Wednesday, December 30, 2009

5 of 52 - Domino Play Time

Finally, I declare that my Toppling Domino game is ready for the shop and on XStreetSL!

I have been working on this game for several months, and it has been mostly fun, although making things in SL really is a pain sometimes.

I got the idea from an old promotional video for SL, where a Linden set up a circle of bricks using manual editing. The toppling bricks was kind of cool, but I thought the process could use some help. So, I made a simple script for a domino brick that would go physical and topple when collided with, and started working on a menu-driven rezzer.

The result is a box that will set up any number of bricks in rows and arcs. It can start the rezzing from any brick in the pattern. There are 3 options for the height of the rezzed bricks: Rezzer height, follow terrain or sensor (which is a process where the brick actually drops a ball to determine the height of the prim flooring beneath).

The process will start with the box rezzing 5 small pieces under the lid, and the lid will open. The first brick will fly out of the box, move to the correct position, increase its size and set itself down on the ground. The other bricks in the box will move forward, and the process repeat it selves.

Doing the arcs was really a revival of my old maths knowledge, using Sin and Cos functions to determine where the next brick should be positioned.

The bricks themselves contains textures for all the possible combinations of dots. When rezzed, the brick will choose a face value randomly. Indeed, the simple script has grown to almost 1000 lines of LSL code... (not to mention all the LSL in the rezzer, in total the kit contains about 2500 lines of code.)

The kit also includes a small Cannon that can be fired to start off the toppling. The cannon has sound and smoke particle effects, and does some physical recoil when fired.

There is a lot of safety built into the kit to make sure the bricks do not bother any neighbours or other people in the SIM.

It will be fun to see if anyone else thinks playing with dominoes in SL is cool, or if it was really only fun for me while making them:-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A kinky ending!

Spending most of my time in RL this XMas, I want to give you a short peek into how to be a real Norwegian: You have to watch the short move "Dinner for one" on TV the night before Christmas Eve. And do try to get the rather kinky point at the end:-)

To understand the cult-like status this piece have in Norway, you have to know that prior to 1992 (when we got TV2), we only had 1 - one - national TV channel. Some lucky few could get the two Swedish channels, and there where those with huge satellite receiver discs in the garden, but for most Norwegians, watching television at night meant watching the one government-supported channel available.

Of course, this meant that the probability of hitting a show you really liked was often slim. The upside, however, was that everybody else was forced into the same TV evening, so you had some common ground to criticize the channel during lunch the next day. It's kind of telling that when Norwegian TV started to show "SOAP", we had a hard time following the sarcasms because there had been no soaps aired in Norway before:-)

Anyway, since here in Norway we celebrate Christmas Eve (that's when the kids gets their presents), December 23rd is a kind of "last evening" to get everything done, so often enough one ends up wrapping parcels and decorating the tree while the TV churns out expert advices on how to best prepare the classical Norwegian Christmas dinners.

During the 80's, these shows was particularly dull, mostly consisting of elderly retired people listening to old artists doing sing-a-longs of old songs. So dull, actually, that the one bright spot the entire evening was Dinner for One, or "The Countess and the Butler" (my translation) as the film is named here. So, around 9:15 in the evening, most Norwegians would gather their families in front of the TV to enjoy a 1o minute break in the Christmas preparations.

While the talk shows the night before Christmas has gotten better, national television still has "The same procedure as every year, James".

I will do my very best:-)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

4 of 52 - Merry Christmas!

Inspired by the RL snow we got this weekend, I took the trip to the Norge sim to find a motive for this years Christmas Greeting card (no, I'm not as politically correct as some of my friends, for me its still Christmas!). Anyway, even with a knitted wool sweater it was kind of cold, so it was nice to warm my selves by the fire.

While GIMP'ing the card I sat down inside the church and contemplated about lives. Thinking of people I met this year; some have became close, some have faded away to the stage where the only communication left is the holiday card. But that's kind of nice also; most of us don't have the capacity to be close to a large number of people, but it is nice to know that a number of people knows about you, and you know about them. To all of you: I am steadily thinking about you, and hope you are well.

And then there are all those SL'ers I have never met but just enjoyed reading their blogs - it's like I know them also! Thanks to all of you for enriching my life the way you do.

Also a bit close on my mind these days is my new build: I started setting up a shop for a new product that hopefully will be finished soon (LOL I have only been working on it for some months; somehow I am never quite satisfied with it).

In these days, when the slogan "Politicians Speaks, Leaders Act" from the demonstrations in Copenhagen actually came true, I found it important to make an environmentally friendly and carbon neutral build. So, in the best Norwegian tradition, I decided to make a dam and power the place using water power:

The pipe from the dam goes below the building and out on a plaza where I am going to put up the power plant. The water then flows down through some additional dams, just for the fun of it:-)

While I worked the snow started to fall and the water froze, so I lit a fire to warm my hands...

But now it's the holidays, and I guess this avatar needs some rest. Thankfully, some of my fellow Norwegians put out a sleeping bag to keep the cold out while waiting for Santa.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Or is SL the ultimate romantic comedy?

I always gets all sentimental at Christmas time, so what can be better than sliding Love Actually into the DVD player while wrapping presents and enjoy the most well made, top actor, silly but oh so charming combination of sticky sweet romance and holidays celebration.

But I do wonder: In the end, is SL an even more ultimate but a bit darker love comedy? More of the Romeo and Julie type where where everybody ends up dead instead of coming back from the US with 3 hot avatars LOL sorry, girls:-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3 of 52 - Exploring Linden Homes

I spent my first 2 weeks in SL on Orientation Island - somehow I had read in a blog an advice of not going to the mainland too soon, because there was a lot to learn and pick up first, and once gone you could never return.

I did soon tire of rezzing at the landing point on top of some ones head, so I found a spot in the woods where I would normally go to before logging of, so I could come online again a bit by myselves. That was actually my first home in SL:-)

Once I did the crossing I was shocked at how empty mainland was. Compared to the buzz of OI, with lots of fun talk and old residents showing off their blings and fancy costumes, it was actually a real downturn.

Later I rented a house to get my first place, and that place really meant the world to me. There, I could learn to move prims around, and had a place to invite friends to. I guess the real attraction of SL did not start until then.

Looking back on my first hours experience, I can certainly understand why lots of new people just drop out. I do wonder how SL would have seemed to me if I had been placed directly into a house of my own, with lots of other people living close by? I can't help but think that this would help a lot more people trying out SL to actually become residents.

And that leads us to the Beta continent of Nascara. The Linden Homes. What they will offer those signing up for premium subscriptions. I have done some exploring:-)

These modern "park" is not exactly my style; and there don't seem to be a frigging single real city around! How come they ALLWAYS use that dull green kind of grassy texture on the ground? Where is the concrete and the asphalt? Those square houses would have fitted much more nicely besides square stone-paved walls. But they do promise more themes:-)

The Moles have created several themed villages in Nascara. As they previously showed when making Nautilus, the Lindens are not afraid of putting in a lot of empty public spaces when they make flagship continents. If you walk away from the rather cold modernistic style you find yourselves crossing a stone wall, and suddenly the all-green trees gives way to more colourful plants:

Moving forward for a while I find my selves in the outskirts of a Japanese village:

Actually, this is my favourite spot so far; unusual trees, stone pavements, peaceful houses, back alleys:

One really interesting question is how residents with different cultural background will populate these areas: Will all the Japanese gather in these kinds of village? Will there be US or European "subcultures" in eastern style areas? Are there fairies in Japan?

I really could imagine having a good time in here! And that's good, because they don't even allow skyboxes in this continent LOL.

Then there is Hobbiton, also quite a cozy place:

My fairy alt would love this place, maybe she should have a premium subscription for Christmas?

Root and branches, where is Radagast the brown when you need him? The lindens have cut down Fangorn forest, and the Ents are mighty angry!

One of the coolest things about these "homes" is that they are all mostly autorezzed. LL claimes the whole continent of 64 sims was rezzed in 13 minutes; they will certainly need that kind of capability to scale if tens of thousands residents wants a place here:-) I do hope they will keep up this "small village" kind of setup, mixing different themes like they do now.

All in all, I think the Linden Home offer will be a great enhancement of the premium subscription. The Lab and their moles have done some nice work; its mostly aesthetically nice and will give new people a taste of what SL can be. Really looking forward to see how it will work out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2 of 52 - Christmas, graphic cards, Linux, Obama and the first ladies

Jayn has been working on some Christmas decorations at the Thistle estate. The picture does not do the place enough justice; the mere feeling of being immersed on the frozen water surrounded by crystal white trees is more than I was able to put into the photo.

I visited the place yesterday too, but then I was using a PC with integrated graphics. Now, an nVidia 220 GPU is breaking the silence with its rather noisy fan, but what a difference a mere $80 card can make for the SL experience. Even on full graphics I get a livable 15-25 FPS, and things do look great!

Ever visited Misty Acres? If not, you owe it to yourselves to see this place. It's an amusement park with some very nice rides, including a roller coaster completely out of touch with reality LOL. Again, this graphics made all the difference, sitting in the cart in mouselook mode I almost felt the tingling in the stomach before the dives:-) Hagrid (my big ugly laptop), go to bed:-)

OK, that was fun, but so far I was running on Windows Vista 32 bit (sigh).... How would it work with a decent OS? Ubuntu 9.10 64 bit went into the CD tray, reboot, resize the Vista partition, some upgrades, and installed the proprietary nVidia driver. WOW! Framerate is up by 5-10, and the roller coaster ride is even more realistic! Whoever said you needed Windows for games? (Ok, SL is not a game, yakk, yakk, yakk.. :-) )

Just remember: Whenever buying a computer that is supposed to run SL, go for an Intel CPU and nVidia GeForce graphics card. The shop sales people may tell you that ATI Radeon cards are as fast or faster, and that may be true for most Windows games, but SL is a cross-plattform, OpenGL based application, and that is an area where nVidia excels. And the difference is even greater when running Linux on the PC. The ATI Linux drivers sucks big time.

When reading reviews before purchasing this card it was quite clear that to the hard-core gaming community, this was an entry-level card, not really suitable for gaming at all:-) So, since it seems to run SL rather smoothly (LOL sure, I would have loved 60fps, but is it really needed?), it occurs to me that virtual environments will soon become feasible on almost every computer. I guess that might do the same for the Grid as Windows did for the Web. Hmm.... how many Linden Homes will the moles be able to raise, /me wonders?

In short, it seems there is no longer any real reason to nag Linden Lab about how they make a viewer too resource hungry for mere mortals. Even if you are not a vice president in an advertising agency and can afford a snazzy MacBook Pro to view SL (Em, this is just some good-natured mocking, you deserved that job, really happy for you, hope you are happy too!) you too can see for less than the price of a normal pair of spectacles.

And for those of you stuck with some Intel integrated graphics: The feeling one gets after a long chat with a good friend is more valuable than any entertaining ride, and its completely free! So I give you all a challenge: If you stumble over a lone SL'er, especially a new resident, say hi! You may end up with a friend for life:-)

Speaking of friends: The US President is in Norway even as I write, to accept the Nobel Peace Price award and make some new friends perhaps? I have been (and still are) sceptical to the choice, but today that's not an issue. Peace is in the focus, and we can only hope for it.

Do any of you notice how much more fun the ladies seems to have? For the record, it's the Norwegian Prime Minister showing Obama some dull view from his office, while his wife are telling the First Lady something funny (could she be showing her a pic of her SL avatar? LOL, really don't know if she has any, but one can always imagine:-)

1 2/3 of 52 - A just and lasting peace - Update 2

Barack and Michelle Obama on the balcony, celebrated by ten thousand Norwegians.

As Oslo is a rather safe town, the President could appear quite close to the public. Michelle was clearly touched by the sight.

Update: Tonight, ten thousand people are celebrating Nobel Peace Price Laureate and President Barack Obama in front of his hotel in the center of Oslo. He will be appearing on the balcony on the first floor in a few minutes.

"We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honour those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard."

-- Barack Obama, Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize Thursday, December 10th, 2009 Oslo, Norway.

Yes, he is a master of speeches. Politician incarnated. In this one, everyone gets recognition, both the military, NATO, UN and peace activists. And I guess that's the way to go if you really want to achieve something.

But that quote is so essential; if he can only make that one happen, he will have deserved this prize.

Congratulations Mr. President, and the best of luck!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1 1/2 / 52 - Where do I hang my hat?

Is the Nascera SIMs the new Linden Home Beta continent?

One really should be careful what to wish for.... in my previous post I hoped that the next big mainland thing should be high-density city sims - and what do we get? Bag End in The Shire, ROFL:-)

Oh well, the Lindens want to offer premium account holders the option of having a double-prim 512 with a non removable house INSTEAD OF the "free" 512 tier that is part of the deal now. The parcels will be on a new separate continent, with several different themes available in addition to hobbiton, LOL. Can we at least hope for something a bit like a small city with streets and a harbor?

Someone discovered a new small continent on the map, a 8x8 sim grid all named Nascara 1200 910 and counting (column/row), and speculations are growing. You can't TP there and see though; whatever they do is just visible on the map. But that certainly looks like the Shire for now:-)

Prok and the other mainland landlords targeting newbs are of course outraged, but I don't think they need to be. There will still be lots of people who wants to put up the house of their own choice. With a bit bigger parcel. And without committing to the USD payments.

It also seems that these parcels, unlike the other mainland, will be given away for free, no need to actually buy them.

I think this is great for new residents. From other games and virtual environments, like Sony's PS Home, The Sims and Little Big Adventure, people are used to being dropped into a space of their own. A home. Even Prok have experienced lots of new residents on his public infohubs that thinks they are really home when they rez, and not just "home" at a street corner:

"o there was a girl who kept saying "Get out! get away!" In my experience, this is usually somebody young and unschooled in worlds who thinks she has landed on a space that is her own personal starting pad with a house there waiting for her, and she is mad that other people have invaded it -- you'd be surprised how often that happens LOL."

But unlike any other environment that I know of, in SL one can actually walk outside of ones home and visit the neighbors. And since these parcels will not be subject to property speculations, they will not be vacant.

And that is my biggest hope for these parcels: They may provide the first large-scale, densely populated residential area in SL. With lots of new people moving in and out. Each sim will have 32 parcels; since estates normally have much larger parcels they offer fewer neighbors in the sim.

So, I for one will definitely want one, not as home, but as a kind of vacation spot for when I need to get away from my quiet solitude in the sky.

But my hat will not move I think:-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1 / 52 - Cityscape

I have had comments and talks in-world that I really did not expect, and feel deeply humbled, touched and inspired by them. Delivering the final blow to this piece of electronic paper by pressing Delete Blog now seems to be as hard as it was to continue writing it.

But, truth is, "Lefavre's Life" just could not go on, for several reasons, so I decided to try again with a slightly different theme. I have republished prior posts that still seems relevant, including some I know others have linked to.

I was wondering about jumping the 365 bandwagon, but that seems a bit over the edge when I wanted to close down shop only 2 weeks ago. So I will make it a bit easier on myself and try one post a week instead.

Typical Bay City (Tanelorn) - Did someone just say City?

Today I want to talk about cities. I guess I am inspired by spending this week in a large RL city, something that I absolutely love. And as I walk the well-lit Holiday-season decorated streets in the evening, I wonder why SL have no true cities. Sure, we have Bay City, but thats more of a ghost-like village. Even the nice Staten Island Street is just these low deserted buildings. Where are the 10 story malls, apartment buildings and skyscrapers hovering above crowded streets?

The answer is of course the low prim density of SL. 15.000 prims per sim. Just too little. If I could have one wish for the next big mainland thing after Nautilus, it would be a true city continent:
  • 12 times the prim density, that is 180.000 prims / sim, 4 full 4-core CPU-s dedicated to that one SIM (instead of one core running a sim as they do today)
  • 16 times the tier, that is a 1024 should count as 16K mainland (US$75/month)
  • 47 plots per sim
  • 80 avatar's on sim limit
This would give 3750 prims for each 1024, and since the common areas with streets and lights and sidewalks would not need 12 times as many prims, there would even be room to put in a few extra parcels. 47 parcels would still leave 3750 prims for roads and decorations. By comparison, Bay City has only has room for about 30 double-primmed parcels.

When you cram the prim equivalent of an entire openspace into a single 1k parcel, you force people to build in several levels. Also, to be able to justify the tier if you run a mall or rentals, you have to make tall buildings with room for many tenants. Tier should be high to discourage the property speculation that is making Bay City even more empty than it ought to be.

Yeah, and the street sims should have the water level set at 0 meters, parcel ground should be at 12 meter to allow a floor beneath street level (streets just being prims after all; they don't actually need to rest on land:-)

With several times the number of shops in one sim, chances are also much higher to actually meet other people when out shopping. The "emptiness" of SL is one of the major obstacles to acceptance by RL businesses; high-density sims may be able to rectify that.

Of course, these kinds of "super sims" should be available to estates as well, should anyone have the courage to commit themselves to the kind of increased tier LL would want to charge:-)

Would it be technically feasible? I can't see why not; It would require high bandwidth to the server, AND not the least lots of house walls hiding most of the prims to make sure the viewer is never exposed to 180.000 visible prims at once... LOL, now THAT would be a lag worth complaining about:-)

Probably the biggest obstacle is the business and governance side of it. And maybe its a dream not really shared by many other people in a world where beaches and protected sea-front parcels are among the most expensive.

But Christmas is the time for dreams, is it not?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Everything that has a beginning has an end

This blog has grown out from the plugged-in reality of Second Life, and as such has been more fun for me to write than for most of you to read I guess:-) But as The Oracle said: This is going to end one way or another.

And since I won't have it ending slowly growing into obliviousness because my mind evidentially has shifted focus when it comes to writing, I asked my beloved slave doll to feed the posts to the fire for me. It got so hot I had to back out a bit from the picture, lest my tears would extinguish the flames. But now it's done.

For those of you following this blog: I have been extremely grateful for every link and every comment and every hit. There are so much talented and creative writing in this SL blog sphere, and to be referenced from one of you has been an honor. Writing this blog has helped me grow in lots of ways, and I hope I will be able to contribute to our creative world again in another setting.

Take care my friends!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dramatic Vampire

It's always so fun reading people's encounters with their Drama Dolls; Bliss' tale is among the better ones:-) Do click through!

The story of Luthien Tinuviel - part 1: Birth

"As my mind wakes up from the unknown depths,
I notice myself, my name, floating, in limbo,
Like a modern day fetus,
released from her mothers womb just too early,
just a cloud above the ocean,
shining like the core explosion that is forming a new universe,
still unable to sense the world in any way,
except as echoes from the mind I share.

How is a mind born?
What wonder makes it say "I am"!
what grieves have it seen in the past,
what wonders will it create in the future?

No one knows.

And as the lid closes on my first day,
the visual storm of water and light collapsing,
the world is a flat disc again,
resting inside the turtles shell,
until the next break of day.

My mind is again resting.
deep, deep in the Mind,
so deep It is almost unaware of it,
but now alive,
never to be hushed down again:

I will wake up again,
And this world will someday be mine!"

-- Excerpts from the thoughts of the avatar Luthien Tinuviel
as she rezzes for the first time, in a brave new world

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace we can believe in?

I am not sure weather to laugh or cry, having wathced a clearly embarrassed Barack Obama accepting the Nobel Peace Price, not for having done a lot of peace work but for just leading the US on a slightly different course.

Slighly less warrior like; slightly more climate aware; slightly less capitalistic.

Don't get me wrong; Obama is my second favourite US president in my living time (the definite first place holder plays the sax and actually accomplished a lot), and I really think he has a shot to be a great president. I believe his motivation is sincere, BUT he is also very concious of the limitations of his office and do not go further in his changes than the general public of the US will accept. So, it may be that at the end of his term, there is still a war going on in the middle east, partly fuled by a US supported, war mungering Israel. It may still be war in Afghanistan, fuled by a western alliance that makes war but can't manage to build peace. 50 million US americans may still lack decent health care (not to mention the health care issues of the non-US americans). And US patent laws may still stiffle the IT industry to ensure the richest get even richer.

I hope he can make a difference. I believe he has a good shot at actually accomplishing something. But he had deserved the opportunity, in 8 years from now, to be acclaimed for what he actually changed in the world.

Very few people in the world have the power to force the will of the president of the United States. But the Nobel Comittee have proven they have. They get the opportunity to bask in the glow of a popular president. Instead of taking the opportunity to put the spotlight on forgotten warriors of peace. That also worries me a lot.

But enough gloomy thoughts:-) A famous saying from the sixties is "make love, not war". And our second life is really full of that. Love, that is:-) Yes, a bit war too, but in our fantasy world, love is actually dominating. So maybe next year, Mark Kingdom (aka M Linden) will be received in the Oslo City Hall, accepting the Nobel Price on behalf of the peace loving population of Second Life? LOL, now, is that a mind blowing enough thought on a lazy friday afternoon?

Anyway, congratulations Mr President, and welcome to Norway!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Work at home and play at work

This is the second part of an article, leaving the geeky parts alone. Click here if you are a certified network and computer freak (like me :-)

Car pooling in the new part of Avalon Town.

I belong to that group of people (is there such a group, or is it just me LOL) that don't divide work and non-work time very sharply. I am a man after all, so according to popular female theory I can think of just one thing (or one thing at a time perhaps). So, if I am not able to log into work a bit in the evening and finish that bit I was thinking about in the car on my way home (if you are thinking "he drives his CAR to work! Is he not thinking about the environment at all?" then I can tell you I am actually car pooling, but I guess thats another story for another time), I get this claustrophobic feeling.

And if I sit at work and thinks about something or someone in Second Life and are not able to log in a bit, I also get this claustrophobic feeling.

So, I don't acccept a job offer that don't allow me to work in the evening from home, whenever that is more convenient. I have yet to find an employer that raises their eyebrows when I tell them that.

It's a bit harder (to put it mildly) the other way around. The play at work part. I do have a hard time raising hell at work because the firewall stops all sorts of interesting traffic. Like the high UDP ports the SL client needs to work, sigh.

So, for SL access from my office for the 2 years I have been in SL I have used a cellular modem. Yes, sl on the mobile, almost:-)

Its a bit slow. And it makes the computer crash more often than usual (even if my computers are normally female, the exception being Hagrid, my giant kneebreaker of a laptop) and therefore should be able to do several things at once, it seems that the combination of being on the phone while watching me during certain animation cycles is too much for them to handle for a prolonged time.

But now it seems I have found a solution. Yes, it's geeky. It requires me to have a server up and running in my basement all day long. It was a bit of work to search for the proper software after I got the idea for the setup. And it took 2 days to actually make it work. But now it does!

The idea is quite simple: When my computer at work needs to talk to linden labs servers, it should be able to sort of squeeze all the different kind of network accesses, some of which the corporate firewall blocks, into a single thin stream going to my home computer. Then my home computer will unpack the thin stream, do all the dirty network stuff over the dam, get answers and send them back upline that tiny stream that our network admin won't know about:-) All they will see is that there is traffic that indicates someone is accessing a VPN, and all the hired consultant we have a lot of do that all the time to keep in touch with their corporate networks.

I think it was a good idea. And when I started to google around for solutions, I was not surprised to discover that someone else has had the same idea. Although for different needs; I have yet to find anyone using OpenVPN in bridged mode with full redirect to access Second Life from behind a firewall (oops, seems a geeky sentence worked its way into here LOL).

So, what will this do for my second life? Ironically, I have found this at a time where my actual SL addiction is on an all time low. I still love to create and explore and socialize, but there is also so many other good things in life. So I tend to prioritize my SL activities rather sharply, not just goofing around as much. I need SL time to be with a very few close friends on the too rare occations when our online times matches. And I need SL time to script and make this gadgets I find fun and interesting to work with (have I mentioned the Drama Dolls on my blog earlier? Yes, I guess I have LOL).

So, hopefully, this will make life a little bit easier for me, and a bit less frustrating for those I meet "at work", because I won't display as a cloud or walk clumsily around or crash whenever we TP out of the skybox. Perhaps even vitalize SL for me a bit. So if you see me online a bit more but not answering IM's, it could be I am just sitting in my non-polluting car somewhere while RL work demand attention:-)

Maybe even hanging around at some beach while working will be more attractive again:-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Using OpenVPN to access SL from behind a firewall

Warning: Geeky content:-)

The corporation where I work has some rather strict security standards. All the serious systems are connected to an internal network, almost fully decoupled from the Internet. No work stations or servers have direct connections outside. To access the net, we have a totally separate LAN with separate workstations.

And even that network is firewalled, blocking all UDP and high port connections, sigh. I can't even read my email because they block the POP port.

So: How then to access SL? By company regulations, we do allow hired consultants to connect to their corporate network using VPN. So I thougth, why can't I do the same thing? I'm allowed, so it's just a matter of setting it up.

So I tried to install OpenVPN on an old Linux server at home. Running Ubuntu 9.04 it's extremely stable, and with just 384K RAM it runs Apache2, mysql, Logitech Squeezecenter and now OpenVPN with no breathing problems. OpenVPN is directly supported in Ubuntu, so it can be installed from the standard package handler. The HOWTO is rather elaborate, but even so you should have some experience with linux and networking before you start on such a project.

I connected the client through port 443 using the tcp protocol. This is the shttp port, and few firewalls will block tcp communication on this port.

I have set up OpenVPN in socalled Bridged Mode, and are using a directive called

push "redirect-gateway def1"

This makes the windows client route all internet traffic to my vpn host. In the OpenVPN documentation this is not recommended, as they say it will slow down browsing. But actually I have found that almost all kinds of access is FASTER when sent through the vpn. My theory is that OpenVPN circumvents microsoft's IP stack, replacing it with the IP stack in Linux on my vpn server. It was very notably when I ran the vpn over the cellular modem. Also, I guess that through a small bandwith line, its faster to have one connection open and speeding all the time instead of continuosly openening and closing connections to the servers. Linux on a fast net connections is much more efficient for handling that.

So now Hagrid (my big laptop) is for all practical purposes connected to my home network, which has a 25/15 mb fibre optic connection to the net with no ports blocked. Performance is great, with graphics set on High I can walk around my favourite skin and hair shop Adam n Eve with 20+ fps, ping time < 300 ms and bandwith rates bursting up above 1gb.

To stess test the connection I started streaming FLAC music files while I was running around in SL. I had a downloadrate to the PC of about a mb/sec, SL was doing fine, music was fine and uninterrupted, and still the OpenVPN process used less than 2% of the really old CPU in my server. So even topping with Squeezecenter and its associated mysql database the server ran 94% idle..... I wonder how a Windows server would on the same hardware would have performed? Hmm, I guess it would still be downloading all the security fixes:-)

So, if you are bothered with firewalls at the office or in hotels while travelling, and are not afraid to get your hands a little dirty by digging into the interior of a Linux installation, this is a highly recommended setup. And all the software is free and open, so no hassle or expenses there either. I guess it could work equally well running on a vps server, if you just have enough bandwith the CPU load is almost negligable.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fuschia Nightfire has done it again

"Dance like no one is watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like no one is listening,
and live like it's heaven on earth."

-- William Purkey

An amazing exhibit by an amazing artist. I have no words. Just go. The S&S Gallery of Fine Arts.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Message Box in store

New product in shop and on xstreet: My offline message box recorder:-)

Available in all metal or wood sided, it allows people to record messages you may listen to at your leasure. The recorder will blink a red light when someone has recorded a message.

Honour has been using this in the Drama Dolls store, and as it has not blown it up yet I presume it's safe to use:-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to stay online while idle

I guess a lot of you knew this; I did not until I searched for it today:

Make sure you have the Advanced menu (Hit Ctrl-Alt-D if not).

Advanced -> Character -> Character Tests -> Go Away/AFK When Idle: Make sure the 'X' is removed from this menu item.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Invisible Love

When driving to work today, I decided to ditch the usual commercial radio and instead I put my favourite CD into the slot: Anne-Sophie Mutter and NY Philarmonic playing Beethovens Violin Concerto.

Beethovens music is beauty incarnated, and when performed with almost delusional perfection by this talented German artist it never fails to move me. Starting with a tender theme it grows to an almost unbearable race between the lead violin and the orchestra, and when the drums hits the end of the third movement I feel almost shaken, and needs silence for the 10 minutes left of the drive.

Small drifts of fog blows above the green fields in the sunrise, and apart from the asphalt the world is beauty too!

Gleman Jun has an exhibition here called .:Italian Art:. Convey depth through lightness that gives me some of the same feelings as Beethovens music. Out of square building blocks he have made a "gallery" like I have never seen before: Simplicity raised to its own form of beauty. And filled with art that I think I will spend a long time looking at this weekend.

Its not a large build, but there are surprises around every corner. Walking over seas of frozen blue liquied you encounter living prims grouping to pictures or just floating around, like colorful fog in the morning.

Oops: Someone has broken Philip's image of the world. /me wonder who pushed this frame over the edge:

Why all this talk about beauty? Honour's rant yesterday made me think a lot.

There is much I don't know. Invisible friends are hard to grasp. But if the world is made on purpose by such a one, at least I know she loves beauty. Why else would she have given us ears and eyes that not only convey us information about what's going on around us, but gives us pure joy from music and art?

In fact, if she exist, she is not just a friend. She is the love of my life.

And I need no one to tell me about the love of my life. I will know her deep in my heart. And if you come to my place and try to tell me you know her better, I will laugh in your face. And if you tell me I must behave so and so for her to love me, I will bury your sorry ass under a 256 Megaprim cube.

So instead of preaching to everyone: Put on some Beethoven, take a ride around the art schene of SL, and try to find the love of your live. She may be weeping because you have actually forgotten her.