Friday, August 29, 2008

Shocking realization

Me: "Hi... I'm Melissa, and I'm a fashion addict."
Off-key, out of sync chorus: "Hi, Melissa."

That hasn't happened... but it might as well. I've succumbed.

I knowingly bought a pair of pants that I expected to bear a visible insignia of the designer.

I was at Digital Darke's store, and they were there on display... a lovely violet with flowers, a perfect contrast to the incompetence-enforced simplicity of the tops I wear.

And there on them was the interlocked D insignia.

You have to understand how I grew up--in what is derisively called "flyover country" by those in the coastal megalopoloi. When "designer jeans" and the Izod shirts came out, we laughed. They should pay us money to wear their advertising, we said.

None of that mattered to me. I bought the pants.

When I put them on, the logo was nowhere to be seen. I was almost disappointed by the lack of evidence of my depravity.

But they're lovely, and I'll be going back. (I guess the sim the store is in is appropriately named: Addictive.)

UPDATE: My aim was bad or something; I wound up with a pair other than what I thought I was buying. I did go back, though, and get one with the logo. A picture with the first pair:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Templum ex Obscurum visited (revisited will come later...)

Just had time for a brief excursion, but Templum ex Obscurum is a dark and fascinating place. I very much want to go back and see what else there is to see; the above is a sample of what I've seen so far.

Moving away from artificial scarcity

In RL, land is a limited commodity. As the hoary old cliché goes, they aren't making any more. (That's not entirely true, of course; just ask the Dutch.)

Because of the limitations of the physical world and the differences between one place and another, land has value, and people buy and sell it. Some do that for a living.

SL is different. In SL, "land" is just CPU cycles and data, the work required to keep up the hardware that supports it, and the code that implements it--and those are more like Doritos than real land; they'll make more.

OpenSim will put an end to the artificial scarcity of virtual land. The only things sim owners will have to sell are services and the only thing left corresponding to proximity, i.e. access to a particular grid.

Now, the only remaining bottleneck is the asset server. I hope that work is underway to remove that limitation.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Persistence--virtual world/MMORPG convergence?

GameSetWatch has an interview in which the topic of "persistence" is brought up--i.e. that places in the game have a state that doesn't vanish and reset when you stop playing. "The village stays saved," to give the example used in the interview.

In Second Life, persistence is taken for granted; indeed, loss of persistence is a calamity (vide the disappearance of Zero Point, and the ongoing complaints about lost inventory in general--not to belittle those incidents; people put good effort and/or L$ into most things there). I wonder whether MMORPGs and virtual worlds will converge. What features of MMORPGs could be used to advantage here? It's not obvious to me, though I certainly don't want a game-imposed goal.

Touring the galaxy

A week or so ago, a friend introduced me to Galaxy Dreams and Shopping Mall on MoanaLani, asking me there to dance. It was a lovely place, all stars and sparkle in the night.

The other night, I went back and was pleasantly surprised to find that you can tour the region on a comfy pillow-strewn couch. (I'm not sure whether one can tour with a friend; the couch is not large, so it would need to be a very good friend indeed!) It takes you on a stately journey past planets, through meteor showers, and into an area that reminds me a bit of the tragically vanished Zero Point, Sabine Stonebender's magnificent build, before taking you back to the starting point--which is at one side of the dance floor if you wish to take part.

Take the tour; I think you'll enjoy it. Next time I'll play some music to go with it: Constance Demby, Neptune from Holst's The Planets, or perhaps David Arkenstone's "Far, Far Away."

Friday, August 22, 2008

NPIRL blog: Templum ex Obscurum

OK. I dabble in photography in SL. If you want to see the real deal, run, don't walk, to the NPIRL (Not Possible in Real Life) blog and check out the article on Templum ex Obscurum, or head for the flickr image pool.

Words fail me, save that I hope you're as inspired as I am.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


SL Fashion Police features an eye-opening sampling of the things avatars do to themselves. As you look over it, there are some recurring themes: indecent exposure; enough bling to make one single-handedly look like the flashbulbs of hundreds of photographers mobbing a celebrity at night; Sir Mix-a-lot-inspired slider settings, shall we say (though I think he'd decline the "honor")... and prim breasts.

I would respectfully submit that not all prim breast users are guilty of fashion offenses; indeed, some have great style. (I almost wrote "wear them with style," but that grates on me, as does the equation of prim breasts with breast implants. Attachments are forced on us by the limits of the SL avatar. Won't you consider voting for VWR-1258 if you haven't already?) Herewith, just some of the dear friends I would count in that number.

OK, I must admit the figure in whose palm I sit isn't Susyn Stenvaag. Yet. Give her time, though, to work out animation--and it does show her style. Here's a photo of her avatar as it is now:

Susyn typically dresses in a flowing gown with cape and tiara. She carries it off with great dignity and far better skill with textures than I have yet attained.

Mesha Sewell dresses so magnificently that I almost didn't dare speak to her. I'm happy that I did, and found the mischievous sprit behind that imposing appearance.

Foxbean Liebknecht makes and sells prim breasts and tops to accompany them. A mutual friend describes her as an angel, and I agree. Whether dressed as Little Bo Peep, a pirate, or in a simple sweater, she always looks wonderful.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Garden of da Vinci

I received a notice from the NPIRL (Not Possible in Real Life) group about the Garden of da Vinci. "Romance and adventure, da Vinci style" the subject line said, so I had to go take a look.

It's breathtaking, and I was immediately captivated, though at first I wondered whether I knew enough history; if there were specific references to the great Leonardo they sailed right over my head.

Towers in the distance caught my eye (ouch!), and I flew to explore them.

Climbing the staircase proved difficult. Recent changes to the SL client have brought occasional vertiginous camera point of view loops, and they were severe as I climbed, trying to maintain the constant turn required but failing. I ended up using the "teleport by zooming and sitting down" method.

The stomach flip-flops and frustration were more than made up for, with glorious artwork above and below me, and a wonderful view of the region.

Ah, that view was where I found an artifice worthy of Leonardo himself, for as I zoomed and panned to capture that wonderful view, I found my point of view doing the stately dance that comes with its binding to a slowly rotating object, and the towers that were distant seemed to zoom towards me as the dance progressed. Of course, video would be required to give the full effect, but here is a still, showing a building that had moments before seemed far away:

After marveling at this strangeness, I flew off to explore further, and found many wonders. I especially liked the tapestry from the famous "Lady and the Unicorn" set hung on a castle wall:

To fully list the marvels I saw would take a very long time, surely omit much else that is there, and worse still might dissuade some from going there in person, which would be a shame. Don't miss the Garden of da Vinci.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Glued to the TV

Like the vast majority of the rest of the population of Iowa, I was glued to the Olympics, waiting up far later than I should to see the women's all-round gymnastics competition, hoping for Shawn Johnson, the pride of West Des Moines, to win the gold.

It didn't happen, but it was wonderful to see all the athletes competing, and a joy to see Nastia Liukin and Shawn jointly take the gold and silver. The joy was contagious; the great Bé
la Károlyi was so excited and speaking so fast that I couldn't quite make out what he was saying through his beautiful accent, though I'd swear that at one point he exclaimed "You go, girlfriend!"

And so they both did.

UPDATE: Shawn Johnson won the gold medal for balance beam. Whee!

UPDATE: Math is her best subject in school. Yay!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Whimsy: where men are men...

...and hummingbirds are bullies.

No, really!

I set out from my home and headed up the stone path to the top of the hill, and there was a lovely area to look out over the beautiful Whimsy landscape. Seagulls wheeled overhead, and--oh, look, a ruby-throated hummingbird! It hovered, zipped about, hovered, wings a blur...

...and then it pushed me! Honest, it headed my way and shouldered me aside. I swear!

I stood there in disbelief, and then it happened again!

After I got over my astonishment, it started being funny. It's not like I was being hurt, and the incongruity of it made me giggle.

So--please come to Whimsy. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and the inventiveness of Cheyenne Palisades and Exuberance Lafleur, its creators, is endless.

But watch out for the hummingbirds!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"O say, can you see my eyes? If you can, then my hair's too short..."

I'd not realized there would be a third Hair Fair until I saw Vint Falken's post on it and on her entry in the Hair Fair 2008 photo contest. Hair Fair is a charity event that supports Locks of Love, an organization that donates wigs to children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, burns, and other conditions.

I've honored Bandana Day in a previous year, and I will do so again this year.

The submissions to the contest are delightful (especially Ms. Falken's), and I'm sure I'm out of my league, but it was so fun I had to try. Prevailing winds on the hills of Whimsy meant I could display an edited copy of Jordan (auburn) that I'd bought at Goldie Locks. Jordan is already very long... but I remembered photos I saw long ago of Diane Witt and how I so wanted to have such hair. I edited it to make it about three and a half meters long. The wonderful "Gelato" Windlight preset made for a yellow and green sky that re
minded me of a lovely wallpaper for a recent Linux distribution, and after taking some pictures, this one seemed the best to me:

I fear the method I told GIMP to use for scaling did not work at all well, and I'm sure that will count against me in the contest. But that's not the important thing. What's important is that it made me pull out that edited hair (ouch!) and try to be creative. I'm happy with the results.

P.S. Really, without antialiasing there's not much one can do when scaling an image where nearly horizontal or nearly vertical lines prevail. I will experiment further with GIMP and let you know which scaling methods prove best.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008



I thought I was following instructions to correct a problem with stuttering sound in SL with Ubuntu thanks to the adoption of PulseAudio for Hardy Heron... and the result was that I couldn't log on to my computer as myself. (I think it was expecting to play the little log on sound, and couldn't.)

I'm back, thank goodness... but I fear that the sound in SL will still stutter for now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Load balancing revisited

Gwyneth Llewelyn reports that LL's latest hire is responsible for getting things done to improve SL's scalability. In the past, I've said that I hope LL is looking into load balancing, getting rid of the immutable tying of one (possibly virtual) server to one sim.

It occurred to me today while in a large crowd at a musical performance (by the extremely talented Atheene Dodonpa; if you have any chance to hear her, take it) that load balancing would have its bad side--unless there's some way to deny CPU cycles to griefers and bots, it could be turned into a DDoS tool.

I still think that some kind of load balancing will be necessary, but it's not going to be easy to keep it from being abused.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Yet another must-read: in defense of unrealistic avatars

Sophrosyne Stenvaag posts a defense of "unrealistic" avatars that is well worth reading, and I have to say I agree.

Yes, body image and what people do to themselves in RL is a serious issue. Models who look like they went straight from the concentration camp to makeup to runway are neither beautiful nor healthy.

But... this is SL, where we can do better. [Insert sound clip from The Six Million Dollar Man here.] Why should we settle for our RL selves, products of genes selected for scarcity in a world of abundance, our telomeres shortening like that ominous fuse crawling across the Mission: Impossible intro?

Head over to Sophtopia and, as Glenn Reynolds says on Instapundit, read the whole thing. (And some other things, too, while you're there.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On the moove?

Dusan Writer tells of an interesting video that shows brief scenes in a plethora of virtual worlds, letting one compare and contrast. One caught my eye: moove.

I went there, expecting them to be yet another Windows-only, or Windows and Mac only ("We have both kinds o' music--country and western!") affair, thinking back to when, out of idle curiosity, I looked at "Red Light Center" and found in their FAQ list, for the question "Do you have a Mac or Unix version of the software?",
We recommend buying a PC for about $500 from Dell to run this software [under Windows] if you really want it.
at which I cheerfully wished them a fun time in hell.

To my surprise, they said the moove software would work under WINE, and after a download, it installed.

Alas, either there's something still not quite right or moove is insanely popular, because it seems to hang at "contacting moove online". I'll let you know if I manage to get any further along.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Speaking of computers...

...Siri Woodget's magnificent exhibit Augusta Ada Byron King – A Fairy in Your Corner is not to be missed.

Ada Byron King is recognized as the first programmer. She saw further into the capabilities of the "Analytical Engine" than its designer, Charles Babbage.

At the exhibit, ongoing through October 25th, you will learn a great deal about this amazing woman. I urge you to go to the Jack & Elaine Whitehorn Memorial Library, a suitably stately and beautiful place, to learn and be amazed.

Yet another "I'm a Mac." "I'm a PC." parody

This one I like, even if I think very little of Novell's dealings with Microsoft...

Gibson Girl hair

Another thing I've hoped to achieve is the "Gibson Girl" look. When I saw an announcement from Miriel Enfield that she has reopened Miriel, and that among the hair the store offers is one called "Gibson Girl", I had to investigate.

I'm very pleased. It's not quite the "big hair" of some of the illustrations and photos--I was surprised to discover that Charles Dana Gibson was from New England, not Texas :)--but it's very much in the proper style, and I'm very happy with it.

The above photo, taken in Caledon Brigadoon, shows the results. It may need a little editing to fit my head, but I'm quite pleased. Thank you, Miriel!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Wishful thinking

I may have mentioned a time or two that I'd love to have a good giantess avatar, where good means that I could make it resemble my current avatar aside from scale (I would want to be able to avoid having compromises forced on me, e.g. not to have to shorten torso length to get the leg length I want), and that animations and movement would work on it as they do on the stock avatar (just because you're a giantess doesn't mean you shouldn't have a sexy walk!), as would clothing. (Those last two would probably require that limits on the stock avatar be removed; Gentle Reader, please consider voting for VWR-1258.)

I kind of envy this cheerleader...

Sometimes, though, it would be nice to be larger still...

Then there are still other times... sigh.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


New World Notes has posted a short piece asking what people think about the disappearance of "Popular Places". I, for one, am practicing my happy dance, in hopes that the death of "Popular Places" will mean the end of bot farms, the hordes of mindless clients that run and eat resources for the sole purpose of running up traffic counts.

I'm grateful to Hamlet Au for his mentioning a blog that I'd not heard of. In passing he refers to a post on SLWTF, one of several, in which Garth Goode, the blog's author, happens across some of those collections of bots. In the latest, he finds them standing around on a platform in the sky and, shall we say, brings them down to earth, where we find they were hovering above a place called "Porn Plaza". Porn Plaza proves to have one of the most hilariously inept signs I've seen in some time.

Garth Goode is a witty observer of SL, and SLWTF features many fascinating places. It's well worth your time.