Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gallery Gift Shop

The Gallery Gift Shop (SLurl) is a quirky sort of place, not because of the scenery or the structures, but that it seems to be more art gallery than retail shop. And then rather have the shop focus on one creator, the retail portion is made up of goods from many vendors (such as doP Kidd, hiroy Boa, Lindsay Rozen, Pandora Popstar, and a wonderful free prefab studio structure from Lindini2 Lane, along with others) presenting a rather eclectic selection of items. The shop itself is a delight, but the art is what held me there.

The wall art, according to an info note card, comes from SL's Flickr artists, but no Web addresses are listed.
I spent well over an hour wandering the rather small space, closely admiring works from the many, many artists represented (Agatha Latte, Pumpkin Tripsa, Khyle Sion, AM Radio, Yaskui Beck, and Trindolyn Beck, and Cory Edo, to mention just a few). Just about anyone should be able to find a sculpture, some fine wall art, or creative landscaping (yes, it's an art, dammit!) they will find breathtaking. The curator(s) arranged the selections tastefully and in a pleasing fashion. I felt like I was at a fine, yet casual, museum.

Be sure to step outside the shop to look about. Many hands cooperated to make this harmonious landscape. I can hardly wait to see what it looks like every four weeks!
According to a note card that came with a souvenir bunny sculpture (on the 2nd floor of the gallery), "This special event will be on a 4 week rotation. Items sold will be discounted, exclusive, transfer, or new released here first!" I'm marking my calendar to come back at least every four weeks.

I'm pleased to see AM Radio represented here, but he is just one of several prominent SL artists showcased.
I would be remiss if I didn't thank SpaceCase at The Virtual Vagabond blog for finding this shop and writing about the freebie inside (which I then shamelessly posted on the LKC Blog). One of the best ways to explore Second Life is to see where other folks write about. The effort to post, while often trivial, shows an appreciation and value.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of Second Life Viewers

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:

Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
nd why the sea is boiling hot--

And whether pigs have wings."
     The Walrus and The Carpenter, by Lewis Carrol
And perhaps of Second Life Viewers. The Lab's continual refusal to keep viewers for Apple users (and Linux users, though I don't know any) on par with viewers for Windows is very disappointing. Sure, I chose to upgrade to v2.8 despite the warning that it was not compatible with my operating system. Some of the blame for poor performance falls upon me. But I see no reason that it could not be as useable as it should have been.

So I've been using Kirsten's Viewer again (v2.7.5(8); Web). In fact, at this moment I'm in a region that is normally a wee bit laggier than most other places and I'm getting over 30 frames per second with my graphics set to Ultra. Earlier today on the official viewer I managed 10 frames per second with my graphics set to Mid. Sure, Windows users of Kirsten's are one version more advanced than the Apple users  but consider the financial and human resources behind each project. I'm walking around pretty much lag-free and with a stunning looking environment by not using a viewer built by the founders.

Like any viewer there are bits of the GUI I'm not fond of using, but there are always trade offs. Performance is the key issue. In fact, I've come to believe over the last few weeks that what The Lab needs more than introducing some really nice new avies for noobs, more than "re-branding," and more than trying to be Facebook, is increased in-world performance to save our struggling world. Being able to move smoothly, to see crisp textures instead of blurry (or worse, gray) patches, and having a delay-free chat system would increase overall satisfaction and boost hours used plus retention. The Lab should start with making the viewer process images (and all data, really) more efficiently.

Populus adveho. Populus animadverto. Populus licentia.

Here's what leads me to that conclusion: Noobs. Hard core Residents understand the lag issue and, in some ways, embrace it as part of our culture. But I meet many new users and after they get done asking for sex or money, they ask "why are things gray?" Or "why can't I move?" Unless these folks embrace the lag or at least tolerate it until they find something that keeps them in Second Life they are merely Players. People come. People see. People leave. Less lag would go a long way to retaining them as Residents.

I'm no programmer, but I've used software since I was old enough to hold a computer mouse and I know that a scalable interface is often used to improve performance. The Lab has started this, in a fashion, but providing a Basic Mode and an Advanced Mode. Keeping things simple, however, doesn't necessarily improve processing ability. Take this idea and run with it. Allow functions to be activated only as needed so that the viewer doesn't have to process bits of information needlessly. Have you noticed that your inventory "stutters" when friends sign on or off? That's the system updating the Calling Cards. So that item you were looking at in your Inventory is whisked away as the window updates and you have to scroll back to it. There must be a more efficient way to solve this problem than by turning off the notifications in Preferences.

What about exploring different ways to cache textures? Perhaps a "baking" system can be developed that would allow builders to optimize texture size for any given prim even if a very large texture is initially applied (a 128x128 pixel texture rezzes faster than a 512x512 pixel texture, though large surfaces are crisper with higher resolution textures)? What about a more efficient method of storing inventory? Are the new Web profiles as efficient as possible?

Why not take everything to the Web? Surely this could be a precursor to Second Life Anywhere (my term), the ability to visit Our World in a web browser or a mobile application. A scalable interface would allow hardware of various capabilities to access Second Life more efficiently than having one set of bloatware trying to run on all platforms.

Certainly I have more questions than answers. As I said, I am no programmer. But I am a Resident and I know how most thing work in the end. And right now things are not working very well.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More New Avatars: The Final Cut

Wanting to post something quickly about the new avatars in our basic Inventory folder I took a couple snaps and dashed off some words ... ta dahhhh! ... my previous post. But obviously, there is more to the story than that and I hate minimal posts, so here's a more in-depth look.

The first thing I noticed when trying on the new outfits is that the days of PermaPanties are not quite gone. If you were ever on the Teen Grid, you know that you could never take your underwear off. And many of the avatars in the selection given new Residents of late also have PermaPanties. These new outfits go a bit further with some of the actual clothing on the skin. Change the skin and the outfit could be unusable.

Female Gladiator
The Female Gladiator is one of the few exceptions, though in this pic from the backside I've chosen to show just the prim parts. While the panties are on the skin layer, the pants and a shirt are on removable layers so if you use your regular skin everything should be fine. The hair is rather nice and styled appropriately for the outfit. The sword and shield are non-functional but they look nice.

Female Pirate
The Female Pirate is a different story. The shirt and the pants are on the skin layer so to use the skirt with my skin I had to make my own "glitch" pants and I've opted to do without a shirt under the jacket, though I could probably dig up something appropriate from my vast closet. However, I did keep the skin (no, that's not it in the picture) because it is very nice and I can still look like me if I use it with the outfit and my shape. Plus, the skin has hair on the scalp so the hat looks good without attaching separate prim hair. The best part, I think would be the extraordinary boots. Honestly, I like them better than the expensive ones I bought over the years.

Female Steampunk
The boots from the Female Steampunk outfit are the only parts of that ensemble I decided to keep. I wasn't a fan of the textures used in the rest of the outfit, though it seemed generally well made and fairly original. Like all the boots I kept from the new collection, an alpha layer is used to mask your feet so you don't need to resize your feet and with a little editing you don't need a fitted shoe. Here's how I did it: Attach the prim parts and edit the position so the soles come very close to the bottoms of your avatar's feet. Don't worry if your parts of your feet or ankle or calf show. Then put on the alpha layer. By editing linked parts you can drag the red, green, and blue sizer handles to cover any bits not hidden by the alpha layer. Using the white resized handles simply stretches all the prims and can make the boots look grossly oversized.

Female Future Punk
My favorite boots amongst the bunch are from the Female Future Punk outfit despite all the extra editing they required. And I think they look spectacular with the pants from the same outfit. I tossed everything else except the socks. Wearing them fluffs out the pants a bit as if they are stuffed into the boots. The shirt was nice, but it was on the skin and therefore useless. Here I'm wearing a top I got from one of the Japan earthquake fundraisers.

Female Explorer
The Female Explorer outfit, highly reminiscent of Tomb Raider's Lara Croft, was also highly disappointing. All the clothes were on the skin, leaving just the boots, the hair, and a belt. Frankly, the hair did not compliment my face at all, so it got tossed with the skin. I'm not sure when I'll need a high-riding belt with a rope and a torch on it, but the boots are pretty nice.

Like with the Pirate outfit, I suppose I could keep the skins for all of the sets. With my shape I'd still be "me" and I'd get the clothes, too boot, but I'm happy with what I kept. And very, very happy that The Lab has been so generous again.

More New Avatars!

Yesterday's Lost & Found folder SNAFU (Web) made me look in the basic Inventory today and, yes!, there are new avies in the Clothing > Initial Outfits folder. Looks like male and female versions in several styles: Average, Dancer, Explorer (very Lara Croft, but don't tell the copyright people at The Lab), Future Punk, Gladiator, Pirate (pictured above), and Steampunk. There is a Male Sport Avatar, too, but not a female version.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Faces @Lesbos

Janeforyou Barbara, owner of the Isle of Lesbos, recorded a bit of video for YouTube today from the Faces club at Lesbos! Wooot! One day I'll figure out SL movies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Don't Install v2.8.0.236429

The march of Second Life viewer updates continues and I've installed v2.8.0.236429 from The Lab despite the ominous warning on the Release Notes page. Really, now much notice did The Lab need that a new operating system was coming for one of the most popular-selling computing ecosystems available? Even I could have paid the fee to become a developer and receive all the materials necessary to create or update applications. Not that I'd have the talent to be a developer, but I would hope that someone at The Lab would be so blessed.

But judging by the way the new Region Environment Settings have been implemented, I begin to doubt that there is such a person (or persons). Somehow, they've managed to add several steps to the process of adjusting Windlight settings. There is now no direct way to access the individual settings used for small tweaks to any Preset. Further, the control panels that one can eventually access are larger than before, thus blocking more of the view so one has to continually move the pane about to judge the changes, even on a big 27" monitor with 2560 x 1293 resolution.

Another example of The Lab demonstrating a lack of technical ability? Our Web Profiles. If you log you will see the new "Facebook"-like commenting system that is preconfigured to decrease your privacy by allowing others to post comments to your Profile. If you don't want this feature, you can turn it off, but it should be off by default. Until you do that you'll also have the viewer stall much like when Friends sign on or off (the system updates your Calling Cards when that happens and it causes the viewer to "stutter") whenever a comment is posted because you see a notice in-world.

In-viewer bugs have made Profiles in accessible starting with v2.7 so I don't know if I can post or read Profile comments or not.  And the comment notices cause a noticeable freeze just like when friends log in or out.
Rough comments from someone who usually defends The Lab's viewers, I know, but they are completely off base with these changes. Instead of looking for someone to rebrand Second Life (Web) I think they need to hire a GUI design specialist. Google did for it's new Google+ (Web) ... why can't The Lab?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick Visit: Looking Glass

Honest, I was just shopping when I found it!
Long story short, I was looking for a unique cottage and the TLG Wizards retreat (Web) certainly seemed to qualify, so I went to see it in-world at "Looking Glass" on the Horizon Dream sim (SLurl). That's when I saw this view and had to snap it. And it was a good excuse to try the official beta viewer's new environment controls. This is the Tropicala day cycle preset paired with the Murky water preset. Graphics quality was set to Ultra but turing on Lighting and Shadows destroyed this beautiful sky.

Monday, July 25, 2011

L$2000 and Some Land

I've always been a fan of the Gardens of Dreams (GOD) "skyboxes," but whenever I have the money to get one, I don't think of them. And when I think of them, I don't have the money. Worse yet, every time I visit the shop (SLurl), I swear I find new skybox scenes that I want to buy. Here's the latest L$2000 goodie that I've lusted after:

The Hidden Cove. Available in-world or on the Marketplace.
It's only 270 prims so I know a few places where I could rez it without upsetting the land owners about prim limits so long as I cleaned it up when I was done, but it takes up 55 meters of space on each side, so finding a place to rez it without going over property lines might be hard.

When when I get it, the problems will really start. There are at least four other scenes that I want. GOD has a wonderful Roman bath, a great treehouse, a gorgeously detailed provincial village, and an ocean habitat bar rather like one I started a few years ago but infinitely better than I would have made.

Second Life is truly magical, but rather spend, huh?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mainland Treat: Memorial Park

One of my particular delights in Second Life is exploring the Mainland. Often I'll just open up the map, zoom out, and then double-click on a random spot to teleport there. Other times I'll find a road or a railroad and follow it to look around, rezzing a vehicle if I can.

Another delight is CC Columbo's (my RL brother!) return to Mainland. He has a Linden home, but last May he found a parcel in Nangrim that he had previously owned and it was for sale. Cheap. So he bought it and rebuilt the Memorial Park (SLurl), a site dedicated to my niece/his daughter who passed away some years ago, just like when he first lived in Nangrim. Well, maybe not "just like" in appearance. The new incarnation is, in my opinion, much prettier because sculpty prims, better textures, and a better viewer experience combine to make his current design much more attractive.

A birdseye view of the Memorial Park, a "standard" 512 square meter parcel. To the left in this picture is north.

When I watched CC build he ignored all my input with a kind silence, slapping my hand but once as I reached for the computer mouse, but as I had hoped, he did put in a couple chair so folks can sit and enjoy the view.
I was surprised when he pulled the fairy statue from his inventory and a pond just like I own, though I later learned that he had snuck the latter out of my inventory while I was in the shower earlier that day. The only change he made after finishing is the addition of the cooler near the chairs. I've asked a few times if he'll put a memorial stone in like has at his house but he never answers. In the old park he had a board with clickable prims that dispensed note cards with information about his daughter and the disease that took her life, Metachromic Leukodystrophy.

Yes, it has been a couple months since he finished the Park, but the lack of memorial and his silence led me to believe he is looking for a bit of privacy so I haven't specifically blogged about his effort. But then again, he is on Mainland and the parcel is open to all. And I think it is one of the most beautiful small builds in all Second Life. I'm proud of what he's done and think it needs time in the spotlight.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hugs to Norway

Oslo Norway are in a "war like" situation.
I am safe with the famely.

That is from Janeforyou Barbara, my friend in Norway and owner of Second Life's Isle of Lesbos. I thought she would be alright since she doesn't live in Oslo, but she travels and ... well, I'm relieved. If you haven't heard, a major bomb blast in the city center has killed at least seven people (at the time of this writing) and there has been a shooting attack at a Labour youth camp outside the city. I've been glued to the BBC for reports.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A bit of Lion dismay

While it has only been a short time since I upgraded to Apple's OS X 10.7 (Lion!) I've found a couple quirks but nothing truly annoying. Second Life performance even seems snappier as I suspect that some video drivers were changed. But that may actually lead to a problem that I found today.

While trying the graphics settings recommended by Gorgeous Yongho in "How to Take & Publish a Gorgeous SL Fashion Screenshot," a blog post by Hamlet Au, I found that activating the Lighting and Shadows feature in my viewer Graphics Preferences completely borks the picture.

Before activating Lighting and Shadows

After activating Lighting and Shadows
Aside from setting the Windlight choice to Nam Optimal Skin 1 (as recommended by foneco zuzu in the post's comments), the only other variable is that my machine won't let me activate Ambient Occlusion, as shown in Ms. Yongho's settings. Perhaps that is why I look ghosted and sickly in the second photo. Well, the lack of prim eyes doesn't help. Without them, eyes go black when shadows are activated. But it is obvious that the installation of the new operating system is a more likely cause than the lack of Ambient Occlusion as I did not have this problem the day before the upgrade.

Maybe in the next version or two of the Official Viewer or Kirstens, the two viewers I tried, will iron out this problem. But other than changing to a Windows machine or going back to OS X 10.6, feel free to post any ideas you have.

Imminently Meshed

According to a new blog post from The Lab, "The first round of rollouts of mesh will be happening over the next few weeks!" (Web) so fantastically-rendered creations like this dinosaur skeleton (from this September 2010 Linden blog post) will soon populate Our World if you have the right viewer installed. However, if you also want to create such magic, you must first complete a Question/Answer-style tutorial about intellectual property. I breezed through it with flying colors despite never having studied the subject because it was one of those common corporate training tutorials where the obvious answer is always right. Disappointing, actually, that guessing works as well as actual knowledge since the ability to change your answer if you manage to guess poorly really makes the idea of being informed moot. Only after the 10 questions do they give links to Web resources they think might be helpful to understand the complex ideas that they marginalize with the tutorial.

Builder Club

Another idea that I worked on some time ago but was never used for events at the Isle of Lesbos was my Builder Club. With the current effort to have a number of themed options I think I can sneak it in.

From the entrance side ... Yes, these textures are correct. Everything is based on a builder's platform. I added sculpty bushes in an animated texture pond and trimmed a couple prims, but otherwise everything is just as I first imagined it. In this pic I'm thinking about how I could had some particles.

From the backside ... The texture vendors were made by Prospero Linden (now Prospero Frobozz) and dispense free textures to anyone who wants them. The clock on the table in the lounge area has been set to "Buy for L$0" and is also based on Prospero's scripts. I especially like the directional "light" in the middle. I often use this exact item in big builds to help me remember the cardinal directions.
Hopefully I'll have this installed in the next couple days then I'll probably take a break before starting on an all new build, a Graveyard, and then an alien planet idea I have rolling around. That will probably do it for me unless someone has other ideas.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Snow Globes!

The Snow Globe Club is back at Lesbos! I added a sky feature to the "glass" for this iteration and a modified base. There's a surprise when you walk the ramp to enter the dome and I don't mean the logo. It lights up with each step you take.

Lion & Second Life

I'm still playing with Apple's OS update, Lion, but so far I like what I've seen and have adjusted to most of the changes easily since most of them are logical and intuitive.

The gestures for scrolling through lists and Web pages, for example, make more sense a it is like pushing a piece of paper? Want it to go "up"? Move your finger up on the scroll pad/Magic Mouse. From that you can probably figure out "down." That works in the panes of Second Life, too, like for scrolling through your inventory. Zooming the view is another mattter.

Previous to Lion, if I moved my finger on the tracking surface of my mouse (rolling the wheel away from you for Windows users), Second Life's camera would zoom in. Moving my finger toward me, as if scratching, the Second Life camera would zoom back. Not so in Lion. It is just the opposite. That will take some major getting used to before it becomes natural. Using Ctrl-Option-Click to orbit/truck the "camera" still works.

Generally, though, my computer seems snappier and even Second Life seems crisper in appearance and in function. Now if only I could get Netflix to work again ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Forlatt Fabrikk 2011

By request, the Isle Manager asked me to set up my Abandoned Factory Club as my next build for rez-on-demand system at Lesbos. I had my Snow Globe Club ready to go, but a few technical snags hit so I started work on her request. For the most part, it required no major changes from the first time we used this popular build, but I took the opportunity to tweak a few things and to generally fit it to the current space.

Outside I added a road to one side and a taxi cab to enhance the urban environment. I'm glad I toyed with the Windlight settings for this shot as I hadn't realized that the taxi's headlights were set to be light sources. A quick edit later and a re-snap and here's what I have ... outside the Forlatt Fabrikk, Inc factory at dusk. I might add a few sickly trees.

Inside the club with my custom-made graffiti textures and a seating area for where I intend to have the stripper pole go when folks rez this build. Not shown are a couple dingy mattresses and the stereotypical barrel fire. The DJ booth is partly custom, borrowing heavily from some freebies.
Once this is installed, I'll get back to the Snow Globe Club then tackle a gem that I loved but was never used, my Builder Club, somewhere to party for all diehard Second Life builders.

When builders add little details it shows, in my opinion, how much they care, so I try to do the same. Here are some pigeons near the sign that I did my dangdest to make look like was falling off it's attachment pegs like I've seen on RL buildings in need of maintenance. Click the pic then zoom in as much as you can ... I put in pegs!  In most things I build for Lesbos I like to add bits to amuse our Norwegian big boss, Janeforyou Barbara. Can you figure out what I did for her?

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Aquarium Club

One of the on-demand clubs at The Isle of Lesbos is a new, non-recycled concept ... a giant aquarium!

Of course the "glass" is set to phantom, otherwise folks can't get into the Aquarium Club and they'll miss out on the gallons and gallons of fun within.
Looking out the front it's easy to see the highly detailed and totally unnecessary water filter, the required diver with treasure chest, and the fishies which are really swimming about.
The club is a bit of a cheat since it is based on the Stone Heart Club that I built for The Empress Isle, an extension of Lesbos that no longer exists. It also became the basis for other clubs but I won't resurrect them. But one day I was looking at the "stonehenge" part of the build and thought it would look good in an aquarium.
This club was actually started some time ago, but there were too many technical issues to carry through with it at the time. Recent changes to the Isle made it easy to finish the build and just in time, too, as DJ Csar and Hostess Thea plan on using the club tomorrow (hence the signs seen in the first pic).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More Faces

Some time ago when The Isle of Lesbos first tried the idea of "clubs-on-demand" for our events, I had a very large space to work in so I created a run-down warehouse district with a trendy, neon-lit club inside an old building and I called it Faces after the panels of black and white portraits around the perimeter of the dance floor. Not long after when I needed a spacey theme structure for Second Life's 6th birthday expo (click here for earlier blog posts about SL6b), I adapted the interior to a "pressure dome" to make a "habitat" suitable for the environment.

We had to make our builds look like they existed on an alien moon or asteroid or something. The sims were always set to Midnight so the glow I put into the first Faces club worked well here. Instead of b/w portraits, the panels had pictures of couples from the Isle and scenes from around the Isle. You can see an early version on the Pride Club in one panel.

When the on-demand clubs were moved to a different place, I adapted Faces to fit the new space. I took the SL6B build, put the original portraits back and made it into a sort of pier on the bay, pictured at left, so it would have beautiful views of the sunrise and nice scenery the rest of the day, even past sunset. I'm happy to say our staff used this club very often.

So I'm tickled pink to bring it back to the Isle as we again try the on-demand clubs idea. I've already created a giant aquarium to use but I wanted to feature Faces first, so here's the new one!

A viewer bug won't let me get a prim count, but it is all linked in just five chunks. This will be a cinch to put in the club rezzers. The major new item is the mask sculpture. I was a bit miffed at myself to see I had errors in the orginal build(s) from which I got these parts, but happy that I was able to fix them and more efficient ways to link the parts.
I'll be featuring other clubs in up-coming posts. All my faves should be coming back, hopefully enhanced, and maybe some new ones, like the Aquarium Club.

Who says ...

Who says you have to be a cat to enjoy Caturday?

The medieval-magic roleplay regions of Mystara have added an adorably silly Out-of-Character play area and my wee pixy alt took full advantage of having LOLville (Slurl) all to her self. She stomped around on her Guineasaurus (from Intrigue; SLurl) for quite a long time today, bedecked in her blue bunny jammies and silly glasses. If you don't have your own massive rodent, grab a free LOLkart to muck about in, ride the train, or check out some of the more ... um .. scatological activities.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apparently I Need Friends

Look what just showed up in my email inbox:

They really aren't this blurry, I'm sure, but I confuzzled things to protect others.
Apparently The Lab thinks my alt need friends. I have no idea who these five people are or why they were chosen to be compatible with what amounts to a non-entity. The only Friends on her list are other alts and my brother. Her profile shows two Interests: Exploring and Flying. She belongs to only one group and has but two Picks in her Profile. Sure, this makes her sound lonely, but is it that noticeable?

This is just another sign that The Lab is steering Our World harder into the Social Media traffic stream and I find it annoying. I don't belong to Facebook, Google+, MySpace, or Twitter. Plurk hasn't seen me in about a year. I blog and sometimes post to Flickr. Does it sound like that avie wants to be social?

Oh, by the way? Three more such mails were in the Spam folder, on each for three other alts. And I got one, too, at my email address for this avie. I wonder if this is why I had a random Friend request waiting for me when I logged in just now? Based on that person's profile it might have been a noob just showing up here, but I'm preparing for more requests.

I checked a few of the profiles and can't say I'm eager to meet any of these folks, but I did notice that the Interests that we share are highlighted in their profiles. Until I erase mine, that is ...

Don't Taze Me, Brony!

Last week I listened to former US President Bill Clinton play the "Not My Job" game on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me podcast (Web). As part of the game, he was asked about a real life phenomenon called Bronies: older, usually male fans of the cartoon My Little Pony and the "magic of friendship" it represents (Web).

Well, if it happens in RL, it happens in SL, so I did a quick search for "Bronies" and found Bronyville (SLurl) where I picked up my free beta avatar, started customizing it, messed up, looked for the non-existent directions card, watched the "Getting Started" video I thought I was smart enough to initially ignore, corrected my mistakes, then sent in an alt to do it right. So now I'm a pure white unicorn while my wee pixy alt is a pixybrony.

Uccello on the left and Zyx Flux on the right at the Lesbos Secret Garden.
I bought a rainbow mane and tail but used a unicorn horn that I had made a couple years ago. When I get around to it, I'll make a cel-shaded version to match the pony body. Zyx colored one of the several tail and mane combos included with the avie and added some wings that were in the Bronyville freebies section.

My mistakes? Mostly they centered on thinking the coloration HUD worked at all or worked in a certain way. I still can't get it to apply the "Cutie Marks" as shown in the video, but since everything is Copy/Mod, changing them by editing the linked prims was easy. Coloring the eyes and the body parts is nearly impossible without the HUD due to the way they are constructed. I'd recommend taking off the mane and the tail then using the HUD, attaching everything again and coloring/texturing the rest by editing. I'm sure that when the avie leaves beta status everything will be much easier.

One thing I didn't do since I'm not feeling very social lately is hang round with the many other Bronies at the shop. Each time I visited, though, there were at least a half-dozen of them, each uniquely kitted out and fun to see. You'll get plenty of ideas for customizing your look just by walking around. In addition to the numerous freebies I mentioned, several "shops" have some goodies to upgrade your avie, like the bits I bought, and the prices are pretty reasonable.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Best Part of Tuesday

Sure, I got a lot done today, what with two loads of laundry, helping with grocery shopping, making three meals for my family, and a few other items keeping me from Second Life. But even when I could log in I managed to do my SL laundry (sorted clothes), packed away things to be stored, finished a new teleporter network for the Isle of Lesbos, and set up my Mouse Club for an upcoming event on the Isle. But the best part of my day? Hot tub nuzzles with my wife, Angela.

The hot tub at Lesbos has a great sunset view.
I really need to end my day like this more often.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Duchy of Camelaird

I've been a fan of weapons from Punchinello Philin's Gryphon Lair for some time now and I love to visit his authentic medieval region, The Duchy of Camelaird (in Winterfell Gryphondale; SLurl). There he has beautifully laid out the pre-fabs that he also sells. While the buildings are probably too clean and unweathered, the landscape is very natural with appropriate vegetation harmoniously planted.

When you land you'll be in the Winterfell Haven structure, some 1202 prims (unfurnished) and only L$14,000 if you want your own copy or if you want to buy one for me. Several structures surround this common area, many suitable as residences. One is filled with vendors for weapons and the pre-fabs you see in the region.
Leaving the small village and heading toward what appears to be an older settlement, you'll find a healthy young crop. In the distance to your left you can see the top of the castle. On my back is my Gryphon Lair Zweihander sword ("Female Size" if you believe it), one of my favorite blades. Look close and you'll see a notch for the Orc I took down in Mystara.
Looking westward into the village, across the bridge from the castle (not shown)
Similar angle but from further out shows how compact the build really is despite the spacious feeling you get when walking around (no flying, probably for your own good as the region is damage enabled). The castle will take a while to explore so plan your day accordingly. And if you want to buy one of these for me, too, feel free.
I could sit at the base of the castle enjoying this view for a very long time, it is so beautiful.
So how did I find this place? First I map hopped from a near by region that has a shop for Gryphon Lair. Then I was given a landmark by my brother who did the same thing but does collect LMs. However, entering the region has been hit-or-miss as if it is closed to the public at times, maybe for the owner's role play activities. He's often there, but you'll probably see a ^ for Punchi on the Mini-Map, almost directly above where I'm sitting in that last picture, likely far up in a private build area.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to head back into the village to get some supplies ...

You can find an earlier, related story here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Sunday In-World

Lately I've been in a building mood but haven't really had a goal or an idea, so I've been puttering around the Isle of Lesbos making sure the trees are still in the ground, stray prims from others haven't gotten loose, and general maintenance. I've also finalized two tours of the Isle using the YavaScript tour pod system (SLurl). And I took some time to spruce up the newly renovated North Beach, home to my Teeny Bikini Bar by adding a spiral slide and some seating. While this sounds productive, it has been a rather lazy day over all.

When I first tried to activate shadows for this shot, everything turned black and I eventually crashed. No, that isn't the depth-of-field feature making part of the background blurry. The textures simply took longer to rez than I wanted to wait. But I did tweak the haze in the sky and set my graphics to Ultra.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Go Inside the Snow Globe

When you visit the fabulous landscaping shop Arctic Greenhouse (SLurl) you'll see a snow globe (pictured below) and will be tempted to click on it ... do it. You'll get a landmark that will take you to another spot in the region where you can explore the landscape you saw inside the snowglobe. And my golly, it is gorgeous. Check out these pix but go see things for yourself!

This is the snow globe inside the shop. Another is outside near where the landmark takes you, or you could simply fly around as the landmark is rather superfluous unless you want to save it to visit the region again ... and you probably will.

Of course there is a greenhouse. And it is filled with stunning plants, landscaping items, and a full-perms builder's area in the basement. Click the lava-themed portal near where you land and you'll be whisked off to the snow globe's core. While there, relax with coffee and donuts or play some games for prizes.

The landscape seems relatively normal, but a look to the sky shows the other-worldly environment from which the region probably gets it's name: Alternate Reality. The pearlescent moon floats majestically by and you can board the larger of the the two airships you'll find in the sky.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ridiculous Engineering

When my boss at the Isle of Lesbos is bored, lonely, or depressed, she remodels. For a time she was convinced that this is bad and channeled her energy into other pursuits (read: Meeroos). But I didn't finish saying "yes, that's a goo...." before she leaped at the chance to radically change the landscape as part of a scheme to make the Isle's club area a bit more efficient. After she did the heavy digging and we both tweaked the landscape, I was left with making the idea of a 60m2 platform float 49m in the air seem at least moderately plausible. Here's what I came up with in the end: Giant propellors on each side of the platform.

A large platform still wasn't enough to hold my 2nd outdoor grunge/rave club design from a couple years ago ... a good 15m of it hung off the edge of the sim. But everyone had a good time and I'm sure I can adapt it to the smaller footprint.

That's me on the propellor engine, by the way, checking the works for proper operation.
First I tried support arches. I didn't like what they did to the view. Then I considered rocket engines under the platform. No, the trees would suffer. Then I took a serious stab at having airship balloons tethered to the corners. I didn't like the sculpts I got and the final product would be nearly 50 prims. Finally, I settled on tethered circus balloons. Some 30 prims later I decided I just didn't like it ... the placement might have interfered with any clubs that were rezzed, either by blocking bits of the builds or just visually. During supper, I decided to go with giant propellors, as you see. Certainly just as ridiculous as the other ideas, but the lowest prim and the least intrusive of any option. I still might tether some balloons, but off the engines this time. Or I just might do something new every few weeks. I get bored, lonely, and depressed, too.

Why I don't keep Landmarks

As much as I love the Favorites bar in the current viewer, I have a love/hate relationship with Landmarks in general. In fact, I seldom keep them. Why not? Things change. In Real Life, places seldom move. Tokyo, Chicago, East Millinocket (there is no West Millinocket), Cardiff, any number of places you can name just don't move. But places within places can move. My favorite place to get BBQ ribs locally has moved three times in the last year. If I need to know the address, I search the Internet or ask around. Well, to be honest, I really just get in the car. Someone else drives as I don't have a license and with any luck they know where things are to be found. Goodness knows I haven't found Urban Spoon, Yelp, or similar services to be accurate in my area.

Second Life is worse as whole regions can move or disappear. Then places within places move like drops of mercury in fishbowl (don't ask how I know). When I had a retail shop it moved something like seven times. My home has moved at least as many times. I can keep up with landmarks for those places. But I was about to send a noobie to some freebie shops when I thought "its been a while since I've seen them ..." and popped out to find them. Gone. Four really great places. Gone. Not to mention ones that I knew had gone away, like the fabulous Gnubie Store.

Another reason? Most folks don't maintain the Landmarks they expect us to use. When shops move they sometimes don't update the Landmarks in their packaging or the SLurls they publish in blogs or on The Marketplace. For instance, after I checked the freebie shops I'm off exploring at a well-known shop where I take a Landmark from a marked giver to go see a pre-fab demo I would like to buy ... no such place. I even flew 100 meters around the destination and found no such place. The shop is there. One of the many other demo pre-fabs was in place. But not the one I wanted to see nor were some others.

Delete ...

No, I don't keep Landmarks, as a rule.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More about the new Avies

Linden Robot No5 Glubsch Invader
This avie has two bodies, so look in the folder after
you add this one to your own inventory.
It's official! The avatars I highlighted have been announced by The Lab on their own blog (Web) and they have pictures of all the new options. The post is a worthwhile read beyond the avies as it has new information about the group chat lag problem and other issues, plus important news.

The Best Part of Prize Hunts

There was a time that I enjoyed participating prize hunts around Second Life. It was a great way for someone with no money to fill their inventory, meet new people, and to explore Our World. Then the number of hunts increased dramatically, the number of sites in each hunt also grew, and the trend moved from being fun to just being a harvest of prizes. Hordes of Residents shuffled quickly through the sites simply grabbing the prizes then leaving. Attitudes changed as the fun behind the hunts was lost, replaced by greed and surliness. Certainly, not everyone started to behave this way. Some of us just stopped hunting.

My inventory was bloating, I barely remembered where I had found the few gems that I kept, and the constant whining I heard in the various group chats became the last straw. I found other things to do with my time, even to the point of not frequenting other prize opportunities like Lucky Chairs. Exploring Second Life by map hopping and following recommendations on blogs became my new passion.

Then the other day my bestest and oldest friend in SL raved about a hunt she was doing, the Kiyomizu "Ninja Cat" Hunt (Web). And since she seldom followed hunts, I thought I'd give it a try. Look what I found at Fukuoka Yakuin (SLurl):

A wee, little penguin is fishing while his son floats in a tooby near by in this beautiful sim.
Awfully darned pretty, I'd say. I still haven't found the prize yet and it doesn't matter as this view would probably be a better prize anyway. Out of the best hunts I've ever tried I've kept about 20% of all prizes anyway. With 97 possible Ninja Cats to find in this hunt I'm guessing that at most I'd likely keep fewer than 19 prizes. Thus far I've been unable to find more than 50 so I'm sure the "keep" number will be much, much lower. (Update: I kept 9 of 57.)

But I've approached this hunt with the objective to simply enjoy myself, whether I'm playing a piano in the clouds at AngA (SLurl) or watching Ninja Cat kiss a purply cat in (of all places) Kissakat Island (SLurl). Japanese owned or operated regions always impress me. Sometimes for beauty (I love the recurring theme of shallow waters), sometimes for the sheer energy (primary colors are the standard), or the even just the perspectives of some very creative people from a culture that is quite different from my own. Some of the merchants have even come up with funny, clever, or adorable ways to put Ninja Cat in their shops, adding to the amusement.

So I'm having a great time whether I win prizes or not. I just might have to try another hunt sometime.

Playing piano for the Heavenly Choir (though they've yet to show ... must be a rehearsal).

Kitty kisses are so kyoot. I might have to check my sugar if I look at this pic too long.