Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Last year, I produced a little Christmas gift package to send out to people... this year, alas, I haven't been that organized.

It's been an ... eventful ... few weeks offline, just to round off an eventful year.  I won't go into details, beyond saying: all those travel warnings, around now, about the floods in England?  How you shouldn't go anywhere, basically, in the west of the country unless your journey is strictly necessary?  Well, they ain't kidding.

Anyway.  Back to civilization, or at least Internet access.  Who knows how long it will last?  Not I.  My New Year's resolution, though, is going to have to be to pick up the scattered threads of my SL and stitch them back together.  Still have building to do, things to see, people to - well, do things with.

Basically, I am harassed but yet unbowed.  If anyone's still reading this, Merry Christmas to you all, and do not expect you have seen the last of me quite yet.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Work in progress...

Things continue to develop, even when I'm not part of them.  It's almost as if I wasn't completely indispensable.

Anyway.  Among other things, a seismic shift has taken place in Caledon Steam SkyCity, my home in Caledon for much of my career.

The economy has been no kinder to that sim than to any other, and with parcels falling long-term vacant, our esteemed Guvnah was forced to downgrade it to a homestead.  This meant, of course, a substantial reduction in the complexity and number of holdings there... Some people bailed out; others, myself included, announced a willingness to stay on after the redevelopment.  So, one weekend, I packed up all my prims, threw my tentacle monsters into the proverbial red spotted hanky on a stick, and withdrew to await developments.

The developments concluded... sadly, not entirely to my taste.

The new Steam SkyCity is a visually impressive build, from the outside; a huge floating metal spheroid, supported by the requisite rotors (I for one argued, apparently persuasively, against replacing the rotors with a simple airship gasbag), hovering on high over the waters beneath.

Unfortunately - from my point of view - this is achieved by what's essentially a set of massive enclosing prims (the bottom bowl, the deck, and the dome and girders overhead) which severely restrict the physical space available for building on the city.  Furthermore, in response to commercial pressure (people like leafy suburbs, apparently), the Guv has made that deck a single big lawn, and planted trees all the way around.  In short, rather than the urban-industrial setting of the Steam SkyCity I knew and loved, this is something much more like an enclosed, suburban, gated community.  (There's no conventional way in or out except by the CAT lift.... and the structure of the build means there isn't even a view from the main deck, it's all shut away behind a wall.)

It's all just virtual anyway, yes?  Just pixels in a video game?  ... yeah, right.  This honestly, really, upset me.  So I messaged the Guvnah to that effect.

Well, never let it be said that the Guv refuses to listen to people's concerns.  Some people would have been annoyed by receiving a message to the effect that "your brilliant new build sux and I'm not going to live in it"... but the Guv took it on the chin, and we thrashed out a compromise, which involved him carving out a separate parcel, away from the city itself, where I can build, unencumbered, and in the sort of idiom I feel appropriate to Caledon STEAM SkyCITY, dammit.

Of course, now, I am honour bound to actually build something.  Which means, I suppose (since life and other realities keep on intruding on my not-so-copious free time) that this blog may get even more neglected as I bolt prims together inworld.  But I will be back, and building.  Watch this space.  Something may happen here yet.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another "not dead yet" post...

Nor is my mother, but there have been more medical alarums and excursions... I really do hope things settle down a bit; one way and another, it has been one hell of a summer.

Anyway.  I'm still around.  With luck, more so, soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Steam Hunt 7 is on

... and, of course, I am on it.  Taking it at a leisurely pace, so far, but I'm on it.

What's more, this time, I am in it - shop number 106 on the list is my little one in Steam SkyCity.  After last month's alarums and excursions, I am more than a little relieved to have got things done in time! - and, in fact, it turned into a mad scramble the day before the Hunt started, and I'd never have managed it if it hadn't been for Tali's unstinting help and support.  She really is wonderful.

Anyway.  I have no idea if this will Put Me On The Map as an SL merchant and have hordes of people beating a path to my door... but I was in one of the Hunt shops, the other day, and a fellow hunter came up to me and said how much she'd liked my little place.  I was quite unreasonably chuffed about that one.

Meanwhile, I'm working through the rest of the Hunt shops, and it will be a while till I get to my own place.  So far, Epic Toy Factory has been Epic as usual, while one place is providing a Martian war machine that positively made my mouth water.  Everybody should have a war machine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Progress(?)

I'm unlikely to be posting all that much in the near future...

The obvious reason is, I am just getting back into SL and will need to spend time catching up with stuff, and therefore actually doing said stuff rather than talking about it.

But the real reason is, as I look at the evening news and see soaring petrol prices, show trials of dissidents in Moscow, police gunning down miners in South Africa, and the search going on for the Moors Murderers' last victim... the real reason is clearly that somebody has wound the universe's clock back to about 1970, and therefore the Internet has not yet been invented.

If you are reading this, welcome to the temporal paradox.  Goodnight.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bloodied but still unbowed, sort of

Apparently, "I've fallen and I can't get up" was something deeply hilarious, a few years back.  I never quite got why it was so funny, myself, and having just had my mother in precisely that position, I find it even less amusing than I did to start with.  I'm sure it's just my defective sense of humour, of course.

The fun thing is, I wrenched my back at one stage, lifting her, and was darn near in the same condition myself.

So my activities have been severely curtailed, lately, not just online! - But things improve.  I am able to sit and type comfortably for short periods, and my mother was fit enough yesterday to go to a funeral (not her own). 

They say these things come in threes, don't they?  First a badger eats a junction box and puts my connection out of action (or whatever it was), then my mother's fall, now my back.  Well, hopefully, that is three over and done with and I can get back to normal.... and, once RL is properly sorted out, I can address the SL commitments which have been piling up!

(Neither of us is in any real danger, I hasten to add.  Just massively inconvenienced, and, in my case, slightly woozy still from codeine.)

Anyway, there we are.  Or aren't.  As the case may be.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

If it's not one thing, it's another

No sooner do I get back online than my mother has another fall...

She's OK, I think, but I'm snatching time to post this in a tiny bit of a hurry!  Normal service will be resumed.  Promise!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gagged!

Taking advantage of a brief opportunity (and a public wi-fi hotspot) to post something:  my home Internet connection is out of action, hence my unusual silence!  I'm hoping to be back to normal, or what passes for it, come Monday.  In the meantime, I am stuck in reality.  It's weird...

Monday, July 16, 2012

And, while I'm grumping...

... and inspired by a charmless buffoon who wandered into Oxbridge somewhat before I crashed last night...

If you are looking through the ToS and the local sim rules and plotting very hard to find some course of action which is not technically griefer behaviour - then that in itself is griefer behaviour.

(This particular guy was quite determined to pick some kind of fight.  Fortunately, everybody there, including a sixteen-year-old anime fan, was too mature to fall for it.)

More irritability


My feedback on the second support case I had to raise, to report that I couldn't access the first one.

You will notice that I don't feel my problem was solved, that I was very unsatisfied with the whole business, and - most damningly - that this was what I was expecting.

There are people who make unreasonable demands of LL on a technical level... but, come on, guys, I'm running Windows 7 and Internet Explorer, this is not some obscure custom system, and it is not unreasonable to expect the flippin' support web page to work!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Belt and braces

A while back now I mentioned some problems we were running into with the keyframed movement system.  While this is somewhat improved - possibly as a consequence of the impending arrival of pathfinding on the Grid as a whole - there are still issues, especially with region restarts.  The lifts running up and down my tower in Burroughs still freeze when the region restarts, and are a little erratic in resuming function.

So, by way of experiment, I rigged one to sort itself out when the restart hits.  Basically, this is run off the "changed" event, because one of the things it picks up is the starting up of the region.  (I have an explosive device in Steam SkyCity, in fact, which counts the number of times the sim has restarted.  And then explodes.)  So, this one lift, now, when it detects a restart, shuts down keyframed movement, uses the old warpPos trick to go to its starting point, and then starts keyframing going again.  In theory, then, the next time a restart hits, this thing should go right on moving as normal.

I mentioned all this to Tali, and she said, "WarpPos?  You do know llSetRegionPos is live now, right?"

Well, this is why Tali is an accomplished creator and I am a dumb blonde; yes, I did know, but it had temporarily slipped what passes for my mind.  So I turned back to the lift...

... and I thought to myself, hang on, this is an excellent moment to run some comparisons, here.

WarpPos is not an LSL function, it's a trick developed by sneaky programmer types; it works by calculating a number of steps between where you are and where you want to be, and using llSetPos to move an object along those steps - the trick being that, due to a quirk of the implementation, all these repeated calls to llSetPos are executed in the same physics frame, thus making the transition effectively instantaneous.

The newer llSetRegionPos actually does move an object, straightforwardly and simply, from point A to point B (if both points are in the same region).  So there is not a lot of use for warpPos any more, unless you're going outside a sim... but...

The much-published warpPos user-defined function has an error margin of 0.01 meters.  In the documentation, llSetRegionPos is given an error margin of 0.1 meters.  Now, this may be simply LL covering their backsides with a generous allowance for errors, but - I thought - it might be interesting to see how the two compare in practice.  So I edited a second lift and set that to use llSetRegionPos.

So, it will be interesting to see how the two compare.  The ideal result would be for both lifts to handle the sim restarts normally - but it is possible that, with the wider margin for error, the llSetRegionPos one will drift, gradually, out of position over the course of weeks.  (It is also possible, or even likely, that they will both hit an unsolved keyframing bug and fail to restart properly.  Well, we shall see.)

An experiment in progress!  I may have results in, oooh, a month or two.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recommended reading

As some people know, when I'm not shouting at my mother or trying to ignore her, one of the things I do is read aloud to her.  We've been through a number of books over the past few months.

The one we're on currently is W. E. Bowman's The Ascent of Rum Doodle, a spoof on mountaineering which narrates - in studiously po-faced and pompous "Boys' Own Stories" style - the attempts of a hapless crew of incompetents to conquer the 40,000½ foot tall peak of the title.  It's blessed with a foreword by Bill Bryson, who describes it as one of the funniest books he's ever read.

I mention it here because, for a sixty-year-old classic of humourous writing, it is weirdly little-known.  It's been compared (not without justification) to Three Men in a Boat and The Diary of a Nobody, but those books are famous, and The Ascent of Rum Doodle, inexplicably, isn't.  Oh, I'm sure there's a Wikipedia page about it, but that means nothing these days.

Probably my posting this here means nothing much, too, but... should you chance across this one, give it a go.  I mean, it's funny enough that both my mother and I are enjoying it.  How often does that happen?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A pox on "standard sizing"

The mesh clothes I picked up at the fundraiser yesterday will just have to be considered as donations to the cause, I fear.  At least the shoes, makeup and motorbike seem OK!

The problem, of course, is that they were all made using the "Standard Sizing", against which I have inveighed before... and my shape, though not all that peculiar, especially in SL, is way outside the permitted variation allowed in the standard sizes.

It's not a question of being too tall, or too thin, because the existing adjustments along avatar bones work just fine to accommodate that.  The problem lies in the subtler interplay of proportions - and, I suspect, in what's currently fashionable in SL.

The problem seems to exist mostly for those of us who want a vaguely trim-and-athletic look.  I don't want exaggerated curves and a pair of Zeppelins moored to the front of my torso, thank you very much, so the larger sizes, which cater to the voluptuous amongst us, are out.  So, no problem, right?  I just use the small sizes, and they scale up to my height, right?... Wrong, because the smaller sizes don't seem to allow for any significant musculature, or breadth (I have narrow hips and comparatively broad shoulders).  The S and XS sizes seem heavily biased towards what my friend and fellow blogger CC Creeggan describes here as "Tableau girls".  It's a popular look among the waif-like and generally gamine.  It's not my look, though, or anywhere near it.  Of course, I can just hide everything under alpha layers...

... except those don't adjust at all for body proportions, they are painted over certain areas of your avatar's surface, and if the lines on your avatar's surface don't match up to the ones on the mesh item you're wearing... tough.  So, with the best will in the world, I find myself clipping through mesh clothes in unexpected locations.  Forearms seem to be the worst - my arms are longer than many avi's, even though they are actually too short to be well proportioned in RL.  And, wearing a corsety-type top, I found that, in all the sizes available, the breadth of my shoulders made for a visible discontinuity between the mesh and me - I suddenly broaden out at the point the mesh's corresponding alpha ends.

At best, I can only hope to conceal my entire lower body beneath an alpha, leaving me looking as if I've stolen somebody else's legs.  In size XXS trousers, the legs of someone in the terminal stages of some obscure wasting disease.  In size XL, the legs of someone whose bottom needs its own postcode.  In intermediate sizes, an unlovely combination of the two.

Let's consider the tops... Well, since I have small breasts, anything above XXS leaves vast echoing caverns around my chest.  Selecting size XXS, though, generally means my breasts clip through the clothing whenever my av physics kicks in, and sometimes even when it doesn't.  I can't win.

I would post some snapshots, but they are just too, too, depressing.

I am more and more convinced that the "standard sizing" was based on a sample of commercially available shapes.... and so reflects what's currently fashionable in SL.  I will stand by my previously stated opinion: for those of us who exercise our own creativity and make our own shapes, it is effectively useless

And since mesh clothes continue to be a growth area, can we please have all the wrangling over the mesh deformer tool sorted out, so that I can actually wear some?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

All in a good cause

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I'd be dropping by the fundraiser for Gala Phoenix's legal costs....  It seems this has become something of a hot issue!  I tried to get into the Mesh sim, where the fundraiser is being held, several times yesterday, only to be bounced out every time because the region was full.  This thing is drawing crowds.

I managed to turn myself sideways, suck in my tummy, and slide in unnoticed today.  I must say, despite huge amounts of pressure, the sim itself seems to be holding up nicely; a bit of lag-walking in some spots, but in general I was moving about fairly easily.  And the shopping worked just fine, too, which is fortunate, given the hole it has now put in my Linden balance. 



I do think this is a cause worth supporting, because the legal case may lead to a serious rethink about DMCA takedowns and what's to be done when they are abused - and we are definitely overdue for some rethinking on that topic!  Also, it is a cause worth supporting because there are is a lot of good stuff here from some very famous SL names, and, well, everyone knows about me and nice clothes, right?  (Also a motorbike that I don't, strictly speaking, need.)

The vendors, by the way, have notices saying how much of the price is going to the cause... I am somewhat conflicted about this, on account of I think it might be a bit iffy to make money for oneself when setting up stall at a fundraising event.  On the other hand, SL designers have to eat and pay tier like the rest of us... and some of them seem to think a fifty-fifty split, between the event and themselves, is equitable enough.  I can see their point of view, I think; my own purchases, though, were restricted to ones that said "100% of the proceeds will go to meeting Gala Phoenix's legal costs."  That is, after all, what I'm there to support... the nice clothes and unnecessary motorbike are only a side issue, right?

Anyway.  I made it there, I overloaded my inventory again, and on balance it was fun.  If only Second Pride had managed to draw this many people!

Breakthrough!


It doesn't actually get beyond "Loading...", but it's better than yesterday.  At this rate, I might be able to see my support case as early as next week!  No idea when or if it'll ever be resolved, of course.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sinister Steampunk Hunting

... as in, participating in the Sinister Steampunk 2 Hunt, and not (as I've said before) chasing Denver Hax with a bread knife.  Although if any more of his My Little Ponies come at me and kick me over the landscape of Caledon, I may make the time.

Ahem.  Anyway.  I think I've more or less finished, apart from two stores that aren't ready yet, and a couple of others that have dropped out or disappeared.  (One of them belongs to M. Ceriano, who I believe follows this blog! - so I hope he's OK, wherever he's got to.)  It makes me realize, though, how much I've relied on the Historical Hunts Group for support and information as I've done the various Steam and Silk Road Hunts.  Going it alone is tougher, psychologically at least.

However - this one seems to be almost finished.  Which means I will need to unpack!  So far, we have confirmed the presence of at least two top hats among the various gifts, so grand old steampunk tradition is being kept up.  I may need to keep a count of superfluous gears, too.

Speaking of which, I have girded up my loins (metaphorically) and submitted my little shop for Steam Hunt 7.  And, if it's accepted, I will have to make something!  (Tali gave the matter a few seconds' thought and suggested "Top hat skybox".  Which is all very well, but where would I put the superfluous gear?)

Couldn't have put it better myself

I have been attempting to deal with LL's support system, submitting a ticket for that "logging in dumps me in a disconnected state" issue, which is back again with a vengeance.

The following screen shot shows just how far I'm getting.


Says it all, really, doesn't it?  Ladies and gentlemen: LL's customer support.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Curio affair of the DMCA in the night time

This rather non-sensational item from NWN hides behind it a rather alarming imbroglio between two SL content creators; I can understand why Mr Au is keeping his coverage restrained and non-judgmental, since the dispute has now escalated to the point where real lawyers - not just Internet "lawyers" - are getting involved.  Still, following up on the links leads one into as juicy a tale of allegations and cliques and counter-allegations as one might wish to read in the proverbial month of Sundays.  (I am, myself, convinced enough that I'll be dropping by Gala Phoenix's fundraiser to spend some Lindens for the cause.)

The main problem, it seems to me, is that whatever's happened, someone has been abusing the DMCA takedown process, by reporting as a copyright infringement content which they must know darn well isn't infringing.  To me, this highlights an essential weakness in the whole process.  It's all very well having a fast and effective method of taking down infringing content (I am not going to use the contentious word "stolen" here, as the issues are already quite muddy enough without distorting the meaning of another word), but the problem is the same as with the ready availability of firearms in some cultures - the bad guys get to have them too. In this case, it is quite clear that an innocent creator has been shot with the DMCA "gun" by a plagiarist trying to cover themselves with a bogus counter-accusation.  Undoubtedly, the truth will come out in the end... and the RL lawyers will get a nice five-figure sum out of it, and everyone else is going to come out a loser.

This is surely not fair, and I'm hoping something can be done about it.  It seems to me that there need to be serious consequences, somewhere, for an abuse of the DMCA takedown process - as things stand, an infringer can sling out a counter-claim and gum up a legitimate complainer's business, and it's not easy to see where they have anything to lose by doing that.  Possibly, the RL courts will impose some sort of additional penalty - or possibly not; who knows, with many courts in many nations, not all of them up to the standards we in the developed world expect?  But, it seems to me, abuse of DMCA needs to be something taken seriously in SL, too.  I hope this is something LL is thinking about.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Normal service will be resumed

... since it is unusual for me to leave more than forty-eight hours between blog entries.

Unfortunately, real life has rather intervened, in the form of a blazing row with my mother, over the merits of me spending time on the computer.  (Which, since both my social and my work life rather revolve around the Net, is a bit of a problem.)  My mother has reached that time in life when she disapproves of everything but the Royal Family and the Antiques Roadshow, and the Internet falls under neither heading.

It'll blow over - but I am keeping my head down until it does.  Sadly, I have to live with my mother.  Or, at least, someone has to, and there aren't any other volunteers. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

The sincerest form of flattery

There has been, it seems, a sudden outbreak of copybotting, to which I was alerted by no less a presence than the august Dean of Caledon Oxbridge, Martini Discovolante, who was gratified to hear a newcomer compliment her appearance - and then mortified to see said newcomer assume it, instantly....

This is, of course, nothing new, and it's not easy to prevent.  The simple truth is, if you are going to appear on other people's viewers, the information needed to construct your appearance has to be sent to their computers - and it is not at all difficult to intercept and record that information.  All it took was one person malicious or clueless enough to write and release a tool for doing this, and imagination- and morality-challenged people everywhere could take advantage of it.

There are limitations, of course - copybotters can't duplicate content that's shared only between your client and LL's servers, so things like your inventory, and the contents of your items, are safe enough.  And I'm inclined to wonder if the upcoming changes to the rendering pipeline will make life harder for the copyers; if your skin and clothing textures are pre-baked on the server side, it's not going to be easy to separate the layers out in someone else's client.  I hope.

And, of course, copybotting is a violation of the Terms of Service and merits an immediate abuse report if you see it... not to mention, if it's content you've made being copied, the authority of the DMCA behind the complaint.  LL can, and do, remove ripped-off content, replacing it with "generic" items of the same basic type.

Which is all to the good.... I am not a fan of the more strident interpretations of copyright law and intellectual property rights, but the basic principle is sound: people who create things have the right to distribute it the way they choose to, and to get paid for what they do.  I may choose to give stuff away - I have, on some occasions - but it's my stuff, and I get to choose when and how I do it.  I may be a techno-commie, and even a pixel-stained technopeasant wretch, but I draw the line at simply leeching off other people's creativity.  And I hope all my readers do too!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Not all that proud

I went out to see the Second Pride sims - six of them, celebrating LGBT pride and culture in Second Life.  A good thing, to be sure.

After Fantasy Faire, and SL9B, I was expecting something rather fun, though.  Unfortunately, it's six rather empty sims, of rather bland builds.  There is a funfair, which looks vaguely fun.  There are important things, like memorials, and art galleries, and a museum of the struggle (still ongoing, alas) for gay rights.  It's all very worthy and not very interesting....

Also, I am minded to gripe on a personal level; last I heard, there was an L in LGBT.  But you wouldn't think it to see most of this place.  So far, I have found a stall for SL's "Oh Boi" lesbian magazine, and that is all I've found.  I suppose I shouldn't grumble; in the world of Second Pride, that seems to put us about equal with the Goreans, and we get nearly twice as much space as the Amaretto breedable horses.

Perhaps lesbian groups were approached, but chose - for whatever reason - not to participate?  Or perhaps it's that famous lesbian invisibility, that we hear so much about.  Anyway.  For me, this festival is something of a disappointment.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Scammers live in vain

Much annoyance in RL, from a spate of phone calls of late.  This is that scam where someone (usually with a very thick Indian accent) phones up claiming to be from"technical support department of Windows", tells you that your computer is generating error messages all across the Internet, and offers you assistance in fixing the problem.  Actually accepting such an offer - not that I have ever done so, myself - is pretty much guaranteed to sign you up for new exciting experiences in the area of identity theft and malware installation.  You too can be part of the thrilling new botnet everyone is talking about!

After a lengthy argument with our telecoms provider, we got a four digit code to punch into the phone, to flag these up as fraudulent calls - probably useless, since the scammers behind these things just buy time at a new call centre every so often; the hapless drones in Kolkata are reading off the scripts that are given them.

Needless to say, it is a scam, absolutely and completely - Microsoft do not make, or authorize anybody to make, unsolicited phone calls of this nature, and in any case the idea of my lone laptop ringing alarm bells across the globe is patently ridiculous.  If I'm in a bad mood, my response to these people is along the lines of quoting the Computer Misuse Act at them and advising them to get an honest job.  And, I have to admit, increasingly I am in a bad mood with these people.  I've had four of these calls in the past three days, now, and I am quite a cross Glorf about it.

Exercise for the alert student: given that I'm on a dynamically allocated IP address, how much work would you have to go to, in order to establish that a series of error messages all originated on my PC?  Answers on a postcard please.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A hurried note

... as my inworld time has been taken over, through my own dreadful weakness of will; I started doing the Sinister Steampunk Hunt.

This is smaller that Steam Hunt or Silk Road - fifty-two shops listed, but some have dropped out (one, rather alarmingly, has disappeared completely).  So far, I'm about half way.  There are some familiar names on the list, but there are enough new-to-me stores to keep me on my toes!  There may or may not be a report on the goodies on offer; the Hunt's blog seems to be displaying those fairly effectively, though.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The play's the thing

So, there I was at home in Kuhrang, when I received a message from the estimable Mr Perryn Peterson; he was about to appear in a play, would I care to come and watch?

Shortly thereafter, there I was in Piedmont Landing, at the Jewell Theater high in the air, watching "The Ost", a Gorean-themed play in which Perryn was playing a two-timing guy who gets rather more than he bargained for, in a distinctly Gorean sort of style.

I have to admit, my own style wasn't particularly Gorean, since I was still baking a rather nice modern outfit from Ydea at the time... still, there were a couple of other conventional Earth people around, among all the silks and the slaves, so I sat quiet and said nothing and absorbed this little tale from a culture that is, to be honest, pretty much alien to me.  (I read a Gor book, once, about twenty-five years ago; neither John Norman's writing style nor his sexual politics impressed me very much.)

The play was one of those areas where SL shows its... differences... from RL.  On the one hand, fantastically detailed sets and costumes were rezzed in the blink of an eye, technology Shakespeare would have given his eye teeth for.  On the other, the dialogue was exclusively in chat, so no intonation, no expression, there; and though the actors were perfectly choreographed, there is a limit to what they can do, too, with animations and precisely timed movement. 

The subject matter, Perryn (quite correctly) assured me, was universal, but I kept looking about for the Gorean twists - the attitudes, and the resolution of the central situation, that were appropriate to the Gorean culture.  (I commented to Perryn, afterwards, how different things might have been in other constructed cultures - citing as an example one of M.A.R. Barker's T├ękumel stories, where the love triangle is resolved quite neatly by the hero marrying both the girls.  But this isn't possible in a Gorean setting, apparently.)  Anyway, it kept my interest, all the way through.

Must admit, though, the one thing that really threw me was the attitude of the audience, who were heckling loudly and commenting on the action all the way through.... Now, this might just be my cultural prejudices coming through, of course.  My upbringing makes me think it's only a courtesy to the performers to keep my mouth shut and let them get on with the show - perhaps I am old-fashioned; perhaps it is different in Gor; or perhaps I'm not old-fashioned enough - Shakespeare's audiences at the Globe could cut up pretty rough, by all accounts.  But I found it distracting, enough so to do a surreptitious mute on a couple of the most talkative (including one person whose open mic was delivering snatches of the Euro 2012 cup final along the way).

Anyway - it was definitely an interesting experience.... Of course, it occurs to me that I was present in my SL identity watching a bunch of other SL people assume the roles of yet other people in an invented society, thereby achieving such a level of "meta" that I'm not even sure I'm typing this.  But it was certainly an interesting event.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Blingons on the starboard bow!

One thing I missed, apparently, at SL9B was the sign at the Bay City exhibit telling its denizenscitizens to beware of the "Steam Menace".  An absurd suggestion!  As if the genteel and urbane inhabitants of Caledon presented any sort of menace to anyone.

But, of course, this means the people of Bay City are bound to be on their guard.  It would be almost impossible, then, to - as a random example - sneak steam grenades into the Bay City Municipal Airport.
Not much sneaking going on, in fact


And, what with the rigorous security checks in place, it'd be almost impossible for a Caledonian agent to infiltrate undetected.
Harmless though that would be - I mean, could anyone see any malign intent in this?


Indeed, you would need to be particularly subtle, sneaky, and generally non-obvious to penetrate the elaborate layers of Bay City security.

Almost undetectable


Yes, the people of Bay City can certainly rest easy in their beds, knowing how vigilantly their municipal authorities protect them from the "Steam Menace"!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

I am All Grown Up

I had a small and unexpected windfall last week, so I decided to treat myself... specifically, I treated myself to one of Ceri Quixote's "Jotun" mesh avatars. 

Ceri Quixote hasn't been mentioned by name in this blog, but she has appeared before; she was the blue lady wandering around the Fantasy Faire sims... the very tall blue lady... taller than most of the buildings, in fact.  Her "Jotun" and "Titan" mesh avatars are not on the same awe-inspiring scale, but they are quite large enough for most purposes.  About 6.5 meters tall, according to the measuring prim I whipped out in Oxbridge.
Standing by my bomb lab in Caledon Steam SkyCity


On the whole, I rather like it.  The rigged mesh makes it easy to wear, there is a range of makeup and clothing available (I went for the most modest option, because if you are walking around and you are 6.5 meters tall, you want to be darn sure you're wearing underwear), and you can use your own AO and other standard animations with it... which is important to me, because it helps this giant-sized-thing look like a giant-sized me.  The physique is not far off my own - admittedly, the nose and the jawline aren't a match for mine - but, with my usual AO and one of my more commonly chosen hairs blown up to an appropriate size, this looks sufficiently Glorf-like for me to be comfortable walking around in it.  It didn't take me long to get the hang of the controls (which allow things like different make-ups, and render parts of the avatar non-visible so you can wear stuff like digi legs, and offer some hand and face animation settings).  On balance, the whole thing was fun.  I could wish for an even taller version to be available - I wouldn't mind wading up to the tower in Burroughs - and I desperately need a stomping-on-the-ground animation to use with it.  But, well, this thing is fun.  Which is what I do SL for, mainly.

Wandering around Oxbridge
Tali put on her micro fox avi, just to provide a contrast.  (Note that, in that picture, I've worked out how to put the boots on.)



Friday, June 29, 2012

Wheels within wheels

So I logged in just now... which is not news to most people, I'd admit.

However, I was pleasantly surprised, because, for the past couple of weeks, I've been having an annoying problem, whereby I would log in to SL and find myself in a sort of limbo state, apparently in a region but disconnected from it - unable to move, TP, or communicate, with myself and the area around me loaded to a greater or lesser degree of completeness, and with a ping time pegged at 10000 ms.  The only thing to do, it seemed, was log out, try to log in again, and hope that it worked.  Sometimes it took up to four tries, and I was starting to get quite cross about it.

And, since about the middle of this week... that hasn't happened to me.  I think it unlikely that this isn't connected to the server rollouts that always happen Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Whenever I am bitching about LL, I always try to remember how much the whole of SL is still a work in progress... they are meeting unique technical challenges, they are constantly expanding the capabilities of the system, they are operating, in many ways, at the cutting edge of virtual world technology.  (There are virtual worlds out there with more impressive features, but not with SL's high concurrency levels... there are others with many more concurrent users, but not with SL's level of individual user freedom.  SL operates in a niche which is far from completely explored.)

Of course, there are areas where LL deserves a thorough lambasting, and we can all think of six off the tops of our heads.  But, sometimes, I think it wise to bear in mind just how much the technology is changing behind the scenes, and how hard it can be to predict the effects of those changes on the user experience.  I would be very surprised if "Glorf's incomplete login problem" had appeared on a LL to-fix list at any time... but, something they've done seems to have fixed it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bringing home the bacon: Silk Road 3, part 11 and last

One last push to the end of the Hunt!

111 Dax Designs - male and female outfits.  Silks for the ladies; well, it is my colour, but I can't help feel it's a bit draughty!  As a bonus, includes a no-copy pose stand, which kind of mystifies me.

112 Aster's Builts - AM Afternoon Tea and Massage Parlour.  Aster's unfortunately closed part-way through the hunt, but this is at least something to remember them by.  It's two rooms with a sort of courtyard in between... the rooms are, well, exactly what it says on the tin.  Looks good enough.  And at least I seem to be dressed for it.

113 Dragon's Designs- Kokeshi.  Which baffled me nicely when I saw it in my inventory, but this is, it seems, a miniature tea house, complete with miniature patrons, and even a boat.  I'm not sure why the tea house needs a boat, unless there is a really huge amount of tea around.  But it is cute and little and decorative, anyway.

114 Leila's Closet - White Sundress.  I'm sure the gentlemen look perfectly fetching in it too.  Anyway, it is white and flowing and generally warmer than the dancing silks.

115 ezura Xue - "Dragon" back tattoo (unisex) and a "Dragon" mini camisole for the ladies.  And perfectly fine they are, too.  OK, that flexi skirt is going to need some adjustment, but that's my own fault for having such narrow hips.

116 Gugu Dada - light red lipstick and (unisex) back tattoo.  Makeup specialists Gugu Dada rarely disappoint.  My only problem is the time it's taking to change back tattoos!  But that's my own fault, too.  The lipstick is kind of, well, just lipstick, so here's the photo of the back tattoo.

117 Glimmer Moon Warehouse - Downton bedside lamp.  Was Downton Abbey on the Silk Road?  Should I ask questions like that?  In both cases, the answer is "probably not".  But anyway.  Pretty lamp.

118 Cero Style - "Arthur" and "Edith" outfits.  Arthur looks dead butch; the photo, however, is of Edith.  She looks rather mediaeval peasant chic to me, rather as if tankards of ale are in her job description.  Which is no bad thing really.

119 Sparkworks/Changeling Moon - Lantern Skybox.  Another nice skybox, this time in sort of hot-air-balloon form.  I could set up a stack of skyboxes a mile high, now, I think.  It's a nice one, you wouldn't expect different from SparkWorks.

120 Fantasy China - four gifts here, a large Chinese House, a sculpted Chinese Gate, an ancient Chinese hairstyle, presumably for the ladies, and a non-ancient Harley Davidson for the gentlemen.  I think (for once) the gentlemen are getting the better deal here!  But it's a nice little package, all told.

121 Dark Vision - Oriental Pavilion with Male and Female Chairs.  And very pavilion-y it is, too, and the chairs are definitely on the nice side.  Black and gold lacquer and red cushions, all very dramatic.

122 Park Place Home Decor - Silk Road Accent Chairs and Footstool.  These are rather tasteful, actually - much more Victorian drawing room than Imperial throne room!  It's as well to be ready for anything.  You never know when you're going to need to take tea with the vicar, or sentence a rebellious provincial governor to death by the bowstring.  Got to have the right furniture for each occasion!

123 Arkenstone Fantasy Furniture - Gold Kapour Rug.  Actually, I like a good decorative rug.  Very handy, low-prim way to brighten up an otherwise boring floor.  Rugs are good.

124 Mimsy Manor - GreenTEAHouse.  Oh, the ambiguities there!  It is green, so it is a green tea house.  But is it also a house for drinking green tea?  And it is also a greenhouse, so is it a greenhouse for tea?  A green green tea teahouse house, in fact?  My head is a whirl... which, I suspect, is the idea.  In any case, it's a nice thing.

125 had to drop out.  Personally I am glad of the breather, and I took advantage to go back to being blonde.
126 TRIDENT - Bukhara Carpet Set.  Positively an embarrassment of riches on the carpet front.  I've rezzed what I hope is a representative selection, red and orange, rolled and... not.   So, then.  Carpets.

127 Crazy Amazons - Mongolian House.  Too big and permanent to be a yurt, but modelled on a yurt nonetheless.  Yurt yurt yurt.  If you have to house a Mongolian, this is undoubtedly what you need.

128 Elemental Jewelry - Silk Road Necklace (m and f versions, natch).  Rather nice, simple, silver and amber design with a basic neck cord.  Simple is good.  Can't say I turn my nose up at silver and amber, either.

129 Kastle Rock Couture - Shanghai Mesh Skirt and Tank set (Dragonfly), and some furniture for the gentlemen who won't look so hot in a mesh skirt.  Only two sizes for the mesh, "average" and "curvy" - for obvious reasons (no hips, remember?) I went "average".  The results aren't, actually, bad at all!  Best off-the-peg mesh I've had yet.  The four-person low-slung table is nice enough, too.

130 USC Textures - "Worn Silk" texture pack.  Texture packs are always welcome, especially USC ones.  I have lost count of how many USC textures I have welcomed, in fact!  These will come in handy, have no doubt about that.
131 - another dropout, another chance for Glorf to take a breather!
132 Morigi Steam - Simple Ninjato.  Sword, with an impressive number of combat-system options built in.  Looks good, too.  Morigi Steam seldom disappoints.

133 Axo's - Chinese Style Room Divider.  Sculpty thing with built-in texture change, a good one for dividing rooms in style.  We are doing well for room dividers in this hunt, I think... of course, we have racked up no small number of rooms to divide, too.

134 Czari's Attic - Moghul Indian Pavilion, with Individual Furnishings yet (i.e. as individual chunks rather than a single monolithic build).  Well, this is nice!  Somewhere to loll in sybaritic Eastern splendour.  I like lolling.  I could loll all day given half a chance.

135 Peterson Galleries - Chinese fan.  Display piece, and a very fine and decorative display piece it is too.

And that's it.  End of the Hunt.  No more hunting posts! - at least until the next Steam Hunt, which I think is in September... and oh yes, there is Sinister Steam 2 coming up in July... OK, possibly not quite the last hunting post, then.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bringing home the bacon: Silk Road 3, part 10

With the end of the month looming, it is clearly time for me to do some bumper instalments of this lot.  So, a lot coming up in this one!

091 Wasenshi - Little Wooden Buddha statue.  Which is pretty much as described.  Personally, I think he looks a bit smug.  But I suppose if you've founded a major world religion you're entitled to be smug.

092 TRIDENT Jewelry - Incense Chest and Sacks.  A piece of furniture, or at least decoration, handy for an appropriately-themed build.

093 Steamed Rice - Wisdom Spender.  And what is one of those, I hear you ask?  I'm not entirely sure... It looks like some kind of dispenser, and it contains something called a "Coin of Wisdom", and some sort of script... but I can't actually get it to work.  Or maybe I can, and its only purpose is to baffle me, in which case it is working quite nicely thank you.  Anyway.  That's what it is.


(ETA:  nice people took pity on my perplexity and explained which switch I needed to touch to get this to work.  It is a rather neat piece of object animation, in fact, when you get it going!  So, worth the effort of finding out, whether you discover it for yourself or get people to tell you like dumb Glorf.)
094 Goddess Fantasies - male and female outfits.  As usual, I checked out the women's one...  This "Rouge et Noir" outfit is undoubtedly red and black; not sure it's quite my style, but it would fit in some RP places I know, that's for sure.

095 JingJing - JingJing shoulder pet. Highly animated and no doubt perfectly adorable.  I'm fairly sure, though, that I shouldn't get it wet or feed it after midnight.  Never mind!

096 Moonbeams - Silk Road Trunk 2012.  Well.  Um.  It's a big box.  With detailed decorative textures on it.  If you want a single-prim prop trunk for some Asian/fantasy/mediaeval themed build... this one has you covered, I guess.

097 Flowers Candles Romance - Bamboo/Metal Wind Chimes.  Well, they are bamboo and metal and chime-y... and I think they have some sort of message besides.  If you look at them from the right angle, they spell out "OLVE".  And that's a message we can all get behind.

098 reBourne prefabs - Summer day and night sound loopers.  A pair of decorative sculped rocks, that provide environmental sounds (touch to toggle on/off).  Handy for landscaping ambience, I think! 

Number 099, Epic Toy Factory couldn't make it - easily the most regretted dropout in the Hunt, and I'm sure we all wish the Toymaker well in sorting out her RL issues!
100 HUDSON's Clothing Co. - Male and female "Tied Silks" outfits.  After due deliberation, I decided I would provide a piccy of myself in these... I am just about decent in them.  I think.   As for the men's version, I will leave that to someone more adventurous and/or male than me.

101 Cosmic Steam Designs - Reading nook.  Little piece of furniture with a variety of sitting-reading-book animations.  Nice enough, but I'm not sure the walls are meant to be that grey... some SL glitch stopping me getting the texture, perhaps?  Maybe I'll try it in another region.

102 EBDesign - "Beautiful Lady" Chinese Room Divider.  Actually, comes in three versions, one opened out, one folded up, and one scripted to toggle between the two configurations on touch.  So, useful as well as decorative.  How I wish I could say the same of me.

103 Royal Thai Gallery - single scripted door.  It's good looking, and it swings through ninety degrees on touch.  You could put it up, and then build a house around it, I guess.  Looks good, anyway.

104 GUHL - Hunt Rohling GUHL Flying balloon.  It's... umm... it's a balloon.  You can lie on that round seat thing underneath it.  A piece of specialist furniture, I suppose

105 Immagination - Perfumed Glass Oil Bottles.  Malachite box containing three rather pretty little bottles.  Small, but highly decorative.  I can't say that about myself either.

106 Sparklie Silks - Male and Female "Silk Road Hunt" outfits.  It's coming to something when I put one of these on and feel more covered up than I was before.  It's quite nice, anyway - not my usual colour, but that's not a bad thing, necessarily.

107 Serenity Fashion - "Fantasy Red Dress" (female) and "George on Blue" (male) outfits. It's still not my colour, but it is pretty stylish really.  I like it.  (George isn't really "me", but I'm sure he'd look good on the right man.)

108 Dragon's Chyld Gallery - "The Wizard's Rose" scripted frame, and a Golden Dragon Egg.  The frame comes with artwork and a range of menu-driven options, which is handy; the egg sort of hatches out another picture and a book about Isle of Wyrms dragons.  It's all rather decorative anyway.

109 Geisha Dreams - Geta with Tabi - Summer Swirls.  Ah, I remember what this means from a few posts ago!  Footwear!  Japanese footwear.  Makes an interesting change from my usual unlikely stiletto heels, in any case.

110 Holly's Fashions - "Simone for Silk3" outfit (mixed ladies' and gents' components).  simple and straightforward silk dress with a floral print, and a jacket for the gentlemen.  It's nice.  With sensible shoes, that'd look OK on me, in fact!