Monday, December 10, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different:

Under the rubric of "it's my blog and I shall post what I like":

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax, of Internety Memes....

As some may have noticed, this blog has gone from the mad, frenzied, post-or-two-a-day affair that it once was to more of an occasional post board for ideas and occasional new releases of possible interest to one or two. I find this a comfortable state of things as, though I do sit down at the keyboard for an hour or so a day, that activity creates but rough drafty things that I really don’t care to share with the general public. A blog might be a non-professional, and in my case anonymous, forum, but nonetheless I feel a certain need to not just post pure blather. Though, I admit, what festoons these electronic pages is oft just that!

Well away, it does take a certain amount of time to write even the nonsense I post here, and the presence of a post general means that I’ve had a bit of time on my hands. Such is the happy state of affairs today for the second morning in a row. Yesterday, I popped over to Second Life in my AM and finally got to a fair number of projects that I had been truly meaning to get around to. I put up three new 17th and 18th century outfits I had promised long ago to the Duc et Duchesse du Languedoc, of the Languedoc sim.

I finally followed up with the uniform for the Middlesea Fleet, which Mr. O’Toole has graciously over praised on his blog.

And I went about my various land holdings, cleaned them of prim litter and put a few more quarters in the parking meters.

I don’t know how much longer I will enjoy this state of things, so I am restraining myself from over committing. Besides, I still have a number of projects such as dual saddles for the centaurs and flying horses, a cavalry marching device, scripting for the Sky Galleon (I shall be incorporating the combat system that MrBunwah Murakami uses for his excellent Civil War Ironclads), and a bit more building for my part of the Penzance airfield. Oh, and probably more Versailles dresses. I love sacque dresses, what other excuse can I offer for creating a full line of obscure historical outfits? Just to be fair, I need make a justacorps for the fellows, too.

I must confess, the impetus for writing another entry today by Her Grace Eva Bellambi, Duchess of Loch Avi. No doubt, by now you have heard of the internet meme (if that is the word) about the eight little facts. Copied from Her Grace’s blog, here are the rules:

(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog

And thus, I find myself “tagged” by the aforementioned peer. But I find that I am unable to speak of trivia about myself without indulging first in the obligatory post rez day introspection first. To wit, this is the first entry after I became one year old in SL Terms. And thus, I find myself stymied with a bit of writer’s block about the whole affair. I mean to say, I have this overwhelming feeling that I should be saying something important. SL is such an amazingly strange experience—a year really does feel like five or six. I want to write about each and everyone of you, about the creative projects we’ve done, about the sillyness we’ve seen and created, and all the times we’ve laughed (I rarely type “LOL”, but I have done so on more than one occasion). And too, I think of the very real truths many have shared with me, the bareness of our souls that I believe is hard to reproduce in the “real world” where we wear our day to day masks. If I have laughed at my keyboard, sometimes I have cried too. But, I honestly believe that to be a good thing.

Yet, I am unable to speak of any of that right now. Perhaps I have no head for profundity. I may simply have to do a blog photo montage sometime, and hope my silly snapshots speak for me better than my poor fingers can explain. In the meantime, I suppose Her Grace is right. I ought return to whimsy, with a dollop of self revelation.

So, cutting that little preamble short, here are eight random facts about myself:

1) I was born in the United States on the east coast, but have lived mostly in the middle of the country and the southwest, with only the odd summer abroad. My accent is therefore the typical nasal twang that you might expect. I do not speak in quasi 19th century dialect in my day to day life. But my internal narration voice (come now, you have one too) speaks in a sort of circa-1900 Received Pronunciation, coloured by a touch of Yankee. I suspect it has to do with my love of pre WWII literature, but I do have to keep a check on it lest I start trying to talk like that in earnest. My coworkers find me eccentric enough.

2) That one was long, wasn’t it? How about this: I own, or rather live with, an Alsatian mix that I found at the shelter. I live in a one bedroom flat, but she had the BIGGEST brown eyes, you see. Fortunately, there is usually someone around to take her for multiple walks every day.

3) I wasn’t an avid bicyclist until I made my penny-farthing in Second Life. Then I decided if I enjoyed something virtual, it might be worth pursuing in Real Life (sadly, I can’t afford horses). A year later, I ride about ten to fifteen miles every day that I am home.

4) Despite this, I could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds :( My favorite chocolate is Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, which is one of the few English candy bars readily available near where I live: there’s a liquor store that carries it and is open to midnight. *sigh* Well, if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. Back on the bicycle!

5) I own an absurdly authentic late Elizabethan outfit. Linen cap, wool hat, fulled wool jacket, linen kirtle with buckram boning, linen chemise, wool overdress with cartridge pleating. It’s trimmed with bits of silk, wool piping, and lace (machine lace with cotton thread, I’m afraid). Internal seams were done on a machine, but all visible stitching was done by hand, using linen thread I waxed with beewax. Yes, I did it all myself. I will likely never do anything like that again.

6) I once was in an surplus Russian aerobatic airplane and we “pulled” eight and a half positive and three negative “gees”. I will likely never do anything like that again.

7) I stopped watching television when I was about ten. I have never owned a television. I have not been to a movie theatre this year. Yet, I’m hardly “pure” as I watch at least five or so DVDs a month on my computer and am addicted to flash videogames like the ones on the Ferry Halim site:

8) Despite my affection for historical fashion, I am a complete frump in day to day life. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought any new clothing item that didn’t come in a little plastic package. My mother, on the other hand, was a model in her early twenties, and has commissioned outfits from designers. Let us just say there was some tension regarding that growing up. No, I haven’t told her I’m a virtual designer. She would take it as a victory, and as much as I love her, I can’t bear it when she gloats.

There you go! Hope that didn’t shatter anyone’s image of me. Now then, I am told I have to name others. Of course, being late to the party, it seems EVERYONE I know has done this already. Well, we shall just have to hope at least some of the following people have not :):

Miss Zoe Connoly, Miss Terry Lightfoot, Professor Alphonso Avalanche, Miss Fuschia Begonia, Mr Roy Smashcan, Mrs Nabila Peterman (nee Nadir), Mr. Ged Larsen (known to Caledonians as the inventor of the LoopRez), and Miss Cy Vandeverre.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Attachment Set Tutorial

Hullo, and welcome to the Attachment Set Tutorial. This is the first tutorial I’ve ever written, so if there is anything that doesn’t quite make sense, or is simply omitted, well, I suppose it was to be expected. Feel free to drop me a reproving word here or in world via IM.

Attachment Set is a free, open source, full permission script written by the talented and slightly goth Mrs. Carricre Wind. Its primary use is to prevent your prim skirts from falling down when sitting, or from trailing behind whilst walking. Here is the “ad” for it I did for Mrs. Wind (sorry about the rather plain model :P)

Now then, the first thing you need do is run out and get a copy of the script. It is currently available inworld at Mrs. Wind’s Caveat Emporium in New Toulouse . Follow this SLURL to the address.

Caveat Emporium in New Toulouse

Essentially, Attachment set works by monitoring the state that your Second Life avatar is in, and moving the skirt (or any other prim attachment) to a location and rotation you have preset for the skirt.

To make all these adjustments easier, you will want to have a central “pivot prim”. In other words, your skirt should have a prim that the rest of the dress can pivot around like this:

If it does not have one, rez your skirt on the ground. Then right click the ground and select create, click on the sphere icon, then click on the ground to create a sphere. Then right click the sphere, edit, then hold the control and shift keys down together. You will see little white boxes. Drag one of those boxes until the sphere is very small (look on the object page and try to shrink it to about .02. Don’t go to .01, or you will not be able to shrink the skirt later on. Trust me on this ;)). Release the cntrl and shift keys, and you will see the position arrows. Drag on the position arrows until the sphere is in position above the skirt. Then click the skirt, and hold the shift and L keys down.

The sphere is now the “root prim” of the skirt. When you edit the skirt, that central prim should light up yellow, the rest of the skirt blue.

Note that this is not precisely necessary, but it makes it easier to rotate the skirt.

Now, take the skirt back into inventory, don the skirt and right click on it. Select “Edit”, then go to the “Contents” tab. Drag the script marked AttachmentSet OSS from your inventory to the Contents page on the edit window. If you do nothing else now, the skirt will automatically move back to this position in all stances.

But we want the skirt to move as we move. So, first turn on your animation override if you have one (vendors will probably want to just use default Linden settings). Now we will turn off the Attachment set.

Type “/66 suspend” in chat (no quotes). The skirt will say “Skirt animations stopped.”

Next, adjust the skirt to how you want it to be when you are standing. If you know how to do that, skip the next three paragraphs.

Right click the skirt, select Edit from the pie chart, then you will see three arrow representing the three axes you can move the skirt on. Click and drag on the ends of the arrow to move the skirt in that direction.

If you wish to rotate the skirt, hold the Cntrl key down. You will see three circles instead of the arrows. Click and move the cursor along the circles to rotate the skirt. (Trust me, this makes much more sense when you actually do it).

Finally, if you wish to resize the skirt hold the control and shift keys down together. You will see little white boxes. Drag one of those boxes inward or outward until the skirt is the size you like. You will probably need to reposition it after this.

Now you should look something like this:

Type “/66 set stand”. The skirt will say “Standing position and rotation edited and reset.”

Now sit down somewhere.

Terrible looking isn’t it? Saucy expose of knees and stocking will not do. So, edit the skirt as above into position so it looks something like this:

Then type “/66 set sit”. The skirt will say “Sitting position and rotation edited and reset.”

Next, we want to combat the way flexi skirts trail behind us when we walk. So, to do that, we want to tilt the skirt forward a bit when walking. About 10 degrees does the trick for walking, about 15 for running. From the side it will look like this (for a walk position):

Again, once walk is set type “/66 set walk”. The skirt will say “Sitting position and rotation edited and reset.” Once run is set type “/66 set run”. The skirt will say “Running position and rotation edited and reset.”

Finally, you will want to set the ground sit. Sit on the ground (or play the ground sit animation, if you have it in inventory). The stock ground sit is a bit, well, ugly, and takes a bit of a fiddle to get it to look right in a long dress. But here it is:

Once set type “/66 set ground”. The skirt will say “Ground sit position and rotation edited and reset.”

This brings up the subject of animation overrides, also know as AOs. I usually use Mme Kamileh Hauptmann’s excellent Victorian AO. It works fine with the same dress positions as the defaults, except with the ground sit. So, when I fit my dress for me, I do it with the AO on, and set THAT position as the ground sit.

Vendors might wish to keep this in mind for their customers and let them know that if they have a very unusual AO, they might have to do some adjustment.

Now, we’re all set! To start the AttachmentSet working again, type “/66 resume”. The skirt will say “Skirt animations restarted.” Note that since the skirt only notices change in state (in order to keep lag down), you will have to move before it adjusts itself.

Additional notes

Using the skirt is very simple. Wear it, and it automatically adjusts itself. Note that different sized avatars might need a bit of adjustment, so if you sell skirts with AttachmentSet, you might wish to include instructions (feel free to link to this page, but I’d prefer links to copying).

When making skirts using Attachment Set, you will want at least a short glitch pant, as the skirt will need to rotate forward when sitting, invariably exposing the fundament.

If you use a pose ball, including a dance ball, SL thinks the avatar is sitting. If you don’t wish to have the skirts move to the sit position (such as when dancing), type “/66 suspend” before getting on, then “/66 resume” when getting off.

This is a fairly low lag script. It only moves the skirt when the avatar’s position changes, and uses a slower timer than most AOs. Still, if sim lag is an issue, you might wish to turn it off via “/66 suspend”. When you want it on, you can type “/66 resume” resume again.

If you want the skirt to automatically stop in high lag areas, copy the following code into a script, then drag the script into the contents tab of the skirt (script is derived from a Linden LSL wiki example):

integer paused;
on_rez(integer s)

llSetTimerEvent(0.3); //Repeat every 3/10th of a second.

float dilation = llGetRegionTimeDilation(); //Get the dilation
if(dilation < 0.65)
llOwnerSay("Sim lag is high, pausing skirt animation");
llSetScriptState(“AttachmentSet OSS”,FALSE); //Pause it
//If the dilation is more than 65%
llSetScriptState(“AttachmentSet OSS”,TRUE); //run it
if (paused==TRUE)
llOwnerSay("Sim lag is low, restarting skirt animation");

This will also tell the owner when the script is stopping and starting.

Finally, don't forget that there are many other things besides skirts that can use this. Mrs. Wind made a clever walking stick that demonstrates how it can be used for a walk and a stand animation: the stick neatly slides into the appropriately jaunty position based on avatar posture. I'm sure the creative can can up with even more examples than this!

Well, off to start fiddling with all my dresses in stock :P

Cleaning Out the Closet

Well, I have been sewing and tinkering, as I mentioned last week. But truly, I am a lazy person and tend to let things sit about in bins rather than trouble myself to get all the permissions sorted, the items neatly lined up and named a bit catchier than "RDLskirt texture7", a box made, a vendor set up, and don't even mention the ads and the SLEx.

Be as that may, my ego does conflict with the laziness, and besides which, I just bought a new parcel of land in Caledon Penzance, so the avarice is coming into play as well. Such an odd feeling to have those conflicting feelings of vice tilting at each other betwixt one's ears.


I am putting up a few dresses I've been working on. One is a circa 1815 Regency Ballgown, which I will be putting the automatically adjusting AttachmentSet script into (so one's knees won't poke through when sitting). More on that amazing script later, for now, you can pick up a copy at on the freebie cart now in Endless Destruction at the Caveat Emporium.

Oh yes, the dress. You may have seen this already, as it was originally a commission for Miss Diamanda Gustafson. Per our agreement, she was entitled to a few balls in it before I released it to the rest of the world. Do hope it worked for you, Miss G!

Next up, I've been working with the Versailles set. I need to get the ad's made on the Gentleman's suit, but there are two dresses I am putting out. The first is a long held favourite of mine, the sacque dress, which appears in the first decade of the 18th and stays popular in various forms all the way through the 60s (and you would still see colonial American women wearing it in the 70s). This particular one is based after an extant 1740 dress:

If there is enough interest, I may release this in different textures. The Sacque is quite versatile, actually. Add enough frills, and you have something suitable for Pompadour :)

Finally, I was asked by Duchesse Dobra Lane to make a dress based on the late 17th century court dress from the movie Angelique.

I will be immodest and say that this one is the most difficult and complex outfit I have ever made. The tie backs were actually the hardest part to make--the use of twisted toruses made my head hurt. They have these odd characteristics such that changing one parameter tends to change ALL the parameters, if that makes any sense (play with a torus a bit, and you will see what I mean). Accordingly, I have two sized prim skirts included, as well as two sizes of bodices (the mesh would "bunch" when downsized).

The neck ruffle was created using Mr Ged Larsen's amazing LinkRez--a device that is to necklaces what LoopRez is to prim skirts. It is so fun to watch in action. I created a few lace ruffles, lined them up and used the templates to fit it around the next. A single chat entry later and I watched it create a whole necklace. Then I had to fit it on the neckline and adjust the bodice to line up with the ruffle, but the tedious part was automated. I also created a non-alpha trim to go there, which adds a bit more glitter to the whole affair (it's optional, should you need that attachment point for a necklace or some such).

Then it was the usual texturing thingees. The lace is from photographs of actual 17th century lace. All in all, I'm fairly pleased with it. Oh, I tossed in some of my embroidered shoes, in case you haven't something nicer to wear.

All of these are up in Eyre now, and once I get on grid, shall place them at the other shops as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Storm Winds

Oh, yet another busy RL week, followed by a surfeit of SL projects I have been working on. I'm happy to say I managed to make a Jager Uniform of the mid 19th (NOT to be confused with a Jagerkin uniform, though I admit similarities). I've spun out a 17th century man's outfit (which is just the thing for pirating, if you ask me), made a circa 1700-1720 saque dress for Versailles, a new carriage after the smaller coaches of that period (not everyone got to ride in Catherine the Great's carriage, after all), started a shop in Babbage, had a lovely birthday party with Miss Lightfoot at the TARDIS yesterday, and continued work on my Sky Galleon.

I really ought put some of those aforementioned things up for sale, but really, I've been a bit lazy about the merchanting side of the house. I really do like commissions, don't have to bother with all that fluferall one gets in the SL Exchange and similar places.

Oh, and just to establish the point, I did not make that exceedingly clever Air Lancer helmet I have been sporting lately, that is the work of the amazing 3D artist Mr. Expedition Offcourse. If you haven't seen his work yet, do drop by his place in Caledon Sky City, at berth #13.

So, with all this (and a few RL writing projects), what is a poor girl to do? Well, there is always cycling, but when the rain comes, as it does with increasing regularity as the days get longer, one takes solace in a good read. But once the girl is married off/achieves self-actualization/blows up the baddies with the help of her Tennesee boyfriend (just read and loved Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties--the heroine is a former cycle messenger :)), one is left with still a bit of brain mushedness to eliminate....

So, off to the SteamPunk wars!

I do so love flashgames, though I wonder at times about my cheerful reliance upon explosions to unwind at times. Well, so long as such activities don't change my RL outlook (I assure everyone, I feel badly when I need scold my puppy. RL does NOT find me toting Vickers machineguns about)

Here, one is valiantly defending one's Caledonian home from the nasty Middlesea pirates in their flying flivvers and battleships (oh, to be fair, if the lads of Middlesea would simply play more sport, they would not have such an excess of energy) One changes about from station to station, trying to find the best form of proper deterrence against the villainous Air Pirates. At least that is how I read it.

The part that makes this worth more than a singular visit is the strategizing. Not only must you decide which stations need manning, but between waves you must make painful decisions about what things to buy, what things to put into repairs, and where to place everything on your armoured redoubt. All in all fun enough. Now if you will excuse me, I have to nip back the the electronic sewing machine...well, one more round of chittering cannon first. I do hope I can be excused that. :D

Storm Winds, courtesy of Armoured Games:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Time for a bit of shameless Commercialism. Miss Christensen and I have thrown together this little flivver for all your touring needs. I based it upon some photographs I found of early twentieth century Rickshaws. I have been told that, for better or worse, most of the pedestrian driven rickshaws have been superseded by bicycle "cyclos" (we have one of those in the works as well :P). Still, I truly think that they don't quite measure up to the charm of an authentic hand pulled cart, virtual though it may be.

Here I am pulling Mr. Sputnik about near the Tea Gardens of Mrs Wind:

It seats up to two passengers, and if you wish to be pulled by someone other than yourself, you can allow others to "drive". It has standing and pulling animations, cheerful wheel sounds, animated wheels and comes with a driver's hat.

I've got it on sale at the carriage house in Caledon Eyre, next to the telehub (also on sale at Second Frame Animations and La Bicyclette in Port Caledon)

Speaking of Caledon Eyre, do pop by and see a marvelous Moviescope I have just received as a present from Sir ArthurConan Doyle. It plays the famous 1878 stop motion photographs of a horse in motion by Muybridge. Not coincidentally, these are the photographs I used to create the leg animations for my horses. Thank you, Sir Arthur!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Permissions, Permissions

Well, what I really would like to speak about after such a fair long absence from this blog is fun things, so I shall at least provide the courtesy of speaking of His Guv'nehship's latest creation, the trans-Northern Caledon Horse trail. If you should find yourself at my Carriage House next to the Caledon Eyre Hub, first obtain a demo horse if you haven't one yourself. There is a sign next to the demo horses, if you should touch that, you will get a landmark to the start of the trail.

If you wish to see the trail directly, it begins on the southwestern side of Eyre, just north of the Tanglewood border. Look for the beanstalk and go to the park just north with the archer in it.

Leap across the stream and start on up the ridgeline.

It goes past many lovely, hidden away builds.

Do take a moment to run your draw distance up and take in the grandeur of the countryside. I will refrain from posting more pictures, instead allowing you to discover the various sights yourself :)

Alas, alack, not all is perfectly well with the horses, however. About two weeks ago, there was a permission glitch on my horses, making them non-copy, non-mod. I am quite wroth about this, but there is nothing to be done save my fixing it. I thought I had done such, but the amazingly peculiar thing is that it cascades to all copies of the horse as well. Since it happened to my Roans, which are my original horses, it happened to all subsequent copies as well (including my backups, even backups I had in prims). I thought I was going mad until Miss Doyle told me the same thing had happened to some of her items.

So. I need go through all ten models of my horses and correct the permissions on not just the root prim, but each and every script. Since this is my blog, I have dispensation to whimper I believe: each horse holds 76 scripts (82 for the Pegasus and Night Mare), ten animations, and five sound files. Ugh ugh ugh. So, if you have a horse, there is a good chance it has been affected, too. Do IM me, if this is the case, and as soon as I get your model fixed, I shall send a replacement. Needless to say, but I will say it, not only is this taking time from projects I would rather do, it is beyond distressing/embarassing to inconvenience my customers so.

But, ah well, time to roll up the sleeves and get to work :/ I shall do a horsie, than take a ride on that trail, I think :D

Saturday, August 25, 2007

At last, the Couples Animation Vehicle :)

I was deprived of a young girl's dream
By the cruel force of nature from the blue
Instead of a night full of romance supreme
All I got was a runny nose and Asiatic flu
It's raining on prom night, my hair is a mess
It's running all over my taffeta dress

Well, as anyone who has had to have the misfortune to listen to my whimperings the last few days can attest, I spent all my dayjob days off laid flat down with the flu. Bleh. So, last night rolled around, and once again I found myself on Second Life vice doing those things that people who find themselves sans maladie do, even if they have to work at six am or so the next day (Why do flights start so early in the morning? Why can't we just start our work at three in the afternoon or so? But I digress) The silver cloud in my raining on prom night cloud being the fact that today finds me still in disheveled dishabile at the computer, rather than on the unappreciated dusty trails of various hotel rooms. I moaned and whimpered enough to get a note from the nice doctor, made my excuses on the phone to the main office, and back to bed.

Or rather, a long nap followed by finishing up a few SL projects. One of which, I am happy to say, is the long awaited Embrace--an elegant name for Ms. Vicky Christensen's couple's animation device that allows two people to walk together. I am happy to say, it handles most terrain fairly well, with the notable exception of stairs (an SL issue with vehicles, I'm afraid). Later versions will allow flight and swimming, but for now, it has some lovely animations for couples walking romantically together, and even running. It has a "waiting for one's gentleman/lady friend" animation it plays until you are joined on the poseball by your companion. It allows either the owner or a friend to lead, and is rather easy to understand--just use the arrow keys. All in all, quite cute, and quite fun.

If you want to try it out yourself, a demo model is at Secondframe Animations:

Well, I did the vehicle part, so Ms Christensen generously gave me a copy to play about with last night. It could not have come at a better time. I was feeling a bit mopey with self pity and such, so my friend Miss Terry Lightfoot had taken me out to a Jazz Concert in Venice. That was cheering enough, but then a certain fellow by the name of Mr. Trevor Rowlands wanted to know if he could join us. I should admit, by way of explanation, that in fact, I know Mr Rowlands well enough in RL. He has gallantly refrained from any teazing on the subject of said obsession, and in fact created his account recently so that he could see the world that I will go on about at times.

Well then, I certainly wasn't going to trip the light fantastic in RL, or even grace the inside of the local, so this was a fine enough alternative :) Mind you, I say so strictly in view of my obligation to beta test the Embrace device.

First, there was standing---

And a bit of a stroll (I assure you the feet are moving in a strolling fashion here)--

And then full speed sprinting. Despite my flats, I found the terrain a bit rough going, but as you can see, he is a strong fellow!

Well, that and some swing dancing earlier had us all good and virtually glowing, so it was time for a hot toddy and a bit of a chat before toddling off to a fair early bedtime. But one cannot argue with the ability to get out and about, even when one is less than fit to be seen in RL public :P

Friday, August 24, 2007

And as promised...

Here they are, some photographs of Virtual Versailles and the Carriage in action. I am fairly pleased with the carriage: with Miss Terry Lightfoot's help, I was able to get the textures nice and cleaned up. I also added several features upon the clever suggestions of Duc Languedoc, such as the ability to change coachmen and enhanced stability/rough terrain handling. It suffers from its size in terms of maneuverability, but it will turn within its own length, which makes it possible to tour about, even on the narrow streets of Caledon. As an aside, I picked up a tourist today in Port Caledon--friendly fellow who apologized for being skint. I told him the tour was on me and took him south to see the Tesla tower of Caledon I. I am no Ollie (my stableboy/coachhand), but perhaps I might spend some evening giving rides in the future. Certainly a pleasant enough way to meet people.

Oh yes, the pictures :)

And here are Miss Lightfoot and I at the knotwork gardens--a spot on reproduction that gave me wonderfully happy flashbacks to last October! Well, I wasn't wearing a reproduction 18th century farthingale dress at the time. Wouldn't fit on Le Metro, don't you know ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Last Year in Versailles

Well, things have settled down enough for me to spend a few minutes prattling at the darkness, as it were. I'm not sure if any of you out there still actually read this foolish blog, but in a way, that knowledge makes it a little easier for me when I begin to scratch upon the paper. Said pen has been in a rather resting posture recently, what with RL work and all (see last, self pitying post), so the prospect of flexing it in apparent (albeit not actual) privacy is somewhat attractive. Anything to kick that lazy muse out of her post-Raphaelite reclining posture. Silly muses...

So, spinning about and taking a random subject off the shelf, I shall speak of Versailles!

There we are, a RL photo taken with my own little Brownie. It is nigh unto a year now since I left France and my favorite petit chateau. It was hardly a coincidence that I found SL shortly afterwards--on one hand, I missed the easy community I found in the streets of Paris (um, perhaps I ought rephrase that, especially as I was living near le Moulin Rouge) And in another sense, I missed the Grand Scale of architecture. I live on the West Coast of the United States, which has great natural beauty but at least where I am, little architectural beauty, and certainly no history. But architectural creation is omnipresent in SL.

In no sense am I saying that a virtual build is equivalent to buildings that took many years to complete and represent the work of some of the greatest artisens who've walked the face of the Earth. And yet--the tools here are comparatively easy to master. In a world where one can wave a hand and move a 10 meter solid "stone" cube, many things can suddenly become possible.

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many RL works are being reproduced as well. So, it was with incredible delight that I received a call from the Duc de Choiseul, asking for my help in creating a carriage for the new Virtual Versailles.

Good lord, how many ways could I have said oui? The Duke was a complete gentleman, who flattered my poor work (which I do not regard as in any way complete), and provided a number of lovely links to the original carriages that they had in mind.

Second Life does not always permit precise replicas (drat that prim count!), but I think I have a good start on it. Right now, I need fight some nasty haloing (white edging on transparencies), but the carriage proper is behaving itself now, and has seen opening night in Virtual Versailles again.

*sigh* I was going to talk more about the Versailles sim, but I see that I completely forgot to upload the pictures I've taken :/ Well, it just shall have to be a "stay tuned" moment then, and when I waddle my way onto the grid, I shall have to upload those textures.

A Bientot!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Road Goes Ever On

Hullo all, I am hardly gone, but many may have noticed I am not on Second Life as much, far less feverishly making a dress/horse/airplane a day. Well, truth to be told, I am unlikely to ever return to that level of presence, and will mostly be coming by for an hour or three in the afternoon/evening.

While maintaining my customary vagueness about real life details, I have been caring for a sick family member, largely by myself, for the past few months. Second Life--or I should say, the people I know in Second Life-- has been a balm to me in fairly difficult times.

But more relatives of mine have moved into town, and now have taken over most of the care taking. So, I am back at my non-writing job, the one that can pay the bills. And, part of that work takes me on the road quite a bit. In fact, in the catching up or the mundane, I haven't been home but four nights out since mid-July. Hotel connexions work intermittently, and I confess that when I am on, I usually feel more like chatting than building.

It's a strange thing to be independent again after casting oneself in the role of "caretaker". In a way, that label becomes one's identity. Despite not sleeping awfully much and frequent bouts of difficulty, if I am to be truthful, said identity was a prideful thing for me. "Oh, look how well she is bearing up!" and "You are so good to take care of him!" made me sit up straighter and perhaps imagine myself a better person for it. Pure vanity, of which I am ashamed of.

But such vanity is frustrated when older relatives, more seasoned in this sort of thing, show up and are far better at things than I am. And the patient in question has the nerve to be well enough to perhaps not need me around all the time, besides! It was time for my life to return to normal.

So, I find myself back at my old job. I do the things I do, at which I am apparently good enough that the corporation was willing to take me back. And I fly from town to town, and I suppose look every bit the professional. I think I need it--my own health has suffered recently, and I know I look more rested now then I did a week or so ago.

But I feel oddly uncentered. For a few months, I was useful, and now am just, well, not. How selfish a sentiment, and yet it is there.

A few days ago, I was in an airport and a little girl of all of five or so was looking at me in that direct way children have. "Where are you going?" she asked, and I told her. "That's my home! I am going there!" she yelled, then asked "Is that your home?" I had to allow that it wasn't, but that it was a very pretty town. She looked very sad for a moment and offered "I'm sorry." I had to excuse myself, as I try not to get moist eyed in public.

But the truth is more than that. I'm home at the moment, but it is not the same home as when I was sole caretaker. It's simply a place to sleep, and play with my dog (who is also in love with my older relatives). I think I have wrongfully associated Place (this RL location) with Home, when in fact it was the shared compassion that gilded this environment with that feeling.

But when I visit with relatives or friends, here in this Real World, or in SL, I feel "home". Home is not really a place, is it? The cliche would have it that it's a state of mind, but I would offer that it is comprised of those we care about. And perhaps, as busy as I find myself these days, modern technology allows me to sneak of to home at the end of the day.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that
and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell,
we know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep
and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la,
La, la la la,
La Laa, la la,
La, La la

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My Inner Daemon

Well, this is completely silly, but one has to acknowledge that that does not make it stand out on this blog, does it?

By inner Daemon, I do not mean the one that encourages me to take the last biscuit in the house without asking (who requires a Daemon to do that, besides?). No, it is a product of the story "A Golden Compass", which shall soon be in all the cinemas. It looks happily SteamPunk with a bit of Tanglewood flavour tossed in. Aforementioned phantasies include the notion that everyone has a "Daemon" about, a fuzzy creature that reflects the inner you. Colonel O'Toole pointed the way to a "Daemon Test", somewhat akin to all those Cosmo tests that purport to determine interpersonal skills in twenty odd somewhat slanted questions. Unlike those pretentious questionaires, however, this test comes with pretty graphics and is far less determined to be insightful. It is more a "what do you think of yourself" and then allows one's friends to adjust it according to their (no doubt more objective) perceptions.

So, with no further ado, I present Tibbles, my Inner Daemon (the site gave me another name, but I like Tibbles):

Feel free to correct my misperceptions--Tibbles is currently a stately Snowcat, but no doubt, I am more akin to a Hedgehog or some such.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Testing Animations and Test Flying

Well, I've been rather busy writing a two person couples animation device thingee for Ms Vicky Christensen of Second Frame Animations. In essence, it's a device that allows two people to move about the land together, whilst playing appropriate animations as they walk, jog, chat, run and such. It's mostly for a hand holding animation right now, but she promises clever things to come. And I very much believe her, as you can see her work in this clever clip here:

Well, Ms Christensen was beyond easy to work with, but I do like to have my own silly projects as well. The other day, I was chatting with a customer of mine about old aircraft. Usually, I am worried that I might be losing the interest of my unfortunate audience, but she was far more knowledgable than I about the subject. Towards the end of a fascinating chat about the "firsts", she enthused that I ought make a copy of Santos-Dumont's Demoiselle.

Who was Santos-Dumont? For shame that so few outside of Brazil and France know this fellow's name (unless they are aviation buffs). He designed the first practical dirigibles, and in 1901 won the Deutsch de la Meurthe race that famously looped about the Eiffle Tower. He was the toast of all of France, not the least because he quite looked the part of a dashing, devil may care aviator.

He then moved onto heavier than air flying machines, the most famous of which was the Demoiselle. Several designs of this craft were made, but they were all quite sprightly, capable of three axis movement, and (by the standards of the time), practical. Some still think he was the first to fly an airplane--I have my doubts, as he was quite busy with the dirigibles when the Wrights were making the Flyer. But there is no question that the Demoiselle was no longer a kite dragged along by a motor. It truly flew. Leave the "who was first?" question aside, and let us respect the genius and bravery of all the pioneers!

Well, I found a three way schematic of the Demoiselle and set to work. I chose the tailskid only version, but happily found enough prims about to put the lovely little fuel tank on--it looks so "Buck Rodgers".

Then it was off to flight test!

The first run went well enough, but I discovered a few stability issues. Fiddling about with vehicle buoyancy helped, then I promptly discovered that flying close on to castle walls can lead to a few, *cough*, snags.....

I really need mind that tail skid!

But soon, I got everything swimming along, and I am happy to say, while a simple device, I am proud of it. I have made it rock simple--one simply advances the throttle, and the engine leaps to life with a smokey sputter. No handproping necessary!

(DON'T do this at home!)

Handling is appropriately "old aircraft" in feel, though I have left the power unrealistically plentiful (a realistic simulation would be to merely turn the power on to 20%, or off. Those were the only settings at the time!) It is hardly a speedster, nor as aerobatic as the orni, but it is nicely stable. And with a bit of work, I have managed a loop.

But mostly, it is for watching the countryside move slowly by under your feet. After all, if I wanted to get somewhere quickly, I'd teleport!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Just what I needed--ANOTHER way to waste a bit of time!

I freely confess my affection for short little computer games. Well, the following violates that rule a bit, as the playing sessions are closer to about 15-20 minutes in length, and thus not precisely in conformation with my previously stated guidelines of a ten minute work break.

Yet, how could I, as a Caledonian Steam Punk citizen ignore the obligation to show you this little gem, called Steam Brigade?

Essentially, you play the brave young lad who is in command of his father's Steam Brigade, fighting the evil someone or another, who is no doubt interested in destruction of the world as we know it and putting up ad farms. Or some such. There's a bit of a story line (with admittedly atrocious poetry), and to be honest, I didn't really pay it much mind. I was far too distracted by the lovely blimp the boy gets to fly about, the steam helicopters and the stout engineers who bravely man all the emplacements.

It's essentially a 2D tug of war: aforementioned lad makes steamy vehicles and whatnot with his limited funds, sends them out, and is confronted by the Evil Sorts. Chaos ensues, and hopefully you push your lines far enough forward to sneak a Clever Engineer into the opposition's factory and have done with it. I must admit, there is a lot of plaintive "omphs!" from the pixel fellows, which unnerved me for a bit. But it's only a game, as they say, and you don't see little pixel corpses or anything nasty like that. They simply disappear, and if you are like me, you entertain phantasies that they all were safely shipped back home, perhaps with a limp and a tedious story to tell to the Grand Children. Well, yes, that is unrealistic, but this is hardly a historic reproduction game!

The chief draws for me were the lovely graphics with a sky that Windlight might find itself proud of, and cheerful background music. I should add that one need download the demo, and most sensible people will find themselves done with this silly game after that. The foolish might actually order the full version, which is not terribly expensive, but still more than a lunch at the local. Well, speaking of the foolish, I think I want to play the scenario against the Mad Sea Captain again, as I am sure I can do better than Cadet level.

Download here:

Friday, July 6, 2007

One If By Land, Two If By Sea, Three If By Air?

Well, no doubt those of you who suffer from such a surfeit of spare time that you actually follow this collection of my musings have been biting your nails to the quick as you ruminate on the burning question of just when Professor Avalanche was to make good on his bought and paid for promise to take your blushing narrator out on a date?

If you recall, I had somehow managed to outbid the other women for the privilege of the gentleman's company for an evening. Now, despite the fact that I chat with the big lunk (American for "gentleman") on a daily basis, somehow we always found ourselves tinkering with various, occasionally exploding devices. Mind you, I love that sort of thing, but it's scarcely the sort of thing that one finds described in the well worn pages of a good tub read, n'est ce pas?

So, I was completely delighted when he proposed an afternoon out. Yesterday found me in the upstairs of the Coaching House, desperately fishing through the closet for what to wear, besides deciding to go for a summery casual look. As I was to discover, such informal attire was just the ticket for the upcoming events!

Coming downstairs, I discovered that Professor Avalanche, to his credit, was actually in his evening, so he arrived in his tightly stretched evening jacket. A few awkward moments in which I said brilliant things such as "Um, so, this is, er, a date then?" We sat there, shifting feet for a bit until he coughed and asked if I might, just possibly like to go for a curry. Well away, I am never adverse to a bit of Indian food, and far less so than when he announced the means of transport! To wit: un Montgolfier!

A leisurely half hour over the beautiful county of Eyre ensued, punctuated only by the occasional scream of "AAAAAH!!! Professor! Mind the steeple!". Completely unnecessary hysterics, of course, but it did serve to keep the pulse up, which I am told is good for one's circulation. Be as that may, I can recommend ballooning as unreservedly one of the better "date activities" out there.

Perhaps sensing a need to keep things proper, a random self-appointed chaperon popped in, just as we were making the crossing into Tanglewood.

A gentle soul, the Professor did not give the fellow the boot, but instead toured the beanstalk.

Perhaps overcome by the vertigo of it all, we lost our chaperon, and set down in the thick woods of Tanglewood. Chaperoneless, I considered it time to do the racy, the daring, the never heard that would raise eyebrows should it be heard of in my home town. Yes. We....surfed. Specifically, Sky Surfed, using Colonel O'Toole's clever new invention, the Steam Surfboard Duuuude (According to the well travelled Colonel, "dude" is a form of articulated punctuation common amongst certain South Sea Islander nations)

Whizzing through Tanglewood, and after a few nasty slaps from branches, over said woods, we sported about the Island of Lionsgate for a while, flying about the towering volcano and under the high stone bridges, having just good silly fun. Then I proposed a race to the Sky City hangars, and we were off to the South again.

We made it to the hangar, whereupon, I learnt that the Steam Boards have a certain lack. They haven't brakes. Whilst I surveyed the bent up board, Professor Avalanche went to the docks to secure a more proper mode of transport.

The Caledonian Queen proved a fast ship, and we were soon taking in the sights along the South Coast. We were compelled to remark in wonder about the talent and skill of our countrymen. It seems everytime we pass through our lovely kingdom, we see something new and exciting that we had never seen before. Including a rocky breakwater on the coast of the Moors. Professor Avalanche stoked the boiler, swung the helm with all his might and...

Ran aground. I suppose I could have been of more use, besides yelling "Oh, look! Rocky bits!" Well away, we sadly waved good bye to the sinking Caledonian Queen and trudged up the hill to the railway station and waited.

And waited.

Well, no one has ever compared Governor Shang to Mussolini, I believe. And our land does present absurd difficulties in providing rail service. Nonetheless, we were presented with rail sans train. Fortunately, the Professor is beyond clever, and with the aid of surplus, "I am sure no one is using this" parts at the depot, soon threw together a lovely pair of possibly safe monocycles.

In no time flat, we made it to Victoria City Station, where the trains were, in fact, running. One might point out that the trains run awfully well in proximity to Governor's mansion, but no doubt, many would wonder exactly what one's point is.

Regardless, the train was there and waiting, and the Professor gallantly helped me into the carriage. Whereupon the train started up. Without him.

Well, I think it was somewhere in Carnaigh that the poor fellow caught up, necessitating a bit of a cinematic holding of the hand out by yours truly accompanied by a hurdler's leap by him. Overcome by all the excitement (or perhaps, by this point a bit of curry-less hunger), I had a bit of a faint.

Fortunately for this narrative, I came to with the aid of smelling salts. Vile things, salts, but hardly worse than the unpleasant, inexplicable dreams of some mechanical voice announcing "your account will be available at 2402 in a year or so, should we feel like it". Despite these ill omens, coming to, I saw the bright minarets of the Taj Mahal--aka Miss Vi Paravane's Curry Shop.

Bellies full and teacups in hand, we toasted a successful, if unexpectedly adventurous romantic excursion. Well, excursion--to be truthful, it was, in fact a Platonic Ideal of a date. Which suits us both fine, and no doubt, Miss Fuschia Begonia as well (his true love in RL and SL). In that spirit, after our toast, Miss Begonia and a bevy of our other friends showed up, filling the curry shop with banter and laughter. Truly, I can think of no better end to an afternoon out!

Pardon me whilst I adjust the moving cog corsage I have received this morning in the post (winsome sigh....)