Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Van Gogh

Written 30 October, 2007

More Van Gogh

More photos. The virtual Starry Night, under construction, predates and is similar to (although in smaller scale) Robbie Dingo's build for his machinima "Watch the Worlds."

Met three of the people responsble for Virtual Starry Night: Liza Gibbs, Areki Yoshikawa, and JoeyJoeNL Burger. Very nice folks. I gave them the LM to Pele and we erupted the volcano and rode around on the train. I was late to work, but I didn't mind.

Virtual Starry Night

Written 30 October, 2007

Virtual Starry Night

Luctesa (97, 128, 25)

Here's a comment from reader Eppie Hock:

Welcome back :-)... I loved Virtual Starry Night!! It is one of my favourite places to go to more than once! From time to time the creators add new objects of art...like the 'walk-in' paintings. Sit inside a painting of Van Gogh! How cool is that !!

I've placed the location and SLurl of Virtual Starry night above. You won't be disappointed if you visit.

Virtual Starry Night is, of course, all about the late Vincent Van Gogh. The build features walk-through exhibits of Van Gogh's paintings and three-dimensional replicas of some of his works. Very nice! Better than very nice!

I've been lucky enough in RL to see Van Gogh's works at the Reiksmuseum in Amsterdam (spelling!), the Musee d'Orsay, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. so I was familiar with many of the paintings-- but I saw them with new eyes.

If you like art, don't fail to visit this beautiful location!

Photos: Van Gogh's Room at Arles and The Night Cafe, paintings and SL 3-D versions, into which I inserted myself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back at Beautiful Pele

Written 24 October, 2007

Back At Beautiful Pele

As grand as my time away was, it was comforting to be back home. Home meaning my house, and home meaning Pele.

I’ve learned to (and have vacation days enough to) take a day off after a long trip, and I’m glad I did, but my cold was dragging me down. I caught up on my sleep, washed clothes (10 days worth!), and unpacked and sorted through the things I had taken, getting them ready for the next trip (refilled mouthwash, new small tube of toothpaste, new package of cold tablets and container of vitamin C, since I used them all up. I still have to sort through my jewelry and makeup. I dealt with a TiVo emergency (the network connection had come unplugged and it had run out of programming data), changed a light bulb that had come unplugged, and went to the grocery store to replenish the larder. And I caught up with my friends.

I took my laptop on vacation, but I was in world only a couple of times, briefly, to say hi to friends and deal with the blue boxes which had accumulated on the tops of my screen. My cheap PC laptop was barely able to get in world, even through the LAN connection in my room. (I came to the conclusion that my wireless network card sucks and will be buying another). But I didn’t miss SL, not with so very many things do do.

It was nice just to stand in the Gardens at Pele and listen to the birds and insects and Harry the Humpback as I sorted through my accumulation of e-mail and unpacked my suitcase. But later I did do a little grid-hopping. I sorted a few landmarks (isn’t it funny how they accumulate? You have no idea wtf they are and have to go there to remember that was an ugly accidental tp into a bondage sex club or onto a red fenced area or boring suburbia. But then you find the gems, and you relabel them and sort them away into folders for future retrieval. Or at least you do all this if you’re me).

I spent more than an hour walking through the Virtual Starry Night display (need info here). No, it’s not the sim Robbie Dingo created for his machinima Watch Your World; it’s a display of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, complete with 3-D recreations of some of his most popular works (including Starry Night). The paintings are available for purchase for 35L, which is a bargain, to be sure. The display is very well done; I recommend it.

Today I have to go to (yuck!) work. I feel almost as if I’m starting a new job, it’s been so long. I am still a bit ill, but I am caught up on my sleep and my house is in satisfactory (if not perfect) order, and I’m psychologically prepared to return to my routine.

Back on the Planet

Written 24 October, 2007

Back on the Planet

I’m home after (how many days was it; counting on fingers) 10 days on Cape Cod. And what a wonderful time it was!

For my readers who may not be familiar with Cape Cod, it’s a strip of land that forms a curving peninsula, with its base just above Providence, Rhode Island, and its tip about 30 miles East of Boston. It’s long and narrow and shaped like your right arm when you make a muscle. Think of your chin as Boston. I was at the very tip of the Cape, at the end of the curling fingers of the muscled arm, in a quaint little fishing village and resort town, and I stayed in a beautiful bed and breakfast with a hot tub (my first significant hot tub experience). I went whalewatching during the week, seeing humpbacks at a distance of no more than five meters, and ate well, and talked a lot, and laughed a lot, and had a grand time. I did a presentation on Second Life, complete with lots of pictures.

Just as I was leaving for home, I came down with a cold. It moved from my nose to my throat (causing me to sound like a frog for a couple of days) and is now happily residing in my chest, causing me to cough.

It was a great week.

The photo of the whale is mine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My New Religion

Written 10 September, 2007

My New Religion

If you've not been to the First Second Life Church of Elvis, I highly recommend it. Services are at noon LST on Sunday. Here's the SLURL:


The church is a hoot, with pews made from 57 Caddies and a pulpit that is a golden throne.

Yep, that kind of throne.

The service is something to behold, too.

Be sure to go there and get your free Pompodour. And if they're still around, get the free vElvises. They're around back. Every needs at least one velvet painting of the King.

What with the popularity of cult religions in the world and in Second Life, I have decided that in self-defense I must form my own church. And so I know officially announce the formation of the Second Life Church of Cheyentology.

Yep. Cheyentology.

We are now accepting your tithes.

p.s. Sorry about the photos. I turned the interface-in-photos feature on last night and forgot to turn it off. Oopsie!


Your Fancy House Will Not Buy You Privacy
Written 8 October, 2007


The following recently rolled into my e-mail in box. I have changed the initial of the writer to protect her already anonymous identity.

From: A.

Subject: Re: Questions about SL

Dear A.:

I don't check this e-box nearly as often as I should, so my apologies for the delay in my reply.
SL is both very public and very private. I'll explain how.

First, your identity is completely anonymous. Only Linden Lab will know who you really are, and they won't know if you use an account from Yahoo or Goodle as your e-mail address. No one will know your true identity unless you tell them. Many people tell absolutely no one, some put their real identities in their profiles, and most probably tell only a few people. My rule is I tell anyone who has a need to know. I told my partner, for example, who I am.

How SL is public is that solid walls are not much of an obstacle for looking through or getting through. Anyone who is experience with the camera controls can rotate their view through a wall and look at you inside your house and even your bedroom. And they can do it at a long distance, too-- even across sims.

Doors can be locked and will not open for unauthorized avatars, but they are easy to get around. You can rotate your camera until you are looking inside the room and sit on a chair or bed or poseball and you will instantly be inside the room. You can also buy gadgets that turn you nonphysical, and you can move through walls.

Red fences are a little more protection. If set, they keep avatars out of land parcels, and there's no getting around them. They go only to about 200 meters, though, and there's nothing to stop someone from peering down from a height. If you have a very large parcel, like 8k, and have a house near the middle, most people won't be able to look that far--- but someone who is determined can.

Another way SL is private is IM. No one in world can read your IMs unless they are invited, and no devices can listen in to it. If you have your Preferences set to send IMs to e-mail, however, IMs sent when you are offline will show up in your e-mail in-box and someone in your house could potentially read them.

SL does log both chat and IMs. If you turn logging on in preferences, everything you say or read will be saved to your hard drive. I just found a huge file with months and months of chat and ims. This can be handy, but it does reduce the privacy of IMs.

Chat carries only 20 meters (whispers 5 m, shouts 100 m). Anyone who is out of that range won't be able to listen to you, but there are all sorts of devices that can be placed within Chat range or will move into Chat range and listen to you. Some devices will track you all around a sim and even across sim lines, and some will actually attach to your avatar. Anyone could put a script in any device-- a table, an invisible tiny cube, even a piece of jewelry they gave to you that will relay your Chat to them. I've been learning scripting, and it's only a few lines of code that could easily be hidden in, say, a bling script.

A lot of people make alternate avatars for reasons of personal privacy. They may do so for sneaky reasons-- to cheat or spy upon a spouse, for instance-- or for more pure purposes. Some busy and popular avatars rez alts so they can explore the grid in peace.

The Lindens are putting an identity verification process into place that unsettles a lot of people, myself included, because an outside company will be collecting data on peoples' identities. This is a voluntary thing, for now at least, but I would say it's a virtual (no pun intended) that identities will be channeled to the Feds and would be subject to court order even if the third party was pure of heart.

Do the Lindens record all chat? Probably. Would they disclose it? Not voluntarily, and there's a chance it's not recorded if you don't have it turned on, but most likely every word ever spoken in SL is on a Linden hard drive. Text takes very little room, you know.

For considerations of bandwidth, I seriously doubt that video is recorded-- but there's a record function in SL that saves video seen by your Av to your hard drive, and there's software, free and otherwise, like Growler (www.growlersoftware.com) that records both audio and video. I have Growler, and have used it to make a couple of movies that I've posted on YouTube (Search Pele Train Ride on www.youtube.com).

I hope that answers your questions.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Damn the French!

Written 4 October, 2007

Damn the French!

I've always been a champion of the French-- after all, I lived in the Loire Valley for four years when I was growing up-- but no more! Never!

Or should I say Rien!? (Or, more accurately, as Melissa Y. points out in a comment, Jamais!)

Awhile back, while shopping for pearls for my Sweetie, I bought some pearl jewelry (earrings and necklace) in a French jewelry store.

When I went home and tried them on (I may have blogged about this before) they were so strongly lit that my av was cast into horrid shadow (shown, just the earrings. It was profoundly worse when the neckace was added. I have spared my readers).

And of course the creator had set the perms so it impossible to turn off the light.

Damn the French!

I sent a notecard to the maker-- his name doesn't even show up on his shitty jewerly, so I had to go back to the store to get his info-- and I asked him for a set without the horrid lights.

He responded, saying changes in Second Life's lighting system were at fault, and, ignoring my request, sent me a second pair of horrid lit jewelry.

My Sweetie loves anything made by the French, and night before last we went to a French jewelry store she had found.

Not the same one.

I bought a pair of pearl earrings, and guess what?


Photos show me with and without the horrid French jewelry.

Damn the French!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mickey D's

Written 3 October, 2007

Mickey D's

Yesterday I visited Ben & Jerrys psychedelic-colored sim, where a newbie Italian man thought I was ignoring him because my headset wasn’t plugged in and I replied in chat instead of voice. Oh, well, we probably wouldn’t have had much to talk about anyway.

“So, how are the trains running since you got rid of Mussolini?”

“How’s the Pope?”

“Is Fellini still making movies?”

For some reason (my mind works in ways that are a mystery even to me), I realized that in my year in Second Life (my rez day is the 24th), I’ve not seen a single McDonalds.

That’s right. One year sans Ronald McDonald. No Egg McMuffins, no McRibs, no McNuggets, no Quarter Pounders, no two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun. No supersize. No breakfast burritos.

No wonder I’m in SL so much! No MicDonalds!

I found myself speculating about what a Second Life McDonalds experience might be like.

The following is based on an actual experience at an Atlanta McDonalds:

/me pulls up to the drive-in window in her freebie UPS truck.

“I’d like a small Coke, please.”

“Mumble, mumble, mumble.”

“Would you please repeat that?”

“I said we’re out of small Cokes. We have only medium and large.”

“Well, that would make the medium the small, then, wouldn’t it?”


“I want the smallest one.”

“Do you want the medium of the large?”

“I want the small one.”

“I already told you we don’t have small, only medium, large, and extra-large.”
“Small is a relative term. It’s not a trademarked McDonalds size. If you’re out of small cups, the medium is the small, isn’t it?”

“No, the medium is the medium. We’re out of small.”

“You have three sizes, right?”

“Well, four, but we’re out of small, so that leaves three.”

“Well, I want the small one.”

“Which one?”

“The small one. Of the three sizes you have, the small one.”

“We’re out of small ones. We have medium, large, and extra-large.”

“I want to hear you say that the medium is the small one.”

“But the medium isn’t small. It’s medium. We’re out of small.”

“I want the smallest size you have.”

“The medium?”

“I refuse to call it medium if it’s the smallest one. I couldn’t live with myself if I did.”

“But it is a medium. We’re out of small.”

“Do you know if there’s a virtual Burger King anywhere on the grid?”


As bad as that was, my KFC experience was more bizarre..

“Hi, I’d like a piece of chicken for my little dog.”

“Would you like white meat or dark meat?”

“It’s for my dog. I’m sure she doesn’t care… Well, if you’re going to just stand there until I choose, dark meat. Let’s give her dark meat”

“A thigh or a leg?”

“It’s for my dog. She doesn’t care. Choose one.”

“Okay. Would you like sides with that?”

“It’s for my dog! Dogs don’t eat Cole slaw. All right, all right, no. No sides.”

“Would you like a soft drink?”

“My dog! It’s for my dog! It’s for my frigging dog! Do you get that?”

“Yes, ma’am. Regular or extra crispy?”

“Excuse me for a moment. I’ll go outside and ask her.”

And I did. I went outside to my car and patted my dog and told her I was dealing with an idiot and would have food for her soon and then went back inside and said:

“She told me the regular would be fine.”

I have you now, you son-of-a-bitch, I said to myself. There’s not a single other question you can ask.

And then he said, in all earnestness:

“Would you like a biscuit with that?”