Tuesday, June 29, 2010

30 of 52 - Living in the shadows

A transparent dome in the roof lets the sun through

Eners nice post made me want to try the shadows effect in the new Imprudence viewer. Somehow it sounded rather like a gimmick to me, but when I saw it in action it was actually kind of jaw-dropping. In the picture above, the shadow of the flags actually moves in sync with how the flag flows in the wind!

Sun shining on opposite wall through a slit window

It works dynamically when you build too; the shadow changes when you twist prims around.

The shadow in the middle of the picture is that of my low-hanging skybox!

In this pic, even my avatar has a shadow, and that too follows the movements of the limbs, and behave correctly when you fly. (It does disappear after a minute or two, but hey, this is experimental software, remember? :-)

Best thing is; it seems this requires very little GPU overhead. But it's adding a whole new level of realism to scenes; I'm really looking forward to a stable version of this feature!

Talking about shadows; today (June 30th) is opening day of Eclipse - the third Twilight novel. Yeah, I know, it's all teenager love and romantism, I should be too old for that kind of stuff, but I have to admit that I loved the books, and the first 2 movies have been a thrill.

So, what we all want now, is not just any shadow, but an actual eclipse. That will not happen until the rather over-simpliefied pattern of the moon allways rising when the sun sets is made more realistic. Will this be another first of OpenSim?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

29 of 52 - Life in a thread

I have often thought of Second Life as life hanging by a thin thread. It takes so little to disrupt it, to feel that the thread is almost breaking.

Lately, it seems that the gods of network and computing has conspired upon me to cut the connection. I wonder if I am somewhat cursed - every computer I try to connect to SL (or ReactionGrid for that part, poor Chris have had a hard time at the support desk LOL) seems to wither and die - and yesterday, when I was happy and finally had a screen giving me 30fps inworld, I managed to forget the modem at home... sigh...

Anyway, I guess that since the sun is shining and the day is a nice warm summer day, I should be outside building with real heavy wooden prims instead. I just miss some people....

The parts for a new VPN server has finally arrived; next week I will hopefully have a more stable network solution at work, and a more updated PC at home LOL. In the mean time, I'll go enjoy the sun.

Much have been said about our departed CEO, M. Much of what he tried to do with SL was not what a lot of us "hard-core" SL-er would like to see. But in his first year, he did manage to improve stability on the server side a lot - and for that at least I am thankful. Now, if Philip can just initiate a Viewer 3.0 with some stability and performance tricks up the sleave, like running 30fps on a modest laptop, HTML texture download, working through firewalls at port 80, facebook login (no, just kidding!), the combinded effect would be great!

Monday, June 21, 2010

RenderFarClip and BBBC6 - How has it been?

Ener gave a nice tip on her blog a while ago: If you set Debug->RenderFarClip to a high value, you can see farther than the 512 meters that is max in Graphics Options.

I discovered today that in OpenSim sometimes you can see through non-existing regions too! If you look closely between the two windmills on the right, you can see some other mills near the horizon far behind: That's actually Ener's builds in Enclave Passage, 3 empty sims away:-)

BBBC, final topic:
Did you find this year to be harder or easier than previous years? Did you have fun? What did you get out of it this time around? Do you think you'd do it again?

I found some of the themes not harder perhaps, but a bit more thought-provoking. It's been fun, as it was last year, and I'd definitely do it again! Blogging a post each and every day is not something that I will manage (I just know that my enthusiasm for all things goes in waves, virtual worlds and blogs no exception). But it was nice to have a sort of "pressure" on me this week - even though it kind of broke apart at the end. It's also fun to read what other bloggers write about the same theme - I guess Zippora's post regarding crossing the SL-RL relationship border is the one I will remember best.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BBBC5: What't on my mind?

I wanted to give you the reasons for the L$ fluctations, the secret of forever youth and tell you how to be rich and famous in Second Life. But right now I feel too tired:-) Some other time perhaps!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BBBC4: Forever Young?

Today's challenge: Is your avatar more or less your current biological age? Do you portray a younger avatar, or older? Why is this?

Who is he trying to impress?

When I shaped my av, I wanted to avoid looking too much like a testosterone-filled body-builder. That said, I guess my avatar do work out a bit more than I do :-) But I don't consciously try to appear a certain age. I'm clearly an adult, and I think I look like one in SL as well. I guess it feels more comfortable, not having to play a part of some sort. Cristopher is in most ways quite like me IRL.

And yes, I do have more formal wear, both in SL and RL:-)

While getting rid of the noob look inWorldz however, I clearly ended up looking much younger than I really am. And that actually felt good:-) I do think I will keep that look there, to find out if visual avatar age do make a difference.

The inWorldz me

Somehow I wonder if looking young is more important for the female avatars. Joonie summed it up quite nice: "Is this what you want to see?"

Does it matter as much for a male? Well, look at the guy to the left. Michael Douglas is 66, and he kind of look like it. Even so, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 40 but not looking quite like that, had a rather nice comment about her husband the other night: At the Tony Awards, she said:

"See that man there? He's a movie star and I get to sleep with him every night."

(Do take a look at the video clip, it certainly made me smile:-)

It's kind of sad that she felt the need to apologize for that in the aftermath. Undignified, she said. I think it must be the nicest compliment a man could get, LOL.

It seems to me that being old has been less of a turn-off for a man than for a woman. But that is changing, luckily; Sex and the City 2 is just one sign of it. The fact is, people of both gender is getting more and more conscious about keeping their bodies fit and looking attractive, even at 60+. So, the old rock-and-roll saying "Die Yong, stay pretty" is maybe about to die.

Pretty is also so much dependent on your attitude and expectations; and virtual worlds teaches us to love a soul rather than the physical expressions of it. Our avatars are the virtual expressions of our souls, so if any of us are looking younger than our physical age it does not matter I think, as long as we match the age of our mind. Because in SL, its the mind that counts, really!

28 of 52 - BBBC3: Escape to inWorldz

For those of you wondering if these posts are somehow connected to British Broadcasting: They are not:-) Big Bad Blogger Challenge has established itself as a yearly event in the SL blogsphere, initiated by
Noob entering the coffee bar

Today, the topic was all about relationships in SL, a minefield of a theme that made me run screaming to the wardrobe and dress in a dirty shirt, red tights and a lame unisex wig. Then I slipped, quite Narnia-like, out the the back of the locker and stepped into inWorldz.

I rezzed at a coffe bar, and was immediately greeted by 3 no-noob avatars hanging out there. Strange how the sad look of my avatar makes me feel a bit "outside". But that feeling soon disappeared when I stepped into the freebee shop and met 2 nice greeters.
With free jeans, shoes, Dark-side-of-the-moon-T-shirt and hair running wild, I had my first chat inWorldz.

Lots of nice stuff to get you going without spending money on clothing. Seems there are several shops around, but I did not have time to explore.

Inworldz is not hypergrid-enabled because of concerns regarding content protection. Like SL, there is an established economy; you can even use ATMs to transfer funds to and from SL. Honey, my first friend there, told me that lots of the people around was content creators, a lot of them run-off from SL. With free texture uploads, that is rather understandable. According to a comment on the iliveisl blog, registration in inWorlds have skyrocketed the last week, perhaps because of people loosing faith in LL after the layoffs and years of customer contempt.

"InWorldz is a Virtual World initially based off the OpenSim software. Efforts however, are being made to move past this source code and becoming closer to the Second Life standard for working improvements. "

So, they have forked off the OpenSim code. Works nice if you want to compete with Mark and have the resources. There is a special inworldz viewer version, but I was able to connect with no problem using the Hippo viewer on Linux.

It will be exciting to follow the growth of this world; seems here is potential for lots of grid refugees in the month to come.

Monday, June 14, 2010

BBBC 2: Life is good:-)

Prototyping a river sidewalk

First on the list of three positive things going on in my Second Life is actually happening outside of SL: I have finally gotten the inspiration to start building in my ReactionGrid sim again! Now, Ener has posted a lot about the pro and con about migrating to RG; suffice to say there are challenges indeed. Worst is the lack of all my favourite SL textures that I have no licence to export. But it's part of the learning progress, and kind of fun!

Treacle Darlandes and her great fractals

Back in SL, I find that great art is created every week. Few things in SL gives me more joy that discovering art and talking with artists.

And last but actually most important: I got someone that cares for me. Someone I care for. At the other side of the real world, but that does not matter at all. No list of positive things in my SL would be complete without that fact.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

BBBC1: The Why and the How

Today's Topic: Why did you become a blogger? How has it enriched your life?

I started with an RL blog several years ago, mostly because of the tech involved in setting up a blog server in the basement LOL. To find something worthwhile to fill it with, I started writing reviews of every novel I read (and since that was pre-SL time for me, I actually had time to read a few...).

After a while in SL i discovered the SL blogsphere, and that inspired me to start a blog about the art gallery I was running at the time. Cris' Gallery is now history, but the blogging habit survived.

Blogging my SL adds another dimension to it. It's also a kind of ice-breaker when I meet artists and gallery owners I like. It seems like a lot of my posts are about art; I have a strategy of only writing about the exhibits and works that touches me. It happens ever so often that I walk around galleries that just don't give me any good wibes - instead of writing a post basically saying "this sucks" I rather just pass it. So my blog is not a journal, it's biased towards the stuff I find I love in SL (and lately also in the virtual world beyond SL).

I find writing so fulfilling that sometimes it seems much more fun to blog about my SL that to actually live it. Sigh. But the knowledge that people all around the world reads what I write adds an excitement to the writing. So basically blogging enriches me because it is a natural form of getting out my creative (?) writing, just as SL sometimes releases my creative building skills.

I'm looking forward to this week, hope I can manage a post every day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Exhibit @Shamen - that made me think

Under a full moon, Shamen Galleries floats magicaly in the air

Fuschia's dancers are inside the pyramid

The man in black is normally the villan...

Inside, the theme is also dance...

A merry-go-round amongst the dancers!

Tegan Jenvieve had some amazing dancers on display

[0:05] Tegan Jenvieve: the single dancer came first
[0:06] Tegan Jenvieve: and was just a organic work

[0:06] Tegan Jenvieve: wasnt trying to do it at first
[0:07] Cristopher Lefavre: hmm - so it kind of developed into a dancer?
[0:07] Tegan Jenvieve: yes

[0:07] Tegan Jenvieve: i dont plan sculptures
[0:08] Tegan Jenvieve: they become what they are ment to be

An artist at work while I watch - That's just what SL IS

In front of my eyes, a beautiful yet simple form was created - a butterfly unfolding its wings. I watched it grow, leaving the simple childhood, taking complex forms, changing colours - as the creators mind envisioned it. Makes me think of SL as the clay in the potterers hand, or as the keyboard of a composer.

[0:36] Cristopher Lefavre: Do you have any vision when creating this? Not neccesarily a vision of form; I wonder what kind of ideas drives this?
[0:37] Tegan Jenvieve: i just build til it says its done

In the middle of layoffs and uncertainty it shows a core part of what SL should be - and as long as that is still possible, a lot of other stuff makes no difference.

Sometimes, some singleminded thoughts race to the front of my mind, making me write stuff that, in hindsight, I can't understand how I could. What do I really care if SL has 1 or 7 or 70 million active users? I can understand that the business man M would rather want 70, but somehow I really don't believe that's possible, however much LL works on web integration, first hour experience and facebook connections. I just don't believe there are that many people in the world that is up to the creative standards of this virtual environment; be it as creators or inhabitants. Lets face it: The biggest MMO, WoW, has 11 million players, but that's a game and you don't need much imagination to walk around and slice each other up with swords. It takes a lot more to live in this world.

I am afraid we will still somehow be victims of money-mungerors that will do anything to make SL grow exponentially, instead of focusing on making this community incrementally better. The present mess would make me hesitate investing heavily in SL. But also, I firmly believe that the present population of SL is so strong and dedicated that I don't fear anyone hitting the button to turn off the moonlight in our world anytime soon. If the present management deciedes to throw in the towel because they can't make SL grow like a rocket, I am sure some other people would gladly step in to keep it "in maintenance mode", as Computerworld blogger Mitch Wagner expresses it.

But I won't try to predict too much. When it comes to SL, I try to live in the present. And today was a good one.

Thanks Tegan, for making my day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Big Thank You...

The linden bears in front of the stones made my alt cry - they so symbolize the playful culture that used to mark SL before Mark...

... and all the best to those Lindens that have worked hard to build and keep our world and now find themselves on the outside of the door. I don't really know any of you, but I guess many of you have kept SL spinning despite the strategies of the current management, not because of it.

Even if you are a talented and gifted person, loosing your job means a lot of insecurity and worry that you really don't deserve. For what little it's worth I feel for you and hope everyone of you will be fine.

So while yesterday I focused on one possible outcome of this mess, I too am deeply worried about us loosing so many dedicated virtual world enthusiasts. Even more so if management have used this opportunity to rid themselves of any internal opposition. If so, then I am afraid the odds that SL will wither and die in its present form is much greater. And the odds that any venue you start on will be a success will be much higher:-)

Take care all of you!

Stand by me Sweet lady
We go in and freely
We give up our senses
Our walls and defences

Into the sea
Make love
Make waves

Into the sea
Make love
Make waves

-- Sivert Høyem

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I took a dive into an unknown place when a group notice in french announced some event I was not sure was:-) I landed on a dance floor in a place called ASHANTI & ENZO'S QUIET WORLD 2. Quiet it was not:-) 10 people dancing make a noise even isl lol. Some nice pics on the walls, I added Musica by karen Tempest to my collection (good thing I have expanded my place...).

Everyone talked mostly french, so while the music was good and everyone welcomming, I logged out, perhaps most because it was close to midnight here and in France lol.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Gracie Kendal Project

Gracie Kendal, aka Kris Schomaker IRL, is an artist specializing in colorful abstract oil and acrylic paintings. Since I first saw her work I have loved her colors, her vivid imagination and her large-scale expressions. She has a new exhibit out now, "Read All Over", at Karuna. It's not SL centric art, but art of a universal quality nontheless.

Other than her paintings, Kris has set up on a virtual travel, using her blog and even a book! to connect her RL identity as Kris with that of the avatar Gracie. If you are seriously interested in the theme of avatar identidy, then her "Gracie Kendal" project is definitely required reading. This is actually an art project in itselves, mixing her art with both pictures of herselves and her avatar. The dialogue between herselves and her avatar will make you both laugh and think.

Friday, June 4, 2010

27 of 52 - What is True SL Art?

One avatar losing it? "Identity Crisis" by Cat Boccaccio is a must-see.

When I discovered art in SL a little while after I first rezzed, most of what I found was RL pictures being scanned and uploaded as SL textures, displayed in a frame just as they would in a real life art gallery. This kind of art is still thriving, and it's a great to be able to use SL to experience exhibits one would normally never get the possibility to see. But there are other levels to art in SL.

One such dimension that is growing stronger is the use of SL to create pieces that would be impossible IRL. 3D, scripting, movement, dynamic texture changes and transparency are all examples of techniques that is used to create this new kind of art.

But another dimension is art that expresses the SL society; situations, personal behaviour, limitations and possibilities that are unique to avatars, and how these facets of virtual worlds touches the human soul, mind and body.

When you combine these two dimensions, you got art that can not be created nor understood outside of a virtual world. That is what I would call true SL art. It's still rather rare, because not only do the artist need to master the techniques; she would also need to have a life experience in SL; he would need to really immerse her selves in the environment; she would need to have his heart broken by losing people.

Gender confusion is deliberate :-)

Luckily, several of the talented people that joined SL in the boom some three years ago have understood what SL does to a lot of people, both good and bad. Cat Boccaccio is one of them. She is still the only artist that I know of that can make truly erotic avatar art, and now she has taken that understanding of SL into the NPIRL sphere. Her work "Identity Crisis" should be experienced by anyone into art in SL, because amongst all the other great works at the UWA exhibit, hers is the only (or the only one I saw I should rather say, its a large exhibit and I may have missed a few...) that takes 3D art to a personal level.

Go vote!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

26 of 52 - What's in a virtual life? Music and dance anyway!

As I'm writing this, I am the the UWA to vote for Cat's entry in the competition they are running, "The UWA 3D Art and Design Challenge". Lots of interesting stuff around, do have a look!

Two blog posts have gotten my attention lately. Peter Strindberg wrote very personal about the relation between his first and second life, and how a change to the better in his RL really changed his SL. And London Spengler, triggered by a post by Quaintly, wrote about the reality of SL.

I wanted to write something clever about these issues, because they somehow touched me deep down as to how I feel about SL these days. But I think the summer heat has gotten to the creativity center of my brain, so for the moment it seems like an impossible task lol.

Instead, I let my alt out to find some music before closing my eyes last night. She found a singer kalled Krisie at Twilight Live, and had a nice quiet evening before the net broke down completely. She is a bad blogger though, not taking note of the full name of the singer nor making a slurl. But I guess that's life sometimes:-)