Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pictures of Sara

This morning Sara Halberd and I both happened to be inworld and Chakryn Forest seemed like a good place to take pictures, so... we did.

And we found that in one way, Chakryn Forest isn't a good place to take pictures. It is beautiful and picturesque... but part of the way it gets to be beautiful and picturesque is by having lots of alpha textures around for sunbeams and the like--so when you're panning and zooming, and juuuuuuust a little bit to the left will make the composition just what you want, you end up clicking on one of those alpha textures instead of the subject and your POV goes flying off into the distance and behind you! Now I can see one reason Maggie sticks with green screen...

But I shouldn't kvetch. Chakryn Forest is worth the hassle. Here are some of the photos I took.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If You Love Something...

[This is another essay that originally appeared in BUSTed magazine. Don't worry, we won't be quoting any Sting songs here, but the message is important, and we have an addendum.]

Thufir Hawat, the Mentat who served Duke Leto Atreides in Frank Herbert's Dune, said "Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place."

I say bull! Especially in Second Life, where a place reflects the time, effort, and in special cases the love that its creator has put into it. A place is where  friends gather, and without it, they tend to lose touch and drift apart.

Who knows how many thousands in Second Life are finding this out the hard way now?

We in the prim breast subculture know about this kind of loss; after all, last year we lost Mammatus. Now, though, the closures seem to be coming thick and fast, or at least they're getting more publicity, and they're hitting far more people. Elysium Gardens: gone. Midnight Reflections: gone. The Minoan Empire: going soon, possibly definitely by the time you read this. Even the Lost Gardens of Apollo is (are?) gone! How many of you have not been there, have not had Apollo pointed out to you as a beautiful place to visit, explore, and dance? This isn't just entertainment; the Second Life presence of Fearless Nation, an organization that does real work to help people overcome post-traumatic stress disorder, is going away soon.

It's all too easy to assume that a place will be around to visit tomorrow, that it can get along without your attention and help, but it's not true. If you love a place, do what you can to support it. Find its owner and ask how you can help, before it's too late. 

ADDENDUM: Really, the above is a special case of what I should have said. If you love someone or the work they do, do what you can to support him or her or it--and don't pass up an opportunity to express your appreciation.

Happy Rez Day, Maggie!

Yesterday marks Maggie Bluxome's second rez day. I swear it doesn't seem like it's been that long! Maggie has done many amazing things in a short time in Second Life, and everyone using prim breasts has a lot to thank her for.

Be sure to read her blog post on this occasion (posts, actually! a second one is on the way), not just to read in amazement about all she's done but to learn. In the first post she talks about how she creates her beautiful photographs and things to watch out for.

Happy (belated) rez day, Maggie, and thank you for all you've done. You're an inspiration, and a dear friend.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hispanic/Latin American clothing in Second Life?

I was walking around in one of the Al Andalus sims and it occurred to me that I should wear appropriate clothing. Since then, I've been looking for traditional clothing of Spain and Latin America, and it's not easy to find. Go looking in "women's cultural costumes" and you'll find a whole lot of clothing inspired by Asian clothing, ancient Greek and Roman clothing, Indian clothing, even Native American clothing (some of which I suspect that no actual Native American woman would ever wear). There are some flamenco outfits, and eventually I will try one.

So, does anyone know where one can find a traje de gitana or traje corto, or china poblana in Second Life, or other outfits from the Iberian peninsula or Latin American countries? I'd love to hear about them.

UPDATE: The search is proving to be fun, turning up some very neat clothing. 

UPDATE: Do read the comments! Thanks to L'âme immortelle for the links she has given. (In my explorations, I'm amused to find that one source of flamenco dresses is ATOI, A Touch of Ireland! OTOH, the Irish play quite a role in history; remember that Bernardo O'Higgins, son of a man from County Sligo, was an important figure in the liberation of Chile from Spanish rule.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Happy Reunion

I am embarrassed to say that I hadn't seen Sara Halberd in a long time, but this morning (when I really should have been sleeping) I signed on and Laurana Newell offered me a TP. I rezzed atop a dance platform before a group of beautiful prim breast users and one fellow who were sitting there conversing. Sara was among them, and visually she quite dominated the scene. We chatted (after I realized what I was standing on and hurried off of it!), and she said she owed me thanks for introducing her to prim breasts.

That's happened to me a couple of times now, and it is a joy to me. I replied that seeing her was thanks enough... but I really should have thanked her. Sara is beautiful; should you meet her, be sure to move your eyes away from the obvious and admire her face.

I hope to take some pictures of her before long, and I'll put some up here and on flickr. Thank you, Sara! It was wonderful to see you again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"I try to make everyone's day a little more surreal" -- Calvin

In my wandering and searching for metal and stone skins, I happened across something really strange: prim breasts with mouths. They can smile or frown, and can open to let a tongue out in any of various positions (not independently; whatever position or state one is in, the other is as well). One can switch between nude and having a simple bandeau. The shape of the prim breasts themselves is not particularly realistic, and to change their size requires explicit editing; the HUD that accompanies them is devoted purely to the mouth/tongue and choice of nude or dressed.

They sound like just the thing for surreal machinimas, and I got a set for fun and to check them out, but I think I would like some improvements.

I think the maker would find a larger market if the mouths were sold by themselves and could be attached to one's prim breasts of choice, ideally adjusting to match the size of the prim breasts. That would let the maker build on existing work and concentrate on what makes the product special, i.e. the mouths--existing prim breasts have far more choices of skin and clothing. Also, the mouths are determinedly goth, i.e. they look like they have black lipstick. I'd want them and the tongues tintable. It would be especially neat if the tongues could randomly flick out.... but I shouldn't get carried away.

In brief: a unique and twisted concept, but it needs work.

Which graphics card to use?

Linden Lab's system requirements page gives minimum and recommended hardware for running their Second Life client for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux in the form "so-and-so or better". The steady release of new graphics cards is a good thing, but it can make it hard to tell just what is better. (Graphics chip maker's nomenclature doesn't help.)

KirstenLee Cinquetti has made some interesting data available that may help. "Kirsten's GPU Awards 2011" picks out some graphics cards, both nVidia and ATI/AMD, as worthy of mention (and Intel graphics as particularly unworthy!), and has a pointer to a spreadsheet showing the summary data on which the awards were based: average fps and crash rates for various graphics hardware. One surprise: the poor showing of the nVidia 460, which I've always seen rated highly for price/performance. (A possible reason: the data doesn't split out the 768 MB 460s from the 1 GB; there are more differences than just the amount of RAM.)

Take a look. Alas, no indication is given of the graphics settings used, which makes it harder to compare... but I was utterly amazed by the crash rates shown! For example, KirstenLee calls the Radeon HD 4800 "stable", though its crash rate is 19.44%! Essentially one out of five runs crashes, and that's stable?! In comparison with the nVidia 270 at nearly 41%, perhaps. I'm not a gamer; is that kind of failure rate considered acceptable by gamers?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Strange things have been happening today. I started up Firestorm and the icon for inventory wasn't there. I had to deselect it and select it again to make it appear. Later, for some unknown reason, my avatar decided to briefly adopt a rather uncomfortable position at random times. I hope that won't happen again, as you can probably infer from this photo I was able to get:


Just doesn't have the same ring as "Goldfinger"...

I was looking around for stone skins (marble or perhaps granite) to try to look like a statue again when I strayed into metal. I know there are metallic skins out there, but was having a hard time finding them. I did, though, come across metal lips! The effect is kind of nice, actually...

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Maggie Bluxome and Jennifur Vultee were wed today in a beautiful ceremony. The sim was pretty well packed (45 were present)--it was a joy to be there. To show you just how lovely it was...

All the best to Maggie and Jennifur, and may every day be as happy as this one for them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A great place for a wedding

Maggie Bluxome has announced the location where she and Jennifur Vultee will marry, so I had to go peek--and it's gorgeous.

Do read the linked post if you intend to attend; it has details and the couple's request for attire.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mesh for SL strangled in the crib?

One of the issues about mesh in SL is the extent to which they count against a region's prim count. Unfortunately, it sounds like the mapping makes meshes so expensive that people may decide they're not worth it. See "The Death of SL Mesh" on the Heart Botanicals blog, and this thread in the SL mesh forum for more discussion.

UPDATE: Miriel Enfleld, maker of amazing things in SL who gave up on it when she felt she'd done all she could with the tools SL provided, has posted in the SL mesh forum thread. Mesh has tempted her to re-enter SL, but the insane PE (prim equivalent, I think) mapping may kill off that temptation, much to SL's loss. WTF is LL thinking?

New prim breast-friendly skins from Shayna Korobase!

If you've read my review of Foxbean Laboratories' "Nadine" prim breasts, you know that Shayna Korobase, at the time of writing, was working on skins with applicators for various prim breasts, including Nadines.

They're out! Check out Ms. Korobase's blog for details and a picture, and Maggie Bluxome's blog for bigger pictures. Many thanks to Shayna for her efforts and for the announcement.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Who Does Second Life Attract?

[This is one of a couple of essays that first appeared in BUSTed magazine. (If you don't read it, why not? There are vendors and you can even subscribe for free.) I'm going to post them here for those of you who may not have seen them.]

Facebook is designed around being able to grab data about you and sell it to people. Not giving accurate data decreases the value of the data Facebook accumulates, and hence Facebook forbids it. In particular, they'll delete accounts that don't correspond to real people. (It's not clear how determinedly they search for such accounts. I see a lot of people who create accounts for their pets so they can get ahead in FarmVille.)

Second Life is different. You can be who you'd like to be. You can reveal as little or as much about your "real life" self as you wish, and for someone else to reveal such information about you violates the Second Life Terms of Service.

The ability to change what you don't like about your body—height, weight, proportions, skin, even gender—appeals strongly to a lot of people, I'm sure especially to those who don't conform to the general public's notions of beauty. "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" is even more true of Second Life. (Ouch! I have to wonder whether the original cartoonist meant to allude to "dog" in the sense of "ugly person".) Plain women can know what it's like to be beautiful, and may even be at an advantage in SL compared with those who in real life have gotten by on their looks. The elderly can feel young again for a while. Handicapped people can spend time in a world where they can walk, run, and even fly. Those with gender dysphoria but who could never "pass" in real life can experience at least a little of life with their appearance finally matching their true selves. At least before voice the deaf, stutterers, and others were all on a par with everyone else, and strong accents or inability to produce or distinguish all the phonemes of a non-native language were not an impediment to communication.

That in turn gives rise to the stereotype of the fat old man in the basement in Second Life as a younger person. (Just in case we want to refer to him again, let's use the acronym: FOMITB.) "If you don't use voice/go on webcam so I can hear/see you, you're a FOMITB." We are still ourselves in Second Life, and some people only traffic in the counterfeit coin of feeling good about themselves by putting others down. (David Letterman's career is built on it. As a fan you are in on the joke and can join in the smugly superior contempt in which he holds the average people he interviews.) Second Life takes away some of that. (Admittedly, it adds some, too; vide SL Fashion Police and What the Fug?)

In Second Life, I'm very tall and leggy—as much as I can make myself with the stock Second Life avatar—and I'm towards the high end of the breast size distribution. I'm far from the tip of the tail, as a look at Laurana's Cuties, a Second Life group of women who agree to always maintain an avatar bustline of at least one hundred inches, will show. [UPDATE: I am a proud member of Laurana's Cuties, but I am barely over the lower bound.] Even so, I'm still well out in the distribution... and the author of "The Long Tail" is right. Here are some comments on some of my self-portraits on flickr:

"....And, gods, you're beautiful."
"Great picture, and what an awesome figure you have."
"Exquisite, sensual, and erotic."

(There are less complimentary comments as well, but that's largely my own doing. As an experiment, I submitted myself to What the Fug? I wanted to know what they'd say about modestly dressed but large prim breasts. I found out, all right.)

That's heady stuff for anyone who's never been complimented on appearance, and a strong motivation to continue in Second Life. So to some extent, Second Life may be selecting for those the stereotypers bash. Should that make anyone not participate? Of course not, and I hope Linden Lab doesn't throw any residents under the figurative bus to pander to the stereotypers. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

UPDATE: You're right. It should be "Whom Does Second Life Attract?", but I'll leave it as is.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Crete is largely underwater. I know not what we may have done or not done, but Poseidon's wrath is truly frightening.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Last Dance... for now.

I spent an hour yesterday on the Minoan Empire sim with dear friends and virtual family, first doing tai chi, and later syrtaki (a modern dance, but one that includes aspects of traditional Cretan dance). Thank you to everyone who was there, and thanks once again to Aeneas Anthony, who started it all and kept it going for so long.

Does this dress make my... ?

Yes, it does, but I don't care, because I came upon the skirt while going through my inventory and it's from Last Call, and reminds me of Ginny Talamasca, who I never had the good fortune to meet but who everyone in Second Life in late 2007 with an interest in fashion will remember. If there is an afterlife, I hope she is doing well there.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Overte Foundation for OpenSim

Good news via NWN: there is now a foundation, the Overte Foundation, for OpenSim. For licensing reasons, this will get around a six-month contribution barrier that has slowed OpenSim development. Yay!