Monday, June 29, 2009

Wandering in Greater Caledon

I went wandering through the Greater Caledon area (apologies, guvna, if that is not the correct term, but if I just say "Caledon" it sounds like I'm confining myself to one sim). I had the good fortune to come upon Caliber, where I found some wonderful hair. Isn't it lovely?

I also had the bittersweet experience of coming upon glorious, beautifully detailed gowns that I adore but cannot yet wear, as I have managed to procrastinate in acquiring the needed skill for their adaptation. I urge you to visit Akina Fashion Emporium to look, ooh, and aah over their work.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

SL6B: Islam: From 6th century Arabia to 21st century virtual world

SL6B includes many amazing builds; more, I'm sure, than I'll be able to get to, but I will visit what I can.

I'll start with the beautiful (if a bit bright) Islam: From 6th century Arabia to 21st century virtual world. I am a calligrapher, if a bit out of practice, and the use of calligraphic type faces, both English and Arabic, is breathtaking. Posters describe various basic concepts of Islam, and photographs humanize people we tend to only hear the worst of, as if one only knew about Christians via reports on Fred Phelps.

I first visited the build early Tuesday morning, as the exhibitor, Ruuh Cassini, was putting on finishing touches. I came upon it unawares. Announcements of the vigil for the Iranians protesting the stolen election mention the recommendation that women attending wear headscarves; suffice it to say that I was rather past the point of just not wearing a headscarf. Nonetheless Mr. Cassini welcomed me, told me about the build, and answered my questions with the utmost courtesy.

When it comes to religion, as they say, I don't have a dog in that fight. I do say, however, that this build is beautiful and well worth visiting. Some pictures to give you a taste:

Another visit to the "adult ghetto"

I guess a lot of people were curious; some of the most-visited regions listed this week in NWN were from the new "adult ghetto". I didn't realize until I got there.

There were a few people there; like me, they were wandering about, looking at the buildings.

Here's a photo of the Port of Kama City building at sunset. I think it's quite lovely, and the incongruity of it amazes me. In RL, the adult ghettos seem to be in run-down, seedy parts of town (or, if you've been on the road lately, you may have seen "adult stores" popping up in the middle of nowhere at exits on interstate highways). It's sufficiently strange that I will revisit it once it is populated just to see how it changes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yet another computer pricing exercise

It's been a while since I indulged in pricing up a nice little computer that should play SL very well, so here we go again. I'm being a bit extravagant this time, I must admit.

Ground rules: we're upgrading, so we aren't getting monitor(s), a keyboard, mouse/trackball, or speakers. We already have those. Prices are rounded to the nearest dollar. You may be able to find these items for less, and you will be able to eventually, technology being what it is.

AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition ($103 at

It runs at 3.1 GHz, with a generous 6 MB of L3 cache, and is rated at consuming just 80W. Dual core... but there are reports of being able to significantly overclock it and unlock the other two cores. I don't indulge in that pastime normally, but for that kind of gain, I'd be willing to try. Retail, so it has a fan and heatsink, but if you set out to overclock and unlock, you're going to want a hard core fan/heatsink.


AM3 capable, though admittedly it doesn't do DDR3. Still, it does the job, is well thought of by most reviewers, is well-equipped with I/O options, including eSATA and 1394, and it has the Micro-ATX form factor, which lets us use...

APEVIA X-QPACK2-BK/500 ($100 at

In the old days, peripheral interfaces were separate cards that plugged into the motherboard's bus. As technology has improved, more and more stuff has come onto the motherboard--serial and parallel ports, floppy and hard drive interfaces, ethernet, keyboard and mouse, sound, and now often graphics, so that one needn't have all those slots and the motherboard can be smaller... hence the tiny computers from Shuttle and others, and hence the Micro ATX form factor, which for me provides reasonable flexibility (no sole source custom power supplies and such, and you can swap out motherboards), and no more insanely heavy cases! I wish they'd sell it with a modular power supply, to allow better airflow, but we'll stick with the 500W power supply that comes with it, so we choose...

XFX GS250XZDFC GeForce GTS 250 1GB ($150 at

It's a good card, and the GTS 260s want enough 12V current that the power supply that comes with the case would not suffice. We're not so hard core as to want SLI.

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS ($100 at

A 1 TB, SATA 3 Gb/s hard drive, 7200 RPM and 32 MB of cache. Remember when IDE hard drive prices dropped to a dollar per gigabyte, and we were all so excited? (Never mind that they were tiny, slow, and had pitiful amounts of cache by today's standards.) Now we're hitting, and sometimes under, the dime per gigabyte level for rotating hard drive space.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM ($50 at

Dual channel, of course.

SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223F ($25 at

Blu-ray is still way too expensive for my tastes.

If you add the actual prices rather than the rounded ones, before shipping it comes to $598. Like I said, I splurged a bit.

Oh... software cost? $0, of course; we're using Linux. Someday I will back up all my data and experiment with LOTS of Linux distributions to see whether any stands out as snappier for Second Life use, and report on the results here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Repeating myself

(I've written about this before, but a recent entry on Cheyenne's blog set me to thinking about it again. It still seems a good idea to me. For those who don't doggedly track through every single entry in this blog (not that I expect anyone to do that!), I bring it up again.)

In Second Life, clothing initially was, and mostly still is,
trompe l’oeil body paint. We mostly walk around in SL like Demi Moore on that Vanity Fair cover—but she had the advantage of being in a still photo. We move, and the illusion is harder to maintain with motion and being visible from nearly every point of view.

With time, couturiers added attachments. A majority of skirts now are essentially lots of strips of cloth sewn together at the waist along with “glitchpants,” pants intended to match the pattern of the strips lest the vagaries of SL physics move the strips so as to reveal too much. Bell-bottomed jeans now use attachments to get their shape.

I hasten to add that I write this to point out SL’s limitations, and the genius of the clothiers of Second Life. Like the makers of furry avatars, tinies, macros, and prim breasts, their products are a tribute to their ingenuity in overcoming those limitations.

We all know the distinction between custom (“bespoke” if you’re English) and prêt à porter (“ready-to-wear”) clothing. Perhaps you think of Second Life clothing as prêt à porter… but it isn’t, not really. In First Life, aside from the rare “one size fits all” items (and do they, really?), ready-to-wear clothing is on the racks and shelves in various sizes. It has to be; matter’s funny that way, and economies of scale are such that automated one-off clothing is still rare.

Second Life clothing, however, is one size fits all, or more accurately, one size fits the shape the clothier used:
  • You can, within limits, adjust the lengths of the prims that comprise prim skirts, but that stretches or shrinks their texture, making them inconsistent with the glitchpants. If your legs are longer than the shape used to design the outfit, the glitchpants become longer than the prim skirt. Shortening glitchpants in the Appearance menu has the same effect as cutting strips off.

  • Adjusting body part size stretches or shrinks the texture applied to it when you put on an outfit. Stretch it too far, it becomes a blur; in any case it may wind up inconsistent with the same texture on another piece of the outfit if the relative body part sizes don’t match their ratio on the shape the clothier used.

What can be done?

The only way I can see is that clothes have to have associated scripts that can access the parameters of your shape, so that they can generate a custom version for you. To minimize overhead, it should only be done when you first put the clothing on, and afterwards only when you have fiddled with relevant body part sliders. The result will be SL clothing as it is now, so that it’s not as if everybody who sees you is slowed down any more than they are now.

Since clothing would be generated by scripts, the original form wouldn’t have to be that used in clothing as it is now. For example, textures could be vector graphics, to avoid the problems of scaling raster graphics...

...or in some cases there wouldn’t be initial textures at all, and it would all be done in code. Alan Turing didn’t spend all his time putting computing on a solid formal ground or breaking ciphers. He also studied how the patterns on animals’ fur and shells form and how to model them mathematically. Look up images with the search string “Turing patterns.” Not only could it be usable for clothing (virtual fur coats, anyone?), it could lead to high-quality skins for furries.

There's been a lot of talk about how freebies are ruining things for SL clothiers. If you had a choice between a gown that looked OK, but it's not floor length for you like it was in the picture, etc., etc., and a gown that, when you put it on, adjusts itself precisely to your shape, which would you choose? What would that be worth to you? Second Life clothing doesn't wear out, so to get people to keep buying, clothiers, like everyone else, have to continue to top themselves, to get enough better to be worth the money. That takes ingenuity, but eventually even great ingenuity runs up against SL’s limitations. Miriel Enfield closed her store for that reason.

I've put up a JIRA request,
VWR-10839, to allow the association of code with clothing. If this seems worthwhile to you, I hope you'll vote for it.

First Life must-read from Eric S. Raymond

Check out "Dispatches from the Iranian cyberfront", and be sure to follow the link to information about NedaNet.

Timidly going where lots of people have gone before

SL is so large, in the virtual geographic sense, that one can't keep track of everything; I end up looking for mention of interesting places in blogs, or invitations from friends.

(Does SL have a Rick Steves? Perhaps Vaughn Hannon of Living with the me...)

Lately, New World Notes has been putting up periodic lists of "most popular sims" as determined by where people who use Koinup are visiting (and posting photos from, presumably) the most. I've been going to those places, and they're proving quite beautiful.

Drowsy is a curious, slightly askew place, gently glowing by night. It's a place that is built to look old and worn, and I hope someone writes up its imaginary history--I'd pay to read that. Be sure to explore the woods next to the village and shops.

Empress and Hierophant (that's one sim, not two) is all hills and winding roads, and lots of sheep, some apparently with dreams of being a circus act! It too has gently aged buildings, and the sun shining down through the decaying roof of one feels almost like a cathedral.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hell freezes over again

Read "What to Do About Iran" at Second Thoughts, in particular the list of things one can do.

Speaking of 1.23

Sigh. I'm glad that the disappearing water that I saw, or didn't see, the first time I used the official 1.23 client appears to be a fluke. What's not a fluke, though, is the inability to hear streaming audio. A friend had invited me to hear a singer, and I was looking forward to it--but I couldn't hear it, and wound up leaving--a darned shame, that.

(And I forgot again that it would forget the custom resolution for photos saved to hard disk I'd set up, darn it...)

Adult Crickets Chirping

According to the LL blog--or rather, one of them--this past Monday, the 1.23 client having been released, the renamed "adult" continent Zindra has been opened up for a couple of weeks for the perusal of any resident with a verified account.

Presumably, those whose businesses will forced to move there will be the most interested in such inspection, but out of curiosity, I went.

Much of SL feels like a ghost town when one goes there. Of course, if one could teleport to random places on Earth, and truly chose randomly, the results would be the same, not to mention that most of the time you could drown--but this was even more so. That said, it's really quite a lovely place at the moment.

There are several large hydroelectric dams there, according to the blog entry; I saw one myself. I've led a sheltered life, but I have a hard time imagining adult activity by a dam... and actually, I had a hard time imagining it at all in those open spaces interspersed with tasteful buildings waiting for occupants.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Sudden Seeming Burst of Popularity

I wandered over to my Flickr page yesterday and was astonished. It showed hundreds, as in several hundred, of views of my photos that day. I was kind of pleased--maybe a bunch of people had decided to take a look--but also a little worried--maybe one person had decided to take a lot of looks.

Well... today I went back, and apparently it was a fluke. Just twelve views yesterday, none the day before, and apparently none so far today. Curious.

UPDATE: The plot thickens. A photo I took of a friend meditating on Whimsy shows 29 views yesterday, when the summary graph says nobody viewed any of my photos. Curiouser and curiouser!

UPDATE: Poof! It's back... June 18th, 376 views. I wonder why there would be such a spike? (And if I look tomorrow, will it still be there?)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


By way of NWN, via Nalates Urriah: Machinimatrix has written a collection of add-ons to the Open Source 3D package Blender to aid in the creation of sculpted prims, called JASS (Just A Sculptie Studio). Check out the video at the Machinimatrix blog entry.

Those of you afflicted with Windows can download a package that includes the latest release of Blender with the JASS scripts already set up. Everyone can grab the scripts, which want Blender 2.46 or later.

FLOSS Weekly has an OpenSim episode

FLOSS Weekly episode 72 interviews Justin Clark-Casey, a core OpenSim developer. Give it a listen.

UPDATE: Try not to cringe when Randal claims you have to write scripts in C# now

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's called what?

Oh, dear.

I just heard a commercial for some kind of medication. The unfortunate part of it is the name: it's called "Aciphex". Say that out loud.

"Ask your doctor what Aciphex can do for you..."

Don't the women who take that wind up on SL Fashion Police or What the Fug?

UPDATE: SL Fashion Police seems to be down. I hope it's back soon.


OK, it's not Roccoco Fantastico, the ultimate big hair from Curio Obscura, but you could hold your head high anywhere in Texas with the hair that Vanity Hair sells. I took the plunge, and fear I will return and spend even more L$.

[Watch this space... I will have a photo as soon as possible.]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miriel disappears

As I type this, you have under a week to visit the beautiful Miriel sim before it goes away. I hope you will; if you wish to purchase any of Miriel Enfield's excellent products, now's the time.

Hamlet Au has written about this in NWN, and you should in particular read the comments—especially that of Ms. Enfield herself, who felt she had to speak out. An excerpt:
...I quit because I was frustrated with a lot of things, especially SL's artistic limitations, my own inability to work around those to my satisfaction, and my belief that LL is not going to ever give me the features I want.
I respectfully submit that there need be no evil Linden conspiracy to get rid of user-generated content. They need only pay no attention to eliminating the limitations Ms. Enfield refers to. The best creators will go away, and residents will follow.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Art Comes from Behind

Tymmerie Thorne's exhibit of the "nekkid but tasteful butt pics" is now up at the Ghambt Gallery, and will be there through June 30th.

I was fortunate enough to be present for part of the Opening Reception. There was quite a variety of images from some very good photographers, and I met a great many wonderful people. Embarrassing moment: I had wandered to the second floor to look at the photos, and suddenly noticed Crap Mariner relaxing on a couch. Surprised, I blurted out "Oh, Crap!"

A moment later, blushing furiously, I assured Crap that I was honored to finally meet him (what personal pronouns do you use for a robot?). Crap was gracious, but I suspect I won't let myself live it down.

UPDATE: Do go, and get the notecard available at the gallery—it has a brief description (sigh... I should watch my choice of words) of the exhibit and a list of the URLs of the bloggers who participated, so that after you've seen the images, you have a lot of good reading ahead of you.

Deadpan Revisited

I finally remembered the other example!

Neil Innes is a brilliant writer and composer who's worked with such folks as the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Monty Python. If you've heard them, or recall The Rutles (you know, the Pre-Fab Four?), then you've heard his work.

In the context of deadpan delivery, one of Innes's songs stands out: "Randy Raquel". It's a perfect little gem of a song, a short, melancholy waltz in A minor--a love song to an inflatable doll. Like "Zaz Turned Blue", it's the totally straight performance that makes it work.

There are some live performances out on the net, but don't miss the version recorded by the Grimms, another band Innes participated in.

For What It's Worth

"Paranoia strikes deep [clap clap]
Into your (second) life it will creep [clap clap]..." --with apologies to Stephen Stills

Goodness, there's a lot of brouhaha over some images of what turns out to be a very early Linden/Big Spaceship attempt at a new UI for SL.

I've seen the images. While I'd much rather be able to try it out, and should withhold judgment until that's possible, just from those images I can't say I'm very impressed. (Flabbergasted, yes--a "Geek" menu?!) If that's how the final result turns out, all I can say is wait up, Imprudence, here I come!

Anyway, a huge stink was raised based on those images--because Tateru Nino didn't happen to take and post screenshots of building or editing objects, they, it was said, prove that LL is going to put an end to user-created content in SL! That and what MMOs other than SL allegedly said about what they're going to do. Yeah... that's the ticket....

Never mind that it's SL's distinguishing feature, the source of SL's economy, and that a Linden developer states he or she knows of no plans to, and has heard no discussions of, getting rid of user-generated content, and that he or she and many other LL personnel would quit if it happened.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

News (to me, at least!) from Adam Frisby

From Adam Frisby's blog, news of improvements to OpenSim. (Again, it's news to me, which shows that I've not been keeping up.)

I'm highly impressed--they've made significant improvements to how OpenSim moves data across the network. We're talking a 71% reduction in packets transmitted with 100 avatars in a region, and 29% drop in CPU requirements... oh, wait, that's just for one change. Another change to allow faster garbage collection of packets cuts CPU requirements by 40%, again with 100 avatars. Let's see, (1 - .29) * (1 - .4) is a bit under .43, so the two improvements together cut CPU requirements by about 57%.

Excellent work.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

What the heck... I'll do it!

Throwing caution to the winds, I've decided that yes, I will post a "nekkid but tasteful butt pic"!

I went to a nude beach, picked a lovely Windlight sky, and clicked on the virtual shutter... and here's the result:

P.S. Perhaps that's an advantage of having led a sheltered life; you can feel deliciously wicked by doing something really minor.

Do I dare to eat a peach?

Marnix Malifozik is a gentleman I had the good fortune to meet one day when he was up either way too late or way too early, exploring Whimsy. If you don't read his blog, give it a look.

He's set out to start a meme, and it's caught the eye of Hamlet Au. The meme: "nekkid but tasteful butt pics". A fair number of people have helped spread the meme by posting photos of the specified sort.

So... should I do it? I'm not sure.

P.S. If Wikipedia is to be believed about this (and since it's not a controversial matter, I would tend to do so), the classic Allman Brothers album's title is not a reference to Prufrock. (When I chose the title, the question occurred to me.)

P.P.S. Perhaps Codebastard Redgrave, maximally callipygous resident of SL, will take note of the nascent meme and also participate.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Settings changed behind my back

Apologies to all who have IM-ed me and had the IMs fall into the bit bucket. Somewhere along the line, my preferences were changed without my knowledge so that I wasn't being emailed IMs sent while I'm not in SL. I've corrected that now, but I apologize for not having noticed earlier.