Thursday, September 26, 2019

In World Again

Robot Sanatorium with Rosie's Head Retracted. For scale, the platform just to the left of center at the bottom is 15 meters wide. When I came into worlds after a long absence, I found the head in open position.

It should have been closed, like this.

I've been spending time in world after being absent for too long.

Our regions Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom have been ticking along without supervision for several years now. I left the volcano Pele's lava suspended 40 meters above the caldera when I vanished, and put it back immediately. Otherwise, things have been fine in my absence.

Oh, every once in a while Kitto Flora's little steam train takes a powder. When that happens it sends me an IM and I log in and track it down and send it home, but that's about it for emergencies.

Wandering around and looking at things in detail, however, I've discovered some things that needed attention. Somehow, some time, for instance, I managed to paste a texture onto one face of a big three-prim bamboo plant. Oopsie! Delete.

I found several wandering fish who were no longer wandering and deleted and replaced them. I found that gulls I had rezzed weren't free-flying, as I had thought, and were anchored to a central prim where wasn't phantom. I had left of these center prims several hanging a meter or so in the air, and, invisible as they were, they were an obstacle for those walking on the beach. I raised some and lowered some and all was good.

The roof of the robot sanatorium was missing, or, rather, had been lowered and didn't return to position. I'm not sure how that happened, but I put it back. I'll need to take a look at the script and fix it.

And I discovered the hand that rises from the ticket booth at the robot sanatorium cinema had vanished. I found it hanging in the air some 50 meters below its assigned position, returned it to its rightful place, and tweaked the script to send it home after every up and down movement to make sure it wouldn't wander in the future.

That's not too shabby for two years of non-maintenance.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Jian Otters at Whimsy (And a Considerable Digression)

Second Life wildlife has come a long way from circling birds and fish. You know; you've seen them. They're linked to a sphere and rotate via a simple script. That was pretty much it when Second Life was new.

Not that a circling bird or critter is a bad thing. Some, including Julia Hathor's eagle, look great. Circling is not entirely inappropriate behavior for an eagle, either, so there you go. Julia's eagle, which I believe was given to me by Bill Havercamp, has been slowly circling above Whimsy's upper gardens for more than a decade!

If you look closely at the photo below, you'll just be able see the long cylindrical prim that connects the bird with the small sphere about which it rotates.

The above photo is cropped, but it's not a trick photo. I had just flown to the area, and the alpha texture on the cylinder hadn't had time to resolve--and so it was visible, even though when fully rezzed it can't be seen.

When Julia made her eagle back in 2006, Second Life would not a texture to be set to 100% invisible. Consequently, to make an item disappear, we had to use an alpha texture. Today, we CAN set objects to 100% invisible. That works immediately and alpha textures don't, so what you see above is a historical artifact.  How about that!?

You can find an alpha texture in your inventory, in the Library. It's in the Textures folder and is called *Default Transparent Texture. If you apply it to a prim face, it will turn invisible--but these days you can do the same thing more effectively just by selecting 100% Transparent in the Textures tab of the Build window.

Here's a shot of the eagle that shows the Second Life interface. I ran the eagle down and right-clicked it and selected edit, making the ordinarily invisible prims evident. You can see the long cylinder. There's a small prim, invisible from this distance, where the blue and green and red arrows intersect.

So, yeah, before I got carried away, otters.

No, wait-- please allow me to continue to digress.

Than you for being so gracious.

Here's how I knew just when Julia made her eagle. This is its Inspect window. You can choose it from the pie menu (or the square Edit window, if that's how you roll).

This is actually a digression upon my digression. My digression concerns Julia. Julia made and sold beautiful plants and animals and structures and textures and sold them from her Creative Fantasy regions. Unfortunately, she left Second Life around 2005 for InWorldz, and her creations disappeared from SL. Now InWorldz itself is gone. Julia, wherever you are, you and your creations were and still are loved in Second Life!

Don't worry, Digression is winding down. I learned about Julia's (and her creations') departure just last week, when I tried to buy another of her lovely herons.

The digression is now over. Please come back from wherever you wandered off to.

Julia's Animated Great White Heron was a marked improvement from circling birds. It stands on the alert for fish and every thirty seconds or so snares one. It's moved by scripts that change the orientation and position of its constituent prims. So much better and more sophisticated than those circling scripts, which operate from just one line:

Hard to believe creators would lock up such a simple script, isn't it? Buy yeah, they do, and shame on them! My first experiments with scripting consisted of tweaking the variables in that line to change the direction and/or speed of the rotation. Had some fine avatar not left the script modifiable, there would be no robot sanitorium today! Imagine that: no home for the many mentally malfunctioning mechanoids of the Metaverse!

Second Life critters continue to improve. My favorites these days come from Jian, including the adorable sea otters at the top of this page. You can find a pair in the little inlet along the beach at Whimay and another pair near the sea decks on Whimsy Kaboom. Jian's frogs and chameleons and piglets and sharks and other critters are cute and energetic and creative and fit nicely on our sims.  You'll find them scattered all over. Check them out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New Sea Cliffs at Whimsy

Written 1 August, 2018

I have been doing some tweaks around Whimsy. I adjusted the position of some of the gulls on the beach, as they were flying low and running through things. Serenek tells me there's a stalled gull above the half-sunken pirate ship, but I've been unable to spot it so far.

I have a list of projects as long as my arm. I will, of course, blog about them as they happen.

Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom continue to be popular with visitors. Our little train still runs, the volcano still erupts (more spectacular eruption coming soon!), and the waves still crash onto the shore. Goddess, I can't tell you how much I love this place!

Sweetie has been being a badass lately on the Playstation, being a Witcher. I am absolutely stuck in Horizon: Zero Dawn trying to defeat the big bear monster on the add-on. I have parked the game, as I am continually dying.

Tonight (this morning, actually), I took down the sea cliffs on the southeastern corner of Whimsy and put up these great cliffs from Organica. They look better than the sculpted prims and cliff kit I used before, and they have the advantage of being walkable without having to use invisible prims to cover them. I think I save 20 or so prims in the re-do.

I might have a photo of the old cliffs, V. 1. Let's see if I can find it in inventory. Okay. Penis bike. No. 1,000,000 free textures. No. Freebie outhouse. No. Rotation script. No. 24 prim turtle from the Library. No. Caledon top hat. No. Stripper Pole, V. 2.4. No. Wait! here it is! Ewww... why is it sticky? Has that stupid water tower I made been leaking again? Nope. Freebie fountain pen mishap. Drat.

Here's the photo, and then a different view of the new cliffs. There's far more definition in the Organica cliffs.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Love and Dating in Second Life: #SecondLifeChallenge

The Mysterious Sweetie. That's Me in the Background
I wrote this post in response to Strawberry Singh's Second Life Challenge about love and dating in Second Life. I usually don't respond to blog challenges, but this one spoke to me.

1. Do you date in Second Life?

I have not dated in Second Life, and dated only a couple of times in real life, I take romance and love when it comes my way, and that never happens when I'm looking for it. I learned that quickly after a couple of dates as a teenager. It put me off. The girl was expected to defend her virtue, and the boy was expected to do whatever he could to violate it. It was sickening.

I did not come into Second Life for romance. It wasn't on my mind, but I immediately found it. I was in world less than a month when I chanced across an avatar with whom I quickly and deeply fell in love. Today, ten years later, I am just as deeply in love. Happily, she is as much in love with me.

2. Share some locations in Second Life that you think are ideal to go to on a date.

Second Life is full of romantic spots. My love and I never went to them; instead we went exploring for the ridiculous and the sublime in Second Life. Nowadays we hang out at our regions Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom, which were influenced in many ways by the no longer extant region Privateer Space.

3. Share a story of one of your favorite dates/proposals you’ve experienced in Second Life, or something someone has done for you that meant a lot.

I wouldn't call it a date, as we were just hanging out, but one of my best times in Second Life was an evening with Jesse Prior, who had a habit of suddenly and instantaneously turning into an accordian-playing robot gorilla. Our time together began with me showing him a garden, progressed to Jesse pulling out an assortment of free vehicles, all of which crashed and left me stranded, and ended with me falling out of the sky onto the doomed ocean liner Titanic. You can read about that night right  here.

4. Have you ever fallen in love in Second Life?

Oh, yes, quickly and deeply. I was in world less than a month. I saw her building a fountain on a hill in Dreamland Asia and said hello. She wound up building a custom house for me for the absurdly low price of five hundred lindens. When her property disappeared because her no-account boyfriend didn't pay the tier, she came to my property to finish the house. By the time it was completed, boyfriend had vanished and I was head over heels. I think the moment I flipped was when I learned how badly her aged Mac laptop was rendering the world and how she had built a beautiful house she could barely see.

This is How Sweetie Saw Second Life
Here's My View of the Same Area
Here's the House She Somehow Managed to Build
5. Have you ever gotten partnered or married in Second Life?

Said avatar and I have been inseparable since November 2006. It was awkward at first when we began to use voice. She was recovering from an abusive marriage and reluctant to become attached, and I had been divorced for several decades and wasn't looking to get hitched, so our romance progressed slowly. It was several years before we were partnered in Second Life.

We were 850 miles apart in the real world (fortunately, we were in the same time zone), and there was an age difference, but we clicked together on many levels. We met in real life in March or April of 2007 and I was soon traveling to New York from my home in Georgia for long visits. Fortunately, I had lots of vacation time.

Whimsy. You Should Visit!
Meanwhile, back in Second Life, we bought a region and named it Whimsy. We worked on all sorts of projects. We learned much about one another in Second Life, and when we were apart SL gave us a way to be together.

I retired in 2009 and our visits in real life became more frequent. We looked in vain for a house we could afford. Eventually we found one that met our requirements and we bought it in the fall of 2014. I sold my house in Georgia in January of the next year and moved lock stock and barrel to the frozen Northeast. We were married in April.

Over the years I have blogged in deliberately exaggerated ways about the mysterious Sweetie, who is of course, now my real life spouse. This began because she was protective not only of her real identify, but of her virtual one, and continued because it was so much more fun to have a Second Life mate who never shows her face for photographs.

Lava Girls. Photo by Greg Paslong
We have been happily married in real life for three years. We have been out of Second Life for those three years because we were busy with other things and because our laptops were aging and didn't do well in world and because, well, we were together. I'm in Second Life regularly now, creating more absurd builds on Whimsy, and Sweetie, who now has an Alienware laptop, joins me on occasion. I will always be grateful to Phil Linden for leading me to her.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Written 31 January, 2018

When I first came in world I ran around everywhere with avatar "shoes" on. My feet looked as if they had been beaten with sledgehammers.

Here's my first pair of blingy prim shoes. I thought they were wonderful.

I was fortunate enough to get a photo when the shoes weren't blinging. Thank me for sparing your eyes.

Or don't. check out these blingtardy shoes. Every prim has a bling script!

I can't be ENTIRELY certain those aren't my shoes, but I don't THINK they are. Surely I would remember a fashion disaster of that magnitude.

Shoes have come a long way. Second Life has come to a place where it's difficult to get clothes and shoes for avatars without mesh bodies. Now that 95% of my shoes are broken, I wonder if I'll take the trouble to create masks for my favorite old school shoes or just take the plunge and go mesh.

Stay tuned.

What is UP with My Feet???

Written 30 January, 2018

Those are my avatar feet, above. I know they don't look great, so I wear nail color to distract those like tinies and foot fetishists who might look at them.

Your lower appendages are much the same unless you have invested in a pair of mesh feet. And of course you have made that investment. You're vain, just like me. Admit it.

When Second Life was new, shoes were created by distorting feet into a rude approximation of heels-- like this:

Yeah, not pretty.

Believe it or not, in the early days, these were considered avatar shoes. The best you could do with them was to cover them with socks in a dark color-- but they will still look like Chinese foot torture.

One of my friends set out to be a prostitute with those misshapen avatar feet. "How's it workin' out for you?" I asked. "Not good," she said. I gave her a pair of prim shoes and she went on to make a fortune-- although I think it was her rude gestures rather than the shoes that made her popular.

So anyway, the ugliest shoes anywhere; that was our lot. But then Second Life entrepreneurs, always fast to sense a potential market like scripted penises and breedables, began to create shoes made from primitives. You know, like that cube you rez by mistake from time and time. There were, after all, no sculpted prims and mesh was only a gleam in IWISHTHERWASSOMETHINGBETTER Linden's eye.

Some prim shoes were beautiful, but unless they were without heels, they required that deforming foot form to be worn. This raised the top of the feet so they would be angled right for heels-- but that didn't quite work. Why? Because that ugly avatar foot stuck out all over the place, ruining everything. Like this--

Those are my Maitreya ChiChi pumps, which were great for more than a decade and are now broken. Most of my old school shoes (and my collection would put that of Imelda Marcos to shame) are similarly affected, unwearable because of protruding avatar feet.

I was shocked when I discovered I had been walking around with screwed up feet. No one I knew well was online to freak out to, but there was an incoming IM from Annie Brightstar with a comment about my blog and she was nice enough to tell me what the problem was and give me a folder of alpha masks to try.

So here's the problem. Invisiprims are broken. The Lindens broke them. More specifically, Materials broke them. When Advanced Lighting is on, invisiprims no longer render properly.

 Since shoes made from prims worked only because of a workaround-- invisiprims-- they are now all broken.

Invisiprims were small prims textured with one of two (apparently the same) textures that could be set only by scripts (as if the Lindens would have to kill you if you were to accidentally see the texture in its actual form). They were, as their name suggests, invisible, and they had a special attribute: they blocked any object which used total or partial alpha (invisibility). Since avatars have alpha, properly sized and positioned  and attached to a prim shoe's linkset, invisiprims effectively blocked misshapen avatar feet-- the very parts that protruded from the shoes. They made prim shoes work.

Here's me, standing beside a highlighted invisiprim, with Advanced Lighting turned on.

I'm visible, even though the lower half of my body is screened by the invisiprim.

Now look at this photo from the same angle with Advanced Lighting turned off.

See what happened? My body isn't visible. If you look closely you can see my jewelry, but not my body. The parts of my hair with alpha are gone also.

This is bad news for shoes of the old school. The invisiprims no longer screen the parts of the foot that stick through the shoes. Hence my freakout.

Invisprims weren't perfect. When I would fly above water while wearing them, they would have a strange shimmering effect (because the water has an alpha component)-- but they worked wonderfully in most circumstances. It's such a shame they had to be broken, rendering millions of pairs of shoes unwearable.

There's a workaround, of course. There are always workarounds. Avatars can now wear alpha masks which can accurately render any area of the body invisible. Unfortunately, the ability to edit them in world seems to have gone away. Several years ago I could make an alpha and move a slider, progressively disappearing or revealing portions of my body until they were just right for my purpose. Now, apparently, alpha masks have to be made off world-- and to make matters worse, most shoemakers haven't gone to the trouble to make an alpha mask that would make their shoes wearable again. Instead, they have taken them off the market and conveniently ignored their customers, this even though one or two or maybe three masks would have worked across their entire inventory of shoes. Customers are left to their own ends; they can invest in a new shoe wardrobe or find or create an appropriate alpha mask. The latter choice, of course, requires skill with GIMP or PhotoShop.

I'm sure not all shoe makers have neglected their customers, but so far I've had no luck at places like Maitreya. I'm pretty pissed, I tell you, more at the shoemakers than at the Lindens.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Just When Things Are Going Smoothly-- I Look Down

Written 28 January, 2018

I was just patting myself on the back for adjusting to Second Life after three years away.

I mean...

* Every since script I created-- and there are hundreds upon hundreds-- were running perfectly.

* All the prims on Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom were in place, save one-- my conveyor belt, which somehow got rotated ninety degrees.

* Aside from a few dead fish, the many birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and nonvertebrates on Whimsy were doing fine. Some were angry with me for not feeding them but shut up when I reminded them of the terms of their contracts.

* My wardrobe was intact and I still looked fabulous.

* Many of my old friends were still around and active.

* Many of my favorite places were still in existence.

* My new and quite inexpensive laptop ran Second Life better than all my previous machines

And then, damn it, I looked down.

Why, oh, why did I have to look down?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives, Part III. The Building

Lumiere Noir, Creator of the Ivory Tower Library of Primitives
Written 27 January, 2018

The Ivory Tower is an impressive build, prim-heavy, but elegant. It was made using a recursive building technique. Lumiere didn't invent the method, but certain put it to good use. Here's his description:
Modular building is creating a single, or a set of building elements made up of two or more prims each.
That's it. You can rez a prim, drag copy another and place it a few meters from its parent, and link them.  The root prim will become a pivot and the child prim will move in a circle as you rotate it. By making copies, moving them back to their original location with CTRL-Z, and rotating the linkset a fixed number of degrees with each repetition, you can achieve amazing results.

After the circle is closed, you must unlink and delete all of the central prims-- although for insurance (in the event I need to work on the building in the future) I like to keep one linkset as is. I make the root prim invisible and turn it phantom by using a script that affects only the prim it's in.

Here's an admittedly butt-ugly structure I made using the recursion technique. I used it for the first iteration of my store, Flights of Fancy.

I created one section of wall and one section of floor, linked them to a prim and what would become the center of the building, , and used the recursion technique to square the circle. All the parts fit perfectly, with no prim flicker.

Compare that to this build, which is the site of my new store; it can be found 4000 meters above Whimsy:

The repetition here is created by texture repeats. The entire wall is one huge and hugely tortured 100 x 100 x 100 meter cube. So yeah, there are other ways to create repetition. One uses all the tools in one's toolbox.

Unlike me, Lumiere used the recursion technique to great effect. He could throw up a huge build like the Ivory Tower in only a couple of hours.

Here's an inside view of the roof of the Ivory Tower. Can you see Lumiere's use of the recursion technique? I can.

Lumiere used the technique all through the tower, as in the staircase pictured above, and in this guardrail.

The above photos show the same section of the roof. I have highlighted a single prim in the second photo. Imaging placing just this one prim in correct position and rotation by eye or by calculation-- and the roof has hundreds of prims!

I will leave you with this detail of the windows of the Ivory Tower. Nice effect! Reminds me of  a gothic cathedral.