Friday, May 30, 2008

Secret Mission

Written 30 May, 2008

Secret Mission

My constant readers will know that after a long period in which I posted several blogs a day, this page has been unchanged for moe than week.

That's because Sweetie and I are away.

We're on a secret mission!

What mission, you may ask. Glad you asked, but we can't tell you because it's a duh, secret mission. All I can say is there's lots of intrigue, the TSA is involved, Sweetie refused to take off her virtual Jimmy Choos at the Linden airport, and, sinicker-snack, heads have rolled. Including ImSoNotADiva Bartlett's.

Film at eleven.

Or rather, film when we get back home, around June 10, if we're not in cyberprison.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Water Problem

Written 21 May, 2008

The Water Problem

When Sweetie carved out the terrain at Whimsy, she made a marvelous watercourse on the side of Pele. I put in a broad stream of sculpted water, and it looks great. I need to tweak the rocks and vegetation, but I'm stymied by the color. I didn't like the color of the botanical water. For now I'm using the color of Kakou Splash's water, but it looks rather otherworldly.

If anyone has some suggestions for a nice water texture, color, and the transparency to set, please let me know. I'd like something sort of tropical, but not quite so blue as the water is now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blue Whale

Blue Whale

Here's a photo of Harry the Blue Whale, from below.

My former neighbor and now SL brother Dodgeguy Woodward sold him to me when he left Dreamland. His tree house didn't really have a place for an animal so big.

Harry lived for more than a year in the Forsaken River, making plaintive sounds and making clouds of mist when he breathed. The river was good-sized, but there was never room to get a shot like this one, taken from below in the lagoon at Whimsy.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Script Efficiency

Written 12 May, 2008

Script Efficiency

Last night I found a page on the LSL Wiki that talked about what can lag scripts.

Some things didn’t surprise me.

I knew, for instance, that llListen takes more sever resources than say, llTouch_Start.

But I hadn’t realized physical rotations were laggier than texture rotations or that llSleep is laggy.

I’ve been using llSleep quite a bit.

Last night I modified a tiki bridge that rezzes and becomes solid on touch. I’d been using a prim as a trigger, which spoke to the five five bridge sections which listened for its commands.

Oops! Six scripts! And five of them listening! OMG!

I used an example script from the LSLWiki to replace the six with a single script that sent messages to the entire linkset. I modified it so the trigger (a sign) remained visible, and added commands to turn the bridge Phantom when it was invisible (so boats can pass).

Sigh. Now on to my merry-go-round, which spends a lot of time llSleeping.

Maybe I should be llSleeping.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Written 13 May, 2008

Styles of Creativity

I think one reason Sweetie and I work so well as a team is our differing styles of creativity.

Sweetie is a creature of passions and emotions, strong and spontaneous. My passions and emotions tend to be more moderated.

So one might think Sweetie’s style of creativity would be free and spur-of-the-moment.

Nope. She’s a planner. I’m the one that just ups and does stuff.

When I sit down to write, whether it’s a song, a poem, a novel, a journal article, or a textbook chapter, I just sit down and start writing. I begin at the beginning and write straight though. There’s no outline*. After a while it’s done. And strangely enough, it always seems to work out. **

I sometimes need to let things ideas cogitate for a few days before I start work, but even then I don’t consciously think about my projects. They just jell. I’ll wake up one morning and I’ll know it’s time to start. But although I sometimes speculate about how they might turn out, never at any point do I PLAN my projects. I just DO them.

Sweetie, on the other hand, plans things. On paper. In her head. And when she’s ready and she executes her plans, the result is brilliant.

Despite our difference in styles, despite my tendency to charge ahead and Sweetie’s tendency to think about it for a while, our mutual projects seem to work out. I’ve no idea why.

When Whimsy arrived, I made a 16x16 grid at Sweetie’s request and she and I pushed prims around on it as we worked up the design for the land. (The grid board, with prims intact, is up around 300 meters, should anyone feel a desire to see it). It was intriguing to watch her as she planned the route of the steam train and the logical place to put bridges. And of course I was jumping up at down at the keyboard, ready to roll up my virtual sleeves and get down to business. Steam trains and bridges? I’ll look at the land after we create it and figure out where they should go.

But when Whimsy’s terrain materialized, I knew all that planning had been worth it.

I’ve done some (in my opinion) fine creative work over the years, both in world and out. But lately I’ve been wondering how much better it all would have been if I had Sweetie’s ability to plan.

* When I was in high school and we were required to hand in the outline for a theme, I would write the theme and use it to form an outline.

** I’ve long suspected I have a touch of Attention Deficit Disorder. If so, it has never negatively impacted me—but I think it informs my personality. I’ll blog about this separately.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I Mistyped the Date on My Initial Entry of This Blog
Thanks, Niamh, for Pointing Out My Error)

Written 15 May, 2008


On the morning of October 5th, 1957, schoolteachers across the nation stood in from of their classes and told their students shocking news. The Soviet Union had launched, via rocket, a man-made satellite, an information-gathering machine, into orbit around the earth. Even now, it was passing over the United States. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The first Sputnik weighed only 84 kg and was less than two feet in diameter and fell from earth orbit after only three months, but it precipitated a national crisis. Americans were shocked and horrified to learn the Soviets had beaten us to space. We were Americans! How could this be? How dare those borscht-eating, vodka-swilling Communists to show us up like that!

The U.S. began an accelerated program of scientific research and began to stress science education in public schools, panicked decisions that resulted in the Apollo trips to the moon only 20 years later and continue to rack up scientific dividends to this day.

I have always considered the Sputnik design elegant and beautiful, and so I have recreated this piece of retro Cold War cutting-edge design in Second Life. :)


Written 15 May, 2008


Picasso had his blue period. I am in my robot period.

Here's my first robot, created before Rosie and Bender. His name is Stanley.

Stanley pretty much didn't have a personality at first-- but adding eyebrows, a cigar, a hard hat, and a Stanley lunch box (from which he gets his name) pretty much transformed him into a workbot. He's sort of everyman, or everybot.
The kick me sign was Sweetie's idea.

I give you Stanley.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Asset Server Problems

Written 14 May, 2008

Asset Server Problems

At least three nights lately, about after 9 pm Linden Standard Time, Second Life's asset servers have gone wonky. Financial transactions don't complete, teleportation is almost impossible, objects from Inventory don't rez, scripts and notecards don't open, textures don't load, and objects deleted from the environment remain on the land. Last night I had to work amidst a clutter of a half-dozen Benders and an assortment of Bender parts.

Well, I found a way to get rid of them!  When I turned them temporary, they vanished after a minute and didn't return. Woo hoo!

But more to the point of his post, it's difficult to conceive of a mechanical malfunction (or network failure that would systematically disrupt services at the same time. I suspect Linden Lab isn't telling us the truth about what is happening during many of the downtimes and slowdown times.

I rather suspect the majority of such instances are happening because griefers are making coordinated attacks on the asset servers, overwhelming them with financial transfers, rezzed and deleted objects, or other resource-consuming tactics (or maybe they have other ways to attack).

Linden Lab owes Second Life's citizens a truthful explanation about what is happening.

Bender's Dilemma

Written 14 May, 2008

Bender's Dilemma

One of my all-time favorite robots is Bender from Matt Groening's Futurama. He's such a bad boy!

I couldn't resist making Bender the other day-- and as soon as I did, I visualized the (quite literal) horns of his dilemma. So I made Bad Bender to tempt him and Good Bender to try unsuccssfully to steer him toward the path of righteousness. Photos above.

See Bender and Rosie the Jetsons' robot maid  here at Whimsy.

Making the Steam Engine Go

Written 5 May, 2008

Making the Steam Engine Go

I had a mostly nonfunctional steam engine.

The logs in the firebox danced and crackled merrily and the door to the firebox opened with a squeak and closed with a satisfying thud, and smoke poured merrily from the smokestack, but the flywheels and governor were still and the whistle didn’t sound.

I added simple rotation and texture rotation scripts to set the belts and flywheels and governor in motion and added a great free steam whistle sound and a nice teakettle sound and a chuffing steam engine sound.

Now I could make the engine whistle upon touch, and the components turned merrily. I wanted more.

So I added two buttons, one labeled Steam Engine ON and the other Steam Engine OFF. Then I set out to make scripts that would make the engine gradually start and stop.

Using channel 9, I set the ON and OFF buttons to talk to the various animation, sound, and smoke scripts. Eventually I succeeded: The engine now starts and stops gradually, just like a real steam engine.

Here’s the sequence:

The start button is pushed
The smokestack’s cover moves to open position
The fire lights with a whoosh
Liquid begins to bubble through the translucent pipe
Smoke begins to rise from the chimney
After a few seconds the flywheels and governor start to turn
Teakettle and huffing sounds grow gradually in intensity
The flywheels and governor gradually achieve full speed
The Kaboom bird starts moving
The whistle blows

Shut-down does the same, in reverse:

The whistle blows
The fire goes out
Liquid stops moving through the translucent pipe
Teakettle and huffing sounds die away gradually
The flywheels and governor slow and eventually come to a stop
The smoke clears
The smokestack cover moves back into place with a squeak

Time to rez-faux this build, I think


The scripting for the steam engine might sound complicated, but it wasn’t, particularly. I used a half dozen simple scripts, most of which listen or respond to touch and perform one or perhaps two functions. I modified free and widely-available scripts. I think I’ll leave the scripts full-perm when I put the steam engine on the market.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steam Engine

Written 6 May, 2008

Steam Engiene

I’ve been wanting to make a steam engine for a long time.

Finally, I had a reason.

The giant steampunk bobbing bird needed a source of power, something to drive the cogs and belts and flywheels that provide her—or, rather, the platform upon which she perches—with a means of locomotion.

I had great fun building the engine.

First, I made a big boiler. I used a cylinder with cut spheres at either end to make a tank and texturized it with a cast iron texture I made from a picture of a metal bucket I found on the internet and tortured with GIMP, my image manipulation program. I used metal bands to reinforce it (and hide the seams) and applied the Whimsy logo. I set the tank on two walls made of brick (Sweetie’s suggestion; I started with wood).

Below the tank I placed a metal firebox with a heavy windowed door; I tweaked a standard door script to play sounds of a heavy metal door opening and closing; I adapted the sounds from clips I found at Freesound.

Inside the firebox I stuck the logs from a fire pit I made months ago. These whoosh and burst into flame when the word LIGHT appears in chat and extinguish when BLOW is chatted. I added pipes for exhaust gasses and used Outy Banjo’s Fog Script to create a plume of thick white smoke.

At one end of the boiler I placed a pressure meter and an emergency shutoff valve. At the other end I added a translucent pipe through which bubbling liquid can be seen.

Above the boiler, I placed a smaller brass tank.

On either side of the brass tank are flywheels I based on an antique design. On top I placed a governor and a touch-activated whistle.

When I was done, it certainly LOOKED like a steam engine—a jury-rigged, homemade engine, perhaps, but a steam engine nonetheless.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blog Additions

I just added two page elements, a feed to my Flickr photos and a feed to two short films I posted on YouTube.

You'll find them at the bottom of the page.

The Kaboom Bird

Written 6 May, 2008

The Kaboom Bird

Before there was a steam engine, there was the Kaboom bird.

The Giant Whimsy bobbing bird is named Bob, Kaboom’s bobbing bird was to be named Rocky.

That was my plan, anyway. But Rocky turned out to be a girl bird.

I didn’t set out to make her female. She just turned out that way. One of those mysteries of creation, I guess.

It probably wouldn’t be fair to name a giant bobbing girl bird Rocky; all the other giant bobbing birds would make fun of her. So we’re at a loss for a name. I would appreciate any suggestions. Until her christening, she’ll just be the Kaboom bird.

Nah, let’s not be sexist. Girls can be called Rocky, too. So it’s decided. Her name, or maybe her nickname, is Rocky.

Rocky it is.

Nope, nope, nope. Rocky was just vetoed by Sweetie, who has veto power at Whimsy and hates the name Rocky for both boy and girl giant bobbing birds. I think it’s because she hasn’t quite yet surpassed Sylvester Stallone’s body count in Rambo.

She was one-up on Stallone, but then they releasedthe new Rambo movie and she’s been moping about every since, polishing her katana and looking at passing avies as if they were candidates for her head count. As they might be. She hates the name Rocky by extension.

We tossed around a lot of girls’ names, looking for one that conveyed motion, and settled on Ilene.

Ilene is my first prim sculpture—or sculpture of any type. I can’t even make a donut out of Play Doh; how I made Rocky—I mean Ilene— will always puzzle me. Even Sweetie was impressed.

“This from a person who is forever telling me she has trouble visualizing things in three dimensions,” she snorted.

Ilene stands about half again as tall as her cousin Bob, and she perches on a platform which raises her an additional six or seven meters. The cart does the actual rocking; Ilene just goes along for the ride.

When I started work, I had but a vague notion about Ilene. She would be a giant bobbing bird, and she would have steampunk elements. That’s about all I knew about her. But from the moment I rezzed her first prim, she seemed to direct my movements. In little more than 30 minutes, there she was in full metal glory, complete from red flexy eyes to a tail made from peacock feathers to feet with a reptilian scale texture I found on the internet and made seamless.

But how to make her bob? Unlike Cousin Bob, she wasn’t hinged in the middle; she was a statue.

Sweetie helped out by building the platform on which Ilene stands and laid in prims for gears and rods to provide motion.

I let Ilene sit for a couple of days while my brain sorted through various ways of constructing a way-cool apparatus to power her.

By day two, I had it—or most of it. And “it” would require a steam engine.

Fashion Disaster

Written 6 May, 2008

Fashion Disaster

I came into Nicky Ree’s shop with fresh batteries in my camera and the lens cover already off.

Because Sweetie had IMed me to give me a heads up.

“Fashion emergency!” she warned me.

And indeed, it was!


This woman (we will give her the benefit of the doubt, even considering those broad shoulders) was wearing a skimpy outfit, tons of tattoos, and demo hair. Her eyes were dark slits. And in her hand was a certain er, appliance, in baby blue.

And when her AO caused her to rub her hair, guess which hand went to her head?

When Sweetie and I see people who are in obvious need of fashion help, we offer advice and free outfits. This case, however, was terminal.

“Our kindnesses will be better spent elsewhere,” I said.

“Agreed,” said Sweetie. “Can I cut off her head?”

One of my favorite websites is SL Fashion Police, which I came to by way of my friend Melissa Yeuxdoux’s blog. SLFP is screamingly funny and totally politically incorrect, as it makes fun of the cartoonish, buffoonish, and just plain unfashionable ways people proportion and decorate their avatars.

But then again, no one is born with an avie that is shaped like an upside-down pear or dressed like a blingtard, so maybe the fashion police’s suspects are more than deserving of the considerable derision they elicit.

I sure hope I never wind up in a fashion police lineup!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No Pants!

Written 11 May, 2008

No Pants!

In her usual kind and gentle manner, Sweetie has pointed out that my pose on the Whimsy Sungate sign is less than appropriately chaste.

Actually, we were on Skype and I heard her laughing her ass off.

She tells me it looks like I'm wearing no pants. Thank you very much, I'm wearing a peach-colored outfit from W&M. I took off the prim skirt so it wouldn't obscure the sign.

And it doesn't either look like the sign is going up my butt.

Does it?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Whimsy Historical Markers

Written 10 May, 2008

Whimsy Historical Markers

The official story of Whimsy has Sweetie and I winding up on its deserted shores after a freak "routine downtime" teleport accident. They were so impressed by the Paleolithic stone tiki drinking bird they decided to move there.

So we had to have a drinking bird.

Now we do. His name, appropriately enough, is Bob.

We felt a sign was called for to tell this story, and what better than one of thos historical markers one sees by the roadside?

So Chey built a marker and has put it at a half-dozen or so important sites around Pele. Here are some of the signs.

RSS Feeds (A Post from Sweetie)

Written 9 May, 2008

RSS Feeds (A Post from Sweetie)

This is a test....

We now pause to provide you with a critical tech tip announcement from Sweetie!

Like our blog? Love our blog? Do you get the shakes like Sweetie when you
think you might miss even a single brilliant new entry?

Why not subscribe.. For free! No need to give us any information. The
site is set up for RSS feeds!

RSS, if you have never tried it (don't be like our one and only Chey (GASP!), is a simple way to keep up-to-date with news.

RSS is the abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication. It's a notification system used to alert subscribers to changes made to their favorite web sites, blogs, music, or news sites.

It's easy to discern an RSS-enabled site because somewhere on the page will be an orange rectangular button labeled with either RSS or XML.

You need three things to use RSS:

1. A website set up to sent out RSS info.

2. You have to click the button and subscribe.

3. You have to have an RSS Reader.

This blog is set up for RSS, so no problem there. Somewhere on your
browser screen, you'll see one of the many RSS symbols (I have given
examples in the picture at the head of this post).

Click the symbol and confirm you want to subscribe. Step 2 is done!

Finding an RSS reader these days is simple as can be. In fact, you
probably already have one, you just don't know it.

All the major internet browsers, Internet Explorer 7, Safari and
Firefox (Sweetie's personal favorite because it has tabs and her cool
"old factory" skin) and Opera (Chey's favorite because she favors the underdog) have a reader built in. As soon as you subscribe
you get a "live" bookmark.

As depicted in the picture of Sweetie's browser above, the bookmark tracks all the latest titles as separate links that take her straight to that blog entry.

Don't have one of the major browsers? There are also web-based RSS
readers. Google offers a free reader that can track and organize
multiple subscriptions. But web- based readers don't burden your system
with another program like some-stand alone RSS programs used to, and
you can check it from any computer.

So go ahead! Subscribe and never miss a moment in the adventures of Sweetie!

(Chey clears her throat loudly)

Or any of the brilliant writing shared with us by the one and only
master muse, our hostess and bard of the blogosphere, Cheyenne

Woo Hoooooooooo!

Friday, May 9, 2008

All Fall Down

Written 9 May, 2008

All Fall Down

Don't you just hate it when this happens to you?

What's a Warrant?

Written 9 May, 2008

What's a Warrant?

The Whimsy Kaboom sim was raided last night by officer Scissors Peccable, who used his amazing ability to multitask to play eight officers in four vehicles.

Scissors said he was cruising by and thought he smelled marijuana. He didn't have a search warrant.

"What's a warrant?" he asked.

"What's marijuana?" we asked.

Robot Mishap

Written 9 May, 2008

Robot Mishap

Rosie the robot (you may remember her from her former employment as the Jetsons' housemaid (has been hanging out at Whimsy, hoping we will hire her to tidy up after us.

I'm not sure what a housemaid would do in SL. Pick up abandoned prims, I suppose. Anyway, we decided to give her a go. And then wouldn't you know it, but ANOTHER Rosie showed up asking for a job. So we hired her to be the first Rosie's supervisor, even though we had a feeling she would be too strict.

She's earning her keep, too. This morning the second Rosie caught the first Rosie being clumsy. I'm afraid she went a bit overboard with her reprimand. We have pictures to prove it. And there's an eyewitness.

So we're going to let Rosie 2 go.

Rosie 2 says it's not her fault, it's the fault of who ever programmed her. Can you believe that excuse?


If you want a Rosie, or both, or the entire scenario. IM me. I built them only this morning and they're not yet set for sale. You can see them for now at Whimsy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Written 22 April, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Signs, Signs, everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this
Don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign?

-- Five Man Electrical Band

Perhaps the most significant thing about Five Man Electrical Band is there were actually five members, a miracle for the day. Oh, well…

The sign read “Cuts,
$10.00. Kiz, $6.00."


The South is famous for its misspelled signs—in fact, I’ve often suspected intelligent, well-educated Sons of the South in going out of their way to telegraph their language and misspell their signs to confuse those not fortunate enough to have been born below the Mason-Dixon line. I mean, it sort of makes sense to say gummit, far, and tard instead of government, fire, and tired? I mean, there’s a savings of six letters in three words!

But kiz?


Has the sign painter really going around his entire life talking about the wife and kiz? Kiz stuff? Getting the kiz off to school? “You kiz stop that before I whup you!” Surely not!

But almost certainly yes.

For some reason that sign got me to thinking about Second Life, and in particular signs in Second Life.

I hate a lot of signs in Second Life—those huge rotating For Sale signs in particular. Many are ugly, and many surpass the limits of good taste. I mean, the other day I wandered into what seemed to be a respectable clothing store, only to be confronted with row after row of signs of butt skirts! Butt skirts! Trauma! I had to call Sweetie and ask her to teleport in blindfolded and rescue me.

Sweetie arrived promptly, fashionably attired in camouflage gear and carrying her infamous katana. “Step away from the butt skirt,” please ma’am,” she said, and she meant it.

For every offensive sign, if course, there’s one that serves a utilitarian purpose: “Freebies!” “Caution! Sim Crossing” “Pattie’s Peppermint Palace.” “Happy Rez Day, Albatross Redgrave!”

And then there are the signs that are just funny, the whimsical signs. I would make a long list here, but I’ve few pictures of such, so I’ll just treat you to a few of my own (in a blog to follow this one).

When I bought Pele a year and a half ago, I realized quirky signs could liven up the place. And so I pulled out my rusty trusty ancient version of Quark Xpress and got down to it. Soon the landscape was littered with signs.

We’re being more systematic with our signage at Whimsy, but I’m once again using Quark Xpress to make silly signs.

So I jumped on the fence
And I yelled at the house
Hey! What gives you the right
To put up a sign to keep people out
And to keep Mother Nature in
If God was here he’d tell you to your face
Man, you’re some kind of sinner!