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.