Monday, July 28, 2008

O(n2)

It's why going to the next larger size monitor has more of an effect than you think. The size is given in terms of the diagonal, but moving that up 10% increases the area by 21%; 1.1 squared is 1.21.

I have an unfortunate tendency to run the display resolution up. (Still using a CRT. What can I say?) "Oooh.... 1800 x 1440...." After all, it means I can crank up the size of fonts to compensate and the result will look better.

Unfortunately, the graphics card's work load goes up proportionally to the area as well, poor thing. One of the reasons the Sabayon Linux Live DVD was flying at 50+ fps is that it didn't have the screen resolution cranked.

So, I've restrained myself and dropped back, and my SL experience should be better as a result. More evidence that I'm not a gamer; all the gamers out there who read this will probably respond "Well, duh..."

P.S. The other disadvantage is that graphics on web sites are sized based on a guess as to the viewer's probable resolution, so reading, say, Day by Day becomes an exercise in futility for aging eyes at high resolution. I think my eyes will thank me for this decision.

Visits from Iran

Looking over the Google Analytics statistics, I see that there have been two rather long visits to the blog from Ahwaz and Shiraz in the past month.

To whoever came here from there: thank you. You come from places with a long and fascinating history, and I would love to visit them someday.

To bloggers: Google Analytics is free, and even if, like me, you're not trying to have a huge readership or make money from your blog, it's fun to look through the map overlay and see just how far your words propagate. It reminds me of lazy afternoons spent long ago looking through a treasured gift of a World Almanac.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Senator fuses controversial IP bills into big, bad package

From Digg: "A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would increase penalties for counterfeiting, empower federal prosecutors to bring civil suits against copyright infringers, create a federal copyright czar to coordinate IP enforcement, and provide for the seizure of property used to violate copyrights and trademarks. "

Yes, if you liked property seizure already, you'll love this!

read more | digg story

Foxconn deliberately sabotaging their BIOS to not work with Linux --or is it?

Foxconn, a company that makes, among other things, motherboards, makes and sells a motherboard that intentionally checks to see whether Linux is running on it and, if so, hands back broken ACPI (power management) information. This is especially interesting in view of a 1999 email from Bill Gates that turned up in anti-trust litigation, in which he proposes that ACPI be somehow made to work only on Windows.

read more | digg story

UPDATE: it turns out that several motherboard manufacturers have the AMI BIOS version that does this. Foxconn has released a test version that fixes all but a trivial error, and later will release a production version. I hope the others follow suit. Details on the Ubuntu forums.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank you, Second Life...

...for not being a game.

I have no interest in shooting monsters or people, or defeating the boss to get to the next level. If I'm going to fill my muscle memory with anything, it will be "Pavane pour une Infante Défunte," not how to get through a maze, thank you very much.

I like Second Life as it is; like Real Life, it's what you make of it. Any goals are your goals, not those someone else has decided to impose on you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Srizonified Proprietary Drivers

One of the problems with Linux is actually a problem with hardware manufacturers--some of them don't provide the information needed to write full-featured Open Source drivers for their products, and thus one winds up in the situation I find myself in today.

Today there was an update to the Linux kernel. nVidia's refusal to allow full-featured Open Source drivers for their graphics cards means that I can't upgrade the kernel until the hackery needed to make nVidia's srizonified binary blob work with it is done and available in the Hardy Heron repositories.

ATI, perhaps with the prodding of their new owners, AMD, have finally started releasing information on at least some of their recent graphics hardware, and I'm hoping that there will be Open Source drivers for them with feature and speed parity with the Windows drivers. Once that is the case, nVidia can kiss my business goodbye.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midnight City


When the smell of the rainwashed pavement
Comes up clean, and fresh, and cold
And the streetlamp light
Fills the gutter with gold...
— "My Time of Day," from Guys and Dolls
The dress seemed far more suited for night and the city, and it's been a while since I took a forced perspective photo, so I thought I'd combine the two.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tour de force

In the past, when I've talked about introducing you to Linux, I've backed off on one thing that, for those of you who read here, would be of particular interest: the RAM requirements of SL and those of a Linux Live CD are such that I didn't think they'd work and play well with each other, and so I've hesitated to suggest it.

No longer.

Last night I tried out the Sabayon Linux 3.5 Live DVD. I was happy to see it come up with the proprietary nVidia driver (and that the more recent version that, as far as I can tell, fixes the spot problem!)... but I was astonished to see the familiar turquoise eye-in-hand icon, labeled "Second Life". I clicked it... and there it was. I signed on, and it was just like always (well, not quite, since I normally run the RC client, and this was the official client). I checked the frames/second rating... and it was flying, in the higher fifties! Admittedly, I didn't have the knobs all twisted to max, and the window size was smaller (in pixel dimensions) than I usually run, but even so...

Another caveat: this was done with a 2.8 GHz dual core Athlon 64 system with 4 GB of RAM, so your mileage may vary, but OTOH that's not all that outrageous a setup these days.

So... I no longer hesitate to suggest that you try Second Life with a Linux Live CD. OK, DVD... but get the Sabayon Linux 3.5 Live DVD and give it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised; I certainly was.

Spot remover

I am happy to announce that the spot problem appears to be solved. Last night I installed version 173.14.09 of the nVidia driver (hint for Ubuntu users: enable the "hardy-proposed" repository, and install nvidia-glx-new-envy--unless you have an older nVidia card, of course), and this morning beneath the swaying palm trees of the Tampa Bay sim I took a picture, a crop of which you see here. With hopeful fingers on the trackball I opened it with GIMP and zoomed to 200%... and found no spots!

So... I can return to taking pictures untroubled by the fear that a lovely subject and what efforts I can muster to compose and light will be wrecked. Whee!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Traduttore, traditore

A dear friend who in RL is from Italy ran into a very unfortunate typo on an Italian-English bilingual dictionary web site. The site told him that the English word for cernia was "groper" instead of the correct translation, "grouper."

It makes me wonder just how many double takes I have induced by trusting such sites.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Land of Giants

In Hamlet Au's wonderful history The Making of Second Life, it's said that limits were imposed on the avatar to avoid a sort of arms race:
"Second Life is supposed to be about limitless opportunity," [Hunter] Walk remembers them thinking, "but you can't be a 10,000-foot dragon. We stood back and we said, 'Wow, this is Prisoner's Dilemma.' Like the first time somebody wants to be a 150-foot giant, then everybody's going to want to be a 150-foot giant, so all of a sudden you're in this out-of-whack world."
So they set what they thought were reasonable limits on the avatar (according to the book, there's an eight-foot limit on height), so that going beyond those limits requires attachments... which don't work and play well with some things, but perhaps LL thought that a good thing, to further discourage a height arms race.

Ironically, though, SL itself fosters height inflation. Unless things have changed drastically since I went through orientation, you're left to set your sliders with no feedback whatsoever about what those sliders mean. I'd love to see an indication of the equivalent in cm or inches of the slider settings for sliders that correspond to spatial dimensions, but even one of those textures laid out in squares that one could stand in front of at that point in orientation would give newcomers an idea of what they are getting.

I expect that very few people will choose the extremes if they know what they're getting--otherwise, there's an inclination to choose something in the middle--and I'm pretty sure that, for women's avatars at least, that's well over the 5'4" US average woman's height. (And ironically, the slider settings don't even encompass the variation in body part size in RL. Robert Wadlow and Zeng Jinlian, for example, couldn't have made their avatars resemble themselves.)

(May I take advantage of the chance to ask once again for you to consider voting for VWR-1258? Thank you.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Web of Verisimilitude

Second Life kind of oozes out into the web.

It finally rose to conscious level when I read about Lively, and how people are upset that others have signed on and beat them to establishing a Lively avatar with their SL avatar's name, but it's been going on since well before my rez day... on which I immediately set up mel_yeuxdoux@yahoo.com as my email address.

SL snapshots populate flickr, despite the controversy over whether they're "screenshots" or not.

There are so many social web sites for SL avatars that I can't keep up with them; my homes on them have virtual cobwebs. (Many have a blog option, but I barely come up with enough to keep this blog--another leak from SL into the general web--from gathering dust.)

It makes sense; after all, LL has enough to do without setting up purely in-world email, much less something like playlist.com. For that matter, it spreads the word about SL. With any luck, people will happen across SL blogs and get the idea that no, it's not all about [pause to try to come up with all the media cliches, a la "You Never Even Called Me By My Name"] pedophiles griefing furry Nazis and Goreans from their mom's basements.

Sorry... I don't have any grand conclusion or thesis. It just occurred to me this morning. I wonder what future historians will make of it.

P.S. I guess this shows I'm an immersionist. An augmentationist would respond, "Well, duh!" (possibly more articulately); there's nothing unusual about people who just happen to use SL also having web pages and blogs and flickr/myspace/etc. pages.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

DRM-related links

Since, alas, the topic of DRM is coming up in the context of Second Life, I want to post some links to related information and organizations in one spot for ready access:
I urge you to inform yourself about the issues involved.

UPDATE: Better still would be to create a list of links that won't disappear as time goes on... so that's what I've done.

eCorp opens

eCorp is now selling a line of prim breasts with a variety of tops. Once I have some L$ to spare, I will have to give them a try.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What? Something worthwhile in the Second Life Herald?!

I'm not sure why I bother to read the Second Life Herald.

However, I can wholeheartedly recommend a hilarious recent post there: "Sweatsocks of Gor."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Many thanks to Ittindi Gavaskar

Ittindi Gavaskar has been making lovely prim breasts for some time. I'm happy to say that the other day I saw an announcement that his work will have copy permission.

Why is this important? Because without copy permission, if you wish to customize something, you either have to be, like Mary Poppins, "practically perfect in every way," or be very sure to write down the exact sequence of operations you perform so you can undo them in case you change your mind.

So... a thousand thanks, Ittindi. There's a vendor for his work at Northstar Mall (and probably other places--I apologize for my faulty memory). Do check it out.

Jealousy

I've mentioned a few times that I'd love to have a giantess avatar.

I am now officially envious of CodeBastard Redgrave. Not because she's a wonderful photographer, nor because she's the most callipygous resident of SL... but because she's now a sim.

Visit Rouge. You'll be amazed.

Not bloody Lively

Google has come out with the initial version of its virtual world, Lively...

...and it's Windows-only. To hell with it.

UPDATE: Sigh... you'd think I could get the name right.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You can't take it with you?

The official SL blog announced that avatars have teleported from a Preview Grid sim to an OpenSim sim. As no inventory moved with the avatars, they appeared at the OpenSim side as Ruth.

Near the top of the comments was a demand that items be prohibited from moving from place to place without creator permission; another commenter even thought it should be forbidden outright.

I fear that we might be headed for the nightmare that currently exists for digital media, i.e. so-called "digital rights management." DRM schemes only impede honest people from doing reasonable things with their purchases; the real pirates get around them. They are also a drag on performance (see Peter Gutmann's analysis of content protection in Windows Vista. One of the aforementioned commenters pointed out that her demands involved moving essentially all of SL save rendering to the server--just what we need, putting all the work on an already overloaded performance bottleneck).

Imagine yourself in RL taking a vacation. At the border you're told "Sorry, but you can't take your clothing with you. Please strip, and then we'll let you pass... and of course, you must buy all new clothing and accessories that you can only wear while in our country. Have a nice day." Would you put up with that? That's the fate awaiting you in the metaverse if the DRM advocates get their way.

As an honest SL resident who does not steal content and who supports businesses whose work I like, here's my position: I will not do business with those who forbid me to take items that I legitimately buy with me wherever I go. I urge you, Gentle Reader, to take a similar stand.

P.S. Some DRM schemes allow hardware to be disabled remotely; the content providers think of it as damage control when security holes become known. So if you happen to have the same graphics card or monitor as a pirate who is found out, it will be remotely disabled, and you, despite having done nothing wrong, will have to go buy more hardware if you want to use DRM-ed content.

P.P.S. It may just be that you have to get new drivers, though OTOH, if it's discovered that a piece of hardware has a security hole inherent in its design, I wouldn't be surprised if the driver is disabled and no new driver made available, which would have the same effect.

P.P.P.S. On the third hand, as Lt. Arex from the animated Star Trek might say, the distinction between having to download and install a new driver and having to replace hardware might not matter to you if, say, you're in the middle of giving an important presentation that involves displaying high-resolution content.

Monday, July 07, 2008

New clothing with prim breasts

Dangerous Designs has come out with a new outfit in its "Shameless" line that comes with scripted prim breasts (the outfit can be worn without them). The prim breasts are scripted, and can grow or shrink on command.

I'm not quite shameless enough to wear this particular outfit, but it is just the first of their products to include prim breasts. I'm assured that there will be some that I can wear without embarrassment, and I very much look forward to seeing them.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Still seeing spots...

Sigh... 1.20 RC, version 12. Some snapshot-related problems are fixed, but not the spots that I see on sufficiently high-res photos. Darn it. (In case you want to vote, it's VWR-7071.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008