Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Priority inversion

In the context of parallel programming, a priority inversion occurs when a low-priority task gets its paws on a resource that a higher priority task needs. The results can vary from irritating to catastrophic.

If Tateru Nino's recent post in Massively is correct, I fear that LL has fallen afoul of a priority inversion; it's decided to give precedence to implementing the controversial "Adults Only"... one can't call it a proposal, can one? LL has decided to do it, though they are at least going through the motions of wanting resident feedback. I wish I didn't believe it.

Not a phoenix, but...

It's been way too long since I've written about the beautiful, talented, and always impeccably dressed Xaxoqual Mandelbrot.

When last she appeared here, she was a mourning dove--but she's now a Victorian Crowned Pigeon. If you're like me, I had never heard of that species, but follow the link and look at the picture, or look at the images here, and you'll be as amazed as I was. Her avatar is every bit as lovely as those photos.

Countdown to Jackalope

I jumped the gun a while back; the countdown to Ubuntu 9.04 is now seriously underway, the beta version having been released last week.

I hope you'll give Ubuntu a try if you've not used Linux before, or if you tried it long ago and gave up on it. In either case, you will be pleasantly surprised, I think. If you now use Windows, the easiest way to get started is with Wubi.

Not to Scale

I've mentioned Micro City, a place high above Northstar built to a small scale.

Now there's a region in southeast Mammatus built to an even smaller scale... and that gladdens the heart of this would-be giantess. Peeking at the buildings there, I think we have David Lawl to thank for it--so, thank you Mr. Lawl!

ERRATUM: Mesha Sewell kindly tracked down the correct information; we have Katrina Schilling to thank for building and laying out the lovely miniature city... but still, as creator of the buildings, David Lawl still merits our thanks and our admiration of his skill. Thanks to you both.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Away, alas

I've been away this past weekend, and will be this coming weekend as well, visiting family and friends.

I will be on SL when I can, but that won't be a lot for a bit... not only will I miss dear SL friends, but I will be itching to take more pictures now that I have a new graphics card. :) I promise to show you the results.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How can you tell?

The first of Isaac Asimov's "Black Widowers" stories was titled "The Acquisitive Chuckle." The only thing I recall about it, or at least think that I recall, is that it had to do with someone who'd had something stolen from him, but had no idea just what it was--he only knew that he'd been robbed. The thief's intent was to create that situation, and thus bug the heck out of the victim.

One hears from time to time of inventory losses in SL. It occurred to me that while I think I've managed to escape that problem so far, how could I tell? I may well be the counterpart of the fellow in that story, and have lost something but not know it... but like him, in that not knowing would drive me crazy.

So, perhaps there is a use for something less than a full inventory backup, but more than nothing, i.e. an inventory listing, one line per item, so that you could at least periodically save that listing and run diff on it... so you could at least tell!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Grace Dunnough over at Phasing Grace has a post about a BSD-licensed Open Source platform for virtual worlds, Sirikata. (I question the wisdom of BSD licensing, as it permits the infamous embrace, extend, and extinguish technique.)

It looks very interesting, and their design appears to be intended to avoid some of the problems with SL. Check out the demo video and especially the talk on the architecture.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Am I PG?

Not according to the people I met in the Gossip Girl sims. Wearing an opaque, long-sleeved turtleneck sweater and jeans while well-endowed was, according to them, lewd--in a place where blatant BDSM gear was on sale with, as far as I can tell, the complete approval of the people managing the sims.

So now, LL has announced that it will segregate "adult" content to its own continent, where the meaning of "adult" is yet to be specified but supposedly only covers a few percent of current SL content. The status of skin sellers is one concern, and apparently one must censor one's own profile and picks to conform to PG standards. (Jeska Linden, in the SL Forums: "...as I mentioned (and per our Community Standards) any content displayed within your profile (including picks) should confirm to the overall PG standards.")

This concerns me. I hope you'll take the time to express your opinion in the forum threads (now thread) dedicated to the issues.

UPDATE: TINYDANCING has a hilarious takeoff on LL's announcement. (At least I hope it's a takeoff...)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Paging Lamont Cranston!

Hamlet Au writes in New World Notes to point out and comment on a comment made by Qarl Linden, dated March 14th, from which I quote:
i can't make any promises - but i've heard rumors [dynamic shadows] will appear (as a debugging option) in the next viewer - so in the next couple weeks, perhaps?
I've been looking forward to that ever since I heard about it. Time to practice the happy dance!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Catching up on sleep

Once upon a time I could pull the occasional all-nighter, crash the next afternoon, sleep a while and awake feeling wretched, have supper, go to bed and awake seemingly unperturbed the next day.

Those days are no more. Wednesday night and Thursday night I got little sleep, and I paid for it big time this weekend, sleeping a LOT. I therefore have spent very little time on the grid, and I regret that--I miss my SL friends. I have to learn to conserve my spoons.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"It's not that easy being green..."

Actually, it really isn't--not when you're surrounded by things that are greener still.

(Now I've done it--I have that damned folk song in my head, complete with the irritating guitar run in the chorus.)

It's just-spring, or at least it will be in a week, and I really, really wanted to get away from the cold weather that held sway earlier this week in Iowa, so I went into SL.. and happened across an outfit that, while the collar could use work, was bright and all white and that yellowish green that the leaves are when they first appear, and so I bought it and put it on, along with Aphrodite's lime colored Vintish heels. It cheered me up.

A little later, word came from Frick of a charming free green skin they were (and I think still are) offering. On it went, and I pulled out the green Bonita hair from an all colors pack I got long ago as well. Green, hmmm... yes. Chakryn Forest, standing in one of the lovely beams of sunlight falling through the leaves, and...

I was reminded of the first time I saw Key limes. "Hey, those aren't green!" Just goes to show the importance of context, I guess.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Enter the Jackalope

It won't be long before the Ubuntu 8.10 blurb here changes to announce the approach of Ubuntu 9.04, code named "Jaunty Jackalope". The Alpha 5 version is out for those interested in trying it.

The ext4 file system will be supported, but not the default. I am thinking of converting to ext4, in hopes of faster I/O for things such as the SL client cache. We shall see...

...and it won't be long now, just about a month and a half.

Friday, March 06, 2009

How much for a nice SL computer, rerevisited

Sigh... you'd think I was hoping for an income tax refund or something; I'm looking yet again at a nice inexpensive computer to run SL.

I went to a $70 motherboard, the ECS GF8200A; I don't think the Jetway's offered any more. I couldn't pass up another $10 for a 500 GB hard drive rather than 250, so it's $60 rather than $50, the Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD502IJ. Same case as before, the APEVIA QPACK-2; same DVD burner.

Ah, but the CPU... now you can get a real AM2+ Athlon 64 X2, 2.7 GHz, 2 MB of Level 3 cache, for $60. That added cache will help, and it can take full advantage of the AM2+ socket. The motherboard will take DDR2 1066 RAM, and 4 GB of G.Skill (2 x 2GB) costs $53; more than DDR2 800, but hey, it's still not very much at all.

Again, the graphics card will be our biggest expense; the Sparkle SFPX98GT1024D3H is a 9800 GT with a gigabyte of RAM on the card; while only two have reviewed it on newegg.com as I write this, both give it five eggs, and one of them mentions that he is an SL resident and that it makes a big difference... and that he had moved up from a 9600 GT, which is what we were thinking of last time. $140.

Total, aside from shipping: a hair under $505. Now, if only they gave the dimensions of the graphics card (some of them push the edge of what can go in Micro ATX cases) and its power requirements (they can be very hefty these days).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Politics and Interoperability Standards

Do read Gwyneth Llewelyn's lastest blog post, "Politics and Interoperability Standards". It's a very good antidote to the torrents of idiocy surrounding the subject matter.

I'm behind again: Imprudence test version patched to allow flexible sculpted prims

Tsk, tsk... I am behind. It's a week and a half since the Imprudence folks announced a testing version of their client that includes a patch to allow flexible sculpted prims. (Only Windows and Linux versions, alas; the Imprudence project is in dire need of Macintosh mavens interested in working on the client.) Again, it's a testing version: if it breaks, it breaks; use at your own risk. Also, there are performance issues to be dealt with before it becomes official.

But... if you're a builder in SL, wouldn't it be nice to have a head start on trees that bend in the breeze rather than rigidly rotating around their roots? (Somewhere, Old English poets are smiling at that last part...) Flags that flutter? (Might as well keep them happy a bit longer.) If we may hope, prim breasts that jiggle more realistically?

UPDATE: I've run it, and it's as Foxbean says in her comment; the effect is wonderful, but the rendering of the prims deteriorates badly as you move back, even a relatively short distance.

SL does that kind of thing; if you see reference to LOD (loss of detail, I think it stands for), that's what they're talking about. As you get farther away from an object, the rendering is sketchier, just as in RL you can't see as much detail of a more distant object. It saves time, and goodness knows that's important--but something about the flexible sculpted prims modification causes LOD to happen too quickly, at too short a distance. I hope that's corrected, and the performance issues worked through, soon.

Double take

I was wandering about the web when I came across the now defunct Mean Girls Guide to SL blog. (Its successor is The SL Revolution, for those interested.) One article wished a fellow happy birthday, and featured a photo at which I did a double take.

I double checked to make sure I didn't misremember, and I didn't. Humans have six abdominal muscles. Count 'em, six. The number visible in the photo: eight.

So, I'm curious: how common is that? Have you seen a non-anatomically correct skin? (We're not talking about the well-known omission from the male avatar.)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beards: Could ZZ Top come to SL?

I've seen clean-shaven men in SL, and I've seen some with the Don Johnson look (yeah, showing my age) and some with goatees or the current style of facial hair in the fashion of detail striping on cars--basically anything doable via the skin texture.

Are there prim beards out there somewhere in SL? If ZZ Top wanted to perform in SL, would they have to give up the beards? I'm curious.

Planet Mongo

My dear friend Foxbean Liebknecht said she'd found a great place... and it certainly is.

Planet Mongo features a city in the sky--as you can tell from the name, it's inspired by the Sky City of the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon. It's beautifully done, and well worth your time to visit and explore. While you're contemplating your conquest of the universe, you can shop... but don't even dream of any funny business; you are being watched!

Thank you so much, dear Foxbean, for inviting me to this amazing place.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Very Strange Experience

I seem not to have very much time in SL lately, and that at strange hours. Last week I was up far too early and window shopping at one of the many, many places that joining Fashion Consolidated will let you hear about, when someone addressed me directly, saying "Hello."

I said "Hello" in reply, and then the person addressing me told me that I was too big and would die soon of breast cancer!

Perhaps there's truth to a certain theory.