Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memorial Park Memory

When my PC laptop died I had scattered and limited backups so quite a few things are gone forever. This image turned up, much to my giggly pleasure, for this goes way back into my life in our virtual world. The Memorial Park in Nangrim was on it's way to being huge and I had my first in-world girlfriend. We had invited a couple friends to just relax in the Park with some Classical music on the stream. Someone put on wings and started dancing so we all put on wings and danced. Then someone released particles and the clothes started coming off. It was a beautiful night. We danced and made small talk and just enjoyed being there for quite some time. Serendipity. Happy serendipity.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I made some FISHIES!

It seems like a hundred years ago I set out to make custom fishies for the 7Seas® fishing areas at the Isle of Lesbos Resorts but never got un-busy enough to do it. But while making prizes for the up-coming Valentines Hunt I was inspired to make LOVE Fish ... in eight colors!! Win them now or a custom (rather mature) t-shirt or a rainbow bikini. The clothes and the B/W fish are set to Common whilst the rainbowy-color fishies are Uncommon. I have ideas for more fishies so I hope to have them before the Easter Hunt.

Isle of Lesbos Mall (SLurl)
Bay of Lesbos (SLurl)
Imsucha Beach @ The Isle of Lesbos (SLurl)
Sappho's Point Beach @ The Isle of Lesbos (Women Only; SLurl)

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Memorial Park

When my brother, CC Columbo, started his Second Life® one of his activities was building a parkland with a memorial for his daughter. At one point he owned most of the mainland region called Nangrim and when I came from the Teen Grid I added to it, helping to form a sprawling landscape where people could relax in a "natural" setting. Over time it had many forms but it always featured a focus point about my niece, usually pictures and an info signboard. Eventually we sold some land when CC minimized his time in-world and then sold the balance when a pre-gambling ban casino kept the sim full, completely locking us out.

Not too long ago I used nearly the last of my Christmas gift money to get a premium account for my regular Alt and then had her buy a 512m2 plot of land (SLurl) to use as a home and to re-create -- if only in part -- the Memorial Park. Since then I sometimes wander by the computer while CC is using it for something and spot the SL viewer, open and showing his avie sitting at the grave.

If you visit, please click the stone for information about the disease that took little Lydia's life.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

XStreet & OnRez Acquisition Reactions

Quite a few blog hours have been burned over the XStreet & OnRez acquisitions so, of course, Hamlet Au of New World Notes has done a round up (Web). I've posted a comment there (Web) and I copied it below for those who just can't wait to read it or who are too lazy to click a link.


A feeling of betrayal was my first reaction. On my blog I wrote that "the situation reminds me of the plight suffered by my Irish immigrant ancestors who worked the mills and mines, paid in Scrip redeemable only in the Company Store, essentially no better than indentured servants." The acquisition of the independent services gives more power to The Company. Rather then spend the money to solve asset database server issues they chose to spend money to monetize Residents, further relegating us to the role of revenue streams rather than having us participate in the "Your World, Your Imagination" partnership.

I agree with Hiro Pendragon that shopping malls will suffer unless they are innovative or closely linked to a community such as you see with Rocket City FurMeet, the Isle of Lesbos, and the Raglan Shire malls. The loss of OnRez and the elevation of XStreet to being the official shopping service could lead small-scale merchants to abandon an in-world presence in favor of being only virtually virtual. What would this do to the economy? What would this do to the culture?

Smarter people than me likely have answers to those questions just like they (i.e., Peter Stindberg ... "Hi, Peter! Love your blog!") are much more competent to judge issues like trading Linden Dollars. From my point of view (very small merchant; active shopper; experienced Resident) not having an independent source where I can trade my currency is not a big issue. But rather I liked being able to keep a sizable portion of my funds tucked away off The Company's notoriously unreliable servers. I've seen my Inventory whittled down by server issues and I full well expect to some day see my Linden Dollar balance not recover from a 'Loading ...' state.

The upside of the news? Maybe people using in-world search will find my shop and buy more of my products (Look out, Peter! I sell upwards of L$600 of stuff on XStreet each month). Sure, I'm not trying hard to make a living or earn a lot of money ... mostly I build what I feel like building and price it low to recover my costs and a wee bit more ... but some money is nice. And being able to send purchases to anyone in-world, not just registered service users, will be wonderful. Or will anyone miss having go to a terminal or find a place to rez a wallet to deposit money for a purchase?

Up or down, right or wrong, good or bad, keep this in mind: We don't have a choice. It was taken away from us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Linden Labs Acquires Xstreet SL & OnRez

This letter (click for larger image) greeted me this morning, announcing that Linden Labs® has acquired both the Xtreet SL® (Web) and OnRez® (Web) shopping portals (read more on the official blog). My first feeling after OMGoodness was betrayal. Then I felt outrage ... "What a buncha Communists!" More about that in a moment.

Upon reflection, I'm not 100% sure why I felt betrayal, but initial reactions are usually spot on. The situation reminds me of the plight suffered by my Irish immigrant ancestors who worked the mills and mines, paid in Scrip redeemable only in the Company Store, essentially no better than indentured servants. At one time the Lab provided the infrastructure in a "Your World, Your Imagination" (Web) partnership with the residents. Gradually they have been taking the world back. For example, the Lab killed the banks leaving an alt account or Xstreet/OnRez the only places to stash money in case of balance issues. And now they consolidate the shopping industry, killing an important part of free enterprise. Of course, I'm not required to list my creations with Xstreet, but the service is so popular that not doing so would be foolish. The listing/sales commission that is paid to Xstreet will now go to the Lab, one more step to completely owning the means of production and a Communist utopia.

Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but consider that creators have to pay for texture uploads, have to constantly tweak scripts to compensate for changes in code, are not allowed to create prims larger or smaller than certain sizes, have no truly fair means by which to pursue copyright infringements or defend claims of same, and are hamstrung in many other ways, it is easy to make the analogy. Perhaps not Communism, but certainly not a business-friendly environment.

Like many I'll need to see how things work out. What is clear, however, is that the Lab is shifting us from being Residents to being Revenue Streams.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Developing Earth Park

The Dolce Valentina islands are formed by a rugged landscape in an early stage of succession from the bare rock of an extinct volcano to -- well, no one knows. That is the wonder of natural development. This process is being aided by the residents with the introduction of trees much earlier than they would have appeared in their own right. One corner in particular is much further along than the rest of the area thanks to extra special attention. The residents call it Earth Park ...

So goes the informal background mythology of the sim that my wife, Angela, has for our stores and our home (SLurl). I find that when I landscape and create infrastructure I have to have a history ... geological, sociological, etc. ... in mind, otherwise I might as well leave everything a flat plane. As mentioned in an earlier post (Web) I used a template of sorts and the pattern formed by the ground textures to create the landforms. It was Angela's idea that all this came from a volcano. Earth Park was her idea, too, but I've been allowed to run with it, for the most part, and I've been slowly developing it. She would like to promote it as a destination for folks to visit and actually handed the marketing job to someone so I thought I might have to get cracking on a texture that shows in About Land and in Landmark panes.

My first idea is based on some art I found to created a gift that will eventually be given to visitors. But it distorted badly when morphed from one image size ratio to another when used as a Profile Pick image, a parcel ID image, and other formats. A shame, as it I think it is a great image, both in it's own right and as a core theme of the Park.

Instead, I decided on the image at the top of this post, using a texture from the Element art I have at the region's landing zone (SLurl). It seems to lack something, though I'm not sure what. It ties in with the idea that the area represents the element Earth (Fire, Water, Wind, Earth) but still ... I dunno. Ideas? Feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Downs and Downs of Second Life

Once again I ponder the "Log Ins are Disabled" message or similar ones and wonder if I should begin to devote my weekends to Real Life (iRL) rather than to Second Life®. Perhaps I should get out and enjoy the 20℉ temperature as I slog through 8" of fresh snow to see where the next anticipated 5" would look best (in Maine we are required to move snow to the prettiest spots for the pleasure of the tourists). At least iRL I can change clothes, give things to others, and spend money.

As usual, database problems are the scapegoats for the regular round of weekend issues. Would it help if fewer people were in-world, putting less stress on the databases? If so, then as someone with two premium accounts I vote we limit the free account access during times of stress. Give Premium customers a perk here, Linden Labs®. Let us use the world we are paying to access.

Perhaps that wouldn't really be fair, but I'm not the first to suggest that nor will I be the last. Such a move would upset the many, many members that don't pay a subscription, especially if their in-world activities are vital to the economy. I wonder if it is possible to determine an avie's economic worth.

Ooooh. If that doesn't have the smack of discrimination to it ...

See? Gotta let me in-world so I don't wax philosophical out here in the cold.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Diversity in our World

It strikes me that personal diversity is much more tolerated in Second Life® (SL) than in Real Life (iRL). Dressing as a Neko (Sativa, kneeling), a demon (Kaelin, standing), or a whatever I am in this picture, often draws praise for quality of appearance, creativity, or self-expression. However, I doubt that is this grouping appeared iRL the reaction would be the same even if all the same people were involved, from the observer to the observed.

For certain, SL has it's intolerant element. Fashionistas, for one. And anti-Fur groups abound. Even the Neko community is divided. I've been razzed for not being a typical Neko by those deeper into the culture. But as a whole, I find SL residents considerably accepting. Maybe iRL can learn something here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coke Supply's Alien

Congrats, Coke, on getting your Alien28 vs Plagiariser comix published on the Second Life Herald (Web and Web). I remember seeing an early alien sculpture at Burning Life '07 and thinking it was fabulous. The current avatar is even more fab!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mermaiding @ Splash Aquatics!

If you go to the Dive Shop at Splash Aquatics (SLurl) you can slip into the Dive Hole and enter the fabulous salt water aquarium that Kaikou Splash has created. Here is my friend Usra in her beautiful Betta Splendens avie by Tekelili Tantalus (SLurl) enjoying the lush scenery. This spot really needs to be featured by Linden Labs® as a top destination to show what Second Life® is capable of being. Furthering the excellence, Kaikou added educational materials about our fragile planet to his shop so you can not only purchase the goodies that make up his aquarium but you can learn something, too.

Splash Aquatics also features freshwater items, decorative elements for your landscape, and much, much more. A theater is on the grounds and you can relax with some freshwater fishing (not 7Seas Fishing, but an original game that is rather fun). If you'd rather not dive in with the fishies, the aquarium has a tunnel tour for landlubbers.

For divers, snorkelers, beach lovers, and anyone who just likes exploring, Kaikou has also built Dive World: PADI Scuba Diving Underwater World (SLurl). Usra and I dive there a lot. Like the aquarium there is a lot to see and much to learn. Educational signs at Dive World link to highly-informative Web pages. Really, you don't need dive gear or to be a mermaid or even have a swim AO*). You can simply walk the ocean floor (or fake swim in Fly mode).


*Swim AO: Usra uses the Zi Ree's ZiSwim (SLurl? Shop is missing!) while I use the Swimmer by Siggy Romulus (SLurl). Many AO attachments allow you to add animations for swimming, but don't actually keep your avie afloat like these specialty units.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Organizing Your Inventory

Check out my huge post on the Lucky Kitty Crew blog (Web) about organizing your inventory!


Updated the Stargate in Dolce Valentina (SLurl). Changed it to a higher-prim, cooler-looking Pegasus style gate at the wife's request. It's network profile (Web) has it's dial codes or go to most any gate and say /d Earth Park to access it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

en garde On Gaurd

Often while working Security at the Isle of Lesbos (women only; SLurl) I'll dress in theme if an event is going on at the time whether I'm off in a corner building by myself or in more public parts. I had wanted to attend the Angels & Demons event because I thought I had a killer outfit here (having switched to this red from a creamy mint variation) but no one else was available to keep the lesbians in the pen so I just played with my sword. :::sighs:::

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dragon Love

I love my Seawolf Ancient Dragon. She is simply gorgeous, which means superior textures and design. Well worth every penny my wife paid for it (L$2,400 at SLurl). Here I am in the Aggro region, described by me to a new dragon as " ... a fabulous region to explore if you haven't done so already. Cleverly built and just gorgeous. Perfect for trying out your new dragon."

There are a ton of customization options ("Quite a lot," according to the Wiki) for colors, textures, body parts, and more. Combined with facial expressions and animation options, very few people should have a dragon much like yours. But the Ancient is huge! The Adult (L$1,800) is about half the size of the Ancient and the Juvenile ($1,200) is about half the size of the Adult.

And each comes with a bipedal version! Don't look to wear clothes with this one, but it has all the same customization options as the quadrupedal dragon. Just supply an Animation Override so you aren't duck-walking and off you go. My AO has swimming animations for when I'm in Linden water, but he quad avie doesn't need that. It makes a satisfying splash when landing in water and swims beautifully.

So if you arrive at the Isle of Lesbos (women only; SLurl) one day and see a dragon hiding in the woods, say "Hi" but tread lightly ... I'm a Security Dragon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Heaven over Earth

It's probably complete, but as I told my wife, the tweaking begins. Welcome to Heaven over Earth, a new spot for relaxation at Dolce Valentina (SLurl, use the teleporter sphere when arriving). This huge rock in the sky embodies all the elements -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water -- that are the region's theme (more about this in a later post). It floats above Earth Park, the corner of the region that we call home but is open to the public. In the park you can snuggle, swim, fish, relax, ride a boat, and other things to come.

In Harmony I plan to have a simple gathering area for a group, but there is a snuggle cave and some individual poses, too. Mostly this area is for relaxing and enjoying nature. Come visit, stay as long as you like, and have a great time.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Year in Review: 2008

Apologies for the lack of posts since the first of the year. I've been busy in both lives and feeling a little bit ill in one of them. I've been doing my best to keep up with the Lucky Kitty Crew blog (Web) that I contribute to as well as commenting on other blogs. But to get back into the swing of things I thought I'd tiptoe through my photo library and grab images that leaped out for comment in a Year in Review of 2008. No particular order here and it is far from inclusive. Just some extra insights.

Coming face-t0-face with Governor Linden I learned a few things. First, Lindens really can remove themselves from the presence server. You may be able to see one, talk to one, or transfer inventory, but any scripts that depend on agent detection simply won't work. Thus, the Gov missed a hug from a really smexy lion. The second thing I learned is that Lindens really are people. The human behind this version of the Gov had trouble getting a simple giver script to run and couldn't set the box for sale at L$0. She turned down my offer of a free giver script. FYI, that is my wife, Angela, to my right with the white hair band. We wuz holdin' hands ... xtra kute.

I did quite a bit of exploring. Usually I'd grab something from a Lucky Chair then I'd wander around to see what else the region contained. That's how I found this giant sign for Sun Microsystems. Sometimes I'd just open the map and pan around looking for interesting sim names or patterns then teleport. Many blogs reported interesting places, too, that were well worth exploring. At least once a week I use the Stargate at home to find a '/drandom' place. Seeing what others are doing in-world is definitely one of my most favorite things to do.

:::sighs::: Moved a lot. This is a shot of my home in Navi. It was a bit expensive, especially compared to the sweet deal my sister Threshin gave me, but it was still rather nice. This is where Angela and I fell in love and it was her first home in-world. You'll find lots of pictures and posts about my "favorite" home throughout this blog, including later in this post. Today Angela rents a sim that we call home but in reality I have several spots I now roost, including the Isle of Lesbos, one of my first homes in-world.

It is on the Isle I have family, friends, and a job. It's a great place to laugh and play. Nary a day goes by that something silly doesn't happen to brighten my moods. A lot of remodeling had happened and I've been blessed to be part of it. I don't host events on the Isle at this time, but you'll still find me assisting with Security, building, landscaping, and being a mascot (?). Just as my blog has had many posts about my lands in 2008 you'll find many a post about the Isle if you hit the archives. Two words about this pic: Anti-Gravity Boobies.

2008 was the year I came out to my family, much to their chagrin. It may be the 21st century, but being a lesbian is still not completely acceptable. My alt also came out in 2008. I stopped keeping her secret but I don't exactly advertise who she is, either. When I "wear" her I feel like a different person in many ways, though since her outing we've become very much alike. I guess that was inevitable. Of late she's started making new products for my line of goods for tiny avatars, MicroSTUFF. Most of my tiny avatar things disappeared along with tens of thousands of L$ of other items in my inventory in 2008 but she still had her stuff so she's better off working on that line. I re-branded The Poultry Company into The PoP Department store and added a line of bikinis. Now to get off my butt and make more stuff. The region that Angela rents is not just home to me, but home to my store.

Really, though, home is where the heart is, and that is with Angela. I'm in love with her. Really. Real Life means that we can't spend a lot of time together but every moment is precious. We both find it hard to log out at day's end. She's very good to me, from letting me landscape and build the infrastructure for her region to seeking my advice on nearly everything she builds to being a fabulous cuddler and lover. We celebrated our 1st year together as a couple, spouses, and partners in 2008.

It seems I spend more time with the Lucky Kitty Crew (LKC) than I do my wife despite the many down moments. But up moments like this one make it worthwhile. A number of us were on a hunt for prize-filled flamingos and decided to all meet in one place for a breather and a pic. To my right is one of my bestest friends in-world, Serenity. She can be a blast. Lately I've been modifying LOL Cat pictures to look like her avie and posting them to the LKC blog ... or sending private ones to her. Just as she's an easy target for my humor she's also been an easy target for griefers. Remember, people: She is my friend and thus falls under my protection.

The Second Life 5th Birthday celebration was a joy because I got to do a couple things I really, really enjoy: Build and promote the Isle of Lesbos. I made an abstract miniature of the Isle so people could get a taste of the landscape, activities, entertainments, and culture of the Isle and to learn more about the lesbian lifestyle. Constant fussing and picking at this display took up more time than it should have, but I had a great time and I think it was worth it. Sure, I had to airbrush out the nipples on some classic paintings. Sure we had one (minor) griefer, but overall it was a great experience that I hope to repeat for the 6th birthday celebration.

Scenes like this should have been at the birthday party, but I didn't have the room or the prims. To me, the Furries & Friends Deck in the jungle at the Isle of Lesbos represents what I think the Isle stands for ... a peaceful, relaxing natural environment, free from most of the drama and negativity found elsewhere in-world where people can gather and just be themselves. The Deck is a microcosm of the Isle with cuddles, music, free goodies, fishing, fantasy, secret suprises, intimacy, whimsy, beauty, and so many more things. Probably my favorite place on the Isle, if you were to ask.

All that describes Grendel's Children, too, a wonderful collection of regions with the best values on innovative avatars, a fabulous landscape, and plenty of places to have a good time. The regions were remodeled in 2008 and, frankly, I prefer the previous structures (like the one shown here) but the ground level landscape still rocks (pun intended). It is a beautiful desert trying hard to be verdant. 2008's intricate cave system is gone, but it is still a wonderful visit.

My home. "Uccello's Land" at Whispering Big Pines. This was my dream home. I say that because I found that I just couldn't tweak it any more. I kept finding it was perfect, just what I wanted and needed. Many thanks to the Bestest Big Sister a girl could ever want, Threshin, for letting me live there. One day I may be able to create something simliar, but my home was more than prims and mesh landscape. It was a part of me. A part of my head and my heart and my soul. If the rest of the Grid had gone away I'm sure I could have been quiet happy here. (/me pats her Inventory knowing that the components are there, waiting to be let loose ...) I'm so glad to have had this, probably the highlight of my 2008, right after being married to my Angela. When she was there with me, life was near perfect.

This is where Angela and I live now, with several items from my previous home making this corner of the world extra special. Likely I'll be tweaking for some time to come. Just today I was doing some building and landscaping. Really, I should have been swimming and playing. Or working in my store. Three-quarters of the region is dedicated to retail space (Angela's store, mine, and some tenants) but it is spread out enough that the whole environment is inviting and attractive. I should work on an interactive element, maybe adding to the back story that the region is a former volcano undergoing succession from rock and grass to more sophisticated plants (an animals? Thinking about that one.). Thank you, Angela. I know you did this as much for me as you did for having a retail space.

Not my favorite build, but Burning Life was still fun. I dipped my brushes in every primary color paint can I could find and splashed, splashed, splashed. Many folks told me they liked it so I guess it worked. At least it gave me some ideas for Burning Life '09 if I get a spot. And it was an opportunity to experiment with scripts and wild design. Hopefully folks used it for my other intended purpose: learning about diversity and the lesbian lifestyle.

Oh, the pix I left in my inventory. I could have added a dozen more, easily. Maybe some will show up here in the future as part of another retrospective or to show how things change over time. Maybe they won't. Hopefully I'll be busy making more memories, ones as happy as those I have of 2008.