Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sekret Spy Cam!

I've been fighting Real Life to cram in some Second Life time for the my current build projects so I haven't been blogging lately, but an envelope filled with pictures was on my desk when I woke up today -- pictures from sort of Sekret Spy Cam that must have been following me while I was building late last night. Well, rather than succumb to potential blackmail, I'm going to proactively publish the PG-rated shots (no, you can't see the other ones!) here thus diluting the chances of anyone trying to get my last L$47 through nefarious means. I have nothing to hide, but I think I'll wear clothes while I build from now on (safety first, girls!).

Looking past my tushie, you'll see there is at least one reddish room inside the build.

That appears to be a ladder over my shoulder? What kind of structure uses ladders?

Hey! That looks like hay! Could this be some sort of barn-like structure?

If it is a barn, why does it have a nice spiral staircase around a stone column and a nicely-glazed fancy window?
This build is almost done anyway -- end of the month, I think -- and I'll get started on another. I've already finished a prior build and I think there is a third one on the list. I don't remember. I wish my would-be blackmailer had left a reminder.


Blackmail: 1550s, from black + M.E. male "rent, tribute," from O.E. mal "lawsuit, terms, bargaining, agreement," from O.N. mal "speech, agreement;" related to O.E. mæðel "meeting, council," mæl "speech," Goth. maþl "meeting place," from P.Gmc. *mathla-, from PIE *mod- "to meet, assemble." From the practice of freebooting clan chieftains who ran protection rackets against Scottish farmers. Black from the evil of the practice. Expanded c.1826 to any type of extortion money (source).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Premium Membership Discount

If you want this discount, click here.
Our friends at Linden Lab want more folks on Premium Memberships, something I've often recommended if you have an economic stake in "the game" (see this post) though I have found no benefit when it comes to technical issues (see this post for an example) so when I saw a blurb at the sign-in screen about a 50% discount I leaped in to get one for an alt ... and stopped.

Of course I read the fine print. It looks like a savings of some three U.S. dollars or there abouts. So really, now is that a worthwhile savings?

New Damian Fate Avatars *Updated*

Now in your basic Inventory (Inventory > Clothing > Initial Outfits) are some werewolf avies made by Damian Fate (read about them here). They are "mesh" so you will need a modern viewer (i.e., not most 3rd Party Viewers).

The vampires are from Lorac Farella at Pulse (SLurl). I hope to have a detailed post on each of these soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Flies

Time flies when you are having fun, the saying goes, but it also flies as the holidays grow closer and you need more time to get things done. I've got a billion mostly pleasant Real Life things to do and like an idiot I agreed to build stuff in SL for an upcoming project. The latter should be pleasant, but a while ago The Lab separated a sub-pane some important tools from the Edit/Build pane and now building can be a downright laborious.

Click the Options button in the Edit/Build pane to pop out the Grid Options sub-pane.
Like many, I often switch between World mode in building, where the movement of a prim is along the X, Y, Z axes of the region you are in, to the Local mode where prim movement is along the X, Y, Z axes of the prim based on it's rotation in relation to the region's axes. With the option setting in a separate pane more time is needed to do the switch -- sure, just moments, but it adds up -- and the object remains selected as long as that sub-pane is open, even if the Edit/Build pane is closed. Sloppy, sloppy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fae Dragon

At the Isle of Lesbos "Dungeons and Dragons" event today, someone admired my Anubis Dragon Hatchling from the Isle of Wyrms. I tried to find it on the SL Marketplace for them to get some specs but the only "hatchie" there was the Fae Dragon ... and I fell in love. So I had to splurge and get one for my wee pixy alt, Zyx Flux. My goodness, is it cute!

Zyx, surveying her domain, the Secret Garden at the Isle of Lesbos.

The flying animation is awesome! The legs retract unlike the Anubis hatchie that my "regular" avie wears.
It took a while to get the coloring right ... my pixies are usually a certain shade of blue. I love the wings as leaves rather than the dragonfly-style the humanoid pixies have. There is no manual in the box so I'm going to have to guess what a few of the HUD items do. It should be fun experimenting.

Maybe I'll get my "young adult" pixy Zyx Resident the next size up, the Wyrmling .... hmmm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Attachment Points

While reading through the Release Notes for today's update of the Official Viewer (see them here), an enhancement to add two new attach points on the avatar -- the Neck and the Root -- is listed. Hooray! Read more about the enhancement here.

Now, if I could install the update without first deleting the old install, I'd be happy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Projected Light

The other day I ran across "How to Light Second Life Photos the Graphic Dix Way" posted on New World Notes which directed me to a great tutorial on Second Life lighting (direct link here). I had long forgotten about the projected light function of the light prim feature and had get to a sandbox to try it again.

Adding graffiti via Projected Light emphasizes boobies (erm ... s'what the graffiti says)
Since the tutorial is so complete and you are going to read it anyway, I won't go into detail here about how to use projected light, but I would like to make a add a few points, not the least of which is that if you include avatars in the shot your subject(s) needs to have prim eyes. The Lighting and Shadows feature in the Graphics preferences renders texture-only eyes as milky white orbs and that is not attractive to most folks. Additionally, don't be discouraged if the texture picker box in the Edit pane looks X'd out as if you can't choose it. Go ahead and click. Don't like the texture you chose? Then try another one, but I found, however, you have to close the Edit pane for your change to take effect. Also keep in mind that the prim will no longer act as a radiated source so you'll have to rez others to light the rest of the build -- keeping in mind that they also light the projected image and may wash it out. Finally, a legitimate use for Facelights (assuming you don't have more than six light sources in view at the time as Second Life can only show that many at once). While you are on Features tab in the Edit pane, note the FOV function for later and the Focus function. The latter can give your projected image a blurring at the edges. Ambiance has no affect that I can detect. Lastly, if you are trying to project onto a prim that is set to Full Bright, give up. It won't work. Same with Glow.

Last point is about the mechanics of the source prim influence the size and shape of the final projection. Check out this info graphic:

Aside from the position of the prim along it's Z-Axis, rotation is key, too. If you don't rotate the prim at all, it will project on the floor. Setting the Y-Axis to 90 degrees projects the image to the west (thus 270 degrees would be eastward, and so on) and another 90 degrees on the Z-Axis makes text read left-to-right.

So those are my helpful tips. Now get out there and build! Feel free to post links to your pix in the Comments of this post. I'd love to see them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

St. Illuminatious Cathedral

For several days I've been aching to write about St. Illuminatious Cathedral (SLurl) by Abel Dreamscape but have been thwarted by Real Life and other in-world projects. Today I made the time and I hope you make the time after reading about it here to visit this amazing site.

Let's get the basics out of the way. St. Illuminatious Cathedral is some 4075 prims without furniture and easily fills an 64 meter by 120 meter area with a height that almost strains draw distances, just over 102 meters. Like the real world edifices that inspired this structure, it is mind-blowingly big. And the beauty of the build is equal to or greater than it's size. You must see this to believe it. Here is the gratuitous, specially lighted and composed picture you'd expect.

Look very closely and you'll see a nun clad in all white in the main entrance. That is my 1.88m (6.16 ft) avatar. Take a breath and think about the scale here.
I could have taken more beauty shots like that with different Windlight settings and various tweaks and ... frankly, none showed the real beauty. Here are some detail views, with comments, that I hope give a better idea of how gorgeous this build really is.

This could have been a simple texture as it is about 15m above ground level and most folks wouldn't look that closely, but it is all prim. Looking from ground level as you move left-to-right it makes a difference as the block wall shows through the details making the depth real, not implied.

Look at the little "spires" ... they are all over the place. To me, this just shows the builder's love of being faithful to the source. There is a lot of love in this building.

Very skillful use of sculpts. Mr Dreamscape sells the parts in a Builder's Pack, by the way. Not like I'd have the skill to use them. *sigh*

Flying buttresses. Flying Buttresses! Holy Canoli, they are even faithful to Real Life architecture. Sadly, though, there is no "real" rainwater drainage system, gargoyles aside, but adding the little tunnels and all that would raise the prim count horrendously, I imagine.

The towers are stunning inside and outside. Look at the spires and the windows and the slats and the ... I'm having an Architecture-gasm. If you ever see some 'idiot' with binoculars outside a cathedral or other such structure in RL, it might be me. I love looking at all the little details.

One of the towers has bells. Big Bells. When you visit, look closely at the support arms. The clappers are odd, but not something I haven't seen.

Right. You have to climb into the bell tower, stand in a certain place, then cam in to see this detail of the ropes. Builders who bother with this level of detail are really passionate about their craft.

The staircase to the bell tower. There might not be any furniture included with the cathedral if you buy a copy, but the building is not bereft of decorations. Look for all the candles and you'll see what I mean.

Wonderous vaulted ceilings plus fabulous columns equal amazing beauty.

Above the altar space. Impressed yet?

An arcade beside the altar space, true to Real Life architecture again. And there is one outside under the flying buttresses on what is traditionally called The East End.

More beautiful stained glass in the transepts.

Again, this could have been a flat texture, but detail is important in a build of this majesty.

This staircase leads to a walk above the choir area.

Details are important, of course, but when you mind turns to mush you'll go back to saying "wow" as you focus again on  the scale of the cathedral
If you are like me and you really need your own copy of this magnificent build, it is available in-world or on the SL Marketplace for a mere L$45,000 ... about L$44,600 more than I have right now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

V3 is Here

What looked like a simple update to the Official Viewer turned out to be a full update to v3 and the new GUI.

If you like v2 and hate v1, don't upgrade.
It is out of Beta and is running live. Here's the Release Notes with no mention of the GUI change.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Skin Burn!

Following is a Press Release (italics and links added) from Burn2 for the "Skin Burn" -- the last celebration for Burn2 this year and a chance to be naked (if you wish) with a lot of other people.

Burn2 is still going. Don't think it is over.

Burning Man’s Ten Principles calls for Radical Self Expression. As part of that Self Expression, Burning Culture includes nudity and decorated nudity. For BURN2 we see it as an opportunity to celebrate Burning Culture while watching The Man burn under low lag conditions! We do this by showing up with Avatars in just a skin, no prim attachments or scripts at all, so we have minimal Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC) slowing down the Virtual Playa server. First tried in 2010, this event was an instant hit. We're bringing it back again to the Virtual Playa with the Skin Burn on November 12th! ! Below you will find the information for this years skin burn. To get to Silver Seed one must be in the Skinburn Group and have activated the tag. Hope to see you all there. If you have any questions please contact Ladyslipper Constantine or Gemma Cleanslate.

Date: November 12, 2011

Times: DJ music will be playing from 11am - 3pm SLT. The Man will burn at 12:30 pm, slt.

Place: Silver Seed sim

Details: Everyone must be checked in first for low ARC and low script count at a place off sim. Once they pass the checks, they will be invited to the skin group and given the LM to Silver Seed. Check-ins will be from 10:30am - Noon SLT and will then close. Free art skins will be available at the check in for those who don't have one.

An Open Secret

A couple times now I've posted about Las Arenas Rosadas (SLurl), one of the most beautiful tropical regions in all Second Life, but what I've been keeping secret is that it is part of an archipelago of islands that are just as beautiful. The secret seems to be out, though, as each time I visit more people seem to be there, especially on a wee-sized sand islet that I love for relaxing or cuddling with my wife, Angela.

That would be Las Olas Azules (SLurl), a teeny little bit of sand and rocks and a few trees, but truly fabulous. You can sit in the trees or there is a nice set of couples cuddles (sometimes more than one).

Looking Northeast toward Las Arenas Rosadas, just over the horizon if you have more than a 128m draw distance. Keeping that low when I visit adds to the sense of isolation.

The South-Southwest view here shows part of Las Rocas and Las Islas (to the right).
Las Rocas (SLurl), less isolated due to it's situation between two commerce regions but still gorgeous, is more of a hub for folks to gather with it's enormous natural rock formations and plenty of places to poke around.

Part of the rock formations on Las Rocas with several platforms with seating and the beach has a cuddle bed under a cabana. It's hard to find a bad view no matter where you are at.
My only disappointment? No seascaping. If you scuba or mermaid (yes, it can be a verb) there is nothing to see. And if you just want to swim you have to bring your own AO. Still, one would visit these regions for the views above sea level, not for what you might find below.

Las Lagunas (SLurl; not pictured), one of the two regions with shops, is also beautiful. The shops are lovely and if I had some money I'm sure I would soon be without money. Visit there with a friend and make a day of it then head out to one of the remote islands for some quiet time. You might see me there.

Graphics maxed, I'm resting in the tree on Las Olas Azules.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blackspot Shipyard

For various reasons a few folks know but that I won't mention here yet (though I am willing to tease, it seems), I'm shopping for a Tall Ship in Second Life. During my search I came across a group of fabulous sims centered on the Blackspot Shipyard (SLurl). The ships I found are fabulous, but I found myself busy exploring the landscape and infrastructure, clearly amongst the finest anywhere in Our World. Teeny nitpicks aside (like the occasional mismatched texture or a prim face with poorly set repeats), the build is fantastic. This isn't just a nice landscape with structures set out and some furniture plopped down. This is an adapted ecosystem.

The structures are organic as if the builders had to contend with an intractable landscape, suiting the construction to the terrain. It really looks like a 18th century pirate outpost. Well, like the way I imagine one to look as I've never actually seen one. The rich, dark textures lend extra authenticity to the build, but you really need to see it in person to see what I mean. Until you go, here are some pictures.

You may have noticed the pirate in these pix. It's me in my Grendels Pirate Boxbot Avie.

Lots of scenic views from the ships. Each is for sale, costing upwards of L$9000 each but are highly detailed and wonderfully laid out. Arrrgghh ... I'm a fierce sea-farin' soul. Fear my paper cuts!

There's a shop with wonderful pre-fabs in that thar castle, which itself is also for sale.

This looks like a wonderful place for role play, but every time I've visited I was pretty much the only person there. The About Land stats showed very little traffic, which is a shame.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guy Fawkes Day

Angela, my loving wife, found this great Guy Fawkes mask on the SL Marketplace for FREE (Web)! You can also get it at Sirius Solo's store (SLurl or check his Profile Picks). Get ready now for your celebration of Guy Fawkes Day.

What? You haven't heard of it? There's a whole history to it (check here on the Web, to start), but essentially it is the story of a man fed up with what he believed to be an intolerant and unjust government so he tried to destroy it with spectacular violence. He failed, but since then he has come to represent oppressed people everywhere. Or so those who adopt him as an icon believe. Read about it and make up your own mind.

But really ... you haven't seen the excellent movie V for Vendetta (Web)? Well, you have time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Haunted House Adieu

Until Next Year
The Menagerie Isle 2011 Haunted House was swallowed up in a mystical vortex today, an eerie voice in the wind saying "Until Next Year!!!!"

Many thanks to the hundreds of folks who visited this year. I hope you had a fabulous time. Since many were first day residents I don't think they'll see this blog just yet, but I hope they know that they are appreciated. Also, thanks to Angela Seale (my wife) for spot checking the build and helping with security. Threshin Barnett lent the big sea dragon to me for the pirate area. Lots of folks IMd with comments, all positive, thank goodness, and I give them my thanks, too.

Tons of thanks to Janeforyou Barbara, Menagerie Isle's owner and Head Ranchero. Stupid me, it never occurred to me in all the years I've used her land for my project that I should have had her put out a tip jar. Well, with any luck she sold some horses or whatever critters she is raising now (Robots? Come see them here). She's an absolute dear and one of the most generous people in all Second Life. She deserves good things.

Soon I'll sort through the 40-something photos I took before the tear down and post the best on this blog. But I'm already thinking about next year and saving my L$ for what could be my best Halloween attraction yet. I hope to see you then :)

Death of the Desktop Part II

After a brief visit with my Neopets on the desktop computer this morning, I went to sit with Mom as she's having a rough morning (I'm her home care aide) and grabbed my iPad to finish my morning Web reading. So, here I am writing this post after checking all the blogs I follow and hitting the news apps, all on the iPad.

Sure, the Blogger experience sucks on this browser, but if I used another service I would have an app for that. Or I'd I could remember all that HTML I once learned I could add graphics. This is more a limit of my blog host/tools choice than of the device.

So do I really need a desktop?

Yes for the convenience if not the utility. I like having an iPad or iPod Touch handy to use as a second (or third) screen when I'm on the desktop. Sure, my big computer runs multiple apps, but window panes stack up and task switching gets cumbersome when working with intensive programs like Acorn or Photoshop Elements.

One day the desktop will go away. I think it might be soon.