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...

...is 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.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hair Fair 2008

It's a great idea, for a wonderful cause... but I wish I could find a directory so I can quickly get to a particular store.

Remember, today is Bandana Day.

UPDATE (already?): Bless you, Teagan Blackthorne! Here's a list of SLURLs of the various shops that she posted to the Hair Fair blog. (Google and ye shall find; silly me for not doing so long ago.)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I look like who?

It's been a while since I tried this, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't flattered. In any case, it's fun to do.

MyHeritage: Celebrity Collage - Vintage photos - Family tree chart

P.S. Shame on me for hastening the fall of the accusative case of the interrogative personal pronoun. It should be "I look like whom?"

Friday, September 05, 2008

Just another day

Slipping into stockings,
Stepping into shoes,
Dipping in the pocket of her raincoat, ah,
It's just another day. --Sir Paul McCartney
I read Cheyenne Palisades's blog just now, and realized: good heavens, my second rez day went by, and I didn't even notice.

It's probably because once you accumulate enough RL birthdays, you'd rather not think about them; it's just another reminder of one's eventual breakdown and death, as if we needed one. (So hurry up with the Singularity, already!) Besides, RL is pretty hectic these days.

So... no need for a celebration; just a pause to be thankful for the friends one has made, and to look back, first to 2006:

and then recently, in 2008:

If nothing else, it takes one above the fray and away from the endless cacophony of complaints and reminds one of just how far SL has come (thanks, Linden Lab), not to mention graphics cards (I think I still had an MX 4400 in 2006, and now I have a 8600).

RC client revisited

OK... one major annoyance. Why on earth does it feel the need to open up the inventory window whenever you receive a landmark or a notecard? I guess I'd settle for a way to turn it off, but IMHO if you want the inventory opened after you receive a landmark or notecard, the big button with "Inventory" on it in large, friendly letters is right there.

UPDATE: VWR-9027. Check it out.

UPDATE #2: There is an option to turn it off. Yay!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Add to death and taxes the certainty that Linden Lab will be criticized, no matter what they do. Everyone has his or her favorite issue (*cough* VWR-1258 *cough*), the user interface is a perennial target, there's the Open Letter contingent who criticize LL for working on anything other than stability, and SL has even accumulated at least one crackpot.

The folks behind the Imprudence Project argue that this and other factors impede progress in SL, and want to do something about it. Read their manifesto and consider helping.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Yet another must-read from Gwyneth Llewelyn

In "No More Limits," Ms. Llewelyn lists some constraints on SL that are purely artificial, or that had some justification in the past that no longer makes sense. In particular, after her description of LSL, I'm amazed that anything gets done in SL at all, and have even more respect for those who write scripts. (The characterization "a triumph of engineering over design" seems appropriate in this context.)

Read the whole thing, including the comments. If you're not pissed off, as the saying goes, you're not paying attention... and I have to wonder how long it will be before, say, OpenSim starts to get rid of some of the artificial limitations.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Height inflation revisited

I think that height inflation is becoming less common. These days I'm seeing more and more avatars of height closer to RL average. An example, only aided a bit by perspective:

If that's the case, is there a reason? Fitting in with the environment, perhaps. I still recall the time I was invited on a boat and couldn't walk into the cabin, discovering the virtual hard way that there's no way to bend over and walk--I ended up sitting down from a distance to get in and out. (SL will be interesting if/when prim breasts become "physical" objects.)

So, perhaps it will eventually just be people who are tall in RL who choose tall avatars... and people like me. I'm sorry, I just love being tall. So I will keep watching advances in giant(ess) avatars, keep pushing VWR-1258, and keep taking forced perspective photos:

I'm in ur grid... tryin ur RC client

...and so far, so good. It's very uneventful, and uneventful can be wonderful.

Actually, there's one feature that makes me ecstatic--you can save pictures in PNG format!

Some evening, I will have to sit down and write a shell script to convert all those SL photos kept in BMP format to PNG while preserving the timestamp. It will make my hard drive very happy and me happy come backup time, because in the hierarchy of "wee", "not so wee", and "FRIGGIN' HUGE!" SL BMP pictures are very definitely in the latter camp.

P.S. Also, PNG compression is lossless, unlike the lossy compression of JPEG.