Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

My sincerest wishes for a wonderful New Year to everyone. We've all had ups and downs in 2010, but that is how life -- even a Second Life -- works. With all we've learned and the support of friends and family, 2011 is going to be one for the record books. I feel it. Huggs, y'all!

Wee Little Kitteh

Getting gifts is a bit hard for me because I think that I never sufficiently express my gratitude, so I'd rather give than receive. Two of my oldest friends in Second Life have given me great joy with a pair of special avatars. One I posted about on the 21st was a gorgeous unicorn. Today, I present a wee little kitteh from Janeforyou Barbara. Yes, that's the avie right there, on the SLopoly board in the game room on the Isle of Lesbos. It was so much fun to scamper about on the game surface, chasing the little markers, kicking over the cards, and hiding the dice, while others tried to play. I even "pooped" in the Public Sandbox space thanks to some clever scripting. Conjoh Kohime did a wonderful job creating this avatar, from textures, to sculpts, to a really fun animation override. I found out by *oops* how spendy this is but I highly recommend that any cat or avatar lover get one (shop SLurl). Thanks, Miss Jane! You have great taste in gifts.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In the Lego Universe world I'm ZyxFlux (you may have seen earlier posts about this) and here I am on the snow planet there with my pet reindeer, MissJane, wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wherever you are, whomever you are with, I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's a Unicorn Christmas!

My big sister Threshin gave me an early Christmas present that has tickled me to no end: a unicorn avatar from Water Horse (SLurl). Wow! This is amazing! The textures and prim work are awesome and the animation override is equally impressive. There are many customization options and it looks like there is a way that let a rider saddle up. I'll be prancing away from now until Christmas in this avie and for probably a long time after. Look for me around the grid to see how awesome this avie is for yourself. I've already popped into Misty Mountain (SLurl), one of my favorite scenic trips, and awed some of the visitors there then trotted in the beautiful snowscape of Calas Galadhon (SLurl). But I'll have to be careful at my next visit to Menagerie Isle (SLurl) because as you see in the pic below, someone tried to sell me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Being Zyx, Part 2

Uccello was rather cheeky to introduce me without asking first but she missed lots of details, mostly because Second Life avatars can't depict real life pixys very well. So I'm bigger than I should be, but I'm all pixy, through and through. Here's how you can tell:
  • My skintone is blue. A soft, chalky blue. All pixys can change their hue, but that takes effort so we pretty much stick with how we were born -- blue, green, yellow, red. When I'm really angry or in a mood to battle, my tone deepens to a very dark blue-black. Fairys are almost always the same colors as humans. Pixys can mimic fairys, but don't often do it.
  • Dragonfly-like wings. Second Life has soooo many nice wings that sometimes I change in-world, but Real World pixys have dragonfly-like wings. Fairys usually have butterfly-like or moth-like wings.
  • Second Life avatars tend to be giants. Probably it's a good thing as animations favor the Amazons (my Sit anims push me into the ground, for example). My besties are almost all over 6' tall but I'm just 4'6". I'll get taller as I get older, but Real World pixys are really no more than a few inches tall. Odds are you don't see us because of our size, but we also move fast.
  • Pixy's love gardens. That pic up top is me in my first garden in Second Life. I have a lovely home in the Elderglen sims and used most of my prims for the garden. And I was allowed to make the Secret Garden at the Isle of Lesbos.
As for anything personal, I guess you'll have to meet me. If I want or need you to know something, I'll tell you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Being Zyx, Part 1

Those who frequent Lucky Chairs and other devices that give prizes in Second Life have developed strategies to gather the most prizes or to increase the odds of getting one they really want. As a very long time member of the Lucky Kitty Crew, one of SL's oldest freebies/shopping groups, I've probably tried them all, save for one: Alts. Then Zyx Flux, my cute pixy girl, came along. I was at a Lucky Chair that insisted on giving it's treasure only to those whose first name began with the letter Z. Getting frustrated at having to wait 20 minutes until it (hopefully) cycled to another letter (usually going to Z again, though) I took the time to make an Alternate Character named Zyx.

I chose the name as an expedient, simply typing part of the alphabet backwards. She could have been Zaphod or Zeta or Zimbo (thanks, Grampie!) or any of a number of names that came to mind, but I thought if I'm going to take the time I might as well make the Alt useful. The name made me think the character would eventually be a gender neutral robot, especially as I chose Flux as a surname. Then the sign-up sequence suggested that I join via a Community. I'm fond of the Steampunk regions (SLurl) so I almost picked the Caledon group, but the Fairy community intrigued me and so Zyx went swiftly through their "portal" and on to help me conquer the Lucky Chair that so vexed me.

Later that day I thought back to how nice the noobie experience was at Faery Crossing (SLurl) and took Zyx back through, more slowly. It came to mind that having a role play-specific character might be fun. After all, SL is full of people who enjoy being someone other than themselves or exploring a narrow aspect of themselves by focusing on it via role play. Despite having lived on Tamerthon (SLurl) at one time and peripherally participating in the medieval-ish community, I had not really tried this part of our world.

But elves were everywhere, I didn't really feel like Tinkerbell, and drows really don't do a thing for me. As a fan of Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" books I had one alternative left: Pixy. These four-inch tall (on average) creatures love families, battle hard, and are greatly underestimated by anyone but their fiercest rivals, the fairies.

"But," you say and I cut you off before you can finish asking "pixys and fairies are the same, right?" Yes, and no, I need to say. Here's what I have in Zyx's profile Picks:
Many silly humans think that pixys & fairies are the same creature. Both are magical woodland creatures who love gardens, are allergic to silver, & are very territorial. But pixies are smaller, usually have colorful skin (like blue or green), & don't need a wand to do their magic. Fairies are often mean, bossy, & almost never have colorful skin. I'm a pixy. Tinkerbell is a fairy (or fae).
Second Life has some limitations so I've made adjustments to the Real World pixy and taken a few liberties, as well. For example, Zyx's body is as small as I can make it while keeping the proportions right, made her blue with a nice but very inexpensive skin, and started a back story that I'll relate via this blog in subsequent posts. I should confess here, though, that she is a child avie. Well, she's like over a hundred years old, but that is a kid by pixy standards (a liberty that lets her be Adult Verified while being rather child-like). This will make more sense if you look for Zyx Resident in-world ... a grown-up Zyx. More on that later, too.

Zyx Flux and Uccello Poultry, July 4, 2010, on Menagerie Isle

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SL in Shiny Chrome

Recently I tried the Second Life Web Viewer Beta and was but mildly impressed. Afterall, uber-brainy resident Katharine Berry had long ago developed a browser-based interface limited to text so it was inevitable that in-world graphics would eventually be added by someone. During the trial I wasn't focused as much on "gee, this is in a browser" as I was continually noting how dull the experience really was when The Lab was clearly focused more on the social aspects of being in Second Life than the access method. My test avie was always being directed to "fun places" and "places to meet people" with virtually (pun intended) no emphasis on creation or other advanced features. Admittedly, avatar customization was very creatively handled but the limited documentation indicated this feature was an enhancement to the social aspects of being in-world. Likely this was a test of more than the technology. I'm sure folks involved with trying to increase the in-world population had a firm hand in what was going on. In all, there was a sense of "something is up" about the whole thing.

Then today as I was reading Andy Ihnatko's Chicago Sun-Times post "What does Chrome OS and Google notebook mean to you?" it struck me where SL on the Web is going: To The Cloud!

Google's idea, far from new, is that any computer you use will behave the same way, use the same applications (apps), and store information in a network-based space. I think it was the NEC company that pushed this idea long ago and it was then called "thin clients" ... the machine in front of you is simply a dumb terminal and all the "real work" is done on a networked computer somewhere else. That "somewhere else" is "The Cloud."

With Cloud SLing, The Lab wouldn't have to worry as much about viewer development, hardware compatibility, third-party viewers, and all the related expenses that come with such diversity. Innovation and control of our experiences would be firmly back in their hands. It could also lure more people into the service, like those who have Apple iPads but don't use traditional computers. People like my mother. Seventy-four years old and taping away for at least six hours a day, nary a clue that she really has in her hands a computer far more powerful than the first one I used to access Second Life over five years ago.

A Second Life app for the Web browser or for devices like the iPad or the next generation of televisions shouldn't be too hard. In fact, one is likely to appear soon, I imagine, considering the limitations of current options for the ever-increasing number of portable devices. Pocket Metaverse, one of two viewers that I can find for iOS devices, is fine for occasional use, but without graphics, it is somewhat of a nuisance to use. So bring on The Cloud! I don't think we will have long to wait.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

People Who Care

Whether it is Second Life or Real Life, I love to find people who care enough to have fun with what they make. Check out this sign I found for a T.A.R.D.I.S. at The Doctor Who Experience (SLurl).