Wednesday, April 30, 2008

By Request 2

Whimsical Times is the official publication of Whimsy Estates, available free of charge as a public service. Send materials and enquiries to Cheyenne Palisades in-world or e-mail her at

Visit Whimsy at

Whimsical Tunes
The Newsletter of the Whimsy Sims
March, 2008, Vol. 1, No. 1

A Sim is Born

Whimsy was born prematurely at 3 pm on Monday, 17 March. Ordered on
Friday the 14th, the window for expected delivery of the region was between the 21st and the 24th. Those efficient Lindens put her on the grid only four days after she was ordered, before they had a chance to read a support ticket from sim owner Cheyenne Palisades, requesting delivery on April 1st. “It would have been a great birthdate for a sim named Whimsy,” Palisades said. “And Sweetie and I were looking forward to a week of rest before assuming the responsibilities of an entire region.”

After a couple of days spent playing, Sweetie and Cheyenne got down to business, first discussing island design and then beginning the terraform. Chey raised the initial islands, which Sweetie nuanced with Backhoe, a free Macintosh program that generates RAW terrain files. After a first abortive attempt that created a granite plain with 100 meter tall spikes, the RAW file was imported and the Whimsy archipelago was born.

With sandy beaches, black lava, and two lush grass textures, Whimsy bears more than a passing resemblance to the real-life Hawaii. Indeed, Whimsy's theme is tropical South Seas/Asian. Public structures are informed by Polynesian, Japanese, and Chinese architecture, and vegetation at low levels is tropical. Visitors, to an avatar, remark on the archipelago's loveliness.

About a quarter of Whimsy is dedicated to residences, and a tightly-knit community of Whimsy natives has formed and are busy developing their land.  The rest of Whimsy is a park, with public walkways (still under development), beaches, cuddle areas, and amenities like a couples walk, canoe and hang glider rezzers, and abundant wildlife. Dominating the southwest quadrant is the volcano Pele. The volcano goddess lives in the caldera and from time to time makes ostentatious eruptions, with horrendous sound, flying lava, and thick black smoke. Most of the time, happily, Pele is dormant, and visitors can cautiously visit the mysterious temple, a relic left by the island’s original inhabitants.

Get Your Hard Hat!

We all know construction zones are dangerous, right? So don’t tempt fate; get your free Whimsy hard hat at the sim’s temporary entrance point, on top of the giant tiki man. Visitors’ hats are red, residents’ are yellow. If you see a yellow hat, say hello to the avatar under it. Most likely, he or she will be happy to answer any questions you might ask about Whimsy and its environs.

Be sure to check out the animated Under Construction sign. Then go to Chey and Sweetie’s Tweaktocracy blog, where you can read about a tool to bring animated GIF’s into the world.

Whimsy Sold Out!

Whimsy makers Cheyenne Palisades and Sweetie didn’t anticipate making any properties available until the Whimsy sim was at least a month old, but demand was such that they created five parcels, each of which was spoken for.

Welcome to avatar Feminist Expedition, who sold her mainland properties to move The Enlightenment Gallery to Whimsy. Fem’s enthusiasm soon spread to her friends, who are now happily developing their properties on Whimsy. Welcome also to residents:

Michel Runningbear
Sekhmet Dagger
Spritely Romano
Phaom Merlin

Free Gift From Flights of Fancy!

Cheyenne Palisades’ Flights of Fancy store flies high above the Whimsy sim, held aloft by four giant propellers. Inside, you can find her fine prim jewelry, Asian-inspired furniture and garden structures, gadgets, and toys galore. You can even purchase her leaky water tower, a build so ugly the authorities made her remove it from Dreamland! High-quality goods at reasonable prices!

Cheyenne has hidden a free gift on Whimsy. Inside a pirate chest are two of her beautiful art deco armbands. You’ll have to get past the treasure’s guardians to get it, but it’s worth the risk.

Okay, a hint. Look for Captain Blood’s galleon, which was sunk long ago. And watch out for Inky the Squid and the ghost of the good Captain. Arrrrrr!

By Request

By request, I've repdocued Whimsical Times in text form.

Whimsical Times is the official publication of Whimsy Estates, available free of charge as a public service. Send materials and enquiries to Cheyenne Palisades in-world or e-mail her at

Visit Whimsy at

Whimsical Times
The Newsletter of the Whimsy Sims
April, 2008, Vol. 1, No. 2

Whimsy Shapes Up

With terraforming complete, Job One for Team Whimsy became one of primming-- that is, putting objects on the land in a logical and consistent and in-theme manner. Top priority was creating a home for the volcano goddess. One doesn’t want to make Pele upset!

Cheyenne laid down her patented wadeable animated lava, making certain there was a super secret way to slip underneath into the secret space under the volcano, then installed Pele's erupt mode. This required the temple, which Chey initially placed on the lower eastern face of the caldera. Sweetie took one look at it with her designer’s eye and shook her head. Soon the temple was sitting atop a promontory on the western edge, where it commandeers a grand view of the Whimsy sim and, as a bonus, looks impressive from the ground.

The Pele island will be under development for a while. On the table are gardens at sea level, paths (late note, some paths are now completed) and something—Team Whimsy isn’t yet sure what) to occupy the hollow space inside the mountain. Already the island sports a Paleolithic drinking bird (touch to start and stop, and ride it if you dare), a hang glider rezzer, and Whimsy’s entry area.

The public beach also got dressed up with a pirate ship with obligatory sunken treasure, a campfire for story-telling and music-playing, a tiki gazebo, and a canoe rezzer. Foliage on the beach is tropical. Cheyenne, who has long tried and often failed to follow Exuberance’s advice that plants look best when clustered, broke down and bought some of Lilith Heart’s ready-made beach groups, which make the northeast corner of Whimsy look like a tropical paradise (which it sort of it).

Some objects will eventually be relocated as Team Whimsy plans and constructs a network of walkways and bridges and works out routes for the Whimsy Avatar Mobilization Authority.

Whimsy—the best keeps getting better!

Tiki Controversy

The Whimsy Transportation Authority is taking heat for its recent decision to run a light rail line down the stone gullet of the archipelago’s giant tiki man. Enraged local residents have threatened to boycott the WTA. “We don’t know Mr. Tiki’s story,” resident Michelle Runningbear, president of Citizens for Saving Mr. Tiki, told The Whimsy Times, ”but we’re used to him and we like him as he is. We resent the Transportation Authority’s unilateral decision to run a train down his throat. If the WTA goes forward with its plan, Whimsey’s residents will engage in sporadic nonviolent acts of silliness.”

WTA President Cheyenne Palisades pooh-poohed the idea of a demonstration. “We have Mr. Tiki’s explicit permission for the rail route,” she said, “and he’s getting a nice kickback. Tiki men everywhere will be outraged if CSMT interferes with Whimsy’s public transportation. And by the way, Ms. Runningbear is on the No Ride list.”

Construction of WTA’s routes are underway, with much activity in the vicinity of Mr. Tiki. “We fear the worst,” Ms. Runningbear told the Whimsical Times.

Build to 4096m!
What’s Unusual About This Prim?
It’s at 4000 meters!

In a series of bold and daring experiments, Cheyenne Palisades and Sweetie have confirmed the rumor that it is possible to build as high as 4096 meters with the new Dazzle First Look viewer.

“The air is thin up there, but I can hold my breath for a long, long time,” said Sweetie. “I got my training on the Avatar Mobilization Unit.” “The train, that is,” said Ms. Palisades. “You’ll see why when you ride it.”

“It was amazing!” said Sweetie. “We broke the 768 meter barrier! 1000 meters! Still building! 2000 meters! Still building! Three thousand! Four!”

“We were able to rez, resize, link, and move prims all the way past 4000 meters,” added Ms. Palisades, “and teleports worked as well. This will be huge!"

“This was fortuitous and timely,” said Sweetie. “We needed more room for ridiculous builds.”

Team Whimsy is in need of an energetic and not very bright volunteer to determine whether the extended building range is available to non-estate owners. If so, rumor has it, a new corridor will be opened for resident structures.

Feminist Expedition
A Woman On a Mission

Whimsy resident Feminist Expedition consented to an interview
with Whimsian Times.

Fem, will you tell our readers about your work in real life and Second Life?

Fem: I’ve been working for decades now as a non-violence advocate and as a self-defense trainer and martial arts instructor. In the 80s I fell into Buddhism when a martial arts student told me about a class “I needed.”

So, I began practice in kundalini yoga and quickly met my guru.... For people who aren’t familiar with meditation as a spiritual practice, that can be a very strange idea. And it was for me, too!

In Second Life, I met a guy from England who wanted to create “The Enlightenment Gallery” as a parcel to collect art and give folks a chance to make a connection to the higher energies... so I offered to teach basic meditation practice. He offered to build me a Skydojo for doing SL training for self-defense professionals. Then he decided to leave SL! So, I inherited the parcel. For a while it was on the mainland, and now it’s on the lovely isle of Whimsy.

I’ve been teaching meditation groups since August 2007. I’m currently working on materials to bring more self-defense education to SL, with presentation boards and through video.

WT: Are you finding SL an effective medium for your work?

Fem: Second Life is an awesome place that allows people to meet internationally, in an easy way. For this reason I think it’s very effective for folks working with progressive ideas— where else can you chat internationally with only a few keystrokes needed to bring you together? With meditation, I find a lot of people here looking for community and sometimes assistance in separate growth techniques that can actually build spiritual awareness and capacity... from all the infinite things that are available to us in these modern times... Second Life and real life!

WT: Fem, tell us about your aquarium!

Fem: In SL there seems to be plenty of builders of fascinating things. One of my first fascinations was with SL fish, so we decided to host SL’s Great Fishbowl, to highlight the creativity of this medium. Also, it’s well-known that gazing at fish is wonderful for stress-reduction... so we felt this would be a wonderful way to use
our parcel.

Since we started our fish collection, we’ve hosted mermaids, mermen, and scuba divers and many other guests have come to see the beauty of these moving pixels in all colors and forms. Plus, where else can you have a great conversation with a good friend while slowly rotating around the fishbowl on the back of our gorgeous orca? This is a must-participate Second Life opportunity!

Havok4 Wreaks Havoc!

April 1 saw the gridwide implementation of Havok4, Second Life’s new physics engine.

It’s finally here. And it’s causing problems.

Sweetie was quick to notice. Her avatar was sliding down a tilted prim, she said. And it was! “I sort of like it,” she told Cheyenne. Next, she noticed her avatar was losing altitude when hovering.

So, too, does the Mathieu Basiat’s hang glider, which, under Havok1, was a pleasure to ride in Whimsy’s wind currents. Now it drops so rapidly it’s impractical to ride.

Then there’s the matter of the backwards-flying parrots. Chey set out a half-dozen at Pele’s caldera and they went wild, tumbling and flying in a most erratic fashion. Creator Garth Fairchang promises a fix, so Whimsy residents will see soon see more parrots. Meanwhile, the Fairchang gulls, hawk, and parrots already on the land continue to fly correctly.

Most things are working properly under Havok4, which offers a number of benefits over Havok1, the previous physics engine.

New Sim Neighbors

Whimsy’s residents were excited on April 4 when a range of mountains suddenly appeared on the southern horizon. Leaf Shermer’s Eccentricity sim had been born!

For a year-and-a-half, Leaf owned property just to the south of Pele, Chey and Sweeite’s home on Dreamland’s Forsaken sim. Leaf’s land was beautiful and peaceful and she was a wonderful neighbor, so when she decided to buy a sim, a slot next to Whimsy was a natural.

Because of a recent and dramatic decrease in prices for private islands, both Leaf and Chey will be getting openspace (“light”) sims, which provide 3750 prims on a land space the size of Whimsy. Whimsy Kaboom will be placed along Whimsy’s western border, and Leaf’s new sim will be placed to its south.

Whimsy Kaboom will offer plenty of open water for sailing and surfing

Police Blotter Coming

Private islands provide special tools to help owners deal with the dreaded lag monster. We all know the lag monster, right? It spoils your Second Life experience, making it difficult to move and rez objects, and dress your avatar. Now we are able to spot laggy scripts. In Whimsical Times we’ll be listing objects that cause a large amount of server or physics lag, and, for comparison, some objects that require little script time. Some of the laggy objects will, alas, be Cheyenne’s.

Whimsy’s server can handle a certain amount of laggy scripts, but too many will slow things down. It will help us all to know how much script time our objects require.

Seeing your most recent dearly-loved purchase in this space doesn’t necessarily mean you should remove it, but it can’t hurt to know which sorts of objects place heavy loads on the server.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Whimsical Times, April 2008

Written 29 April, 2008

Whimsical Times, April 2008

It felt right for Whimsy to have a newsletter... and so we do. Here's the most recent issue.

Whimsical Times, Premiere Issue

See next post for the accompanying article.

Whimsy Rail Pictures

Here are a couple more pictures of the Whimsy rail line.

Whimsy Rail

What Looks Like This Above the Surface...

... Looks Like This Under the Surface

Written 27 April, 2008

Whimsy Rail

Sweetie and I have been laying track for the Whimsy Transportation Authority, which pressed us into service under the National Pretend Emergency Act of 2002. We grumbled and complained, but in the interest of good citizenship we worked on the railroad all the livelong day.

The WTA has some highfalootin' ideas. Imagine! They call the train an Avatar Mobilization Unit! And they claim the line has been accident-free since 2008. Wait a minute! It IS 2008!

The Whimsy line will come in from Whimsy Kaboom, our as-yet-undelivered-and-I'm-pissed-at-the-Lindens-for-taking-their-time light sim. After winding through columns of black lava rock, the track snakes through the eroded area under the volcano Pele, descending to sea level and continuing to dive until the train is submerged. The track then winds through the sim from south to north, mostly underwater, before exiting onto Whimsy Kaboom.

We kept the rails underwater so it wouldn't clutter up Whimsy's beautiful terrain.

The train is rideable, but piles up when it hits the bumper at track's end and flies back to its home at the start of the line. Already it's a really nice ride-- but we may have to issue freebie aqualungs at the last stop before it takes its dive.

Kitto Flora's great steam train can be purchased at the Wish sim.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Whimsy Kaboom Arrives!

Whimsy from Kaboom

Kaboom from Whimsy

Kaboom from the Whimsy Sun Gate

Written 28 April, 2008

Whimsy Kaboom Arrives!

When I logged on this evening, I learned via e-mail from Linden Lab that Whimsy Kaboom had arrived!

Woo Hoo!

I flew from the sky down to ground level and headed west-- only to run into dead space on Whimsy's western edge.

That's because Kaboom had been placed to Whimsy's east.


I had a moment of disorientation. The sun sets in the west, right? Soooo, that means if Kaboom is on Whimsy's western edge, it should be-- thataway!

I phoned the concierge line and they acknowledged they had stuck Kaboom in the wrong place. 15 minutes later, it arrived in its proper place.

Sweetie logged in just before Kaboom was brought back up.

As soon as we realized it was in place, we raced around like kids. I plunked down a free and most excellent Fairchang pirate ship and Sweetie-- well, Sweetie, being Sweetie, made a jumble of humongous huge prim lava rocks and started moving them around.

Here are some of Kaboom's earliest shots.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Army of Lawyers: Chey Hears from Someone Who Likes Camping

R.V.'s Camping Sign, About Which She Seems Simultaneously Proud and Ashamed
This Illustration was One of Two that Accompanied
My Editorial on Camping in SL Entrepreneur

Written 24 April, 2008

Army of Lawyers:

Chey Hears From Someone Who Likes Camping

As soon as I logged on yesterday afternoon, I heard from someone I'll call R.V.

Her first IM directed me to her newly-begun blog. Her second was a threat. She said if I didn’t retract my words or take down pictures of her camping she would consider taking RL legal action against me for defamation of her character and her business. My article implied, she said, that she used bots and gave nothing to the community. I had 24 hours to respond or make changes.

I asked, in all innocence, which article she meant, and she pointed me to my SL Entrepreneur editorial on camping. I took a look (hadn’t seen it since I submitted it) and saw one of the illustrations chosen by the publisher showed a camping sign on Ms. V’s land.

I told her it was hard to see how I had defamed her since I had mentioned no one by name in the editorial and had no control over the illustrations. I suggested that she contact the publisher, but she was too angry to hear me.

I said, “Earth to R. I didn’t mention you in my text and I didn’t choose the images for the illustration. I don’t publish the magazine. I merely wrote an editorial.”

She told me my name was on the article and so it would be me who would be subjected to the wrath of her army of bloodthirsty lawyers.

I said there was nothing libelous in my editorial and I stood by what I had written.

She started on a harangue about how unprofessionally one-sided it was. I suggested she look up the word editorial—and, while she was at it, libel.

And I suggested she and her lawyers perform an act that is generally considered anatomically impossible.

And then I muted her.

You know, there’s a wonderful defense against libel. Just don’t libel anyone. Say what’s true, or what you believe to be true, and you’ll get into no trouble.

And if you don’t mention a person or her business at all, that’s a pretty good defense, too.

I’m anxiously waiting to hear from Ms. V’s army of lawyers.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Case Against Camping

Written 23 April, 2008

The Case Against Camping

A month or so ago I did an opinion piece for the Second Life magazine SL Entrepreneur. You can see the editorial in its original context here.

And it follows. In my next post I'll 'splain why I am posting it here.

The Case Against Camping

By Cheyenne Palisades

Camping— enticing avatars to remain on your property by paying them small sums to sit in a chair, stand on a ladder pretending to wash windows, or pretend to sell virtual hot dogs from a cart—can raise your traffic rating and can theoretically entice people to your place of business, but at what price? What price to you, what price to me, what price to the grid? Consider:

* By keeping avies sitting in chairs, you encourage deadbeat behavior. Don’t kid yourself: $2L an hour isn’t going to buy a camper much, but it will certainly prevent them from engaging in meaningful activity in world. While they sit in your poorly-textured camping chair, they won’t be exploring, learning the interface or building skills, engaging in interactions with other avatars, or contributing in any meaningful way to the economy of Second Life.

* Many new avatars and more than a few older ones think SL is a game, and Lindens are the goal. Camping chairs encourage and perpetuate this type of thinking—there the chairs are, and how easy it is to sit! But when campers realize they’re making real-life pennies to be bored stiff for hours, they go away in search of a more interesting virtual world.

So think about it! You are driving people from the world. Avatars who might otherwise become content generators or heavy-spending fashionistas go to There! or World of Warcraft and Second Life is robbed forever of their creativity, talent, and real-world income.

You would serve your fellow citizens and yourself and society better if you got rid of your camping chairs, or better yet scripted your camping chairs to tell whoever sat in them that camping is stupid, then kick them out Lindenless with a list of interesting places to visit.

Consider also: You are paying for this foolishness. Sure, 2L every 10 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but if you have four camping chairs and they stay filled three-quarters of the time, you’re spending more than $3 US every day or $95 monthly, enough to pay tier on half a region! And not only that, you’re promulgating what is questionably the biggest problem in Second Life—grid clogging by inactive avatars.

Linden Lab’s open sourcing of the Second Life client has allowed the development of text-only browsers that consume little RAM or processor power, enabling a single computer to run dozens of instances of Second Life. This creates dozens of sim-clogging bots that are scripted to find and sit in camping chairs. And you know what happens to any sim when there are a couple of dozen avatars present? Right. The sim grinds to a stop, making a miserable experience for everybody. And when tens of thousands of these bots share the grid with real citizens, it leads to crashes, failed teleports, misplaced attachments, and a generally miserable experience for everybody. If you don’t think people leave Second Life to escape this, you’re mistaken.

And finally, consider the theory behind camping in the first place, which is that the avatars who are “paid” to camp will become customers and will attract other avatars to your site. That’s nonsense. Before the ban on gambling, many campers spent their Lindens on site, but now they they’re more likely to keep their pennies. They can get by without that butt skirt of which you are so proud, thank you very much. Most campers will never become productive citizens. They will remain virtual leeches. At best, you’re going to get a portion of your lindens back.

And as for attracting others to your land, you’re kidding, right? Most citizens steer clear of laggy, clogged areas—and if they do investigate and find a bunch of robot campers and a time dilation of .38, they’ll immediately leave. I mean, wouldn’t you?

Finally, let me share with you a search technique practiced by myself any many of my friends—we simply disregard the top three or four hits in Search and skip down toward the middle of the page. Why? We know those places with 999,999 traffic counts are going to be bot-ridden, ugly, laggy, and probably pornographic, places we don’t want to visit.

The places we DO want to visit will be a feast to our eyes and ears, filled with high-quality merchandise we will be happy to by—and if the place is laggy, it will be because the avatars present are spending money—not costing you $2L each every 10 minutes.

Another Feature Gone Wrong

Written 16 April, 2008

Another Feature Gone Wrong

Sweetie and I have an unfortunate compulsion to recaption songs. We've done thousand together.

I know, I know, I know, it’s a vice. But we’re weak. We give in to it.

And it’s not like there’s such a thing as Songtweakers Anonymous?

Is there?

Is there?

Oh, there is! But there’s not one close, is there?


Well, that’s not close enough.

Sweetie, hyperkinetic sprite that she is, tends to bounce off the walls at bedtime. One of my jobs is to help her wind down. I must refrain from introducing new topics lest she ramp up and go off on a tear that will keep her up half the night and make her testy with me the next morning..

So I had to bite my tongue night-before-last when these words began to run through my head. It was all I could do not to blurt them out.

This one is for all you Second Life Luddites.

Another Feature Gone Wrong

We don’t need no av imposters
We don’t need no render glow
We don’t want more laggy features
Leave our interface alone
Hey! Lindens!
Interface alone!
All in all it’s just
Another feature gone wrong

We don’t need Windlight enhancements
We don’t want no fancy skies
We all love our blocky pixels
Leave our interface alone
Hey! Lindens!
Interface alone!
All in all it’s just
Another feature gone wrong

We don’t need no stinking Dazzle
We don’t need no fancy screens
Give us more prims on our islands
Leave our interface alone
Hey! Lindens!
Interface alone!
All in all it’s just
Another feature gone wrong

(And p.s., please bring back Friends!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sweetie's Presentation

Sweetie Was Inspired Last Night. And This Came Out

Sweetie’s Presentation

“Where shall I begin, please, Your Majesty?”

“Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely,
“and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

“Your Majesties,” (Sweetie bows) “lords, ladies, furries wyrms, Mer, mechanical life forms, honored dignitaries from the newbie delegations and their appointed guards, I mean guides …”

“Sweetie…,” the king warned kindly but firmly.

“Yes Your Majesty.”

Sweetie curtsies and smiles and pirouettes three times before stopping and bowing demurely to face her audience and give her lighting technicians time to aim her spot properly.

“I’m humbled and pleased today to present to you the Mistress of Whimsy, priestess to Pele and the Guardian and Guide of the Whimsian Peoples, Empress Cheyenne! No offense mean to Your Majesties; those are honorific title for the most part, of course.

“We gather here today to witness the investiture of the title Superior Blogger of the Realm on my darling Cheyenne. Being named a SBOR wasn’t an honor my humble Cheyenne ever expected. She toiled away on her blog out of love of the craft and sent out those amazing swank baskets to all the voters on the committee purely out of good form. Trust me, there is not one tiny competitive bone in her body.

“No, this honorific is the result of steady workmanship and a whimsical turn of mind applied again and again to create a world all her own for her readers. It is a readership that drew the attentions of Your Majesties when just this weekend the official readership of this most worthy tabloid— I mean rag— I mean blog— passed a milestone.

“In the four short months since tracking began, 10,500 readers from 106 nations have visited this blog to sip at the genius that flows from the wellspring that is my Cheyenne’s mind.” (The king clears his throat) “Her hard, steady work to create this blog, week after week, shows she embodies the ideals of citizenship Your Majesties value most. So to one and all, I say. lift your glasses, turn a pirouette, and say, ‘Three cheers for Cheyenne!’”

The king then rose to his feet and in a magnificent voice intoned, “Congratulations on your success, Cheyenne, and we hope to see many more blogs to come.”

The End

Monday, April 21, 2008

Political Rant by the One and Only Sweetie

Written 21 April, 2008

Political Rant by the One and Only Sweetie

We now pause for a brief political rant by Sweetie (Sweetie leaps up onto her soapbox, turns a pirouette, and smiles down at her rapt audience)

Here YE Here YE: U.S. Senate "Net Neutrality" Hearings on April 22nd

Tomorrow, while the US media is caught up in the the frenzy of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary a very important hearing will be held in the US Senate.

There has been a coordinated push by national and muti-national internet providers to restrict access to their bandwidth. For example, AOL is owned by big media conglomerate "X," therefore, in order to secure the advertising business related to and supporting the dominance of their own content on the net, they have set it up so that if you you do a search for content for media conglomerate Y's material, it mysteriously doesn't show. It's the old game of we only serve Coke or Pepsi, except they are using it to control SPEECH! Now they want laws to give legitimacy to this heinous practice.

A truly free, open internet is absolutely essential to the health of free democracies and their economies.

I understand the need to protect the citizenry from criminal activity on the web. Beyond that, though, internet providers should not control content any more than my phone company should tell me who I can call or the post office can tell me who i can mail things too or the roads can tell me whether my reason for driving from point A to point B is legitimate.

I mean, why is this even a question?

Please take a moment to write your senator (if you're in the US) and tell them you are watching this issue and ask them to attend the hearings to represent your interests.

You can find your senator and contact them through the website www.Senate.Gov

Thank you :)

The Hate the Lindens Game

Strong Language Warning
Certain Words in This Post May Make Women Faint
Strong Men Cry, and Children Snicker

Written 21 April, 2008

The Hate the Lindens Game

This weekend a friend asked me what I thought about a newly-formed group. It was created by, said the notice she passed to me, a group of content creators who were outraged about the recent Saturday downtime.

Puh-leeze! One of Linden Labs’ internet service providers had equipment failure. It took them a few hours to fix it. And how is this Linden Labs’ fault?

It’s not surprising Linden Labs comes under fire whenever people are unhappy with what is or isn’t happening on the grid. Sometimes the company deserves it, but more often it doesn’t.

People are too quick to play the Hate the Lindens game.

The weekly tabloid The Avastar is famous for fomenting a crisis of competence in each and every issue. “Outrage over gambling ban!” “Bank Scandal!” And, this week “We won’t ditch SL!”, a piece of sleight-of-hand that suggests everybody is about to jump ship and go—

And go where? Hipihi? There? Central Grid? The Sims Online? Facebook? Give me a fucking break!

We are all of us—Linden Labs including—participating in something new and wonderful, something never done before, something only a couple of years ago considered beyond the limits of existing technology, a complex three-dimensional virtual world that allows unrestricted movement, communication, content creation, and commerce, all in real time. We’re inventing it as we go along. There is no playbook. There is no roadmap.

Of course it breaks sometimes. Of course it fucking breaks! The issue of scalability is immense. We’re talking about more than 17000 servers in three states interconnecting hundreds of thousands of users over millions of miles of telephone lines and cable and linkages to satellites. This isn’t Donkey Kong on your Atari 800! Servers melt down, telephone lines are taken by tornadoes, cables get flooded, power stations go down, a bit of code is badly written. It’s a wonder it works at all!

And when it doesn’t work, whose fault is it?

Sometimes it’s no one’s fault.

Because shit happens.

And if you can’t live with that, Donkey Kong is ready when you are.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Written 18 April, 2008


About six weeks ago I noticed a slight soreness in my left arm. I happened to be seeing the doctor for a checkup and mentioned it to him, mostly to be sure it had nothing to do with my heart (it didn’t).

The pain didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse. Soon my neck was stiff and my arm was hurting like the blazes.

I rarely take pain relievers, but I found some Vicodin that had been lying about for ten years or so and took it. And I was gobbling aspirin.

My doctor, damn him, was not taking my pain seriously (I have since fired him), so I called my insurance company and got a referral to an orthopedist.

The ortho knew what it was right away, and it wasn’t the dread progressive neuromuscular disease I was half certain I had. He took an x-ray of my spine, and ten minutes later he was showing me a calcium deposit at my sixth cervical vertebra.

“You have a little osteoarthritis,” he said cheerily, “but it’s not bad. I think the pain will resolve. If it doesn’t within a month we’ll do an MRI.” And he referred me to physical therapy.

As soon as I started therapy, I knew things were going to get better. Some of the exercises my PT gave me hurt like hell. It was a good sort of hurt. I could tell my muscles were tight and the stretches were working them. He sent me home with a big rubber band and a list of exercises and sore muscles—but the arm and neck pain had already begun to lessen.

I was certain my position on the computer was the primary cause of my pain, so I took a look at my work station. I raised the height of my chair (now my arms aren’t raised nearly so high) and pulled the monitors closer so I wouldn’t lean forward quite so much. And I put a pillow behind my head when I was working, and iced my muscles every now and then.

And I did those darn exercises religiously.

I’m not out of the woods yet, but I’m content because I know the nature of the problem; I know what causes it, and I know what I need to do to alleviate it.


I spend a lot of time in Second Life, but I have a real-life friend who is online more. Recently he found a growth in a certain unmentionable area of his body. He went to the doctor and was immediately put in the hospital. He had surgery the next morning, and has two additional procedures because of infection. He’s not out of the woods yet, but seems to be slowly getting better.


My episode, and that of my friend, has caused me to realize that being in one position for hours on end is not inherently a healthy thing. In fact, I’m certain it’s harder on the body than passive activities like watching television. When we're in world we sit rather than recline, we keep our arms raised in front of us, and we make thousands of repetitive moments with our fingers. It’s a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves, and other maladies—and if we don’t tear ourselves away to walk around or exercise every now and again, our cardiovascular fitness decreases.

I’m taking care these days to change my position frequently, rise and walk around every little while, and go to bed at a reasonable hour instead of fiddling with a script or building yet another ridiculous object until four in the morning. And I do my PT exercises and walk a mile or more most days.

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

I hope you’re taking care of yourself, too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Whimsy Entry Area


Pele's Back Side

Written 10 April, 2008

Whimsy Entry Area

My brother Peter Stindberg dropped by Whimsy yesterday and left me a message: “Wow. WOW!” He was impressed at how much we’ve done and how good the sim is looking.

It’s easy to get lost in developing a place and not really see it, so I took a moment last night and just walked around. Then it was back to work.

I’ve been busy on Whimsy’s entry area. It was initially on the top of Mr. Tiki, since we plunked him down first thing, but then I moved it to the flanks of Pele. Avatars rez now on a little platform that’s suspended above the ocean on rickety-looking wooden pilings—tiki style, of course. (Wish I could figure out a way to make it sway in the wind). From there, a rope bridge leads to a landing, where they can go to the left along more rope bridges to sea level, or right, up to Pele.

Sweetie and I are scheming, trying to come up with the perfect platform for the entry area—hopefully some sort of antiquated, steam-powered lighter-than-air ship—but for now, it’s a precariously balanced platform.

When Whimsy Kaboom arrives whatever platform we wind up with will provide entry to both sims.

The back of Pele is open these days because we cut away the mountain. We’ve been working on sculpted cliffs, but it’s difficult because the distance is great, about 60 vertical meters. And the gardens and waterfall that will grace Pele’s lower reaches are not yet begun, and we’ve not yet placed the house—but Whimsy’s beaches are complete and the property owners are doing a great job on their parcels, and the path from Mr. Tiki to the top of the second largest and as yet unnamed island is a lovely walk. Things are coming along on Whimsy.

I’m a jump-on-it-and-do-it person. Sweetie is more of a plan-it-before-you-do-it-Chey-you-big-dummy sort of person. So I have to sometimes tear things out and redo them to her specifications, but she has far better taste than I and nine times out of ten I acknowledge she’s right because she is right. The tenth time, I acknowledge she’s right because she’s Sweetie.

Sweetie hated the first walkway down to the Pele flats, and so I took myself to Svarga and bought four rope bridges (sure wish there was a copyable version) and redid the path. She loved it, but I wasn’t happy because all of a sudden my viewer has slow frame rates and I was walking off the paths. Fortunately, the rope bridges are modifiable, so Sweetie and I increased their width from about .8 meters to about 1.5 meters and all was well with the world.

The virtual world, at least.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

... And a New Video Card!

Written 17 April, 2008

... And a New Video Card!

I was fed up with 1.3 fps with Windlight features enabled, so on Saturday morning I bought a video card.

There's a Fry's superstore 14 miles from my door, but after I thought about the drive there, the time I would spend shopping, and the drive back, I went to Fry' and searched nVidia.

I settled on a EVGA nVidia 8600 TG for $128 US, with a $30 rebate and a seven-port powered USB hub, since one can never have too many USB outlets.

A box from Fry's was on my doorstep at noon on Tuesday. I shut down my computer and swapped cards.

The old card, an nVidia 7600, worked great before the introduction of the current viewer, and is still a great video card for any other purpose, but it is now in the video card graveyard-- that is in a box with even older video cards. Maybe I can figure out someone who could use it.

When I removed the 7600 I discovered the fan was frozen. It worked loose after I turned it with my thumb, but it makes me wonder if that was the problem. I mean, the card worked fine for the first couple of days after the release of 1.19.1(4), and then would begin to die a few minutes after I would start SL. Frame rates would start at 30 and slowly decrease to about 1.

I'm wondering now if the frozen fan caused the card to slow down under the heavy demands of Second Life. Perhaps the card has some sort of sensor and would reduce performance when it reached a certain temperature.

The new card is a champ. I have all options to the max and 256 meters draw distance and am getting 10-12 fps on Whimsy. And bonus, bonus (I learned this from the most recent Second Life podcast), local lights are visible from any distance and the previous limit of six local lights no longer applies. It makes for a richer visual experience. In fact, it's a darn handy feature when your girlfriend is the light mistress of the universe.

Nicholaz'ed Again!

Written 17 April, 2008

Nicholaz'ed Again!

Nicholaz Beresford said he was not going to release any new viewers, but guess what! He's released one for the current version, 1.19.1(4)! He couldn't resist! Whoo hoo!

I downloaded his zip file, extracted the contents, put them in the main Second Life folder on my hard drive, made a shortcut, and double-clicked it, and Bob the Drinking Bird's your uncle. I am now using the Beresford viewer again.

It runs fine, but the things I like the most about it are the friends tab (it's ba-ack) in addition to the widely-hated Communicate tab, that I can wear objects by double-clicking them in Inventory, and that I no longer get my hair and shoes up my butt. Of course that hasn't happened lately, so maybe the Lindens FINALLY fixed that bug!

The frame rate is good. I'm getting as high or higher a number than I did with the previous release.

I sent Nicholaz a tip last night-- only a thousand lindens, and he IMed this morning to thank me. I told him he's a hero.

Get the Nicholaz viewer EC-e for Second Life Release 1.19.1(4) here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Written 14 April, 2008


For more than a year and a half, Leaf Shermer was our neighbor on the Forsaken sim in Dreamland. Between us, we owned the entire sim, except for one 4k lot on which the idiot Sociopaths lived.

Now Leaf is our neighbor again, with her new and brilliantly named sim Eccentricity.

Eccentricity joins Whimsy on the southern border.

Leaf has been putting out her brilliant Japanese boats and structures, terraforming as she goes, and Eccentricity is looking very good. She hasn’t put in terrain textures yet, or perhaps she likes the default textures that came with her island, but it’s looking peaceful and exotic if a bit arid over there. It’s great to have more flying room, too! The sim crossing is relatively easy, with no hair-up-the-butt (so far, at least) or blue zone nonsense. It’s fun to fly over Leaf’s sim and see and occasionally crash into her newest builds. When her light sim arrives, and ours, we’ll have quite a little estate.

And quite a menagerie. Eccentricity has a great-looking elephant and giraffe (although the giraffe tends to wander and can sometimes be found 30 meters from the nearest land), birds, and sea creatures. Whimsy has its own share of birds and fish, and seals, a blue whale, Inky the Squid, and a ‘gator. I’ve yet to set out Mr. Armadillo and the Truly Evil Monkeys.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cry Havok!

Written 14 April, 2008

Cry Havok!

When I was visiting sims that were test-running Havok4, I didn’t seem to have any problems.

But now that it’s here in earnest, I’ve discovered several anomalies.

First, and worst, is a distressing tendency for my avi to sink when it should be hovering. If I park Chey at 30 meters and go for a PBJ sandwich, she’s underwater upon my return.

That sinking sensation seems to effect not only avatars. Vehicles that once remained stationary now lose altitude, and the expensive Hang Glider rezzer I only recently purchased from Mathieu Basiat and which was once a dream to fly is now difficult to control.

When Sweetie told me her avi was sliding down a tilted giant prim I had placed underneath Pele's caldera, I thought she was crazy. Until I began to slide too!

The slide happens only sometimes, and we’ve not yet discovered what triggers it. It’s rather fun. The hover problem isn’t.

There’s also a problem with Garth Fairchang’s great birds. When I set loose a flock of gaudily-plumaged parrots at Pele, they flew backwards—all but the ones that collided with objects, which began to tumble wildly.

Garth knows of the problem and says he'll set out a new script if the particular bug that wrecks the parrots isn’t fixed.

Strangely enough, the parrots I set out before the change of physics engine continue to fly normally.

I think the real world (the one they SLersthe meat world) is now running on Havok7, which seems to be particularly buggy. If Douglas Adams were still alive, he could tell us all about it.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Written 10 April, 2008


Yeah, yeah, I know. The following was supposed to go after my post about the new viewer. So sue me. I can't help it if the Flight of the Bumblebee inspired me to go all out of sequence now, can I? Huh? Huh?


Wait a minute, you ask. Why does Cheyenne have both Cable and DSL access?

My DSL performs flawlessly most of the time—but whenever a frog farts in Alabama, I lose my signal for a microsecond and I get redlined in Second Life. Any thunder, even a low rumble on the horizon, will knock me off line. I have come to dread the rain Georgia so desperately needs.

It’s been going on for nearly a year with no resolution. I’ve had Bell South (now AT&T again, grrr!) techs to the house five times. They told me it was my phone equipment. I tried to systematically unplug my phone equipment while the problem was ongoing, but for an entire year we had so little rain I didn’t get a chance. The storm would come and pass within a few minutes. By the time I got back to the computer after unplugging phones, it would be sunny again.

Finally it did thunder, and for an entire evening. I unplugged every single phone in the house one by one, and then unplugged them all together, and still lost the signal.

I called AT&T, and they sent me a new DSL modem, which I’ve not yet tried. It’s the last link. If, when it eventually thunders, I still lose the signal, it will absolutely positively HAVE to be in the phone line.

Georgia’s horrible drought made this problem bearable for months and months, but I eventually ordered cable. I put the computer on cable two weeks ago, and it seems to work fine, although, despite all I’ve heard about cable’s blazing speed, it doesn’t seem to be any faster than my DSL.

Tonight, or maybe this weekend, I’ll be putting DSL back on line with the new modem AT&T was kind enough to send me. Then I’ll wait for a frog to fart in Alabama. When that happens, I’ll know whether my future lies in cable or DSL.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Flight of the Bumblebee

Bumblebee Accident

Happy Head

Written 13 April, 2008

Flight of the Bumblebee

You gotta love it when Sweetie starts cleaning out her inventory. She rezzes things she hasn't seen since 2006, and some of them are amazing. There are lots and lots and lots of plywood cubes named Object, of course, but there's always chaff with the wheat. When she pulls something cool out, it can be fun.

Tonight I came across her while she was clearing her Objects folder. Or rather, I almost did. When I entered the House of 1000 Pleasures, there was a giant bumblebee filling the room.

Thank god it wasn't in a stinging mood!

It turned out to be a vehicle, and we flew around. After a while Sweetie gave me one of my own, with the provision that I not turn it green. I already had, of course, but I turned it back to yellow before she could see it.

One doesn’t want to color clash with Sweetie!

I was lucky, for Sweetie had gotten her Bumblebee stuck in the House of 1000 Pleasures before she had even had a chance to turn it green.

Later we tried to orbit ourselves—but orbit didn’t appear to be working. Neither of us could orbit the other with our Mystitools, and Piero Padar’s PTools didn’t do it either. Maybe it’s a Havok4 thing?

PTools did succeed in giving Sweetie a happy head.

Anyway, we had a good time, and I was glad, for it’s tax time, and when you’re a multimultimillionaire like Sweetie, it’s stressful. She finally decided to fill a pickup truck with money and drive it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Well, the actually wanted to fly it there, but I reminded her of her recent problems with those bastards from the TSA, and when I promised her I would make her a nice truck, she agreed to the land journey.

She’s away now, delivering the money to Uncle Sam. I miss her.

Stupid, Stupid New Viewer!

Written 10 April, 2008

Stupid, Stupid New Viewer

Damn, damn, damn!

My download of the new and required 1.19.1(4) viewer wiped out my 1.18.x.x viewer, and so consequently my Nicholaz Bleeding Edge-V front end will no longer work.

Bad news, that. And worse news: Nicholaz Beresford is disillusioned with Linden Lab for breaking so many of his patches and for removing tools that help to identify bugs, so there will be no more viewers from him.

Nicholaz says BE-V can be made to work with 1.19.1(4), but I’ve not been successful. Consequently, I’m stuck with the regular client. I hate it because it has no Friends button and because I can’t double click and wear items in inventory and for a dozen other reasons.

And all because it doesn’t run for shit on my dual-core machine and 256 mb nVidia 7600 video card.

When I started out with the new viewer, I was getting about 12 fps with all video settings to the max and 512 meters draw distance. Way cool. But suddenly the frame rate dropped to 1.5 or so and I was at a standstill. I was able to recover to about 7 fps, but only by dropping draw distance to 96 meters, cutting off options like reflections from water and basic shaders, and moving the sliders almost all the way to the left.

When I log in, I get 30 fps-- this when the card is being hit hardest, rezzing things in. Then, after about 3 minutes, it ramps down to 1 or so fps.

Damn it!

The first couple of times it happened a relog helped, but since them, no dice. I even downloaded the latest drivers for my video card. Nada.

I’m going to unplug my cable modem and plug in the DSL modem to be sure it’s not a bandwidth problem. Then, I guess, I’ll find my way to Fry’s and buy an even more kickass video card.

Because I refuse to be denied a quality Second Life experience.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Written 10 April, 2008


I love Dreamfields spaghetti. It tastes like any other pasta, yet has far fewer carbohydrates. I thank Pam Havercamp for telling me about it.

But I DON’T like the spaghetti behind my computer.

OMG, what a mess!

Cables, cables, cables!

There are: Power cords (two computers, two printers, two monitors, APC). Video cables (two). Parallel printer cable. Speaker wires. Keyboard cable. Mouse cable. Network cables. Cable co-axial. Phone lines to the computer and to my telephone. USB connectors (label printer, web cam, game controller, Skype phone, printer, hub. Firewire cables for external hard drives. And then there are those darn annoying power supplies that take up two or three spaces on a power strip: modem, powered speakers, USB hub, microphone, label printer, external hard drives, Skype phone, the cordless phone.

And on top of all that there are orphaned cables that ran to components long retired and which remain a part of the spaghetti.

I’ve tried to untangle the mess, but nothing seems to help. By the time everything is plugged in again, it’s spaghetti, and every single wire is entangled with 30 others. I despair of ever getting it all straightened out.

And I dread having to remove them all from my computer.

A month ago I did that rarest of rare things: I turned off my desktop. A line of thunderstorms had moved through and a tornado had hit downtown Atlanta hard, just nine miles from my home. A second line was moving through. I woke to wind and rain on my roof, watched the news while idling in Second Life, and then powered down the PC.

When I woke again at 9:30 am, the computer wouldn’t start.

And so I did the logical thing. I drove in a panic to Fry’s and used every single penny of the money I had after buying a private island on a dual-core Compaq.

It was a computer which fairly sucked, but at least I was on the grid before noon.

I sorted out the problem with my VAIO (power supply, my first guess), installed it, and took the Compaq back to Fry’s for a refund.

All was well. But I had to face the spaghetti.

I’m only now really getting settled. It took me a couple of days to sort out the sound (complicated, powered speakers and extension cables to carry sound to my headphones, so I won’t have to walk behind my desk every time I plug in). Then there was a problem with the USB. The connectors on the back of the computer quit working. (Fortunately, I remembered a similar problem from a previous computer and was able to uninstall them; they reinstalled themselves and everything was hunky-dory. But it was dicey, I tell you, since I couldn’t find a non-USB mouse. Of course, every time I uninstalled the port that controlled the mouse, the cursor froze and I had to reboot. Grrr! Reminder to self: Buy one of those horrible mice with roller balls and DIN cable, just in case).

Then there was a hum in my speakers. They sound good, but are big and clunky, and I didn’t mind replacing them. I found a nice pair of Altec-Lansings for $29 at Office Depot.

Before I left for work this morning, I rebooted my computer (had to, because of the goddamned automatic updates). When I go home for lunch, I’ll check to be sure all the USB components are working.

And if they are, I’ll cook up some Dreamfields pasta in celebration.

But, you know, the processor fan on the VAIO is making a horrible noise. And it looks like a new video card will be necessary in order to run the new Second Life viewer. Maybe I’ll just hold off on the spaghetti until I’m sure things are really sorted out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Whimsy Kaboom

Written 10 April, 2008

Whimsy Kaboom

When I ordered a private island from the Land Store on March 14, I followed up with a support ticket, requesting a delivery date of April 1. What better birthday for a sim named Whimsy?

But those darn Lindens didn’t look at my ticket before sending us the island, and Whimsy was born on the 17th of March.

In the last days of March. Linden Lab announced a new policy for openspace sims: the requirement to buy them four at a time was rescinded and the prim allowance was doubled from 1750 to 3500. Since the land store has no provision for placing orders for openspace sims, I sent in a ticket on the first of April, placing an order for Whimsy Kaboom, to be located on the western border of Whimsy.

But those Lindens were still scheming. Last Monday Jack Linden announced a drop in the price of private islands from $1695 US to $1000, effective upon implementation of the new land store, which is scheduled to open in mid-April (and which will doubtless not make its actual appearance until June).

I suspect this was calamitous news for owners of multiple sims, for their land is suddenly devalued by nearly 50%. And it wasn’t great news for me or my friend Leaf Shermer, whose Eccentricity sim was placed on Whimsy’s southern flanks just last Friday.

But yesterday Jack followed up, as he had promised, with a clarification and relief for those of us who only recently ordered islands. We’ll be getting an openspace sim free of charge, with waiver of tier for three months. Leaf will be getting the same deal, or one even better, depending on whether she placed her island order in the last days of March or the first days of April.

I’m still taking a loss, but I feel okay about it. I’m saving $250 US (the new price) for the openspace sim, and $150 in tier. That makes up 4/7 of the difference in price, and I can live with that.

Sweetie says the Lindens should have gradually and systematically reduced the price rather than dropping them so precipitously. As usual, she’s right. What do you think—should she throw her hat in the ring for the open CEO position at Linden Lab? And if so, will her unfortunate experiences with those bastards from the TSA hinder or help her?

I rather think it will help her. A CEO who is willing to lop off a few heads isn’t necessarily a bad investment.