Friday, 19 December 2008

Not quite "ho ho ho"

If I could, I would tear up my airline tickets and beg the world* to leave me alone. I would bury my head under the covers and just cry until this festive season is over.

But doing that would only make it worse: as much as the world's attention seems like an unbearable burden, I am even less happy when the world does leave me alone.

I have no idea how to get through the next days, this season, the rest of my life.

* To be clear, this is a metaphorical "the world" consisting of obligations and responsibilities and duties and things that I contracted in good faith to do; it certainly doesn't include you. Your presence is very much desired.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Reading the coffee grounds

I realize that I have taken on far too much in SL (and in RL too, but that is another story: who can resist squeaky toys?)

A friend from the club where I dance IM'ed me last week to ask what was up, as I never come around any more. On consideration, she's right. It has been several weeks since I was there. Not a conscious decision, I just drifted out of the habit; because I was seldom there, the boss hesitated to call me at short notice to cover for her, which she often had done before, so that I didn't have that prompt to return either.

The Cushicle has been on hold for a month, though that was intentional. Another friend gave me some good advice ("Stop beating your head against the wall, take a break and return to it with fresh eyes") which I have taken. I'll be getting back to that mid-month.

The PlayAsBeing group is making unhappy noises about the autorecording system which I am supposedly ringmastering into existence. I have kickstarted that and assigned us a deadline of October 1 — yes, this year. It's tricky though: given that all participants are volunteers, all I can really do is encourage them to take their own promises seriously.

I have been dropped from Pulse because of a failure to communicate, which I can't really discuss here. It was at least 50% my fault, though, so no hard feelings from my side though I fear there may be such elsewhere.

I'm not sure how to go ahead with all this. I need to reorganize my life, but don't quite know where to start.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


It's been a busy month. I have joined a meditation/discussion group called Play as Being and have been quite caught up in the conversation. And in working there too: I am Ringmaster of a small team that is implementing an automatic recording and publishing system, to simplify and speed up the process of logging discussions at PaB on their website.

I will probably have more to say about PaB in future, for now I am still feeling my way in and learning the peculiar ropes of Taoism- and Buddhism-based existentialist debate. (A recent example: "There is no 'I'." — followed in the next breath by "I'm reading the notes." How droll.)

The biggest perk of being a Guardian at PaB (impressive title which means that once a week I am greeter and recorded of notes for a discussion) is that one may claim a parcel of group land to build on. I found a lovely little sandbar with some palms and a few large rocks at the shoreline, and have built a tent there.

That will have to do for now, my dears, it's feeding time and after that is my exercise hour. I hope you are all happy and healthy, and that your collars do not chafe.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

About the Avatar Rendering Cost

A public service announcement

Readers who have updated to the Second Life™ 1.20 viewer may have noticed a new feature, or perhaps rather a tool, called Avatar Rendering Cost (ARC). This is a representation of how hard the system has to work to display your avatar including all its clothes and attachments, as a indication of how much your av contributes to lag locally. It's in the Advanced menu, under Rendering/Info displays (press CTRL-Alt-D to call up the Advanced menu). (Torley introduced this in a short video tutorial a few weeks back. There's also an article by Pastrami Linden on the SL blog, for those who prefer facts to frothy enthusiasm.)

When you activate this option, it displays a number (the rendering cost) above each av's head. The display is colour-coded: green is good (low cost), yellow medium, red is high-cost. Note that these are approximations, mere rule-of-thumb estimates, not definitive and absolute values. As both Pastrami and Torley emphasize, the ARC number is certainly not a reason to yell at people.

The calculation doesn't consider the cost of scripts in your attachments or AOs, which do contribute to lag (if not to rendering as such). Surprisingly, if not downright suspiciously, it treats slider clothes as being "free:" the cost of rendering your av butt-naked is 1, but the cost of rendering you wearing every single type of slider clothing is also 1! I find this unlikely, because slider clothing is a texture that has to be downloaded and displayed.

However, be that as it may. The tool exists, let's try it out. (By the way, the constant updating and calculating that this performs will slow down your viewer. The Lindens recommend keeping it turned off generally, and activating it for brief periods when needed.)

In the spirit of scientific enquiry I chose three favourite outfits and had a look at their rendering costs.

ARC 1397  ARC 601  ARC 10302

First up, a Pulse pantsuit. The total rendering cost of this appearance was 1397* (yellow = medium). Here's how it breaks down piece-by-piece:

Pulse outfit Unit #29174
 Slider clothes0
 Prim belt20
 Prim palazzo pants (both legs)154
Pulse Orfilia jewelry set562
 Earrings (both)55
Flexi hair ("Abyss" by Oxygen)435
Sculpty prim boots ("Dune" by Maitreya)178
Lip ring (by Avolve)33
Pulse facelight (by myself, see previous post)14
My av (shape and skin)1

The next outfit is "Shadow" by AVid, one of my favourite designers. The total rendering cost is 601 (green = low, good).

AVid "Shadow" slider pants, socks, gloves, shirt0
AVid "Shadow" prim boots82
AVid "Hermia" thigh knife77
ETD "Dierdre" prim hair388
Matrix sunglasses34
Pulse facelight19
My av (shape and skin)1

Finally, the "Grand Juji:" a wildly over-the-top feathery fashion statement from Serene Sensations. This truly magnificent dress consists of 334 half-transparent flexi-prims! It should therefore be no surprise to learn that its rendering cost is 10302. Let's say that again slowly, shall we, letting it roll around on our tongues? Ten thousand three hundred and two. (Don't get me wrong, I am not criticising or mocking. This dress is worth every single one of those ARC points, I love it dearly and will continue to wear it. I might be a little more careful of where and when I wear it, though.)

Feather boa239
Feathered upper skirt2671
Feathered lower skirt6939
Slider pants, socks, gloves, shirt0
Desire "Writer" prim hair339
Freebie stiletto prim shoes113
My av (shape and skin)1

What do we learn?

1) Flexi-prims hurt.
2) Flexi-prims with alpha-channel transparency hurt real bad.
3) Your hair will usually outweigh the rest of your clothing.
4) Your jewelry might outweigh everything else including your hair.

* For comparison, one of the fancy newbie avs out-of-the-box costs around 275; the traditional Ruth costs exactly 1. Based on a rough sample observed while walking about today, male avs typically seem to be under 800, the majority of females are under 1600.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Workin' nine to five

Well, working anyway. I am delighted to announce that I've been hired by Pulse as their store manager / assistant / fixit-girl. This means that I will be spending even more time hanging out at the shop than I already do — but getting paid for it.

In the interests of clarity and disclosure of interests, I should point out this is a new development. My mentions of Pulse in previous posts were not paid for or directed by Eidolon and Lorac, but simply outpourings of my own enthusiasm. I wrote about their clothes and skins because I like them.

In other news but further in the same vein of own-horn-blowing, the Cushicle is damned nearly done! Woot. Stand by for photos.

Thursday, 10 July 2008


I made a menu-driven, adjustable facelight for Pulse this week, and I'm quite pleased at how well it has worked out. It will be distributed free of charge at the Pulse store in Nip Tuck Island (the dispenser will be there quite soon, in the meantime IM me in-world if you want a copy right now).

Making it was something of a public service, really, because SL is over-full of people with facelights that are just hideously bright. I've seen some that light up entire clubs, and others that were so badly tuned that you couldn't see the wearer's skin at all: the over-bright light washed all the detail out of their skins.

I am surprised to infer how few people really look at their avatars, when I see such things. Why would you spend thousands of L$ on a skin, then wear a badly-made facelight that obliterates all its details? How could you look at yourself wearing it and not see that your skin is utterly featureless and bleached out? Odd.

So, we are distributing dim facelights! They cast just enough light to let people see your lovely features, without blinding other people or spoiling the lighting effects of the sim where you are standing. They are free, adjustable by on-screen dialog, and they work really well. Come and get them!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Time in

Well, that was a long week! My apologies for the delay in getting back online. I hope you enjoyed yourselves in my absence (but not too much).

I am uncomfortably aware that I have been less than fully present in recent weeks, and have not been as good a friend to you as I should have been. I've been in an odd mood this month and have often looked at the list of friends online and thought that I just didn't have enough energy to talk. I felt quite unable to say anything worthy of your attention, and feared that I wouldn't even be able to come up with a "yes" or "no" while listening. My apologies for this, and I hope to be more outgoing and forthcoming in future.

What else is new? The Cushicle is nearly ready for prime time (as we in the industry say), it flies much better than before though still not entirely properly. I have started giving away copies to beta-testers, because it is always good to get other people's opinions and observations. If you would like to be a beta-tester, speak to me in-world and I will give you a copy. All beta-testers will of course get a fresh final-release version free of charge once the last bugs are ironed out.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Time out

I shall probably be offline for the coming week, my dears: the scientists who run the research centre are going away for a holiday, and I overheard them telling the support staff not to let me out of my kennel in their absence. Now, there is a certain amount of games-playing that goes on here: I know that they knew that I could hear them, and I suspect that they may just have wanted to "encourage" me to behave particularly well. We shall see.

However, just in case it is true: Have a great week, everyone! I shall miss you terribly. Spare a thought for me, as you cavort and gambol in the fertile pixelly fields of SL.

Friday, 23 May 2008


My buddy Lorac has been making skins to sell in her shop Pulse, and Corvi and I have been up late every other day for two weeks "test-driving" them for her. Curse the round world and its timezones!

They are lovely skins, quite beautiful, handpainted in a great range of skin tones* and makeup styles — and different appearances of nipples too! Some will be available with freckles, which I like, and she has promised to make a few with the appearance of real lived-in skin: moles and marks and little scars. They are still prototypes so I can't post photos yet, but they should be in the store this weekend!

[Update: they are indeed up, and Eidolon blogged about them, with pictures. (Warning: virtual nakedness. I don't know why it should be necessary to say that, but apparently it is. Sigh.)]

In other news I have also been working on my Cushicle, and it too is progressing quite well as far as appearance goes. The body is made, and has working canopy and propeller; I still want to improve the inside fittings though, to make it softer and more comfortable. I want it to feel more like a living room in a holiday house, than a vehicle. Unfortunately, there is a maximum of 31 prims in a vehicle! I have only three more prims with which to complete the interior furnishings. /me muses quietly.

The Cushicle's flight script is still terrible, though. It will not fly straight up or down, but always moves forward or backward at the same time — randomly! And while flying it changes attitude, its nose sometimes points quite steeply up or down. Ah well, at least I will have something to do this weekend.

* Clarification, to avoid confusion and unhappiness: Pulse released one skin tone last weekend, a lovely light tan in sixteen makeup variations; Lorac is now working on the second tone which will be a Nordic type, a healthy pale-pink skin.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Picture of the week

Have a look at the title page of this week's issue of Die Zeit, paying special attention to the image: a worried piggy-bank about to leap from the windowledge of a tall building. (The headline is "How do I save my savings?" and the article is about the coming recession. As though your savings would be the worst problem you would face if it did come to a new global recession.)

But look now at this detail of the illustration:
Is it just me, or does anybody else think that the stopper in the piggy's belly looks like a vagina? I wonder what the illustrator was thinking.

Friday, 25 April 2008


I have been in a good mood all week, without any particular reason to tell. Or perhaps with many tiny little reasons that all add up to happiness. One thing that makes me happy is simply being busy, I like having things to do and people to do them with.

I am starting to make good friends in SL, to my surprise and pleasure, and have begun to prepare a home of my own where we might meet — and dance! One of the first things I did was to set up a tango dance animation pair. Watching myself dance in SL has made me want to begin dancing again in RL too, I should join a tango club and take some more lessons this summer.

Corvi and I are in the process of starting a kind of literary magazine in SL, loosely modelled on the New Yorker magazine: our desire is to present good, interesting writing which will be in but not about SL, as the New Yorker is not actually about Manhattan. This is still in very early stages, we are talking about what we would like to do.

My buddy Eidolon has started a business making skins and jewelry, and will open a store soon with a friend of hers, an artist who makes clothes, accessories and furniture. It's been exciting and quite amusing to see them working together, preparing the store; Corvi and I have been advising them on prices because they just have no idea, Lorac had set everything out far too cheaply for the quality of her work. Their store has a blog of its own, and is found in-world at Nip Tuck Island.

And I am working on a little building project: making a very slow vehicle. It will be a kind of flying sofa with cuddle and sitting poses, sleek like an airplane on the outside and satiny on the inside, with wood grain and soft furnishings and cut flowers, something like a mobile gazebo. I will post some photos here as it progresses.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Als ich gestern morgen kurz in SL vorbeischaute, bekam ich eine Meldung von dem Club wo ich tanze: die Ehrengäste, die VIPs, werden zu einer Sonderveranstaltung eingeladen: zu Mittag werden die neu zugekommene Tänzerinnen feierlich "eingeweiht." Ich hielte mich für alt in diesem Sinne (obwohl noch uneingeweiht), also davon unbetroffen, dachte an einer gewisse X unter den Neuen und sagte mir, "Mannomann, ich würde gerne zusehen wie man sie einweihte." Also erwog ich, zu der Zeit im Club aufzutauchen um den Show mitzuerleben.

Etwas später aber bekam ich eine zweite Nachricht, diesmal an uns Tänzerinnen gerichtet, sagend dass sämtliche Mädchen die weniger als drei Monaten lang im Club arbeiten sich als "neu" zu betrachten haben und am Einweihungsfest sich zur Verfügung stellen sollen. Das würde mich wohl treffen! Und auf einmal wurde aus meinem Lust, Furcht und Angst. Ich sah mich nicht mehr bei der Einweihung von X zuschauen, sondern wie ich dort neben ihr öffentlich bearbeitet wird. (Was mich jetzt, wenn ich ehrlich bin, da der Gefahr vorbei ist, freilich reizt.)

Also habe ich mich von SL abgemeldet und versteckt. Weder bin ich eingeweiht worden noch habe ich gesehen wie man die süsse X einweihte. Scheisse, muss ich sagen: meine Feigheit ist echt zum kotzen. Ich bin in Second Life genau so verängstigt und prüde und scheu wie in der Wirklichkeit. (Quelle surprise!)

[Updated] Ich finde jetzt, einige Stunden später, daß ich eine Chance verpasst habe. Das (zweite) Leben bot mir die Gelegenheit, einige meinen Dämonen ins Gesicht zu schauen, aber ich schaute weg. Beim nächsten solchen Fest der Körperlichkeiten (sagen wir) soll ich teilnehmen.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

On friendship and growth

The emotions of childhood never go away, I think, they remain with us in later life. And when we are again in a situation that we experienced as a child, the same feelings leap out at us with the full strength that they had then.

I was ten years old last night, watching my best SL friend meeting her friends and hearing of things they had done together without me. I felt jealous and envious and lonely. I felt that she had grown and moved on in SL in a way that I have not, and that she is moving away from me.

The oddest part is this: a mutual friend turned up, who also knew the others, and I felt the same sense of being — what? "excluded" is not quite right. But I realized that it was nonsense: She had been introduced to them at some stage, just as I was now being introduced to them. It is open to me to make them my friends too, as it was for her after she first met them.

I wonder whether I am using my few good friends in SL as I have used their equally few RL equivalents: as a shield for my emotions, to avoid the risk of forming other attachments?

Monday, 31 March 2008

Thought for the day

Calling somebody a drama queen says as much about you as about them. I tend to think that the phrase means only "I don't want to listen to this," and I wonder more about the person who shuts her ears to a fellow in need than about its apparently overly-sensitive target.

But maybe that's just me?

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wheat and leopards

wheat and leopard_004
Ursprünglich hochgeladen von Wol Euler
Hanging out at one of the loveliest sims in the whole of Second Life, The Far Away, with Eidolon.

Friday, 22 February 2008

It hurts

Daniel is travelling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes

I wonder: did I give you that name because I knew that you were leaving?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Hello, world.

Good morning, everyone. I hope you are all well and happy today?

This is my first post on my first blog. My idea was to use this to talk about Second Life, but we shall have to wait and see how it progresses. Perhaps other things will take my eye?