Thursday, July 31, 2008

Making Signs

One of My Earliest Efforts and Two Recent Signs from the Robot Sanatorium

Written 29 July, 2008

Making Signs

I have a lot of fun making signs for Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom.

I made my first sign only a month or so after coming to Second Life. I used my ancient copy of Quark XPress to create a sign warning avatars they were wandering off my property into a neighbor’s kill zone.

It took me a while to figure out how to get that sign into the world. I wound up printing the Xpress file to Adobe Acrobat, cropping the image in Acrobat, and then exporting the image, creating a JPG which I would then load into Second Life. It was a pain, but it worked.

I’m only beginning to learn GIMP, the free image manipulation program from GNU—but GIMP has been an immense help in my sign making. I use it in combination with XPress (sometimes I start an image in XPress, then turn it into a JPG which I load into GIMP, and, after manipulation, export it as a non-lossy TGA or BMP, which I then import into XPress for touch-up.

I think my signs are much improved from the early days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Robot Sanitorium Shapes Up

Written 29 July, 2008

The Robot Sanatorium Shapes Up

Sweetie and I have been spending a lot of time in the robot sanitorium lately.

No, no, no, not as patients—although we both DO have robot avatars!

The sanatorium is the result of a whim that arose after a visit to the Museum of Robots on the Kubrick sim. I went on a bot-building kick, and suddenly we were talking about a home for the universe’s most disturbed mechanical creatures.

Since Sweetie thought the sanatorium should be inside a giant robot head floating high in the sky (of COURSE she would think that!), that’s how we did it. I used a giant 60x60x60 meter cylinder turned on its side to make the head of Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid. Sweetie pared down two 60x60x60 spheres to close off the sides. I made ears and eyes and a headpiece from giant prims and a temporary floor from 20x20 prims, and suddenly it was.. a place.

It didn’t look like much at first, but after we built a landing with flashing neon signs (one spells out R, RO, ROB, ROBO, ROBOT, ROBOT SANATORIUM) and made a 1960’s-era reception area just inside the entranceway, the sanatorium began to really take shape.

The reception area features a curved oak desk on which robothemed magazines are scattered. An animated welcome sign greets visitors in a half-dozen languages. A mural from Karel Capek’s 1921 play Rossum’s Universal Robots (the first use of the term robot was in R.U.R.) covers the wall opposite the desk. Above the mural are Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. The second law is defaced by an anarchy symbol. 1960s Ames chairs sit in a line against a wall.

To get the gritty industrial look Sweetie wanted, I made walls of sooty brick, and we textured the inside of Rosie’s curved top half with an industrial window texture. Sweetie threw up an extensive network of ramps and platforms, (you’d be surprised how much room there is inside a 60x60x60 prim!), and suddenly the sanatorium began to look like a made-over factory.

I stretched my scripting skills and made a metal detector; one stands on either side of the reception area to scan avatars going up the robot (south) and bioform (north) ramps. After scanning, robots find themselves enclosed by a metal cage. As they continue up the ramp, the poor things must pass through three delousing stations which, respectively, flame, irradiate, and fumigate them.

Beneath the main floor is a partially-completed understory. Here one finds the Hal 9000 Memorial Facility for the Robotically Criminally Insane. There is, of course, a scanner to negotiate. The facility sits on a manicured lawn and features two padded cells which are reached via metal walkways. Originally I made three cells, but two seems to work better. So the Whimsy Kaboom Robot Sanitorium is a two-padded-cell facility.

To reach the bottom level, avatars must negotiate the walkways. When they reach the topmost level, they walk a narrow gate to a gravity drop (patent pending). They fall 30 meters into a vat of hot oil and continue to fall to the lower level (the oil is phantom only when the gravity drop tells it to be).

The gravity drop was another stretch for me; it was the first time I used a sensor to detect the presence of an avatar. I’ll probably change the script to detect collisions instead, as that would no doubt be less laggy.

Looking at Rosie from the outside, nothing shows; she’s simply Rosie. Inside the sanatorium, looking at the huge expanse of lawn, huge prim walls, and dozens of ramps, it’s sometimes easy to forget that one is 3500 meters above the ground inside a big robot head.

So anyway, if we’re not around, we’re probably at the sanatorium, tweaking.

Ballet Pixelle

Written 28 July, 2008

Ballet Pixelle

Second Life is a wonderful place for the arts, but performing here is difficult. Simulator lag, crashes, delayed sound, griefers, idiots who chat in voice throughout the performance, and a ridiculousy low limit on avatars in one place makes theater, opera, and ballet problematic. But sometimes performance just works.

Last night Sweetie and I made our way to IBM III sim to Ballet Pixelle (formerly Second Life Ballet) to see a performance of Shuzenji, a ballet set in 1700s Japan.

There were perhaps 30 avatars present, but the stage was just across a sim line, so the dancers were able to move relatively easily. The show was wonderful: evocative, perfectly orchestrated, and, except for a slight problem with the set in Act II, flawlessly performed.

Kudos to Ballet Pixelle!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Where's the Rest of My Interface?

If you Click on the Top Photo and Look Closely, You'll See There's No 
Tools Menu at the Upper Left Corner. In the Bottom Photo, it has Reappeared.

Written 24 July, 2008

Where’s the Rest of My Interface?

My long love affair with the Nicholaz EC viewer seems to be at an end-- partially because the menu bar at the bottom of the screen has taken a powder and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to bring it back short of redownloading viewer 19.4.1, but mostly because EC doesn’t allow building above 768 meters. The Release Candidate does.

The robot sanitorium we’ve been working on is 3500 meters above Whimsy Kaboom, so I’ve been using the Release Candidate lately. I’ve become more or less accustomed to it. I miss the Friends button, but selecting Contacts from the submenu that pops up next to Communicate is at least an improvement over having to pop open Communicate and then dig up your friends. *

[ * I realize some people in your Contacts won’t be actual friends. They might, for instance, be business contacts. But Contacts is just too cold-sounding. Friends is well, friendlier. Bring Friends back, Lindens!]

I can’t get used to not being able to double click on attachments in Inventory to wear them, though, so I’m holding Nicholaz EC in reserve.

Night before last I was working merrily along in the Release Candidate. I needed to link something, and looked up to select the Tools menu.

It wasn’t there!


My friend Michel told me she thought the Lindens had scattered its commands among the other menus.

Oh, no!

I hit CTRL-ALT-D several times to see if I could bring up Tools. No dice. I couldn’t even look up the keyboard shortcut for Link and Unlink because they are, duh!, in the Tools menu. Grrrrr!

A minute later I looked up and the Tools menu was there. A minute after that I looked up, and it was gone. Then it was back. Gone. Back. Gone.

It took a few minutes, but I eventually realized Tools now shows only when an object is selected. That is, of course, when its selections are functional.

This morning on the Linden blog, Torley put up a video that explained the new deal with the Tools menu. Too late!

Geez. Scare me, why don’t you, you Lindens!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ARC Discrmination

Written 23 July, 2008

ARC Discrimination

Introduction of Avatar Rendering Cost led pundits to predict a new form of discrimination in Second Life. Those with high ARCs would become pariahs, unwelcome everywhere. To date, that doesn’t seem to have happened—but then again, neither has rampant discrimination against those who don’t use voice, another much-predicted social ill.

One of these days, when our computers are a thousands times faster and ten thousand times more powerful, when our bandwidth is a hundred times faster—that will be in what, about five years?— we’ll laugh about the days when we were limited to 15,000 prims, when only 50 or 60 people could gather in one spot, when time dilated, when our frame rates slowed. We’ll think it quaint that we had to be careful about what we wore.

For now, though, it’s good to be able to check our ARC and the ARC of visitors to our sims.

Avatar Rendering Cost

Photo By Sweetie
Written 23 July, 2008

Avatar Rendering Cost

The prims attached to (i.e, worn by) avatars don’t count against a sim’s prim allowance, but the simulator still has to rez them, move them, make them flexible or sculpted, and run any scripts they may contain. When there’s a crowd of avatars wearing elaborate jewelry, prim clothing, and hair, the load can be considerable. It’s not unusual, for instance, for a single piece of jewelry to have 250 prims. Twenty avatars wearing only that object would require the sim to rez and maintain 5000 prims; that’s a third of the sim’s prim allowance of 15000—and MORE than the number of prims allowed on an openspace (light) sim.

Viewer-side, particles given off by the attachments of other avatars and the textures of the clothing and hair they wear must be rendered. This can kill frame rate.

All of this explains why we’re often asked to quiet or remove our scripted objects when we attend concerts and other large assemblages of avatars.

Several months ago the Lindens introduced Avatar Rendering Cost (; Blogger won't take the URL today), a number that reflects the load placed on a server by an avatar and her attachments. Turning on ARC lets you know not only YOUR rendering cost, but that of every other avatar present.

ARC is calculated with a point system, with points awarded for each prim, for each texture, for use of rotation, texture animation, or other scripts, and for use of light, glow, and flexi or sculpty characteristics. An occurrence in each category for each prim generates only one point, but they can quickly add up for complex objects.

Take Sweetie, for instance.

Or, rather, take one of Sweetie’s outfits, an elaborate Asian gown.

When she tried it on the other night, she complained her frame rate dropped dramatically. So I told her about ARC, and we both turned it on.

OMG! She had an Avatar Rendering Cost of 13,000!

Now when I rig myself out formally, wearing shoes, prim clothing attachments, hair, and earrings, I’ll usually have an ARC of 1000-1100. So what was up with Sweetie’s 13k?

When we examined Sweetie’s outfits, we learned that each of more than a half-dozen attachments were made with 150 or so prims, each of which appeared to be flexible, and many of which were sculpted. Cumulatively, the outfit was just over the top!

Beautiful, to be sure. But over the top? Definitely. It was a sim crasher.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chey in Fireworks

Written 24 July, 2008

Chey in Fireworks

Watching fireworks in Second Life is in some respects better than watching them in real life.

No mosquitoes, for instance—unless you deliberately buy them and place them on the land.

No rainouts.

But most of all, it would be pretty darn difficult in RL to fly up into the fireworks and let them explode all around you.

Independence Day Fireworks at Whimsy Kaboom

Written 23 July, 2008

Independence Day Fireworks at Whimsy Kaboom

The Fourth of July holiday saw two great fireworks shows on our Whimsy Kaboom sim. We had an early show to accommodate Second Life’s Europeans, and another after most of the U.S. was dark.

At Sweetie’s rez day celebration Fnordian Link told us about two HUD-based fireworks systems—the Decuir system and the Cubeos system (I found Cubeos on Both systems happened to be on sale through the Fourth, so I bought one. And then the other for Sweetie. And then the other for myself. And then the other one (for Sweetie) for her. What all this means is we both had both systems.

As my entire experience with SL fireworks had consisted of setting off freebie rockets and sitting in the grass last Independence Day and watching a fireworks show, I was a bit apprehensive about coming up to speed on the Decuir and Cubeos systems, but I needn’t have worried. It was easy to set up shows.

We used demos for the first show. Sweetie, being Sweetie, insisted we tweak for the second show, so we spent about ninety minutes beforehand setting out emitters and deciding when they would be triggered.

We had big crowds for both shows (I had listed them in Events). The shows ran without a hitch. Sim performance was spectacular during the first show. The second show started out fine, but the sim was hit with massive time lag about halfway through.

Now, fireworks are particles, and particles don’t lag a sim (the rezzing of the emitters might), but earlier we had two shows running simultaneously and about 15 avatars on the sim with no time dilation of sim frame rate slowdown—so what was up?

I don’t know, but I suspect one of two things: either SL was cutting up or one or more of the avatars present at the evening show had Avatar Rendering Costs of 20,000 or so (don’t laugh; see the next post). I think next time we have an event I’ll ask a friend to keep tabs on ARC for me.

The lag, however, didn’t make much of a difference, as people were just standing and watching the show.

I’m considering creating a custom fireworks show, using both systems, and setting it to run every two hour or so in a theater up in the sky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rez Day Party for Sweetie

Written 22 July, 2008

Rez Day Party for Sweetie

June 29th was Sweetie’s second rez day. Just think about it! Two years in Second Life.

Saying nothing to Sweetie, I decided to set up a celebration.

Since we have no venue at Whimsy, I IMed my brother Mordecai Scaggs and asked if we might use his dirigible for the festivities. Of course he said yes.

At Mordecai’s suggestion, I IMed disk jockey Gabrielle Riel; fortunately, she had an opening.

I made an invitation and mailed it to our friends and acquaintances, asking them to come to a surprise party for Sweetie.

An hour before the allotted time I made an excuse, zipped over to Caledon Tanglewood, and flew up to the Rakehell (for some reason, there are no direct TPs in Tanglewood). I set out a big rug, a few chairs, and banners and talked briefly with Gabrielle, who had arrived early to set up.

I teleported home and immediately got a notice all of my objects had been returned! Grrr! I had forgotten to put on Mordecai’s tag. So I went BACK to the Rakehell and set everything out again.

I again returned to Whimsy, and on the hour, I asked Sweetie to follow me. When we arrived on the Rakehell, there was already an assemblage of people, and…

SURPRISE! They all shouted.

I’ve been to quite a few parties in Second Life, but I have to say this was the very best. The music was great, the Rakehell was beautiful and roomy, and we were surrounded by friends and Second Life family. We all danced, chatted, and, after a time, started rezzing particles.

Sweetie, as usual, provided the light show, using her own avatar as the source. Somehow, she’s able to get blinding intensities of light from her Mystitool. The bathed the entire front half of the HUGE Rakehell in multicolored light.

Our friend Fnordian Link arrived and set out one of his new creations, which rezzed big bright letters that floated in lines in the air, following the chat. We had lots of fun touching the letters to pop them.

I’d originally thought an hour would suffice, but toward the end of the first hour I negotiated with Garbrielle for additional time. The party wound up lasting two hours, and nobody wanted it to be over!

Special thanks to Mordecai and Gabrielle, and to Greg Paslong for sending us his photos of the event. I am making heavy use of them in a ThincBook I’m making in commemoration of my Sweetie’s one and only second rez day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Impossible Task

Written 21 July, 2008

Another Impossible Task

Sweetie is always setting impossible building and scripting tasks for me.

“Oh, nice door. But wouldn’t it be cool if it was a big metal door in three sections like an airlock? And of course you’ll need a space station to go with it. And we’ll need a big rocket so we can ride up to it. And spacesuits! We must have spacesuits! And laser guns! Can you have it all by tomorrow?”

Most recently, Sweetie decided she wanted a walking broom. Yeah, like the broom in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Walt Disney’s Fantasia.

Think about it: a broom that walks, carrying buckets of water.

And not only that; she wanted a version that would grab itself and work its handle to sweep the floor.

I tried to tell her there’s no dirt to sweep in Second Life, but she clouded up. “Sweetie must have her self-sweeping broom!”

And so I made one for her.

Making a broom wasn’t too difficult. I made the bottom flexible so it would sway with the broom’s movement (thinking optimistically that I could eventually make it move!).

I made two sets of arms. One pair hung more or less loosely at the broom’s side; the second grasped its handle, hand over hand.

Fortunately, I had been experimenting with a rez-on-touch bridge (another Sweetie request),and had learned how to turn prims invisible on touch. I adapted the script, and by experimenting to find the numbers of the various prims, I managed to make the broom change arms on touch. The relaxing arms would disappear and the sweeping arms would appear—until the timer ran out.

The trickiest part was moving the broom. I used a script from an elephant ride to make the broom rock from side to side like a seesaw, but when I linked an axis prim and made it rotate, the broom went nuts.

I thought about making the broom follow its owner, but that wasn’t particularly what I wanted it to do. I also thought about using Puppeteer, but I knew that would make the movement awkward.

I had just decided to script a string of commands to made the broom walk when I saw this weekend’s blog from Torley Linden. He talked about several scripting tools. One, called Scratch, caught my attention. It builds scripts out of Second Life by allowing the user to move blocks into a string in a program area; it’s like Lego LSL. It sounded perfect for the long string of movement and rotate commands I would be using.

So I downloaded Scratch, and in about 30 minutes, my broom was walking. Thank you, Scratch!

Woo hoo!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Feeding Rosie

Written 20 July, 2008

Feeding Rosie

It isn't easy maintaining an 80-meter robot head. Take Rosie, for instance.

Yeah, I know the Jetsons had an easy time with her-- but she was a regular-sized Rosie, and she had a body, which allowed her to forage for herself.

The giant Rosie head at the Robot Sanatorium, though-- she's another story altogether!

Fortunately in this time of inflation we managed to procure a few low-prim, large-sized edibles for her. Here's Sweetie maneuvering a giant hot dog into her mouth.

But the mustard! Rosie didn't want the yellow French's that came on the hot dog. She had to have Dijon. And so we have a certificate from the mayor of Dijon in virtual France thanking us for our contributions to his city.

Let me just say they were significant.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Robot Sanitorium

Gort Comes to the Robot Sanitorium for Help with Anger Issues

Bender was Court Committed for Substance Abuse and Personality Disorder

This Rosie is REALLY BIG! A 15-Meter Gort is Barely Visible on the Landing

Written 18 July, 2008

Robot Sanatorium

They’ve been serving us for nearly a century now, and even before that, when they didn’t have a real name.* They build our cars, clean our houses (think Roomba), and entertain us as actors and actresses on television and in movies (Robby the Robot was soooo deserving of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Forbidden Planet, don’t you think?).

There’s no shortage of repair shops for robots with dead batteries or busted sprockets, but when robots have a mental malfunction—when they go robopsychotic, when they refuse to open the pod bay doors, when they abuse Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, when they refuse to comply when told Klaatu Barada Nikto, what then?** Where do we sent them? Where, oh where, are the robot sanatoriums?

We understand the Matt Groening TV show Futurama once depicted a robot asylum, but we didn’t see that episode. So we at Whimsy are moving to provide a much-needed social service by opening a robot sanatorium.

The sanatorium-to-be can be found 3500 meters above Whimsy Kaboom; just look for the 100-meter replica of the head of Rosie, the Jetsons’ robot maid. We’re only just getting started, but already robots are beginning to gather on Kaboom. We had to hurriedly construct a tier of tightrooms because some of the celebrity robots were getting out of hand. They’re used to getting what they want when they want it and didn’t want to wait for us to finish our build. Gort, the big robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still, kept threatening us with his death beam and Bender overdosed on hydraulic oil, and there was no recourse but to medicate them and lock them up for their own good.

Although far from finished, the Robot Sanatorium is open for visitors.


* The term robot was introduced by Czech playwright Karel Čapek in the 1920s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

** Not to mention the many berserk steampunk robots in the Caledon sims!

Rosie Redux

Written 19 July, 2008

Rosie Redux

Here's my entry in the contest at the Museum of Robots.

Museum of Robots Competition Winner

Written 19 July, 2008

Museum of Robots Competition Winner

Today the Museum of Robots on the Kubrick sim announced the winners of it's build-a-robot competiion. Prizes were awarded in three categories: avatar robots, stand-a-lone robots, and homage robots (robots which pay tribute to famous robots of movies and television). There were five winners in each category and two winners of peoples' choice awards. $43,000L in prizes is to be awarded.

I was one of the winners in the homage category for my build Rosie's in Trouble.

Thanks to Michel Runningbear, and of course Sweetie for going to the award show with me and providing moral support.

Woo hoo!

Where’s my Lava Flow?

Written 17 July, 2008

Where’s my Lava Flow?

Pele was pouting.

“Whatever is the matter, volcano goddess?” It pays to pay attention to Pele.

“I’ve no lava flow,” she pouted. “I had a lava flow where we used to live. Why don’t I have a lava flow here on Whimsy?”

“Sheesh,” I said. “I can’t do everything at once. Haven’t I been working for weeks on teaching you to throw rocks?”

“And now I can,” she said, “and if I don’t have a lava flow by this time tomorrow I’ll be tossing a bunch of them.”

“Okay, okay!” I said.

And so now Pele has a lava flow on her southern flank.

This one is better, I think, than the old one on Forsaken, if only because I now know more or less what I’m doing when I build. More or less.

The only major difference is I added a little glow to the moving lava at the top of the stream—not much, just .08 for the highest (and hottest) section, and .06, .04, and .02 for the lava further down the mountain. The effect is subtle, but nice on dark nights.

I’ve toyed with the idea of adding an ability to change texture so the lava flow can run hot sometimes and be mostly solid at others, but what the heck; Pele is satisfied, and so am I.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Whimsurance Rider

Whimsurance Rider

Whimsical Virtual Insurers and Guarantors

Its not just INsurance; its WHIMsurance!

Clarification and Rider


The unsuccessful (in our view) lawsuit Spider Monkey Avatar vs. Whimsical Virtual Insurers and Guarantors has resulted in a need to clarify your policy in regard to loss of body parts.

While a tail is technically a body part, and, specifically, an appendage, it does not reach the level of importance of an eye, arm, leg or Xcite! genital (Manx vs. Persian, 2004, First LL Circuit Ct.), and so loss of a tail is not covered under your policy. However, when the tail is prehensile and when it can be clearly demonstrated the tail is essential to the successful pursuit of the lifestyle of the tail’s owner, the tail may be covered under this policy.

In the case of Spider Monkey Avatar, the litigant successfully demonstrated her tail was an essential appendage in her gathering of high-hanging fruit and nuts in the jungles of SL South America. If you subsist on fruits and nuts in the Amazon and have lost your virtual tail, you may submit a claim. It will, of course, be summarily rejected by a WVIG adjuster.

We should note that lawsuits claiming loss of a tail has resulted in a loss of equilibrium and balance (Moose vs. Squirrel, 1998, Frostbite Falls Cartoon Court of Appeals) or loss of sexual attractiveness (Peacock vs. Mrs. Peacock, 1881, U.S. Supreme Ct., certiorari denied) have to date been ruled in favor of the insuring agency. So don’t even think about it.

In Dromedary vs. One-Humped Ship of the Desert (Saharan Tribal Court, 1966), the court ruled humps are a valuable asset in crossing vast areas of arid land. However, in Quasimodo vs. The Real Modo, 1744, the Court of French Literary Criticism ruled a hump is not an essential characteristic for successful employment as a bell ringer. Claims for loss of hump will be considered on an individual basis, and then rejected.


Taste is a sensory attribute, and bodily senses are excluded by your policy. However, when the tongue serves a secondary purpose, for instance in the essential procurement of food, coverage may apply (Chameleon vs. Frog, 3rd Petco Court of Appeals, 1998).


A long legal tradition has established the importance of horns as instruments of self-defense. Claims for loss of horns will be considered on the basis of length, breadth, and sharpness. Seasonal shedding of horns is part of the life cycle and is excluded from coverage (Bambi vs. Thumper, Disney Circuit Ct., 1956).


Wings are biological homologs of the front legs of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, and so are covered under this policy. The wings of flightless birds are the exception; dodos, penguins, ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries, roadrunners, and other nonflying birds are excluded under this policy. WVIG considers ALL birds flightless, and so all claims for loss of wings will be rejected.


Flippers are homologs of arms or legs, and so are covered under this policy. However, when hind limbs are fused into one flipper, as is the case in cetaceans and pinnipeds, they will be considered a single appendage before being summarily rejected.



Whimsical Virtual Insurers and Guarantors

“It’s not just INsurance; it’s WHIMsurance!”

I. Your Policy

This is your new Whimsical Virtual Insurers and Guarantors Life Insurance policy. Your payment of 10L provides you with a copy of this policy. That is ALL it does. Any attempt to procure benefits because of loss of virtual life or limb will be met with derision and maybe even hysterical laughter.

II. Terms and Conditions

This policy supercedes and replaces all pervious Whimsurance policies. For your convenience some changes in this version may substantially reduce or eliminate your coverage. Other changes may not appear to do so, but court interpretations suggest they actually do so. Not that there was actually any coverage to begin with!

III. What It Is

This policy insures you against loss of virtual life and limb. If, for example, a giant half-molten lava rock is tossed into the air by the volcano goddess Pele and, in its careening path down the side of the volcano, bulldozes your avatar, squashing it flat and ending your virtual life, YOU ARE COVERED! If you should encounter piranha in Whimsy’s waters and they shred the flesh from your virtual bones, YOU ARE COVERED! If Cheyenne’s elephant ride tears off your right leg or you should meet your demise at the hands of Inky the Squid, YOU ARE COVERED! If your free parachute should fail to open or your free SCUBA gear fail, YOU ARE COVERED! If you slip into the lava or tumble 750 meters from our Flights of Fancy store to the ground or are injured in one of Whimsy Transportation Authority’s frequent train disasters or are ripped asunder by a berserk bodybuilding android at the Museum of Robots, YOU ARE COVERED! If YOU are attacked by a rabid virtual pet belonging to a Whimsy resident or are orbited because one of Whimsy’s estate managers is in a snit, YOU ARE COVERED! But see Section I, above.

IV. Fiduciary

This policy is transferred to you in exchange for your payment of 10 Lindens to a sign. WVIG is not responsible if you fail to receive your policy due to erratic performance of a Second Life server. Nor is WVIG responsible if you misplace this policy in your cluttered inventory of 30,000 virtual objects. In fact, WVIG is not responsible for anything. YOU are responsible for paying us 10L. So get to it!

V. Definition of Loss of Limb

Loss of limb shall refer to the misplacement of your Xcite! genital or the loss of one or both eyes, arms, or legs. We are not responsible for that avatar you bought which seems to be missing its right leg, nor are we responsible for your irresponsible use of the sliders in Appearance.

WVIG may require you to submit to a virtual medical exam to verify your loss of body part. Our doctors are highly qualified rejects of Gorean society who will of course be anxious not to humiliate, abuse, capture and enslave, or torture you.

VI. Definition of Loss of Life

Loss of life is defined to occur when your viewer crashes or you have to go to work and must hit the big red X at the upper corner of your screen (well, blue-and-white X if you’re using Dazzle). You’re not in world after that, after you? No. That means you’re dead until you log back on. You are therefore insured until you log back on. When you log back on, you will not be dead anymore. This policy will be canceled and we will set our army of lawyers on you for whimsurance fraud.

VII. Losses Not Insured

Objects of all types. This is a Life Insurance policy, you big dummy! We don’t offer insurance against loss of property. Considering the past performance of Second Life’s servers, that would be insane! We will, however, because we’re nice people, give you a free plywood prim should you incur inventory loss. What you do with it is up to you.

Scripts, Sounds, Gestures, and Animations. Most of them are annoying, anyway.

Property Reclamation. We TOLD you to pay your tier!

Loss of ability to connect to the internet. Get a better computer! And a better ISP! SL is not for sissy computers!

VIII. Specific Exclusions

This policy specifically Does not include acts of LINDEN [war, nuclear hazard, computer disease, natural disasters (which are quite likely on an island with an active volcano), or suspension of your account by Linden Lab because of your repetitive defiance of the ban on gambling].

 IX. Vehicles

Vehicular accidents are covered by an optional rider to this policy, available for only $10,000 Lindens.

X. Health Benefits

WVIG is a big supporter of socialized medicine. For this reason, we don’t offer a health benefit policy. But if we did, you can bet it would be expensive with a huge deductible and would cover almost nothing.

XI. Duration of Policy

This policy is in effect when you receive it and expires when you read Section XI.

Thank you for your trust in Whimsical Virtual Insurers and Guarantors. We work tirelessly (as does the rest of the industry) to reduce the quality of your coverage and eliminate your benefits. Be assured that should the worst come to pass, we will ignore your frantic IMs and insult you and call you a liar if you do manage to get through to us with your claim. Go forth now in confidence, knowing you have the best virtual coverage available. And please, forget our phone number.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Whimsy Lava Beds

Peaceful On the Surface... Dangerous Underneath!

Written 16 July, 2008

Whimsy Lava Beds

I misplaced the lava beds from Pele when we moved to Whimsy. I came across them in inventory only a month or so ago. I found them only because I was feeling around in my inventory and burned my fingers.

And so Whimsy now has extensive underwater lava beds (Whimsy 115, 123, 10; Blogger won't do links tonight); they smoke and simmer and bubble ferociously. The official story is that vulcanologists have told us the formation of the beds signals the birth of a new volcano, and oh, dear, Pele won’t at all be pleased!

We’ve erected a historical sign at the lava beds; it doubles as a vendor to sell life insurance (Whimsurance policies).We decided this was important because Whimsy is such a dangerous place. The unwary avatar can, among other things, tumble into a pool of hot lava or be struck by a bouncing boulder, fall from a ledge, crash into the ground when a parachute malfunctions, lose his or her grip on the zipline, or be attacked by piranha or our resident alligator or a shark or by Inky the squid.

Whimsurance is absolutely worthless. It won’t pay under any circumstances, so its only value is as an amusement. Still, it’s a bargain at 10L.