Monday, February 17, 2020

Adventures in Prim Bodies: Part I

I'm not a luddite. Really, I'm not. I'm just dilatory.

Being mostly out of the world for the past few years made it easy for me to avoid the issue of mesh, and especially mesh bodies and heads. But I'm hanging out in Second Life more again, and it's getting just stupid to not look seriously at a mesh avatar.

My system avatar has been great for 13 years, but let's be honest, system avatars bend in strange places, and the hands and ears and especially the feet are a mess.

The original avatar bone system didn't have a sufficient number of attachment points, which limited avatar motion and attachments. Now, thanks to Project Bento, there are many more bones and joints. This allows, among other things, sophisticated hand motions, but requires rigged mesh hands. These hands (and feet) typically come with mesh bodies, but can be worn separately.

Mesh bodies overlay the system shape, with the system avatar rendered invisible with alpha mask. Prim attachments are still visible, but system the system avatar and clothing like blouses and skirts don't show. The illustration above shows system icons for underpants, pants, shirt, and jacket. There are also icons for hair, socks, shoes, and, I believe, undershirt. Even when worn, none of these are visible when the mesh body is worn. Prim attachments, however, do, so hooray, at least, for that! The Amazed outfit, by the way, was a freebie, one of the first, if not THE first, outfit I picked up when I first logged onto Second Life.

I might never have gone for a mesh body, but the Lindens' devaluation of invisiprims wrecked my extensive collection of prim and sculpted shoes. My feet show in unattractive ways through most of my outfits. Only the outfits with boots are spared. This is no way to live, and so, mesh body.

I asked friends for recommendations, and it seemed Maitereya's Lara was the most popular body. Maitreya is a brand with longevity and I always liked their products, so after checking out the Lara demo I took myself to Maitreya the other night and bought the mesh body for $2750 L.

Sunday, February 16, 2020


Wanted: Philip Rosedale

Have you seen this man? If so, please immediately notify the author of this blog.

Help stop Philip Rosedale before he starts ANOTHER virtual world.

The first world he created needs his support!

Saturday, February 15, 2020


Old-School Sylfie's Shoes with Invisiprims. These Special Primitives Hid the Avatar Foot, Allowing Use of High Heels,  But Were Sometimes Not Entirely Invisible. 
They No Longer Work, and That Breaks Shoes That Use Them.

Sweetie: WTAF!?

Me: Nice use of the interrobang, there.

Sweetie: It is my favorite punctuation mark.

 Me: Mysterious and unusual, just like you.

Sweetie: (Blushes attractively)

Me: So, what does WTAF mean?

Sweetie: What. The. Absolute Fuck.

Me: To what or whom are you referring?

Sweetie: My shoes! They're broken!

Me: (Nods.) Yeah. All the old school shoes are broken.

Sweetie: WHAT???

Me: (Aside to readers: Sweetie hasn't been in world for a while now. She doesn't realize how much things have changed). Wow! Don't get to see the triple question mark much these days. Nice one!

Sweetie: You're telling me all my shoes are broken?

Me: Yeah. Except for the boots. Some of your boots should still work.

Sweetie: All my Sylfie's shoes?

Me: (Nods) Broken.

Sweetie: All two hundred pair?

Me: (Nods) Broken.

Sweetie: All my Maitreya shoes?

Me: (Nods) Broken.

Sweetie: This is unacceptable. Who's responsible?

Me: The Lindens. They broke them.

Sweetie: Broke them? But why?

Me: It had something to do with the rendering pipeline. I'm not sure just what a rendering pipeline is, so please don't push me on this.

Sweetie: I have Philip's private number. You can bet he's going to hear from me.

Me: Sweetie, Philip Rosedale has been gone from Second Life and Linden Lab for a long time now. Someone else is in charge now.

Sweetie: Who?

Me: Ebbe Altberg.

Sweetie: That's an avatar name. An avatar is in charge of the corporation now? About time!

Me: No, hon, that's his real name.

Sweetie: But what about Philip? Did he go off to create a better virtual world of something?

Me: As a matter of fact...

Sweetie: What's it called?

Me: High Fidelity. It's supposed to be a next generation virtual world.

Sweetie: Let's go there. Now. Maybe the shoes will work.

Me: (Shaking head). Sorry, we can't. Philip is taking High Fidelity corporate.

Sweetie: That makes no sense. Isn't it already a corporation?

Me: Yes, of course. What I mean is he's marketing it only to corporate users.

Sweetie: Unbelievable. He sold us out!

Me: He says that's the way for virtual reality to move forward so we can all experience it, but basically, yes. He sold us out.

Sweetie: How about good old Ebbe? He won't sell us out, will he?

Me: I'm afraid Linden Lab has developed an entirely new virtual world.

Sweetie: The bastard! What's it called?

Me: I keep forgetting. Thinking... thinking... It's such a forgettable name... Sansar!

Sweetie: Will my shoes work there?

Me: I doubt it. I think it's primarily a platform to create separate platforms for content users and content creators. They will want you to buy new shoes.

Sweetie: Not happening. How about Open Sim worlds?

Me: It might come to that--but our shoes wouldn't go with us.

Sweetie: Wah! So what are we to do?

Me: (Cues ominous music) There's only one other option.

Sweetie: Stay in world?

Sweetie: But that will mean... that will mean...

Me: Yes. Mesh.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Goats and Stuff at Firestorm Island

When the Lindens decided newbie me was sufficiently trained to walk, they sent me to the mainland. I arrived in the midst of blooming, buzzing confusion of Ahern, one of the old-school Second-Life welcome areas. It could just have easily been Hanja, Violet, Waterhead, Plum, Nova Albion, Moose Beach, or one of the many others, but it was Ahern, and my home was set there.

Ahern abutted three other regions, and the welcome pavilions were on the sims corners, so it could be a crowded place--and it was chaotic beyond belief. New chums were constantly rezzing, looking bewildered, and disappearing, some, and probably most, never to return. People who had been around for a while would hand out and torment the new and vulnerable. There was no end of rude gestures, verbal abuse, bizarre avatars, spur-of-the-moment friendship requests, and nudity. It was polyglot bedlam, no place to get dumped on your very first day in world.

I thought then and I think now the Lindens were shooting themselves in the foot, for who knows how many tens or hundreds of thousands of avatars were scared away by the very places that had been designed to nurture them.

"I tried Second Life today." 
"How did you like it?" 
"I didn't. It was loud and chaotic and crowded and ugly. I got called all sorts of names and all I was doing was standing there." 
I came into world in 2006, when Second Life was being heralded in the press as the future of everything. I'm sure the Welcome Areas played a prime role in putting an end to that speculation. So, too, did Second Life, itself, or at least the mainland, with its profusion of full-bright, badly textured objects, cows and cars floating upside-down in the air, and general emptiness.

My second life truly began when I weaned myself from Ahern, but I confess a strange fondness for the place, bizarre as it was. I confess to making the rounds every few years to Ahern and the other welcome areas, just to see if they're still there and to help new and confused residents. The welcome area all seem to still be here with the same prims and the same spaces. They're mostly empty, but people still hang out in them still in small numbers.

For some years now most new residents find themselves in monitored, privately-owned welcome area like New London or Caledon or New Citizens--which is a good thing. There seem to be a lot fewer new folks these days, and it's good to know there's less of a chance they'll be scared off by batshit crazy vampires and domestic drama and giant penis bikes. Monitors do a good job of keeping things under control, and new people are far more likely to get assistance.

Today I took myself to Firestorm Social Island, a nice place.

There were a dozen or so people present, mostly new folks. The monitor (who I won't mention by name because I didn't ask his permission) greeted those arriving and offered suggestions to several avatars asking for help. After a while he rezzed a prim and stretched it out and sat on it. There being room, I sat on it, too.

There wasn't a lot of conversation. Two avatars were talking in French about Second Life being a place with a lot of bodily males controlling female avatars. It seemed to bother them, which I suspect amused the monitor, whose profile identified him as gender fluid. The rest of the conversations consisted of "I'm confused!" and me getting hit on by an avatar called Yogi, who insisted via semi-literate IM that I teleport to him.

"You'll like it," he said repeatedly. 
"Men have entirely too high an opinion of themselves," I replied, feeling entirely for a moment like Laura Wilder in one of the Little House books.

I had been been working for several days on an exasperating scripting problem and was in need of interacting with others. And not Yogi.

Then the monitor, who had refashioned the beam on which we were sitting into a pair of couches, rezzed a goat.

Just what I needed! A prop!

I started making comments about the goat. "Make the goat stop eating my hair!" Then I noticed there was a bottle of Guinness near the goat and accused Lester of being drunk. Yes, I named the goat Lester.

Cheyenne Palisades: Drunken goats can be a menace.
Cheyenne Palisades: Give me a prop and I'll run with it
IM Yogi: you like dance and more fun
IM Yogi: cute
The Monitor: This makes sense right?
Cheyenne Palisades: Very little makes sense. Once you understand that, you're all good. :)
Cheyenne Palisades: "I was just in Second Life." "What did you see there." "A drunken goat." "Oh."
IM Cheyenne Palisades: Thanks, Yogi, but people usually offer friendship only after they get to know someone.
IM Yogi: im tp you
IM Cheyenne Palisades: Thanks, but I'm happy right here making fun of the goat.
IM Yogi: come na
IM Yogi): you enjoy

It wasn't much, but it brightened my day--and, I hope, the monitor's.

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 world 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.