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

Oops...

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....

worlds.com 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.

Duck!

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.)