Tuesday, April 22, 2014

More Prims, Please!

The economy of Second Life is based upon the prim-- or land impact unit, as it were. Ever region comes with an allowance of 15,000-- which is a lot, and yet isn't a lot. That's how many prims you get; you can use them or not, but you can never have even 15,001.

Sim owners often "sell" parcels of land which carry their own prim limits, or rent land and prims. They use the income this generates to help pay their fees to Linden Lab, which charges them $295 USD monthly tier per private sim (the purchase itself costs $1000 USD). They hope sales of their items and donations from visitors will get them closer to that $295 nut.

Many sim owners hope they can bring in more money than they spend-- and some do. Estate owners have found ways to make this work and buy many regions, but most sim owners hemmorhage money every month.

Owners of full regions-- and only owners of full regions-- can purchase homestead regions, which come with 3750 prims, and openspace regions, which come with 750 prims; both, like full regions, are 66,536 square meters in size. Homesteads support enough prims to allow beautiful builds and are great for private living space; many estate owners rent them for that purpose. Openspaces are used mostly to create open ocean. They have prims enough for a few boats and some land mass with trees, but it would be difficult to live on one. Homesteads cost $125 USD per month and openspaces cost $75 USD.

At about two cents per month per prim or 1/2 cent per square meter per month, Linden Lab's pricing for full regions is high indeed-- but short of leaving Second Life and going to one of the Opensim grids, there's no other recourse. The price has been stable for quite a while now-- since at least 2006, when I came to Second Life.

Over the years server software has become less expensive and immensely more powerful. Every server now supports many regions, and with style. Nothing I've thrown at my sim Whimsy or my homestead Whimsy Kaboom have caused even a hiccup.In the past overloaded sims ran slowly; now they just keep humming along even when abused.

No, I'm not saying you can't grind a sim to a halt. I'm saying it's difficult to do so without actively trying.

Linden Lab hasn't passed on its lower prices to its customers. Regions still cost the same. And surprise-- the grid, which was growing rapidly back in 2006, is slowly getting smaller as sim owners give up and abandon their regions.

If the Lab were to drop the monthly tier for sims, I'm convinced there would once again be runaway growth in Second Life. I do, however, understand how doing so might be a scary proposition for a company whose primary source of income is rental of virtual land.

So here's a thought, Linden Lab: why not give us more prims? Why not go from 15,000 per full region to 25,000 or even 30,000? After all, thre's no 15k prim limit in some Openspace regions? Sim owners would be able to cut rental prices and still  make their sims more intricate and more lavish and thereby more attractive. They would be able to accommodate more tenants and give those tenants more prims than they can now.

In many cases this would change the equation from a monthly loss to a monthly profit. Estate owners would be motivated to buy more regions, which would, happy surprise, make more money for Second Life. Renters would be happy, sim owners would be happy, and Linden Lab would be happy.

Upping the prim allowance might make the servers work a little harder, but there seems to be power to spare. There would be little risk for the Lab, and, potentially, much to gain.

It's a mystery to me why Linden Lab hasn't already done this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kaboom Cabana

Awhile back I reworked this space on Whimsy Kaboom.

Now it looks like this:

The original cabana was some stupid low number of prims-- four, perhaps. It looked okay, but seating was strange.

Now a  little mesh (?) tent sits in the same space.

Access is via canoe or flying.

The seating is much better, and there are snacks!


Cheyenne Palisades Contemplates Having a Snack and Gains Two Virtual Pounds

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

House on a Rock

First House on the Rock

Long ago Sweetie placed a ridiculously huge prim (in the form of a giant rock) on the border of Whimsy Kaboom and Mischief.

When the deed was done she pronounced it good, but then said, "No, wait!" and tilted it a bit. "Now it's finished," she said.

Awhile back I perched a little Japanese structure at the summit, which is on Mischief. It didn't matter that there was no discernible way up there. It's Second Life, after all. We can fly.

I took the house down after a while, but my sim neighbor Leaf Shermer must have liked it. The other day I noticed she had placed a Japanese tea house of her own in the same spot. Of course, I just had to tweak it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Profile Pic

Yesterday I got an IM from someone who said he read in this blog that I make profile pictures for folks. Goddess only knows how old that post is! He asked how much I would charge to make one for him. I told him I wouldn't charge him at all.

I had been on my way up our suborbital asteroid retreat and typed gth 4000 (which, if you're using Firestorm, will take you to 4000 meters instantly, unless the sim you are in is set to prevent that). Unfortunately, I typed it into the IM box instead of chat.

"You want 4000 Lindens?" he asked.

"No, no," I said, and explained what I had done.

I asked him if he would prefer a natural background or something formal, and he said natural. I teleported him to Whimsy, zoomed in on him (CTRL-0), and in a couple of minutes showed him my first attempt (above). He was thrilled with it, thanked me, and we were done.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Not the Right Question to Put to Bob

Sweetie thinks we should revitalize Whimsy by judiciously removing some of our older prims and replacing them with objects that take advantage of new developments like mesh and materials. I don't disagree, but I think we should take care to preserve our ancient six-year-old heritage.

Actually, our heritage goes further back than that, perhaps as far back as 1993. We found Whimsy, you see, much as it is today, it having been abandoned by its indigenous peoples when the volcano goddess Pele erupted once too often.

On of the things Sweetie and I found when we arrived on Whimsy (having gotten there by a freak teleport accident) was Bob, our giant granite Paleolithic slightly-deified drinking bird. Bob is an icon on Whimsy and has served faithfully, moving mindlessly up and down since Whimsy was a newborn sim.

In keeping with our renovation program, I asked Bob how he would feel about an update.

Planned Makeover for Bob
Bob, you see, is made of old-fashioned prims. When he was created there was no mesh; in fact sculpted prims were yet to be introduced. I wondered how Bob would feel about an all-mesh body.

Bob's Prim-Based Shape is Functional, But Hardly Elegant

"So, Bob, how you you like a new all-mesh body?"

For the first time in six years, Bob stopped moving.

This spelled disaster for Whimsy, of course. Bob, by his motion, pumps not only our fresh water, but petroleum to power our assorted vehicles and  molten rock to keep the volcano Pele supplied with lava. Not only that, we transform his kinetic motion into electricity to bring you, among other things, the paper upon which this blog is written. A motionless Bob was not good news.

I mentioned that Bob is slightly deified. He was worshipped by Whimsy's original inhabitants and Sweetie and I find him more than a bit godlike. I realized how badly I had offended him by suggesting he be made of mesh.

"Please Bob, bob!" I pleaded. But he wouldn't move. Not unless he was paid tribute in the form of a sacrifice.

"How about my hog dog aircraft?" I asked. "I can burn it for you."


"How about a Linden palm tree?"


"My best outfit? The one I'm wearing? It's from Paper Couture!"

NO! Bob wanted something living. Sweetie, maybe.

"No, you can't have Sweetie! Sweetie is mine! And not me, either."

We settled on a group of flat prim fish I had purchased by mistake. Like the flat prim robin I threw in for good measure, Bob is once again bob-bob-bobbing along.

We call him Bob because he does.

Peacock Hunt Fails! or A Good Peacock is Hard to Find

This Peacock by gian Allstar Was the Best I Was Able to Find

I'm back from an exhausting grid-wide hunt for peacocks.

I found:

  • Flat prim peacocks
  • Ugly peacocks
  • Uglier peacocks
  • Peacocks with vulture heads
  • Empty lots where there should have been peacocks
  • Almost free peacocks
  • Expensive peacocks
  • Jerkily animated peacocks
  • Badly-textured peacocks
  • Photoreal peacocks
  • Velociraptor peacocks
  • Other Frankenpeacocks
  • Peacocks that were  just subtly wrong

What I didn't find was a peacock to rival Julia Hathor's. Her beautiful peacock wins a reprieve on Whimsy!

Oh, Valiant Peacock! How Well You Have Served!

This beautiful peacock, which was created by Julia Hathor, was given to me in early 2007 by my friend Melissa Yeuxdoux. It valiantly stood guard at our former home, Pele, on the now-defunct Forsaken sim, and, for five years now, has 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Whimsy Makes Startup Screen in Singularity Viewer

Anyone Can Ride the Train at Whimsy. It's More Fun Than Pie!

I've not been in world much for the past couple of weeks (I've been preparing a paper I'll be presenting at a conference in a couple of weeks), but Whimsy's little train sends me an instant message whenever someone drives it, and the messages goes to e-mail, so I knew a lot of people had been riding.

At first I thought someone had told their friends about it or mentioned it in group chat, but my friend Petronella told me she saw Whimsy featured on the startup screen of the Singularity viewer. Imagine that!

The ride is lovely, partially in the air and partially under the sea, and the scenery is breathtaking. I have two carries out, each of which holds two people, so a total of five people can ride at one time. 

You can ride the Whimsy train here. Just sit on the engine and touch the boiler.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Desktop Up and Running!

This isn't my new PC, but it does show how clean the inside of Corsair Carbide 300 can be!

I'm happy to say I now again have a desktop computer!

It took me three months to assemble the components (as I could afford them), and then I made a push and grabbed everything and finished the project.

So, I have an Intel i7 Haswell (latest) 4770 processor which can be overclocked, an MSI gaming motherboard (which allows overclocking), 16 GB of RAM, a solid state boot drive, and a 2 TB hard drive for data (and a second for backup). The power supply generates 850 watts, plenty if I should ever want to run dual video cards. It's all in a Corsair Carbide 300R case with spaces for lots of fans, should I need them. Inside the case is amazingly neat-- all the cables and wires are routed behind the motherboard so no ugly spaghetti mess. There are all sorts of USB 3.0 outlets in the back and two in the front. I'm running an nVidia 520 video card which is a big improvement over the nVidia 9400GT in my old box. An nVidia 760 (which will cost far more than any video card I've ever purchased) is in my computer's immediate future. I even picked up a wireless N router to replace my 10-year-old G model-- for only $19 at Frys! And I retired my 20-year-old Hewlett-Packard Laserjet, replacing it with a Brother all-in-one model with a scanner that works far faster than that of my 15-year-old Brother inkjet.

Even better, I've even installed the many programs I use regularly (I think I'll do a separate post on them in the future).

I planned to put everything together myself, but the great electronics big-box store Frys had a special for assembling new computers. It cost just $49 for them to mount the processor and CPU cooler and RAM and video card to the mother board, put the mother board and drives and an LED lamp into the case so it would be all glowy, route all the wires, and make sure everything worked. And indeed it did!

So yay!

My old Sony VAIO desktop was noisy and tended to run hot. The new computer is whisper quiet and the CPU is staying cool. And it's fast!

The video card is the weakest link in the system, but it's adequate, and as I said, I hope to soon replace it.

My own disappointment was in transporting my Firestorm settings from my laptop to the new computer. Somehow I messed up and wiped out the settings on my laptop.That meant I had to go through some 90 minutes of setting the many switches and buttons in the control panel of the new computer.

Things aren't perfect yet-- my external data drive seems to lose connection with the USB port for a second or two on occasion, and I get an occasional video glitch in Second Life, but for the first time in months I can cam around and move about with ease. That means I can both build and explore more easily-- and I hope to! For six months my in-world activities ,and Sweetie's, have been limited primarily to going to hear D.J. Sparrow Letov spin.

I'm going to take my laptop to the shop to add another 4 GB of RAM and to get the processor removed and re-mounted. When it was new it ran Second Life just fine; it's probably running hot because of dust.

Again:  yay!