30 April 2007


Public Sandboxes!
Build, chat, learn, and meet new folks!
Griefed to the heavens!

I also worked on a bunch of 2D graphics, did a couple errands, and got a cheerfully silly animation. Going to sleep now.

Vendor babble.

I made some animations (with QAvimator) for vendor pictures and set up a little photo-shoot area about 300M up on my Seomna plot. A backdrop, some poseballs, some light prims. Taking pictures at midnight with light prims does neat things, as does using colored lighting. I've got to finish the rest of the 2D graphics work, but here's one.

Set up the new vendor area after the one mall moved. I like FN's new mall, it is open and spacious without feeling too large. There's a balance between claustrophobic sensory overload and disconnected empty chaos. The only negative to my point of view is how they handled the independent shops. They're in a ring outside of the building holding the rest of the vendors and don't seem like a part of the space.

Landwise, I'm starting to see mainland parcels listed for under L$10/m² which cheers me up tremendously as a buyer.

I'm hoping that the Blender export for sculpted prims comes out by the time they hit the main grid. The free version of Maya watermarks images it exports, making it useless for SL.


There's a lot of blogger talk about an open letter to LL with the theme of "fix the bugs, please." I think the timing on this is stunningly poor.

For LL to control competitors, they desperately need two features - voice and 3D model imports - and both will be on the main grid sometime this year, likely within the next three months. The other visible focii of their efforts have been increased grid stability with increasing numbers of residents online and finding ways to lessen the support burden of running the grid. All these focii are strongly tied to their financial survival, and that of the grid.

Until the two new features are rolled out, ambient suffering bugs just aren't high enough priority to get a lot of developer attention. When you're focusing on survival, anything not directly related gets ignored. As much as I dislike it personally, I recognise that bugs that are project-killers for me are meaningless to 95% or more of the grid's residents. How does one prioritize bugs like that? By financial cost, by number of residents affected, loss of residents related to the bug, amount of PR? Are they ambient suffering or emergencies?

Once those two crucial features are on the grid, I expect we'll see another update or three focusing on glitches, annoyances, and bugs of the "low hanging fruit" variety. We'll see steady improvement in UI usability and customer service processes. I look forward to it.

27 April 2007

Squishy link

Sculpties would get me on the preview grid.

EDIT: Aah, more information here.

A view

Fresh off the presses, an interesting SL article focusing on Philip. The ways an organization functions is often a strong reflection of it's leader(s).

Vending Plans and Rambles.

Another of the malls I vend in is moving, so I get to spend time rearranging. Wonder if this will help or hurt sales? I'm beginning to think the real advantage of building a store on land one owns is not having to deal with moving.

I also need to cycle my offerings at some of my sites.

The thing that's been holding me back from taking new pics of several of my avatars is an animation or two. I haven't seen a good venus-de-milo pose for some of my shapes, so I need to get off my butt and make one. I also want a looking-over-shoulder pose. With a pair of poseballs and a photo setup, I can get that done. I want the venus pose so I don't have to keep track of PG vs M issues - why a female's nipples are considered M when a male's are PG I've never understood.

Then I think I'll finish up my avatar vending machine. I still want one. All the other kids have one. ;)

26 April 2007

Wrangling Prims Outline

Thinking about the certs stuff. Wondering how I'd go about systematically teaching someone such a vague and large area as "building."

Areas like vehicles, buildings, and avatar attachments should remain a marketing and portfolio issue. There's huge stylistic issues with judging those - camera control, proportions, historical accuracy and realism, etc. The current ideas of breakdown include topics like architecture, vehicles, weapons, furniture. I think this is a huge mistake - we should focus on building skills and knowledge, not topics. There's also questions of bias here.

Anyway, here's my first attempt at a list.

Proof that a person can use the edit controls in basic ways. Create, select, move, rotate, copy, delete. Hollow, cut, resize, dimple. Convert one prim type into another. Resize using the edit window, resize by grabbing the points. Choosing colors and textures, aligning textures, transparent/opaque, fullbright. Understanding shiny, bumpmapped, and how alpha affects them. Grid modes.

Linking and unlinking. Manipulating linked groups of prims (individually and as a group) - moving, texturing, coloring, resizing. Deleting a prim in a linkset. Knows that a stable linkset can't be a mix of phantom and real, etc. Understanding root vs child prims, and how that affects position, rotation, etc. Number and distance issues with linking. The existance of script tools that let you work around those limitations. The vehicle prim limit.

Knowledge of flexi limitations (only some shapes can be flexi, always phantom)

Knowledge of lighting limitations( 6 sources, no shadows ).

Alpha flicker and techniques to prevent it. Positioning, "blacksiding", etc.

How to make a prim into an attachment. Setting it to an attachment point. Using the edit window's grid mode for attachments. Making a basic one-prim HUD.

Making "mini" prims with different techniques - cutting, dimpling, hollowing with a transparent texture on the outside.

Oversized prims. How to do the ones that are technique (like flattening a 10M box to create a 15M plane) and best practices with the huge or mega prims that were introduced thru the Havoc hack (phantom is best, don't make them physical, bounding box and hollowing issues, beware of parcel boundaries).

Prim torture shapes.

Ways to minimize your prim count.

Texturing techniques that influence building. Shadowing, lighting, details, alpha games... texture maps. Textures and lag. Size, tiling, alpha channel issues, formats for upload. Common uses of alpha textures.

Balancing and minimizing lag. Textures, shapes, levels of detail, etc...

Working with curves and organic shapes.

Basic script usage, more of a "drop it in and let it run" sort of thing. Animating textures, basic sound use, setting sit targets and assembling pose balls, removing hoverscript and particles, basic doors...

24 April 2007

Certs and Search

There's some talk going on about LL's plans to make content creation certification. I don't have enough information yet to clearly see goals here. It might be intended to ensure the quality of commercial builds, or to be used as the beginnings of a new resident education system, or as a way to stratify SL content. It could be used as a barrier to newcomers, or as a way to train those interested faster and more thoroughly.

Looked over the sheepsearch results today. They've obviously made another pass; the data has changed again. I wish they'd post the date of the last pass. I'm glad that if they're going to list parcel names, the items are listed on the right parcel. Lots of my vendor boxes are still missing, and they sit side-by-side with ones that are listed.

Need new batteries.

I didn't get much done the last couple days. The rest of the Invisible Avatars are boxed and in my shop. Checked out a new place to vend that is focused on avatars. Thought about land and Avatar Toolbox a lot. The last couple times I've been on the grid have been like that - a mix of errands and doing nothing. I have all these things I want to do, but when I'm on the grid all I do is relax and talk with a couple people. Maybe I need a vacation...

20 April 2007


Went on the grid for a few moments last night. Did a little vendor maintenance, talked to some people. Found out that Famoa has been scripting in the mushroom garden - this made me laugh because it has become my favorite scripting place too.

Caught up with Lacy via email this morning. She does love her coffee. :)

I've got quite a list of things I want to do. New and halfdone projects, things for Avatar Toolbox, and land & group things. I hope I'll have some time the next week to get them done.

Looked over the economics info LL released. I'm wondering if April's numbers will be affected by the changes regarding casino advertising on the grid.

17 April 2007

Interactive soundscape ideas

Well, I knew I wanted some movement (maybe size changing or particles?) and now I know what else I want to do with my mushrooms. Well, more than just them. Adaptive music. The only thing that stands out about Asheron's Call 2 to me years later (aside from the endless armidillos) is the music score - the music altered itself based on what creatures were around, their proximity, the key and melodic themes changed depending on the area, and the music avatars could play with instruments in-game changed key to work within each area. I wish I could locate the whitepaper I read years ago about it. "An Interactive Symphony: Music in AC2." It added an impossible-to-describe richness to the experience.

The hardest part about this might be the way SL handles sound. Clients have to load the sounds, so the first time they're played for an avatar may be several seconds after they've been triggered... which would make sounds which play well together due to rhythm rather tricky. I know there's llPreloadSound(), but I've never used it, and so don't know what quirks it may have, and whether playing the sound at zero volume would be more effective. And there's llSetSoundQueueing()...

This might work out well for me - I'll have a building and scripting project with lots of sensory delights, an information-gathering and teaching project (avatar toolbox), and a little vending on the side to keep it all funded.

Search again.

You're all probably sick of it by now, but I'm still enjoying the development of the Sheep Search. Ordinal Malaprop enriches the conversation here. Kami Harbinger's strongly-worded article brings up a lot of interesting points, and has more links. The technical development is neat, (operators have been added,) but the way the search and the SL communities are adapting and responding to one another fascinates me. The themes of public vs private, ownership rights, and attempts to define ethical behavior carry a lot of echos of the Copybot discussions. I like that things are moving slower - it gives people more time to think about what they want to say. And I haven't seen signs that this has gotten much beyond the SL blog community - most people on the grid have no idea it exists.

As an aside, I'm putting my scripted av vendor on hold for now. I've been reluctant to take new pictures of several of my models, and if this search does become popular, I'm better off sticking to box vendors. Laziness. ;)

12 April 2007

Learning more about Sheep Search

Christian of the eSheep was kind enough to write back. This makes me happy; I love it when people are willing to talk about how things work.

The privacy-concerned will be happy to know that scans have stopped until improved privacy tweaks are added. If you want your items removed, they're now removed almost immediately.

I'm not the only one who found the phrase "private islands" confusing. Currently any parcel (mainland or island) that Grid Shepard can enter gets scanned. The wording on the search has been changed to make what is and isn't scanned clearer. The parcel scanning pattern is a little strange - some of my items on one parcel are listed under the name of two others, but not under the name of the parcel they're in. Maybe that was the parcel Grid Shepard was in when doing the scan?

Only objects found in the last scan of the grid are listed. I'm not sure if the index is replaced or edited; based on what the search currently does, it makes sense to erase and replace. I think I'll ask about adding the day the last scan happened to the site.

Christian wrote that there's been a lot of work focused on making the results of the scans more complete. If the search only contains information from the last sweep, the results need to be a more accurate for the search to be a useful shopping tool. I have scanned prim-for-sale vendors which are rezzed side by side with ones that were not.

She (yes, Grid Shepard has a gender) is not using lsl, instead she's taking note of what she sees. It sounds like Grid Shepard is operating with an edited client. That has me wondering if the items missed were because of view occlusion or slow grid db response.

Ambient Suffering

This post of Torley's has me thinking about (among other things) more effective ways to visualize large collections of bug reports and overall project status. I've worked with a lot of teams that develop an ability to ignore slowly growing problem areas of their project until a crisis develops. I spend a fair bit of time in RL exploring the whys and hows of emergencies and changing the ways things work to prevent them.

10 April 2007

Sheep Search X Privacy Concerns

Watching the Search blog explosion. It would have been a lot more polite for the Sheep Search to have allowed people to opt out before they did the first datasweep. I was surprised to see islands on the search listings; I wonder if their definition of "private island" merely meant ones that aren't open to the public? Usually it means a sim that's not owned by LL. Ansche Chung, land baron extraordinaire, considers it a privacy violation and has banned them from scanning her properties. Assuming LL doesn't decide to put a stop to the scanning, I expect this will settle down after a couple weeks; everyone active on the grid will have adjusted their belongings to account for the search.

Prok's objections remind me once again that while I think of SL as a public space, many people don't. The only way to ensure it is to have your own private island and refuse to allow access, although Lindens can still come visiting.

Privacy on the grid is a social construct. Windowless buildings, locking doors, ban lines... they're all symbols of a desire for privacy, and it is technically possible to get around all of them. When I'm scripting or working on a delicate build, I've put myself in a large opaque hollow sphere, and people whose scripted scanners detect an avatar inside there will ignore the way the sphere says "pretend I'm not here" to see what I'm doing.

09 April 2007

Sheep made a Search!

Take a look at what the Sheep have been up to! They've gone and built a SL Product Search. Nifty method for data gathering too!

It doesn't have all the mainland scanned - I noticed mainland sims missing from their listings. I assume they're planning on multiple passes to pick up items they miss while scanning - I noticed areas where it detected some vendors and missed others. (Scanner scripts have a max number of items they're find, regardless of how many are in the area.) If it becomes popular, I wonder what effect it'll have on how we package items - it doesn't seem to detect scripted vendors.

EDIT: I've emailed the Sheep to ask questions about their Search - I noticed some private islands listed, some mainland sims missed, and I'm very curious about how this might develop!

Shadow Gardening

The dramatic size of the virtual strains of Gigantus mushrooms has always fascinated me. I first encountered them in a delightful place known as Taco; they had a field of red and white ones within walking distance of the town. The town and its field no longer exist, but my fondness for the giant fungi has stayed with me.

Standing in the shadow cast by a single house-sized mushroom makes it easy to put my frustrations into perspective. I've set up a box garden of a handful of compatible Torleiceae varieties. This collection is made up of vibrantly colored and fairly small species ( less than ten meters tall at maturity ) with tones that are typically within a C (or F) major chord.

It took a sizable volume of manure from the offices of my favorite SL newsrags, a few benches, and a handful of spores to create this unusual garden. Feel free to stop by and relax while listening to the soothing sounds of these colorful giants.

08 April 2007

Magic Mushrooms

I've been relaxing by ripping up my old park build and experimenting with mushrooms. The Oh-So-Colorful Torley has some great textures. I still have to find some tuned wind chime-like notes for my mushrooms to randomly play... and maybe some occasional particle effects. Someone dropped by and suggested I think about doing a Burning Man build with this theme sometime... I'm tempted.

Making a deck and moving it up a bit restored my view, and my other neighbor turns out to be a polite new builder who didn't realize his stuff was extended over my parcel.

07 April 2007

ever-changing mainland

Got another new neighbor. This one built a railing(?) that's on my land by several meters. It used to be such a boundary and view respecting neighborhood... Maybe I'll just have to build that mad scientist's super laboratory I've been thinking about.

05 April 2007


Nice tutorial (including videos) of the particle system.

llPassTouches(). Gives you another way to stop touches on a child prim from passing to the root.

Been too long since I've been on the grid. Crazy week.

02 April 2007

I'm still laughing at this hours later.

"Missing Image" is the new black.

Boxed in and "bent out of shape"

My neighbor with the nice beach has left, and someone with a view-blocking department store moved in. I wish I'd known it was for sale. Such are the joys of the mainland. I'm tempted to find a rental somewhere in a shopping sim and move my main shop there.

Couldn't find any of the people I was looking for. There were more I should have contacted, but I had too little time and was too grumpy. I'll try again sometime this week, Dippy.

There is talk that RT's new mall sim has a lag problem. I will have to go visit and see.

I realized I don't have anything on AvTx about basic avatar shapes. I've seen a few things, like "Don't be afraid of the gravity slider" for female AVs, talk about general proportions, some tips for making child AVs that don't look like miniature adults... There isn't much information about them. If you've got a favorite hint, please comment!