The sensual lens of Velvetsdream in Second Life

Velvetsdreams, January 2020

Currently open on the adult (and BDSM-oriented) region of El Desvan, is an exhibition of photography by Velvetsdreams. I’ll say up front that the subject matter might be considered NSFW by some, but it is nevertheless enticing. I’d also note that for those who may be a little put-off by the idea of visiting a BDSM region, the exhibition space sits on its own, surrounded on three sides by raised terrain and / or curtain walls of rocks, so there is little risk of seeing anything untoward beyond the gallery area.

Open through until February 14th, the exhibition is also BDSM-oriented, although all of the images – whilst some do include nudity – are not overly explicit. Rather, many offer moments in time that emphasis the more sensual element of D/s, while even those that do stray more to the B/D aspect of things are rendered in a manner that leans far more towards sensuality rather than the more physical aspects of this form of activity.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

In this respect, it is the strength of storytelling that makes these images pieces that push aside possible thoughts of voyeurism in looking at them, leading one to consider each piece in terms of the tale into which it provides a glimpse. At the same time, many of the pieces offer a peek into the many themes that can cross through many of the subjects people often associate with the BDSM / D/s lifestyle, including latex, bondage, worship, and pony play.

Throughout all 20 pieces, there is a richness of style from framing through lighting to cropping, that adds a depth of life to them, presenting them less as posed pieces, but as instants in the lifestyles of those depicted within each photograph.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

Provocative, erotic, sensuous and captivating, this is an unmistakably eye-catching and engaging exhibition.

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SS Galaxy drops anchor at Bellisseria

The SS Galaxy anchored off of Bellisseria

In a surprise move over the last couple of day, The SS Galaxy, the iconic 3-region long static cruise ship, quietly weighed anchor and gently made revolutions to slip away from her long-term home adjacent to the United Sailing Sims, south of Blake Sea and then steam across the open seas to arrive off the west coast of Bellisseria, where she has apparently lowered her anchors once more, within (very long, admittedly!) eyesight of the houseboat neighbourhood I treat as my second SL home.

Dubbed The Queen of the Saggitartian Sea, the SS Galaxy was laid down in 2007, and has remained throughout the intervening years a stunning example of what can be achieves with the humble 10x10x10 prim when suitably sized and cut. Billed as “the largest build in Second Life”, the ship is split across three regions – Galaxy FORE, Galaxy MID and Galaxy AFT, and for the first part of her life served as a floating home for those seeking a more unusual place to live, (with furnished rentals running from cabins offered at L$35 with no prim allowance, to single and double suites (L$550/week with 200 LI and L$1,000/week with 300 LI) all the way up to the likes of the VIP suites and Captain’s suites (L$1,500/with with 500 LI and L$5,500/week with 1500 LI), with numerous public facilities and event spaces (swimming pools, club, restaurant, ballroom, chapel for weddings, skydiving, mini golf, etc.), as well as an on-board shopping mall.

SS Galaxy: the art gallery created by Frost Mole

In 2015 it appeared as if the Galaxy’s “cruising” days had come to an end. As I reported in SS Galaxy: a last cruise into the sunset (April 2015), it was announced that for various reasons (none connected with issues of tier), the ship would be closing and removed from the gird.

However, the announcement raised a lot of concern over the potential loss of such an iconic vessel and historic build, that the owners and Linden Lab got together to discuss the Lab to take over running the Galaxy as something of a museum piece, with the removal of all commercial operations (rentals and stores). I was able to break the news in SS Galaxy refits for a new role after the ship’s long-term owner, DBDigital Epsilon, sent me a note (also released on the official SS Galaxy website) that the agreement had been reached.

SS Galaxy

By August 2015, with the ship relocated slighted from her original position, the work in refurbishing the ship had reached a point where public access was once again permitted, and I was given something of a heads-up on the news and a tour by Frost Mole, who had been leading the work on the refitting (see SS Galaxy lowers her gangways to visitors once more).

At that time, much of the work had been completed, although Frost noted she was hoping to do more. In particular, a balloon tour had been added to the stern helipads and a hang glider to one of the forward helipads, while some of the private areas of the ship had converted into public spaces – such as an art gallery -, and some of the lower decks received things like a new bowling alley, with the mooring stations saw the addition of 7-Seas fishing and swan boat rezzers. Sadly, the skydiving system vanished at the same time – something I personally miss, as over the years, I’d used it to introduce a few people to the sport via the Galaxy; but that’s the way things go; but the top-of-the-hour firework displays are still active.

SS Galaxy: looking over the ship at Bellisseria

When the Lab took on the Galaxy, Keira Linden noted that the ship would be made available for public events, and while some were held there (such as a couple of impromptu Lab / Mole / resident get-togethers), nothing was ever really formally put in place to make it obvious residents might use the ship for events. Whether this will not change with her move to Bellisseria remains to be seen – but given the amount of social activity within the Bellisseria community, the liner could become a popular venue, and encourage a wider audience.

The news of the move has been spreading outwards for the 24-ish hours since the Galaxy arrived off of Bellisseria. Initially inaccessible immediately after the move, she is now once again open to public access. Thus fair the responses within various forum threads (see here and here as examples) has been positive, and there has been a fair amount of traffic onto and off of the ship.

SS Galaxy: one of the upper deck pools

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Names Changes: rounding-up what’s known ahead of any launch

Name Changes – the ability for Premium subscribers to be able to choose their own first and last names – is due to be deployed in 2020, possibly as soon as February. I’ve provided two prior summary updates on what has been released about the capability already.

However, while much of what is already known is unlikely yo e news to many, I thought that now we’re almost on the cusp of the capability being made available, I’d pull all of what is known from those updates and via more recent Lab-led meetings to offer what is (I hope) a reasonably complete, one-stop summary of what is known, and what might be surmised fee-wise.

The Basics

  • Name Changes will be a Premium-only benefit.
  • Qualifying users will be able to change their first and / or last name as often as they like.
  • First names will be entirely free-form.
  • Last names will be selectable from a list (see below for more).
  • Both first and last names can be up to 31 characters each.
  • Combinations of first name + last name must be unique, and can never be used by any other user.
  • Subject to final confirmation, it may be possible for a user to change back to a first name / last name they have previously used.
  • There will be a USD fee payable for each name change (see below for more).
  • The ability for Premium members to change their first / last names will be via an option on their secondlife.com dashboard, not an in-viewer option.
  • Names Changes will not be replacing Display Names, which will remain available for any user wishing to use it.

Last Names

  • The list of last names will likely be around 20-30 names, and subject to periodic update.
  • Previously used last names will not be made available for re-use.
  • Suggestions from users for possible last names may be taken by Linden Lab.
    • A Name Changes competition that saw the submission of 6,000 names closed on January 6th.
  • Two possible means for rotating names in the list that the Lab are considering are:
    • Replacing popular names from the list as they reach a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Replacing “unpopular” names if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over a period of time.

Fees

  • While it has yet to be officially confirmed, the fee for using Name Changes will likely be US $39.99 (based on Section 5 of the rules for the recent Last Names competition).
  • The fee will be charged whether changing only a first or last name, or both the first and last name.
  • When launched (at a date still to be determined) the new Premium Plus subscription will offer Name Changes at a lower fee (still TBA) than Premium membership.
  • The fee is being levied primarily to discourage users from making frequent changes to their user name, due to the potential impact on SL services (as everywhere a user name appears must be updated when a change is made).

Availability

  • It is hoped that Name Changes will be available in February 2020.
  • However, at the January 8th, 2020 Web User Group meeting, it was indicated that final deployment is dependent on the Lab finishing all remaining work on the capability and then testing it.

General Points

  • Name changes will be reflected across all of Second Life. This includes things like:
    • Other people’s Friends lists.
    • The Creator and Owner fields of the Edit / Build floater.
    • Group member lists.
    • Marketplace listings.
    • Chat and IM.
    • Plus anywhere else a “live” record of a user name is held.
  • Previous names should be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that name and get their current name.
  • At the time of writing, it was still not clear whether a change of name will trigger a notification to those on a user’s Friends list or not.
  • It has taken a long time to implement because Second Life was never designed to support users changing their account name, and as the account name touches every aspects of the platform, the Lab had to go through all the places the user name touches and make sure that any updates correctly reach them without being missed / causing an adverse impact.
  • Incoming users will not be able to pick a last name when signing-up.
    • They will receive the default last name of “Resident”.
    • It they upgrade to Premium as part of the sing-up process, they will be able to change their name via their secondlife.com dashboard, just like other Premium subscribers.
    • Last name choice is not included in the sign-up process because a) it is a Premium benefit; b) it has been found to be a major blocker to users completing the sign-up process (which was a major reason last names were originally abandoned).
  • When using scripts to handle account / avatar-specific information, creators and scripts are strongly advised to use the Agent Key (avatar UUID) as their reference point, not the account name.

References

Therese Carfagno at Ani’s Gallery in Second Life

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

Currently open on the upper floor of Ani’s Gallery is an untitled exhibition by Therese Carfagno that offers a intriguing mix of images and styles, and which runs through until early February.

I say “intriguing” because the art on offer spans everything from SL-focused photography – landscapes and those with something of an avatar-focus – to more sensual pieces that appear routed in the physical world, to more abstracted pieces mindful of Jackson Pollack and pieces that carry a strong surrealist element. All of which makes this a creatively diverse exhibition well worth taking the time to witness, one that also includes a hint of Second Life history.

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

The latter is most noticeable in Sunrise, Midday, Sunset, Midnight, a four-panel image on the left wall of the the gallery space, relative to the top of the stairs. The four images in the piece show AM Radio’s The Far Away, now co-curated by Ziki Questi and Kinn Kinnaird, all of which appear to include AM himself (at least going by the top hat) as one of the two figures standing in the wheat field.

A further reminder of AM Radio can be found within the poster facing the top of the stairs, featuring as it does AM’s Mary Poppins outfit. Next to this are two pieces, Sita 1 and Sita 2 that are richly surreal in their presentation of their subject.

Ani’s Gallery: Therese Carfagno

The more sensual pieces appear to mix both physical world and SL studies that offer nudity without crossing the line into outright NSFW. Two sets of of abstract pieces are to be found, both amidst the more sensual pieces – nicely breaking them up – and with the SL-centric images. Three are predominantly monochrome in nature, three in colour. Together they form two sets that re almost triptych in nature, the images in each set following neatly from one to the next.

I’ve not previously witnessed Therese’s art prior to this exhibition, but on the strength of it, I will be looking out for more exhibition of her work.

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2020 Simulator User Group week #3 summary

The Four Seasons, November 2019 – blog post

Simulator Deployments

There are no server deployments planned for week #3 due to the next batch of updates being ready for deployment.

Simulator Issues

  • There are still reports of recent simulator updates causing issues for certain types of breedables. The Lab is aware of these problems, and while fixes are in the works, they may not be in the next set of simulator updates.
  • LL has continued a post-mortem into the region restart issues from week #2, with Simon Linden noting they have hopefully learned enough such that future restarts such run a lot better (and hopefully more smoothly!).
  • “A couple of hosts” that were not handling teleports as expected at the end of week #2, which should have been corrected.
  • Additional data that the Lab has been gathering on simulator performance does show that long-running simulators incur increased host resource utilisation, but for reasons yet to be identified.
    • Scripted avatar loads might in part be responsible, depending on what their scripts are doing, but LL would prefer to gather further data rather than speculate on possible causes.
    • However, there are regions where issues have been recorded, but which do not have large avatars loads.
    • LL have tried multiple approaches to making similar slow-downs occur on the beta grid (Aditi), but the problem doesn’t appear to occur “on demand”, making possible causes harder to identify.

SL Viewer

The Xanté Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 6.3.6.533748 on Monday, January 13th.

The remainder of the current official viewer pipelines remain unchanged for the end of week #2:

  • Current Release version 6.3.5.533275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated December 4, promoted December 12 – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22nd , 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17th, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16th, 2019.

In Brief

  • Rider Linden is looking at region crossings, and hopes to have some code that should help improve things when it is ready for deployment. However, he notes that the improvements will be “nowhere near what I would ultimately like.

A Grey Magic Winter in Second Life

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Grey Magic is a full region designed by SL partners Kimmie Rayna and CHRlSTIANGREY that offers a mix of public spaces and private rentals. For those still feeling in the mood for winter scenes and snow, the region is currently dressed for the colder months, a blanket of snow covering most of it and the central pond / lake has a frozen surface which, going by the condition of the top of the ice, has seen use as a skating rink.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

The east side of the region, together with the central body of water, form the region’s public areas, with the east side laid out as a street from a small town, lined by small businesses and town houses.  Most of the buildings are empty, although at the times of my visit, one of the shops was functioning as an SL fashion store outlet and the pub offered indoor seating and an outdoor table games area.

Six rental properties lie to the north, west and south of the region, with the central body of water forming something of a buffer between the public streets and the private homes, with the houses closest to the town setting located far enough back from the roads to give them privacy. Entrances to them are clearly marked as private property to help avoid accidental trespass.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

The town and lake offer nicely photogenic settings – although I worried about a steam train and a tram occupying the same set of rails and, from their positions, only being able to head towards one another. However, given the distance separating them from one another, they both offer potential locations for photography.

While the lake is frozen over, I didn’t notice any ice skate vendors around the shore, but there are buckets of snowballs for those looking to have a friendly fight – and visitors can likelyalways use their own skates if they have them. For those who do, the hot chocolate bar alongside the lake offers the chance for a hot drink – and to listen to a very unusual round of Christmas songs from the nearby … umm … “carollers”  –  this is actually not to be missed (I still have their take on Frosty the Snowman hovering around in my head 🙂 ).

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

Finished with a day / night cycle and matching sound scape, Grey Magic offers a balanced mix of public and private spaces (I understand that there is a waiting list for the houses, although one appeared to be vacant when I dropped in) with plenty of opportunities for photography as well as numerous places to sit. As such it makes for a pleasant, easy visit for SL explorers and photographers.

Grey Magic Winter, January 2020

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