Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blogs at the Next Level

Yow! I'd better improve my game. Maggie Bluxome's first blog is gorgeous, but her current one is downright magnificent. Now Cheyenne Palisades has turned her already-elegant blog into a work of art. (I'm a sucker for Garamond italic.)

Not only that, but they're as functional as they are beautiful. If you don't already read them, now you have less than no excuse. As Joe Bob Briggs would say, check 'em out.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Inspiration and Techniques

I happened across a magazine I had to buy for an artist I know... and found something in it that might be of interest to SL clothiers.

It's ImagineFX's How to Draw and Paint Fantasy Females. Lots of tutorials and hints for illustration, especially eyes, lips, and hair; telling a story with an image... but in particular, three tutorials on clothing. The one that especially caught my eye described how to draw a satin gown. How I'd love to be able to wear that gown in SL! It won't happen really until SL dresses become something more than strips of cloth tied together at the waist, but the texture and the detail at the top will, I hope, inspire someone not to duplicate it, but to do something in satin that is as lovely.


Even if prim breasts are of no interest at all to you, you should pay a visit to Minka Pearl's Boobytropolis sim. It's an amazing place.

Watch this space for photos.

BBGiSL Returns

After a hiatus of several months, Big Booby Girls in Second Life has come back with the first of a series of reviews of prim breasts. Part one is a review of Lolas, and if prim breasts are of interest to you, do not fail to read it. It's an honest review, covering the product (sigh; no double entendre intended, honest!) thoroughly so you can make an informed decision.

I look forward to future installments. Thank you, Cindy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Which Client?

This has become a serious question lately, what with the Emerald splash screen set up to run up bandwidth on a targeted site (are there really enough Emerald users--or even SL users, if all clients did that--for that to constitute a DDoS attack?), and Emerald grabbing a pathname including one's home directory name--though if you're paranoid about that, do you ever post SL client debugging output, or have your client set up to automatically send in debugging information when it crashes?: It's laden with absolute pathnames, too.)

Some claim that quite a few people use--or now, perhaps used--Emerald. (I hope the Emerald developers clean up their act quickly.) Some cite the use of third-party SL clients that preserve the 1.x UI as an indication that many SL residents are voting with their feet against the 2.x client.

So, which SL client to use? KirstenLee Cinquetti's client is very good if you want the graphics bells and whistles enabled, but lately I find it barely usable. After running for a few minutes, it grinds to an unusable crawl. Moving the window to another screen helps, temporarily, but eventually it crashes... and I find it pulling down 2.6 or 3 GB of RAM, which seems an insane amount--there's got to be a memory leak in there.

Imprudence, OTOH, has a 64-bit version, and with graphics cranked up as far as I can (I'm not sure where the "global illumination" knob is for it), goes at a decent pace... but it has a very nasty shadow-related bug, namely that alpha textures flicker in and out of view randomly--notably if you move your camera POV, but sometimes even when you just sit there. (I can see my eyes with shadows enabled, though--yay!)

So, what to do? Necessity seems to be pushing me to Imprudence.

UPDATE: draw distance makes a big difference with Kirsten's client. Cranking it down from 256 to 128 meters cut RAM usage considerably and made it usable for longer before the huge slowdowns occurred. By the time I gave up on the session, it was sucking down 1.3 GB of RAM.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interstate 80 Iowa

You may be familiar with Heywood Banks's song "Interstate 80 Iowa".

Someone with more skill than I at machinima should do a parody of this song, inspired by Chris Pirillo's BS characterization of Second Life. "Registration... welcome area... porn, porn, porn, porn, porn..." etc.

Then, fade to black, cue soft laid-back music, with voiceover: "But to know what Second Life is really like, don't listen to the bloviation of pundits who tried Second Life once a few years ago..." and fade into shots with voiceover descriptions of just a few of the amazing places in Second Life that have nothing to do with porn. (And trivially nothing to do with gambling, seeing as how that was banned from Second Life three years ago.) Finally, "Second Life is what you make of it. The only way to know what it's like is to experience it." Show URL, hold, fade to black, roll credits with music.

I haven't had much luck with past machinima requests, but I think this is an important one. Anyone?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Variations on a Theme

Some time back I submitted a bug report; I'm not sure whether it's been dealt with. I was wandering about Apollo, a very popular sim, with a friend, and we'd managed to get separated, so I offered him a teleport. SL refused, because there were too many people on the sim--but someone teleporting from one spot on Apollo to another spot on Apollo leaves the population unchanged!

Just now, I tried to buy a Camera Control HUD which lets you put the default POV closer to your head level; judging by the reviews on the page it's highly regarded, and one certainly can't complain about the price: 0L$. I clicked buy, and was refused: "Sorry", it said, "We can't confirm your L$ balance at the moment"--but the HUD is free!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Perfect Fashion Photo?

"Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song, and he told me it was the perfect country and western song. I wrote him back a letter and told him it was not the perfect country and western song, because he hadn't said anything about Mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk..." --David Allen Coe, "You Never Even Call Me By My Name"
I was wandering about the sims near the Botanical Garden, and took a picture in the dead of night... and it occurred to me that it might be the perfect fashion photograph. because the model is all but invisible, leaving only the outfit to capture the viewer's attention.

I'm even less a fashion photographer than I am a general photographer, but I do wonder whether that's really the idea behind fashion photography.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gwyneth Llewelyn nails it

Read "Self-entertainment and the end of newbies". Basically, there's more of the "tl; dr"/"Here we are now, entertain us" crowd than there are of those who see an open world like SL and take to it. Can LL survive catering to the smaller market? I hope so.

A Brief Visit

I didn't have much time to spend in SL this morning, but I had to go visit the gorgeous Costa Rica Ladies' Botanical Garden--a day late for the ball, but the photo of the site in NWN made me want to explore.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Good news from SLCC

News is emerging from SLCC for those of us who couldn't go (darn it), and some of it is good. From Philip Rosedale's keynote address:
  • "We are going to ship mesh."
  • Group chat and region crossing will be fixed
  • Time required to display content at startup will be reduced by half
Good news... now, as Crap Mariner says, "acta non verba". More at NWN.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

In the words of Slade...

"Keep your hands off my power supply."

Seriously, it's an Antec Neopower, and it runs very quietly indeed. I'm very, very happy!

UPDATE: OK, maybe a little less happy now that Newegg is selling it for almost half off this Labor Day weekend, but you can't choose when components fail.

The Great Slow Sims, Part One

So... there's a brouhaha over a video and blog entry by Chris Pirillo and a followup thereto. Pirillo, in response to someone who asked what happened to Second Life, went on at grimacing length about how it had been "overrun by people addicted to porn and gambling." Never mind that it's trivial to check that Linden Lab prohibited gambling in SL over three years ago. Apparently Pirillo tried SL long ago (he's "Wicket Pixie"), didn't see a point to it, and couldn't be bothered to do any research before shooting his mouth off.

A visit to New World Notes would also suffice to disprove the stereotype of Second Life (one we all chafe at; it's been spread by a lot of lazy and/or dishonest journalists). "75 Year Old Navy Vet Recreates His Korean War Vessel in Second Life"; "Chestnut's Choices 8-12/8-18: Attend SL Community Convention Inworld or in Boston, Immersive Pink Floyd-Inspired Art Performance and Much More"; "Keiko Takamura Debuts Her 1st Album Co-Financed with Linden Dollars from Second Life Fans". Admittedly, nobody asked the Navy vet whether he was into gambling or porn.

So... SL residents didn't appreciate gratuitous ignorant bashing (people are funny that way), and said so. Also, Oliver Szondi offered to take Pirillo on a tour. Pirillo agreed, graciously allocating a few minutes to the purpose. The result was another video rant, this one about lag and about sim owners' choice of background music (which one can turn off, but I guess if you are more interested in kvetching...), and wondering why SL users took him to task for pointing out how slow SL is. (They didn't; they took him to task for painting them all as porn and gambling addicts.)

I can sympathize with being frustrated by lag; a lot of SL residents are. (OTOH, over at Parktown Progress, Boyd Doghouse raises an interesting question: did Pirillo set things up to make SL perform badly?) But here again we see Pirillo either omitting information or not bothering to research. He sees SL as being as slow as it was years ago when he tried it and bashes Linden Lab about that, but years ago, if you were on SL you'd watch it groan and regularly crash under a load of 20,000 simultaneous users. These days, the maximum runs around 60,000. Linden Lab hasn't been sitting on its thumbs for years as Pirillo insinuates.

Chris Pirillo has a following, and yes, to the extent that some of them haven't already drunk the "SL is all sex" kool-aid, he may have put them off SL. Did Linden Lab miss an opportunity, as Grace McDunnough asks? No. There's no point in discussion with someone whose mind is already made up.

P.S. Troy McConaghy delightfully punctures some complaints about SL in "The Piano is Dead".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here's my photo for the protest of Qarl Linden's layoff. As a prim breast user, LL's laying off the man who was the major force behind sculpted prims, and later played a major role in mesh import, a feature whose fate people now wonder about, is especially significant to me. I hope you'll consider joining the protest.

UPDATE: I am pleased that I refrained from playing on any of the works of Rusty Warren, or Brian Eno's "Baby's on Fire", when making this post.

UPDATE: Qarl Fizz, né Linden, has joined the Emerald Team. I will give very serious consideration to returning to Emerald.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

back as soon as possible

In the middle of a conversation with Susyn Stenvaag, my computer shut down. Power outage? No, everything else is on... Looks like it's the power supply.

So, I'm off the grid until a replacement is here and installed. Sigh.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Farewell to Qarl

...and possibly to improvements in the appearance of Second Life, too.

Qarl Linden is the main person responsible for sculpted prims, which have revolutionized the appearance of Second Life. More recently, he's been similarly responsible for work to bring meshes to Second Life, which made it to closed beta, but may not make it any further than that, because Linden Lab has laid Qarl off.

This is a guy who helped with visual effects on some movies you just might have seen: 300 and two of the Matrix movies. He is highly enthusiastic about Second Life, as one can tell from his blog: "...i really do love second life. SL is the coolest thing on the planet - the world we’ve all built is literally incredible - beyond belief."

...and LL laid him off.

I fear this means we can kiss meshes goodbye. Incredibly, I've seen an assertion that this is a good thing, that you should be denied the improvements that meshes make possible so that some SL builders can continue to sell their stuff without actually having to like, you know, learn something. Mind-numbingly stupid, as was the decision to lay off Qarl Linden in the first place.

So... I will be doing a few things:
You'll recall that Miriel Enfield closed her store and stopped making things in Second Life. In her words, "...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." How long will it be until the really good content creators similarly give up on SL? Having features like mesh dangled before them and then snatched away is only going to hasten the flight.