Monday, August 29, 2011

Where to find Foxbean Laboratories products

Busty Village Mall has recently undergone some changes, and in the process, the Foxbean Laboratories store has gone away. I hope that will change very soon--but if you wish to purchase Foxbean's Nadine 1.5 prim breasts, there is a vendor at Amazon Designs.

I am exceedingly grateful to AndromedaStJohn Aeon for having that vendor in her store--thank you!

UPDATE: It indeed changed very soon. The Foxbean Laboratories store in the Busty Village Mall is back, and I've updated the SLURL on the right hand side of the page here. Thank you, Foxbean; I owe you more than I can ever repay.

Excellent Mesh Work from Mikki Miles

OK. I have been kvetching about mesh as it is now in SL for clothing use, but... even as things stand mesh will make SL a more amazing place. As an example, you want to take a look at the beautiful work that Mikki Miles does with musical instruments.

First, I should be up front that they are not musical instruments in the sense that you can play an arbitrary tune on them. They are objects you can "wear" or sit down at that look like musical instruments and can have associated sound files that you can play.

That said, they are gorgeous, and more so now that mesh is available and Ms. Miles has started to come out with mesh versions. You can look at images and buy them at her SL Marketplace store, but don't just do that. Fire up a mesh-capable SL client and head over to Montisigard (139, 52, 79) so you can admire the beautiful detail, the shapes, textures, and especially the gorgeous soundhole roses.

Many, many thanks to Reine for showing me Mikki's beautiful work.

Hayley Spore

A few days ago I was notified that Hayley Spore had added me as a contact on flickr. I took a look at her profile and photostream, and was amazed... I felt as if I had discovered a sister I was separated from at birth!

Light & Shadows
Originally uploaded by Hayley Spore

So I reciprocated... and then looked her up in-world. We exchanged some IMs, and then became friends. We've since met, and have had fun exploring SL and taking pictures.

She says I'm the reason she signed up for Second Life, which makes me very happy and a little proud.

I guess others have noticed the resemblance, too--last night I had the curious experience of being thought to be someone's alt!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Poppins Challenge

One of the traditions of Second Life is the "Poppins Challenge". Those who take it go out, typically but not necessarily on their rez day, and ascend to a high altitude wearing nothing but a Mary Poppins style umbrella. Then they descend to earth, taking pictures or shooting video as they go.

It's my fifth rez day, and I decided I was long overdue for the challenge. So I went, as the song goes, way up in the middle of the air, and descended...
I leave a life behind me, I feel myself begin
I'm reaching out to keep you, falling farther in... --October Project

Wow... it was quite an experience.

I especially liked the effect of the "Rosemary and Bergamot" Windlight setting. The folks who don't like Windlight because of the effect on their skins have a point with some extreme settings, but OTOH the effect can be just the thing. The photo showing this is NSFW, so it goes after the break.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Clothes that Perfectly Fit Your Skeleton

(See today's Ophelia's Gaze for a discussion of this issue that is more balanced and includes some photos that show just how good mesh avatars and clothing can look!)

Alas, mesh clothing has a problem as things stand now. They can take into account your skeleton, which is affected by some of your appearance settings (height, leg length, torso length, et al.), but not by a lot of others (e.g. body fat, love handles, breast size). Apparently the current solution is to use an alpha mask to hide the parts of your body that mesh clothing is supposed to cover, so that it will appear to do so even if you have, for example, a shape that makes Sir Mix-A-Lot happy. In other words--currently you have to adapt your shape to mesh clothing.

If you want mesh clothing to fulfill its promise, I join Ophelia in urging you to vote for and watch JIRA issue CTS-693. (LL hasn't taken away voting as it seemed they would earlier, but my understanding is they pay a lot more attention to people willing to put up with the email generated by an issue, which is what watching entails.) This proposal will let mesh clothing take your shape into consideration, so that it really fits around you. If you want serious booty, you should be able to have it, and your clothes should work with it rather than forcing you to hide it.

(UPDATE: CTS-693 has apparently been moved to an internal LL JIRA, so the above link is broken. In the publicly visible SL JIRA, it received over 470 votes in a few days.)

Now... the meshophobes will no doubt point and laugh, BUT... as we've pointed out (perhaps more times than you care for if you've read this blog for long) the current painted-on clothing has an issue with adapting to one's shape as well. It "fits" your shape, all right--by being stretched or shrunk to fit. It's as if in RL you went to buy clothes and found that everything was made of rubber and made for a size 6. You get to put it on and stretch it to fit over the appropriate portion of your body, with the pattern stretching and blurring as well. Real clothing actually uses more cloth for larger sizes! Clothes should have the opportunity to adapt to your shape, including the cloth patterns. Please also consider voting for and following JIRA issue VWR-10839.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Allons, enfants de la vie seconde...

...le jour de mesh est arrivé!

It's official; mesh is now in place grid-wide. (Please hurry, Firestorm team!)

Things to check out:
  • This video of Cinder Roxley dancing in a mesh dress. Finally, actual skirts instead of a bunch of strips of immaterial cloth tied together at your waist! (Yes, someday you can pull an old flexi-prim dress out of your mothball-scented inventory, put it on, and when the newbies point out your legs moving through it, tell them all about what an advance it was when it first came out and share a laugh.)
  • This post at NWN, which I hope will become more informative as comments come in with more links and less snark.
Let's hope that LL gets the PE issue settled reasonably.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Uncanny valley or ignoring the flaws?

According to the notion of the "uncanny valley", after a certain point, more accurate renderings of humans become not better, but creepy, and that one has to approach complete accuracy to overcome that effect.

On the other hand, I recall a story about 19th century venture capitalists. It may be apocryphal, but here it is: Alexander Graham Bell was looking for money to fund further development of his invention, the telephone, and so he did a demonstration for people who might provide that money. Did he have Mr. Watson go to the other phone and speak? No, he had Watson go there and sing popular songs of the day. Why? Because the VCs already knew those songs, and would mentally fill in gaps and glitches with the words they already knew should be there.

So, when we see our friends in Second Life, which of the above two apply, if any? I'm inclined to say the latter, at least for those of us who've invested ourselves in SL (and posing the question in terms of friends presupposes we're of that sort). We want to immerse ourselves in this virtual world, and we're willing to overlook the inconsistencies. But what about the newcomer to virtual worlds? I wish I knew.

Nothing whatsoever to do with Second Life, but...

I seriously urge you to give a look/listen to the videos of "Garfunkel and Oates". They are great fun--so much so that I even forgive them for including Sixpence None the Richer's sweet and beautiful "Kiss Me" in their medley of "worst songs".

UPDATE: Warning: at least one of their songs is very NSFW.

Ob2L: Maybe they'd consider performing in Second Life?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Found it!

One of the good side effects of organizing one's inventory is finding things one forgot one has, and I'm glad to say that I have the Poppins Umbrella that I need to finally take the Poppins Challenge. I have yet to do that, and my fifth rez day is fast approaching. The big question: where to do it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where's Hercules when you need him?

If you see him, let him know I need help cleaning my Augean inventory... though OTOH, while his methods are direct and effective, I want something left in my inventory when the smoke clears, or rather when the water recedes.

Inspired by NWN's post pointing at the start of Anya Ohmai's four-part series on organizing one's inventory, I've started on the process... and after almost five years of neglect, there's a lot to do. Seeing the way Ms. Ohmai takes a picture of each item of clothing to save on her computer is both amazing and daunting. I presume that one would have to use a program like f-spot or digikam so you can tag the photos for searches.

So, I'm still going through a very rough initial classification, getting rid of duplicates and outdated items (remember the SL Gendar rating HUD? I just deleted mine). It's tedious work, and I hope that you will all learn from my bad example. Keep your inventory organized from the start; it will save you much grief. Though I must admit, it's good to see the things one has lying around, like this:

Sometimes I tell myself I shouldn't buy anything new until I've worn everything in my inventory once... but that wouldn't help vendors I want to support, would it?

UPDATE: I think I just about have the first cut of sorting things out done... but of course, the next task is classifying clothing, and while that was not quite as big a fraction of my inventory as I thought, it is pretty darned big... and for prim breast users, things are made a little more interesting, since one will want to have a separate folder for outfits or items that are prim breast-friendly (by being either designed thus, adapted after the fact, or by not including tops so they're trivially OK). Guess I'll be wearing, if not everything, the vast majority of it so I know how to classify it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dancing on Water

Juggernutz Ivanovic invited me over to try out the dance floor she put on a lagoon, and I finally went yesterday, the sounds of the Cars' "Magic" echoing in my head. (Remember the video with Ric Ocasek walking on water as he sang?)

I had to take some pictures; you'll see the results of fiddling with the Windlight sky and water settings.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Manipulating Inventory

Not being able to find a skirt I wanted to wear finally nudged me to start organizing my inventory... and it's proving to be a major pain.

One can have two inventory windows open, which helps a lot, but as I started a first cut of moving clothing into the "Clothing" folder, things got hairy. As I dragged cargo towards the destination window, folders would open there that I didn't want to open, things would change about the display that I didn't want to change--I wanted it to remain the way it was so I could accurately hit the destination folder and dropped things into it! I'm not sure exactly where some of my clothing wound up.

It finally occurred to me that this is yet another example of NIH. Your inventory is effectively a file system, and people have known how to access file systems across a network for a long time. There's NFS, Samba, and nowadays all those interfaces for cloud-based backups.

If you use a computer, one of the first things you learned was how to manipulate files--move them from one directory folder to another, copy them, and delete them. You have your favorite way to do so, be it via a command line, Windows Explorer, some Norton Commander-like program, Nautilus, Thunar, Konqueror, or whatever. You're familiar with it, and you probably prefer it... but the only option Second Life gives you that I've found is its in-world inventory window, requiring all the overhead of a 3-D world viewer so you can do the moral equivalent of
$ mv *Pixel\ Dolls* Clothing
So... please, LL, set up an interface that lets us access our own inventory using the interface of our choice. If we copy one of our files to it, charge us L$10. If we're the creator of an object, let us read it or copy it so we can back it up. Samba's probably the way to go, since necessity has meant everybody has to hold their noses and be able to access Windows file systems.

UPDATE: SVC-7188 is the place to look to see whether anything comes of this idea (and to vote for it or, more importantly, follow it if you wish it to be acted on).

UPDATE: Even if nothing comes of the JIRA entry, I can seriously recommend Radegast for this kind of usage. Right now, I'm not to the point of taking pictures, so I'm using the official, text-only flavor, and my graphics card is very happy to not be flogged heavily while I'm doing nothing but move stuff from one folder to another. Once I want to take pictures, I may well give the experimental version of Radegast that does render one's surroundings a shot. That said, I can't help imagining myself as Radegast pulls down my inventory standing there more or less immobile and unaware of my surroundings.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perhaps there's something to this gamification... :)

Looks like someone has put together Kinect, the Blender game engine, and Metasploit to let you probe your system for vulnerabilities in a virtual environment. More details here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

0 0 Auspicious

That's the name of a sim, honest. With the digits and the following spaces. You'll need to type those to find it on the world map.

I came across it in Caminante de Sueños, an all-photo travel blog of the grid. If your favorite movie is Yellow Submarine, and your favorite artists the 60s-era Peter Max and whoever did the art for Family Dog Productions posters, you'll love 0 0 Auspicious.

I had to go there and take some pictures. There was a strange tunnel that went up into the air and ended with a blindingly bright area. I took some pictures there and a few on the way back down.

Out in the open is a riot of brightly colored trees, flowers, and even land.

Pay a visit to 0 0 Auspicious. It's quite a trip.

Becky Shamen's Guide

I was looking through Maggie Bluxome's directory of prim breast clothiers and happened across a name I either hadn't seen before or had forgotten: Becky Shamen. If the latter is the case, shame on me, because she sells, in addition to clothing for prim breasts, her inexpensive "Do It Yourself Guide to Implants: wearing, adjusting and making your own clothes." This, I hope, will finally pushing me over the edge to getting that T-shirt made--though I must admit that text is an interesting issue, because the things that render text don't know from UV maps.

(BTW, she also sells a package that includes the texture with coordinates that you want for this work.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Lovely Gown from Gatherings--Thank You, Stacia!

I signed on yesterday and found an IM and inventory waiting for me from Stacia Zabaleta of Gatherings. She had a surprise for me... and boy, was it a surprise! It was a robin's egg blue version of the gorgeous brocade gown she has on sale in pomegranate (which I bought one of).

I was, and still am, utterly amazed. It's a gorgeous gown. It brought many compliments at Bosom Buddies Formal Night--and compliments from the impeccably dressed and breathtaking women who dance there are to be cherished. (If you've never been, by all means go! There's a contest; well, two, actually, one for guests and one for employees, for best-dressed. I swear that every week I go, it becomes harder and harder to vote as everyone looks more amazing, even though had you asked me the first time I went there, I'd have called it impossible.)

Here are a couple of photos, taken on Tempura Island. Yes, after going on about how wonderful shadows are in fashion photography, I picked one of the Windlight settings that flatten things out, but I didn't want to skew the colors as I did for that Jinxed "Siena" dress.

So head on over to Gatherings and take a look. I should add that this outfit is flexible--it has many more options than I am showing here.

P.S. I am a total sucker for details such as can be seen here, and having them on tops for the well-endowed is still a rare thing, to be celebrated when it happens. Thank you again, Stacia, and thank you to other clothiers who accommodate my tastes in this regard.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Maybe we can make everybody happy?

New World News reports that Radegast, a light SL client, is adding graphics. The version with graphics is not out yet, but there is a YouTube video showing what it looks like.

If you've been following the discussion of mesh "PE" (prim equivalence?), it's been mentioned that about a third of SL users have "class 0" (inadequate, e.g. Intel integrated graphics, or obsolete) hardware. That influences that PE decision as well as what features get implemented in LL's SL client. More bluntly: the SL experience of two thirds of residents is constrained by the one third with class 0 hardware.

Could LL please consider this: once Radegast has graphics up and reliably running, just point folks with class 0 hardware at it. (This is somewhat problematic because Radegast doesn't have a Macintosh version, but if it did...) Then LL can proceed without having to take class 0 hardware into account.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The August 2011 BUSTed is here!

The August 2011 issue of BUSTed magazine is out, and it's excellent.

The photography is amazing. In addition to Jinx and Wicked's beautiful work, you can see the photography of Shanti Bright, who you'll recall had a great exhibit of photographs of busty women at his Shanti Art Centre. It's worth repeating his comment on his exhibit, which Minka Pearl quoted on her blog:
Much too often, very busty women are seen in a bad light. Some feel they are ugly, some make stupid jokes about them, some see them as a sexual attraction. I want to show them in an artistic way, and I hope that this exhibition will help show them with more respect.
 Ashtoreth Walpole, a new editor at the magazine, has a great column in this issue, and there are now letters to the editor! By all means, read the magazine (it's free--how can you pass it up?) and do send in those cards and letters.

To see the cover, and get some more information about this month's issue, check out what Maggie Bluxome has to say about it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Serious Bokeh!

"Bokeh" is how English-speaking photographers spell the Japanese word that in Hepburn romanization is spelled boke, so that you don't think it's just one syllable, like "broke" without the "r". The Japanese word means "blur" or "haze" (not just visual--it's used to refer to mental fuzziness as well), and photographers use it to refer to what lenses do with things not in focus. Bokeh can be used to good effect--it can keep your eye on the subject, which is in focus, and it can make for a pleasant (if you're lucky) or unpleasant (if you're not--for real lenses it depends on how the lens is built and the shape of the aperture) background.

I was making sure I knew what I was talking about (that the current official SL client makes it easy to turn on snadows) and found that the client had been set such that the depth of field was shallow--and the result was some pretty nice bokeh. I had to take a picture, and here it is:

Now to learn how to control it (and find out whether or when it will be in Firestorm!).

A New Style for SL Fashion Photography?

Today is the second Friday in a row that New World Notes has made a point of featuring fashion blogs specifically because of the quality of the photography. Last Friday Hamlet featured Suri Yangtz's blog, and this Friday he featured Brie Wonder's Token Chic.

If you take a look at the blogs or the NWN posts, you'll notice something they have in common: shadows. If you take a look at Elysium Eilde's gorgeous Photographing Second Life blog, you'll see shadows there, too (in recent entries; she recently got a new computer and turned shadows on). It's very different from what one usually sees in fashion blogs--they seem to do their very best to flatten out their images and destroy all depth cues.

When Windlight came out, there was an uproar--how dare the sun actually cast shadows, like in RL! Many created Windlight settings designed essentially to undo Windlight and make things as they were before. Some simply turned off Windlight (see Mariko Nightfire's "Walking With Windlight" posts here and here.) But perhaps these blogs Hamlet has praised (" vivid and mysterious and tinged with silent contemplation, they remind me of a waking dream", " perfectly composed and luminously beautiful, they are more like paintings, than screenshots") mark a change. (I won't do it! I won't write "paradigm shift"!)

Is it a style issue, or just that shadows are now easily turned on in the mainstream SL client, the client doesn't have some earlier nasty bugs with shadows, and people have new computers? Heck if I know. I just like the results!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lips Update

(These are the surreal ones, not the metal ones.)

Val Suisei asked me about the prim breasts with lips and where I got them. I told her, and she said she'd made her own using what turned out to be Ghanie Lane's "Nano Lips". Ghanie Lane has quite an amazing assortment of lovely sculpted prim objects for sale, and I seriously recommend that you check them out.

So, I will eventually experiment with them myself, time and L$ permitting. No tongue, but I can live with that for now.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Big in Nigeria...

...and Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso, and...

If any further proof were needed about the bogosity of spammers, surely this is it: that a Second Life avatar is being hit up by all those alleged lawyers, executors of wills, and people offering to share a big pile of money acquired in dubious circumstances if she'd just send some money to let them set it up.

Yeah, right.