Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rant: Word Nerd Strikes Again

I'm a Word Nerd. See the glasses?
So many times in the last week I've been in a mood to don my Word Nerd suit and rant about poor grammar in several items that I've read of late. Chalk it up to Real Life drama spoiling my normally placid demeanor (Ha!) if you want or just increasing ineptness among people paid to write for a living. At least I'm not as bad as my brother, the former teacher, who actively corrects and "grades" news articles then sends them back to the editors. CC also sends interesting Web clippings about grammar my way, like a New York Times FAQ on Style just this morning. For anyone that has ever complained about the way I sometimes start a sentence with And, particularly a new paragraph, scroll down a bit in that piece and find something else to complain about. I am not a perfect writer. Sometimes I write "in character" or strive to be extra colloquial, but I always try my best to write well. I wish that more writers would keep at their grammar education by reading items like that FAQ from the Times because better writing is infectious. Those who read write well. Those who read better writing will themselves write better.

# # #

Blogger Tip: Use an external grammar checker if you don't write in a word processor first. Try spellchecker.net, a free Web-based application that doesn't auto-correct, but instead flags potential issues then suggests options.

Monday, May 28, 2012

SL9B: Memorial Park

When I was finally pushed into applying for an exhibit space at Second Life's 9th Birthday event (SL9B) — I was stuck for ideas of what to build and time was short so I had decided to not apply — it struck me that replicating the Memorial Park at the Isle of Lesbos would be an appropriate build for the theme of Community (as I mentioned here a few days ago). Since then my wife, Angela Seale, and I have been working as Build Partners to complete the project. At first, I wanted to start with a miniature replica as close to the original in proportions as possible, but with a square parcel of 32m2 in mind versus the sprawling rectangle of the original. Angela then took my build and started making mods that would make it an evolution (as all builds on Lesbos tend to be evolutions) as seen in the squarish build toward the rear in the picture below.

Angela's evolution build in the background with my roundy version in the foreground.

From the incept, however, I knew that we likely wouldn't win the west-facing sim edge space that I asked for (double-sized, please) so we could duplicate the sunset view and off-sim statue of the original, I thought "the build should be accessible from all sides so maybe make it roundy ..." So tonight I built the version you see in the foreground of the picture above. I hope Angela likes it. I bought some cherry trees similar to the ones at the original memorial, partly by accident since I really wanted the demos instead, and made some planters with nice sculpty grass and dirt. The main gravestone is not in place yet, nor are the remembrance candles and other details, but like I keep boasting in SL9B chat, the build is done.

Until Angela or I get another idea.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beware the Fire Giant

Available for L$389 on the SL Marketplace here or in a male version here for L$359.
My super talented friend Kaelin Westland has done it again ... another giant avatar. Coming in at six meters tall, the Fire Giant is amazingly detailed. As much as I admire what Kaelin does with the mesh itself, its the skin that really sells this avatar. Her muscles just ripple and it seems that lava is just ready to burst out.
All the armor, also mesh, is included in the package or you can easily resize prim clothes to fit. If you need help with that,  Kaelin offers a L$5 resizing script here that is better than just about anything I've seen.
You may remember her Storm Giant avatar that I wrote about on May 9th. Essentially, this is the same avatar but with theme-specific armor to go with the fire skin. And you can also resize hair or prim clothes for this avatar as with the Storm Giant.

Still scary in the buff, but maybe even more beautiful as you can really appreciate the skin.
Kaelin has also created a truly unique alien avatar (NSFW; see it here), part of an amazing 100+ item collection that includes meticulously detailed clothes, body parts, avatars, and more. As much as I tell her that she's an amazing artist she just shrugs and denies it. I like to think she's secretly smiling and blushing but I know she's really thinking about what she can do next.

Relaxing in the Bath House

A very rough week in Real Life is over now. Our cat is back from the vet with a clean bill of health. As I write this (10:30pm Saturday) he has his head on my leg and is making soft half-meow/half-purr sounds to get my attention. That will stop in a bit when I give him some more medicine, but its oh so nice right now. We've also wrapped up a funeral for a family member. It was an almost all-day event starting with a Catholic Mass in the most beautiful church I've seen outside of New York City and ending at the cemetery where an exquisite blue marble box was set to rest in a seaside grave some six hours later. Eight very handsome men, all with the family's snow white hair, stood solemnly in their matching black suits — a father and his seven boys — with a fair number of the 300 people who were at the mass in attendance in the beautiful sunshine. As good a way to end the week despite the circumstances, I'd say.

The Bath House at the Isle of Lesbos is also a wonderful way to end this week, even if I'm patting myself on the back to say so — I built it. If I had the funds and the facilities this is one of the few things I've built in Second Life that I'd try to translate into Real Life. After doing a number of necessary in-world tasks I plopped my avatar in the pool, propped my RL legs up on a box under the desk, grabbed my Kindle, and just sat to soak and read. Well, I took some pictures, too.
A lovely little table set outside with views of both the sunset and sunrise plus you can rez bumper boats from the dock.

Yes, the roped platform defies proper engineering principles. Interestingly, no one has pointed this out to me.

/me sighs at poseballs, but I guess there is no other way sometimes. If this was just a personal build I could set it so one would sit on an urn and be moved into the proper place. But a lotta folks don't sit if they don't see pose balls.
A simple design. If I could spare the prims I'd include some details from my first build, such as non-alpha textured windows and non-sculpty iron work in the roof. For as hard and as long as I looked and experimented, I still don't have a roof texture that I'm 100% satisfied with. But all-in-all, I love the Bath House. 

If you've seen that I've featured the Bath House on this blog before and you are tired of seeing it, don't worry. I'll end this post right here, soaking in the warm waters.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SL9B: Avatar Ready

Second Life's 9th Birthday prep continues as more people apply to exhibit, perform, and help out. The SL9B Web site received over 3000 hits today. As for me, I went to a meeting and finalized my official avatar ... I'll be a Greeter, Moderator, and Exhibitor Assistant.

A custom hat is a requirement. Pretty snazzy, I'd say.

My Burn2 belt has been adapted with new textures and colors and a new event tag.

I made my own event tag so I could list two jobs. I'll probably have to remake it for all three roles, or four if I get to be an exhibitor. Maybe redo the picture, too. Its worse than the one on my driving learner permit.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Towel Day!

Today is Towel Day, the 24 hour period we annually set aside specifically to honor the legacy of Douglas Adams, author of the five-book trilogy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and other works.

If you want to celebrate in Second Life, start with an SL Marketplace search for Towel Day (like this search) and you'll find two towels specifically for the holiday plus a rather nice lot of ordinary towels. First to appear, at least for me, is the towel I've been floggin' by bloggin' for the past few days, the one I made (get yours here, ladies, for free).

Apparently are events in Second Life to celebrate (like at Ye Olde Terrier's Inn, SLurl). I've suggested it as a theme at the Isle of Lesbos, but I hadn't heard back from anyone. Try Search yourself? Or the Destination Guide?

You can also visit Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe (SLurl) from 12pm SLT (until The End, I guess). Look for the group in-world for more information in Past Notices.
Wherever you celebrate (I'll have my towel handy even when I'm at a funeral today), think of Mr Adams.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Funeral tomorrow. Cat still in cat hospital. Not sleeping well. I'm hungry until food is present. I'm thirsty until liquids are available. And this bloody texture is so fuzzy when it is put on a sculpted balloon in-world that it needs a shave. I'm frustrated.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Be Alert (the world needs more lerts)

Towel Day is May 25th, just a few days away. As of the moment I write this post I've given away 110 commemorative towels via the Second Life Marketplace here. A number have gone to men though I honestly don't know how they'd look. But the towel is transferable so maybe they are gifting it. Or maybe they are getting it because there are pix of me all scantily clad in the cottony goodness of this towel.

Happy Birthday, CC!!

CC Columbo: The Man, The Myth, The Hyena. At our home in Nangrim (SLurl).
My Real Life and Second Life brother has a birthday today! Happy Birthday, CC!! You do so much to make my life happy and I want you to know I appreciate it. This is your special day, and even though you have to take the cat to the vet, buy a shirt and tie for a funeral, and make all those calls mom wants you to make ... well, sounds kinda crappy. Sorry. But there will be ice cream cake later and breakfast at iHop is on me this morning!! Now bring on the pix!!

The oldest known picture of CC in Second Life. He's at Rainbow Tiger in his first week some five years ago.

Our current treehouse sits on this very spot. The pond was deep enough for swimming. Graphics quality was so low that you couldn't tell the grass was green. I had a couple dates with the girl that lived in the little house to the right.
So did CC, we learned later, and that was awwwwkward.

CC is also an elf, thanks to a relatively recent makeover. The facial hair is new, though he usually sports it iRL.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SL9B: Shirt Prep

As we prepare for family to arrive for a funeral on Friday and a birthday tomorrow, my time for Second Life has been fairly limited. The cat being sick all night (and all over ... ewwwww!) didn't help, either. But I was able to spend some time with Acorn to bodge up some SL9B shirts, traditional style and mesh for both biggies and for Petites. I sent them along to the appropriate people along with the Cake Hat I posted about yesterday and as soon as I can get some $Lindens from an alt account I'll work on some balloon ideas I have. If it weren't for learning how to make an alpha layer for the Prefabrica (SLurl) mesh t-shirt I'd have some money left. Well, not like I have much time anyway.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

SL9B: Preliminaries

Meetings have started for the staff of SL9B, Second Life's 9th Birthday celebration. During one today I tried on a number of hats as I started to prepare my special celebration avatar. It inspired me to think about making gifties for visitors to the party. I started by making a cake hat ...

Super Cat looks on as I model my SL9B Birthday Cake Hat. All sculpty except for the animated .GIF flames.
Oh, and important things were talked about in the meeting. I'm sure someone took notes. I was trying on hats.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Zyx the Booshtopian

My "big pixy" alt, Zyx Resident, has invested in a pre-order of Booshies, a new (and still in closed Beta) breedable pet game system (as seen on my blog here) so she was thrilled when Booshtopia opened for preview visits today (SLurl). She sent me some pictures and a few comments:

On my first visit today I wore my Girecko Booshitar (a Girecko booshie avatar) so I could blend in with the natives. I think I blended in too well as I don't remember if that was me on the left or on the other left. As the critters breed, other colorations and physical features may result so I will stand out better.

Later I bought a Relay For Life (RFL) version of the Felitera Booshitar, the purple/white one on the left. I met this wild Felitera and we hung out for a while. She wasn't very talkative, but she kept nosing me. Physical examples of all the current critters are razzed on Booshtopia for you to see.

Behind me in that big tree on the Island is Menchy's Goods Galore, the shop in which  you can buy Booshitars (some benefiting RFL) and collectibles. Eventually the shop will stock goodies used in the game.

The shop also sells some plants, like this 6 prim mesh Fuschino Flower I found in the forest.

Here I'm flyihg over Booshtopia in search of more areas to explore. The forest is magnificent, and you can see it for all the trees. Technically speaking, the game can be played entered via the HUD, if I understand things correctly, so you never need to rez a physical pet, but if you visit Booshtopia, you can rez a pet for adventures that can gain you points, food, and friends. Finally, a pet that I can do more with than cuddle or feed.

That Awful Quiet Time

May 17, 1997 my father passed away and was buried 15 years ago today. Not very long before that — within about seven months, I guess — I had attended funerals for a grandmother, a couple kids from school, a neighbor, and a couple relatives of one of my sisters-in-law. Not long after that —about seven months, again — I attended my niece's funeral, another neighbor's, and someone that I'm afraid to say can't come to mind right now.

Those times were filled with an awful quiet for me. A time of ... well, empty.

Since then, I've been to a few more funerals — a teacher's, a friend's, another neighbor. Later next week I'll be going to one more. One of my mom's (I hate "step-mom" so I just say "mom") sisters died May 17, 2012. Yes, that date. I looked it up to be sure. Today her husband and seven boys are taking her to a crematorium. This is another awful quiet time as we wait for details of the arrangements of the whole-family service, feeling helpless with nothing to do.

And so it goes. Two of my current neighbors, a husband and wife, have had family at hand 24-7 for almost a week now and I suspect that soon there will be another set of funerals to attend. The quiet again.

It seems May is that sort of month. My friend Honour posted today about an awful quiet in her life, the passing of Kev Sweetwater a few days ago (Web). Yes, I knew Kev, but only in a tertiary fashion. I can't say we ever exchanged more than a few words — probably about bacon. But when my friends hurt, I hurt and I share that awful quiet.

I can't think about this sort of thing in an organized fashion. Dates slip from my mind and become aches prodded by subconscious reminders at the appointed times. It was probably my subconscious that prodded when the other day I was cajoled into applying for a parcel at SL9B. On the application I promised to create a version of the Memorial Park on the Isle of Lesbos to fit an exhibitor parcel, but I let it be known that I'd be more than happy to transport a full-sized copy to take many spaces at the celebration as a memorial to all our friends in Second Life. Perhaps it can bring a bit of peace to the awful quiet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Strategy Revealed

Whats yellow, has four wheels, and sleeps six? An LDPW pickup truck!
That joke usually applies to the highway departments of any American state, but it really can't be said about the Linden Department of Public Works. These folks work very hard so we can have lots of wonderful places to visit.
Last September, I wrote about The Lab's Land Use Strategy noting that there is quite a bit of land owned by The Lab that serve little or no purpose. In particular, the regions of Atroth (SLurl), Nysray (SLurl), Unttan (SLurl), and Saminekim (SLurl) seemed to be merely well-landscaped regions whose sole purpose was to host four Premium Member gifts sites. Since then, I've visited a few times and once found Governor Linden hanging about and another time the regions hosted the portals for the beta release of Linden Realms. Today I visited and found that the regions have been turned into a giant train layout, much like most of us played with as children.

Clockwise from bottom left is Unttan, Atroth, Nysray, Saminekim, the latter one being the home of a train rez zone and a build area near the four corners area. A non-functional zip line extends from the Premium Gift plinth in Nysray to near the open build area. One such gift area is marked with the SL hand in the pic above.
A classic oval with siding stubs, a passing section, and an inner loop has been laid out across the four regions. If you take the inner loop spur in Unttan, though, it gets to be a bit more fun than your average home model train set.
Be careful on the little used inner loop tracks in Unttan ... the bridge is out!! Build up lots of speed and you should be able to shoot right over to the other side. That's something everyone tries with their model trains but you can only do in SL.
Eventually you get back to where you started, a peaceful little shack which has a free copy of the Premium Gift Railroad Hand Car released May 8th if you don't get one at the gift kiosks. Hopefully it will still be there when the next gift is available for future Premium account Residents. And it would be very nice if some of the small ponds in these regions are stocked with fish (like the rivers in the Wilderness areas). Maybe more plans are afoot. Near the hand car shack are some ball field bleachers and some Drzdok Goal Posts, whatever they are (can you tell us, Michael Linden? You made them!).

Not a Premium Resident? Click Here to join up and if they ask who referred you, my name is Uccello Poultry!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not Blogging Today

Well, other than to say that this won't be a typical blog post. There was a death in the family today so I spent what time I had escaping in Second Life ... I zipped about Bay City and posted things to my Profile Feed (Web).
Click the sign for an informative tour booklet for Bay City (SLurl).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Towel Day Freebie

I always get excited about Towel Day, May 25th each year, and even though I seldom leave the house, I always have my towel with me that day. This year I created a special towel for women in Second Life to enjoy (though I'm sure quite a few guys will enjoy seeing women wearing it) and you can get yours FREE on the Marketplace here.

"Towel Day 2012" is embroidered on the front.
With a strategic placement, a custom-designed logo adorns the towel shows your holiday pride.
Towel Day is an international and annual celebration of the life and work of the late Douglas Adams, author of such classics as the five book trilogy starting with The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the two book trillogy starting with Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. All-in-all it evens out so Don't Panic!!

Learn about special events in your area and why you shouldn't be without your towel on the 25th of May (or ever!) at http://towelday.org/

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Consequences of Mesh

Upgrading a mobile phone once meant a complete change of hardware and re-entering your entire phone book. SIM cards came along and one could easily swap phone books and other settings from one piece of hardware to another. With so-called Smartphones the need for software upgrades enters the picture even if a hardware upgrade isn't required. I, for one, miss the days of a simple hardware upgrade. Now refrigerators, automobiles, televisions, and more have gone "smart" and require various upgrades.
Zyx doesn't look very different after completing the upgrade. She looks like she's has 10 fingers on her left hand, but that's an illusion that relogging fixed. And if I want to change her ears, now I can.

Avatars in Second Life have become comparable with the advent of Mesh. Particularly, the "Petite" avatar system developed by Yabusaka Loon. You've seen them, the wee tiny fairies and elves and pixies and the like. My Zyx Flux "character" bought the Fallen Gods version on Day One, thrilled to finally be the size that I initially envisioned her to be. Then almost immediately there was a change that allowed the basic shape to have digi-grade hooves so owners could be fauns or demons or whatever. This meant that the clothing templates had to change. Then a whole new version arrived, v1.2, that required replacing the body so make-up options could be applied. That meant that all the Saved Outfits I created had to be changed. Not too big of an issue as I had but four at the time, but it was a bit of a nuisance as I had to recolor all the bodies as the originals had been customized.

Yesterday, v1.3 was released. The avatar's heads are now interchangeable —pointy ears, human ears, or no ears are all options — and all my Saved Outfits have to be upgraded once again. This time, I have a dozen to change. When I modified the shape of my Uccello "character" I knew I'd have to make some clothing adjustments as well but I developed a strategy: put on the "old" outfit then swap out the outdated shape for the new version. A couple attachments needed to be tweaked, but the whole process was quick enough that I could easily update all my couple dozen Saved Outfits.

This is more complicated with the Petites update. I found it faster to start with a saved nude version with all the HUDS and mods (like my custom eyes) and then add the bits from a previously Saved Outfit: clothes, shoes (if any), hair, jewely, etc.. Nearly the same process and not quite as fast, but fairly workable.

By workable, I mean "as long as the upgrades aren't frequent its workable." Completing some updates today reminded me why I hadn't changed Uccello's shape in so long. Changing an avatar can be time consuming and Mesh avatars mean even more work. It really makes me wonder if I should try to adjust my SLink pixy ears from Zyx's "regular" sized avatar to fit Zyx's Petite avatar now that an earless head is an option. Maybe, but it would mean more work come any future upgrades. Ahhh, the consequences of Mesh.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Since deciding to have my "big pixy" alt wear her dark colors almost full time now (Web; previously, she used them for role play as a "feral" pixy) it has been interesting to choose her clothes and she's gotten some interesting reactions. Most of her clothes were chosen and coordinated when here skin was usually light blue so they don't really go well with the dark midnight blue skin she now favors. Of her five or six swim suits she owns, only the black/white striped set shown below works well, for example.

Similarly, reactions from others to her new hue have changed — her social fit isn't the same. Usually Zyx logs in and someone at Lesbos flirts with her right away. Similarly, her visits to naturist sites earned many an "Hey, Baby" IM from interested parties. Even when shopping the propositions came frequently. I don't know how I did it, but she was a drop-dead hottie, it seems.

Not since going dark. As an experiment I even took her to some spots known for, well ... okay, I took her to free sex places. Places where just having the right shape to your not-rezzed-yet-cloud attract lewd IMs. And nothing. Not even a peep from the other fantasy-themes avatars you sometimes find in those places.

Is Zyx intimidating? Is this not a drop-dead sexy look? Should she get some huge fake boobs?

No, I don't let her date anyway. My main character is happily married to a wonderful SL wife and Zyx exists for other reasons. But it is interesting that simply changing her hue has changed her life.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Alt Game Life

If you think of Second Life as a game, then its a given that SL Residents are probably playing other games, too. Except for Solitaire, almost all my gaming is off the desktop computer and on my iPad. Lately, when I can get my hands on the iPad (we really need a third one in our house) I've been playing Words With Friends with my SL wife, Angela, and playing LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7.

It has also come to my attention that except for Second Life, everything I do on the desktop computer can just as easily be done on the iPad. In fact, if it weren't for Second Life, I probably wouldn't need the image editing software I own or the system maintenance software I've purchased or the desk and chair that make my bedroom oh-so crowded. All the Web browsing I do is often more easily done on the iPad, the one desktop game I play is also on the iPad — Full Deck Solitaire. I could even ditch Blogger and use Word Press for my blog.

Additionally, most of the games that I play on the iPad are far more expensive if purchased for the desktop, if they are available. The Harry Potter game, for example is $4.99 USD for the iPad while the desktop version is $29.99 USD. Sure, there are differences. The latter one is far richer in graphics and gives more options, but weigh that against being able to sit in the living room or kitchen or even the back deck while playing and I think the iPad version is a bigger WIN.

So why isn't Second Life on the iPad yet? The click-to-navigate viewer interface works. Various windows like the Inventory could be tweaked to allow easier tap-to-use access. Saved outfits makes changing clothes or whole avatars speedy and easy without having to use your Inventory. And the attach-on-demand HUDs feature (used for Linden Realms) would be a huge boon to making "Tablet Life" much easier.

Doesn't The Lab want Second Life to be a social platform anyway? What could be more social than being able to easily take The Grid with you from room to room in your house or place to place in your travels? And here is how they should start: Create a mobile app for using the My Second Life Feed/Notifications features. Then residents wouldn't need to use Twitter (I don't) or Plurk (my account is on 'vacation') or other services to talk about SL. The middle man is out of the picture. Then I could be running around as the adorable Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter game and quickly four-finger swipe to the My Second Life app to respond to a notification that someone has messaged me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

SL9B: Second Life Birthday News

Seen in the Second Life Birthday Greeter Chat tonight:

[17:44] Honour McMillan: Attention! SL9B is going to happen - watch this space for information on volunteering for the best party around. :)

And then if you checked Prim Perfect (Web) today ... "There is good news about a resident-initiative for a centralised birthday celebration. It’s in the pipeline and details will be released on Monday."

Let the party begin!!

Astigmatism in SL

Aside from needing bifocals in my Real Life eyeglasses, I also suffer from Astigmatism. It is especially pronounced in dim light, like when riding in a car at night. The lines on the road blur and multiply almost to the point of complete double vision. Well, it seems that the Second Life viewer has the same issue.

As seen in the Vehicle Sandbox, Fortuna (SLurl) and mainland roads, as well.
The further you look into the distance on SL roadways that are created with side-by-side prims and mirrored textures, the more pronounced the blurred, astigmatic effect becomes.

A possible explanation? The construction method. This is from back in the day when the maximum prim size that Moles were allowed to use was 10m3.
I've seen this in not only the Official Viewer, but with Third Party Viewers, as well so it might be the rendering engine or it could be my graphics hardware. It doesn't seem to affect all receding straight lines, just the ones created by abutted prims with textures like these road markings. Anyone else notice this?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Storm Giant [Update]

Everyone is blessed with having a few talented friends and I'm no exception unless you consider that I have some exceptionally talented friends. My IM windows get a regular workout with "Hey! You gotta see ... " or something to that effect. Today my friend Kaelin caught me with "Just in time" and seeing via the Mini Map that she was at the courtyard on Lesbos I teleported down right away knowing she had to have something new with an IM like that one.

From Chat History: [13:49] Height Detector (Accurate) - Prim Height: Kaelin Westland is 2.708965 m (8 ft. 10in.) tall. (counting shoes) - Prim Height
But from measuring, she's more like 6 meters (19.6850 feet) tall, making me so happy I just the other day made my own avatar shorter so I'd need a platform to put me on eye-level.
The Something New was a Storm Giant avatar, a custom mesh demi-god with hand-painted skin and it is every bit as detailed and delicious as the smaller fantasy mesh avatars she's been making for herself of late. I don't know if she'll sell this one (find her on the SL Marketplace here) as only a few of her earlier avatar projects have gone public, but I'm sure she could make a small fortune. She does this sort of thing for fun, however, and I'm sure enjoys the challenge more than the potential income. Maybe I'll set another challenge: Create a pantheon of giants from various mythologies. I'm sure Kaelin would be far more than equal to that task.

[Update: May 10, 2010 - The Storm Giant is now for sale on the Marketplace here (L$389).]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Premium Gift [Update]

Premium account Residents check your emails! There's a new gift for you and it looks pretty cool! Or skip your mail and head right to a gift kiosk (list here) and get started right away at a railroad near you (here or here or here).

[Update May 9, 2012 - Added a pic of my customized handcar below and more info.]

Zipping through the yards in Calleta (SLurl).
The handcar is customizable via a menu system. I made the body of mine a shade of purple, changed the wheels to red-centered, and plastered it with rainbow stuff all over then took a copy back into my inventory after renaming it. With full Mod/Copy perms (No Trans) you can make "manual" tweaks, but the textures on the mesh prims are very, very shape specific. There's no way you would be able to match the baked in shading, for example, so your edits would be rather cartoonish. Maybe not even as good as cartoonish.

Any rider can help you drive — using the Up arrow key repeatedly and endlessly, otherwise you stop — but only the owner can apply the brakes. Three friends can join you and each position is animated. If you rez the handcar away from approved railroad tracks you are tossed off and the car suggests in chat that you visit the train station in Tuliptree (SLurl). An included note card lists other suggested starting points (no pun intended, I tell the English railroaders who read this) and explains all the options for customizing and driving. This really is a pretty cool gift. I've seen over half-a-dozen folks out on the rails having fun already and I've been out for no more than a couple hours total.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What's in My Closet? A New Me

One of my blog posts yesterday concerned the evolution of two alts, Zyx Flux and Zyx. They've made quite a few changes in the last year, so it got me to thinking, "What have I changed about me?" After all, people gain or lose weight in Real Life and they get shorter as they age (danged gravity). Why not in Second Life?

At Forest Floor (SLurl) for my new portrait.

It was May 22, 2010 when I last modified my shape (shapes, really ... I have barefoot and shoe-fitted versions, each with large and small bust sizes for every day use depending on the clothes or lack thereof) and I was a tall 1.88 meters with a very narrow waist, too narrow for even my tastes and far more narrow than my Real Life shape. I figured if my pixy alts can evolve, it was about time that I did.

So I'm now just 1.8 meters tall —sure, not a big deal but oddly it seems like a lot as I adjusted overall height and hip length for the effect — and I made myself thicker around the middle with the saddlebags slider and the tummy slider. I added some muscle to my legs, too and widened my hips. That change looked fine from behind when I was naked, but .... . Anyway, I also took 5-10 points off my bust size (each variation) so clothes could be a better fit.

And then my wife, Angela, took me shopping and I bought that baggy mesh blouse you see in the pic above so I look really pudgy, especially with the wider hips that make my butt look bigger even though I didn't touch the butt slider (fill in your own jokes, folks). Life is not fair, even a second one.

But I'm actually happy with the changes. I look far more natural now — less Barbie-fied and ultra-femme — and I feel more like me, a fairly soft butch (RL my hair is very, very short and I dress very, very plainly). The adjustments I made were small and subtle, but just enough, I think. What do you think?

Yes, I like it. Even the thicker waist.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Lovely Little Spot

There are so many beautiful places in Second Life and quite a few are for sale so that you can make your land beautiful, too. With that fact in mind I need a few dozen regions of my own and several hundred thousand $Lindens to spend. Until that happens, I'll just roam about and dream of spots such as the Sky Kyoto Garden (L$3950; SLurl) pictured below.

Heavily modified Windlight settings used, if you can't tell, but the scene is gorgeous in any light.

Its Zyxalutionary

The Zyx "Twins" on March 1, 2011. Zyx Flux (left) and Zyx Resident (right).
Avatars evolve — that's a given — and it is interesting to see how they do so. Zyx Flux began life as a means by which a Lucky Chair with a penchant for the letter Z could be defeated and was going to be a genderless robot. Her "gateway" was Fairy Crossings (SLurl) so her total image changed on her birthday.

Zyx Resident came about simply to reserve the first name when the whole resident naming schemes were changed. Zyx Flux had become something of a "brand" at one point through her ZyxWorx business and I felt that it would be important that no one else claim the Zyx name under the new scheme. Naturally, I made the big "sister" as similar to her little twin as possible, but with a momentary whim (also on her birthday), I made her taller and "older" as if "wee Zyxy" had grown up. Since then I've had her wardrobe, hair, and attitude (we are all characters, aren't we?) reflect these differences.

The Seminal Zyx is a playful, child-like gardener, happily exploring the world in search of new plants and wonderful landscapes. Zyx The Latter is less social, preferring the night and dark spaces though not eschewing a pixy's roots in nature as she wanders the world in search of adventure.

So more than a year has passed and these personality traits have become more ingrained, shaping each Zyx to make them even more individualized.

Zyx Flux and Caitcat at the Isle of Lesbos.
More often than not these days, Zyx Flux is a "petite" pixy, frequently shifting her basic blue for other colorful hues, but remaining bright and adorable. She can also be seen as a jewel-colored dragon or a little, tiny micro-kitten, each avatar a reflection of her friendly and perky nature. Outside the Isle of Lesbos I actually think of her as a child avie to the point that I don't peek when she's changing clothes. She's a gardner, too, as most of my landscaping purchases are directed through her. This helps with Inventory security and management as well as being a cute thing for a pixy to work at when she's in-world. On the Isle of Lesbos, Zyx Flux maintains all the grounds, but primarily the Secret Garden, a small world of fantasy flora and magical settings.

The darker sister, Zyx Resident ... simply Zyx.
As time goes by, the bigger sister has become even more mature and still darker in character, not just in skin tone. Actually, both representations of pixyhood have the same skin selections — the same shades of blue from light to nearly black — wings, eyes, and such, plus many similar items of clothing. In general, though, Zyx usually affects the deep midnight blue skin of late and sophisticated, grown-up fashions. If Zyx Flux is a precocious kid, then Zyx is the Secret Agent undercover as a runway model. Her only "job" is to be Security at the Isle of Lesbos. She doesn't do gardening, she doesn't build anything, and she doesn't socialize much, actually. Like her littler version she does explore SL, but she's not afraid of Zindra and even visits some naturist resorts on occasion. On the Isle of Lesbos, Zyx rules the Dark Forest, a small world forever at Midnight and filled with dark magics.

Underlying both of these characters is the basic pixy nature: Tricksy, energetic, nature-loving, kind to animals (Zyx Flux keeps Meeroo Meepets and Zyx has signed up for Booshies), fierce in battle, and able to exercise a deep affinity for magic. Each has an elven form (one light and one dark, as expected). They really are sisters, despite the outward differences and each is a wonderful way to express who I am in Real Life in ways that can't be done there.