Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fun with the Release Candidate

The Second Life® Release Candidate v1.23 is a rather unique (release notes here). It has some nice features and some amusing bugs. The pic at right is an example of the latter. The layers that make up "skins" for avatars have been shifted so that Alpha layers are on top, making parts of the body disappear. In most cases I've heard about the problem is mostly limited to lips and eyebrows. In my case, my whole body disappeared.

Some things that I like in the RC:

Changed: Hovering over a dot on the minimap should show the name of that person

Added: VWR-8179[c]: New Feature - Right Click > 'Report Abuse' from Pie Menu on the Avatar

Fixed: VWR-2850[c]: Stop All Animations works only on local machine

Fixed: "Highlight Transparent" not showing alpha masked or invisible avatars

Gender Verification

An interesting thread on Plurk (Web) caught my attention: "Trini asks for your thoughts on this one..." with a link to a JIRA issue

Use the Age Verification system already in place to do a voluntary Gender Verification to protect against the fraudulent use of female avatars by RL males. Many lesbians regard this practice as a form of cyber rape. SL should be cutting edge on this. (Web)

I encourage you to read this issue posting but here is the response I added to it:

/me holds back an opinion one way or the other for now but has questions:

1) Sure, the proposal is for "voluntary" verification, but what sort of stigma would be placed on conscientious objectors? Could this lead to discrimination?

2) Wouldn't this infringe on the rights of a property holder to govern their land as they see fit? Age-verification is a process imposed upon SL by out-world forces and so could hardly be avoided. Gender verification is purely an in-world issue.

3) How would one verify?

4) Who would pay for the added costs?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free Fun at Misp!

Recently I bought a bumper boat rezzer for the Isle of Lesbos so the ladies can have even more fun at the resort. No, that's a lie. I bought it because I wanted it and installed it at both the Isle of Lesbos and at home so I could ride a bumper boat whenever I wanted. So L$1500 later ...

If you don't have that kind of spare cash you can ride the bumper boats free in Misp, the home region of White's Works (SLurl), the store where I bought the rezzer. It was there that I test drove the product before buying it. I also considered the paddle boat and the jet ski, just two more of the many vehicles you can use for free. A large race track (see pic) fills the sim so you can try for free various motorcycles, scooters, and go karts, too. Other games and activities are available. Thank goodness the vehicles auto-delete when you are done riding them. While writing this post I crashed several, littering the sim with carnage.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How bored was this person?

You would think that with all the activities available in Second Life®, like a wonderful amusement park that I recently found (Web), people would have better things to do than to cause grief. This pic was taken when I happened to come across someone with too much time on their hands and too few brains in their head. I watched as they attached one huge object after another to their avie, tacked on particle generators, and wildly gesticulated for no apparent reason.

Of course, I ejected them -- directly to their Home spot -- and added them to the regional ban, but I had to wonder "How bored was this person?" Odds are they weren't actually bored, but instead they were griefing (I know they have a history of trying to be a nuisance). It is sad to think, though, how pathetic their life must be that this was fun to them. As far as I could tell I was the only person within some 150 meters so they weren't really that good at griefing. Further, the attempt was poorly executed considering how common this kind of harassment is in our world. So how bored? Apparently not bored enough to get it right.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Madcow's Aliens

Thanks to Lucky Kitty Crew (Web) member Hempy Weezles for finding another avie maker by Madcow Cosmos, this time at Alien Isles (SLurl). Like the Goblin Maker (Web) and the Robot Maker (Web), the process is simple and fun. Just select your body components, "wear" the folder you are given, then customize skin color (keeping in mind your base color is pink so the tints are additive), choose some eyes, and away you go. There is even an awesome HUD with some wild alien sounds.

Explore the rest of the region, too. Wild and beautiful stuffs there.

Memorial Parks

Queen Coronet: Linden Memorial Park - Now open Thanks for sharing this, Queen. Huggs.

As readers of of this blog may know, Memorial Parks are important to me in Second Life. One of the first spots I saw in the main grid was the Lydia Rose Memorial Park (one evolution pictured at left), a tribute my brother built for his daughter. A plot of land I own is now called just "Memorial Park" and is a tribute to her and others that I've been close to that have passed on. And creating the Memorial Park at the Isle of Lesbos was a both a great sorry and a great joy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Live Concert with Robie Bloch

Robie Bloch (Web) is going to make her first live appearance in the Isle of Lesbos Pride Club April 23rd from Noon to 2pm SLT. Robie regularly appears at the Oasis of Lesbos but comes to the Isle to help celebrate the resort's 3rd anniversary. (SLurl; Women Only).

A clever little waterfall

While exploring around Union Micro (SLurl), a store I frequented in my SL "youth" for some great Lucky Chair prizes, I found a clever little waterfall (SLurl). Likely it is an expensive little waterfall, too, as it requires adjoined regions, one with water levels set about 5 or so meters higher than the other. As you can see in the pic, the falls themselves are prims set to cover the gap between the two levels of "natural" Linden water. In effect, this is what I had hoped to achieve when I wished to have Environmentally Conditional Volumes (ECV):

ECV would allow a region owner or manager to define a space then fully control all of it's environmental aspects, such as time of day, sun position, sea level, gravity, etc. Sort of a region within a region. Except for gravity, all these settings can be changed on a region-wide basis. But ECV would enable a portion of the space within a region to act like a separate region. Thus a "skybox" could be created with genuine Linden water and a fixed sun to simulate land at twilight, for example, without effecting the environment in the rest of the main region (Web).

I thought about this concept again when I had to create a massive reflection pond with a 30 meter water fall to "sea level" on the Isle of Lesbos. I didn't mind using four megaprims to make the pond, but even with clever textures the water isn't quite as attractive as "natural" Linden water. And four more scripts were added to the sim load to animate the water. I like the solution used in Lionheart but it would have been impractical at Lesbos.

The Beauty of Adult Content

For some reason The Lab felt it was important to feature how attractive the infrastructure of the new Adult Content Continent (AKA, Pornsylvania) in yesterday's announcement (Web) of further developments of the bifurcation of the World. Admittedly, it is very attractive and doesn't take a lot of imagination to see the architectural innuendo, but the information was surprisingly informative and vague at the same time. Once again we are directed to the forums for discussions but an actual time frame was given:

When Viewer 1.23 is final and ready to become the main Viewer (again, estimated to be by the end of June), the full implementation process will begin - all regions will need to be maturity-rated, search will be filtered for everyone, Adult content on the mainland will need to move to the new continent, and access to Adult regions and search results will be limited to Residents with verified accounts.

Having once had an adult content business -- I operated an adult motel in Nangrim and sold porn next to someone else's strip club and a Brazilian casino -- my interest in this issue is a bit more than passing. The idea of having to move from land that I owned and on which I paid tier to a completely new location where competition is a quick walk away is disconcerting. If I have time I'll pop by the forum (Web) and try to wade through the chaff but if anyone knows of a good summary, please post a comment. If The Lab has taken as much care with this move as they seem to have with the pictured infrastructure then this could be an example of come beautiful logistics and a far cry from the Age Verification process (Web) to date.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Madcow's Robots

In a previous post (Web) I mentioned that I was looking for Madcow's Robot Making Machine but couldn't find it. Eventually, I updated the post with the gadget's location and yesterday I finally made my own robot there (SLurl). The pic shows me in my final configuration, just waiting for the paint to dry. There were soooo many good bits that I could have used so I might have to make another, but for my first one I went for a classic, svelte look. Later I'm going to see if any of the bits are "mod" and maybe try to get the chest orb to glow in variable colors.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Own LOLcat

My syster Shilo always amuses me in unexpected ways. Recently, we were sky diving at the Isle of Lesbos and she hollered out in an IM for help ... she was stuck in mid-air, as if she was she got suctioned to a wall. Well, it turns out she was. A "wall grabber" attachment she has got activated by a stray invisible prim and stuck her to the prim, closing her chute and leaving her stranded. She is my own LOLcat.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame

If you haven't noticed the sidebar of my blog, look now and you'll see my Plurk timeline, or go the main website with this link to see what it is all about. Familiar with this social messaging tool? They you know about the Interesting Plurkers page. What you may not know is that for some inexplicable reason I was on it in the Popular section sometime during April 17th. Go figure. Then on the 19th I made the Most Responded section. Little ol' me.

On the right in the pic above is my friend Peter, in Most Responded.

3 Year Annversary

It was three years ago this month that Janeforyou Barbara, Miss Jane to much of the world, founded the Isle of Lesbos (women-only; SLurl) in Second Life® as a haven for women to escape the pressures that can present themselves elsewhere. Gay, bisexual, transgender, straight ... all women have been and will continue to be welcome on the Isle. Despite diverse interests throughout the vast landscape of our virtual world, women call the Isle home. We are a greatly extended family at times, but our common experiences make us sisters.

Friday, April 17, 2009

MagMyPic & FixMyNose

So I was messing around creating textures for the Isle of Lesbos Third Anniversary when I came across the site, having totally forgot about it for about a year and created this parody. The effort was partly to kick my creativity in gear and partly vanity. I love that shot.

But I've noticed that my new skin makes my nose look narrower. Some skins were far worse at this and some skins showed hardly any effect but this new one is a bit "off" so I've started tweaking and thinking now would be a good time to stop looking like my RL self and fix my self-percieved "flaws." Like my nose. I love a good, strong Roman-style nose -- maybe a lower bridge, though, and wider. Click the A/B image below for a larger version and leave a comment. Maybe you can help me pick my nose.

The Longhorns need YOU

The University of Texas Longhorns are sponsoring a charity carnival, raffle, and silent auction in-world (SLurl or search University of Texas Landing Point for Project Jason) to raise L$100,000 for Project Jason (Web & SLurl) and Team Fox (Web & SLurl). Free entry & free rides (including go carts and bumper cars!)

When, you ask? Friday April 24th to Sunday April 26th.

The event will feature special live performances so mark your calendar with these dates and SLT times:

Friday April 24th

6pm – 7pm Dann Numbers

8pm – 9pm Harper Messmer

Saturday April 25th

3pm – 4pm Vienna James

8pm – 9pm PheobeAnn Theas

Sunday April 26th

12pm – 1pm Phemie Alcott

4pm – 5pm Gregg Huet

8pm – 9pm Dale Katscher

About Project Jason: to create and increase public awareness of missing people through a variety of outreach and educational activities. Project Jason seeks to bring hope and assistance to families of the missing by providing resources and support.

About Team Fox (in affiliation with Michael J. Fox): to provide guidance, tools and resources for the thousands of amazing people all over the world who are walking, running, blogging, jogging, paddling, pedaling, eating, drinking, shopping and dancing to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's research.

Madcow's Goblins

After reading on Headburro Antfarm's blog (Web) that the artist and builder Madcow Cosmos created a Robot Avie Maker I decided I had not been to his store (Slurl) in a very long time and trekked over to check it out. Lo and behold, I got distracted by his Goblin Avie Maker. Like other machines in SL that change you to an avie you begin a process that eventually gives you a folder with an avie to replace the one you are wearing. What makes this unique, however, is you choose body parts before you are given the folder then you can customize after wearing the new avie. This pic shows me in mid-process, choosing my eyes before finalizing. I still haven't found the robot maker, but I'll look again after I get back from Toys for RFL (SLurl).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Egg Update (?)

Apparently my egg for the Linden BunnyJam (Web) hunt has been found. Go to the Linden Chalet (SLurl) and claim the egg pictured here. Inside is a basket with this same egg on top and what appears to be every egg submitted for the decoration contest, including multiples from one person and rather dull ones named for various Lindens. Or many, at least, including mine.

The question is, I guess, What does this mean? No winners have been announced and I haven't heard if my egg was "findable" like this brown one was. The winners have to be announced by tomorrow or the next day and I think I have a shot (albeit a small one) at the Top Three and the L$5000 spending spree on XStreet SL (Web).

See previous Post here for a pic of my egg.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A flaw in Second Life Snaps

While taking some snaps I wanted to update my Profile's First Life picture but I knew from experience that despite the system wanting to save every in-world snap at 512 pixels square or a version of that, the Profile image requirements vary from tab to tab. So an image I might use for the First Life picture would be horribly stretched for use as a Pick pic. Why can't users save in-word snaps in custom ratios to match in-world applications as detailed in the official system specs shown below? One day I'll get off my lazy butt and file a suggestion. Until then I'll dutifully save images to the hard drive and resize them as needed. At least that gives me a format-free original I can use for other purposes if needed.

Aspect ratios of profile, place, etc. pictures — all of these were measured at UI size = 1.000:
▪ Search > All for "Classifieds", "People", and "Places" - 4:3 (256x192 pixels)
▪ Search > Places and Classified tabs - ~7:5 (398x282 pixels)
▪ Search > Land tab - ~7:5 (358x252 pixels)
▪ Profile > 2nd Life tab - ~4:3 (178x133 pixels)
▪ Profile > Picks tab - ~16:9 (288x162 pixels)
▪ Profile > 1st Life tab - 1:1 (133x133 pixels)
▪ Profile > Classifieds tab - ~3:2 (206x137 pixels)
▪ About Land > Options tab - ~3:2 (178x117 pixels)
▪ Group Information > General tab's "Group Insignia" - 1:1 (126x126 pixels)

New Skins

When I first met my wife, Angela, a couple years ago she said she'd make a really freckly skin for me. For various reasons that never happened and now my RL freckles are mostly gone, at least from the shoulders down, but I kept shopping for one in Second Life® (SL) and despite the high quality of Angela's work at Dream Images (SLurl). Just the other day I found some great skins at Curio (SLurl). The demos didn't wildly stretch my mouth like many skin tend to, there were some freckles, the shadows and highlights were good, the makeups weren't too severe, and I could get a both a tanned and less tanned skin with the same basic hues. So I dropped a few thousand Linden$ and got the most basic skins (I'm still a butch at heart, if not in SL) and trotted out in my Bare Rose Microkini (Web) to take pix.

Despite the tremendous lag I almost always have there, Las Arenas Rosadas (SLurl) is one of the most beautiful tropical islands in all SL, so it was my first thought when I wanted pix of my new skins. Yes, I tossed on a face light as I had set the Advanced Sky settings to Barcelona and needed the boost. Actually, I tried a number of settings and several hair styles. But this was the best. I might tweak it in post. If I do, I'll post it here, though all the pix will be on my Flickr page eventually.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My New Look

Second Life® (SL) is, almost by definition, a world of possibilities. Certainly, Real Life™ (RL) has 'makeovers' but nothing that can match the depth or scale of what is possible in SL. So now I am a 'big' kitty. This is way more than the faux kitty ears and tail that I often wear in RL. I have paws and a muzzle and a couple other fantasy assets as part of my avatar makeover. We all have an inner Furry and now mine is on the outside.

Just kidding. This is me, but I have not changed my usual avatar. I'm very comfortable with my usual appearance which is intentionally very, very much like my RL countenance. But I love being able to play in other avies. Just as I like to wear neko bits in Real Life (I wasn't kidding about that), I like being a kitty or a cabbit, or dragon, or a whatever the mood suits. Imagine what RL would be like if we could all change our appearance as easily as we do in SL. Having a bad hair day? Dig into that inventory and find something new! Not getting the attention you want? Put on an enormous body part! Feeling adorable? Be a Furry!

All in all, I'd rather be able to fly RL like I can in SL, but being able to do something more than change my clothes or comb my hair differently would be my next "wanna be like in SL." I doubt I'd go to the grocery store looking like this avie (and would more than certainly avoid my therapist in such a state), but it would be nice to tromp around the near by forest as a dinosaur or cruise the coastal thermals as a seagull. It would be a blessing to match the outer me to how the inner me is feeling.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Complicated Relationships: Meet Shilo

According to my Plurk Profile (Web), my relationship status is Complicated. In so-called Real Life (RL), I am single and not even dating. In Second Life® I am married to another woman and I am her submissive Pet (no S&M and very little bondage, if you must know). If that wasn't complicated enough, my mistress/wife accepted the submission of another woman to be her Pet, so I have a Sister: Shilo Darkfold. As you can see in the pic, she is a Furry (Web).

None of this is legal for me in RL. In fact, I'm not even sure it is possible. But it feels so right. I dearly love my wife, eagerly submitting to her needs and desires yet remaining an equal partner. And my love for my syster (as we spell it) is without question as she is a great companion in all respects. But as you can tell, it is complicated.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Giant Easter Egg

At 2:15am local time (US East Coast), I finished my entry for the First Annual BunnyJam Egg Decorating Contest (Web) and sent it to Mia Linden. Fifty-seven prims of yummy goodness, with a custom texture by my wife, Angela Seale, on the shell. I'll leave it in Earth Park (SLurl) until after the Holiday if you'd like to see it.

UPDATE: My egg is on display at the BunnyJam! (SLurl)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Object Permissions Need A Gift Option

Here I am in my new AfterHours Collection - Batgirl by Lourdes Laysan (SLurl) costume. It is well made and at just L$200 I think it is also a great deal. Yes, I am Batgirl! But I wanted to buy it as a gift. The texture on the vendor prim did not show any permissions information and peeking at its contents was equally fruitless. It turns out that some items were No Transfer which, in this case, means No Gift. Sure, I would have bought one for me anyway, but if I want to give it to someone like I would Real Life clothes, I can't do it.

Sure, I could contact the maker and ask to have it sent as a gift, but her profile indicates that she is on a sabbatical. Her Xstreet store front does not have this item, so while that might is an option -- albeit less attractive than being able to hand my friend a gift box -- for some items from that store, it is not for this one. Besides, many merchants mark up items on XStreet to cover the commission fees.

What we really need is an overhaul of the permissions system. Everything should be transferable just like in Real Life. Since that would raise havoc with the other system permission Copy, a creative form of Transfer needs to be found. I propose a Gift Upon Purchase option. It would have been great to be able to right click on the vendor prim, choose Buy as Gift rather than just Buy, and then be prompted for a name for delivery. Some vendor systems allow this, but for many reasons merchants prefer to use non-scripted prims so having the gift option built into the fabric of the Second Life viewer/servers would be best.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When is a Mall not a Mall?

Sad to say, I guess, but I've been too busy to try my hand at the grid-wide Bunny Hop Hunt that my store is a part of, but the blog (Web) showed a fabulous garden swing from Thistle (SLurl) and I just had to have it. However, I'm taking a few moments to snuggle with my sweetie after installing it at the Isle of Lesbos Mall (SLurl) and think about why I do these things.

I don't think that a mall (or a store, for that matter) should be just about shopping. It should be a place that enriches the experience of shopping. The builder can accomplish this minimally through an attractive design and nice landscaping or by going further with fun activities like games (all things at my main shop). Some go all out and "Disneyfy" the experience with wild architecture and decoration.

That is why I installed the swing from Thistle at the Lesbos Mall. Since the mall's inception I've been working in simple landscape additions that make the mall something of a destination, not just a place to shop. Sometimes I can sneak the fun into the mall. For example, we have a photo booth just like you can find in many malls or game arcades. There is a cafe on the roof and a gazebo tucked away in a hidden corner. And if you poke around ... well, you'll just have to come look.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Land Rentals for Women

The Isle of Lesbos is proud to present Whispering Big Pines, land rentals exclusively for women (SLurl).

In order to rent on the Whispering Big Pines region you must:

① Be female.
② Buy the land then pay the rental box for the amount of time you wish.
③ Read the sim Covenant (while standing on Whispering Big Pines, right-click on the ground and choose About Land... then click on the Covenant tab).
④ Do not delete the rental boxes.

To join the land group so you can build, for information, or if you have questions or a problem contact: Threshin Barnett, Uccello Poultry, or janeforyou Barbara

Rental Prices (always check the rental boxes for updates):
1024 square meters with 260 prims is 600L$ a week
1536 square meters with 350 prims is 900l$ a week
4096 square meters with 900 prims is 1,950L$ a week

Sale Prices (always check About Land ... for updates):
1024 square meters is 2,000L$
1536 square meters is 2,750L$
4096 square meters is 3,200L$

Interesting new bug

Of late I've noticed that when avatars around me change from one shape to another, say Tiny to Human, the basic shape fails to make a complete transition. In this example, my wife, Angela, changed from her furry anthro-wolf that used some out-of-the-ordinary body shaping to a human shape and turned into a bobblehead. The problem is especially obvious when changing from a highly deformed shape like the ones used by Seawolf dragons (Web). It is seldom that others see this problem and I can cure it by teleporting to another region and back so I figure the cause is a local cache issue. Lately the viewer seems to max out my CPU usage regardless of the extant memory leak issues.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My own personal grid

Yesterday, the Linden Lab® blog featured a post by Amanda Linden that rather got my hopes up about having my own personal grid (Web). "Today, we’re pleased to share that the stand-alone version of Second Life solution is currently in the alpha phase," she wrote. Imagine, being able to build while completely disconnected from the Interwebs and from servers lagged by the presence of others. No more watching moved prims snap back because of server hiccups. No more paying L$10 to upload a texture just to find it doesn't quite work so you can try again, texture after texture. Imagine being able to finalize a build in a fast, reliable workspace then move it in-world.

Maybe I'm making some wish-based assumptions, but it sounds like a personal grid could be a boon for builders. And landscapers! I love to terraform but don't have my own sim to try new designs. It is easy to imagine having a personal grid living on my iMac with a full parcel of region-sized land to play upon. erm . . to work. Right, work.

Would much time elapse before the Lab or others find a way to connect these stand alone installations? Probably not. And I suspect that a distributed grid platform is a possible goal. It makes too much sense to not spread the construct across multiple sites.