Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flying Home

Written 31 August, 2010

Flying Home

I did something stupid today. I booked my flight home on Orbitz. I found a cheap flight ($89 one way), got it set, and checked with Sweetie to make sure the time and day were okay. Then I booked it.

So why did I get a message four hours later saying I had booked the flight a week later than I thought?

I guess it was the subconscious thing. I couldn't bear to part from my dear Sweetie, so my finger jiggled or something. Or something.

Tonight I asked Sweetie to pick up some cilantro at the store on her way home from work. We had guacamole (thank you, Trader Joe's!) and I cut two steaks into thin strips and fried them with garlic. We stuffed steak and cilantro into warm flour tortillas, put the guac and some chips on our plates, and had a simple but tasty supper.

It made me think about how easily the two of us slip into domesticity. I roll out of bed in the morning and fix her breakfast and lunch and have supper ready (or at least ready to begin) when she gets home. I call and ask her to grab some cilantro on her way home. I take her car to get the oil changed or the brakes fixed. She puts a cooler on a spare video card I brought up because her eyesight is better than mine. We drive upstate on Saturday morning so she can make a bank deposit. She looks over my shoulder and rubs my back as I type this.

When it comes time to return home, I hate to go-- and yet I miss my house and am eager to get back to it. I live in two worlds. Well, three, including Second Life.

My house is too small for the both of us and her apartment is too small for the both of us. Real estate is expensive in New York, and we can't see how we could afford to buy a house together, even if I sold mine. But you know, while betwixt and between is perhaps not the ideal state of affairs, it works for us. I get to hold her in my arms and watch her go to sleep one week; the next, we lie down together in our prim bed in the House of 1000 Pleasures. One week I fix Mexican for her, the next week we tear ourselves away from our screens to go warm something-- anything-- up. We definitely eat better when we're together.

I thank my lucky stars for Second Life, for without it we wouldn't be together at all. Now at least, thanks to cheap airfare, we're physically together about one-quarter of the time. Being virtually together the other three quarters isn't ideal, but I'm grateful for it.

And so from now until I fly home, I'll just relish my time with Sweetie and fix her meals and watch her go to sleep and do my best not to step on the exploding lipsticks that litter the apartment.

Please Take a Look at the Tabs

Written 31 August, 2010

Please Take a Look at the Tabs

I've been working on the tabs all day and I INSIST you click on them. Now. Please. I'm waiting patiently while you do.

Patiently, I say.

Patiently.

In the tabs you'll find info about me and my Sweetie, our sims, and our builds. The New and Fave Posts tabs (just remember the two on the right) are updated weekly, so be sure to check them out every now and again.

I now declare this blog design complete-- except, of course, for Sweetie's tweaks. Which means it may turn into something completely different, like, oh, I don't know, a giant sword-swallowing robot or a fish that eats its own tale (I meant to type tail but tale somehow seems appropriate). While still being a blog, of course. Stay tuned.

A Header For the Moment

Written 31 August, 2010

A Header For the Moment

Last night Sweetie fell asleep while we were streaming the Keith Olbermann show. Lawrence O'Donnell was filling in for Keith, and he was being very weird, and I guess it just knocked her out.

I was up until the wee hours working on a header; at 2:30 am she woke and moved me to the side and began to work her magic on what I had done. I went to bed.

Sweetie, in a trance, worked a long time-- until her computer crashed. Had she saved her work? Don't ask.

This morning I finished my version of the new header. It will be interesting to see what she'll do with it tonight!


The Blog Shapes Up

Written 31 August, 2010

The Blog Shapes Up

It took some hours, but I now have my blog running in the new Blogger. I uploaded my own background and have hopefully set colors so they're not too distracting.

I'm working on the buttons at the top and putting off redoing the header logo.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweetie Delivers!

Written 30 August, 2010

Sweetie Delivers!

Yesterday, while I napped in air-conditioned bliss, Sweetie was hard at work, hovering over her keyboard and occasionally rubbing her hands together with glee.

When I awoke, she had taken the fledgling blog I had made in my real-life name and turned it into something really nice.

Today, inspired, I took a turn at the new Blogger templates with this blog. I'm not there yet, but you're now reading my blog migrated to the new template. To come: new or resized header picture; new background image, more work on colors and fonts.

For now, it's at least readable-- I hope.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blogger Worries

Written 29 August, 2010

Blogger Worries

Arrgh!

It's 4 am. I've been up since one, fooling with Blogger.

I tried the new templates, but the page elements didn't fit right; the larger pictures went right through them. And somehow I got two copies of all the blogs on the page and couldn't delete the second one.

And I wiped out the familiar yellow color along the left margin and can't get it back.

By searching the HTML code, I finally zapped the code for the second copy of all the blogs, and the blog looks itself again-- except for that white left column.

I think I'll call it a day-- or a night-- and hope one of my readers can give me a suggestion about how to get things back to normal.

My purpose of messing with the blog was to add a background image. No luck there, either. And so to bed for me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Does Second Life Have a Mole Problem?


Written 27 August, 2010

Does Second Life Have a Mole Problem?

Yesterday I read on Lou Netizen's blog that she had discovered new Linden Mole activity on the mainland. Specifically, the moles have in-progress builds on three sims: Celebes, Bohol, and Baltic in the newly-renamed Sea of Fables. Celebes and Bohol, which until recently were empty of everything except trees, have what looks to be a Greek village.

Lou, who is not a member of what my friend Melissa Yeuxdoux calls Second Life's landed gentry, has a history with Celebes and Boloh. Read here for her excellent blog post about that history.

Lou, sleuth that she is, discovered the prims she was unable to account for on Baltic had been used for a sim-wide underwater labyrinth.

The above link will take you to the ocean floor just a few meters from an opening that will drop you to the start of the labyrinth. If you fly above the water and set draw distance to 200 meters, you'll see the Greek Village-- or you can just fly north from the opening.

Emergence Viewer

Written 27 August, 2010

Emergence Viewer

Yesterday I discovered the new Second Life viewer Emergence.

Emergence is essentially Emerald, with malicious code removed. It's provided by LordGregGreg Back, who bailed from ModularSystems in mid-August because he was concerned about the behavior of some other Emerald developers, who had inserted code in the Emerald viewer that was unreadable by other developers.

Here's what LordGregGreg said in his blog post of the 14th:
Unfortunately, I do not feel confident enough to support it any more, for a number of reasons. I did not realize at the time that emkdu was added, that it could be used to add in code I was not able to see. These things were done behind my back, it was found out by others that code was placed in that broadcasted your viewers title bar and executable path in a obfuscated manner. This was addressed, promised to be fixed, and (luckily) people broke through the now encrypted layer to find out that it was not. Of-course, it has been promised to be fixed a third time, but now with an encryption level too high to be broken. Although replacing or deleting emkdu would resolve this issue, I also have to consider that this was hidden in the code for months without anyone knowing..
Regardless of the intentions of those who placed this code there, It has made one thing inescapably clear. I am not able to double check everything any more. I tried to find a solution to resolve this matter, but it appears that most people do not care about this to the level that I do. I made sure the other emerald devs were aware of what is going on via this. As mentioned there, closed source, hidden designs and single developer licenses have no place in emerald. People can make mistakes, but it is important that others can double check without having to break through encryption. Nothing has changed however. This issue of being able to transparently check up on everyone is only to get worse in my opinion, as all new builds are planned to be done from a central build server, where access is cut off from the other developers. I consider trust issues with any binary of the highest importance, as even small library like this can have access to every file or memory on the computer, the same care must be taken with them as everything else.
With his Emergence viewer, Greg has removed the binaries that were closed to him and replaced them with binaries from Linden Lab or other trusted sources. So it sounds good to me.

Yesterday I downloaded Emergence here and installed and ran it.

One day in, I've set it to my liking and it's running fine. It is in essence Emerald; the only difference I see is songs that are played on the radio have their titles and artist displayed on the chat line as they come up.

Emergence comes with login and logout and teleport screens disabled, so one sees a black page as it loads. It comes with a variety of skins, with a non-standard skin installed. All of these can be changed from Preferences.

LordGregGreg says he doesn't intend to update the viewer, but until Emerald gets its act together, it's a great substitute.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Whimsy Gets New Tracks


Written 26 August, 2010

Whimsy Gets New Tracks

I'm in the process of replacing the train tracks at Whimsy with new track, using great rail textures made by Starship Jefferson. The sides of the girders had to be kludged with GIMP, as Jefferson's set didn't include girders.

I'm being careful with the name and description fields in the new track, as that's what Kitto Flora's steam engines use for steering.


Old and new rail lines

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Goodbye, Emerald?

Written 25 August, 2010

Goodbye, Emerald?

By now just about everyone knows that on Sunday, Linden Lab removed Emerald from the list of approved viewers. The reason: shenanigans that amounted to a distributed denial of service attack on the website of a rival viewer. Yesterday Philip Linden released a statement giving the Lab's reasons for the removal (the DDoS). Philip said the Lab is working with the Emerald team to help it clean up its act. If that doesn't happen, and soon, without a doubt logins with Emerald will no longer be allowed.

The DDoS attack came, apparently, from one team member, who is no longer associated with Emerald. A earlier data mining was also the result of a single team member. According to LordGregGreg, who recently left the Emerald team, his reason for departing was because he could no longer see the code of other team members.

Emerald is by far the most popular Second Life viewer, accounting for about 50% of logins. I myself use it. It has a lot of great features not supported by either Viewer 1.23.5 or Viewer 2.0. But the Lab was right to pull the plug. Thank you, Philip, for a correct decision.

I hope the Emerald team gets its act together, and soon. If not, well, there's always Imprudence.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pay Binocs


Written 22 August, 2010

Pay Binocs

When I was a child my family traveled-- a lot-- and we made frequent trips to and around our ancestral home of Asheville, North Carolina.

In those days the mountain roads abounded with tourist stops. I remember a bear in a cage at Soco Gap. You could buy a bottled drink for a dime and feed it to a bear in a cage. That bear drank dozens of sodas an hour and no doubt expired early of bear diabetes.

But enough of unfortunate bears in cages. The tourist store at Soco Gap featured-- and it may still be there, was as late as the 90s-- a pay binocular. You could put in a dime (later, a quarter) and spend five or so minutes getting close-up views of Maggie Valley.

I thought it only appropriate to put such a binocular on Whimsy. That's it above, in all its glory.

I made the binocular and then cannibalized a viewer made by Skidz Partz and used it to set this view. Visitors see it when sitting on the poseball in front of the binocular.

If you look closely the the photo, you'll see the binocular is focused on Dharmadog Dankner's beautiful Japanese house.

And that's just what you see when you sit on the poseball.


Best of all, it doesn't demand to be paid a quarter!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ravenhurst


Written 21-22 August, 2010

Ravenhurst

I was asked by the owners of the Ravenhurst sim to take a look at it, and, of course, I did.

So as to dispel any suspense felt by my readers, or by the Ravenhurst folks, I have to say the very first thing I saw won me over.

It was a hole in the ground.

I mean a BIG hole in the ground.

I mean a FRIGGING BIG hole in the ground!

I should say it was more than a hole in the ground. It was a chasm, an abyss, a canyon, a gorge.

It was a gorge, all right, and it reminded me of this one:

That's Falls Creek Falls, in Tennessee. Back in the day, there was an iron cable on the cliffs at the right side of the photo. My brother and I would use it to descend nearly vertically to the base of the falls. Nowadays people follow a winding path to the bottom.

So anyway, this is the gorge at Ravenhurst. It was the first thing I saw and I was impressed.


It was only the second such gorge I'd seen in Second Life, the other one being in the Wastelands

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweetie's High Altitude Photography

Written 20 August, 2010

Sweetie's High Altitude Photography

I just found a folder parked on the desktop of my laptop. It contained snapshots from Second Life sent to me in Skype by Sweetie (my desktop was running so slowly I was using the laptop for Skype while in world and the photos she sent me wound up there).

All but one of the shots were taken during our last high flight adventure. I think they're great and hope you do, too.

It's amazing what one million meters and an overheating iBook can do to your video display, Check Sweetie's blockhead!



Sweetie turned her interface on for this shot. If you zoom the photo, you should be able to read the 1,000,000 m altitude on her top bar.


And here's the bonus: Sweetie took this photo of a visitor to Whimsy named BagPie Fadoodle. Be sure to click the picture to enlarge it, so you can see the detail in the avatars eyes.



The Shoe Fair is Over, Long Live the Shoe Fair


Written 20 August, 2010

The Shoe Fair is Over, Long Live the Shoe Fair

A couple of weeks ago Sweetie took us to the Shoe Fair.

As shoe fairs go, this one was, I think, a bust. It featured a lot of unimaginative footwear made with kit-bought sculpties and a lot of shoe fashionistas walking around with fake feet and loud stomping sounds and sample shoes that were so primmed up with "this is a sample" prims it was impossible to evaluate them.

In other words, just what one would expect at a Second Life shoe event.

Sweetie was giving most places the customary ten seconds to impress her. Most, of course, were fail. But she gave close inspection to the inside of this huge display shoe. That's me waiting patiently in the foreground.

The Seminal Event of 1955


Photo: Chey's Sputnik-1 orbiting Earth as Venus rises at top right. Photo taken in Second Life on the Whimsy Kaboom sim at 3000 meters. Go there and see our great Earth orbit build.

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Written 20 August, 2010


The Seminal Event of 1955

It's 1955. The Soviet Union has the bomb, and the Cold War is raging. East and West are in an arms race, and nuclear war seems imminent.

Then something happened to upset the balance of power. A 23" metal spheriod, bristling with antennae, was launched into earth orbit from the USSR. All across the U.S., there was incomprehension. How could the Soviets have beat us into space?

I've featured my Sputnik-1 satellite in this blog before-- but when I took this photo this morning I couldn't resist posting it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Display Names


Written 19 August, 2010

Display Names

My readers should hop over here and take a look at the Linden Blog post about the soon-to-cme display names feature and the many resident comments.

While residents' account names (for instance, mine, which is Cheyenne Palisades) will remain detectable, they will be changed to lowercase format with a dot instead of a space, as so: cheyenne.palisades. What will appear above Avatars' heads, on the Friends list, and in Transaction History is the display name.

And what is a display name?
Glad you asked. A display name is a name of one's choosing. It can be any combination of characters, including Unicode (which will allow use of language-specific characters like umlauts, acute and grave accents, and Asian and Middle Eastern characters). Maximum display name length will be 31 characters.

Display names will be useful in a number of ways: to indicate a last name of one's choosing; to have more than two names, or to have a name in one's native language. This will be handy in role play situations, and useful for partnered avatars, who can share a common last name or hyphenate their existing last names. Account names (cheyenne.palisades, remember?) will be viewable, although I believe this feature is turned off by default.

The display name will be the name by which an avatar is known in world.
There will be no charge for display names, and names can be changed as often as once per week. The names will be changeable and viewable in Linden Lab's 2.x viewers and in third party viewers that choose to implement them. Users of Viewer 1.9.3 and some third-party viewers won't be able to see or select display names.

A lot of people have asked for display names, and they're all well and good, but I have some grave concerns.

First are the twin issues of constancy and accountability. Display names are by their very nature inconstant-- and we learn from the FAQ that no record is kept of past display names. Once they're changed, that's it. Whatever that avatar might have done while sporting the prior display name is wiped out. Search, for example, won't locate avatars by the name you know.

We will be able, of course, to determine people's account names, but that will generally require hovering over them with the mouse. Failing that, there will apparently be no record of who goes where and does what and in which name. When we look at our Friends list and at the friends online list on the Second Life website, we'll see only our friends' names-of-the-moment, IMs and avatar radars will show only display names, and in all probability access lists for doors and security devices will be broken.

These isssues are absolutely compounded by the fact that display names aren't unique. Anyone can change their name to anything-- including a display name used by a dozen other people, at any time. This will be devastating for creators, who will in all likelihood lose their lists of customers. For the rest of us, it will be horribly inconvenient as we try to figure out what the hell Big Badass Woolsley is doing in our Friends list. Since avatar form is easily and immediately changeable, no one will know who the hell anyone is-- unless we remain in viewer 1.93.


Amazingly, and incredibly stupidly, there will be no prohibition for using the account names of others. Thus, anyone who wanted could create a display name of Cheyenne Palsiades and pretend to be me. Only those avatars savvy enough to look at the account name would know it wasn't; those too new or too lazy to check would be fooled and quite possibly tricked into paying for merchandise they thought was mine. And if that happened, who would be blamed? Me!


It's difficult to conceive of a sentence more insulting and demeaning to Second Life's citizens than this one from the
FAQ:

Can I prevent other residents from using my display name? Not generally. Display names are not meant to be unique identifiers. Instead, if you notice others are using a similar display name, feel free to change your own name.

WTF? We've worked hard for years, some of us, building the reputation of our avatars, insisting that we are people in our own right, branding ourselves, and some clown comes along and uses our name for whatever purpose AND THEY SAY WE'RE FREE TO CHANGE OUR NAMES???


We can change our display names-- which in my case will be my user name?

That's insulting beyond belief!


And get this:

Are there any rules for choosing a Display Name?

When selecting a name, do not choose one that violates a celebrity's right in their name, a trademarked brand name, or intellectual property right.


Say what???
So, Linden Lab, I ask you-- the name Mary J. Blige-- that's a name that was bounced around in the comments following the Linden's post-- can't be chosen as a display name, but mine can? The name of someone most likely unassociated with Second Life is protected, but the names of your customers isn't? What are we, chopped liver? Do not we, your customers, have the intellectual property rights to our own names?

I hereby state that my name, Cheyenne Palisades, is Copyrighted and Trademarked, and anyone using it will be violating the Second Life terms of service.


It's difficult to think of anything more insulting than for Linden Lab to say the above. I'm furious at it, and at being told I'm entitled to change my name if someone stalks or harasses me or my friends by appropriating a name I've worked hard to establish and to which I have until now held exclusive rights.

Perhaps it's important to include that statement about celebrities' names-- it was clearly included at the insistence of some lawyer-- but how in the hell could the lab have missed giving the same consideration to you-- and to me! Seriously, how can the Lab's policy decisions be so shortsighted?

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Torley Linden, but since the beginning of the Viewer 2 debacle, he has shown signs of having drunk the M. Kool-Aid. Here's his video about display names.



Those Darn Hummers!

Written 19 August, 2010

Those Darn Hummers!

See here for AlexHayden Junibalya's great post about his Whimsy hummingbird experience.

He's a clever writer, and now linked in my Blogger hall of fame.

A Most Satisfactory Birthday


Photo: U.S. troops leaving Iraq


Perhaps in some respects my life has not been quite the same as others. I have always had a feeling that I was doing what I wished to do, but a certain knowledge that I never did anything I chose to do. I have always had an ambition for freedom, but I know that I never had the slightest influence over myself. I am sure that I have everlastingly been controlled by the influences before me and the infinite influences around me, and that I have never known what freedom is. I keep on working for it and hoping for it and wanting it, but I know that I never shall have it. In this, no doubt, my life has been like the life of every being that ever lived.

Clarence Darrow, on the occasion of his 61st birthday

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Written 19 August, 2010


A Most Satisfactory Birthday

The clock has just ticked to a new day, and my birthday is officially over.

It was a most satisfactory birthday.

Unlike, oh, say, Clarence Darrow, I don't have anything witty or pithy to say on my birthday, so I'll just describe my day.

It started with me driving Sweetie to work and then ducking next door to a bagel shop and buying her a breakfast sandwich. I surprised her by including the tender heart of a cinnamon bun (I ate the quickly-becoming-stale outer section.

Back at Sweetie's house I logged into Second Life. We were out of sodas, so I poured myself a glass of orange juice.

I don't drink much, but it occurred to me that since it was my birthday it just made sense to spike it with the Ketel 1 vodka I had spied in her cabinet.

That straightaway led to me heading to bed for a delicious two-hour nap. The flight the day before had pretty much wiped me out, and the extra two hours revived me.

When I awoke I made lunch and then spent most of the afternoon working out a scripting problem. I have K&R texture organizers, and I love them, but they rez facing whatever direction I last had them. That almost always turns out to be an unfortunate direction, and I have to turn them about before I can use them.

So, using fuctions from the Scratch LSL generator, I wrote a script that would cause the organizers to turn and face me when rezzed. But getting it to actually work was eluding me.

I finally nailed it and left to pick Sweetie up from work.

We had made plans to go out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that features a delicious hot pot. As we approached and I saw a flyer sticking in the door, I said, "This doesn't bode well." And sure enough, the restaurant was closed. There were threats of it eventually reopening with a new (and probably non hot pot) menu.

There's a restaurant just down the street that had intrigued us both. Driving past, we had imagined it ridiculously expensive, but as it happens I had Googled it and read the menu. I suggested we eat there, and we did, and it was wonderful.

Panko Crusted Brie Spring fruit preserve, herbed crostinis.9

When Sweetie and I dine out, we share our appetizers and entrees. Today was no exception. We started with a panko-encrusted brie, which was served with chopped tomatoes and red peppers a raspberry-strawberry jelly, and mixed greens.

Poached Pear Salad
Poached in port wine, mesclun greens, spiced walnuts, gorgonzola, red onions, sherry maple vinaigrette .11

We followed this culinary delight with a brazed pear-and-walnut salad, more yums.

Paella Valenciana
Classic spanish rice dish of chorizo, chicken, pork, clams, mussels, shrimp, peas, saffron, stewed slowly in a paellera .26

Our entree was a huge pot of paella, chock-full of chorizo and chicken and pork and shrimp and mussels and clams. It was far too much food to eat, so we took more than half of it home.

So I got my hot pot after all!

Sated and happy with food, and ideas of all the silly robots we could make in Second Life (our main topic of conversation for the evening), we stopped on the way home to stock up on groceries. We quickly realized that was a mistake, for boy, were we tired!

When we got home I had a telephone conference call with my co-author (and friend) about a book chapter we're doing. Then Sweetie and I lay in bed watching video of the last U.S. combat troops leaving Iraq.

So yes, it was a most satisfactory birthday!

Amazing!

Written 18 August, 2010

Amazing!

A bare hour after I posted the previous blogpost, I got a comment from the avatar in question, asking for a copy of the photo. I of course sent it to him, and's now using it on the front page of his own blog.

Since I didn't know his name, he couldn't have come across the post by Googling. Hmm, maybe people actually do read my ramblings in this space.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Visitor is Confronted by An Angry Hummingbird


A Visitor is Confronted by an Angry Hummingbird

Whimsy is not only beautiful-- it's DANGEROUS!

POSTSCRIPT

Wow! Less than two hours after I posted this, I got a comment from the avatar-in-question, AlexHayden Junibalya. I didn't catch his name when I took the photo, so I was unable to send it to him. Thankfully, now I can-- and I did.

Wanted: Better Cooling

Written 17 August, 2010

Wanted: Better Cooling


The fan on my heat sink is almighty loud, especially when I'm running Second Life. With the heat sink clean and shiny and the fan cleared of dust, the processor runs between 58 and 61 degrees C. That's cool enough for my computer to run 'way faster than before I cleaned it, and hotter than I want it to be; in fact, the processor, being officially in the too-hot category, may still be choking to some extent.

A couple of yeas ago I bought a new headsink, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make it fit-- and in fact, although I gave the salesman at Fry's the model number of my VAIO, I'm not at all sure it DOES fit. The original heatsink has screws that go into holes in the mother board, while the replacement has some sort of plastic do-hickies that must fit into some sort of protuberance on the processor or its surround. My computer doesn't seem to have them.
-
Photo: My replacement heat sink has feet like this. I'm not quite sure they line up with the holes in my mother board, and in any case, the plastic tabs on the bottom seem to be bigger than the mount holes in my mother board. Moreover, I can't see that turning the black plastic swivels at top left and right do anydamnthing.

I'm vaguely aware that processors come in a variety of configurations or sockets. I'm not sure which socket my VAOI is sporting and I'm not keen on another confrontation with Kerry at Sony Live Chat and the manual isn't saying, so I'm unsure how to proceed, short of taking it in for repair, which I can't afford and don't want to do. I want to buy better cooling for the processor, but don't know how to proceed.

Does anyone have an idea how I can find out my socket or, better yet, locate a fan that will fit? The VAIO's model is PVC-RB52.

Thanks.

P.S. Last time I needed a video card New Egg had nVidia GeForce 9400 GTs with 1 MB RAM for an absurdly low price, so I bought two. I'm taking the spare with me today to New York so Sweetie and I can install a video card cooler I picked up-- if it will fit.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deliverables


Written 16 August, 2010

Deliverables

I listened to today to Philip Rosedale's speech at the Second Life Community Conference.

No, I wasn't there. I listed to this video at New World News.

Philip, only a few weeks back in his old position as CEO, talked about Linden Lab's road map, naming the company's top priorities-- its road map.

You can see what he calls deliverables in the slide above. Philip tells us that by early next year the Lab will have fixed group chat and region crossing problems, reduced time for starting the Second Life viewer, lowered the crash rate, allow more avatars per region, and allowed parcel owners controls over avatar complexity (this will allow them to keep their land running smoothly by identifying and most likely controlling people wearing stupid numbers of scripts and prims).

All good things-- although, as L. Knoller pointed out in the NWN comments, third-party viewers like Emerald and even the Lab's own 1.23 viewer are remarkably stable for most people-- especially compared to Second Life's three-crashes-an-hour early years. Knoller suspects Philip is talking about the accursed (he or she calls it that Vergeltungswaffe Viewer 2.0. Vergeltungswaffe means a weapon for retaliation or vengeance; it was the German word for the unmanned V-1 drone and V-2 missiles of World War II).

It's commendable that Philip has stuck his neck out on difficult issues like region crossings. As he points out in this speech, crossing from one region to another requires almost instantaneous transfer of LOTS of avatar and vehicle data.

Philip also promised public beta for mesh in Second Life before the end of the year ("We are gong to ship mesh!). He pointed out that in Second Life's early days mesh was impractical because of download speeds, and only a prim economy would work. Now, primsets are quite complex and download speeds have improved, making mesh possible-- and quite possibly, according to Francis7 Baker in the comments, the future of Second Life.

Philip talked about the Lab's plans to do away with initial entry of new avatars into welcome centers; instead, they can opt to go directly to content like concerts, museums, dance clubs, and, I'm sure, places to get gigantic freenises. Some NWN comments foresee chaos at events as newbies make gesture fart noises and ask questions , but others think it'll be fun, putting new citizens into contact with established Second Lifers. I quite frankly this this is brilliant. No one will be required to help new citizens, and event planners, if they wish, can use age detectors to eject avatars of less than a specified age. No one will be harmed in the making of the newbie.

Philip told his audience fixed last names will be done away with (no worries, established avatars will be allowed to keep their names). He talked about something called display names, which I find confusing. Maybe someone can 'splain it to me.

Philip's most controversial announcement was the impending closure of Teen Second Life. Teen Second Lifer's 16 and older will be brought to the main grid. This, surprisingly, seemed to go over pretty well with most of his audience. The lack of plans for those 15 and younger was the most controversial part of the controversial announcement. Peggy Sheehy, a teacher from Ramapo, New York (I happen to be flying there today for a visit with Sweetie) made a poignant case against dumping 14- and 15-year-olds, pointing out that teachers have fought bitter battles with school administrators and school boards for funding for programs for their kids, and now, in the middle of the school year, their programs will be going away. Sad. Very.

I have to say, I found Philip sincere. He may not meet all the goals he's set for Linden Lab, but I don't think it will be for lack of trying. I found him refreshing after the top-down M. years.

I'm hoping Philip will get people working to incorporate the new functionality and menu systems to Viewer 2 with the pie menus and many other good features of Viewer 1.9.3 and and get rid of, or at least, as Nat Merit hopes in the NWN comments, make it optional.

I can only say You Go, Philip. I know your heart's in the right place, and I wish you luck in a difficult job.

U.S.S. Helena


Written 16 August, 2010

U.S.S. Helena

I was reading in New World Notes about the recreation of the U.S. Navy's cruiser Helena, which was active in the Korean War ear and decommissioned in 1973. It was a nice visit, and Hamlet's story is heartwarming.

I teleported to the sim Tree this morning and found and chatted with three of the principals on site-- Henry Borgnine, RJ. Kikuchiyo, and Bobcatt Nielson.

The three were talking about making a larger version of the Helena, and I offered my help as a scripter. I hope they take me up on it.


Robots Never Sleep


Written 16 August, 2010

Robots Never Sleep

Cheyenne! Cheyenne! Wake up!

Ermggh?

Wakie, wakie!

Primsworth? Why are you IMing at six in the morning?

I've apprehended a vandal.

Vandal? What the hell are you talking about?

I've nabbed a zero day old avatar and I'm holding him at the Whimsy entry area. I have him in a headlock.

What did he do?

It's not what he did. It's what he MIGHT do.

Erm, and what MIGHT he do?

Virtually anything.

Primsworth, I distinctly remember turning off your security functions.

I just couldn't let this one go.

Prim, we get brand new visitors every day. What's so remarkable about him?

He's using Viewer 2.0!

OMG! Hey, wait a minute! All newbies use Viewer 2.

They do?

Yes, you silly robot, they all do.

But you don't use Viewer 2.0!

I'm not a newbie, Primsworth.

New data noted. Did you use Viewer 2 when you were new?

No, Primsworth. I didn't use Viewer 2.

That rather proves my point, doesn't it?

Prim, there WAS no Viewer 2 when I was new.

New data noted. So, what should I do with this guy? My particle arms are getting tired.

Let him go, Prim.

Let him go?

Let him go.

I'm reluctant to let him go.

I'm getting that. Tell me again how your security functions got turned back on.

Erm...

Prim, let me remind you of the first law of virtual robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Says nothing about avatars, does it? Does it?


Prim, just let him go, you bucket of bolts! If you don't, I'll remove your scripts, and then where will you be?

New data noted. I am preparing to let him go. Uh-oh. A problem.

What problem?

He seems to have gone AFK.

Prim, I'm having nightmares about litigation. How tight were you holding him?

Not that hard. I'm sure he'll be okay eventually. Do you want me to give him pulmoavatar resuscitation ?

No! Look, I need you to fly up to 4096 meters and stay there until I tell you otherwise.

New input noted. Do you think there are any low-life Viewer 2-using newbies up there?

I'm sure of it.


Can I take him with me?

The Place of Lost Prims

Written 16 August, 2010

The Place of Lost Prims

Every sim in Second Life has one-- a place where prims, and yes, even avatars go when they're lost. So if you've misplaced that special something, or if you just heard the rez sound and no prims showed up, before you fly up to 4096 meters to look, head to the sim corner.

The coordinates of this region are 0,0,0. Prims accumulate just below this spot, in the region below the floor of Second Life.

I've long known about this spot, for back in the early days Leaf Shermer found a megaprim I had misplaced; it wound up the Southwest corner of her property at, yes, you guessed it, 0,0,0.

Because after long practice I can recognize Whimsy place of lost prims, I know that's where I sometimes go when I get momentarily blue-zoned when I teleport.

Last night, standing more than 40 meters above the ocean at Pele's summit, I rezzed a HUD of my own devising because it refused to attach. I heard the rez sound, but it never showed. I pulled out my prim finder, and it didn't show on the sim. So I flew down to 0,0,0-- and there I found not only the recently misplaced HUD, but another, and one of my hairdos, and assorted single prims. I deleted them all and took one last look around. And there it was. Bling.

It's not easy to zoom the camera below the surface, but I managed to get close, With transparent highlighted, I selected the tiny prim.

It turned out to be sparkle for prim eyes; it must have been there for more than a year, silently mini-blinging since the day I bought prim eyeballs, thought them horrible, and threw them away.

Before today, my most bizarre 0,0,0 experience was finding myself in the sim corner, standing on a black-and-white Holstein cow. And that happened on not one, not two, but THREE different sims.

Today topped that, for in my within-sim teleporting, I wound up momentarily at three zeroes-- and there was an avatar in a seated position!

After I told Sweetie what I had seen, I flew immediately to the zero corner-- and, a good three minutes after I first spotted her, the avatar was still there.

I maneuvered my camera into position, prepared to take a photo, and-- damn the broken snapshot shortcut-- she vanished before I could hit the button.

I hate when that happens.

After that, I noticed, the Statistics window was showing one more avatar on Whimsy than indicated on the map or in Mysitool sim scans. I restarted Whimsy and the counter went back to normal.

Occasionally an avatar becomes ghosted-- the Second Life viewer closes after a crash, but the avi is still visible to others at its last location. People so ghosted are unable to log on and may remain visible until the sim is restarted-- which is why I restarted Whimsy.

No doubt about it, this is the strangest Second Life I've ever lived...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Morning Machinima, 15 August, 2010

Written 15 August, 2010

Sunday Morning Machinima

I was up early and found this video from Brooklyn Is Watching. It features a display from the Robot Sanitorium.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back On Line With the VAIO

Written 12 August, 2010

Back On Line With the VAIO

I'm happy to say my desktop is now humming happily with me in world.

I'm getting 20-25 frames per second on Whimsy Kaboom, and the processor is running at 60 degrees C, 35 degrees cooler than it was running, still warmer than it should be, but not warm enough for it to choke itself to lower speeds. Things are much faster all around.

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

House for Rent on Whimsy


Written 11 August, 2010

House for Rent on Whimsy

One of our long-term renters as quit Second Life and her former house is for rent. It's in a beautiful location on one of Second Life's most stunning sims. If you're interesting in renting a small house in a peaceful natural setting, IM Cheyenne Palisades.

Whimsy Hits the Big Time


Written 11 August, 2010

Whimsy Hits the Big Time

When Sweetie logged in last night she remarked on the high number of visitors on Whimsy.

Sure enough, there were five or six visitors on the sim all through the evening. I asked a new buy (0 Days old) how he got here, and he wasn't certain.

All though the morning, there were five or six folks on Whimsy. I finally took a look at the Linden Showcase, and sure enough, there we were, and on the front page!

Someone did a nice job on the blurb.

My thanks to whoever bragged about our work.

More Reasons to Hate Bill Gates

* * Strong Language Warning * *

Written 11 August, 2010


More Reasons to Hate Bill Gates

I admire Bill Gates for his philanthropic work, but with one exception, I hate everything he ever did with computers. That exception is MicroSoft's implementation of the BASIC programming language in the first generation of home computers. It was a tiny (by today's standards) piece of code that brought computing into the homes of millions of people around the world.

Since then, it's all been downhill.

I finally abandoned my Commodore 64 for a 286 desktop running Windows 95. My workplace had two boxed IBM PS2 computers, and I appropriated one and installed Windows 3.1. The installation took up about 80% of the PS/2's tiny 5 mb hard drive, and I blamed it on Bill Gates.

Over the years I've renamed my My Computer shortcuts, growing stronger and stronger in my expressions of dislike for Bill Gates- for instance, IReallyHateBillFuckingGates.

I stopped this tradition with Windows XP (couldn't think of expletives stronger than the ones I had already used), but I just today renamed My Computer on my laptop to BillEffingGatesBreaksDamnAllEverything!!!

When Windows Vista debuted, I was wise enough to stick with XP, which has worked well for me. But the laptop came with Windows 7, and I can't find my XP disk (which is 32 bit anyway), so I've been TRYING to like W7. Sweetie is a bit exasperated with me, but she, being a Mac person, can't know how frustrating it is when EVERYTHING is different.

* The Start Menu, in particular, makes me want to tear my hair out. Sweetie did some research so I was finally able to open it and rearrange my programs in logical order, thanks, dear, and I made folders and dragged shortcuts into them-- and guess what? The folders don't show up in All Programs, even though they're in the frigging Programs folder.

I understand there are some third-party fixes for this, but haven't yet installed one. For now, I've dragged the entire Programs folder to the desktop, and fuck Bill Gates.

* iTunes-- a critical program, for I have an iTouch-- told me it was broken and asked me to reinstall it, but even though I'm running as administrator, W7 tells me I don't have the necessary permissions. So for several months, no iTunes. I don't know what I'll do when I go on the road. Take my old laptop, possibly.

* I loaded WordPad today to edit a file. The drop down menus-- you know, FILE, EDIT, VIEW-- were just gone, replaced with a doofy dropdown that reminds me to no end of the hidden media controls in Second Life Viewer 2.0.

Just everything is damn different-- and for what? Why?

Bill Gates, introduce new shit if you want to, but you need to leave us the option to interact with our computers in familiar ways. And until you learn this lesson, despite your philanthropy, just FUCK YOU!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Fine Chat with Kerry at Sony


Kerry's Workplace?

Written 10 August, 2010

A Fine Chat with Kerry at Sony


It is my considered opinion that corporations are the primary evil in the world today-- but if one Inc. ever had my admiration, it was Sony.

Why? Because back in the day, when my parents were watching a fuzzy green Walter Kronkite on their first color TV, Sony was producing vibrantly-colored, crystal-clear images on their Trinitron television sets.

I bought one of those early Trinitrons for $299 at Radio Shack, and it performed admirably. Twenty years later, it still had a razor-sharp picture.

The Sony of today is a far cry from the Sony of yesterday, and that fact was brought home forcibly when I went to their corporate website for information on my VAIO desktop computer.

I was pleased but skeptical to learn I was entitled to 15 minutes of free support in live chat. My skepticism was well-founded.

Here's a partial transcript of my frustrating conversation with someone or something-- I rather think someTHING-- named Kerry in live chat.

Soooo, read the transcript and please let me know what you think. Was Kerry live, or was she Memorex?

-----

LiveAssist Transcript

chat id : 7dbe388a-5fab-43c9-a616-e63cc82cc649


Problem_ > The top drive-- not sure if it's the CD or DVD- of my VAIO desktop Model VGC-RB52 doesn't pop out when I push the button. I can hear it trying, but the door doesn't open. I want to disassemble the case so I can work on the CD or DVD drive and replace it if necessary, and would like to---

Your message has been truncated to 255 characters.

Cheyenne_> Hi there

Kerry_ > Welcome to Sony Online Support. I see by your Model # that your Computer is out of Warranty. Sony phone support cannot provide you with any free technical support, but Sony has provided a way for you to obtain 15 minutes of free chat support. We’ve been solving more than 50% of the issues during these free periods. If your particular issue is more complex and can’t be fully resolved by the end of the free 15 minutes, then you will have the option of paying to continue the Support session.

Cheyenne_ > I've removed left side of the case and drive bays but can't figure out how to get to the DVD/CD drives. It would seem the other part of the case (top + left side) would come off, as there are finger pulls, but removing the two screws at the back doesn't do it.

Kerry_ > Hi Cheyenne. I am Kerry. Please allow me a moment while I review your concern.

Cheyenne_ > Sure

Kerry_ > Thank you for waiting, Cheyenne. I am sorry that the CD/DVD Drive is not working as expected. I'll be glad to assist you with the concern.

Kerry_ > Could you please provide me your full name and Phone # so that we can arrange a call back if chat got disconnected? Thank you.

Cheyenne_ > Cheyenne Palisades, phone REDACTED.

Kerry_ > Thank you for confirming the contact details.

Kerry_ > When was the last time the CD/DVD Drive worked as expected?

Cheyenne_ > It's been a long time-- more than a year. I can hear the drive try to open when I push the button. It may just have a disk stuck in it, preventing the door from opening. I have the computer offline because the heat sink had to be cleaned and would like to fix this now-- repair or replace drive. By the way, is the top drive the DVD or the CD?

Kerry_ > Based on the information you have provided, it is required to get the unit examined by our technicians and serviced at the Sony Service Center to resolve the issue as it may be the issue with the Hardware. All the Hardware related issues are handled by our dedicated Technicians at our Service Center.You can locate the nearest Sony Authorized Service Center by calling the Service Assistance Team at 1-800-282-2848.

Cheyenne_ > Yeah. I can fix it myself. I just can't figure out how to get to the back side of the drives and just need a hint.

Kerry_ > Based on the information you have provided, it is required to get the unit examined by our technicians and serviced at the Sony Service Center to resolve the issue as it may be the issue with the Hardware. All the Hardware related issues are handled by our dedicated Technicians at our Service Center.You can locate the nearest Sony Authorized Service Center by calling the Service Assistance Team at 1-800-282-2848.

Cheyenne_ >It will be a cold day in **** before I take it in. You are about to force me to remove my computer from the SONY case and put it in another case. I really don't want to do that

Kerry_ > You can also contact any local Service Center to get the unit examined and to get your unit evaluated to resolve the issue.

Cheyenne_ > Will they give me the info I need to disassemble the case? Because I am soooo not taking it in. I don't need them to examine it. _I_ have examined it, and I pronounce it broken.

Kerry_ > Please refer to the user guide for more information to figure out how to get to the back side of the Drive.

Cheyenne_ > It's NOT IN THE USER GUIDE! It SHOULD be in the user guide. It OUGHT to be in the user guide. But it's NOT in the user guide.

Cheyenne_ > The guide tells how to remove the case side and the drive bays and how to put in more memory, and that's it. And that's exactly why we're talking now.

Kerry_ > All the Hardware related issues are handled by our dedicated Technicians at our Service Center.

Cheyenne_ > Will they talk to me? Do you think?

Kerry_ > Please contact our service center to get the Computer serviced as the issue is related to the Hardware of the Computer.

Cheyenne_ > I feel as if I'm taking to a wall, or more than likely, a bot. I am NOT getting the computer serviced. _I_ am servicing the computer. I need information. I'm asking if they will give me the info I need or just tell me to bring it in. Because it's not going in.

Kerry_ > In that case, I suggest that you contact our Customer Information Service Center at the following phone number: 1-239-768-7547 and will be happy to further assist you.

Kerry_ > Please contact one of our customer service representatives to discuss your concerns.

Cheyenne_ > Very well.

Kerry_ > It was a pleasure assisting you today. Good-bye and thank you for contacting Sony Online Support.

Kerry_ > Analyst has closed chat and left the room

Cheyenne_ > Attempts to make a pithy exit remark, but the chat wundow will no longer accept input.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Desktop Update

Written 9 August, 2010

Desktop Update

After more than a year of putting it off, I finally took my desktop computer offline. On Friday I unplugged it from its myriad wires and cables, laid it on a table, and took a peek inside.

It looked so clean I was disappointed. It certainly didn't seem possible the overheating was caused by dust; there just didn't seem to be enough dust. The last few remaining sprays in my bottle of compressed air pretty much cleaned it out.

When I removed the heat sink from the processor it didn't look bad, either. But when I unscrewed the fan from the heat sink I discovered a layer of black gunk that looked like felt. It felt like felt, too. That was a strange sentence to write. It gave me a frisson.

Whatcha, frisson is your word for the day (see Whatcha Eaton's comment to my previous post here :)

No wonder the processor was overheating! It would be nearly impossible for the airflow from the fan to reach the vanes of the heat sink!

I carried the aluminum heat sink to the kitchen sink (OMG, another one of those strange sentences! Sink and sink. Frisson! Frisson!) and ran hot water over it. It made a mess of my nice white sink, but after thirty seconds and a few rubs with my finger, the heat sink was as good as new.

In removing the fan I had managed to drop two of the four screws on the floor. That evening, while we were talking in Skype, Sweetie asked what was wrong with me.

"I'm under my desk on my hands and knees, looking for screws," I said.

"Well, stop it and pay attention to me!" she said.

My under-the-desk antics didn't turn up either screw. By lucky accident, the week before I had stumbled across a magnet-on-a-stick I had bought from Harbor Freight Tools (I love Harbor Freight Tools!) and promptly forgotten about. It was a 4" round magnet with a 2' handle, meant for running across garage floors to locate nuts and bolts dropped by slippery, grease-covered fingers. It was just the thing to find the screws.

The next morning the device promptly picked up one screw, and, when standing to put it on my desk, I spotted the second. With all four screws present and accounted for, I attached the fan to the now dry heat sink, applied a liberal dose of processor grease to the bottom of the heat sink, and reattached it to the mother board. I even remembered to plug in the fan's electrical lead.

With mission accomplished, I could have stuck the computer back on line, but by now I was in the middle of cleaning and reorganizing the tangle of wires behind my desk. I was sorting out data cables and power cords to two external hard drives, speakers, a laser printer, an inkjet printer and scanner, a slide scanner, a label printer, a USB hub, the router, the cable modem, the webcam, and assorted gadgets and sundries. It was the perfect opportunity to address the other problem with the desktop.

For more than a year now-- in fact, for close to two years-- the DVD drive on the VAIO has refused to open. Ordinarily I would have just stuck a paper clip in the little hole, but the proprietary design of the VAIO's case covered the hole.

I spent the better part of two hours trying to figure out how to get to the back side of the drive to remove the screws holding it in place. Unlike the jard drive bays, which can be easily removed, the cage for the DVD and CD drives was riveted in place. Only one side of the VAIO's case was removable. I just couldn't figure out how to reach those two screws.

The owner's manual was no help, so I went to the Sony website and saw I could get 15 minutes of help for my out of warranty computer via live chat. I logged in and was soon talking to--

I'm not sure who or what I was talking to. I'll write about this more in the next post.

Having gotten absolutely no help from Sony, I attacked the case again with my Bluetooth in my ear and a mechanic friend on the line. She suggested I pry gently on the front of the case with a screwdriver. I did, and soon had removed the plastic overlay. It didn't get my any closer to reaching the screws that would allow me to remove the DVD drive, but it did uncover the pinhole.

I grabbed a paper clip and soon had the drawer open. To my chagrin, there was no disk inside. I had been hoping the problem was due to a warped or jammed disk.

Since, when I push the button, I can hear the drawer trying to open, I fear the DVD recorder is junk. I've left the front of the case off so I can play around with the drive when the computer is plugged back in.

I've mostly sorted out the hodgepodge of wires behind my desk and have begun plugging stuff back in, using wire ties to reduce the tangle. Tomorrow the desktop will come back online. Hopefully.

Meanwhile, I have my keyboard and primary monitor plugged into my VAIO laptop and am using it for web browsing and Second Life. Since, with all features enabled, it gets a frame rate about four times faster than my desktop was getting, I've been content to take my time with this project.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Louis Denver's Skins, With A Digression on Supernormal Stimuli


Photos: Top Left: Cheyenne with her regular skin and shape. Top Right: Chey with her regular shape; notice eyelash effect. Bottom Left: Chey in Louis Denver's Mocha skin and demo shape. No eyelash effect. Bottom Right: Chey in Louis' Fair skin and demo shape. No eyelash effect.

Written 7 August, 2010

Louis Denver's Skins

With a Digression on Supernormal Stimuli

They say the third time's the charm. And sometimes it is.

I got a notecard today from Louis Denver, asking me to take a look at his line of female skins. I told him sure.

It was nice to be asked to do a review by someone who wasn't asking the same of everybody in sight or being less than forthcoming about their reason for asking. Louis is just proud of his work and wanting to get the word out.

As I was having another sleepless night, I took myself to his store at 6 am and began trying on demos.

I found Louis' shop unpretentious and conducive to shopping; there was a nice, roomy space with well-made signs.

Everything rezzed quickly on my laptop and I was soon having fun zooming on myself and taking photos.

Chey's eyelashes are long, and a lot of skins just don't look right on me. It has nothing to do with the quality of the skin and everything to do with the shape the skinmaker used as a model. Louis' skins fell into that category. In them, my lashes were blurry clumps.


Louis' default shape was just different than mine. When I put on the sample shape Louis provided, the lashes resolved immediately.

Louis came in just as I was putting myself back into my own skin and shape. We talked for awhile, and then he teleported me to his new main store, where he gets plenty of prims and pays no rent-- nice if you can get it!

I got only one photo of Louis himself-- and wouldn't you know it, he was blinking just as the shutter opened!

Louis is an artist in real life, and has recently begun to work in digital media. His line of skins-- available in colors from pale to dark-- is his first, and his work is only going to get better.

Louis' new shop had furniture and a ceiling I felt was just too busy for the space. But it was still a pleasant place to shop.

I really liked Louis' signs. They were simple and rezzed quickly. It helped I was on my laptop making 20 fps.


His ads are well done, too.


I can't comment on the nether regions, since I was in public and couldn't get nekkie (well, I COULD have), but I will point out a few things I noticed about Louis' skins.

The lips are full and glossy, with the gloss extending to the philtrum (those vertical lines that run between your nose and mouth). The lips are so full, in fact, that I deem them porn star lips. I think Louis may have gotten a little happy with the silicone.


In fact they may be Nikki Cox's lips.


It baffles me why such a beautiful woman would spoil her looks by getting pumped up so. Let's just hope her lips and cheek are full of collagen and not silicone. Silicone often has horrible results, so DON'T DO IT!

Start of Digression

Full lips are, of course, considered desirable and sexy by many people. On the theory that more of a good thing is better, some people go in pursuit of lips that go far beyond normal limits. Such hyperexaggerated sexual characteristics are called supernormal stimuli by ethologists. Fat lips, ethologists tell us, mimic the estral swellings of non-human primates, and so suggest youth, fertility, and availability.


False eyelashes are such supernormal stimuli. Hmmm, maybe the reason Louis cranked down the lashes in his skins was to pave the way for those superstimuli of superstimuli, prim lashes. You know prim lashes-- those big blurry spiders that encircle the eyes of Second Life's fashionistas. You never quite see them, but you know they'll be doozies if they ever rez in.


Anyway, superstimuli are effective-- up to a point. Then they begin to turn the individual into a caricature. Well, fetisists might not think so, but most people certainly do. Check out what silicone has done for Jocelyn Wildenstein (photo from Maxim.com):

The desirability of exaggerated body features has a long and noble history. The Venus of Willendorf is the best known of hundreds of Paleolithic fertility figures. Note the lack of detail in the Venus' face and the exaggeration of the breasts and buttocks.


In his utterly fascinating and most readable book The Prehistory of Sex, paleontologist Timothy Taylor notes that most Stone Age goddess figures had legs that were sharp at the ends so they could be stuck into the ground, thus freeing the hands of the admirer for-- oh, whatever might the admirer need his or her hands for? Oh! I just realized! Taylor suggests that rather than being fertility figures, goddess figures might have been the earliest pornography.

End of Digression

Louis' signs point out that his skins have extraordinary cleavage, and indeed, they do. He has clearly put a lot of effort into shading of the breast area.

To his credit, his skins come with and without breast highlights, allowing the wearer to dial in her level of cleavage.

I've not yet removed my clothes and looked at the pubic area; I'll leave that for the reader.

Wait! I didn't mean it like THAT!

If anyone should think I'm critical of Louis' skins because they hypersexualize the female avatar, don't: almost every skin maker does, and it's just such characteristics that make skins desirable for most people. They don't want to look the norm in Second Life; they want to be over the top. And I don't blame them.

I found Louis' designs carefully executed and his store and signage a pleasure. His skins weren't to my personal taste, but then few are. I'm not the arbiter of what is and isn't desirable, except for myself. I think Louis' skins will have a broad range of appeal, and expect he will sell a bunch.

Computer Offline

Written 6 August, 2010

Computer Offline

For nearly four years I've been in World with my Sony VAIO desktop. And it has been growing increasingly sick.

I bought the VAIO in December 2006, after I blew up my alien computer trying to update my video drivers (don't ask, just read here).

The VAIO was great at first, but then I started getting messages saying it was overheating. It was, in fact, with the processor running at +/- 63 degrees C.

It wasn't long after that that I bought a new video card because I thought mine had fried. I was getting a mere 5-7 frames per second, with 120 meter draw distance and most options maxed out. Previously, it had hummed along at nearly 20 fps. It seemed to work for a while, then I was back to 5 fps.

I've no idea why I've not taken care of the overheating problem until now. I guess, since the computer would log me into Second Life and get me around after a fashion, I just put it off. For more than a year.

It wasn't until got a new laptop last fall that I realized just how much my VAIO was ailing. With settings maxed, my laptop, with its onboard graphics, hummed along just below 20 fps. My desktop, with settings somewhat lower, never got more than 6.5.

Over the last week, my desktop has shut down suddenly on three occasions. When I rebooted today I noticed a warning about processor overheating. I started the free program SpeedFan and found the processor chugging along at 94-96 degrees C-- at nearly the boiling point of water.

So today I will be unplugging my desktop and putting it on a table, where I'll blow away the dust with compressed air and then remove the heat sink and replace it with a new one. Hopefully, that will bring the temperature down and my frame rate up.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back to InWorldz


Written 3 August, 2010

Back to In Worldz

Yesterday Sweetie read about a spectacular steampunk sim in Second Life, so as soon as she got home from work we logged in.

We never found the place, but we did wind up in Victoriana, where we ran into owner LittleBlackDuck Lindsay, who in the short time since he left Second Life, has recreated his Second Life Victoriana and Tinytoriana sims. He's probably two weeks from being finished-- if builds are ever "finished."



In March, Lindsay left Second Life in a huff over issues in his sims, including asset server and permissions problems, and Linden Lab's lack of response to his support tickets. He was also concerned about DMCA issues. I can't seem to locate his widely-distributed notecard, but you can read about it at this bastion of journalistic integrity.


Duck told us a lot of creative folks from Second Life are moving to InWorldz. "Most of the people coming over are content creators."

That may well be true; the next sim we stumbled across belonged to Julia Hathor, where she has for sale many of the flowers, trees, and animals she first developed in Second Life. I took the photo at the top while we were there.

This bodes well for InWorldz. Now I've seen content there that rivals any in Second Life. It may well be THE alternate grid.

InWorldz isn't fully functional yet. Scripts reset at sim crossings (what a pain for AOs!), there are no physics for vehicles, and avatar physics act strangely at times (making your legs go horizontal, for instance). It's impossible to walk across a barrier higher than .3 meters or so, meaning you have to jump over curbs-- and jumping in InWorldz seems awkward. But it seems at least 85% there.

Sweetie and I will be keeping an eye on InWorldz to see if existing problems are resolved and how content develops.