Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creative Response

Be sure to read this post from jessamyn Smith's blog.

It turns out that there's a joke schema:
  1. Straight man says something that can, in some way, be interpreted as risqué.
  2. Alleged comic responds with "That's what she said" with eh-eh-nudge-nudge intonation or facial expression.
Maybe it's funny the first aleph-null times, but someone where Ms. Smith works created an IRC bot that monitors text and looks for situations that might benefit from a "TWSS", and sends it out in response.

I love what Ms. Smith did in response--it's a very geekish thing to do.

UPDATE: Ouch! The bot sends out quotes from famous women in response. I got that very wrong, and I apologize to everyone, Ms. Smith especially!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Now

(I'm showing my age. That title makes Harry Chapin's harrowing song "Sniper" go through my head--but is that important? Not now...)

I don't think it's going to be any time soon that well-endowed mesh avatars (or any of a bunch of other mesh avatars) will work with sliders such as breast size, based on experimentation. The slider behavior is, I think, too tied to the specifics of the stock avatar and the limits its designer(s) imposed on it. The way the avatar is modified for different non-skeletal slider settings will have to be a function of the avatar.

To have a chance of getting what we want, we have to ask for something that has what we want as a subset and will benefit a lot of people. How many mesh avatar users are out there? Unfortunately, limitations on such avatars will mean the answer is "fewer than there might be", which in turn means fewer who would benefit from a proposed change, the usual loop that works against change.

UPDATE: I went ahead and asked about this issue and another in passing on the SL Forums (and thanks to the moderator who moved it to the appropriate forum!), and the responses have started. I am glad that people who know a lot more about these issues than I do are commenting. The thread is over in the mesh forum.

Back to Abnormal

Alas, the current Niran's viewer didn't seem to activate the mesh deformer alpha code, so I went back to my gangly, pale-skinned non-mesh avatar self. I will give Exodus a shot tonight or tomorrow, and see what happens to the mesh avatar when I twist the non-skeletal knobs (not to mention that I will get a pale skin suitable for the mesh avatar as well). Eventually we'll get that darned chrysalis open... though we'll have to see whether there will be a wide selection of clothing.

(Despite that issue, which isn't crucial at the moment, and despite Niran's viewer still having the problem of weird half-planes of differing intensity on high-res photos, I have to say I'm very impressed with Niran's client's performance, even with a bunch of graphics knobs cranked. Give it a try.)

I have to admit to feeling some relief. Eventually I will have a mesh avatar that is "an engine fit for my proceeding", to borrow a phrase from Ordinal Malaprop's wonderful, though sadly now inactive, blog. Until then, though, I'll feel a little weird with it. That's just me, though; to me an avatar isn't like a suit to put on or take off. Your mileage may vary, and I am in awe of the work of mesh avatar makers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Puzzling error message

I was trying to visit a sim this morning. I entered its name as my signon destination and logged in... only to find that the login failed, with a message saying something like "we don't understand why, but your login failed". I double checked my password--it was fine. Finally I gave up, told the client to take me home, and poof--there I was.

When I tried to teleport to the sim, I found the cause. The sim is premium users only.

I suspect this is a new situation, and clients either aren't written to recognize the situation or whatever the results are of trying to sign on to a premium-only sim when you aren't premium can't be distinguished from some other failure case. I hope that's corrected eventually, but should this happen to you, I hope my example will save you some bother.

Yay tinies!

The Tinies of Raglan Shire have made their funding goal! (That said, their Kickstarter page will still be open for the remaining two weeks, should you wish to support them; it will help.) Best of luck to them, and I hope that their expansion into the greater world might provoke some to explore the Tinies' home turf in Second Life.

Read more at NWN... thanks to Hamlet Au for spreading the news.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Visit with Bart Seymour

(UPDATE, placed at the head before the page break so everyone can see it: Be sure to read the comments on this post, especially those from Maggie Bluxome.)

I signed on for a bit this morning (RL is keeping me pretty busy these days) and was IMed by Bart Seymour. He'd been talking with Reine, and had some of his mesh avatars on display. We chatted for a bit, and it turned out he was making one model that he thought I'd like. I did indeed, and I bought it on the spot.

He helped me, clumsy as I am, with setting it up. I will have to seek out a pale skin (of the sort I prefer) in texture form; the avatar is set up so that such textures (which, if I understand, are packaged together to comprise an SL skin) can be applied to it--for testing purposes, I used a tan skin. (Let's pretend that I spent some time on one of those nude beaches in SL. :))

I had to tweak my shape to work with it--somewhat broader-shouldered, a little shorter (*sob*). (I made my torso a bit longer, which in SL shortens your thighs. I'll experiment to figure out the best settings, and see what's really necessary to work best with the avatar.) I took some pictures, but having just downloaded the Firestorm FUI beta (more on that later), I hadn't twisted the graphics knobs. Bart was already set in that respect, so here are the photos that he took, behind a break as there are some NSFW mannequins in view:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blogger frustrations

Blogger is a very pleasant (and free as in beer) place to start a blog. Some outgrow it, or decide they want features it doesn't have, and go elsewhere, but I've yet to do so. I'm still here and blogging since September 7th of two-oh-OMG-six. They've steadily improved it, and for that I am grateful, but... thing really bugs me about it.

It's the way the WYSIWYG editor deals with line breaks and what I'd like to think of as paragraphs in one's posts. I like a blank line between paragraphs, so I type away until I've finished a paragraph, hit ENTER twice, and start the next paragraph.

Blogger's WYSIWYG editor does the following:
  1. Creates a span with my font specification that encloses my paragraph and appends a br (line break) tag after the close of the span.
  2. Creates another span that encloses only a br, with a br appended.
  3. Creates a third span that encloses the next paragraph.
That empty span in the middle, as far as I can tell, causes the browser to have two blank lines between paragraphs when the smoke clears. It doesn't display that way on the supposedly WYSIWYG page; you have to click "Preview" to see what really happens, and then go into HTML mode to pull the br-only spans.

Perhaps Blogger wants very much to encourage just one ENTER between paragraphs. I'll have to experiment to find out.... but more than that, I have to wonder why is it that the editor doesn't use real live paragraph tags instead of just spans? HTML tags are supposed to represent document structure, after all.

While we're talking about pet peeves, if Blogger wants the WYSIWYG editor to resemble a word processor, it would be nice for it to do "smart quotes" and conversion of -- into an em dash. (The knob would have to be twistable; sometimes you don't want it to do that for you.)

There's a good blog post on making Blogger work and play well with Google Web Fonts. I'll be experimenting with it. Verdana's nice, but there are other good fonts out there that aren't overused.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Return of Aporia

Aporia, Kaseido Quandry's blog, has returned to the web. (Someone managed to break in and do something to it that got it disconnected for a while.) If you haven't been following the "Spathic Files" posts there, you should--check out the latest entry. Things are getting even more interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Must-view from Cheyenne Palisades

Don't miss her blog post featuring beautiful photos she took at the new Africa sim. I'm headed there ASAP; take a look at her photos and you will be too.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Change of pace

Every so often you decide to rearrange things, and I decided to do a little of that to the blog, or at least put up new wallpaper and change the painting over the mantelpiece. I'll update my profile photo soon, too. (Actually, that's what nudged me over the edge. A while back Crap Mariner pointed out problems with a profile photo leaning towards orange, and while I dearly love that picture I took by Minoan firelight, it is very orange. So I said to myself "Self, you should change that--and why not redo the blog a bit while you're at it?"

I hope it meets with your approval. I toyed with Scriptina, but kept my tilt towards simple elegance in type.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A plea to 64-bit Linux users

Please do the following:
  1. Head to the Dolphin SL viewer web site.
  2. Download the Linux viewer (there's what I presume is an RPM file for OpenSUSE, and a gzipped tar file for other distributions) and run it.
  3. Go back to the web site and respond to the "I'm on 32-bit Linux"/"I'm on 64-bit Linux" poll.
I doubt that you can even buy a new x86-based computer these days that doesn't have a 64-bit processor; peeking at, one sees the majority of the netbooks on sale have 64-bit CPUs.

There are a bunch of us running 64-bit Linux out there; Ubuntu Community documentation says that unless you have some special reason to run 32-bit Linux, run 64-bit Linux. and I suspect people are following that advice--including non-geeks. Canonical, for example, is working hard on giving Ubuntu a user interface that will appeal to the average user, and while geeks like me don't care for Unity and despise the arrogant, high-handed approach that the GNOME 3 developers are taking, I have to admit that usability is at least their stated goal and respect the work being put into it.

Unfortunately, with the exception of Imprudence (and someday, Kokua?) and omvviewer, the latter not having updated their Ubuntu PPA since Lucid Lynx, the SL clients for Linux are 32-bit. Running them requires not only the ia32libs packages, but hackery to put 32-bit gstreamer libraries in place if streaming media are to work--and remember that non-geek portion of the Linux user population? They aren't going to go to that trouble, and will probably just blow off Second Life.

64-bit mode does have advantages. The x86 architecture is infamous for having a limited, highly non-orthogonal register set. For those whose response to that is "Huh?", a brief explanation:

The 32-bit x86 (80386 and newer) CPUs, or 64-bit x86 CPUs in 32-bit mode, have the following integer registers (a register is a place in the CPU that holds a value, upon which one can do various operations (add, subtract, and the like); the CPU can access the registers faster than anything else in your computer): EAX, EBX, ECX, EDX, ESP, EBP, ESI, and EDI. That's eight altogether.

ESP and EBP have dedicated uses to keep track of memory allocation and function calls; they can't be used for anything else, so in practice you just have six... and every single one of them is magic--that is, there are x86 operations that can only work with values in that particular register. That limitation is why we call it non-orthogonal, and it means that a lot of x86 code is taken up with moving a value into the magic register it needs to be in for a particular operation that the program has to perform. The limited number of them means that a lot of x86 code consists of moving values between them and memory, which is a lot slower to read or write.

Compilers try to minimize these moves wherever they can by evaluating expressions into the registers they know the results will have to be in for the next operation, but they can't get rid of them all.

In 64-bit mode, x86 processors have eight additional integer registers, and all sixteen of the registers (eight old and eight new) can hold 64 bits of data and can operate on 64 bits at a time. They can also use a register we haven't mentioned yet, IP (the "instruction pointer") to reference memory, which makes what's called "position independent code" easier, and simplifies access to tables of constants.

All this leads to a performance improvement--how much depends on what you're doing. That Ubuntu Community page points at a Phoronix study that showed no loss, and some respectable gains, in performance with the move to 64-bit code.

So... [pauses to catch her breath] there really should be a 64-bit Linux SL viewer. With that poll, Dolphin appears to be listening... and this is a kind of innovation that LL hasn't forbidden, at least not yet. Please let them know you're out there.

UPDATE: I took my own advice. The Dolphin Viewer 3 worked very nicely for me!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

If the Velveteen Rabbit can do it...

The Tinies of Raglan Shire want to expand to the greater world via other media, with an eye to being able " fund ideas [they] have for humanitarian projects that help people in health and art related areas."

They have a page on Kickstarter; as I type, they're about halfway to their goal with thirty-one days to go. It sounds like a good cause... and I have to think that if they succeed, people curious about their origins may be inspired to come to Second Life, which would make it win-win all around.

More details at New World Notes, the Tinies' Kickstarter page, the Raglan Shire blog, and at the utterly cutely-named Jazz Paws site.

UPDATE: Twenty days to go, and they are almost 80% of the way there. That's great, but it's not a time for complacency. Please help if you can.

"SL on the Go?" Thanks

First, thanks to Maggie... and thanks to the people who have IMed me since the release of the March 2012 Busted to chat about the notion of a Second Life client for mobile devices--I hasten to emphasize chat only; I know of no current plans for a full mobile SL client. Some SL mobile clients already exist, though they don't give you a view of the world around you:
I'd love to see it happen someday, and I think it will as low power processors become more powerful. I couldn't help noticing a post on the Muktware blog (and if you are interested in Linux or Android, you really should follow it) this morning: "Android Aims to Become a Gaming Hub? Increases App Size to 4GB from 50 MB".


Kaseido Quandry sent me a link to an interesting article. (Thank you, Kaseido!)

We all know the stereotype of the stupid well-endowed woman... but here's an article about an interesting study. "A study by a Chicago university sociologist of 1,200 women found that large-breasted women tend to have higher intelligence."
(I presume the author meant to write "A study of 1,200 women by a Chicago university sociologist..." or "A Chicago university sociologist's study of 1,200 women...")

The article is from March, 2011. The study itself was done in 2003, as one of the article's linked sources show--which makes me wonder, did it get much publicity back then? I guess word did get out; there's a page from 2004 mentioning it.

Alas, I've yet to find a link to the paper I expect the sociologist wrote... and of course, all that's claimed is a tendency, and independent confirmation would be nice. (For that matter, none of the articles mention whether the test included women who had plastic surgery.) That said, it's nice to have some data contrary to the stereotype.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Must-read at Prim Perfect

Thanks to Crap Mariner for pointing out this post at Prim Perfect about the name debacle. Be sure to read the comments; they're insightful and make some interesting proposals.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


When I go to Formal Night at Bosom Buddies, I have the delightful difficulty of keeping up with the others who are there. I swear that every time, they are all more beautiful and more beautifully dressed.

Busted Magazine is like that, always outdoing itself, but this month is even more so. The photography and models are magnificent, and the first part of Maggie's guide to tweaking one's clothing for the best fit possible, "The Art of Editing", is very helpful. I'll be studying it seriously.

You can find it at the web site linked above, but you can also subscribe, and I recommend doing so. Check it out.

The Residents

There's a good chance that you've never heard of The Residents. (I really wish they'd continued with the American Composers series; if you have a chance to hear Stars and Hank Forever!, which features the music of John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams, don't pass it up! WARNING: it's an acquired taste.)

Part of The Residents' shtik is anonymity. They started out all performing in the eyeball masks you see in the image; after someone stole one of the eyeball masks, they made a golden skull mask to replace it, so now it's three eyeballs and a skull.

I can't help thinking of The Residents when I think about the absurdity of the Second Life resident name clusterflop (thanks to the folks who made the TV-friendly version of Heartbreak Ridge for that euphemism). As I'm sure you know, along with display names came the end of choosing a first and last name for newcomers to SL. Places that displayed a last name always displayed "Resident" for them.

The results? Having to be unique in just one name led to a lot of the Joe231235 style of name that everyone used to warn against, and concatenating multiple words or names into one contiguous string. "But that's what display names are for!" Perhaps, but they're not unique, and scripts take the "real" name; you can't type "/1 hug Display Name" and have it work, so everyone's nose is perpetually rubbed in this mess. It also created a divide between the folks with two names and those with one, and breaks verisimilitude. (OK, the hacker (in the original sense) community tends to refer to a few famous people by their loginids, but it's a buzzkill in a virtual world. "Hey, it's Joe231235! How ya been, Joe231235?")

Rodvik Linden raised our hopes when he posted that LL was looking into a solution. Hosannas were raised (and I think I did some of that). We were promised word on what LL intends to do... and now the word has come.

They'll make it possible to put a hyphen in the one name, so if you had hoped for "Joe Blow", you can be joe-blow. On to the next round table! (UPDATE: or not. "rodvik.linden Hey folks, as I mentioned to some of you over the weekend I am going to do the next roundtable stuff in private one on one's [sic] rather than as a free for all. That makes it more low key and doesnt [sic] turn it into something which is contentious. Thanks for all the feedback.")

People are not happy. That unhappiness is compounded by the knowledge that if you go in via one of the still-extant (for now, at least) educational portals, you can in fact still choose a first and last name; someone did it in the past few days as I type this. That means that all the code for handling a first and last name is still there; it's just not accessible save through those portals.

First the TPV policy change, now this. I hope things improve soon.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thank you, Crap Mariner

While looking around for more reactions to the TPV policy I happened across something I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't noticed: this blog is on Crap's blogroll.

That Crap is, at least when blogging, a curmudgeonly sort who doesn't mince words makes such a thing doubly precious, like a compliment from that teacher who drove you hard and who you'll never forget. (I hasten to add there's a huge gulf between being curmudgeonly and being Greatly Disturbed.) I will do my best to live up to the honor.

Thank you!
/me curtsies, blushing

"I feel happy! I feel happy!"

I noticed in one of Emilly's posts on The Train Wreck Love Life a reference to a web site I'd not heard of, It's a site that lets you enter the URL of a web site and then displays an "analysis" of that site.

I succumbed to temptation. According to that site, " is probably written by a female somewhere between 51-65 years old. The writing style is personal and happy most of the time." Whoa... I guess I am happy, at least among the sites they've been handed: " is the 11th most happy blog of 582 ranked." Good thing I wasn't blogging during my teen angst years back in the early Pleistocene.

UPDATE: apparently as I keep writing, things fluctuate. Now it thinks that I'm between 26 and 35, and I've gone way down in the happiness rank, 123 out of 586. I'll peek every so often... but I won't keep writing about it. :)