Sunday, February 27, 2011

Looking for a tree

I'm looking for a tree in Second Life, and I'm having some difficulty, because while in the US, where I learned about it, it's called a "mimosa tree", it's not really a mimosa... and SL advertisements don't use Linnean names, alas.

What I want is Albizia julibrissin, a tree that flowers with countless little pink puffballs that smell heavenly. (Yes, I know SL doesn't have smell-o-vision yet--is there a JIRA entry for it? If I find the tree, though, I'll go looking for the essential oil and take a whiff while I stand under the virtual tree.)

If you know of such a tree available in Second Life, please let me know. Thanks.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The other day I was scared; Firestorm suddenly had around 2.1 GB of RAM and climbing. I relogged, and things were back to normal, and they have been that way since. So, Firestorm isn't immune to the problem, it just doesn't seem to happen as often. What was different about that run? It is still a puzzlement. 

UPDATE: It's happened a time or two, but last night all was well. Not sure what I can do other than keep my fingers crossed, but that makes it awfully hard to type.

Monday, February 21, 2011


There's been a spike in blog views the past few days. I suspect it has something to do with posting about something other than how SL clients are crashing on me right and left.

Search terms are a lot less varied than they used to be, and "cheesy phrases" is nowhere to be found. Strangely, the top one is now my name... but misspelled. By far the most people who came across the blog were searching for "melissa yeuxdeux". If you do that, Google will show the results for "melissa yeuxdoux", so you'll find what you're presumably after.

I wonder what would happen if you had to search for Μέλισσα Βαθυκόλπος instead. :)

Another, Admittedly Minor, Goal Reached

I finally got around to doing something I'd promised myself I'd do for a long while, I think since water reflections came to Second Life. Thank you to the people at Second Life who made Windlight happen and the various graphics settings that make the world look as good as it does, and thank you to the people working on the Firestorm SL client.

"So what was it, already?" you say? It's a photo, and NSFW, so it's behind the break.

(UPDATE: If I'm not careful, my fingers will get all pruney from staying in the water so long. So many Windlight settings to try, so little time...)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sigh... I'd forgotten

There I was just offshore on the beach in the Minoan Empire sim, with striking Windlight sky and water settings, and I took the pictures... and tripped over VWR-7672 again.

I guess I was elated at having been in SL for more than an hour without crashing or bringing my computer to its knees, and I forgot. Next time, I'll pull back the resolution. Sigh. I can't ask you to vote for the JIRA entry any more, but could you please watch it? This bug basically kills serious SL photography.

UPDATE: the entry to watch is VWR-24178, which is apparently the real bug; it looks like they're well on the trail to fixing it. *crosses fingers* The workaround for now: if you have "global illumination" enabled, don't make the image size larger than the SL client window.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A bit more on Firestorm

Speaking of exercising in Crete, I had a strange experience that I hope will cease being strange. I heard the music! We decided that the gods had smiled on us, but later on... Hmmm...

$ file bin/do-not-directly-run-firestorm-bin
bin/do-not-directly-run-firestorm-bin: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), for GNU/Linux 2.6.15, not stripped

Gee, so it is possible to hear streaming music on a 64-bit Linux system with a 32-bit SL client! I hope other SL client makers will pay attention. For now, it's all the more reason to switch to Firestorm.

Evening on the Beach in Crete

After such a long frustrating time with stays in Second Life tightly limited by crashing clients, it was a joy to spend a pleasant while on the beach in the Minoan Empire sim. I wandered out to the beach and was greeted by Myklos, who kindly invited me to join him in a pleasant evening's exercise on the beach. We chatted, and soon were joined by Chrissy, JackSparrow7, Stef, Titjana, Reine (who graciously played for us), and others. We chatted and exercised and meditated, and eventually were joined by the great architect of the sim, Aeneas Anthony.

It was the best time I've spent in SL for a while; thank you to all who were there and made it so thereby. I invite you, Dear Reader, to go to the Minoan Empire sim; you'll see the effort and the love put into its construction.

It's amazing how readily one can find someone to paint a fresco... :) I felt that the scene deserved to be preserved. Since we were dressed in Minoan style, I'll put it after the break. Caution: NSFW, in modern times at least.

Silly Me

Well, I thought I could make the masthead image wider and get rid of the strip down the right hand side... so I took a screenshot, opened it up in GIMP, selected the masthead image and the strip together, copied and pasted, and then redid a portion of the photo I started from, making sure it was that size, and replaced the old masthead image.

And the strip is still there.

Ah well, I tried.

Friday, February 18, 2011

POM Dependency?

There was a full moon last night. Maybe that's why Firestorm worked for me last night and this morning, delivering a consistent, if not astounding, 10 or so fps at ultra graphics settings without laying waste to available RAM.

I'll fight off the urge to not change anything lest things go to heck in a handbasket again, and try other clients. How could this happen if it's my computer?  OTOH, it's had to believe a server issue would make clients allocate huge amounts of memory. It is, as a fictionalized King of Siam would say, a puzzlement.

UPDATE: Cleared cache on, and started up, Kirsten's client's latest build. It took a while to pull down the textures and information on surrounding structures, after which I started walking around. It was reasonably responsive for a minute or two, and then it took the plunge. The system monitor showed it allocating RAM at a rate of about 100 MB every twenty seconds, 1.3 GB and climbing. I signed off.

UPDATE: Tried Firestorm again... and it worked. On for what seemed like forever compared to recent fiascos (which probably means it was maybe fifteen or twenty minutes), and the most RAM it took up was a bit over 800 MB. I even fired up the System Monitor and saw its RAM consumption decrease occasionally! Res miranda... oops, wrong civilization. This was with graphics cranked, including, once I found the knob on Firestorm, global illumination. I think I've made my choice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Road Goes Ever On

Donald Swann (of Flanders and Swann) set some songs based on the Lord of the Rings, published under the title The Road Goes Ever On. Someone once said to him that it must be hard to come up with tunes for the songs, since they already exist. "Where?" Swann asked. "In Middle-Earth," the fellow replied.

I'm continuing down my road to my goal, namely being able to stay in SL for more than a few minutes at a time. I detached an AO rather than just deactivating it, and I've purged a couple of thousand items from my inventory. I think that may have helped, but I'm not sure.  Clearing cache seems to help... peeking at ~/.kirstens s20/cache shows data.db2.x. running near 107 MB. Is that excessive?

UPDATE: Things were nice for a while this evening, nearly 30 fps. Then I moved, and down to 6 or 7 fps it went. Client RAM usage was up around 1.3 GB.  Anyone know of a good Linux 3D graphics benchmark program that I can fire up and let grind? (Yes, Phoronix does. I'll be running those this weekend. I could believe my graphics card may be throttling itself under load, but why would that cause clients to allocate RAM like there's no tomorrow?)

What the font?

So what's with the masthead font? That "A" looks downright uncial, very anachronistic.

Well, I didn't want to use one of those cheesy pseudo-Greek display fonts that use a capital sigma for E; that's tacky and disrespectful. If I wanted to match the Minoan Empire signage, I'd use Lithos bold--it would be appropriate, since Lithos's designer, Carol Twombly, was inspired by ancient Greek inscriptions. But I can't afford to spend money on fonts at the moment, and I certainly wouldn't steal it.

So, I went with a freely-copyable font that is simple and relatively plain. I think it works.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Where to go on Whimsy

I wish I had a Linden for every time I welcomed a friend to Whimsy and then fumbled around trying to find a particular wonder to show him or her. (That's the thing about Whimsy; there are so many. If there were just one, it would be easy to find.)

Fortunately, a new issue of the Whimsical Times is out, and it gives a landmark to a place with two doors, presenting you with a choice: beautiful or dangerous? (Beware; there are places on Whimsy that are both.) Now I'm prepared.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

La lutte continue...

This morning, Phoenix was zipping right along. No shadows, but I'm starting to get frustrated, and a 1.x based client probably has the alpha textures versus shadows bug.

So, this afternoon I was going to use it again. The chariot races in the Minoan Empire are always a pleasure to attend, and I would be chatting, not taking pictures. Fire up Phoenix, sign back on at home, to change into appropriate Minoan clothing before teleporting... and Phoenix grabbed all available RAM, slowed to a crawl, and crashed, where it hadn't just hours ago. Kirsten's client? Ditto. 2.5? Ditto.

Once more on 2.5, and I was able to tell it to clear cache, and then sign off. On again, and things worked much better, but for how long? (After all, I'd only run Phoenix once; how quickly does it accumulate stuff?) We'll see.

UPDATE: I happened across a message on the Kirsten's client group about reducing the amount of graphics RAM used for textures. I thought I only had 512 MB of graphics RAM and Kirsten's client was using that much. so I pulled it back to about half that. Turns out I was wrong; the card has 1 GB of RAM. Did it help anyway? I'm not sure; I'd already cleared cache, so any improvement may have been due to that. I had the statistics bar and the system monitor resources graphs up to watch CPU usage. There were periodic swings from somewhere around 20 fps down to under 2 fps. One of the CPUs was pretty well maxed out, and the others fluctuated. A lot of RAM was in use, but not all of it, at least not by the time I called it quits for the night. I'm not sure what to try next.

Long overdue

I've finally done a couple of things that I should have done long ago:
  • I've finally updated my profile image. (That's it above.)
  • More importantly, and may King Minos forgive my oversight in not having done so until now, I've added the Empire to my picks. In his wisdom, he prefixed an exclamation point to the pick label, assuring its rightful position at the head. (Picks are sorted alphabetically.)
  • Changed the blog--new template, new masthead.
OK, three things... and I don't have an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, so it won't go any further.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Minoan Culture... with some help from Mattel?

Wandering about googling "Minoan", one comes across a serious web site, The Role of Women in the Art of Ancient Greece, with a page titled "Minoan Culture and its Women". The discussions are interesting, and there are references at the end (though many of the links are broken, alas)... and then there are the photos of how various scenes from Minoan life might have appeared, re-enacted, so to speak, by dolls.

It's well-intentioned, but the results are surreal. (It didn't help that I read "In this courtyard processions and dances occurred. These are believed to have been line dances..." and immediately had a mental image of snake priestesses doing the Achy Breaky. Utterly unfair of me--line dances go way back--but it's what came to mind.)

So... read it in the spirit it was intended, and thank you to the site's author.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

"Hello, I must be going..."

Lately I've been signing on and shortly afterward apologizing and signing off before I crash. Basically, KirstenLee Cinquetti's SL client is unusable, at least for me. It sucks down all available RAM like a Hoover and the frame rate plummets to around 1.5 fps. Minimizing and unminimizing the window, or moving it to another workspace, brings only short-lived relief to the frame rate.

It's a darned shame; that client can't be beat for graphics... but that doesn't do any good if I can't use it.

Imprudence is fast, and there's a 64-bit version of it, which means that streaming audio works! (Attention Linden Lab and some of the folks commenting in Kirsten's forum: ia32libs doesn't include 32-bit versions of every library.) Unfortunately, the current Imprudence still has an old bug with alpha textures and deferred rendering.

I'm now trying out the 2.5 beta. So far, it looks good.

UPDATE: It's looking even better. Found the knob to twist to turn on "global illumination", and nothing bad happened; still getting 20+fps on the beach in the Minoan Empire, and the client's only using a bit over 500 MB of RAM. (It's a sign of my age that I shudder at seeing "only 500 MB".)

UPDATE: It's not that simple. Started up the 2.5 beta, and it promptly sucked down 3 GB of RAM and crashed. Twice in a row. So, is it code common to both clients, or is it something about my computer? Perhaps it's time to fire up memtest86+ and let it run all day.

UPDATE: I did. Came home just as it was finishing pass #10 over all 4GB. Zero errors; it's not RAM problems.

UPDATE: OK, I tried a 32-bit Sabayon Linux Live CD (since it comes with the proprietary nVidia driver). It made no difference; Kirsten's client grabbed all available RAM, the frame rate slowed way down, and it crashed. So it's not something about running 64-bit Linux. Now, I do have an applet that shows the CPU frequency (at least one of them, anyway); it's set to slow down if it's not doing very much. Maybe that affects the frame rate, but no way would it cause the client to leak RAM like a sieve.

Sigh. If I run 2.5 beta over and over again until it crashes, do you suppose it will get the problem a little more attention?

Don't Do That!

My landlady, Cheyenne Palisades, IMed me. Alas, I wasn't online at the time, but fortunately, I wasn't anywhere near IMs being capped, and they got through.

Turns out that someone was rezzing nude prim breasts near the house I rent. Note: Whimsy and its environs (Greater Whimsy?) are G-rated. Says so right at the top of the SL client display. No public nudity is permitted. The person doing the rezzing was bounced, and rightly so.

Common sense... too bad it's not more common.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Must-read at Maggie Bluxome's blog

OK... like some other blogs, it's all must-read, but you should look at this post in particular. Please support the cause.

Μέλισσα Βαθυκόλπος λαχανιάζει (/me gasps)

The creators who make Second Life something more than open fields and seas never fail to amaze me... the second link Google turned up when handed "second life minoan hair" was to an SL Marketplace page for "Tiny ioumane Minoan female hair". Yes, hair for a tiny female Minoan avatar, and it is lovely and too cute for words. Follow the link so you can look and say whatever the Greek equivalent of "Awwwww...." is, and kudos to Noyl Boucher, creator of this delightful avatar and hair!

UPDATE: A friend who was also taken by the tiny Minoan avatar kindly let me take a picture... isn't she cute? (The site is very brightly lit; I don't really shine like one of the golden maidens Ἥφαιστος fashioned to aid him. Also, apologies yet again for the low resolution.)

Minoan Women's Hair

SkyShop HairResort has quite a variety of historical and fictional hair (that didn't sound quite right...), among which is the Posedaia Minoan hair. I have yet to edit the various sets of bangs into position and size, but even so, I really like the look.

Apologies for the really small image; that pesky SL snapshot bug ruined all the photos I took bigger than 800x600 (!), and the face was a small part thereof. If I'd zoomed in, I fear the results would be very distorted. (Try taking a RL photo zoomed in on someone's face. Better yet, shoot a mannequin's face, lest the subject see the result.)

UPDATE: The SL Marketplace won't let me write a review there, because I didn't buy the hair through the Marketplace, so here's my review: It's beautiful, the hair and the decorative beads are tintable, and the closest thing I have to a complaint is that the vendor shows two hair colors, so that my silly self had the mistaken notion that, like other hair vendors, you have to buy multiple items to get more than one color. One suffices! Wear the HUD to let you easily set things to your liking.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Once more, with thrift

Let's try for something less expensive but still plausible, shall we?
So... ignoring shipping and handling, that's $480, I believe... or $510 if you don't get the Shell Shocker special. There's a motherboard that has gigabit ethernet and PCI Express 2.0 (allowing the graphics card to shovel data as fast as it's designed to), the BIOSTAR TA880GB+, for $80; with the Regor at its stock price, that replaces $90 with $140 and thus takes you up to $530--but since the Shell Shocker is almost done, it's fairer to compare it with the $510 price. If you're going that far, though, you might as well go ahead and get the Gigabyte GA-880GMA-UD2H for $100 and future-proof yourself with USB 3.0, eSATA, and 6 Gb/s SATA, so $550.

I feel a little better now.