Friday, May 29, 2009

Making The Shot Part 1

Many people seem to have found their niche in Second Life be they merchants, artists, builders, socialites, griefers, or whatnot. I am not among them. Instead I try my hand at many things and quickly get bored when I feel even a modicum of mastery at the task. In this respect, my Second Life is very much like my First Life (FL).

But one activity inFL that I stuck with for quite some time was photography. Sitting in my basement is a large collection of cameras, lenses, tools, and such rapidly becoming obsolete and possibly unusable. Based on praise and even a few awards, my mastery of the art was fairly high. Then I stopped.

Skipping past a long story to the present, I've often thought of resuming the craft inSL despite the lack of having high-end post-process tools and lately I've been practicing. Below is a raw (though resized) image from today's work.

This is a relatively straight picture but because it was inSL it took a bit more work than pointing a camera and clicking. For he sky inFL, for example, you'd have to wait for the right conditions, snap madly while everything is right, pray for the best, and still spend some time in Photoshop (or the like) if you wanted odd colors. Thanks to Mescaline Tammas's efforts, I simply "dialed in" the SL sky I wanted, in this case the Verdigris preset (Web). Getting the clouds where I wanted was still up to chance. There is no way to freeze exactly what I wanted, but they can be fixed in post. Of course I used the Ultra settings in Edit > Preferences > Graphics for the best looking water and texture details.

Another advantage of working inSL is model control. For this shot I didn't use any special animation, pose, or expression. Aside from cobbling together some great kit from various vendors the model is pretty stock. The main control was telling myself to "hold," though doing so was as simple as right-clicking on an attached prim and choosing Edit when everything was right, then moving the camera. Here is how it looked to me on screen:

You can see that I used the attached shield as my edit point. Then I Ctrl-Alt-Moused around for the camera view. It seems there is a way to simulate telephoto compression (Web) inSL, but as it wasn't necessary for this shot I didn't bother trying to figure out how I accidentally do it sometimes.

Next? I don't have Photoshop, but I have the "lite" version and I have GIMP and Acorn so I might do some post, maybe softening the image a bit and doing something to separate the figure from the background. But this is a start and I might make a decent photographer inSL yet. Since the World has more photographers than you can shake a prim at so one more won't make a difference. Maybe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My New Job with the Tribe

Shep Korvin, inventor of the Lucky Chair and head of the Lucky Tribe, paid me a very high compliment when he asked me to contribute to his Lucky Tribe blog (Web). Primarily I'll write about the great prizes that Tribe members can earn when and I'll be giving out "Kudos Points" for the first people to read these entries. Learn more about the Tribe in-world with this SLurl.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Insurance and Folder Perms and Backups

Recent events and a discussion of the SL asset permission system on Tatero Nino's blog Dwell On It (Web) has got me thinking once again (earlier post) that some sort of insurance system should be developed to protect against inventory loss. The event: A club I was building disappeared from my inventory. The in-world copy was deleted to conserve prims and now only one link set remains, some carefully adjusted curtains. Maybe the cause was some form of stupidity on my part. Some recent health issues have left me not entirely "here," so to speak. But if the cause was similar to my previous losses then I'll be well and truly upset.

At one time I owned nearly every dragon pet made by Winx Whiplash, beautiful L$400 creatures that captured my heart the first time I saw them. The collection took nearly two years to build and it disappeared over night. Along with an expensive and now unobtainable riding unicorn and dozens upon dozens of other critters, avatars, and other objects from a variety of folders. My Wryms dragons were copyable and I had the backups. Same with some other objects, but the dragons were gone. All the standard recovery methods failed and I was without my pets or the funds to replace them.

If this had been Real Life some homeowner's insurance would have covered the property loss and I'd have the cash to rebuild the herd. Sure, I'd have to prove the loss and there would be paperwork, but eventually my losses would be made whole. Why can't there be insurance inSL?

For one, it would require the cooperation of The Lab, and their acquisition of XStreet leads me to believe they'd rather have us spend money to replace assets than to use resources to recover or replace them. Actually, the arrangement could be a boon if there was a way to verify that an asset was no longer in the databases (think UUID) then a requested replacement could be sent via Xstreet in a manner much like the Midnight Mania prize redelivery system developed by Shep Korvin.

Secondly, planning for schemers and hackers would mean considerable investment in a secure system. I don't believe The Lab would be willing to work with someone to do this even if a turn-key solution was provided. Again, it would not be to the benefit of The Lab if they are not convinced it is a serious issue. And would you want to admit that your servers lose inventory?

Maybe The Lab could be convinced to let users set permissions on our folders and assets. The folders for Objects or Scripts, for example, can't be deleted. I would love to have the ability to set "can't delete" on folders I've created or even on individual items in a folder. It wouldn't be fool proof (there are too many talented fools) and it wouldn't prevent on-server losses, but it's an idea.

Or maybe The Lab could implement backups. Everything that I have with full C/M/T permissions is eventually copied to an Alt I created for storage. Same for things that I can transfer and but seldom use. This has helped on a few occasions, but won't solve the problem with losing No Trans assets. Here is a chance for The Lab to make some more money: Backups for Premium accounts. Just a thought. I have two premium accounts and my brother has a third. That is $216USD per year they get from our household. Some value-added consideration would be nice.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

G'Bye, Prospero

Prospero Linden leaves Second Life® and the memorials at his office (SLurl) have begun. You will be missed, Prospero.

The freebies from his office are gone but I'm sure you can still get them at Sarah Nerd's place. Handy stuff.

See: His (rapidly changing) Wiki entry.
See: His user page in the Wiki.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lens Flare?

While most people seem to simply stand around in-word even when seating is available, I like to relax ... "take a load off" my avie's feet. So sometime this morning I was sitting at the Isle of Lesbos on a soap bubble, the ground, and various hamburgers. The larger burger I'm laying on in this picture is a favorite. It is very comfy to strap some Pikas to my feet and lay on a big, soft bun with the smells of grilled meat wafting from below.

If you look carefully at the picture, though, you'll see what looks like a lens flare* just below my left shoulder, mimicking the bands in my hair. I've seen this in several photos to date but I don't have any other examples. Despite that, my vague memory leads me to believe it has something to do with the Glow function of a prim (Web). The bands in my hair have a smidge of Glow added to them. When I get some time I'll have to investigate this, especially as of late I'm adding glow to more items that I build.

* "Lens flare is the light scattered in lens systems through generally unwanted image formation mechanisms, such as internal reflection and scattering from material inhomogeneities in the lens" (Wikipedia; Web).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Future for Avatars - Deformations FAQ

The following is reprinted with the kind permission of Daryth Kennedy from a note card received in-world:

Daryth and the rest of the Isle of Wyrms staff would very much appreciate your support for the JIRA issue:

Avatars in Second Life have been evolving since the very beginning. If you’d like to see them continue to improve with more realistic movement and more artistic possibilities, please help by voting to support Deformations.

This is an issue that effects the future for all Avatar collectors and creators. Without official support, LL has plans to disable the uploading of future Deformation anims. Our aim is to fight to gain proper support from LL for deformations instead of letting this amazing tool be disabled.


What are Deformations?
Deformations transform the appearance of an avatar beyond what
can normally be achieved via "Edit Appearance"
A deform animation can move a joint such as a knee or elbow to a different location, allowing for shapes and animations beyond the movement and size restrictions of
a basic human skeleton.

Why are Deformations important?

Both the Basilisk Dragons/Wyrmlings/Hatchlings and the Seawolf dragons use
deformations as a vital component of their construction. Neither sets of AVs could
look the way they do without Deformations.
*see Below the FAQ for a longer list of reasons to support Deformations*

Why is this JIRA important?

Although LL have agreed to respect existing content with respect to deformations
they plan to patch the route via which new deformations can be created thus making
it difficult/impossible for new content to use deformations. IF we can get LL to adopt
this JIRa then deformations, in some fashion, will become a supported part of the SL
experience and eligible for a few annoying bugs to be fixed.
Why is your vote so important?

Currently LL are primarily only concentrating on infrastructure work on SL. Several
Lindens have stated that work of this nature will only be undertaken if a JIRA receives
a lot of votes. Previous JIRAs have needed around 1000 votes in order to get LL to
sit-up and take notice.

We feel that this issue is much more than content created within the context of the
Isle of Wyrms and to that end IoW staff have been working closely with Seawolf staff
to raise awareness of this issue to both are communities and to other avatar creators
in Second Life.
What's this I hear about Gryphons?

Development is well underway and they'll be the next avatar available at the Isle of
Wyrms cathedral. Other creatures such as phoenix, chimeras, dragon turtles, and
hippogriff are also on the drawing board for later in the year.
Six reasons to support Deformations

* Improves the overall appearance of SL * much like sculpties have, by increasing the potential for more realistic and artistic creations.

* They would help SL look less out-of-date * While LL is celebrating that SL is six years old, it also means the technology is at least six yeas out of date ... something like deformations will help bring SL back up to the animation level that people see & expect in 2009. All LL has to do with something like deformations is properly support it and the content creators will take care of the rest ...

* They allow for more out of the box thinking * For many people, being something other than human in a virtual world is simply a given: why be human when you could be ANYTHING else. Deformations allow for much more impressively created & animated avatars.

* They may even increase the appeal of SL to new players * or those that might have left, by allowing for a higher level of quality in animations and character design.

* Disabling the ability to use deforms wont solve the problem * If LL's concern is griefing or misuse, there's already a slew of ugly deform anims in SL, pulling the plug on any new ones isn't going to make the griefing go away. Its just like any other tool in SL, there's always people who are going to abuse them, the root of the problem is the people themselves not the tool they use.

* LL can claim its a feature and not just another bug * They won't have to do a lot of work for something that appears to add "new" functionality - just clean up the functionality of something that's already there.
Useful Links:

The main JIRA issue:
The Council forum post for info & updates:
Stickman Ingmann's page on how to vote for a JIRA:
Thank you for your time and your vote

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cheesecake in the Shower

Having spent L$595 on a fabulous shower assembly from Nautilina (SLurl) yesterday you'd think I would have gotten around to using it before now. Nope. After building a custom shower enclosure for inside my airship (complete with nice towels from Bare Rose) last night I ran off to shop with Ange and Shilo then to play Greedy at Lesbos. But after a tough morning of Lucky Chair hopping I'm enjoying a good steam.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Designer Showcase Network

You may have seen one of these 45 or so kiosks in-world (like this one at the Isle of Lesbos - SLurl) and wondered "What is it?"

The "Designer Showcase Network" is a service connecting content creators of Second Life with prospective customers. Residents of SL can subscribe to the DSN free of charge via any of the various kiosks, and chose among 9 channels. The Network then delivers promotional samples from the participating designers to them - no more than one per day and channel, randomly selected.

I'm subscribed to the Gadgets, Vehicles and Weapons and the Business, Tools and Services channels. and this morning I was given a *Stinkeye Armpit Hair* and a language translation services kiosk. Who knows what I'll get tomorrow. Check out the "Featured Designer Archive" (Web) to see some of the past freebs. As a merchant I'm thinking about how I could best leverage this for my business, but I know that I'm recommending this to all the vendors that I know and would like to have sending some freebs to me.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Avie was stuck, I tell you!

First, the pic ... the strange skin layer issue in the Release Client of late has struck my bald body part in the regular viewer. The one I've been using for over a year now makes me a Cromag Unibrow. ::::sigh:::

Long story short: My Uccello Poultry avie is stuck in the Isle of Lesbos Mall. Kinda.

Here is the long story ....

While sitting on the Isle of Lesbos with Angela and Shilo I noticed that the adjacent mall sim was once again popping out of existence then gradually coming back over and over, my minimap flickering red each time it returned. No one else saw this happen so I teleported over to check it out but crashed when the mall disappeared again. The Second Life service wouldn't let me log back in for a period of time so I logged in as my alt..

Angela, Shilo, and I all saw my Uccello avie in the mall and on the minimap so I sent an IM to myself and then my Friends list showed "me" offline though my avie was still there. Not unusual for the "ghost avie" phenomenon. After the 5 minute wait that SL imposes I logged Uccello back in using another viewer and teleported back to the Isle where both my avies had a nice conversation with everyone. After a bit I logged out both avies and loggied Uccie back in on the Isle, her Last Location.

After walking a few steps, I saw my Uccie avie back in the mall, but everyone saw her on the Isle and in the mall. And my local chat was with everone on the Isle. So I logged out again and then back in, finding myself on the Isle for just a few moments before being whisked back to the mall one more time. Like before, I couldn't move and all my Local Chat was with people in the Isle. Angela flew over to see me but I was still both places.

I teleported home from "the mall" then back to the Isle where I was able to remain, but the dot representing me was still seen by several on the minimap as being in the mall.

What do you expect? It was a weekend.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

King Tut in Second Life

I was rather late in getting to King Tut exhibit at King's Rezzable, but I was there for about 30 minutes today and decided that I'd really need a full day to appreciate it all. But here are some initial pix. The first is me posing inside tomb at the dig site portion. The prim work and textures are phenomenal. Tremendous attention to detail everywhere with the only limits being the underlying technologies of Second Life itself. By the way, this is the perfect setting for me to wear my Isis silks from Illusions (sadly, no longer available).

Many of the pieces that you find in the main gallery and dig area are presented in huge form in the Cosmic Gallery. This jewelry set in particular stands out not just for it's beauty, but because it is all under 75 prims. All the pieces are in a fantastic 3D starscape globe filled with multimedia goodness. I won't spoil it with a picture here, but when you first enter the gallery you are presented with an enormous representation of the iconic Tut mask.

The main gallery is also fantastic, though more grounded to what we might consider real life style. Still the grid allows things that a real life museum couldn't such as this animated representation of Tut's sarcophagus, complete with audio.

Coverage from Hamlet Au (Web)
Rezzable Blog (Web)

Wandering Flip Title

When I started a shop in Second Life some time ago my Freebie Box contained a number of gadgets including a hover text titler called a FlipTitle. Little did I know that upon first use the item would notify me of the new owner and location. At first it was amusing but as more folks visited my shop or passed on a copy of the box the messages became annoying. After some work I managed to all but kill the messages. Apparently, though, a major retailer has included my original box with a collection of freebs from around the grid so about once a week or so I still get a message from a FlipTitle. Kinda reminds me of the Geo Bear project ... a stuffed bear clothed with a backpack stuffed with pre-addressed/stamped postcards is given to someone who takes it "far away" before sending back one of the cards and passing the bear on to someone else.