Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Zyxs

Zyx Resident (left) and Zyx Flux
I often ask myself, "Why do I have two pixy alts?" The original Zyx Flux started as a way to battle a Lucky Chair that loved the letter Z (as mentioned in this blog post of mine) but over time became a bunny rancher, landscaper, building subcontractor, and world explorer. She also plays at Mystara (as a pixy, of course) for a little role play recreation. Zyx Resident came later as a means to preserve the name when every new Second Life resident sign up was given no choice in last names (as mentioned in yet another blog post). Since then, she has mostly collected cool clothes and weapons without any particular function.

But I can do all that, names aside, as Uccello Poultry, so I have to ask again: "Why do I have two pixy alts?" Sitting at the keyboard, I'm pursing my lips and tilting my head, with only the barest inkling of an idea. Sure, building a character -- and all avatars are characters, to some degree -- is fun almost to the point I could make one a day and be amused. And "growing" them is fun, too, as they develop as extensions of the keyboardist. Like "Wee Zyx" has a whimsical personality that lets me express a part of me that being Uccello simply doesn't let me ...

Maybe I'd better pause to mention here that Uccello is very grown-up. Maybe not emotionally, but she's adult to the point she's made her more "experienced" friends blush. Her rather busty-curvy-womanly shape reflects my RL figure but her choice in clothing (when the trollop bothers to dress, that is) leans heavily toward what some might call "slutty." I can't do that IRL. On that side of the keyboard I wear bulky, loose clothing to hide my shape and to blend into the woodwork, no makeup even when I can find the one lipstick I own, and my hair is very, very butch. SL Uccello is RL Caitlin (me!), but without most of my paranoia, phobias, and reservations.

Zyx Flux, then, is probably the child that I missed out being, I guess, since I grew up very, very fast one long weekend. Her walk is a skipping prance that advertises her cheerful innocence. When she changes clothes I'm often surprised to see detailed bits on her skin because I never think of her that way. My mindset when I'm in-world with Wee Zyx is a decade of growing up away from Uccello's place. No, she's not a child avie, or I couldn't let her work at the Isle of Lesbos, but she has a purity to her. Even I blush when she occasionally swears.

Which leaves Big Zyx, the mystery. Miss Resident, until I figure out some sort of family naming scheme and talk my brother into it for his avie, too. In my mind she's like a grown up Zyx Flux that hasn't had Caitlin's or Uccello's experiences. That looks funny on the screen after I read it again, but it rings true despite the stream-of-conscious feel with which I'm writing. When I'm logged in as her I get a sense of poise and grace, confidence and calmness, wisdom earned and practiced ability. She's certainly not me. Or if she is, she's a me that I've yet to meet. Except that one time ...

A couple years ago I had the same feelings during an incident with a man who thoroughly groped me. Within seconds I had him on his back, my .45 H&K drawn in the Weaver Stance and aimed at his chest from a meter away. While he was peeing his pants (really), I was a model of calm ... a clarity that weapons instructors from my father up to the Marines at the local Navy base all said I would gain with patience. I was poise and grace and power in one package. To me, that is Zyx the Elder, as I sometimes call her.

While nibbling at the edges of "the question," none of this answers it. Every avatar is an expression of me to some extent, but splitting the essences into multiple parts ... I don't know. I don't quite understand it. Yet. There will come a day, I'm sure. But until then, my playful pixy and my wise pixy will keep my highly-flawed, trollop of a main account spinning with some sort of balance.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Second Life's Next Generation of Graphics?

I'm looking forward to a world like Second Life with these technologies. Sure, the big hurdle will be developing tools that allow content creators to build scenes like this as we do with current tools. I'm sure someone is working on that right now. Probably not Linden Lab, though. Read more about this at 9to5 Mac here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What's in My Closet: Merwear

For a little while now I've been role playing a mermaid in the fabulously gorgeous Mystara regions (SLurl), my character growing in her story and now in her wardrobe. She started off as a poor castoff from her home shoal, her only clothing self-made shells for modesty and a rope belt to carry things (her land form, since sirens can transform, will be covered in a later post, maybe).

A simple outfit for a cash-poor mermaid. I made the shell bra and the rope belt is from a BINA Summer Kirtle outfit (SLurl).
Since some time has passed she's been able to acquire more cloth to replace the shells and fashion a new style belt.
More cloth this time also means fewer sculpty rezzing issues. This is most of a BINA Tende Cloth outfit.
Accents from elsewhere in my closet round out the ensemble but of note is the tail, a modified freebie from Deeplight (SLurl). I love the wet/dry hair from Sirena (SLurl).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

SL8B Hopes ... Realized!

It's official ... Lesbos will be at Second Life's 8th Birthday! The parcel is in SL8B Electrify on a nice corner. It won't be near some nice fountains like last year's parcel (or Honour McMillian's parcel), though, it does look like we'll be in a high-traffic area. I'm so excited!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Decline & Fall of Our Rome

It could be argued that much as Classical Rome reached a zenith and then decayed to be a mere shadow of its former self, all civilizations must inevitably follow such a pattern. The culture changes and then what was once well known is gone and something new takes its place. A key indicator of such a fall is the decay of the society's infrastructure. Maintenance on essential systems such as aqueducts and the vaunted Roman roads was forgotten while less civic-minded projects took the forefront. Some were wholly abandoned as the empire contracted, unable to sustain itself.

In our New Rome, Second Life, I continually see of late such evidence of a decline. The blogs and forums are redesigned to accommodate the "government" rather than the "governed." Primary tools such as Search fail as resources are directed toward trendy Social Media platforms that give no direct benefit to the in-world experience. The leadership is fragmenting with mass layoffs, swift changing occupants in the "big chair," and further reliance on a handful of increasingly influential long-term Residents while vast populations of volunteers are banished to continue their chosen work unassisted. And the infrastructure is in decay. Herds of Linden "Moles" have built new "shining cities on the hill" that oft remain empty while existing resources are ignored and fall apart despite the numbers of Residents that frequent them. Take, for example, the Help Island (Public) that I visited today. Consistently full (at it's "Agent Limit" of avatars), it is nonetheless very much worse for whatever virtual wear can occur.

While this could be just a sloppy build, I suspect 'prim drift' of some sort. Sections of walls, parts of buildings, and other individual prims are just so slightly "off" from where they should be.

Whole elements from the Sandbox are missing, most notably ground-textured prims used to flatten the landscape are gone, leaving a patchwork of surfaces that are hard to navigate by foot.

Another example of a missing ground prim, but if you look at the bench to the far left  you'll see that high-prim objects using age-old construction techniques are still deployed rather than feature the latest features such as sculpties. And don't mention to me the freebies in the Noobie "shop" in the distance. They were never that good and today have almost no place outside a Second Life museum, compared to what can easily be found in most retail shops.

I felt almost bad changing the Windlight setting for a nicer picture considering how ancient and decayed Help Island has become. This is not the world I remember from some 5 years ago. This is rapidly becoming a place that archaeologists will one day look over and decide how our civilization collapsed.
Whither now our world? Has Second Life gone the way of the dial up BBS and America Online? Judging by the infrastructure, I can't help but feel sad for what is likely another civilization in decline.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Towel Day!

Are you celebrating Towel Day? It's the annual celebration of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams and you can  participate simply by carrying a towel all day, in SL or RL (I've got mine!!)

Visit the Towel for Towel Day freebie on the SL Marketplace for your free towel!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Meeroo Photo Contest!

The Isle of Ewe Meeroos (SLurl) is sponsoring a photo contest for Meeroo lovers! The Numbers: $2500 in total prizes, L$100 to per entry, and L$5 per vote (when the board is full or in a week). Head on down and look for one of these two pictures! Well, look at all of them, but these are rather vote-worthy, in my greedy humble opinion.

I'm cuddling CCRoo the Meeroo.

Zyx Flux has her hands full with McHuggles the Meeroo.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, CC!

It's my brother's RL birthday today ... he's OLD! But I have to be nice if I'm going to get some Dairy Queen ice cream cake so I thought I'd post some pix of his better side, CC Columbo in Second Life.

When I came to the Main Grid, CC was usually orange for some reason. He's on some land in Nangrim right on the sim edge. See the gray ground? It is really green. Read more about that in this post here.
He still uses this home sometimes. On the mantle from left to right are pictures of him and Kayla, a neighbor in Nangrim, and a picture of his RL daughter, Lydia Rose. She's the reason behind the Memorial Park and one of the reasons we are both in SL.
For Christmas one year I got him a nice female shape and skin as a joke. He's been changing and hiding his password pretty regularly since then. This also shows my taste in women. Oh! I need therapy.
Like me, he has many avies, but he is a hyena more often than not. Behind him is a memorial to his daughter. He always has one out somewhere in SL at any given time. I miss my niece, too.
Lately CC is an elf. I helped kit him out one day. Shopping in-world with my brother is a lot like shopping with him IRL ... we both want it to end fast. But he's pretty buff, if I do say so myself. He wanted to look his RL age and size, but I nixed that, partly on the grounds that it is hard to make an old-looking, hefty avie in SL. Clothes, attachments, and AOs seem to be all geared to the young.
Happy Birthday, CC! You are the Bestest Big Brother a girl could have. Just don't tell my other big brothers I said that, okay? Huggs!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Old vs New Graphics

When I logged in to Second Life today, the viewer graphics were still set to Low from last night's session, a time when lag was so bad only the most basic settings would allow me to remain logged in at all. The lack of glow and shiny and more made me hark back to my first days in our world about 5 years ago when Low was the standard. I lived in Nangrim and it looked very much like this:

Bland, featureless skies, out-of-focus ground textures, no shiny or glow. Actually, it was worse 5 years ago because this ground was actually brown/gray most of the time.
Yes, that is actually Nangrim, on a parcel recently bought by my brother on nearly the exact spot where I had my first tree house. At one time he and I owned about 3/4 of the whole region. Below is the same shot, but with Ultra graphics set.

Much better sky and everything is crisp. The greater draw distance even means that they typical mainland clutter is visible around the scenic barrier. Thanks to sculpties, the first view is still nice, but this is much better.

Then I visited Misty Mountains (SLurl), one of the most scenic spots in all of Second Life, even with Low graphics.

You can see how dull the water is here. On Low graphics it is totally opaque and if you were to go below the surface you'd see it is totally transparent. Quality prims are the only thing that save this picture.
The water is much, much nicer with Ultra graphics, the light rays to the left are visible since Glow is active, and the increased draw distance all make this scene much more beautiful. There are subtle enhancements to the texture quality, too.

My home today is the most telling comparison of Low and Ultra graphics:

The scene is so busy that with Low graphics set even the ground texture won't rez despite waiting 10 minutes. Interestingly, the roof texture and the ground texture are the same yet one is gone. And most of the alpha graphics aren't resolved, either.
On Ultra, all the leaves are visible, a Linden tree shows up on the bottom right, and you can see all my neighbors. The lighting really pops the scene, thanks to SL's Windlight technology.
Complain as people do, we should all take a few moments and think about how much better Second Life has become over the years. The grid really is more stable, there are no more No SL Wednesdays, and the graphics are obviously much improved.

My Main Grid 5th Rez Day is coming up so be warned: I'll likely post more retrospective pieces like this one.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Curse you, Honour McMillan!

Virtual world traveller Honour McMillan beat me to the punch yesterday by posting about her visit to Blue Galaxy (SLurl) on her blog, Honour's Poste Menopausal View. I've intended to do a writeup myself. Maybe I still will, but go read her post then go visit this really cool region yourself. If you find yourself in some shops "upstairs," explore them, too, and you'll find a teleporter for ground level. While on the ground, picture a wee blue pixy flying around ... it is one of my favorite places for a casual visit to fly about.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SL8B Hopes part 5

Honestly, after this I'm going to stop. I need to stop working on this build for Second Life's 8th Birthday until I find out whether or not I won a parcel. I've spent more money than I should based on just hopes and reasonably good odds that I'll be able to participate. But this was fairly pointless. "This" was taking scenic pictures way earlier than I needed to take them. But it gives you a chance, Dear Reader, to give me some input. Drop some comments as to which version of each shot you like best. Please?
I rather like both, but in-world they don't appear nearly as sharp as they do here.
Again, I like both. But it occurred to me that I should have two pixies in each pic to keep with the "couples" theme.
Like the pixies picture, I should have a pair of mermaids in each shot. DOH! I might skip mermaids all together as I have no merfolk couples poses. And I'm not a fan of this shot anyway. It's late and I'm confused. Halp?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SL8B Hopes part 4

Today's progress  included revamping the entrance and adding a bar.
I spent most of yesterday and today in Real Life but I was able to get in some building time today and the pic above is the result. Still trying to get the essence of the Pride Club on Lesbos, I changed the "entrance" side so I could add a bar/lounge area and accommodate wading in the water (behind the bar). Since the space is limited, though, I moved the couch from inside the dance area to the lounge. Then I went crazy. I was never that happy with the bar at the Pride Club, having built better ones since the original. So I raided ideas from the Teeny Bikini Bar (pictured below) on the Lesbos north beach and built new Pride Club bar. Pleased with this I put a copy at the original, waved my magic hooves so everyone would think it always looked like that, and went on my merry way. The new version is rather primmy, much to my dismay, and brings the build to well over the 234-prim limit of the parcel.

I have to save some prims, though, as I've arranged to have a couples dance ball on site and I'd like to add some Linden Plants. But I have a plan. The 21-prim trees (each!) at the back of the dance area can be replaced by Linden trees for a big savings. Or I could just buy some nice, lower prim trees (and then update the ones at the "real" Pride Club, too) to create a fudge factor.

The rainbowy portraits to the right are in the style of what I'd like to do, and are only two prims each, but for effect I might change the frame, raising the prim count by one per picture. The design I'd love to use would make each picture about five prims. But I have a studio built for the portraits and bought six new couples animations. If I win a parcel  (please, please, please let me get a parcel) then I'm ready to shoot the pix.

One of my favorite builds ever, the Teeny Bikini Bar. With the exception of about 6 prims from a pre-fab I bought, this is all original, right down to the custom textures and scripts. This was almost the basis for my SL8B build since I like it so much.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why Can't Second Life Do This?

Using the technology behind Citadel and the slasher game Infinity Blade for iOS devices, Castlerama made it's debut today (iTunes store) just as the viewer I'm using for SL stutters and freezes and ... *sigh*

My iPad (and now my iPad2) run these games flawlessly. My 27" iMac struggles wtih SL. Yes, I know. Streaming graphics versus local storage ... yadda yadda yadda. It's my money. I want better.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

SL8B Hopes part 3

You can't see the Observation Deck in this view.
This picture from yesterday is basically what my SL8B build looks like so far. The water, grass along the sidewalk, and the sidewalk are all temporary. If I get  a parcel it will be a pond like last year's build and the "club" will float in it. The portraits you see are just placeholders. I hope to have six to 12 couples portraits in their place (1 per side if I can get 12 or 1 per frame with pix of the Isle on the opposite ... still deciding). I won't start that until I get word if I win a parcel or not. I'm thinking a couch or a bar for the empty area on the right. Maybe a bar as that is a swing in the back, center. Up top is a nice, logo-festooned observation deck that folks will be able to use for panoramic views of the birthday builds.

The Lesbos@SL8B logo might change.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SL8B Hopes part 2

Still trying to upload images. Of all the available options Blogger has, none work. I hope it is fixed soon. Until then, here's a quick note about my Second Life 8th Birthday (SL8B) build:

I'm nearly done with the infrastructure! If I could load a picture I'd show it to you. The only things left, other than some minor decorating, will depend on whether I have a parcel or not. If I don't get one, I won't bother and the whole shebang (no pun intended) will be turned into a small, rezzable Pride Club, good for 32m x 32m parcels.

Missing Posts

Blogger went down sometime last night and the stated hour-long maintenance took over 12 hours and managed to eat a couple of my posts. If they can't be recovered ... well, I guess I'll try again. Once it lets me upload images. Imagine a frowny face in this post, please.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

SL8B Hopes

With any luck, I'll be able to win a spot at Second Life Birthday 8 (SLB8) this year. In anticipation, I've already started a pre-build after "doodling" for several different exhibit concepts. If chosen, this will be my fourth build and I again hope to show to the world a little bit of the Isle of Lesbos.

Got my workin' gear on and a fair start already.
The birthday theme is The Magic of Second Life (the Official Wiki has more details) and my build will use a miniature version of the Pride Club (featured in my previous post here). The idea is to highlight the magic of SL relationships, such as those like the couples that have met at the Isle and bonded in relationships from casual to very deep.  For the Isle specifically, it has been (and will continue to be) for women to safely explore same-sex relationships, be they chummy friendships or lasting romances.

The exhibit will be a place for visitors to get to know the Isle and one another with a place to dance and opportunities to sit and chat. I also hope to have portraits of SL couples and information about the LGBT lifestyle.

I should know by May 31st, should everything goes well, if I'll have exhibit space or not. Likely I'll have the majority of the build done before then and find myself making endless tweaks.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Taking Pride!

Pride Club v1.0 from 2009, based on bits of "prim doodles" I had laying about.

After Friday's Nakie Party on the Isle of Lesbos to celebrate the region's 5th anniversary, I started plans to dismantle the Pride Club, a build that I set up and modify for special events and last set up at the end of April (as seen in the blog post here). The club was first constructed in 2009 as part of a collection of rez-on-demand clubs for the Isle, along with a grunge/rave design, an outer space setting, a beach boardwalk, and other layouts by Threshin Barnett and myself. When the club system was revamped the Pride Club was modified, giving it a water aspect that has remained in all subsequent renditions. Since then it has been used in various forms again and again, trimmed and adjusted to purpose but remaining essentially the same. Well, the mods were so extensive last October that I gave up calling it the Pride Club for that use, but that was a rarity.

She's back again to compliment our regular venue (which is often specially decorated for each event) and will stick around for a while. Threshin asked the crowd at Friday's party if this club should stay or if the previous structure (a nice, dock-like affair) should come back and everyone said "Keep the Pride!" So I stripped out the terraced hot tub and changed the cafe area to focus on a seawater wading area to save prims. Adding the statue was rather contrary to the prim-saving goal, but hopefully no one will notice ... *giggle*

Pride Club v8.372 ... or something like that ... May 2011.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Meeroos

Broken toes, x-rays, family health issues, groceries ... just Real Life in general has kept me away from the keyboard even when I can log into Second Life so I haven't been posting much here. To at least keep the count up, here are a couple more Meeroo pics.

I've always loved looking at our world from under the terrain mesh. It's also a great way to find 'roos that stand inside other things. This also shows off the pretty floating Island I got from Cerridwen's Cauldron Creations.

Zyx Flux, the Wood Sprite, cuddles MrBeta, one of the newest 'roos, born just last night. Either he's getting big fast or she's a lot smaller than I imagine her to be.
You can come see them at Menagerie Isle (SLurl). Head under the rainbow after you land and pet away. I'm not sure how long the current test period is, but Zyx and I are starting to thin the herd already.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meeroo Beta 2

Green with Envy!
Two of the Meeroo pets that showed up in the latest round of Beta testing are green! Apparently these are special "beta coats" for features being tested but that they don't want us to know about yet.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unofficial Recommendations: Forest Floor

Like many landscaping shops, Forest Floor is a wonderfully photogenic place (SLurl) with many spots for you to pose your avatar with great results. There are beautfiful fields of flowers, stragecially placed furniture, and a fabulous horizon line.

Zyx Resident loves to sit in the shop's gardens.
But the best picture opportunities are at ground level (SLurl) where you'll find a hyper-realistic landscape dotted with with mystical accents and some of the best natural water features in all Second Life. Whether you use the standard sky settings or fiddle with Windlight as I did for these pictures, you can produce wonderful pictures with minimal effort.

The water features are exceptionally nice and if you trace the stream from bay to source you'll see that the landscaper understands how real life waterways form.

Windlight can enhance the otherwise plain skies of Second Life and really give a picture more feeling.

Every now and then you'll find some mystical elements among the hyper-real. The limited placements make the fantastic more plausible without overwhelming. Of course, almost everything you see at ground level is for sale in the shop.
For some reason my big pixy avie finds her way to Forest Floor nearly every time she is logged in to our world. All my avies have a landmark, of course, and visit now and then, but not with the frequency of Zyx. Often I'll park her in a pretty spot (they are all over) and leave her on the screen like living wallpaper while I do things on my iPad or other non-computer tasks that RL demands. Or anytime I need to relax, Forest Floor is a top choice to simply stroll through, ride one of the available horses, or even just fly about to absorb the beauty.