Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Boobies Show?

Holli Thespian has a flickr group, "Second Life PRIM Boobies", for images that include prim breasts. My eye was caught by an image there, posted by Maelynda, owner of a store called "Mes Sucreries", that doesn't really meet that requirement--since I can't share it, I'll simply say that it shows sparkly 3D pink text reading "the BOOBIES show"--and then by the text beneath it.

I was, and still am, a little puzzled by the text; I don't think English is its author's native language. In any case, it appears to describe a month-long event starting on September 16th the poster is putting on, featuring designers of prim breast-friendly clothing. The text calls for such designers to participate.

It's a very recently posted image (as I type, flickr says it went up thirteen hours ago). Does anyone know anything more about this event?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ending a group

A few days ago, I got a notecard from Holli Thespian, asking whether she could send notices to the members of the Prim Breast Users group about her store and its clothing--she has started to make applicators for some of her tops to support prim breasts. (They're sold separately from the tops, if I understand rightly.)

This rubbed my virtual nose in the fact that I really haven't done diddly with the group. As with various other things, I had good intentions, but we all know the terminus of the road built from those.... and even with forty-two group slots instead of twenty-five, those slots are still precious.

So... I will shut down the Prim Breast Users group come September 1st. Thank you, everyone who joined. I regret not having served you as I intended. I urge you to do the following:

  • If you haven't already done so, by all means join the Buxom Lifestyle group!
  • Be sure to take a look at Holli Pocket, Ms. Thespian's store. Maggie's wonderful blog has an article about it and an entry in her database for the store, including a SLURL.
  • Also take a look at Ms. Thespian's blog and in particular her post "Prim Boobie Infos [sic]". My photos and the things I write about tend towards the extreme, so I rarely mention an important point she makes in that post:
    I think a lot of us (including myself at one point) have this misconception about prim boobs, thinking they have to be over the top and ridiculous sizes-that's not appealing to 99% of people I know at least. This obviously is NOT the case and they can look fulfilling but still in my opinion, tasteful. They sure beat the standard lumpy/jagged looking default boobs in Sl and now it actually looks like I have REAL boobs!
    It's good to be reminded; to gain wider acceptance, prim breast makers must also cater to, and we must welcome with open arms, those who don't dream of having enormous breasts. (Prim breast makers understand this. If nothing else, purely economically, the L$ of those who mainly want the lovely shape of prim breasts spend just as well as mine. :))

Thank you, Ms. Thespian, for joining the growing group of clothiers who support prim breast users, and for nudging me to do the right thing.

UPDATE: Having to eject people one at a time is educational. Thank you to all ninety-five of you who joined. *hugs* to you all...

UPDATE: Some of the ejection messages were delayed for some reason, so my count was low. It's nearer a hundred of you. Love you all.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Watch your bandwidth

Anyone whose net connection is capped or billed at exorbitant rates past a certain point, or whose ISPs look askance at what they consider "excessive" usage, might want to check bandwidth usage when on Second Life.

The reason is described on JIRA entry SVC-8124. Under some circumstances, your SL viewer may be sent a lot of "ParcelOverlay reliable" messages. One user reports seeing 2 Mb/s (that's megabits per second) at certain locations. It only happens in some places, and one's viewing distance may affect it.

There is a fix, but it's not yet been rolled out to the main grid. Keep an eye out, either via the statistics bar in your SL client or via whatever means your computer's operating system or router, if it tracks data usage, provides.

(Boy, I have been out of the loop. This bug was submitted on August 9, and I only found out about it because I decided on a whim to see whether the Alphaville Herald was totally stagnant and on another whim to look at the comments for the most recent article.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ken Starks (helios) needs your help

How to start? Depends on the audience, I guess.

If you're a Linux user: Ken Starks, a man who has done a great deal to spread Linux where it counts, among the coming generation, needs your help.

If you are concerned about the "digital divide": Ken Starks, a man whose motto is "A child's exposure to technology should not be predicated on the ability to afford it" and who has worked tirelessly to back that motto up by providing that exposure to many children who'd not otherwise have it, needs your help.

If you're a kind person: Ken Starks needs your help.

Yesterday (as I type) August 16th began the countdown of two weeks until surgery goes from 80% probability of cure for the cancer he's fighting to effectively zero. In a governmental Catch-22, SSI disability disqualifies him from the programs that would pay for that surgery.

I have a link to the blog of helios on my blog; read it and you'll see how he's worked to get computers and net access to kids who wouldn't otherwise have them.

If you want to cut to the chase, head to this entry on Thomas A. Knight's blog.

Darn it, this is the second time in a short interval that someone I admire and greatly respect has found himself fighting cancer without insurance. I really would rather it not happen again.

ERRATUM: It helps to look more closely at dates. Sorry.

UPDATE: Wonderful news! A surgeon, a specialist in the procedure in question, has agreed to do it for the money raised so far. He also has Mr. S on medication that postpones that two-week deadline so he can gather the data needed to give the best chance of success. Read about it (and be sure to read the comments).

UPDATE: Still more good news, and Ken's thanks to everyone. As Ken says, now if you wish to donate, don't donate to the fund for his treatment--donate to Reglue (which The HeliOS Project is now associated with) instead.

Getting medieval...

By Eve has come out with medieval clothing, so I had to try it out.

There are two outfits, available in various colors. I got the "Pleasantly Peasantly" in olive, which goes nicely with some moss green Lassitude and Ennui shoes I got a while back. Then off to search for castles...

I had to skip a few; one was at a welcome area, and while the decor was nice, it was garishly lit. Then, success! The lovely RP area "Medieval Dreams" was the place to go.

Thank you, mizevangeline, and thanks to the creators of Medieval Dreams.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bye-bye, playlist

playlist.com has decided to stop supporting players for one's playlist embedded on one's web page; you must now go to their site to listen to anyone's playlist... so I've edited out the HTML that once let you listen to my playlist. I'll put up a link to it on their site, once I find out how to do that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Valve, now Unity?!

From the OMG! Ubuntu! blog: "Mass-Market Games Engine 'Unity 3D' to Support Linux": "The viability of Linux as a gaming platform continues to grow, with today’s news that Unity 3D (no, not that one), one of the most popular games engines used by developers of all calibres, will be supporting Linux."

Why the switch? Google "unity 3d linux" and you'll find a bunch of links to Unity forum threads asking for Linux support, typically with people responding that there aren't enough Linux users to matter, etc. What changed their minds?

Well... Windows 8 isn't getting good reviews (google "windows 8 unmitigated disaster", or, more to the point, check out "[head of Valve] Gabe Newell Wants to Support Linux Because Windows 8 is a 'Catastrophe'"), but there's more to it than that. With Windows 8, Microsoft is trying to make itself into Apple. It's putting out hardware (computers, not just mice and keyboards), and hence OEMs are worried. Most of all, it's moving towards an App Store as the way people get applications for their Windows computers, giving Microsoft control and making applications developers... in particular for this discussion, independent game developers, worry. (See "Why is Windows 8 'a catastrophe for anyone in the PC space'?" for more info.)

I am hoping this is the "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers" scenario. I hope that the Unity people will work with (lean on? :)) graphics hardware makers as Valve has, making it even clearer that it's to their benefit to seriously support Linux. Things are, I hope, about to get interesting.

P.S. For non-Ubuntu users, the "no, not that one" aside above is there because Canonical, the makers (aggregators?) of Ubuntu, named their "let's impose a touch UI on everybody" UI "Unity", and it's had, at least until very recently, 2D and 3D versions.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Still having to choose

The Teacuppot Second Life client is a wonderful thing that Armin Weatherwax of the Imprudence/Kokua team is working on. Like Imprudence, it has a 64-bit Linux version, and sure enough, I downloaded, fired it up, and could hear streaming audio on Whimsy the way it should be.

So, flushed with victory, I went off to take pictures... and found that the currently downloadable version of Teapot suffers from the issue with high-resolution snapshots that plagued SL clients for a long time. I'm hoping that whatever was done to fix it will percolate into Teacuppot at some point, but for now I will still have to choose the feature that I think most important at any given time.

UPDATE: My sincere apologies to Armin Weatherwax for alternately referring to his work as "Teapot" (correct) and "Teacup" (which emerged from goodness knows where in my brain). If you want to try out Teapot, head over to where he has kindly placed it for download.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another sad loss for SL

Amiryu Hosoi's beautiful four-sim region, Japan Kanto, is going away. The story is here.

SL tier is insane. The four sims come to $1,200 every month. Hosoi estimates a total expenditure of over $150,000 over six years. Unless you can sell a lot of virtual items or rent a lot of virtual land, that's a darned expensive hobby for anyone not seriously wealthy.

LL had better rethink its business model.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New prim breasts from Foxbean Liebknecht: Christina

Careful observers who've looked at the pictures in "Kind of ironic", or at pictures I've put on flickr like this:

will have noted that these are not Foxbean "Nadine" breasts. Clothed Nadines show no evidence of nipples.

As someone once said, "Now it can be told." Foxbean has officially released new prim breasts, named "Christina" in honor of Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame. (And hence you know also that I was given some for testing. I don't think it has affected my opinion, but the info is there for you to weigh as you will.)

The "Christina" breasts have several advantages over the "Nadine" breasts.  The breasts now accommodate remote control if one permits it, a feature that is important to a significant number judging by its presence in other prim breasts. The shape has differences other than the obvious--in this photo I have on Bad Kitty's gorgeous "Tied Up" top.

It may just be that I have gotten better at tweaking textures after reading Maggie's wonderful helpful articles in Busted, but in the past I'd have shown a blatant discontinuity between the edge of the fabric on the torso and on the breasts. (I must admit to having done some photos in profile in the past to conceal such issues.) Christina seems more accommodating to larger sizes than Nadine was. That's important to me--I have a tendency to push such things as far as I can.

The associated scripts are more efficient. There are differences in the UI; no more HUD. Instead you touch the breasts to call up a menu. The division between options under specialized menu control and the standard Second Life edit facility is different, and, I think, better; for example, the edit facilities for moving an object, which you now use rather than a menu or HUD give one much finer control than a menu or HUD typically does, while on the other hand, scaling remains under scripted menu control, avoiding the "OK, I've stretched it...drat! Now I have to move it back into place!" problem of the standard stretch. 

I've yet to check Christina out without clothing. We'll see how that goes; I really liked the Nadine "torpedoes" model for use without clothing... From all I've tried so far, though, I am quite happy.

UPDATE: I forgot to give links. *blush* You can find them in SL Marketplace and in Foxbean's in-world store, which I give a SLURL for in the right-hand column on this blog. (BTW, I had to do a double take when I went from Foxbean's store, which is what the link goes to, to the specific entry for the "Christina" breasts; apparently in SL Marketplace's categorization scheme, breasts are genitalia?!)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Maps and Bumps and Why They're Important

The folks who bring you the Exodus SL client have undertaken to add normal maps (aka "bump maps") and specular maps to Second Life, and some other stuff as well. Here's a video showing what we're talking about:

Normal maps let you create objects with more detail without having to proliferate polygons. (The map is created from the high-detail object and applied to a lower polygon version--the high-polygon version will never actually appear in Second Life.) Specular maps let different parts of an object have different reflectivity.

Two things of note:
  • This is open source. I hope this means that it will make it into TPVs.
  • These features will make it possible to create very good-looking objects that don't put nearly as much burden on graphics hardware as would otherwise be necessary to look that good; games (I mean game games) have used these techniques for quite a while. BUT: things will have to be created to use these maps. Old objects without them won't suddenly look better.
So as time goes on, new builds can look far better--perhaps even living up to the expectations of gamers--and, I hope, old items can be recreated using the new capabilities. 

Many, many thanks to the Exodus developers, and thanks to Hamlet Au, who wrote about this in NWN.

UPDATE: Blender Cookie, a source for Blender tutorials, has a tutorial on making normal, specular, and diffuse maps. (Thank you to Laverne Unit in the SL Universe fora for posting the link.)

P.S. ObBreasts: Two words: Montgomery tubercles (two more: link NSFW!). (i.e. that's the sort of small detail that can add verisimilitude but would, without normal maps, involve adding to polygon counts more than they're worth)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kind of ironic

So today I went looking for a beach to take some pictures... TavWear makes really nice swimsuits, and I'm overdue for some pictures. Down through the search results I went, and came to one called Busty's Beach Island.

Sounds promising, right? I headed there, and found the billboard with the rules, and near the top: "No overly-sized or un-natural [sic] body parts."

As I took a picture of the billboard, the lady whose island it is asked me, with impeccable courtesy, to remove my prim breasts. I told her I'd just seen the billboard and was headed home. She thanked me, and I said it was no problem. 

Of course, it's her island, and she can establish the rules she wishes... but it seems kind of ironic for "Busty's Beach Island" to forbid prim breasts. I had to smile just a little. I did find a beach, though, and got a picture or two. Not being actually in the water, I had on a wrap skirt.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Yay Valve!

As I often say, I am not a gamer... and therefore I hadn't heard of Valve. Now I know, though, and I am deeply grateful to them!

For those who, like me, aren't gamers: Valve is a company that develops games (including many that even I have heard of) and ways to distribute them (Steam). Valve recently confirmed that it's working on Steam for Linux, and we're starting to see some of the results, which will benefit us all.

Evidence? It's on the Valve Linux blog, in particular in the post "Faster Zombies". Left 4 Dead 2 now runs faster on Linux than it does on Windows.

OK, that by itself is meaningless to us on Second Life. It's how they did it that is important.

I am among those who are royally urinated off at nVidia for their lack of support for open source drivers. (It's bitten them in a sensitive place; a few days ago a security hole in their driver was made public. Had the driver been open source, how long ago would it have been fixed?) Unfortunately, nVidia doesn't care what I think... but it does care about a serious game company like Valve. (Such companies create the vast majority of the market for their hardware.) Because it cares, it's willing to work with Valve on issues with Linux drivers. (So is AMD, owner of ATI, and Intel.) That should mean better graphics performance for everybody. (Yes, even Windows users--while trying to figure out why the speed increase, Valve found an inefficiency in Direct3D that they can work around, or maybe Microsoft will do something about it... Whoa, I must be in a good mood to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt.)

So, don't despair. To the extent that things not in Valve code improve, we will all benefit.

UPDATE: Second Life will be distributed on Valve's Steam network. (Thanks to Hamlet Au for posting with this news and more.)