so I can run SL nicely on a netbook, but so I can get good performance without using my graphics cards to heat the house.

Speaking of motivation...

From the SLDev mailing list:
I had 3 fps with Linden Labs 32-bit client for linux.
I then got the source code and compiled it for 64-bit,
and got 30 fps, on the same hardware...
Time to read up on how to compile the client. Of course, it's just about impossible to guarantee identical conditions--were similar numbers of users on? Did the poster go to the same place, under similar conditions?--but it's worth a try.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Yet another request to consider voting for a JIRA entry

The entry? VWR-5203, "Flexible Sculpted Prims". You can guess why it interests me... hair, of course. :)

Seriously: right now there's a patch to the client to support them, but because of how things are implemented, it's not very efficient, so some work is needed before flexible sculpted prims can be made official.

It already has 570 votes as I type this, but is still, alas, unassigned. I hope you will consider voting for it. (And while you're at it, don't forget VWR-1258.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best wishes to all

To all who celebrate Christmas, a merry and joyous Christmas.

We're part of the way through The Holiday Transliterated as Hanukah/Chanukah/Hanukkah/etc.; I'd have pasted in the Hebrew, but Firefox's text entry obligingly switches to a mode appropriate for Hebrew when I do. :) While I don't celebrate it, I find the story of the revolt against the imposition of a religion very inspiring.

must-read post, paper on analysis of the grid

Dusan Writer has posted a very good summary of a paper that analyzes the behavior of people in SL and makes suggestions for performance improvements. Read Writer's post first, and then the paper if you want the full story. I hope that the folks at LL have read the paper and are looking into implementing the suggestions.

more amazing work from kalosss Gausman

kalosss Gausman makes many amazing things in SL. For example, he had a hand in the Museum of Amazing Illusions.

He's now turned his hand to creating a giant avatar. It's not ready just yet, but I am amazed by what I've seen so far, and very much looking forward to seeing it when it is done!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not to be missed: gorgeous photos from Cheyenne and Sweetie

Cheyenne and Sweetie took a trip to Forest Feast, an amazing region that I will definitely visit when I can. The results: breathtaking photos, as you can see here, here, and here.

It's still more inspiration.

SL on your netbook?

A very popular new sort of device is the "netbook", a tiny laptop computer, often with mass storage devices lacking moving parts. The goal: long times between battery recharges and access to the web and "cloud computing." To achieve that, one trades away performance; netbooks typically have CPUs of moderate speed and low-performance integrated graphics.

A c|net article says that nVidia is looking into chipsets for netbooks that will provide respectable graphics. Graphics performance currently depends on lots of power-hungry devices running in parallel; can nVidia give acceptable graphics performance without tying users to the wall outlet?

I certainly hope so; I want a netbook that will let me on SL.

New Prim Breasts from Foxbean Laboratories

Although this is so not a fashion blog (thanks to Cheyenne Palisades for the phrase), I should do some things that have been established as conventions for such blogs to simply be up front and give the reader all information that might influence his or her assessment of a post:
  • Foxbean Liebknecht is a very dear friend.
  • Yes, she gave me a set of these.
So, that said: the Nadine v1.3 prim breasts that Foxbean Laboratories has just released are
  • magnificent (sorry, you'll have to look at one of the ads)
  • adaptable (size, position, and texture easily set via the HUD)
  • thoroughly documented (including details of creating a clothing texture to go on the clothed version)
In one set you get versions that are designed to go well with four different skins from Redgrave.

It will take a while to fully explore all the features--a process I'm sure I will enjoy--and now I have no excuse whatsoever not to broaden the set of tops I can wear with prim breasts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jack Skellington and virtual aesthetics

There's an ongoing discussion that appears from time to time, most recently and eloquently in Doreen Garrigus's fine blog Original Detail, about avatar shapes and in particular height inflation and unrealistically slender avatars (and thence to women's body image and anorexia).

This being the holiday season, another example of the virtual aesthetic came to mind: Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.

The average and stocky characters are figures of fun (or menace, in the case of Oogie Boogie). Ah, but the hero and heroine!

Somewhere I have a wonderful book on the making of TBNBC, and I wish I knew where it is, because among the working drawings and photos may well be one that defines the appearance of Jack Skellington. Lacking that and guesstimating from a photo on the web, the Pumpkin King looks to be around thirteen heads (skulls?) tall. (Hmmm, thirteen... was that intentional?) Jack, when not dressed to scare, is elegant and debonair, Fred Astaire with a very busy pituitary. He's also as impossibly slender as he is impossibly tall. There's a photo of an adult dressed up as Jack--the result is as if a three-year-old were dressed up for Halloween by his mother. Any actual person who tries to dress up as Jack Skellington will fail miserably.

Sally the Rag Doll, nearly as I can tell, is about nine heads tall, with long legs, a very long neck and tiny ankles. (Speaking of ankles: in an ironic echo of physically impossible standards of beauty, Sally's socks are a compromise. Tim Burton wanted Sally's ankles so slender that it would be impossible to make an armature for her. The socks made the armature possible, while preserving the desired proportions.) She only looks voluptuous next to Jack's skeletal figure.

We identify with them both, but are they beautiful? I think so, but I don't think I can separate my aesthetic judgment from that identification.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What?! Not VWR-1258 this time?

It's true! While I still hope you'll vote for VWR-1258, this time I'd like to call your attention to SVC-2626, a request for support of copyleft and share-alike permission for objects in SL.

SL doesn't do very well when it comes to support of Open Source kinds of licensing, which leads to the "business in a box" scams that sell freebies to those who don't know any better. (And sell stolen copies of proprietary objects as well. See discussion here, here, and here.)

I hope you'll look into SVC-2626 and vote for it if you are so inclined.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I came home and there it was...

So, I teleported home and looked around at the snowy Whimsy (Whimsical?) landscape... and was amazed to find that a mountain of snow had taken up residence in my humble abode!

It wasn't an object... somehow the very terrain had changed, and it simply erupted through the building.

Cheyenne kindly set things right.... but why it happened remains a mystery.

I think I'd best make an offering to Pele; according to the stories, she can be an angry goddess.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I guess it had to happen eventually.... is claiming patents on “Scalable Virtual World Chat Client-Server System” and “System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space”. Here comes the shakedown.

UPDATE: In similar news, a Russian entrepreneur is claiming the rights to the wink emoticon; he'll let you use it, for an annual license fee. "It won't cost that much—tens of thousands of dollars."

Christmastime in Whimsy, Part Two

Whimsy has become even more festive!

Evergreen trees have mysteriously appeared off the shore of the main island...

...and while I was up way too early, I saw Santa doing some last minute practice passes. (I didn't see Rudolph, for some reason... I hope he's OK.)

There are too many things to mention here, so you should visit and see for yourself, but I have to mention the huge mutant decorations. Have a Merry Atomic Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Project Wonderland

OK, clearly I have to set something up to make sure I see comments here, because I very much regret missing a gem of a comment from Loki Popinjay on my post on the Sun Microsystems presence in SL.

Do not miss his post on Sun's Project Wonderland. (And that's from May of this year; I wonder how they're doing now?)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's an inspiration, that's what it is

I've decided it's important to consider amazing things as an existence proof rather than discouragement. Rather than saying to myself "I could never do that," I should say "That shows it can be done, and perhaps I can do it too."

I will definitely take Connie Arida's amazing self-portrait as inspiration. You should take a look at it. Now, if only our avatars looked that good straight from the screen...

Good grief...

The Catholic Church has the notion of "invincible ignorance." It doesn't mean what one might think at first glance; rather it is ignorance of something one couldn't possibly have known about.

Despite that, the phrase leaps to mind when one reads about the response of a teacher to a student demonstrating Linux to his classmates and handing out LiveCDs. Almost reminds me of a notorious SL pontificator.

Child's Play

I hope you'll head over to New World Notes, view Lainy Voom's delightful machinima, and then donate to Child's Play, a charity that provides games and toys to children in hospitals.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

TWiT just doesn't get it

Sigh. I usually enjoy TWiT, even if it does have John Dvorak, but this week they propagated BS about SL.

It started with mention of Reuters closing up shop in SL, and went into the "it's just naked people pretending to have sex" routine. Dvorak even said "you gotta make money, you gotta eat food..." (but then, Dvorak's whole shtik is saying sufficiently outrageous and stupid things that people drive up his page hits in either utter disbelief or rage). Earth to Dvorak: SL avatars aren't tamagotchi, OK?

Sigh. Leo, you should know better than that. Thirty seconds scanning New World Notes would disabuse one of the notion that SL is solely or even mostly about cybersex.

Imprudence 1.0.0 RC2 is out

It has lots of bug fixes, and Gwyneth Llewelyn reports that it is very quick and smooth. (Do read her blog post on the release!) I've yet to really put it through its paces, so I'll have to update with my impressions.

The announcement with links to download is up at the Imprudence blog.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Surprised and honored

I was surprised and honored the other day to find that I have a follower.

Of course, that's misleading... the blog has a follower, and all that really means is that one person has the blog on her reading list. I'm still honored, though. Thank you!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Des pas sur la niege virtuelle -- Christmastime in Whimsy

It's that tme of year again. (Any businesses reading this, no, this time of year doesn't start on Labor Day, or the day after Halloween, OK?) Just as Christmastime came to Forsaken, it has arrived at Whimsy.

The sky was gray and chill as the snow fell...

Thank goodness the trees and even flowers made it through. (I was even glad to see the hummingbirds, pushy though they are, and you'll notice that the ever-vigilant Cheyenne Palisades has kept the walkways cleared and safe despite the snow.)

Thank goodness (and Cheyenne) that there are places where one can stay warm and relax amid the snow.

And I'm also happy to say the dreary sky was short-lived, and you can delight in the Whimsical winter landscape in clear skies...

Um, say, isn't this the wrong holiday for you, big guy?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Smart is sexy...

A friend just pointed me at this wonderful song by the great Richard Thompson, "Hots for the Smarts":

(If, after watching/listening, you sputter 'Charm is an attribute of quarks, not a particle unto itself!' then you may be just the girl he's looking for, or a Hawkwind fan. :))

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Walk a mile in my goggles...

Second Life gives one a chance to experience, at least to some extent, what life is like for someone else. Swedish researchers have come up with a RL way to do so, with the subject wearing goggles that give a video image of what another person sees. Apparently the illusion is quite convincing.

Details in the NY Times (subscription may be required, alas). The article refers to SL experiments done by a group at Stanford.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Algorithmic clothing?

OK. A while back we mentioned Turing's modeling of patterns in animal fur and shells, and how it would be nice to use for certain clothing and skins. I think it's more generally applicable.

Rather than just having textures for clothing, you could have a texture and code. The code would map the texture and your shape parameters to a texture that is the one actually pasted on your shape. (Hey, once the original texture is detached from what goes on your body, maybe it doesn't need to be a texture any more, and the code generates the whole thing; make the initial version a vector graphic that is turned into the texture the rest of the clothing system expects.) The code could warp and shrink or stretch a glitchpants texture so that it matches the prim skirt length and preserves the most visible part of the design, or adapt the pattern on a top to one's breast size. It would happen only once, when you put the item on, so unless you're rapidly changing clothing, most of the time things would run as they do now... and it would only run for you; everybody else would only see the result.

Perhaps more interestingly for clothing makers, it would mean that the texture that gets displayed isn't all there is to the item of clothing, so that grabbing textures couldn't fully replicate clothing. It would create a new market for clothing; wouldn't you buy clothing that finally looks right on you, whatever your shape?

UPDATE: entered in JIRA as VWR-10839. If you think it's a good idea, you might wish to vote for it.


The issue of height inflation has come back up: Doreen Garrigus writes about her experiences with a 5'2" avatar in her new blog Original Detail, and it's been picked up in New World Notes.

It's true; the average height of avatars is far greater than average height in RL, and appallingly, the prejudice held against child avatars carries over, with the fallacious logic of "shorter than me implies child implies pervert" (even when the avatar is quite obviously post-puberty).

As a flamboyantly tall and leggy as possible avatar, I deal with Victorian dresses that shockingly show my ankles (!), glitchpants far longer than they should be for the matching prim skirts, sitting poses that put my feet underground, and crossed leg poses that are just wrong. Those who choose realistic heights have the corresponding problems at the opposite end... except for one.

Long ago, I was invited on board a ship. It was quite lovely, and I explored it... until I got to the cabin. Bonk... back up, try again, bonk. (My poor head!) Fortunately by then I knew the "travel by sitting on something" trick and got through the doorway by sitting on the captain's chair. More recently, when the passage up stairs in a store blocked my path, there was nothing upstairs I could sit on. The shop potentially lost my business because of that.

So... can't I duck in SL? (For that matter, can you crawl? You'd think people would want that for battle simulations if nothing else.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Load Balancing

Thanks to a link from a post in Gwyn's Home, I've found that people are working on load balancing! Check out "OpenSim Load Balancing and Region Splitting" from the OpenSim Wiki.

I hope LL is working on some kind of load balancing, or will adopt the results of the OpenSim work if/when it pans out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Guess I shouldn't do that

Running SL on a laptop with Intel integrated graphics turns out to be a dangerous activity. After a few minutes, the screen went partially to weird colors and started blinking periodically, followed by a hard crash that took a power cycle to get out of.

So I've learned the hard way I guess. See you all when I have access to a more capable system...

...and for those of you in the US, have a joyous Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends and happy (ideally both real and virtual) family.

UPDATE: Thank you, Gwyneth and Susyn, for your comments. The graphics are turned all the way down. I just updated the laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1525, if memory serves) to Intrepid Ibex, and firing up the SL client is an immediate kill of X Windows--I switched to a text window and logged in and ran "shutdown -r now" typing blind. Time for a JIRA entry--I can understand it running slowly, but it shouldn't flat out crash X.

UPDATE #2: Intel integrated graphics are explicitly listed as not being supported. I can't say I blame LL for that, as it's a very low-end chipset.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Signs: some no-nos

Many, many fine creators in SL make amazing, beautiful things. Alas, some of them proceed to detract from their wonders with bad signage.

Sometimes, signs are set to glow so brightly that it's impossible to tell just what is being displayed. Eep!

Then there's font choice. There are two eras that are sort of the armpits of typography.
  • One, I am sad to say, is the Victorian era, laden with insanely condensed or extended slab-serif type faces, usually outrageously bold. I don't understand why an era with such beautiful architecture, art, and clothing gave rise to such tacky typography. (And I'm happy that places like Caledon tend to deviate from accuracy in this regard.)
  • The other is the era of "grunge typography" and the "Legibility? We don't need no steenkin' legibility!" approach of Ray Gun and the early issues of Wired. Yes, using a tagger font makes you too cool for words--literally. Just ask yourself: if I didn't know what this said, could I read it?
Also, Comic Sans must die. 'Nuff said.

While we're at it, let's kill off Black Chancery, too. It's a ghastly un-tilted calligraphic font, with "a", "g", and "q" that look like ink-blob accidents and horrid, hard to read upper case (is that an "L" or just a very swashy "I"?). If you want to use a calligraphic face, I very much regret that Zapf Chancery Cursive is overused, and urge you to consider the lovely and legible Insula instead.

Then there's the "when good fonts go bad" situation, in which someone sets a display face in all caps.

I regret that I don't have a blackletter face handy, as that's what I see most often abused this way IRL on the back windows of trucks and vans.

Finally, there's spelling. I understand that many residents' native language is not English, and I make a point of not letting typos color my opinion of the product, but... it's a needless distraction from the thing you've put so much of your time, effort, and self into. I IM vendors and creators to mention typos privately, pointing out that it's a shame that an easy-to-fix oversight takes attention away from a wonderful product.

The vast majority of signs and posters for SL products are works of art; I hope that eventually they all will be.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Back in Black

Is this the end of Casper?

Long ago, the SL client would fill in gaps in the information about avatar shapes while waiting for the asset server to deliver them with the information about the very first avatar, named "Ruth". It's a definite surprise to rez as a slender woman of medium height... especially for men.

So, recently the SL client was changed. Until all the info is available to render an avatar, it will appear as a cloud--if moving, it will look like a contrail. That cloud has come to be called "Casper", after the Harvey Comics friendly ghost character.

A few days ago as I type, a new Release Candidate client came out. Today I fired it up and wandered about. I was surprised to see a pitch black avatar, as if carved from onyx, standing before me. I zoomed in to look more closely, and suddenly the figure changed into that of a lovely woman in a dress that appeared to be of the 19th century with an astonishingly wide bustle an apparently 19th century dress with an astonishingly wide bustle. [Sorry about the dangling modifier. I wonder what the 19th century would look like if it had an astonishingly wide bustle?]

A little later I noticed the phenomenon again. Does this mean that Casper is a short-lived phenomenon in SL? (I didn't see any mention of this behavior in the Massively article on the new RC client. OTOH, that may just mean I didn't look closely... [pause], still didn't see it.) What will this new version of the not-yet-downloaded avatar be called, I wonder?

UPDATE: I got a chance to look at the whole process this morning, and it goes in stages: first Casper, then the black figure, then textures and attachments appear. There for a while I was seeing attachments with no body, in the fashion of the Invisible Man, and perhaps this is a change to avoid that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sic transit gloria Lively

Google has announced that Lively is going away at year's end.

I'm sad to see it go; ethical competition is a great thing and the engine of progress. I hope that LL has a fire lit under its figurative posterior by things like Nurien, HiPiHi, and OpenSim, so that our graphics get to be as good as Nurien's and it becomes as easy to terraform as the movies of HiPiHi make it look. (And how 'bout that OpenLife R16 client?)

But Lively didn't seem all that great. A set of rooms sounds like something that Isaac Asimov or his fictional detective, Lije Baley, would love, but it seems claustrophobic to me. Worse still, no user-created content, which is what sets SL apart. Besides, with a Linux version only promised, it is/was of no use to me.

Google doesn't have a monopoly it can leverage to force Lively down everyone's throat, so they've chosen to close it down. (Hmmm... I wonder if they'd consider releasing it as open source, so all that work doesn't go to waste?)

P.S. I recall talk of Google being the 800 pound gorilla that would steamroller other virtual worlds, in particular SL. Guess it didn't turn out that way.

Smashing Prims update

Shame on me! I have not been to Smashing Prims for a very long time indeed (or even the Smashing Prims blog), and hence I was utterly unaware of all that Raven Ivanova has been doing.

She has been hard at work creating bikinis, hoodies, and other outfits that come with prim breasts textured to match the outfit... and her attention has been turned to the rear, shall we say, as well. (Looking at the poster and reading one of the options reminds me of a certain scene in Nacho Libre.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Eek! I elfed myself!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

I was hoping for a bit more Mona Lisa-ish smile, but a cheesy one is perhaps more appropriate in this context.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Algorithmic textures?

Think of Alan Turing, and you probably think of the Turing Test, or the Turing Machine and computability theory, or Bletchley Park and his work on computer-aided cryptanalysis.

What you may not know about is that towards the end of his tragically short life, he studied morphogenesis and modeled it mathematically. One example of morphogenesis is the way that animals' characteristic coloring develops--the pattern of color on fur, scales, or shells.

What on earth does this have to do with SL, you ask? Well...when clothiers design clothing, they create a texture that will look right when it's pasted on an "average" shape. Fortunately, not everyone is just alike; unfortunately, it means that clothing is almost certain not to look on you quite the way the designer intended, and the further your shape from that the designer targeted, the worse it will look.

What if, for a certain class of possible cloth patterns or skins, the texture could be generated when you put the item on, so it was appropriate for your shape?

Just thinking.

Bom dia, Florianópolis!

I fear that pretty well exhausts my knowledge of Portuguese, save for a few fragments I remember from reading all the Mario Pei books I could and listening to Brazilian Portuguese broadcasts of the Voice of America when I was young... but I've been looking at the Google Analytics maps, and found all but one of the visits from Brazil in the past month that weren't zero minutes and zero seconds in duration are from that city...

...which is a beautiful place, judging by the Floripa Images Guide. If I win the lottery someday, it would be wonderful to visit all the places that visit this blog. Be sure to take a look the official blog of the state of Santa Catarina.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Imprudence 1.0.0 RC is out

The Imprudence Project has come out with a client. The main point is to get started, so it does not have major UI changes, but it does include a goodly number of changes that aren't in the official client yet.

Do note that sound and voice aren't there yet, and you'll notice the switch to freely-available fonts.

A Modest Proposal

I wonder whether someone's asked for this in the JIRA or not: have the maps distinguish motionless avatars somehow, perhaps by color.

It probably wouldn't help for long; bot makers would program their bots to endlessly walk in circles or something, so they would drain sim resources even more.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

April Fool?

The blog entry I linked to that supposedly gives instructions on how to create a giant avatar is dated April 1st of this year. Also, if you go there and read the instructions, there's a contradiction between them and the first photo--the 1 meter cylinder attaches to your hand at its midpoint, so if you move it down .9 meters, no amount of rotation will leave it still touching your hand.

A friend says it is indeed an April Fool's joke. I will email the blog author to try to find out what is really going on. If it is a joke, I apologize for propagating it; I consider practical jokes a particularly vile and cruel form of alleged humor.

UPDATE: The author confirms that it's a hoax.

Giant Avatar Update

It's not as easy as I'd thought to find the "neutral" pose (standing up, legs together, arms straight out, fingers spread) that the method requires. The pose stands I have and have tracked down all have the arms at 45 degrees.

I've stumbled through qavimator without much success... but I believe Natalia is coming to the rescue as ever, with her tutorial on using avimator (the Windows version; qavimator is written to use the Qt package and hence I can use it on Linux--since there's a Windows version of Qt, I think it could be compiled for Windows, too). Especially important for my purpose is her noting how to be sure that the avatar stays in the final position rather than making breathing motions and shifting about as one does in RL.

So, armed with this information, I'm off to fire up qavimator again, this time hoping for success. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giant Avatar Tutorial

Haven't you heard? Banzai and Hikita have DONE IT!
--Lord John Whorfin, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
Yay! Zephyrin Raymaker has figured it out, and has a tutorial on his blog. I salute his determination and skill.

So... I will set out to replicate this method, and share the results with you. Whee!

P.S. Double whee! The method will enlarge prim attachments as well as the avatar, so prim hair, prim breasts, and prim shoes should all just work, subject to the 10 meter limit (unless I can find some made with megaprims...). I sincerely hope that animations will work, so I can have a nice walk, too.

Mr. Raymaker, if you read this, please know that I am forever in your debt!

P.S. Now to look for megaprims to make the stretching device from... :)

P.P.S. Now I really want the version of the client that does real shadows...

UPDATE: It's a confirmed hoax. I apologize for propagating such a contemptible action.

The return of the wireframe

The other day, everything seemed perfectly normal. Then I teleported, and suddenly it was, as Yogi Berra once said, déjà vu all over again.

Prims that should have been opaque weren't, almost as if the wireframe was showing through. Remember the classic photo of the crash of the Hindenberg, where light was shining through where the zeppelin's skin was burning away, revealing it's frame? It was like that, but without the fire.

I teleported back home, but the phenomenon persisted until I signed off and back on. I hope not to see it again.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dynasty Land

If you seek either beautiful surroundings or beautiful clothing, you should take a look at the Dynasty Land sim. Lush greenery and charming red bridges await, and the stores there feature beautifully detailed clothing of China and Tibet.

Here, as I do not do justice to the gorgeous outfits to be found here, I dress instead in the simple black robes of the Zen monk. Listen! Is that one hand clapping?

P.S. Many thanks to Torley Linden for the "Gelato" Windlight setting.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


First, an apology to Elle74 Zaftig: I thought I could take some photos quickly for this, but it will take some editing, either of myself or of the outfit. I promise I will get the photos taken and posted.

If you want to be notified of a LOT of things going on in the fashion world of SL, join the Fashion Consolidated group. This morning, word went out about Bellissima, and I went to look. Elle74 Zaftig, the courteous and friendly designer and owner, was there to greet customers, and after saying "Hi" I went looking...

...and was very impressed. At Bellissima you will find gowns (wedding and otherwise), modern and period dress, shoes, men's clothing, and something I've not seen before in SL: kilts!

Several outfits with kilts are available: the Prince Charlie (which is appropriately bonnie), the Piper (with Black Watch tartan, of course), a "Fashion" kilt outfit, and even a Santa outfit with a kilt! The wall with these outfits shows twenty-six clan tartans, and for a modest fee, if you have an image of a tartan, you can commission a kilt using it.

The "Fashion" kilt outfit doesn't have some of the things the other outfits have (e.g. shirt and pants, if memory serves). The other outfits are quite complete, though, up to and including the lovely woolen socks you see people wear with kilts, and a sporran. (Ghillies are sold separately.)

(Speaking of the sporran--I will take pictures of myself in the outfit, but I will not wear the sporran. My understanding is that the sporran is a "guy thing"; the book I read this from, if I remember rightly, characterized a woman wearing a sporran as "an affront to the Gael".)

The outfit is so lovely that I do not wish to do it injustice, so I will wait until I have the time to adjust it to my avatar properly, probably this weekend. Then I'm off to find a suitable spot in SL. Watch this space, and in the meantime, head high above the sim of Winchester to Bellissima, and take a look.

(Sigh... the wonderful "Scots on the Wab" site has headed to the land of 404, so, take a look at "Scots Online" (subtitled "Pittin the Mither Tongue on the Wab!")

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I thought I'd go looking to see what the state of hair is these days, and the first place I went seemed to be more about selling sex animations than hair. One of the items listed was for a "treesome"--would that be for Ents?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10

I have upgraded... and so far, so good. KDE 4.1.2 looks really sweet, and PulseAudio now works and plays well with the SL client without any fiddling; I went to a performance by a really fine singer named Satin Galli. No cutouts, no problems. I'm a happy camper.

UPDATE: I now have various Compiz Fusion features enabled, and so far the SL client is happy with that. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Here's a video showing some of the things it can do--please note that it's over a year old, so things have changed since then.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

"while the worst are full of passionate intensity..."

I'm very, very sad. Lillie Yifu, the Anaïs Nin of SL to borrow Hamlet Au's felicitous phrase, is leaving SL.

Meanwhile, griefers are still here, and the Francis E. Dec of SL is still ranting.

I had better try to find something to keep my spirits up.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Le couturier malgré lui

Well... editing skirts isn't always possible, thanks to permissions, and even when it is possible, extending them a meter and a half either turns them into sparse streamers or, if you stretch them horizontally to compensate, the waist looks very wrong indeed.

It's been a problem even before the uber platform boots—if one has made one's, um, limbs as long as they can be, Victorian skirts that should discreetly cover them instead reveal one's ankles (gasp!).

So... I am now armed with the Imitation of Life RezBot flexi skirt maker, and will set to the task of making suitable skirts. The documentation is quite thorough. I will document the results here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What a difference a skin makes

It hasn't been that long since I was reminded of just how much graphics has advanced in SL... or perhaps how much better the graphics hardware I use is now, or both... but I was reminded of it again, and of just how much difference a good skin makes, by the photo showing the Eclectic Randomness latex top. Here we crop down to the face:

It makes me feel that much prettier. (And it makes me feel like brushing that stray strand of hair back, but that's not important right now.)

For a very dramatic example, check out the post "Textures: Painted or Photosourced?" in Cheyenne's blog.

UPDATE: Sophrosyne Stenvaag rightly chides me for not mentioning the skin in question, and it occurs to me that I shouldn't hide the response in a comment. It's MVS Xtreme Reality Michelle Red 2 Romantic.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It's kind of ironic. Despite thinking my legs are spindly, I'm looking for stilts in SL. Not the kind that you have to hold the end of in your hand, but the kind that leaves your hands free. Something I could wear a really long skirt over.

Googling doesn't turn up anything. I commissioned a pair for myself and a friend, but haven't heard anything well over a year later.

Any pointers? I'd be in your debt.

UPDATE: Thanks to the wonderful Cheyenne Palisades, I now own a pair of really high platform heels... I'm guessing a meter or more. Find them at Curio Obscura.

UPDATE: From the source: "
With heels almost one and a half meters tall, these might just be the highest heels in all the grid [emphasis added]". Whee! Now, to edit a gown...

Yet another update: there might be a way I could look more ridiculous than I did when I first walked with the boots on, but I can't think of what it would be; if I did that in RL, I'd have dislocated something! When you put them on, take off any walk AO you might be wearing. Dueling animations: the results aren't pretty.

Only two days to go!

Just two days left until Ubuntu 8.10, "Intrepid Ibex," is officially released. Yay!

(If you're impatient, there is the Release Candidate version.)

Eclectic Randomness

Eclectic Randomness has come out with latex prim breasts. (Sigh... they call them "latex implants". I wish they wouldn't.) They have a very convenient UI, and various options, including size and color. (Currently one can choose from twelve colors; I hope a later version will let one pick an arbitrary color, so I can try to adapt them to some other clothing I have... did I mention that you can update them should a new version come out?)

The package includes tank tops in the various colors (and one's choice of undershirt, shirt, or jacket layers to work and play well with other clothing). I'll post photos when I can.

UPDATE: Here's a quick photo--I am happy with the results.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My favorite season...

At least in the Northern Hemisphere, it's autumn, or fall as we say in the United States.
"They're called leaves because they leave the trees in the fall. Which is why it's called fall." --Michael Kurland, The Unicorn Girl
It's my favorite season, with all the leaves turning gold and fiery red, some with silver about the edge, covering the ground and spattering the sky with color.

I hope you enjoy it, too, and that your foliage display is beautiful.

Login 2 Life

Lillie Yifu's fine 2nd Sex blog links to a trailer for a documentary, Login 2 Life, telling the stories of seven people in MMORPGs. Ms. Yifu nails it: "a small video rhapsody in hope."

Like Robbie Dingo's exquisite video of building van Gogh's Starry Night in SL, the trailer lets you forget the petty squabbles and demented rants and even the lag, and reminds you of what SL can be, in this case to the sweet music of the delightful Jaynine Scarborough (with all due respect, and that's a LOT of respect, to Don McLean). Do watch it, but be aware that it's definitely Not Safe For Work.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Sun Microsystems, of course, not the bright light in the really big room with the blue ceiling.

Foxbean Liebknecht kindly gave me a landmark to the Sun build in SL. It's neat. Lots of info about Java, freebies (clothing, and objects made to resemble various Sun products), invitations to submit a resume, and so on.

One thing that interests me is Sun's Project Darkstar (OK, now that CSN song is stuck in my head), an Open Source scalable gaming environment. I note especially that it's designed to be easily distributed, and avoids the tying of CPU cycles to a specific region that plagues SL. It will be very interesting to see what comes of it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How much for a nice SL computer?

I thought I'd go looking to see how little one could spend for a computer that should run SL respectably.

I'm just pricing the computer; I'll assume that we're upgrading, and don't have to get a monitor, keyboard, speakers, and mouse or trackball. Prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and are those at as of today.

I'm no gamer, so I may well be making less than optimal choices here. Suggestions for alternatives would be greatly appreciated.

CPU: 2.6 GHz Athlon 64X2 Brisbane 65W, retail, $60

As far as I know, having more than two cores won't help with SL. I have a 2.8 GHz Athlon 64X2, and it doesn't seem to be the bottleneck, so 2.6 should do reasonably. "Retail" in this context largely means "with fancy packaging and a heatsink/fan," so we'll go that route rather than buy a separate heatsink and fan.

ASUS M3N78-EMH HDMI AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 HDMI Micro ATX AMD, $85

OK, we didn't go for an AM2+ processor, but we want to leave the door open for later, and we definitely want PCI Express 2.0 for the additional bandwidth to the graphics card. On-motherboard graphics aren't suitable for gaming, and I've read that "Hybrid SLI" is constrained by the slower device, so perhaps we should choose one of the AMD motherboards with no on-motherboard graphics.

Graphics card:
ASUS EN9600GT TOP/HTDI/512M GeForce 9600 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16, $100

The most expensive thing on the list, but it's where you should put your $$ for gaming--of course, SL isn't a game, but it has much the same hardware requirements.

RAM: G.Skill 2 x 2GB dual channel DDR2 800 RAM sticks, $60

OK, it's not 1066, but SL is very RAM hungry, and for the price it's hard to beat.

Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar
WD2500AAJS 250 GB SATA 3 GB/s, $50

Only 8 MB of cache, but again, the price is right, and 250 GB is a lot, unless you get
seriously into building and photography in SL and store lots of images and textures.

Case: NXZT Alpha steel ATX mid-tower case, $65

OK... you can get a cute little Micro ATX case with power supply for $100. I did... but OTOH, the higher end graphics cards tend to be on the long side, and may not fit in a Micro ATX case. Also, that power supply isn't modular, and if you try to put a non-modular power supply (one that has all the connectors for stuff soldered on, so that you're guaranteed to have lots of cables that you won't use hanging out and blocking air flow) in one of those cases, you'll be cursing until you go out and buy a modular power supply... so the total cost is less.

Power supply: Antec BP550 Plus 550W modular power supply, $70

I've always had good results with Antec cases and power supplies. There are cheaper house-brand or no-name power supplies, but they are of poor quality.

DVD: Lite-On 20X SATA DVD burner, $24

What's to say? DVD burners are very inexpensive these days. I can't say that I'm impressed by Lightscribe, so I didn't bother to insist on it.

Total cost from the wish list, probably less than the total of the rounded prices: $514. That's a good bit less than what I paid for my computer back in March, and I don't have nearly as good a graphics card.

There are some tools you'll need if you don't already have them: Philips-head and flat-head screwdrivers of appropriate size, and to be safe, a grounding strap.

Assembly is pretty trivial, with one exception: installing the heat sink. Some heat sinks go on with spring-loaded clips, and a slip while trying to move the clip into position could lead to plowing a fatal trench in the motherboard with your screwdriver. Take a look at any of many sites telling how to do it, e.g. the Wikibook How to Assemble a Desktop PC.

We didn't include one item in our list: the operating system. That's because we're presuming that you'll install Linux on this computer. The cost of Windows for the home builder is so outrageous compared with that of the hardware as to preclude it if cost is an issue. There are many good distributions to choose from. I use Ubuntu, but it's certainly not the only one out there, and they all have their supporters (and their advantages and disadvantages). Linux is trivial to install these days unless you have some hardware whose manufacturers are sufficiently obnoxious and short-sighted as to neither provide Linux drivers nor, preferably, release sufficient information to allow others to write fully capable Open Source drivers. I don't believe that I've made that mistake here. If you are still hesitant, look for a Linux Users Group in your area; they'll be happy to help, and may even have an "Install Fest" scheduled in the near future.

So... that's my attempt. (If I'm not careful, I may be tempted to upgrade.) Again... any suggestions are welcome.

P.S. There are some rebates at the time of writing on some of the items listed, which would reduce the price somewhat... and of course, the above doesn't include shipping costs.

UPDATE: and Tiger Direct are both offering a 512MB 9800GT for $100 after a $30 mail-in rebate. That should hold one for quite a while.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"I'm walkin', yes indeed..."

Though I understand that work is underway to improve the default animations, until then I have a dilemma. The stock walk, as we all know, is ludicrous, a tottering duck walk that nobody likes. OTOH, there are the various "sexy walk" animations. These are pleasant, but often a bit exaggerated, and Victorian clothing turns "a bit exaggerated" into seasickness-inducing!

So, what is a proper Victorian lady in need of a graceful but modest walk to do? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"realXtend mission is to speed up the development of the global standardized 3D web of virtual worlds by making the best technology available to everyone, and entirely free of charge"

...available to everyone who uses Windows, that is. Good grief.

UPDATE: I'm hoping the comment here is correct, and that they're working on Linux and Mac versions. Let's hope they come soon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blast from the Past

Inspired by ignorant ranting, I thought I'd go back to my old computer, install the Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex beta and whatever proprietary nVidia driver it offered to install, and then try out the latest SL Release Candidate client to see just how slowly it ran.

It's lame by today's standards. (Heck, my current system would be so characterized by many. PCI Express 1.0? Puh-leeze. Dual-core? LOL. Athlon 64? AMD fangirl! DDR2 800? [eye roll] Just one graphics card? ...) The venerable old computer that served me well for years has one gigabyte of DDR 333 RAM, a 1.6 GHz Athlon (of the 32-bit persuasion; we're talking Socket A), an nVidia 7600 AGP graphics card, and an IDE hard drive. Apologies for not grabbing the detail of the CPU and motherboard, but they can't be less than four years old. Reviews of the 7600 appear to date from early March 2006, so it was presumably new then.

The Ubuntu install was a pleasure. On went SL, and...

It was definitely slow. Home on Whimsy, frame rates hovered around 9 or under while textures loaded, then headed up to around 12, with peaks of 16 from time to time.

Over to Apollo, a sim that is always well populated, and has lots of landscaping and associated objects and textures... and again, a plummet while textures loaded, followed by a rise to somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 to the low teens.

Running the graphics slider the one that goes from "Low" to "Ultra" down to "Mid" (I thought it said "Mild" at first... time to check glasses!) helped a little, and setting it to "Low" helped a little more, but not much. Given the relatively low change in frame rates with graphics slider settings, I have to think the CPU and memory are the real bottleneck for the old computer, especially compared to the throughput of HyperTransport. I bet a Socket 754 or 939 system would be quite acceptable with the same graphics card.

I went to a skybox to say good night to a friend, and sure enough, the frame rate jumped to 20+ fps.

Here's the thing, though--from what I remember, things were very similar in the pre-Windlight days. I would regularly see people dancing at frame rates of 5 or 6 per second, and a post from January, 2007 shows me reveling in a frame rate that actually approached 30 fps, on a plot in the sky.

So, now seems to me about the same as then, save that with "Mid" graphics I can take at least some advantage of the lovely skies that Windlight provides (and no, they're not all garish).

Actually, that's not right. There is one thing that seems more prevalent now--the long waits for textures to load and objects to rez... but that has nothing to do with Windlight, more with the delays involved in waiting for the asset server to send one the info about the objects and people in your sight.

So, I'm sorry, but I can't say that Windlight makes much of a difference, save that between the boring old photos we used to be amazed by and those we take today.

UPDATE: I can't replicate the conditions, but just for the heck of it, I went back with my current computer this morning. On Whimsy and Apollo, there were still times that frame rates dropped to near or even a little below 10, though those were with graphics and draw distance cranked all the way. The difference between facing out to sea and facing a lot of objects is quite striking, and the way that one's surroundings still dribble into existence--in Apollo, I believe it took well over a minute for everything and everyone that should be visible to rez--despite having a fairly reasonable computer. Again, I believe this shows that the bottleneck lies with the asset server.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gender Freedom Day

I'm behind in reading Sophtopia, so it was only today that I heard from Sophrosyne herself about Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds.

In the words of Glenn Reynolds, read the whole thing.

UPDATE: more details here.

UPDATE #2: Gender Freedom Day is postponed... but the question of how best to promote gender freedom is still under discussion. Watch for more info, and above all, if the topic is of concern to you, get involved.

T-18 and counting...

You've probably already noticed the change in the Ubuntu graphic on the blog... The spiral countdown graphic is appropriate, given the code name for the upcoming Ubuntu 8.10 release: Intrepid Ibex.

There's more new in the upcoming Ubuntu than a change to the code name scansion:
  • 7.4, which is much smarter about hot-pluggable input devices (speaking of which, it will have a newer wacom driver that works and plays well with the Bamboo)
  • DKMS, which will get rid of some hassle with kernel upgrades
  • a new version of Network Manager, with many useful new features
...and lots more. If you've not tried Linux before, this is a good time, and if you tried it long ago and decided you didn't like it, it's worth another shot.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hummingbird update from RL

When Hummingbirds Attack!

Feeling like Dr. Strangelove

It's weird. I click on something, and the usual stream of particles runs from my outstretched hand to the object... I choose an action, or I don't, clicking elsewhere to take my attention away from the object, and walk off.

Either way, my hand keeps pointing at it, and the particles flying, until I either sit down or teleport away. Like Dr. Strangelove, whose arm kept rising, unbidden, into a Nazi salute, my arm remains raised and pointing at the object.

It's very bothersome!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Nerd Girls

Brains are beautiful.
Geek is chic.
Smart is sexy.
Not either/or.
Whatever your age or gender, if you support girls and women entering science and engineering, check out Nerd Girls.

Boiling the frog... but in a good way.

You know the old story about how to boil a frog: raise the water temperature gradually, so the frog never notices the change until it's too late. It's typically used as a metaphor for the encroachment of some evil, often an intrusive government.

But sometimes, gradual change is good--but it has the side effect that we don't notice it. We do notice when things break, though. People are a lot more motivated to complain than to compliment.

For all the endless kvetching about Second Life, I strongly suspect that were people forced to use SL as it was a couple of years ago, they'd really have something to complain about.

An honor...

When I started putting up photos on flickr, they often got hundreds of views; one or two actually topped the thousand mark. Nowadays, though, I count myself lucky if the view count approaches one hundred.

Perhaps it's the categorization--one now tags one's photos as screenshots, "computer graphics", or photographs, and I have to wonder whether there are a lot of people who just want to see images where actual photons were involved at some point. Perhaps my pictures are boring and repetitive. (Perhaps I'm boring and repetitive...)

So, it's even more special when people I respect mark one of my photos as a favorite. The wonderful Vint Falken so honored the photo I took for Hair Fair 2008, and this morning I was astonished to find that Torley Linden had done so as well.

*blush*... Thank you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's not too late...

Alas, RL events kept me away from this past Saturday's Boobie Ball in Winterfell (or even being aware of it--*blush*), but it's not too late to participate in the 2008 Boobie-Thon, which is on through October 7th. It's for an important cause, the fight against breast cancer, and I hope you'll join the effort.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hi, Susyn!

I took a look at Google Analytics just now, and "cheesy phrases" seems to be dropping in the search terms that bring people here. (Thank goodness!)

On the other hand, people are looking for "Susyn Stenvaag". I can understand; she's a fascinating and intelligent lady.

Return to Shadowbrook

Somehow, I've managed to not visit Shadowbrook, one of the two sims gorgeously landscaped and built upon by Creative Fantasy Home and Garden, for a long time. Goodness knows that I could use some of the peace and serenity those places induce, and they've always been among the most amazing places around.

I wasn't prepared for just how amazing they've become in the age of Windlight and sculpted prims, though. Here's just a small sample.

If I'd had a treehouse like that when I was little, I'd never have come out. (Even now, that's very tempting. Work? La, la, la, I'm not listening...)

A touching dragon family scene...wait, won't that put out their flame?

Time for me to be quiet and just let you look...

For heaven's sake, go there and relax. I won't take as long to return.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Linux? Hard to install?

Perhaps you should take inspiration (or maybe be shamed into trying) by the example of Bdale Garbee's daughter, Elizabeth, who installed Debian (with a little help) on a computer at the age of nine.

This past July, Elizabeth, now sixteen, gave a talk on Open Source animation at OSCON, and will speak at the Ohio Linux Fest 2008 on the topic "Through the Looking Glass: Open Source from a Teenage Perspective." (That's on October 10th and 11th, and gosh, I wish I could be there!)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Xaxoqual in the Garden of da Vinci

It's been some time since I've written about Xaxoqual Mandelbrot, so I should explain.

She's a beautiful dove, the sweetest bird you could ever meet. Her fashion sense is impeccable, and I appreciate her advice and commentary. When she came to visit, she had outdone herself, wearing a dress with amazing feathery texturing and subtle coloring. I had to photograph it. The Garden of da Vinci was the perfect backdrop.

Thank you, Xaxoqual.

P.S. No association with any novel or movie directed by Clint Eastwood is intended by the title.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another photo of Mesha

I was in Chakryn Forest, and having a hard time finding the art I was looking for... kind of embarrassing, because I had asked a friend along to show it to her. We had fun exploring in any case, and I had to take this photo of her, because the background was so beautiful and seemed to suit her.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thank you, Kittenstar!

I went looking for a skin today, and visited Mystical Demina's Xtreme Reality store. The skins there were lovely, and I noticed a model posing with one of the skins on.

I like to tip models, so I did, and thanked her.... but then, for the first time ever since I started tipping models, she spoke up, thanking me.

I took a chance... "Would you know if there's a skin here with freckles?"

She did, and offered to model it for me. It looked so good that I bought it, tipped her again, and IMed Ms. Demina complimenting her model for her helpfulness and courtesy.

So... as I promised, Kittenstar Vella, thank you! You're a wonderful representative of your store (and saleswoman, too, if I'm any indication).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Virtual monoculture?

So... in SL, where changing one's appearance is as simple as drag and drop (or slide), do we have that oppressive conformity that people used to warn about? Perhaps it's a matter of when I grew up; that was one of the bugaboos of the time, and I would have to admit to some fear of it as well.

And, to some extent, SL caters to that. At least until the lawyers come down on them, vendors offer packages of skin and shape to let one look like Brad, Angelina, J-Lo, etc.... but I've not knowingly seen them in use. (Admittedly, that might simply indicate my ignorance of popular culture.) What I've seen is more in line with those who point out that truly advanced technology allows for customization. In SL, I see a riot of different shapes, sizes, clothing, hair, shoes... and I'm very glad of it. Time to put away those antiquated fears.

(Many thanks to the lovely Misnomer, who inspired this brief rant.)

UPDATE: Ironically, this morning I realized who Misnomer reminds me of: Bernadette Peters. It's just a coincidence, though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One advantage of a sheltered life... that the most venial sins give one that frisson of wickedness that would otherwise require doing something really bad.

So, I confess! I wore white shoes after Labor Day!

UPDATE: The Manolo, he who loves the shoes, thinks it a silly rule that the white shoes they should not be worn after the Day of Labor.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yet another lovely feature of the RC client

Actually, now that I think of it, this may have been present for a while, and I just didn't notice it until recently. I can at the very least vouch for its presence in the RC client, and I'm very happy to have found it, even if I am slow on the uptake.

There's a choice of "Save As" for saving your photos!

I have a tendency to save my SL photos under the name of the sim in which they're taken. Until such time as SL photos have some metadata stored with them (where were you? where was your POV? what time of day? etc.), it's a little reminder so that maybe I can get back there.

However, until I found "save as", if I went from one sim to another, I had to remember to rename my pictures later, because it would use the prefix I'd chosen the first time. "Save as" is a great timesaver.

So... I was able to save this picture as Apollo_[sequence number].png (remember, you can save an PNG now, non-lossy compression at last!) even though I'd taken another picture elsewhere. I had to make use of the lovely pose, and it had been a while since I'd done a forced perspective photo...

Just relaxing and enjoying a lovely sunset at Apollo... thank goodness they build so well here!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Art in Chakryn Forest

Chakryn Forest is a beautiful place in its own right, but now there's even more reason to visit there.

Glyph Graves's beautiful artwork is now on display there. Once again, my photos are inadequate to the task: this is only a sample of what is there to see, the art is animated, and you can't hear the sounds.

Be sure to see it at various times of day; it's pretty during the day, but breathtaking at night.

(Many thanks to Lanna's List at New World Notes.)

UPDATE: In my flickr photos, there's a shot taken at night, but some silly person stood in front of the photographer. Dang it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I guess they're serious!

I was out exploring the other morning on the Lida sim, and came upon a little lavender house. I thought it was perhaps a playhouse, but when I came closer I saw T-shirts on display through a window. Still closer, and a sign: "Tinies ONLY!"

I didn't notice anything inside I could sit on to get past the door, so I guess they were serious!

P.S. Is it close enough to pink to count for John Mellencamp?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guinness Record Holders Meet

I was surprised to hear of this event staged to publicize the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records... An article, along with an edited video can be found at the Telegraph's web site.

Mammatus Mall

It's been way too long since I've been there.

eCorp! has over a dozen new tops with prim breasts. I had to cringe at one (electrician's tape?! Maybe it's a Wendy O. Williams tribute...), but the others are very nice.

Remember the Dangerous Designs outfits with prim breasts I wrote about a while back? They have a shop in the mall featuring those.

Of course, while you're there, don't overlook Icon Allen's shop, the impressive custom work of Greyskin Labs, and last but far from least, Foxbean Laboratories.

UPDATE: As requested, a SLURL (this is for the center of the mall, lest I appear to play favorites): Mammatus Mall.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't resize that window!

I don't know whether it's purely a Linux thing or not, but... I've found that a sure way to drive your frame rate down into the pits is to resize the SL client window. When I do it--and you can bet that I never do it intentionally--my frame rate immediately drops to around 5 fps. Aaargh!


Fashion Consolidated membership is a good way to receive copious announcements of fashion-related stores, sales, etc.

Last night I was surprised to receive such an announcement titled "CHRISTIAN DIOR RELEASES" (caps in original--if anyone's listening, please don't do that. You don't need to shout). When I went to the place in question, Volupté in the Diamond City sim, I was surprised to see blatant use of RL brands and logos: Dior, Anne Klein, Rocawear. I am not familiar enough with the products to say whether they ripped off the designs as well.

Do people really think they can get away with this?

UPDATE: Evidently so; I got an indignant reply to an IM I sent the person listed on the objects as owner. She rhetorically asked whether I thought the designers whose labels she attributes to the items she sells care that she is giving them "exposure" in SL.

I believe that they do care. Trademarks have to be defended if one is to retain the rights to them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

flaming/trolling = griefing

Something occurred to me the other day: flaming and trolling are the equivalent of griefing in the context of message boards, blogs, USENET groups, etc.

The objective of a message board is productive discussion of whatever the board's topic is. Flaming and trolling subvert that purpose by abuse of the "game mechanic", i.e. posting to the message board. If the victim replies, he or she is just contributing to the problem, lowering the signal to noise ratio further... and flaming and trolling "negatively impact the game play of another person".

I wonder whether anyone's compared flamers and trolls with griefers. Griefers rationalize their behavior: supposedly they're on a mission to keep people from taking themselves too seriously. Trolls are purely interested in destruction. Flamers, on the other hand, might see themselves as having a mission as well. One can certainly come up with examples of that.

Enchantment Island and the Museum of Amazing Illusions

Speaking of surrealism... one thing that gives me that same strange feeling is stage magic. Being presented with the seemingly impossible is an experience unlike any other. I grew up on Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell (sigh; showing my age again), and would watch amazed.

So... it was with great pleasure that I took advantage of a landmark that my dear friend Susyn Stenvaag gave me and headed to Enchantment Island, and thence took a flying carpet to the Museum of Amazing Illusions.

The museum replicates the effects of many such illusions; here is just a taste. I should repeat one bit of advice from the signs in the museum: just as a too well-endowed woman can't carry off the Zig-Zag Girl illusion, attachments can interfere with the effects, so it's best to detach them (and, I'd add, forgo extreme hair). Shame on me; I didn't follow that advice.

Hmmm; where did the rest of me go?

The "headless girl" illusion first came to the US in 1937, according to Sideshow World; it was featured in the New York World's Fair of 1939. (Say, why is it that they never seem to do this to men?)

The above is the merest sample of the wonders to be seen in the museum, and the museum itself is but one of the amazing things to see on Enchantment Island. Do yourself a favor and pay it a visit (and be generous when donating to the upkeep of the museum).

A side note: I was happy to find that a lady I know, BambiTwice Nitely, is responsible for this place, and among those she credits for help with the museum is a dear friend, kalosss Gausman. Ms. Nitely is as talented as she is beautiful, and kalosss makes amazing things (and is as talented as he is handsome).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to Chakryn Forest

A day or so ago I went looking for something in my inventory and found something else, namely some sparkly attachments for hands and feet that a friend gave me almost a year ago.

Still not being up to the aerobatic machinima I dreamed of making, I settled for still photography... but which pose to use? I went looking for the stereotypical "wizard casting spell" pose, but couldn't find one. A pose from a set for fairies was nice, though, and into the lovely Chakryn Forest I went.

The result reminds me a bit of some SF or fantasy cover artwork I've seen.

A question of pronunciation

The Drew Carey video reminds me of something. Why is it that when I hear people say "Second Life" they say "SEC-ond life", while when I say it, I say "SEC-ond LIFE"?

(Oh, dear; I'm in Andy Rooney mode. "Didja ever wonder why people say 'Second Life' the way they do?" I'd better stop now.)

Drew Carey on Second Life

In the past I've mentioned the marvelous Drew Carey Project, a series of videos from a libertarian point of view done in conjunction with Reason magazine.

In the latest episode, he visits Second Life, and the result is a refreshing video that reminds me of why this is such a wonderful place. Please give it a look.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: a must-listen podcast

I must admit that I'm not totally enamored of the Podmafia podcast. Sometimes the audio is muffled, and like many podcasts, it tends to ramble and not always hold one's interest.

That said, you really must listen to their 9/11 tribute. Dean Madonia's song "Cannot Turn Away," the first music break in the show, is beautiful and heart-rending; when I finally remembered the lyrics following those explicitly quoted at the end of the song, I almost broke down in my cubicle at work.

The podcasters tour the New York sims, paying special attention to those which are set up in memory of the 9/11 attack. I'll be going there myself when I can.

The drip, drip, drip...

I have upgraded my computer, mostly because of SL, though to be honest I now wish I'd gone a bit closer to the edge and bought a socket AM2+ motherboard that supports PCI Express 2.0. (I look at the recent price cut for AMD three-core CPUs and sob to myself...)

Despite being well away from the bleeding edge, I run with the Windlight sliders cranked just about all the way, and still get reasonable frame rates. What does happen, though, is this:
  1. I arrive.
  2. The terrain slowly pops into view a piece at a time.
  3. My surroundings slowly pop into view, again a piece at a time.
  4. Avatars slowly appear as shimmering blobs of plasma, one at a time.
  5. Avatars rez one at a time.
Sometimes I stand around for a minute or more, afraid to bump into someone and afraid that someone will TP in and land on top of me. (Sometimes the mini-map is helpful, sometimes not.)

Is this an issue of rendering, or of waiting for all the data for all the objects and people in the area to be shipped over? I tend to think it's the latter, and I hope that the bottleneck is being worked on.

P.S. Those of us who recognize the commercial alluded to in the title are, I fear, showing our age.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ceci n'est pas un avatar...

I try to make everyone's day a little more surreal. --Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes
One of the shops in the Bricolage sim is WigWamBam. They sell clothing and shape sets, but at the back one finds two curious cabinets with a camera and lighting. I do believe that they were inspired by René Magritte, for when one stands in them...

I don't understand why surreal images have such a strange appeal and fascination, but they do for me at least.