Saturday, August 25, 2007

Flicks at Home (Language Warning)

Written 25 August, 2007

Flicks at Home

Lately, Sweetie and I have been taking advantage of Second Life's ability to play steaming video.

We watched Torley Linden's great vidtuits, and then we took the plunge. We rented a movie.

We got it from a sleazy place where a two-day rental is $250L and there's a curtain behind which are the really dirty films. You take your purchase home and rez the box(being sure to put a bag of virtual popcorn in the virtual microwave first), settle in with your Sweetie, hit Play, and settle in.

I disremembered the very first movie we watched, but I engaged the full powers of my amazing memory
(although first I looked at my transaction history, which I periodically save to hard drive twice a month;
alas, I didn't find it), and eventually, by thinking and thinking, I remembered it was Shrek the Third.

Over the past months we've watched perhaps 20 movies, including new releases like The Simpsons movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, Next, and Rattatouille (spp?), as well as older films like Dogma.

We figured out early on all wasn't on the up and up with our $250L rentals. Maybe it was the laugh track.

No, that's not a laugh track, that's the sound of the audience in the movie theater where the film was videotaped on a half held camcorder.

Or maybe it was the subtitles in Cryllic.

Or maybe it was the backs of the heads of the people sitting in front of our inveterate camcordist.

Or maybe it was the fact that the movies had no opening or ending credits.

Or maybe it was the shop owner's protest: "I'm not hurting anyone."

But razor-sharp as our minds are, we soon enough figured out we were watching pirated copies of the films in question.

Sweetie had a knock-down drag-out with her conscience (I watched in fascination), and we took ourselves to another video store.
Sweetie was impressed that this one charged $1000 for films-- but we realized they, too, were pirated.

And they didn't even play correctly! The seller had some tricked-up way of streaming that disappointed us twice when we were planning to watch a movie.

And he didn't reply either to e-mails or to the two notecards I sent him, so I would like to take this opportunity to send him a hearty f*** you, so f*** you, Shaft, you bastard. Just f*** you.

Perhaps one day the video companies will make legitimate films available on Second Life. And perhaps not. Until then, I hope to occasionally see a nice pirated film with my Sweetie.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Murder at Pele!

Murder Most Foul!

Cheyenne and Eddie in Happier Times

Written 23 August, 2007

Murder at Pele!


There's been a murder at Pele!

The victim was a harmless man(iken) named Eddie Flanagan. I picked him up (well, I don't mean I picked him up, even though he was sort of cute, I mean I purchased him in a box, along with about 25 of his fellow manikens and womanikens a couple of weeks ago at the Tangli sim).

Not a bad guy.

And now he's dead.

Somebody killed him.

When I logged on tonight I found Eddie face down on the sand with blood pooling all around and a Celtic sword made by the legendary Eric Linden sticking in his back.

I did what any socially responsible avatar would do-- I phoned the cops. They came, asked a lot of questions, flirted with me, measured the body's liver temperature, dusted the sword for prints (I actually own the sword, but I made sure there were no prints on it).


Then they put up crime tape and left.

Actually, it was my crime tape; I made it in Quark XPress. I sold it to the top cop.

What am I supposed to do with a dead avatar on the beach?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


A Few Vehicles from Cheyenne's Growing Fleet
Written 22 August, 2007


Mr. Smith had an Oldsmobile
Baby blue with wire wheels
I took her home the day she was advertised
He said she’d leak when it would rain
Sounded like an aeroplane
But I knew she was a
Jewel in disguise

-- 455 Rocket

By Gillian Welch and David Rawlings

I’ve always been enamored of vehicles in my first life. It’s a characteristic I share with many others.

So, what is it with our relationships with vehicles?

I think many of us are fascinated by boats, cars, motorcycles, and aircraft because they provide the freedom to move from one place to another faster and more efficiently than we can transport ourselves with our muscles. We come to appreciate them because they offer us this freedom.

But I also think it’s because their ability to move makes vehicles, in a way, animate, rather than inanimate objects. Their very complexity seems to give them a personality and a temperament, and we consequently talk to them, curse at them, cajole them, and bargain with them as if they were alive, in ways we would never apply to other objects, even the most rare and precious of them.

“C’mon, start, you mother—“

“Please don’t run out of gas! Please don’t run out of gas!”

“If you’ll just get me home, I promise I’ll check your oil. And I’ll wash you. Deal?”

We even write songs about our vehicles. Think about it. “Little Honda.” “Little Deuce Coupe.” “Since Her Daddy Took Her T-Bird Away.” And that’s just the Beach Boys. Cars: “Hot Rod Lincoln.” “Rocket 88.” Trains: “City of New Orleans.” “Wabash Cannonball.” Lots of songs about trains; see
for a partial list.

Aircraft seem to have the short shrift here. I can’t think of a single song ABOUT an airplane, although I can think of several about airplanes carrying people away (“Leaving on a Jet Plane”; “Silver Wings.” Go figure.

For some reason, there seem to be no songs about helicopters. No “Hail, Sikorsky!” No “Big Yellow Huey.”

Hmmm. Maybe I’d better dash off a copter song…

(Sung to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree”)

Oh, whirlybird
Oh, whirlybird
How glad I am to see you
I’m under fire
Down to the wire
Won’t you evac-
Uate me

(Hey, give me a break! I’m under pressure here!)

I see your rotors glistening
I’m for your motors listening
Oh, whirlybird
Oh, whirlybird
How glad I am to see you!

Oh, how I love you, Medivac
You are a flying Cadillac
Oh, whirlybird
Oh, whirlybird
How glad I am to see you!

What’s with your endless hovering?
You’re Channel 5 News covering
My heart attack
You worthless flacks
How I would hate to be you!

All nonsense on-the-spot songwriting aside, I myself wrote a song about a car—my ’54 Chevy Belaire, which I drove from Tennessee to California and back:

She was the very picture
Of the Great American Dream
She sang a song of the Korean War
And high-test gasoline
But her paint and the chromium bumpers
Were losing all their gleam
She was developing a thirst for travel
And quarts of Valvoline

(I love the loose rhyming structure in songs. You can rime –eam with –ine [even twice in the same verse!] and it sounds perfectly fine. Try doing that with a limerick!)


When I arrived in Second Life, vehicles didn’t even register.

Oh, when I was freshly rezzed, I picked up and rezzed the requisite freebies at New Citizens, Inc., and I even bought a neat little hover car called the Rocket 88 which I occasionally rez so I can bounce around the landscape.

It all changed when I got my Flying Tako sailboat.

You see, while making my purchase (“One, Tako, por favor, extra jalapenos,”) I also picked up a one-person mini-blimp called the Blimpquito by the same maker.

I liked my Blimpquito so much I was soon flying it all over Pele. I even bought one for Sweetie.

That was the start of it. Now there seems to be no end.

I now have two two-seater blimps and a four-seater, two balloons, a flying carpet, a sailplane, a racing plane, and a motorboat (for those times when there’s just no Second Life wind in the sailing areas).

I’ve not bought any cars yet, although I kept the Lamborghini and UPS truck from the NCI freebies. I don’t drive the Lamborghini, and I rez the UPS truck only so I can blow it up (“Take that, Brown! I told you it absolutely, positively had to be there overnight!), but I now have three bicycles (a unicycle, a racer, and a two-seater), and last night I picked up a little scooter which promises to be an interesting ride.

And last night I journeyed to G-Axis [Igbo (81, 184, 351)], where I tried out the racing karts. It was WAY fun! Gotta have me one.

I love to go fast in Second Life!

Late flash: See for a very badly written Sinn Féin song about a helicopter facilitating a prison break.

Chey's New Look

My Usual Look

Written 21 August, 2007

Chey's New Look

At the end of my second week in Second Life, I bought my skin from the place that's now called The Body Politic.

I bought four levels of makeup, which I switch from time to time. The difference isn't dramatic, just daytime and light evening looks.

The price was high-- $1200 each, or four for $3000, but the skin has been well worth the expense.

About six weeks ago, I took myself to Body Politic and bought a more dramatic makeup. I wore it with some success.

And two weeks ago, I made another journey and bought yet another makeup.

Last night I journeyed to the new sim Hairspray, the hair sim, which is filled with shops from just about every hair maker in SL. I bought a nice little hairdo in black called the Sehana (Goddess of Love) from a shop the name of which I don't remember (and the hair
itself doesn't tell me!)

Sehana was inexpensive ($150L, I think), and the larger version fit my big head just fine.

This morning, I put on the Sehana hair, got into my new skin, and pulled an outfit out of my wardrobe at random (I have stuff I don't even know I have. The girl is a clothes horse in her second life). And oh, I put in some green eyes I bought at some Mexican sim that claims to have the best eyes in Second Life (bought them last night, too, even though they were probably produced under sweatshop conditions). And, presto, a new look!

And best of all, Sweetie likes it!

I think I'll wear it from time to time.


Turquoise Bracelet

Turquiose Belt

Jade Bracelet

Written 21 August, 2007


I know ninety percent of avatars decide they’re going into the clothing or jewelry design business, but ta-da! Cheyenne has made jewelry.

I’ve always loved heavy silver-and-turquoise jewelry. Never had any, but always liked it and thought it would go well with my olive skin tone.

Cheyenne has olive skin!

I’ve kept an eye open for nice turquoise jewelry, and even recently actively searched for it, but I found little—and what I did find was low-res scans of real turquoise jewelry pasted onto a flat prim. Not satisfactory.

So, a week or so ago I set myself down and made this bracelet.

For the bands, I used a silver texture from Textures Unlimited.

For the stone, I used a texture I created myself.

Well, sort of.

I searched the internet for images of turquoise, and, when I found one, downloaded it. Then I cropped out as big a piece as possible using Photoshop Elements (haven’t mastered cropping in The GIMP yet [and yes, I know, I promised you Film at eleven, and I delivered, didn't I?]).

Then I imported the image into a neat little texture program I bought (more Film at eleven!), made it seamless, saved it, and imported it into Second Life.

I pasted it onto the stone prim I’d created, made it a bit shiny, and suddenly I had a beautiful turquoise-and-silver bracelet.

It took a while to get the sizing of the bands just right; I did that before attaching the stone. I sized them by attaching them to the right forearm of my avatar and manipulating them until they fit the wrist without being either too loose or disappearing into the flesh. Then I put the bands on the ground and attached the stones.

The last step was manipulating the fit again.

When the right bracelet was finished, I duplicated it and fit it to my left forearm.

Then I made bracelets with three stones, much prettier. Then I made a belt with five conchs. Then a belt with 14 conchs.

My first go at the belts used a single band, but at the ever-so-stylish Sweetie’s suggestion, I gave them the same double bands I used in the bracelets. And they rocked.

I’ve done jade versions of the bracelets and belts, and will be experimenting with gold and bronze metal for the bands.

And I’m working on a necklace and earrings.

I quickly realized that a necklace chain requires several prims; otherwise, it won’t hang right, regardless of the shape of the primitive you use (well, a single sculpty would work). I found a blog that showed the three prims required to make a necklace chain, but it didn’t mention the size or rotation—so I went to New Citizens Plaza and picked up a box of free jewelry and pulled out a necklace which I’ll use as a template.

Because the sort of turquoise jewelry I like is big, I was able to work within the .01 meter minimum size limit of Second Life prims. But I’m sure I’ll need to torture prims to make the necklace chain and earrings.

I’m a little worried about that, actually. Alberto Gonzales sent me a memo stating it was perfectly okay to torture prims, and told me George W. would back him up on that. But Gonzales is now in disgrace (rumor is he’s hiding in SL, having taken the name of Imsonotadiva Bartlett), so I’m not so sure about the ethics of prim torture. Are they sentient, do you think? Think about it. After all, prims can talk to you if you put a script in them. If they can talk, do they have a soul? Do you there’s a Prim heaven where all the deleted primitives go? Or is there just a secret Linden prim graveyard with tombstones inscribed with the UUIDs of dead prims and a flock of newbie campers making 1L for wailing at the gravesites?

And what about the outlawed and confiscated huge prims—are they locked away at some Machiavellian Guantanamo-Style Linden secret prison? Do you suppose?

And what if they manage to break out and combine with the corkscrew-twisted prims and make a primrevolution. They we'll all be in trouble. They will birth mutated hyperprim children with sculpted genes which will take over the grid and subject of the avatars to slavery. And yes, yes, I know the Goreans will like that, but the rest of us won't be happy standing in a field having to be flexi plants for the primastocracy.

I went so far as to buy a set of tiny cattle prods and thumbscrews on SL Exchange. So far I’ve not used them because I’ve been scared their use would violate the Terms of Service—but damn it all, style is as important as prim rights! Even if the little buggers do have souls! One night, when no one’s around, I’m going to—

You don’t want to know the rest.

Sweetie Magazine

Premiere Issue of Sweetie Magazine on Display in my Home on the Forsaken Sim.
Available Only to Avatars Named Cheyenne Palisades.
Sorry  About the Coffee Stain, But That Was My Only Copy.
The Others Sold Out to Avatars Named Cheyenne Palisades.
Written 21 August, 2007

Sweetie Magazine

For its number of inhabitants, Second Life offers an astonishing number and variety of newspapers and magazines. Some are published in world for view as HUDs or on the ground, some are on the world wide web as PDFs, and some read like web logs. And, once a year, at the now-going-on Second Live convention, there’s even a print magazine this month, for the Metaverse Messenger goes to paper on convention week.

The magazines range from all-purpose newspapers and tabloids (think Metaverse Messenger and The AvaStar, respectively), to specialty magazines about fashion (Second Style), Interior Decorating (PrimPerfect), architecture, art, and intellectual discourse (Konstrukt).

But this world of magazines is missing one thing.


I know it’s hard to believe, but in all the wide second world of SL magazines, there’s not one magazine about my Sweetie.

Until now.

Introducing, at long last, THE officially-approved Sweetie-themed magazine.

Yep,  Sweetie Magazine.

Here’s the cover for the first issue.

How, you may ask, will it be possible to produce a magazine about a woman who refuses to allow her virtual image to be reproduced?

She prefers, she says, to remain mysterious.

Yes, clever reader, I know you’ve noticed that I’ve never had a real picture of Sweetie in this blog, only backs of heads and asses and elbows.

It’s just something I’ll have to work around.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Chey and Sweetie in Barcelona, Original Photo.
Oh, My! I Seem to Have Accidentally Obcured Sweetie's Face!

Chey and Sweetie in Barcelona with Alpha
Chey, Original Photo
Chey, With Alpha
Written 21 August, 2007


For many years, I’ve used Quark XPress to do page layout and make signs, but I’ve always managed to avoid learning photo manipulation programs.

I don’t own either Paint Shop Pro or PhotoShop (Well, I in fact have an ancient Mac version of PhotoShop, but my ancient Mac Plus and even my newer Mac IIci didn’t have horsepower enough to use it).

Photoshop Elements was packaged with one or more of my past computers, and I use it for things I can’t seem to go in my workaday photo viewer (the wonderful Ifranview), but I’ve never really learned it. To tell the truth, I’ve been unwilling to invest much time in a product that is deliberately crippled.

Wait a minute! I have a PC! What am I TALKING about?

I was thinking about sucking it in and buying PhotoShop, but then I heard about the GIMP.

No, not _that_ GIMP; that’s just a role playing Quasimodo role-playing avatar. This GIMP is an open-source, free graphics and photo manipulation mode.

And it rocks.

There’s a pretty good GIMP manual, but it assumes knowledge I, imagetweaking virgin that I am, don’t have, and the available tutorials all seem to be keyed to a previous version.

But the interface is intuitive, and I’ve been plugging along, trying to successfully make an alpha texture.

For weeks I’ve been plugging along.

And guess what? Finally, I successfully made one. It showed as alpha in Photoshop Elements, and when I imported it into Second Life, it worked (the image was a cutout picture of Sweetie and I at a concert at the Barcelona sim).

Woo hoo!

The only problem was I wasn’t certain what I had done!

It took me a couple of hours to figure out, and now I can make alphas, woo hoo! I may not be making them correctly, as what I’m doing doesn’t seem much like the process described in the tutorials, but they’re working, and I’m happy.

So if you need a Photo manipulation program, search for and download the GIMP (and the instruction manual) from In a few days, I’ll make another post describing how to make (well, fudge) alphas.

Cheyenne, Meet Dakota

Chey and Dakota

Left to Right: Dakota, Cheyenne, Veronica

Written 21 August, 20007

Cheyenne, Meet Dakota

I’m certain I wrote about running two Second Life viewers some months ago, but it’s worth, I think, revisiting.

What do you think, Dakota?

Huh? What did you say, Cheyenne? I was wondering if I needed more black polish on my nails.

Yep, I’d say you do. Looks like you’ve been biting them.

If you had only $38 L in your account, you’d be biting your nails, too.

I told you, I moved the money to my account so you could test that free vendor system.

So you say. When do I get it back?

When you test that vendor system.

Oh, I don’t WANT to test it!

But I want you to!

Well, who died and left you in charge? You’re not the boss of me!

Am too!

Am not!

Am—I’m not going to argue with you, Dakota.

But you ARE arguing with me!

I guess I am. Tell you what—I’ll give you a thousand lindens if you test the vendors for me. Then you can buy all the banded stockings and blue hair and lip piercings you want.

I keep telling you, I have no piercings and no tattoos. My body is a temple.

Well, you look like you should have piercings. And your ears are pierced, I know.

Well, yeah, but not my navel or nipples or labia—can I say labia in this blog?

You just did.

Not them either. And this skin HAS them. I know. I’ve looked. I’m really good with camera control.

Yeah, I know. And I taught you everything you know.

So you did. Thanks, Mom.

Don’t call me Mom! I’m not your mother!


Dakota, I brought you here for a reason.

You brought me here? YOU brought me here? I thought I came here on my own.

Yeah, you did. But I asked our human to rez you.

Jeez, look at her on the webcam, Chey!

Yeah, scary, isn’t it? Hey, you! Get up and take a break! Walk around or take a nap! You clearly need time away from the monitor! We can get by just fine here without you!

Yeah, we don’t need her. Did she go?

Yeah. I think so, Dakota.

Good. Gives us some privacy.

It bugs me she can look in my inventory.

Yeah. Me too. I have some confidential stuff in there.

Me too. You—what, Dakota? Confidential stuff?

Yeah, things she doesn’t even know about.

Oh, my!

Yeah, like my diary. I write down my innermost thoughts and dreams.

You do? Can I see?

Nope. Not until you put the money back in my account.

Awww? Puh-leaze?


I found out a while back that it’s possible to run multiple instances of the Second Life client on one computer. It’s resource-intensive, but it can be done.

This means you can have your primary avatar and an alt on screen in the same space at the same time.

It’s a bit of a mind-f--

Better not say it.

IM: Dakota Burn: Awww!

I’ve even had three avs on screen at the same time—Cheyenne, Dakota, and a super-secret in-case-I-want-to-run-away-from-my-second-life avatar only a couple of people know about. I made her during a rough patch following the death of my mother. I got her set up with good skin and hair and a basic wardrobe and a Mystitool and then left her hanging. Maybe I’ll give her as a gift to someone, or sell her on eBay:

For sale, one drop-dead gorgeous female Second Life avatar with Polynesian and Sound of Music Nordic skins. Basic hair and wardrobe, gadgets, Mystitool, animation override, emoter. Empty Friends and Groups folder and ready to go. Turn her into a supermodel or a high-class hooker or a sex slave on Gor or marry her to a rich man or woman. Only $99 US.

I’m sure it’s against the Terms of Service, so please don’t tell the Lindens I even brought it up.


It can be amusing to have more than one av on the screen at the same time. Dakota is openly me, but a lot of alts play it close to the chest. We don’t really know who the alts are, do we? Maybe that cute couple next door and their five-year-old adopted avatar girl are all one person. Yeah, I know you’ve seen Mommy and Daddy on Devotion and Resolution 3. Think about it! One person!

So, how do you run more than one copy of SL?

Yeah, I know you’re just dying to take yourself on a date. Maybe even marry. Hell, you might even work up to meeting yourself in Real Life! The possibilities are limitless!

Okay, so, in Windows XP, make a shortcut for Second Life. (Just make a copy of the shortcut you use to open the SL viewer).

Now, on the properties line, type –multiple.

Run that shortcut when you might want to rez your alt(s).

There you go!

Nowadays I place one copy of the viewer on my main screen and the other on my second monitor. When I had only one monitor, I found it easiest to split my screen so one viewer covered the top portion of my screen and the other viewer the bottom portion. You can also keep both windows full screen and toggle between them from the task bar.

Go wild!


Having said all this, I must confess to not having rezzed my alt lately. That’s because after I put in the new video card the second viewer was laggy beyond belief. But now I’ve put the second viewer on Core 2 and Dakota and Chey can, as you saw above, co-exist.

Going Outside the Grid

Written 21 August, 2007

Going Outside the Grid

During my first months in Second Life, I found it psychologically difficult to go outside the grid. Consequently, when I was on SL—and I was on SL a LOT-- I got behind on e-mail, phone calls, and computer maintenance tasks—and I rarely visited websites, even when I got links to them.

Things got better when I bought a better video card and went to a dual-monitor system. My new flat screen now displays Second Life in wide format pixilated glory, and the rest of my computer lives on my old CRT monitor.

I’m fortunate enough to have a dual-core processor, so I have Second Life set to run on Core 1; the rest of my applications, or the heavy-duty ones (like iTunes, Skype, and GIMP) at least, run on Core 2. (There are a number of free and shareware programs that let you assign priorities to your applications. I use WinLauncher XP, Beta Version,

Nowadays when someone gives me a URL (my friend Peter Stindberg is particularly helpful with this [Hi, Peter! I know you’re reading this!]), my Mystitool catches the information and opens a new window on my Opera browser. I just look to the left (where, usually, I have a half dozen windows open), and there it is! I get confused on occasion by the long mouse drag to get the pointer from one monitor to the next, but all in all, it’s a most workable solution.

The new setup has changed my Second Life experience considerably. I follow up leads immediately now instead of writing them down for later exploration. I go to SL Exchange more readily now (, and I consult the forums and the Linden blog far more often. I watch video tutorials and political commentaries with Sweetie, who has a window open on her end. And I even on occasion check my e-mail!

I’m convinced that getting the new monitor has helped my learning curve. At quiet moments in world I’ll play with GIMP (I FINALLY was able to make an alpha texture; film at eleven), or poke around in qAvimator (our in-the-field correspondent Sweetie is standing by with video on this one) or search the Internet for textures, or browse PDF of the many Second Life magazines and newspapers, or use Quark Express to make yet another sign for Pele.

Second Life still sucks up too much of my time, but at least now I’m able to be productive off the grid while I am on the grid.

And that’s a good thing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Evolution of Primthority

Written 12 August, 2007

The Evolution of Primthority

I'm continually impressed and amazed by the creativity of Second Life's residents.

You'll probably need to click on the top photo to see it in sufficient detail; it shows the progression of the avatar form in prims from a plywood cube to a complex shape.

It called to mind "The Evolution of Authority," which has been passed from office worker to office worker since the 1960s.

The sculpture is on, I believe, the Illusion Factory simulator (or was it on FuturePerfect?). Be sure to see the collection of roadside Americana including some great 50s style signs.

And check out these sculpted people I bought for 100 Lindens on the Tableau sim.

The guy in the blue-and-white checked shirt asked me out-- but he's not my type.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Oh, Sweetie!

Written 9 August, 2007

Oh, Sweetie!

How endearing you are!

How funny you are!

How sexy you are!

How beautiful you are!

How talented you are!

How clever you are!

How irreverent you are!

How conscious of aesthetics you are!

How creative you are!

How ambitious you are!

How extroverted you are!

How introverted you are!

How paradoxical you are!

How cute you are!

How wonderful you are!

How Very, Very Strange!

Written 10 August, 2007

How Very, Very Strange!

I turned in early last night (for me), perhaps 1 pm.

I woke at 2:00 feeling as if I had slept all night, and for some reason, even though the house had become warm since I had the air conditioner off (We are in a 100 degree F. plus streak of weather. 100 degrees is an absolute rarity in Atlanta, surprise, surprise! It rarely breaks 95, although it can be almight muggy! Atrlanta's weather is more civilized than that of places like Washington, D.C., which is far [although IMO not far enough] north of here.)

Anyway, I woke at two, after only an hour or so of sleep, and managed to sleep another hour and forty-five minutes. Then I was awake and of course I logged onto Second Life.

I mean, who wouldn't?

Strangeness of strangeness, Forsaken was running perfectly. The time dilation was consistently .98 (had been running .83 or so), and frames per second and physics FPS were both consistently around 44.5. Scripts were running at 17k.

So, although nothing happened on the land from the time I went to bed and the time I awoke, Forsaken, which had been sick, was running just fine.

Of course, both Dreamland and Linden Lab will blame the poor sim performance on me and the other residents-- but clearly, there's something going on at the Linden Lab level.

Don't you think?

Don't you?

Consolidating Pele

Written 9 August, 2007

Consolidating Pele

I’ve suspected for some time that Anche Chung has from time to time quietly and without fanfare revised the covenant for the Forsaken sim.

I mean, I KNOW this was once a pirate area. And yet now it’s not. And after all that money I spent on Jolly Rogers and eyepatches, too!

Anche is putting into place a new payment system which, among other things, will take a 16 square meter bite out of every parcel in Dreamland.


That’s bad— land owners will lose part of their property and the prims that go with them.

Not a well-conceived plan, IMO.

In my case, I would have lost nine 16-meter swatches of land, because I had nine parcels on the Forsaken sim, ranging in size from 2048 to 5120 square meters.

Well, eight, because early on I joined Pele’s 4096 to the 2048 parcel I bought from the Mother Ship Guy. So I stood to lose 96 square meters of land.

Rez a cube prim and stretch it 10 meters along both the X and Y axes. That’s how much land I stood to lose—and 24 prims.

What was infinitely worse, however, was the fact that in the changeover the land will be reclaimed and sold back to the owner for zero lindens—and that during this change, prim-sharing between parcels will be wrecked.

Meaning that those who have more prims on a parcel than that parcel supports will lose them.

Which is most of us, I think.

Winding up with 2/3 of Pele in my Lost and Found folder was not an option; I would have left the prims there and immediately put my land up for sale—so I asked Carcinia Polano, the Dreamland Angel with whom I have done business—if I could join my parcels.

Carcinia, who is indeed an angel, said yes.

And so I did.

Now there’s just one parcel, so Pele should be safe during the soon-to-come changeover.

Or we can hope.

One benefit of the consolidation is that now all of Pele shares the same audio and video stream, meaning that radio stations will be constant as one crosses the land.

I was able to take up seven Wurlitzer jukeboxes. The remaining two are placed so one is always within shouting distance.

It would sure be nice, though, to be able to split parcels at will.

If I had that ability, I could, for instance, make the audio stream for the inside of the Dragon, with its hot dance floor, lights, and mist, a rave station, and the outside, with its marble floors and carpet, a jazz stream.

And if I had a store—which I can’t, since my portion of Dreamland is residential—I would keep build turned off except in the dressing rooms, giving avatars a place to open the boxes that contain their purchases.

You know, I’m just going to have to figure out how I can afford a sim of my own.

Or, I should say, a sim of OUR own, for it will be Sweetie’s as much as mine.

What Sim Owners Are Paying For

Written 9 August, 2007

What Sim Owners Are Paying For

The Linden (I won’t mention the name, but you can see it if you follow the thread on the forums) who responded to Wayfinder Wishbringer’s post about poor sim performance missed, in my opinion, the point—which is this:

Sim owners have a reasonable expectation of acceptable levels of performance from their simulators.

Grid problems, perhaps, can be overlooked—but sim owners are paying for virtual space on Linden’s servers, and they are entitled to machines that operate as they are supposed to.

The Lindens get a lot of grief they don’t deserve, but I think in this case they’re deserving of Wayfinder’s ire. There is clearly a problem with performance on his simulator, and the Lindens need to look into it. How unfortunate that the Linden who responded to Wayfinder’s post didn’t acknowledge Linden Lab’s responsibility in this matter.

So, What IS Lagging the Forsaken Sim?

Written 8 August, 2007

So, What IS Lagging the Forsaken Sim?

So, what IS lagging the Forsaken sim?

The short answer is, I don’t know.

The long answer is also “I don’t know”—but it is, I think, a reasonably informed I don’t know.


Theory 1: Too many scripts on the sim

When Second Life was launched, the Lindens expected that at best only a few hundred scripts would ever be run on a simulator.

That was never the case. Most sims, unless they are bare ground, have _thousands_ of running scripts.

Forsaken has more than 3000 scripts—more than it should have, I’m sure—and probably Pele has more than its share of those—but it’s not an unusual number. The sims adjacent have as many or more running scripts, and I suspect most sims do too (and yet their simulators are running at 44-45 frames per second with time dilation close to 1.0 and Forsaken is running at 37 with a time dilation of .83). My best guess is that Forsaken is pretty typical in its number of running scripts.

Forsaken is lagging badly, and I’ve been on sims with far more scripts, yet no appreciable lag.

And taking on or turning off scripts doesn’t seem to make a differences.

So while it’s possible Forsaken’s scripts are lagging the sim, and while that number of scripts would doubtless lag any sim to some degree, I don’t think the theory can account for the terrible lag.


Theory 2: A small number of scripts are consuming an inordinate amount of processor resources.

I could substantiate or disprove this hypothesis by switching off the top offending scripts or by toggling all scripts off and on from the World > Region menu and nothing the effect, if any, on sim performance—but I’m not allowed this information and so far I’ve not been able to get either Dreamland or Linden Lab to give it to me or do the test themselves. I have no idea which scripts are the worst offenders and I’m not sure how I’ll be able to identity them.


Theory 3: Some one else’s objects and scripts are lagging the land.

There are only two other land holders on Forsaken. One, wanting to redo her property, recently took every single one of her objects into inventory. There was no noticeable difference in sim performance—and she had a LOT of objects on her 16k plot.

The other property owner went through a brief period of rezzer craziness, but he got over that. On his 19k of rental properties (most of which seem to be vacant) he has simple builds with few apparent scripts.

And then there’s our resident artist. He makes heavy use of particles and moving textures in his objects. And yet he has switched them off and nothing has changed.

I’m glad it wasn’t his scripts, because Sweetie and I love having a resident artist at Pele.


Theory 4: Griefers have placed non-detectible objects on my land which are designed to lag the sim.

I read recently in the _AvaStar_ that it’s possible to put objects onto a sim that don’t show up in About Land > Objects. So maybe someone is goofing us.

The adjoining sims seem to be sharing Forsaken’s slow performance, so that might be the case.

Returning all objects might work, but I can’t do that, since Sweetie and my renters have objects on the land. Until yesterday—I’ll explain why soon—I could have turned auto-return on for the “back forty,” the 5k parcel that abuts the sim The Cauldron, but now instead of eight or nine parcels I have one and can’t do auto return without wrecking others' work. Tonight I’ll fly up to 750 meters, where such prims are usually placed, and use my Ptools gadget to see if I can locate any prims.


Theory 5: Sick Server

It’s entirely possible there’s a mechanical problem with the server on which Forsaken lives and that my objects and scripts, and the scripts and objects of others, have little or nothing to do with Forsaken’s abysmal performance of late. It’s a bad box.

I’m sure Linden Lab has the ability to run diagnostic tests on their servers, and I’m sure they do from time to time. Maybe, when the support portal opens, I’ll talk to Howard from Idaho and promise to unplugging my modem if he will arrange to have diagnostics run on Forsaken.

The server might also be sick because of software issues. Perhaps there’s bad code that slows things up. Again, diagnostics should help.


Theory 6: Server load from other sims

Linden Lab’s original servers held one sim each.

Newer generation servers hold two sims, or even four.

And so far as I’ve been able to determine, the software doesn’t share processor and memory resources or hard drive access equally, but allots resources according to the demand of the individual sims. In other words, there’s a communal pool of memory, processor time, and hard drive space and access time, so a crowded or busy sim can lag another.

Which means if your sim is sharing mechanical space in the San Francisco or Texas server lot with the GetDown&Dirty Casino, Camping Paradise, and Whorehouse, you’re just shit out of luck. The 45 avs that are camping there around the clock will grind your sim to a standstill.

And Linden Lab won’t reveal the sim(s) which share your server. (although it’s apparently possible to determine this on one’s own).

So maybe Forsaken’s problems have little to do with Forsaken and everything to do with some (as yet, but I’m on it!) unnamed sim.


Theory 7: Grid Problems

It would seem Forsaken isn’t the only region with performance problems.

The adjacent sims seem to be lagging about as badly.

True, there are usually about 15 French Vampires on The Cauldron, and 15 gay sex frolickers on the sim past that, but those sims apparently lag even when mostly vacant.

While researching Forsaken’s performance problem on the Second Life forums, I came across a lengthy post by Wayfinder Wishbringer entitled “Sim Owners Take Note—Your Sims are Sharing Servers.

It seems Wayfinder’s sims are lagging, and he presented credible evidence that, despite having been told it was the sim’s scripts that were lagging it, the scripts had nothing to do with the lag. I mean, he switched off all the scripts from the World > Region menu, and nothing changed.

Wayfinder was too much, I think, on about the placement of sims on the same servers, but his problem is real enough, and it’s almost certainly not a problem of his own making.

I would reproduce the thread here, but I’m not sure about the proprieties of that, so here are some excerpts from Way’s post:

For MONTHS we have been trying to track down causes of "lag", and found no perceivable cause on our sim. We often described the matter to LL as "someone flipping a switch"... causing our sim to lag excessively. We were told by LL over and over that the problem was NOT server side, that it was our content, our textures, our scripting... although none of these things had changed. We cut content, cut scripting, and the problems still remained. Constant data readings we took correlated NO content/client side cause with lag incidents. Every claim LL made was unsupported by data; in fact all of our data conflicted LL claims…

When we searched through the data, we discovered that our sim, ElvenGlen, was sharing a server with EATON. Those who are acquainted with Eaton know that it has been the #1 traffic sim on SL almost since its inception. 24/7 tringo games, massive shopping malls, casinos, nightclubs. We are good friends with the owners of Eaton. Wayfinder designed their kickboxing arena and the game itself. So we know Eaton. It lags like a fiend. And THAT is the sim ElvenGlen had been sharing servers with! As the owner of Eaton humorously said when this information was presented to him: "I wouldn't want to share a server with me…"

Further, we made some additional tests. We discovered (from what we can discern) that the RUN TIME ms reading that appears in the statistics box, is apparently not a rating of individual sim content as we had been told by LL... but is instead a rating of total server activity. This went a long way toward explaining why it is that this figure would jump from low to high for no explainable reason. This was most upsetting, because we had been lead to believe (directly told, actually) by LL that Run Tasks ms was the most accurate reading of our specific sim performance. Yet now, we discover that our sim was obviously being directly influenced by the other sim(s) sharing our server-- and that, despite claims to the contrary, what happens on one of those sims can and does directly affect other sims on the same server…

To prove our point, we reduced active scripts on ElvenGlen from 750 down to about 480. Result: there was NO PERCEIVABLE DIFFERENCE IN SIM SPEED as a result. So we intentionally increased our active scripts by 180... and SIM SPEED ACTUALLY INCREASED over the span of a few days. Conclusion: the scripts on our sim had no discernable effect on overall sim performance. These findings have been verified by other sim owners who have run their own tests and come to similar conclusions…

At one time, a Linden recommended that we try shutting off script operation on the sim. So we did. The results: sim performance did not significantly change…


My best guess about all this is that something significant is wrong with the grid. Whatever it is is lagging sims, including Forsaken, horribly.

Clearly, Linden Lab needs to understand the seriousness of this problem.

And I have something to say to the Lindens, and in particular to the Linden who responded to Way, and who seems to have missed the real point of all this. I’ll do it a couple of posts from now.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Simulator Lag

Those Darn Campers
8 August, 2007

Simulator Lag

For the past several months, the Forsaken sim has been sick.

I suspected it when Kitto Flora’s little steam train started performing erratically.

And I confirmed it when I started figuring out what some of the sim stats meant (hit CTRL-SHIFT-1 to see toggle them on and off).

I bought a couple of sim stat testers (the more fancy is made by Mystical Cookie, who makes the wonderful Mystitool) and they agreed with me. Forsaken was performing poorly.

Before the slowdown, the sim was percolating nicely—and most of the prims and scripts now on the land were already in place.

I tested the sim repeatedly over a two-week period, with distressing results. Mystical Cookie’s sim tester, which ran a full test in less than four minutes on a clean-running sim (I actually ran the machine on two other sims) took more than 90 minutes and generated multiple low performance warnings on Forsaken.

I looked around my property to see what might be causing the lag.

I had about five rezzers making 20-prim plants. I turned them off.

No change.

I removed about 100 miscellaneous scripts.

No change.

I removed all of the giant prims on the land (about a half dozen) save one, which is set as nonphysical and hence is not likely to cause lag.

No change.

I asked my Dreamland representative for help. She restarted the sim.

Things got worse.

The Region tools, which are available only to sim owners, reveal the scripts that consume the most processor resources and generate the most particles (for a long time, I’ve suspected that one or more particle scripts on Pele are producing almost as many particles as can be viewed).

I asked my Dreamland representative to give me the names of the worst offending prims (all scripts and particles are prim-based). She refused.

She just told me it was Pele that is producing all the lag on Forsaken.

Today I looked for the Support Portal and didn’t find it. I suspect it’s because it does not yet (and may never) exist.

So no help from Linden Lab, and only a little from Dreamland.

Yesterday I posted in the Forums, and got some helpful replies. One avatar (I’m offline as I write this and so can’t list his name, but I did thank him in the forums and via IM) actually went to Pele. He said, on the basis of his use of beacons, that the problem has to do not with scripts, but with the physical objects on the land. He cited several possible offenders, including my balance, which I will turn non-physical as soon as I get home tonight, and a couple of sculpted prim fish which cycle sculptie textures. They will go into the cooking pot.

Yum! Sculpted fish for dinner!

I can’t think of anything in particular which I or Sweetie have placed on the land which might lag the sim so badly.

And it’s possible that the cumulative effect of the scripts on the land are lagging the sim—although that is, I think, despite what the Dreamland rep told me, not the most likely problem.

I have some theories about what is lagging the sim. I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Second Life Support Portal

Second Life Support Portal Headquarters in "Des Moines"

Applicants Line Up in Idaho for Support Portal Jobs

Second Life Founder Philip Rosedale

The Geek Squad

Written 8 August, 2007

Second Life Support Portal

Awhile back, Linden Lab announced a live support portal for premium account holders. For a reason I’ll soon blog about, I went looking for it. Didn’t find it.

Maybe I’m missing it, but I expect it is, like WindLight, a delayed feature of Second Life. But I—and Sweetie, who brainstormed this post with me—can imagine what it will be like.

Maybe it would work something like this:

“You have reached the Second Life Live Support Portal. Our office hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 am – 6 pm, Pacific Daylight Time. Thank you for calling, and please call again.”

“But it’s 10:30 in San Francisco! Hello? Hello!" Click.


Or, more likely:

“All support portal personnel are currently speaking with highly incensed customers. Your wait time is approximately NINETY-TWO MINUTES.

“You are now number 40,951 in the queue.

“We will now play an endless Muzaked loop of 80s metal sensation Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady.’

“You are now number 40,950 in the queue.

“We will now play an endless Muzaked loop of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Mutilation is the Sincere Form of Flattery.’

“You are number 40,948 in the queue.

Second Life Live Support Portal says, “Congratulations! You have just earned $2L for camping on this phone line for one hour.”


Even worse, maybe you’ll even eventually reach someone live:

“Namaste, and thank you for calling Second Life Support Portal. My name, despite my accent, is not Rajah, no, no no. My name is Howard. Please to be calling me Howard. May I please to be helping you, sir?”


“Yes, sir. You will please to be telling me your problem?”

“My sim is lagging.”

“One second, please, sir.” (Pages rustle)

“That’s Ma’am.”

“Okay, I am returned. Will you please unplugging your modem for twenty seconds, sir?”

“I am not a sir! I am a Ma’am. And the problem is most definitely not with my connection!”

“Yes, sir. May I ask you if are to be already unplugging your modem?”

“Ma’am! What time is it in Delhi?”

“Oh, it’s eight in the—Oh, no, no, no, sir, I am not being in Delhi, no no no no no. I am one hundred percent American in Des Moines, Idaho. I am living here since I was a gudda. Des Moines. I know no one named Rajah, no no no. God bless America! Go Cornhuskers!”

“Aren’t the Cornhuskers in Nebraska?”

"Oh, yes, yes, to be sure, but I am so excited by all things American! I am loving to be fed on the American corn! Please to be forgetting this Delhi nonsense, sir. You are perhaps misled by my Midwestern accent. Or perhaps my many American references are confusing you.

“Please to be excusing me while I go to eat my wholesome American cheese food in a can.”

“You mean Cheese Whiz?”

“Yes, the whiz of the cheese, thank you so much.”

“Can you help me with my sim lag problem or not? And it is by damn Ma’am! If you call me sir one more time there will be hell to pay. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir, I am most sincerely understanding. Now will you please to be unplugging your modem for twenty seconds? How can I be helping you if you will not unplugging your modem for twenty seconds?”


Or maybe it’ll go like this:

“Linden Lab. Philip Rosedale speaking. How can I help you? Sim lag? How unfortunate! Of course we’ll help you.

"Helen, book me a teleport to the Forsaken sim. And make sure I’m on my private Punky Nerd intrasim teleporter. I don’t want to have to deal with those TSA bastards at the telehub.”

Yeah. Right.


Maybe I’ll just call the newly formed Geek Squad at their new simulator.

“Sorry, the Geek Squad is temporarily out of service due to severe simulator lag. We are talking to Linden support portal staffer Howard from Idaho, who, we are sure, will be helping us with our problem. Please excuse us while we unplug our modem."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Big Builds

Written 4 August, 2007

Big Builds

Lot of things in Second LIfe are built on a scale larger than life-- but some entire locations are scaled for Stumbo the Giant.

Kirra Ball, who Sweetie and I met at the very interesting Sploland sim, took us to one such build. It was really huge.

Big doors, big furniture, big kitchen appliances, big toilet seat.

The first thing I said when I saw the house and judged how small I was in relation to everything was, "Kirra, please tell me there's not a cat."

"There's not a cat," she promised.

Of course, there was a cat!

But we were safe up on the lighting fixture.

The high point had nothing to do with the scale of the build, however.

Sweetie found a regular-sized desk in a cupboard and sat at it. When I flew up she said, "Please come in, Ms. Palisades. I need to talk to you about your job performance."

"I'm still not going to sleep with you," I said.

“Didn’t I give you a stapler?” she retorted. “And the sharpest pencils? Your own code to the photocopier? And you no longer have to clean the bathrooms.”

“You can’t ask this of me!” I said plaintively.

“A megalomaniacal CEO like me has… needs,” she leered, and came around the desk after me.

“Eeek!” I squeaked, and tried to put a chair between us.

I can’t quite remember the rest of the conversation/sexual assault, but I assure you, Sweetie was every bit as much “on” as she was in the recent “Torrent of Consciousness” blog.

From now on I’m going to capture Sweetie’s maunderings.

And my feeble responses.


(Sure wish I'd made a notecard about that big build!)

Cocoloco Boat Ride

Written 4 August, 2007

Cocoloco Boat Ride

Not long ago, while out grid-hopping, I found the sims of Cocoloco [W. Cocoloco Island (59, 183, 22)].

I had a good time skydiving and looking at the beautiful crystal wedding fountain, but I had the most fun on the boat ride, which sound through jungle and then took to the air-- so much fun, in fact, that I talked Sweetie into coming to the island and taking a ride.

The boat was absolutely beautiful.

I most liked the rope bridge that spanned the peaks (shown). Sure wish there was another mountain on my sim of Forsaken to hook one on to. (The other end would stretch to Pele, of course!)