Monday, February 26, 2007

Scouting Forsaken

Written 26 February, 2007

Scouting Forsaken

This morning I noticed (thanks to the marvelous Mystitool) that two avs were in the vicinity.

I was talking with a friend, but I reached idly around with camera control (always keep the camera constraints disabled) and saw a male av and a female. The female's bare (and oversized) boobs, which would have been to her knees in RL, were sticking out in defiance of Second Life gravity.

It knew exactly what they were doing.

I banned the female.

She kept bouncing against the boundary, while the male waited (impatiently, I suppose) for the female to come to him.

From 75 meters away, I IMed her and said, "Please take your business to another sim." She apologized, and, with customer in tow, departed.

This wasn't the first occurrence. This weekend, another female scouted for a place for trysts. She bounced around the sim as first I, then Leaf (who I e-mailed), and Damian all banned her. Nik told me he had already banned her.

She's now plying her trade somewhere else.

I'm not against Second Life hookers, but they need either to pay me for rental of a skybox or go elsewhere. I don't want to stumble upon or have my legitimate guests bothered by sex on the beach.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Elbow Room


The Elbow Room. CarlosdaRat Wasn't There at Photo Time

Written 23 February, 2007

My Alt

III: The Elbow Room


My last time out was typical. I rezzed at the Isabel info hub. It was empty, so I flew to the adjacent shelter to play trivia. But every time I reached the trivia area, I fell through the floor. And when I used the teleporter to go back upstairs, I was launched into space. And when I tried to fly back to the shelter, spatial weirdness ensured.

I finally managed, by relogging, flying to the shelter, and choosing SIT while still 15 yards away from the trivia lounge, to get within Chat range of the trivia machine, but by then I was in no particular mood to play.

And so I started bouncing around the mainland.

Looking at the map, I would see places where avs were gathered and teleport there.

Only to find them sitting in camping chairs.

Camping chairs here.

Camping chairs there.

Camping chairs everywhere.

What IS it with people, that they’ll sit in camping chairs all night to make 50 Lindens. Don’t they know how to give blow jobs?

I mean, if they MUST degrade themselves, they might as well do so efficiently.

Finally, I chanced across a tiny place called, tongue-in-cheek, The Elbow Room (I believe it was on a 512 plot). Avs were dancing inside, and I joined in. But no one was talking, so I flew up to look at the map.

And noticed an apparition on the roof.

He looked like a mafia don, and had a name like one—Carlosdarat something-or-other.

And he had big ass wings and a halo. And not just an alpha effect halo. A real halo.

I looked at his profile, which made a big deal about him being a Christian and a conservative and being a member of the anti-av sex league and part owner of the Elbow room.

I asked him what his deal was, but he wasn’t talking, which I figured was more about him being AFK than about me having blue hair and striped leggings, so I flew back down to the Elbow Room, where everyone was already cracking up from my comments about the mafia angel.

“Yeah, he and the J-Dog are down,” said one av.

“Yeah, the J-boy is cute,” I said. “But the mafia angel isn’t.”

After a while, Carlosdarat woke up and came down to the club.

“I was taking bets that you wouldn’t fit in here with those humongous wings,” I said. Indeed, he had taken them off.

The mafia angel was on message, but in a lighthearted manner. Still, there was something strange and disquieting about him—more than just the fact that he was espousing conservative views of the world that are rare among the geekazoids in SL

Just a typical night in the life of Malta.

Which is why I don’t rez very often. Chey has a much nicer time.

Malta Speaks



Weirdness Magnet

Written 23 February, 2007

Malta Speaks

II: She speaks


It was pretty clear from the beginning that my alt (for convenience sake, let’s call her Malta) had a lifestyle and personality of her own. She was not the grand lady that Cheyenne is, but, rather, a cocky kid. But let’s let her tell it.

-----

I’m not so sure about this whole SL thing.

I mean, my experiences so far haven’t been the best.

First time out, I nearly get eaten by a scary ass dragon. If I hadn’t lied about my sexual status (I am a virgin), I would have been dragon poop, or else sacrificed to the volcano goddess.

I don’t even get to rez at a nice place. My home is in one of the infohubs, surrounded by newbies and sound spammers and griefers. Every one of them thinks it’s funny to make farting noises. Bo-ring! And smelly.

Thank goodness, my friend Cheyenne Palisades gave me a bunch of Lindens; if she hadn’t, I would have been bully bait. First thing, I bought a Mystitool, which give me movelock and a sit shield. Then I went shopping and bought hair (blue), a skin (glittery eye shadow) black nail polish, and a couple of outfits on sale at PixelDolls. And shoes. A girl has to have shoes.

So, on my third rez, when I got accosted by a gang of toughs at the Isobel infohub, I was wearing the Mystitool and was ready. I just turned the movelock on and they couldn’t budge me. I stood there and calmly wrote an abuse report while they were wailing on me.

I suppose if I had kept my big mouth shut, it wouldn’t have happened, but an av was abusing a woman for turning down his crude sexual approach, and I had to say something about it. He said, “Shut up, bitch,” and I told him his newbie manners were appalling.

Well, that’s not exactly how I said it.

That really set him off. He called me a blue-haired freak of nature and he and his friends started trying to push me around by bumping me and shooting me with a watermelon gun. It made them angry when they couldn’t budge me and even angrier when I told them my dick was bigger than theirs. In fact, I questioned whether they even had dicks. And meanwhile I was muting them one by one so I couldn’t hear their sound spam, and tearing them to shreds verbally.

I resisted the temptation to cage them, as that would have been a violation of the terms of service. I may have a fast mouth, but I’m not foolish.

That was my first really unpleasant experience, but not the last.

The next time I rezzed, I made friends with a new av couple and, with Cheyenne’s permission, showed them around Pele. It started out well, but the girl soon logged and I was left alone with the boy, who right away began to hit on me.

I put on my vagitarian t-shirt, but he was undeterred, so I just walked away.

“Don’t be foolish!” he shouted after me, as if I were throwing away an opportunity or something. He was still shouting when I logged off to fetch Cheyenne, who could ban him.

The next time I rezzed, I met a French newbie lady who told me I was beautiful. It wasn’t clear whether she was hitting on me, but as my best guess was that she meant she wanted to improve her look, I took her to a skin shop and gave her 5L to buy demos.

She seemed to be a conflicted person. She kept asking questions like, “Are you a real person? Or are you a machine,” and “Do you hate your first life?” and “I can’t take this money.” (C’mon, it’s a penny and a half!) I could almost SEE her agitation. She logged before she tried on a skin.

I dunno. Maybe she WAS hitting on me. But I don’t think so.

About the only good time I had was when I introduced myself to Chey’s friend Leaf, who is a nice lady. She thought I was funny.

Ordinarily, though, I just seem to be a magnet for weirdness

My Alt



Written 16 February, 2007

My Alt

I. Want to Meet My Alt?

“I have an alt. Want to see her?”

“Sure,” Sweetie said. Sweetie is up for almost anything.

Especially when she’s in dragon mode.

I hit the big red X and closed the program and immediately logged on as my alt.

-----

An alt, for those who might not know, is an alternate avatar, a second or third or four character with another name, controlled by the same human.

People make alts for a lot of reasons. Some do so to cause anonymous grief to others. Some to do in order to cheat on their Second Life lovers. Some do so in order to pimp their business. Some do so to express another side of their personality.

And some, like me, do so when they attempt to get on the grid and are told they can’t because there’s a problem with their inventory.

(I’ve no idea at all why that would be. I have only 1 x 10 to the 19th power items in my inv!)

In my case, I had come home from work for lunch in order to meet with a landscaper who was based in the real world in Europe. We had an appointment for some work on Pele, and I couldn’t get online.

And so I created an alternate character, named her, turned her into a generic Japanese goth grrrl, popped on the grid, did my business, and logged off.

And now I was trotting her out again, wearing the Vagitarian t-shirt she had acquired in her first minutes after rezzing, taking her to see Sweetie.

My alt used the landmark Patrice Cornoyer (Chey's landscaper and one of her friends) had sent to her after my alt had IMed her, rezzing at the Exuberance house and flying up to Pele’s caldera, where BreathofG8d Onura was bathing in the lava.

“OMG, it’s a scary ass dragon!” I found myself typing, although BOG is ordinarily as friendly as a kitten.

“Hello, little human,” purred BOG. And I WAS little, too, under five feet, I think, with my chalk-white skin and purple hair and lesbian t-shirt. “Welcome to Pele.”

“Are you Pele?”

“No, little one. Pele is the volcano goddess. This is her home. She’s looking for a virgin sacrifice.”

She peered at me closely with one big dragon eye. “Are you a virgin, perchance?”

I said quickly, “Technically, no.”

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty much” I said, “because of that thing I did that time.”

That thing she did that time? Jeez, but my alt seemed to have a personality of her own!

“You are a newbie,” BOG rumbled, little plumes of smoke rolling from her nostrils. “Newbies are delicious.”

“I’m not THAT new,” I lied, and started backing away.

“Uh,” I said, “I have to see a man.”

I backed away some more. “Uh, about a thing.”

“Yeah. That’s it. A man about a thing.” By now I was a nearly at the limit of Chat range.

“Stay. I won’t eat you.”

“Man,” I said. “Thing.” And derezzed.

-----

I thought it was a marvelous bit of role play, but when Cheyenne returned and BOG told her, “There was a new citizen here. She was afraid of me,” I was no longer certain.

Did Sweetie forget I would be trotting out an alt?

Yes, she did.

I love my Sweetie.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Balance Board




Written 22 February, 2007

NB; Chey’s Balance Board can be seen and purchased on the Forsaken sim.

Chey’s Balance Board

Last week I started to play with the physics of objects.

In the Edit menu, there’s a selection, grouped right there with Temporary and Phantom, marked Physical. When you tick it, the object will begin to behave rather like objects do in real life. It will become responsive to local physics.

Thus, if it’s in mid-air, it will fall in response to gravity’s pull, or, if it’s leaning, it will topple. If touched or bumped by an avatar, it will move, and it will respond to collisions with other physical objects.

But I’ve told you all this already. So consider the above a refresher course.

After the Icarus Society play with teeter-totters, I decided to make a balance board—a plank that would swivel on a fulcrum when an av walked along it.

It was easy enough to make a balance board. Make a board. Make a fulcrum— a cube tapered along one axis to 85% or so. Center the board above the fulcrum. Make it physical. Done.

The problem was in keeping the board operational. In normal operation, it tended to turn clockwise or counterclockwise and would eventually overbalance and fall to the ground. Bumping it would move it so it was heavy at one end and wouldn’t balance properly.

I solved the problem by adding uprights to either side of the board— which stopped it from swiveling—and horizontal pegs which stopped it from twisting upward until it overbalanced and fell out of the mechanism, and other pegs to stop it from moving too far laterally.

Then I fancied up the base so the board would make a nice clunk when it descended, applied some nice textures, and...

Ta Da!

Chey’s balance board.

Coming soon to a mall near you.

Waterfall at Pele





Written 23 February, 2007

Waterfall at Pele

Last week I built a waterfall on the East side of Pele.

I'm a bit disapointed with it, after seeing the magnificent fall at the sim with the Promenade des Pappillions, but all in all, it's not a bad waterfall.

Lovers can go behind the falls and find a nice kissing anim.

More Pictures of the House






My House






Written 22 February, 2007

My House

No, not my Second Life house. My RL house.

William Techumseh Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground in 1865, and some people around here haven’t yet forgiven him.

I can’t understand why, for the inhabitants have since torn the city down and rebuilt it many times.

It’s rather like Second Life around here. One day there’s a nice cottage with azaleas blooming in the yard, and the next— well, not the next day, really, but it SEEMS like the next day—there’s a McMansion or a porno store or a Papa John’s pizza or a convenience store or a strip mall.

All of which means that my RL house, which was built as a one-room cottage in 1936, is positively ancient by Atlanta standards.

It sits in a funky little community of 800 souls that was begun in pre-TVA days as a resort community for those wishing to escape the city. At ten miles from city center, it was almost too far away, but it survived, and thrived, evolving, through the decades, from a summer resort to a year-round resort to a community of wives whose husbands were away fighting WWII to a community of rental properties to a community of hippies to its present incarnation as a gentrified neighborhood filled with artists, entrepreneurs, and professionals of every color and sexual orientation. And now that Metro Atlanta is more than 100 miles in diameter, at eleven miles fro city center it’s ridiculously close in, convenient to theaters, good restaurants, and good shopping.

I love where I live. Not Atlanta, in particular—it’s far too big for my liking, although it's above average as big cities go—but my little leafy, laid-back town, with its beautiful accessible lake (only feet from my door), and community dinners and concerts. And I love my house, my built-in-the-1930s-and-expanded-at-least-twice shotgun-style two-story it-will-be-paid-for-in-two-years-and-nine-months it’s-worth-more-than-twice-what-I-paid-for-it house.

And so I’ve set out to replicate it in Second Life.

I chose my house not to memorialize it (although that idea sort of appeals to me) but because I’m familiar with it. I have the real one to which to refer should I have questions during the building process. I can test the reproduction against the original and see where it is wanting.

I’ve not set out to make the reproduction beautiful, or to make it as primficient as possible; rather, I’m going for accuracy and detail.

I’d say the house is about half finished. The front room is completed, and so is the bedroom above it. The kitchen is finished, and my office above it (where I sit when I’m on the grid) is coming along. The stairway (well, a ramp) is finished, and everything that has been created has been texturized and made as close as possible to the original. I’ve even recreated the floor-standing gas furnace in the front room (along with the gas supply line and regulator). The only thing I’ve put off is adjusting the textures of the outer walls so they align perfectly. That’s because I’ve been hoping to find a vinyl siding texture to replace the wooden siding texture I’m currently using. If and when I find it, I’ll fix it all at once.

I’ve made everything as I’ve worked, from walls to doors and windows and doorknobs and light fixtures. I’ve not bothered with scripts to make the doors open and close or the fans revolve (although I may do so later). I’ve just built, slowly and methodically, linking each section when the time seems right.

It’s been a wonderful experience—and a bit of a creepy one. It quite frankly feels a little strange to be standing in my living room when I’m actually one floor above and one room over, in front of a monitor. How much stranger it will be when I add furniture!

I’ve found I can make all manner of things, and I’ve learned how to position objects in three dimensional space so they snuggle perfectly against other objects. I can now spot and tweak a misaligned prim or an over- or under-stretched texture; select and unlink a single prim, and make any prim of my choosing the root prim.

This is a very different sort of building from what I’ll be blogging about soon. It’s a bit plodding, and it lacks elegance, but it has taught me a lot, and it has enabled a level of detail that would not have been possible with some of the more elegant building techniques

Review: Outy Banjo's Auto-Emote



Written 21 February, 2007

Review: Outy Banjo’s Auto-Emote

My Heads-Up-Device is getting so cluttered these days that Sweetie has taken to calling me Bond Girl.

Truth to tell, I’m running out of places to attach things.

The lower right has a place for attachment, but is vacant, for that’s where Chat scrolls. Everywhere else but the middle of the screen, I seem to have something attached.

My Mysti-Tool is attached to the lower right. On the upper left is the Sensual Animation Override, which gives me a sexy walk and nice stand, sit, and fly poses. Occasionally (but rather infrequently these days, as Blogger has come to work only sporadically) the AO is knocked out of its place by the translation device Blogger and I have to reinstall it. The upper middle displays my compass, which tells me the direction I’m facing, and without which I feel naked. And on the upper right there’s Outy Banjo’s Auto-Emote.

And it is the Auto-Emote about which I want to blog.

I’ve several appliances that make my avatar smile. One simply attaches them to an inconspicuous part of the body, and, until they’re detached, they cause me to smile at irregular but frequent intervals. I’ve not been happy with any of them.

I like to have a happy avatar, but it’s not quite appropriate to smile when, for instance, a friend is telling me about her breakup to the love-of-her-life, who dumped her after three days of Second Life marriage, or while banning a misbehaving avatar from my land. And I find the smiles, even when timely an appropriate, a bit cheesy. Poorly executed, in other words.

Enter Outy Banjo.

Outy is famous in SL for her particle products. She sells poofers, water and fog and bling scripts, sunset clouds and rainmaking scripts, and anti-griefing devices.

And she sells the Auto-Emote.

Being dissatisfied with my third—count em!—smiler, I took a chance and spent $300L or so for Outy’s emoter. And I’ve been very happy with it.

The Auto-Emote attaches to the upper right portion of the HUD (it can be placed elsewhere), and accordions away nicely. When open, it displays an array of perhaps 20 facial expressions which can be accessed with a mouse click. Actions available include: smile, laugh, surprise, horror, disdain, boredom, wink, yawn, and tongue protrusion. You just click on the expression you want and your av goes into action.

The various actions are performed smoothly, and their timing is expertly executed.

Outy being Outy, the Auto-Emote is an intelligent device. It listens to Chat and compares your avatar’s speech against a list of about 300 key words, and, when it finds a match, calls up the corresponding expression. When I type ROFL or LOL, for example, my av gives an exaggerated laugh. When I type Ewww!, she wrinkles her nose. She can be in turn happy, surprised, frightened, bored, disgusted, or mischievous (the wink).

It’s even possible to add key words to trigger particular expressions.

The expressions on the HUD are signified by emoticons, most of which tend to look alike to me. I sure wish Outy had included text labels. But that’s a small complaint. I rarely make my av execute a facial expression, except when making a photograph—and even then, I can type a word in Chat and make her perform. Mostly, I just keep the HUD collapsed and let Out’s script animate her. I just let Outy’s script do the work. For the most part, my expressions follow what I’m saying. That’s good enough for me.

-----

Photo 1: Sweetie is in Chat Range

Photo 2:
Sweetie Has Left the Building

Photo 3:
Waiting for Plush Beta to Rez

Photo 4: You’re Cute!

Photo 5:
Time to make the Tier Fee Payment

Photo 6: Chey Frightened 

Radio Tower







Written 22 February

Radio Tower

While fooling around last week, I made a radio tower.

Only .25 meters in circumference, it rises 30 meters in the air. It’s supported by four guy wires which are embedded in a concrete foundation, and, to warn low-flying aircraft, is topped by a revolving red-and-white light. The call letters of the station are WKRP.

Even though we’re a long way from Cincinnati.

Slow Week

Written 16 February, 2007

Slow Week

It’s been a slow week in my second life.

Even though I was home all week and on Second Life a lot.

I suppose it was slow partly because my avatar is just as I like her and my property is likewise, so I had time on my hands. I mean, when you have all the clothes you want and all the hair and shoes you want, and every gadget you could possibly have and way more land than makes sense, and aren’t inspired to build something at that moment, what else is there to do?.

And I suppose it was slow partly because Dodgeguy has relocated to another sim.

And I suppose it’s partly because I was in mourning and my friends didn’t want to press. Although the ones who read my blog did check in with me about the death of my mom, and several gave me presents on Valentine’s day. I’m afraid I was so scattered I didn’t properly reciprocate.

Thanks, Kal, and Leaf, and Wulf, and Mordecai. You’re great friends. Your gifts meant a lot to me.

And a lot of the time, my Sweetie was on the road and off the grid.

Thanksgiving with Sweetie was wonderful. I recreated the tower of Sweetiness and we had a nice time riding around on my Valentine’s Day gift to her, which is a giant rotating hollow heart of ruby glass, pierced by an arrow and equipped with snuggle cushions. Later, we retreated to the House of 1000 Pleasures and got so frisky we decided we needed a code word for “time to stop.”

Sweetie gave me a beautiful textured bowl of oranges she made herself. The metal bowl looks almost like carnival glass, and the oranges are luminous.

Guess what the code word is?

I spent most of the week on Pele, where I’ve begun construction of a replica of my real-life house, and have been working on a big waterfall in the East Beach area. Film at eleven.

Blog Reboots

Written 22 February, 2007

Blog Reboots

Having observed a respectful period of silence on this blog to honor the woman who bore and raised me, and having survived a breakdown on the interstate on my way home from the funeral I’m ready to resume this blog.

Thank you, everyone, for your support.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Mom

Written 12 February, 2007

My Mom

Yesterday I tore myself away from Second Life and drove an hour-and-a-half through a warm and sunny Georgia day to visit my mom, who has been in a nursing home for the past month with congestive heart failure. My sister and her husband were there. Mom was lucid, and we had a good visit.

This morning my sister phoned me in tears to tell me Mom had passed away.

I realize the traditional thing to do is cry, but I cried yesterday while holding my mom's hand and talking to her, for I knew her time had come and it was only a matter of days. She had a full life and consistently maintained that she was ready to go, so I consider her passing a transition rather than an ending. She is with my father now.

SL-- and specifically, my friends here, and especially Sweetie, have been a great consolation to me. Thank you all.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ugly Design



Written 11 February, 2007

Life is Too Short for Ugly Design

In my meanderings around Second Life, I've seen some mighty tacky and pitifuly ugly things.

Life is too short for ugly design.

Other Volcanoes






Written 11 February, 2007

Other Volcanoes

In my travels around the grid, I'm stumbled across the occasional volcano-- and I must admit, I tend to search them out as well. My friends Melissa Yeuxdoux and Broske Delgado have pointed me to some, too.

For your viewing pleasure...

Volcanoes.

Dead Sweetie, Dead Chey



Written 11 February, 2007

Dead Sweetie, Dead Chey

A recent Icarus Society adventure found some of us playing dead.

The animation is "die," and it causes you to fall dead-- after emitting a most unfeminine final gasp. And you stay dead, unless and until you find and stop the animation.

For your viewing pleasure, pictures of Dead Xubi and Dead Chey.
Don't I look rather like the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy's house fell on her?

Wish I had taken the time to put on my ruby slippers!

Foolish Papery II, Why Do I Care?

Written 7 February, 2007

Foolish Papery

II: Why Do I Care?


Why have I taken the time and made the effort to blog about an abusive situation that never really developed? Why do I bother? Why do I care?

Because of the Relationship

I cherish my relationship with Sweetie above all things, and will not allow it to be demeaned, insulted, and assaulted. This thing between me and Sweetie is rare and beautiful, and it’s sad Steph Li won’t allow herself to see that.

Because of Sweetie

I worship Sweetie and I don’t want her subjected to needless pain.

Because of Me

I think highly enough of myself that I won’t be criticized or rebuked or suffer the abuse of fools.

Because of Others

I bother because I know of and am horrified by the ridicule, bullying, and discrimination visited upon millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people around the work.

I’ve never considered myself a lesbian, but I’ll wear the name proudly if it affronts Steph Li and her ilk.

I care because I care.

Foolish Papery I, Nunsense

Little Pengi

Written 7 February, 2007

Foolish Papery

I. Nunsense


Last night I was standing on East Beach, looking at photos of Buddhist temples Sweetie was rezzing on a screen-shaped prim.

Suddenly, a black-and-white something obscured my zoomed-in vision.

It wasn’t Little Pengi looking for a fish. Would that it were.

No, it was a female avatar dressed in the habit of a nun—not the modern uniform, but the old black-and-white Flying Nun costume.

Her name was Steph Li.

I said, “Hi, Steph. Welcome to Pele.”

To which she responded, “My name is Sister Steph.”

No it wasn’t. There her name was, hanging over her head. Steph, no sister about it.

I kept my calm, saying only— by way of defense, I suppose— “I’m not Catholic.”

Sweetie chimed in, “Welcome, Sister Steph.”

Steph replied, “Thank you, the one who is known as Sweetie.”

Thank you, the one who is known as Sweetie?

Okay, so it was to be a game. And it was irritating me. But I would play it.

Seeing that Steph was holding a ruler marked “The Golden Rule,” I said, “Look, Sweetie, that’s the ruler they rap your knuckles with.”

Steph didn’t rise to the bait. Instead she said, “I’ve been sent here to discuss with you your lesbian relationship.”

The word “inappropriate” wasn’t uttered, but it hung in the air like rusty sheet metal.

And so I typed “/1 ban Steph Li,” and my trusty Mystitool derezzed her instantly.

Sweetie, less offended than I, said, “It would have been interesting to hear what she had to say.”

No, it wouldn’t have been interesting, for I knew exactly what she was about to say. I knew full well the trip she was about to lay on us.

I did the right thing by banning her.

And I did the right thing by reporting the incident to the Lindens as homophobic abuse.

Of Prims and Sims, II

Written 6 February, 2007

Of Prims and Sims

Part II

Crap


Crap.

Missed another window of opportunity.

My friend Wulf Stewart told me this morning that on the mainland, property can now be linked across sims and the prims shared.

There goes my idea of a sim exchange!

:(

I wonder if one can do that in Dreamland?


Of Prims and Sims, I

Written 1 February, 2007

Of Prims and Sims

Part I

Of Sims


A Second Life simulator, or sim, consists of a server somewhere on the Linden Lab properties, running a portion of SL.

Forsaken, my sim, runs on its own processor on its own mother board in its own case, stacked amidst and sandwiched between, thousands, and maybe tens of thousands, of identical servers.

While the hardware is identical and the three-dimensional virtual arrays generated by the servers are the same, the data that fill those arrays are highly individualized, creating the wondrous complexity that is Second Life. We live, we build our homes, we position our pose balls, we walk around in those arrays.

Each simulator generates a space 255 x 255 meters in size. That’s 65,025 square meters, room enough for more than fifteen 4096 lots or more than 127 First Land-sized (512 sq m) parcels.

Pretty big, in other words— but not really. We’re talking about a space only a little more than 750 feet on a side.

The array isn’t two-dimensional, but three-dimensional, for Second Life isn’t flat. The terrain has not only length and breadth, but height, allowing Avatars to move vertically as well as along N/S and E/W lines.

Adding a third dimension to an array is a big memory eater. Consider:

255 x 255 grid = 65025

255 x 255 x 100 grid: 6,502,500

That assumes that one meter is a single unit. In actuality, there are an almost infinite number of sub-positions within each cubic meter of Second Life— as best I can figure, 1000 locations in each of the three directions, or 10,000,000 in all.

So if it would take 6.5 million units to make an SL sim with a maximum height, how many units would it take to map a grid 15,000,00 meters high?

Sit down for this one.

Oh, crap. Overflow error code on my three dollar calculator.

You mean I have to calculate it by HAND?

Carry the one, dah dah da de dum, dum, total it all...

975,375,000,000.

Nearly a billion units. No, no, I meant a trillion!

Now multiply that by the 10,000,000 sub-positions within each cubic meter, and you get.

A really big number.

9.75 x 10 ^17, if I counted my zeros correctly.

Wow.

-----

Of Prims

One of the biggest difficulties in SL—to me, at least—is the limitations on primitives.

A primitive, or prim, is a single object in SL, one of a half-dozen basic shapes. Prims can be as large as 10x10x10 meters in size, and they can be twisted, tapered, sheared and bent, textured and colored, turned phantom, temporary, or physical, and made to give off light. Best of all, they can be linked with other prims to make complex objects. Everything you see in SL is made of prims.

Prims are limited in size. This is frustrating because to make large things like walls or floors you must use multiple prims to make an object you could otherwise make with a single prim. And it’s made even more frustrating because Linden Lab has set a cap to the number of prims allowed on any particular piece of land.

It’s not, IMO, a reasonable limit.

Each 512 sq. meter plot of land is allotted 117 prims. That doesn’t go very far. With careful planning, it’s a house, a bed, a couch, and a few trees or pieces of art. With poor planning, it’s a single basket of fruit or one chaise lounge.

The sim servers must make a number of calculations for each prim, including size, location, rotation, the amount they’re twisted or otherwise warped, the material of which they’re made, their surface roughness, their color and texture, their shininess, and, if they’re part of a linked set, their relationship to other objects. And then the severs must map each of the 15,000 or so oruns in each simulator and rez them within that huge to-the-seventeenth-power array—and then move them about smoothy and immediately when you grab and drag them.

That’s a lot of calculations. And a lot of memory. And that's for only one sim. There are tens of thousands of sims!

By far, or so it would seem, the biggest drain on sim resources is that ceiling, which surpasses 15,000,000 meters.

Why did Linden Lab make the grid more than 15,000,000 meters high? Why generate such a huge, memory-eating array? Why not limit the maximum height to something reasonable—750 meters, say?

Maybe they did.

My friend Mordecai Scaggs reports that building is difficult above 750 meters. I’m not sure what happens, but I’ve been curious to find out. Sounds like a matter for the Icarus Society to investigate.

Here’s what I suspect.

I suspect the grid only does go to 750 meters. Above that, I imagine, the simulators temporarily create and erase space on the fly for high-flying avatars. Or maybe there’s just a single space and it jumps along with the avatar as height increases or decreases.

Not being in the confidence of Linden Lab, most likely I’ll never know. But it makes sense.

-----

Of Sims and Prims

I had a further thought.

Suppose NONE of the spaces in Linden Lab actually exist in a permanent array.

That’s not a metaphorical question.

I mean, what if space is generated on as-needed basis. Perhaps space in SL, and the objects that occupy that space, are generated only when they are within the field of vision of an avatar. When no one is looking, they are derezzed, the array taken down.

Perhaps there’s no real grid at all, just pieces of it which constantly come and go.

The algorhym for this on-the-fly calculating might be difficult, but it would save a lot of processor horsepower.

I may be on the track of the answer to “If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”


Prim Exchange

All of this ties in with an idea I had a while back.

Why not start a prim exchange?

Why doesn’t Linden Lab write routines to let an overtaxed sim borrow from the prim (processor power) resources of an underused sim?

If that were to happen, one could buy and sell prims as if they were Lindens.

Just an idea.

Just foolish speculation.

Just my nerdiness manifesting itself.

Or maybe it’s brain damage caused by the thin atmosphere at 15,00,000 meters.

:)

Getting Physical

Written 8 February, 2007

Getting Physical

I’ve not hereto paid much attention to the Physical setting in the Edit menu. In fact, I’ve paid it no attention it all. In fact, I think I actively blocked it out.

But I noticed it the other day when things were slow. I turned a prim—a piece of lumber 3 x 4 x 1 meters in size— physical by checking the box.

Nothing happened until I clicked off of the edit box. Then, to my astonishment, the prim fell slowly to the ground and toppled onto its side.

Well, that’s cool, I thought, and filed the event away in my For Later Exploration folder.

Even so, the idea of physical prims began to tumble about in my mind.

The next time I had a chance to play, I made a square prim, sized it to 3 x 3 x 10 meters, cut it so it had sloping sides, and hollowed it in a circular shape. This made a nice chute down which I could roll objects—if they would indeed roll.

I linked three of the chute prims, gave them a nice oak texture—Sweetie doesn’t approve of plywood—and tilted it at an angle of twenty degrees. Then I made a polished steel ball two meters across and positioned it in the air a good half meter above the top of the chute.

Then I turned the ball physical.

The first thing it did was fall. Even though the distance was short, it struck sparks when it hit the chute.

Then it began to roll—slowly at first, then it gained momentum.

When it reached the end of the ramp, it fell to the ground.

When it hit the ground it didn’t exactly bounce, just gave a short of shudder.

And then it began to roll. I barely got out of the way in time.

It went past me, slowing, and then, with its last bit of momentum, rolled into the canal, where it promptly sank to the bottom.

Way cool!

This little experiment taught me several things about Second Life physics.

Specifically, it taught me that SL physics—those I could judge from my experiment, at least—follow the physics of the universe pretty closely. To wit:

Gravity acts upon physical objects.

Physical objects rest upon other objects in a logical manner. That is, if you set a physical glass on a table, it will stay there. If you remove the table, the glass will fall. And, I suppose (and here’s another experiment!), if you tilt the table enough, it will topple (or slide off).

Objects gain speed as they fall.

The rate of acceleration doesn’t seem to be 32 ft. per second per second, as is the case in real life; it’s considerably slower—but they definitely accelerate. (I confirmed this later, when I raced a 40 meter sphere from 500 meters to the ground. I drew ahead at first, but it soon passed me).

The physical behavior of objects depends upon their shape.

The plywood board tumbled onto its side and lay flat on the ground. The metal ball rolled.

Physical objects are slowed by friction.

When the steel ball hit the ground, it rolled rapidly at first, and then slowed, much like a real ball does.

Physical objects interact with one another.

I learned this when I dropped a physical ball on a physical board I had balanced upon a triangular-shaped nonphysical prim, making an elementary teeter-totter. The impact of the ball caused the teeter to totter.

Physical objects interact with avatars.

I learned this when I walked along the teeter-totter and caused it to rotate on its fulcrum (the balance point). I further learned it when I dropped a steel ball on the t-t and was launched high into the air.

The interactions of physical objects occurs along x, y, and z axes.

I learned this when the ball I dropped on the teeter-totter not only caused it to totter, but knocked the board off its balance prim.

I learned a lot.

But there are things I do not yet understand.

Tell me about it.

Why did the teeter-totter board fall right through the non-physical triangle on which it was balanced?

(I have an idea about this, and that is that it did so because the triangular prim upon which the board was balanced had a very sharp point and the board suddenly had a lot of downward force because of the impact of the dropped ball. In other words, perhaps the triangle pierced the board).

-----

Some unanswered questions.

Is there a top limit to the speed at which objects fall? Do they have a terminal velocity? And if so, does it depend upon their shape? And is there wind resistance?

Will, for instance a flat board tumble if it is dropped from a great height? And will it drop more slowly than the more aerodynamic sphere?

Is there a universal coefficient of friction, or does friction vary according to the nature of a substance? Do metal and rubber objects cause the same amount of friction?

Are other forces present? (Centripetal and centrifugal forces, for instance. Magnetism.). Are physical objects impacted, as are particles, by the SL sun?

----

My experiments raised more questions than they answered.

In other words, they were a success.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Sim Really Changes


Sweetie on the Teeter-Totter

Sweetie Heads or Outer Space
Written 8 February, 2007

The Sim Really Changes

This morning I got word from Carlos that he will be selling his last plot of land on Forsaken.

I know he will be only a teleport away, but my heart is broken.

Just last night Carlos and Sweetie and I were having a little Icarus fun.

I had made a 90 meter ramp along which I was rolling a two meter aluminum ball by turning it physical. I nearly dropped the ball on Carlos' toes!

I created a teeter-totter and we experimented with making it rock by walking along it. Then I got the idea of dropping the big aluminum ball on it. It launched me to nearly 100 meters!

Icarus nonsense being what it is, before long Carlos had made a teeter totter from a giant prim and I had rezzed a 40 meter ball and dropped it on one end from a height of 500 meters.

I started out even with the ball, heading down as soon as I turned it physical.

At first I outpaced it, but it was accelerating and I wasn't, so it soon zoomed past.

Sweetie had wandered up and was on the plank, and I very nearly lost her to outer space again.

What will I do when Carlos is no longer around to partake in such fun?

The Sim Changes

Written 31 January, 2007

The Sim Changes

It was Friday night when I got the first indication that something was afoot.

One of my neighbors—Carlos is his name-- was having an open house, and his partner Mendez wasn’t there. No show, no call.

At my open house on Sunday, Carlos told me Mendez had a bad case of the flu.

I didn’t believe it for a minute.

Then, when I popped in world Monday evening, there was a message from Carlos.

“Don’t freak. I just needed the prims for the house I’m building for myself.”

I rushed over to look at Carlos’ property. Sure enough, his formerly lavishly furnished property was now mostly bare.

I flew up to 600 meters, where Carlos was working on his new house. He was friendly, but wasn’t revealing anything. I knew then for sure that there was trouble in paradise.

By Tuesday evening, everything on Carlos’ property was gone. His House. His trees. His pier. Even the giant humpback whale that lived in the bayou and which could be heard from Pele Gardens (formerly Pele South). Gone.

I IMed Carlos. “Are you hurting?”

Yes, he was hurting, although he of course didn’t come right out and say so.

We were soon hanging over the river, having a heart-to-heart. Yes, he and Mendez had split—and since Mendez owned most of the property, Carlos indeed found himself short of prims.

I hadn’t seen Mendez since the previous week. The Friends indicator had shown him to be offline, but I sent an IM anyway—and he responded. I guess he had set Busy. He was coming to his land to do some terraforming, and when he did, we had a chat. He and Xubi also had a talk. He said we made him feel better.

From talking to both guys, it sees to me the actual breakup stemmed from a minor event which led to a series of misunderstandings. Maybe there are serious underlying issues. I don’t know. I only know that I really like both guys and they’re a lot of fun and I’m heartbroken every time I see those 13,000 square meters of empty sand.

I wish them both well and I hope they both choose to stay in Forsaken.

:(

A Devious Mind

A Devious Mind at Work

My previous post resulted in this one.


Written 31 January, 2007

A Devious Mind

I have an evil mind.

Maybe devious is a better word.

I have the sort of mind that makes me, when I hear about terrorist attacks or bank robberies, think of easier and more effective ways of carrying them out.

“That’s not how I would have done it!”

My mind works like that. Maybe a lot of peoples’ minds work like that. Maybe not. But mine does.

It’s not that I want to actually do those things. I don’t. I wouldn’t. I merely think of them.

If I were a sociopath, my devious mind would make me a true Menace 2 Society—but I’m lucky enough to have a conscience that prevents me from acting on my devious thoughts.

Almost always. I can recall two or three things I did in my life that I knew were wrong, minor things, really. I did them anyway.

I can’t tell you how guilty it made me feel. I still feel guilty.

I choose not to be a bad person. When, despite my best intentions, I start to stray across the line, my finely sense of guilt stops me cold, every time.

So now that (I hope) I’ve convinced you that despite my warped mind I’m not a danger to you, let me say that having a devious mind can be a lot of fun.

Especially when a devious mind is complemented by a finely-tuned sense of the ridiculous.

That’s when you get things like a giant, avatar-sized mouse trap.

No, I didn’t come up with that one. I merely wish I had. A friend showed me one this morning and I went for the cheese so it would smash me.

And it did. There was blood everywhere. Until I stood up.

I did come up with the idea of the virgin sacrifice to Pele the volcano goddess. My devious mind led me to put bloodstains on the altar at the temple to Pele and build a portal into the floor of the Dragon Skybar that lets avatars choose to sacrifice themselves to Pele. (The portal is directly over Pele’s lava pit, and selecting “Sacrifice” teleports them just above the boiling lava).

So maybe I’m glad I have a devious mind.

And I’m really glad that like my Sweetie, I use my superpowers only for good.

Would you like to sacrifice yourself to Pele the volcano goddess?

Bad Chey

Good Chey

Bad Chey

Written 31 January, 2007

Bad Chey

I have some traits of which I'm not proud, and the worst is a propensity to gossip.

I usually control this tendency, but occasionally, I fail (rarely, fortunately, for I’ve gotten good at controlling my Bad Chey impulses). When I’m feeling giddy and in a zone of comfort, I’ve been known to divulge information about others, information I should have kept private.

Not often.

And it’s usually friendly and harmless.

But often enough. And sometimes it has a malicious element.

I don’t know why I do this. I only know it’s wrong.

Last night I started to tell something about someone, something had had been told to me in confidence. Perhaps I was doing it because I was irritated at him. Perhaps not. It doesn't matter. I shouldn't have done it.

I was paying no attention to my Mysti-Tool display and so I didn’t realize he object of my gossip had walked up and was only two meters away. I had already hit Return, so my first comment, which didn’t reveal his secret, but which hinted at it, was hanging in the air.

To his credit, he called me on it.

I’m glad he did, for I was most definitely being Bad Chey.

-----

There have been only a few times in my life when I have so completely and thoroughly put my foot in my mouth.

They were embarrassing and made me feel bad about myself.

This one, I think, was the worst.

-----

I apologized, of course, but that doesn’t diminish my culpability.

Thank goodness, he is still my friend.

-----

My Sweetie likes to say she uses her superpowers only for good.

I’m doing my best to do the same.

Flippa Da Land

Chey's 2048
Written 6 February, 2007

Flippa Da Land

No, that’s not a drag name.

It’s what I just did.

-----

A little more than a week ago, my friend Wulf Stewart IMed me to ask if I would be interested in buying two adjoining 512 square meter plots on the mainland.

I went to look. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, since the lots lay with their short ends together rather than their long ends, but I figured I could find some use for it. I committed to buy one and set a time for the closing. Then, after a couple of minutes’ reflection at Xubi’s reflecting pool at the Pele Gardens, I send Wulf a message saying I wanted to buy both parcels.

We made the transaction a couple of days later.

I terraformed the land a bit, set the radio to Sky-FM Classical, and set the parcels to sell at double what I had paid for them.

Last night, I visited them again, sat out torii gates Xubi and I had designed, and lowered the price.

Shortly afterward I logged off of Second Life to have a telephone conversation with my sweet Sweetie. I love talking with my sweet Sweetie.

When I got back, I noticed my account balance had increased by $20,000 Lindens.

There were no notices, but I knew the lots had sold.

Just to check (I mean, some magnanimous soul could have dropped 20k L on me), I teleported to the land.

I landed smack in the middle of a tawdry porn shop.

And oh, could the textures have used tweaking!

I’m talking Ug-Ly.

It seemed the porn queen neighbor Wulf had told me about had wasted no time in expanding her sleazy empire.

I walked past on-the-stroll hookers and newbies in camping chairs and slot machines and curtained boots where god knows what was happening until I found a way out into the night air.

Then, hovering, I looked at properties for sale.

The results of my search was bizarre. There were parcels as small as eight square meters, and prices were all over the map. Here was a 512 for 10k, and there one for $38k.

Within seconds, however, I found a suitable-looking 1024 for sale in the next sim. I teleported there and, liking the property, a pleasant wooded hilltop, I bought it for $16k.

This weekend, I’ll move the Dragon Skybar there, freeing up any number of prims at Pele, and set up a store to sell my wares, and Xubi’s, and Sweetie’s.

If it doesn’t sell at the marked-up price I’ve fixed, that is.

Torii Gate





Written 6 February, 2007

Torii Gate

I’ve always found Shinto-period architecture of Japan beautiful and fascinating, but since my primary exposure to it was in the films of Japanese directors, I didn’t know much about it.

Second Life has put me face-to-face with Japanese (and any number of other types of) architecture. That’s a good thing.

It began when Sweetie asked me how I would feel about the use of shoji screens in the house she was building for me.

“Sounds great!” I said cheerfully.

To myself, I said, “WTF is a shoji screen?”

Oh, so THAT’s a shoji screen! Brava! Looks great!

-----

I saw my first torii gate when I was buying a jukebox from Weedy Herbst. It was next door, on another property, but it was marked for sale. I didn’t know what it was, but I bought it because even though it was plain and untextured, it spoke to me.

Last week I pulled it out in the Pele Gardens and proceeded to build my own gate.

Things went apace, for I’m learning to size, rotate, and position objects perfectly in relation to other objects.

My torii gate was derivative, but I improved on the basic design, adding a swooping brass piece as a cap.

Soon Sweeetie dropped by and, seeing what I was doing, gave me the beautiful wooden texture she had used on her stunning reflecting fountain and helped me tweak the densities. Then she improved upon my improvement of the top pieces.

And soon we had a beautiful torii gate, perhaps the most gorgeous (if not exactly authentic) o-torii in all of Second Life.

It’s a perfect companion piece to the reflecting fountain.

Soon, I had made a bridge that keyed from the torii gate, which I used to span the lava flow on the north side of Pele.

My building skills are improving.

-----

Last night I sold my (and Sweetie’s) torii gate.

A few days ago, a visitor to Pele asked me if it was for sale.

I hadn’t considered selling it, but I said I would sell it if he would give me a couple of days to finalize it.

Last night, he bought it for $400L, which I’ll split with Sweetie, as she was involved in its making.

I think Sweetie and I need to open a store.

We can put it on the 1024 lot I just acquired, directly below the Dragon Skybar.