Sunday, September 29, 2013

State of the Art Tooning

Arlo and Janis (September 29, 2013)
Arlo and Janis by Jimmy Johnson, September 29, 2013
A robot I ran across today has VR with his Oculus Rift headset. Recursive repetitiveness, in deed.

Message from Shigeko Tachikawa

An Emergency Message Buoy has appeared from an enraged rift anomaly in the Forest of Kahruvel (SLurl). It confirms that Shigeko Tachikawa was sucked in when her ship disappeared. I touched the buoy and received a message (transcript below the picture).

     Message Time/Date Stamp: 0000-00-00 00:00:00

     While trying to rescue my airship, I got dragged into the anomaly.

     The transition went smooth and I only had a slight feeling of disorientation when I arrived at "the other side", but this went away fast. Unfortunately the anomaly has been shrinking to a size much to small for me to get back. I've tried to push a notice through it with a long wooden stick but it remains unknown to me whether I succeeded or not.

     Given the fact that I arrived here without suffering any harm, I have high hopes the message found its way back to the right place and into the right time.

     The right time?
     Yes, indeed. Let me explain.
     When I arrived here four days ago, the place felt very familiar. In fact, it seems to be the very forest as I know it, but whether I'm in the same grid or just in a different time I cannot say for sure. The forest is much richer, the aquaeduct still stands in its full glory, and there's an ancient temple nearby. The landing stones are still at their place, and such is the star shaped marking on the ground. Salazar must have been here, I found parts of devices of the original experiment, cleanly stacked up outside the stone circle. How, if not by the experiment itself could they have ended up here, and who if not Salazar would have tidied up this place? There seem to be no inhabitants in this time, I've seen only wildlife so far.

     Over the last few days I slowly started to figure out what the landing stones' purpose is, and how to use them. As it was suspected already, the star at the ground is some kind of device to program a destination in time and space, and the landing stones are creating a gate into another time or world when being activated.

     I grabbed an emergency transmitter and visited the grid's past, and it's future. I've visited other worlds, some not unlike the Linden Grid, some so very different that it didn't seem safe to me to stay there for a longer time. In some worlds I even found obvious signs of Salazar's presence.

     In the past there were forests full and rich as you'd never imagine, in the future I've seen forests which have shrunk to the size of a park in the center of a huge cityscape but which were still well maintained by the inhabitants of that world and time as they knew about the importance of this place. Most importantly, the landing stone circle and the star where still complete in every place and time I visited.

I traveled to the Linden grid's past of a few years ago yesterday, I walked to Cowell Village, visited the Lighthouse, to the Explorers Base and some other locations. The emergency transmitter should have sent a few beacon signals but I don't know whether they were picked up by anyone, either a few years ago, or "today" -- When is "today" anyway? I also tried to send a few pictures, but I doubt even more they went through, due to the amount of data.

    As it seems to me, the Forest and the landing stones are a common intersection point of all the times and worlds and as such it *must* be repaired. It actually *will* be repaired in the future, as I've seen working again in future times. If anyone receives this message, please forward it to Mrs. Cessadia Thetan immediately. She *has to* make sure the stone circle will be erected again. As long as it's broken, I don't see any way to come back to my own world and time unless I manage to enlarge the anomaly again -- something I'd like to avoid at any cost. I would rather prefer to seal it completely as soon as possible, as it's not exactly controllable.

     Right now it must stay as I'm going to send an Emergency Message Buoy through it in a couple of minutes. It will hopefully provide a rudimentary communication channel between me and my friends, hopefully even good enough to send .pictures.

Shigeko Tachikawa, Forest of Kahruvel, unknown time, possibly on the Linden Grid.

Previous mentions of Salazar Jack on this blog can be found here. Shig seems to have posted a picture on My SL from "the other side." See here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I wonder ...

Render or Real? Shang-peng Leng

The image above is a 3D render, not a photograph of a lovely woman in meatspace. I wonder when we'll see image quality like this (and some of the other marvelous renders I found at CG Trader) in a world like Second Life.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Magic of Stuff

Long story short: No shadows because everything was going wrong and I finally crashed when everything was just right. Danged crashy SL!!
– – –

"I concentrated, and summoned my sword and wand out of the Duat."
          – Carter Kane.
         (Rick Riordan, The Red Pyramid (p. 383). Disney. Kindle Edition.)

– – –

The other night I was cuddling with my wife, being frisked for "Angela Treats" and giggling, when I typed into chat ...

/me hands you some grapes

Wait. Where did the grapes come from? For that matter, where does anything in Second LIfe come from? Well, our own "Duat," a magical subspace connecting us to the pure data on Linden Lab servers. We call it Inventory. It is a sort of Cloud Storage for our Second Lives but instead of just data, it holds anything we can imagine, including swords and wands, if we wish. We just reach in and grab something. Talk about surreal (which seems to be a popular topic on this blog of late).

Why can't we do that in real life? Wouldn't that be just freakin' awesome? When I leave the house my pockets are full. An iPod Touch; often an iPad Mini, too; my Sig Saur P224 Extreme, sometimes with an extra clip; a Victorinox pocket knife; a small purse/wallet for money, ID, and my pistol permit; extra meds, some for Mom if she's coming along; chewing gum for everyone (as no one seems to carry their own); and more, depending on the nature of the outing. If the trip involves Mom there's her oxygen supply, a wrench for her wheelchair, a large mug of ice (look up pica), etc. My brother often carries lots of stuff, too, but I'm usually the sherpa for any trip. What I wouldn't give to have a Real Life Inventory space I could pull things from as needed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Surrealism of Names

When was the last time you went to a club, the shopping mall, or some other place and had someone you did not know greet you by name? If you have an answer, then you were probably in Second Life at the time for in Real Life our meatspace avatars don't have our given and assumed names hovering over our heads, possibly with information about social affiliation. Sure, if you are famous or infamous there's a chance you were recognized. Or you could have a stalker (lucky you).

When I met the young lady pictured above, I said "Hi, Dilly! Harbingers is a great sandbox, huh?" Right away – even without talking to her – I knew that she was called Scrumdillyumptious but preferred to be called Dilly and that she belonged to the group that owns Harbinger's Haven (a really great sandbox, as I mentioned) because of that little black box (which most people don't realize is a special type of particle with hover text). This makes social interactions rather surreal.

Yes, I'm rather stuck on the idea of surrealism since that Strawberry Singh's blog challenge made me think about it. Now I see surrealism everywhere. Hopefully there's meds to make it stop.

But that aside, no matter how some try to make Second Life as much like Real Life as possible, we still have those tools that give us magic powers over our environment: name tags, radar, and maps and mini-maps, to name a few. So I can be sitting in the Bay City Alliance meeting and greet by name as if I knew them the random new resident or two that inevitably appear each week. I can see friends, Romans, and fellow countrymen approaching from afar and have something ready to say rather than be surprised as can happen iRL. While I'm waiting for them to type a response (because unless folks use Voice, there's a time delay like when someone on the Moon is talking to someone on Earth) I can right click on them and read information – usually about themselves – they've voluntarily given up for public use.

In Dilly's Profile she quotes Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for her Real Life Biography and states "I may have that New Avatar Smell, but this isn't my first rodeo" in her general Biography. Generic pictures, no Picks, and just one group plus her September 20, 2013 rez date round out her her Profile. Not much to learn there except by inference and I'll let you assume what you want. It's not like you can poke someone with your finger iRL and get even this sparse modicum of information and you likely won't until all of us are required to use MyFace, the pertinent URLs tattooed on our foreheads (you know someone is thinking of doing this).

These are not new thoughts. For the last month or so I've been trying diligently to not have name tags active. Or if they are, then to not greet people by name unless I recognize them. That can be difficult, as you know, since your friends can turn into hamsters faster than you can say "transfiguration." Why am I doing this. No idea. Boredom? An attempt at making SL more like RL? Or I'm overdosing on surrealism.

Probably boredom. In any case, I'd like to see your thoughts in the Comments.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Strawberry's Birthday Meme

Yesterday was Strawberry Singh's birthday so to celebrate, she's putting us all to work today for her amusement with a blog meme challenge about birthdays (see the original here). The instructions get complicated and offer choices: Answer Questions or make meme-themed pictures. I went with the questions as I'm not creative with pictures.

Strawberry takes her birthday seriously and was checking up to make sure I was amusing.
When is your birthday?
June 18th, same as my Second Life Rez Day.

Pick one person who shares your birthday and share what you know about them.
The NNDB lists quite a few famous people who share my birthday and has even more. The one that leaps out the most is Beatles frontman Sir Paul McCartney. Do I really need to say anything about one of the world's most famous singer-songwriters? Okay, here you go, then, a bit from IMDb:

Though a huge fan of 'Weird Al' Yankovic's work, turned down his request to parody Paul's James Bond song "Live and Let Die" as "Chicken Pot Pie" for vegetarian reasons.

List one notable event that took place on your birthday.
Quite a few things happened on June 18th, according to The People History, but the one I'd pick from the list is the debut of the Long Playing (LP) Record format. I still have most of my father's extensive LP collection, though nothing to play them on. As a little kid he and I would sit and listen to them for hours and hours, especially his limited edition demo records.

Tell us about a holiday that falls on your birthday.
June 18th is (not) well-known as Cherry Tart Day (source).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Social Island

With the release of the new Learning Islands (see yesterday's post) for new Residents comes a treat for all Second Lifers, Social Island. This is where those who have finished training (such as it is) are deposited and there's enough here that they might not really need to go anywhere else in Our World. Unless they want money, sex, vehicles, etc. Really, there is a lot here to keep people occupied and I've actually watched people wandering about rather than clustering at the landing point as they tended to do with the previous Welcome Islands and Help Islands. Sure, there's a bit of that here, but not as much as I expected. Here's an annotated photo essay of my second visit to the two new and identical Social Islands (SLurl and SLurl).

The major areas are parceled off so they have names. That means if you make a landmark in one of these locations, the LM will show the place name and not "Social Island." In fact, you'd have to view the details of the LM to see that it is a location on Social Island. There are many minor locations, too, some with location-specific names and some not.

Not on my quick map above is Ocean View, typical of the many out-of-the-way treats one will see if they explore. Most locations are accessible via the teleporter. I suspect this is why the sim has been parceled so that the TP devices can pull the location name for their directories. While the majority of the build is made by Lindens or Moles, some is made by Noffler Resident, someone whom I assume is a contractor alt, while others pieces are made by some well-known residents. Generally very nice with no clunkers that I've seen.
This secret cave is NOT on the teleporter directory but if you find it and click the odd treasure chest, there's a prize.
The Cave Club is very rich in appearance with pictures of famous Lindens, Moles. and famous Real World leaders down the ages. Sombra Magic made the book cases (not pictured) and they are beautiful. My brother has one of these in his home cabin. So many other Resident Creators are represented here, too, with some nice work by the Moles.
As I mentioned in yesterday's post about  Learning Island, a coliseum is one item shared between the two builds, though this time there are portals that one walks into so you are transported to a random area based on a theme: Adult (if you are age-verified), Editor's Pick, Linden Realms, Social, Popular, etc. The Adult one gave me a region full notice and the Linden Realms portal told me I wasn't authorized to visit. The Editor's Pick portal dropped me onto an empty lot that the editors must have really, really liked.
Available via teleporter is a Sky Retreat directly over the Welcome Point on Social Island. If you jump off the ramp you'll land dead center nearly 680 meters below. No parachutes provided.
Tiki Beach is probably my favorite place on Social Island. There are three huts on stilts over the water with a cozy beach-side gathering area. The big one has a little bar and all around is furniture by Hatzfeld Runo, maker of Tiki Tattoo (SLurl) prefabs and furniture, as well as items from other creators. You can grab a toobie to float around on (as you can on many parts of Social Island's beaches) here or just walk on the nice beach. By the way, my pictures are taken with custom Windlight sky and water settings. I'm not a fan of the default settings.
Inside the big hut. If the weather turns bad you can still float on the water in comfort.
Since it is raining on Quiet Isle my Windlight setting probably isn't appropriate but the Region Default isn't right, either. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful build, thanks to (former LDPW Mole) Cory Edo of Trompe Loeil, a fabulous pre-fabs and furniture company.
Abnor Mole made a beautiful lighthouse, right down to the details with an on/off switch. This is the best-looking lighthouse in all Second Life, if you ask me.

One picture won't do justice to Club SL, but that's all I'm taking is two for now. This multi-level build has several bars, a toobing pool, and a dance floor that asks you to dance just by stepping on it. Freebie shirts for the club are at the entrance. Pictures from around SL flash on the bandstand billboards, lasers fire overhead, and magic is everywhere (look for the hover chairs).
This would be a great place for any group in Second Life to hold a meeting as there are plenty of places to sit and be comfy, even a fair-sized area with a media viewer on the side of the hill.
No place without its flaws. Textures, for example, often don't align along prim joins on Social Island and since a lot of the landscape is mesh, you'll see this a lot, even with Advanced Lighting active. But the over all experience is marvelous. Turn up your computer's volume to hear the surf and other environmental sounds. Watch for little jokes (someone stole Rod Humble's shirt and hung it up) all over. Several sites can be found only by flying or looking into odd corners. If The Lab could re-instate the volunteer helpers that used to be all over Our World (Helllooooo, Daniel Voyager!) and set up a little prize hunt that new Residents could follow to earn $Lindens and extra goodies while practicing basic skills across the island, I believe that when people hit the rest of the grid they'd know more about what they are doing and have a better experience. Resident retention would go up and everybody would be happier.

Residents who have been around awhile will enjoy visiting Social Island, too. As I mentioned above, the sim would be a great place to hold large group meetings, but the facilities are also great for just relaxing or hanging out. Be sure to visit soon and often.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Learning Island

While looking at the new Social Islands on the map (SLurl) I saw new set of Learning Islands, too, so I quickly whipped up a test account and logged in hoping to find one. I certainly did and here's an annotated photo essay about my experience.

When you first arrive, you are on a beach.
By looking in the address bar, you'll know you are on a learning path.
There is no tutorial about camming around, but if one did know how to do this they'd see that the region is beautiful. Later they'll see that it greatly resembles the new Social Island, too, in form and style. More about Social Island in a subsequent post, but the rocky terrain, the beach, and the coliseum structure are the primary similarities.
If you take the time to look around, you'll see rocky (mesh) Islands, and a recently stranded Linden Premium Boat. Yes, it is supposed to be there. Very scenic but perhaps not a good portent of success.
If you wander off the beach, there are plenty of multi-lingual clues pointing you where to go. To be serious, though, I saw absolutely no signs of any nature – instructional, directional, informational, non-sensical – save for some arrows.
Follow the numerous arrows and the rather obvious path and you'll find more arrows. Experienced users might get a sense of Déjà Vu – look at the steps and arch.
The path continues. If you fall off the bridge or simply jump off the cliff edge, you can climb out over a series of stepped rocks on the far side but you'd have to fly to get out on the initial side. By this point, you might have expected some instruction on how to talk or move or ... well.
Déjà Vu again. Like the aforementioned arch and steps, these "ruins" are not custom-created items for this build, but are pre-fabs anyone can buy in-world or on the Marketplace. Some might say that's cheating, but it is nice to see The Lab supporting in-world creators.
Past those ruins is another cliff one can fall off or a bridge that serves the same function. Yes, you can climb out, but if there had been any sort of How-to-Fly or How-to-Jump tutorial beforehand, then one would not need to climb. Generally speaking,  I got the distinct impression that Learning Island is a work in progress. With any luck, some sort of signage will show up soon.

Round the corner after your death defying escape from a fall that should have broken one or more of your bones and there's a lovely waterfall to cross under. Again, if one had been taught how to cam out, then they'd see a view like this.

Some residents and readers of this blog might recognize the coliseum here from an earlier New Resident Experience (as detailed in a post here). The structure is another non-Linden piece, this time by creator Damien Fate with the arched portal beyond the robot (another new resident) created by someone whose name I totally lost. Again, no instructions here, but it's reasonably clear that if you walk into the vortex, something will happen. In this instance, you are transported to Social Island.
Big kudos to The Lab and all the creators involved. This is much, much nicer than my last New Resident experience (blogged about here) and possibly even the one before that. All-in-all my best experiences were when my new characters went through privately run introductions like the excellent one in Caledon's Oxbridge University (SLurl). If the very simple official experience could be blended with the sometimes-too-detailed Caledon experience, I think that a wonderful introduction to Second Life could be had by new residents.

After a hard 45 minutes of combing Learning Island, my new character (with a really cool name so she might stick around) enjoys a G-rated beverage at the Tiki Beach on Social Island (SLurl).

Sitting with my pink prim

A cute little pink prim has been living in my house for almost a couple weeks now, quietly monitoring various statistics for the region Bay City - Dennis. "Pinkie" – formally known as Ansi's Performance Prim (and available from Ansi Soderstrom here by subscription) – would have been very helpful back in the day when I helped out the the Isle of Lesbos for she (yes, like cars, ships, and airplanes, the prim is a girl) tracks various data points from the sim such as prim usage, frame rate, traffic (the number of visitors in a given time period), and more, all of which is then reported on a secure Web site (see below).

Estate managers will love this. For example, by knowing a region's "natural" performance peaks and lulls event planners can see what times might be best to stage events. In the same vein, access to detailed traffic numbers can be used to judge how well said events were received. Did traffic drop shortly after the DJ started a Cantonese Bluegrass set at quarter past the hour? Just drag over the little time span box below the graph to "zoom in" on the data.

This view lets me see how busy Bay City - Dennis was during the Thursday night "Rumble" car race and compare it to the general performance of the region as shown by the red Frames Per Second Line. There was some peak lag and I can see where the sim emptied of racers during the legs that crossed into adjacent regions. I can guess that the sim crossings caused the lag spikes. By mousing over data points I can even see the names of those present. Imagine being able to tag griefers by name!

The panel above contains useful information should an Estate Owner/Manager need to contact Concierge Services about issues with the region, in particular the last date/time the region was restarted and the sever information.

Pinkie is alone in my world but an Estate Owner/Manager could put out one on each region to be monitored and reported on the Web. Unlike some systems I've seen, there's no need to teleport to the reporting prim for information. In fact, there's no need to log into Second Life at all. This also reduces the total Land Impact (LI) needed compared to some systems (I saw one the other day when I was exploring it was something like 20 LI as it rezzed prims as needed for various data points).

This is a Beta service for now but it is working very, very well so far. The cubed needed to be replaced once when the monitoring site was suffered a DDoS attack. And there was one update when Ansi found a minor bug (which I never noticed).

The update process was amusing. I dropped the updater on the ground and it zipped about to find Pinkie. After a couple moments the crosshairs disappeared and a Torley Linden-themed sphere orbited Pinkie for a few more moments then de-rezzed itself upon update completion.
Ansi plans additional features, too: Memory usage by avatar; E-mail alerts based on activity; Ban list control; and "onethousandtwentyfourandahalf other features" to come. Of course, Ansi's exceptional customer service (she proactively contacted me several times) and all these features aren't free. As I mentioned, this is a subscription service but the cost is very low at L$250/week ($1.32 USD as of this writing ... less than a cup of coffee).

Yes, Pinkie is quite the gadget. Regular readers know I don't normally review products (full disclosure: Ansi sent a demo unit to me) but Ansi's Performance Prim is certainly an item I will tell my friends about. Any Estate Owner/Manager will find this tool helpful and well worth the investment.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

2nd Screen Time

Many of you know that I love my iPad Mini (and my iPod Touch) for letting me communicate with non-ASL speakers via Facetime, Messages, Proloquo2Go, Penultimate, and even just Notes. But I also do some gaming when I'm not near my desktop computer to log into Second Life. Here's a sampling of what I'm playing now (and check here for past posts in this vein).

The game I play most often is Fairway Solitaire HD by Big Fish. As the name and picture indicate, it's a game of cards based on the solitaire format, but there's a twist ... you're playing golf!! Since that Seven of Hearts can't be played, I can draw a club from my bag (bottom right) or tap the draw pile in hopes that another card can be played. The idea is to clear the field thus finishing the "hole" while leaving as many cards in the draw pile as you can. That affects the stroke count of the hole as if you were golfing. Hazards such as rough, sand traps, and water barriers are on most courses and a pesky gopher can pop up at any time leading to fun mini games, penalties, or even bonuses. If you can fill the shot meter top right via continuous play streaks, you can earn game cash to buy extra goodies like new card backs, special games, or game enhancements (of course, you can buy game cash with Real Life cash). I play at least 2 courses (three to nine holes each) in this game every day. It's fun even without the hilarious commentary from off-screen sports analysts and the antics of the gopher.

Lego Batman is also fun, but not as easy to pick up and run with for short periods like other games nor is it as fun as the Lego Harry Potter titles for iOS. But I got it free (lots of big titles pop up for free with some regularity in the Apple App Store) and it's Lego, so I won't really complain. There is less running around to gather "studs" (the in-game currency) and mini-challenges than in the Potter games with more emphasis on battles, but that's the difference between the two fantasies outside these games, too, so all is as to be expected. My fingers stiffen up rather often through out the day so there are times I can't play this or similar games and if you don't like games that require some dexterity, then Lego Batman isn't for you. Still, it's a bit of a romp and a good diversion.

Coming in as just plain strange is Momonga Pinball Adventures, the only game I know where one is expected to liberally slap around a cute, fuzzy little creature. The big panda is a teacher and little Momonga (the small flying squirrel-thing on the ground in the pic above) has to learn combat skills such as flying, rolling around on grassy plains that resemble a pinball table, and suffering the whacks of paddles while smashing some things and rolling over other things. You'd think that with four legs s/he'd do more running, but I guess the paws are about as useful as the wings in combat. Between matches, there's some nonsense dialogue with closed-captioning for the critter-speak impaired, all part of a story that I can't really get into much. For the most part this diversion is a fun and very challenging game of pinball with some really stylish graphics.

Aside from these games, I do a crap-ton of reading so the Kindle reader, Digg, Instapaper, and more are on my main screen (and I adore Circa News on my iPod). My brother downloads a lot of textbooks (former teacher's habit, I guess) so now and then I peek at those since we share the iTunes account. I'll also poke at his games, too, like Star Wars Pinball, Infinity Blade, Angry Birds, and Full Deck Solitaire.

What do you do for gaming when you aren't in Second Life? Do you game on tablets or mobiles much? I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What is so real about a surreal world?

Poetry. Just one of many things I really don't get. That's probably why I don't often listen to a song's lyrics. Violence against women, homophobia, and vegetables on pizza also confuse me. There just seems to be no point. Surrealism. Don't get me started.

Actually, Strawberry Singh's weekly blog challenge got me started on surrealism. The details can be found on her blog (here) but essentially we are tasked to "create an image in Second Life that has a surreal feel to you. Don’t forget to share your link in the comments and add your picture to the Blog Memes flickr group." I've been quite stymied as to where to take this challenge. I even dug out old art class books from the basement. It's not hard to recognize surrealism when I see it, but ... but ... but, that's about all I can do. My not really getting the concepts is compounded by the need to work within a virtual world that is, in my limited understanding, inherently surreal. Second Life.

For example, in SL you click a door to open it or the door opens when you get close to it though it is textured or built to have a door knob. Or you'll notice that houses in SL sometimes have kitchens but only very, very rarely have toilet facilities. Further, I'm pretty sure it's hard to go a hundred meters in most any direction without running into some virtual representation of food.

That's just the "physical" part of Our World. Standards are surreal, too. Back when the Lindens maintained offices in-world and each had land on which to put a house or other build, I found "sex beds" as the major piece of furniture on more than one such site.

Oh, Ceelo, what were you thinking? Well, you weren't the only one.
Landscapers flatten "live" terrain then add artificial hills, streams, ponds, and rocks. Many parcels in the winterized regions have palm trees and tiki huts. Christmas, Halloween, and other seasonal holidays are always being celebrated somewhere. Perhaps that isn't surreal as there's a shop called Christmas Tree Shop in a mall next to a mega hardware store. But you can't deny that Furries and Tinies and people that stand on the ocean floor like statues aren't surreal.

A recent comment on a friend Crap Mariner's MySL post (here) should let you know that I'm not being judgmental by singling out these groups. Those who know me have seen me as a Furry, a Tiny, and standing on the ocean floor emulating statuary (sometimes as a Furry or a Tiny). On Crap's post I noted how pleased I was to see the giant birds he had placed as decorations around around a room for one of his events and I commented that I'd like to see more of that in Our World. Sometimes we get too wound up in making our virtual spaces so much like our real spaces that we lose something. What we lose just might be that we forget our avatars are, in the long run, real people regardless of the surreal things we do to them.  Like that time I painted myself shades of green, orange, and yellow before visiting the Eagle lander on the Moon. Try that, Real Life.


Is the Second Life Fashionista community like this?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Memeception: Of Course It's Strawberry

When I don't start my day with reading LOLcats, FAIL Blog, WIN Blog, and Puns, Puns, Puns! from the Cheezburger people everything drags. These treasures are also a good way to pick up my mood at any time, any place (yes, I have the app for that) so when Strawberry Singh assigned creating our own such memes with Second Life for her Monday Blog Challenge (see here), the excitement kept me up well past my bedtime. Here are three (to start ... might do more if I get some time later).

Meme instructions: Take a RL meme and bring it into SL. Or, if you prefer, create a new meme of yourself. Don’t forget to leave a link to your meme in the comments of this post if you decide to do one.

I believe that LOLcats started the whole thing so I couldn't help but re-create one of my faves, though with a twist. It's funny how I lapse into LOLspeak when I'm in my cat avatars.
The inspiration.

For those who don't remember days of yore, a frequent FAIL in Second Life was the Butt Attachment bug where you'd often have a shoe or hair up the bum when you logged in or changed clothes. My initial thought was a box on the head, but that's a really, really old bug.

This was my first idea but it wasn't until after I did the attachment fail that I thought of a way to tie it into Second Life. After all, Who hasn't tried n00b jumping?

I've been wracking my brain for a WIN picture and a PUN picture. Perhaps later when I have more free time from RL I can come up with something.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

jrenslow Bach, Charter Member and (IMHO) Jerk

I just got word from a friend that jrenslow Bach is buying land in/around Minna and making a mess of the landscaping thus making it a miserable place for long term residents to live, work, and play. Readers of this blog may recognize him as one of SL's worst merchants (Web). Apparently he's also carrying out a campaign to further annoy with bans and other activities.

No idea what I can do about it, but I'm gonna look around. Kennylex Luckless has posted a pic on My SL (here) showing some of the activity. Looks like this historic area in Second Life is in for some rough times, I guess.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Windlight Blog Challenge

Looks like Strawberry Singh has been laboring on American Labor Day because she released her weekly blogger challenge in her Monday Memes series today, this time asking questions about the use of Windlight settings in Second Life. Six questions with interesting answers (see here) though I'm not sure mine will be as interesting.

Before I get started, though, I think Strawberry might be psychic by coming up with this week's topic as just yesterday I was talking with a few people about how pictures I've seen on the MySL feeds and on Flickr can almost be used to identify the photographer because the images have consistently distinctive styles. This observation ties into a project that I swear I will get to one day: Take the exact same photo with the exact same settings with different viewers to judge how the various algorithms and other stuff I don't understand influence the qualities of a photo.

Meme instructions: Answer the following questions about windlight settings and share some that you’ve created yourself. Don’t forget to leave a link to your post in this meme’s comments.

Do you use windlight while taking pictures? If not, why not?
Yes, and no. For most snaps I post to MySL (see here) I don't turn on Advanced Lighting and the Sun settings are usually just Default Noon. I consider most MySL pix as casual shots one might grab with their camera phones or a simple point-and-shoot camera. For my blog or for my Flickr feed, I at least activate Advanced Lighting and more often than not actually think about using Windlight settings other than the Region Default or Default Noon.

This is Zyx Resident.
One of the first things I like to do when I have a new character (alt) "dialed in" is to make a Profile picture for them. I also use it as the texture for their basic Inventory storage boxes. As part of a new "birth" is the creation of a cube which then get is tucked into a safe part of the character's Inventory as a sort of date maker.
When taking a closeup snapshot for a profile picture, which windlight preset do you use most often?
That depends on the scene. Likely some of the background is visible so that is an influence, but generally I play with the sun position of the Default Sky to see what looks nice. As I've copied all the non-standard Windlight settings I have from various Third Party Viewers into the Official Viewer's directory, I can use specialized modeling options, but I can't recall the last time I did so.

When Zyx Flux was kitted out as a Petite pixy I had to do a full body portrait. No Windlight here as the shading on the rose was perfect and the tone of the mesh avatar body was nicely textured. Still one of my favorite pictures.
Which windlight presets do you use for full body portraits?
I don't usually do full body portraits, but in thinking about it, I suppose I have the same answer as I did for the previous question.

My scenic pictures have greatly improved in the five years since this shot of the Lesbos Mall was taken. Back in 2008, though, I was more interested in building, like big parts of this place.
If you do landscape photography, which windlights do you use for that most often?
Quite often it is a saved variation of Places Las Legunas that I made and I liberally mess with the East Angle and Time of Day. This goes against everything I learned in years of Real Life photography classes. I'd scout locations at different times of day, look up sunrise/sunset times in almanacs and the direction of the sun during different seasons, and then some. I had long debates with myself about whether it would be alright to move a branch or some natural debris in a scene. "Capture reality as it happens" was my mantra. One of the outdoor photography magazines I read at the time had a running debate on this among it's contributors from month-to-month and I'd write in with commentary. Very thought provoking but I'm not sure it did my work any good. Sometimes in SL when I de-render an object or do very unnatural things with Windlight this dispute comes to mind, but then I shoot anyway.

Do you have any tricks or tips that you could share for using Windlight effectively?
Play, experiment, shoot a lot, and then play some more. Look at what other people are doing and try to figure out how they did it. Don't be afraid to ask. Most photographers in Second Life are not as secretive as many Real Life photographers. In one Real Life photo class we learned retouching skills so that we could mask the reflections of our lighting setups in our model's eyes so others couldn't reverse engineer the final shots.

Have you created any windlights that you would be willing to share with us?
I've created a few Windlight settings, but none are really "ready for primetime" and I seldom use them. I tend to stick with mods I've created from other well-known settings. I'd be more than happy to share "finished" ones, however, and will post information about them on this blog if and when they become available.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bay City & Flickr

This photo from Bay City - Dennis (SLurl) has been rated as Moderate by the staff at Flickr so it can't be added to the SL Bay City group or the Bay City Visions group on the service and they won't let me change the rating. This image may be seen with with other pictures from today in the Bay City set on my Flickr stream.