Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the value of shopping in-world

The Great Debate over the impact of the Marketplace on the in-world economy is not new; nor is it likely to run its course any time soon. Even with its bugs, quirks, issues and annoyances, the Marketplace is a convenient means of shopping for many of us; so much so that it is easy to dispense with in-world visits to stores at all, unless looking for something very specific which requires a visual once-over prior to purchase.

However, while the Marketplace may well be of great convenience, it does mean that often when using it, we can miss out on an important aspect of in-world shopping – which is that many stores are part of some really creative and eye-catching builds.

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

I was reminded of this while visiting Pure Dreams recently. The home of Amelie Knelstrom’s Vespertine Home and Deco is a beautiful sim currently lying under a blanket of snow, the water around it frozen, and the high mountains tinted blue in the fresh, crisp air.

The store itself features a coffee shop, where patrons can sit and chat if they so wish, and is surrounded by a beautiful winter scene worthy of a visit in its own right. This is a place where visitors are positively encouraged to take their time not only shopping, but in exploring and enjoying themselves.

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

Regular readers may have spotted that many of the destinations I’ve covered in this blog are actually connected to commercial ventures – Tatty SoupThe Looking Glass, Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Black Spot, Sleepless Nights – to name but a handful. There’s no coincidence in this – it’s because these regions are, to me, some of the most outstanding and photogenic places in Second Life, and are often a tour-de-force of what the imagination can create when given the tools available to us through the viewer. By turning to the Marketplace first, they are also places we can all too easily miss in the rush to find whatever knickknacks we’re seeking; and that’s a shame.

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

Of course, it could be argued that not all stores offer such enticing – even romantic, at times – opportunities to explore, and finding them is pretty much a case of trial-and-error.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Within the Marketplace there is an option for a merchant to provide a SLurl to their in-world store – where it is provided, why not give it a go before making a purchase? It may not always lead you to a winter wonderland or a spring garden or a similar place of beauty and imagination – but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. And it’s not as if you’ll have to waste time getting there; the teleport is a wonderful thing…

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

While the Destination Guide may not be perfect, it does at least offer something of an alternative to blind chance in finding a store in an eye-catching location. And never forget the value of perusing blogs – I’m far from alone in featuring the beautiful builds often associated with stores in-world, as a visit to the likes of Honour McMillan and Ziki Questi will demonstrate.

The effort taken to find places like Pure Dreams or the Cheeky Tiramisu Cafe and others is not only in finding wonderful places to explore, it is also in finding places you can share with friends, and can return to agin and again – Cheeky Tiramisu’s cafe has a warm and friendly run of patrons happy to sit and chat, while places like Tatty Soup encourage quiet contemplation.

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

And even casual visits can help a business or merchant – even if you don’t drop in and buy something, there are always opportunities to show appreciation, both through telling others about your visit and the build, and in dropping a few lindens into any handy tip jar or donations box.

The Marketplace is great for the quick grab-and-go when you’re looking for something very specific or have limited time; it’s fast and convenient for most of us; but in an age when instant gratification tends to over-rule other considerations, it’s sometimes good to remember that window shopping can also be rewarding, can be shared – and may even lead to some wonderful discoveries.

Pure Dreams
Pure Dreams

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CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer

CHUI, the Communications Hub User Interface has taken two major steps towards official release, having been integrated into both the SL development and beta viewers.

The release of the SL development viewer containing CHUI came on February 26th ( This was followed 24 hours later with a beta viewer release on the 27th February, again containing the CHUI code ( Both of these releases see the SL beta and development viewers move to the 3.5 code base.

As well as CHUI’s new conversational and chat log floaters, which I previewed a while back – although it has had a number of changes since then – the viewer brings a number of changes to the overall way in which user communications are handled by the viewer, including a new set of chat preference options for handling incoming messages and notifications.

The most immediate change with CHUI is the conversations floater, which may open automatically as the viewer is started if you have received offline IM or are receiving incoming messages from HUDs, etc., while logging in.

Conversations Floater

For those who have been using TPVs as their primary viewers, the updated CHUI Conversations floater will appear very familiar, as it gathers IM windows and Local Chat into the same panel. On the left is a vertical tab display which will list all open conversations, whether individual IMs or group chats, and which includes four buttons. On the right is the actual conversation window, which has six buttons associated with it, not all of which many be active at all times (the first three are automatically disabled in local chat, for example).

CHUI Conversations floater
CHUI Conversations floater

These buttons put all of the most common controls required for text / voice conversations within the floater itself, providing it with considerable power and ease-of-use. The chat window display options, of example, allow you to switch quickly between displaying chat headers (the little icon bars within the conversation) or removing them (so that just names and text are displayed) and whether or not to show the time, or even the name of the other person in one-to-one IM conversations.

As noted in my original preview of CHUI, the minimise buttons on the floater are particularly useful, as they offer a number of ways in which the amount of screen space is taken up by the floater. The buttons can be used individually or together, to radically reduce the amount of space the floater takes up.

CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes - open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)
CHUI: The new conversations floater in three display modes – open, collapsed, & minimised (image uses the CHUI project viewer)

Continue reading “CHUI reaches the SL beta viewer”

nostos deer: whimsy with a surreal touch

I stumbled over nostos deer entirely by chance recently – it was literally a case of paging through the Destination Guide and then clicking on something that set a small bell ringing. It wasn’t until I arrived and started exploring that I realised why: Honour McMillan had posted on the region last year (I swear I’m going to have to superglue her shoes to the floor and hide her teleport button one day 🙂 ).

:nostos deer:
nostos deer

The region is home to Dora Nacht’s Little Hopper store (located inside a rock floating high in the sky), with the sim itself landscaped into a delightful park rich in whimsy and with just a touch of eye-catching surrealism, both of which make it an ideal destination for the foot-wary Second Life explorer who is looking for a place to rest and recuperate, and which offers to bring a smile to the well-travelled face. Indeed, given “nostos” is the Greek word for “homecoming” and the idea of returning home from a long journey, perhaps it is the ideal destination for those wanting a break in their SL meanderings …

nostos deer is one of those places which is full of things to do in a not-really-doing-things kind-of way, something which greatly adds to its charm, as even doing nothing will leave you smiling and wondering. You can, for example, sit on the beach and relax, look out to the sea, and watch the fish serenely swim above the waves (which should not be taken as a sign they’ve been incorrectly placed – nothing within nostos deer is the result of wrongful placement).

nostos deer

You can roam wherever you will on the island – old sleepers mark what appears to have once been a busy tram service. Only one set of tracks now remains, running from a little station overlooking a river valley and out towards the sea – literally!

If you tire of the beach, there’s a little kitchen serving sushi, or there’s a walk up the hill to a small church where you can sit in quite contemplation with other members of the rather unusual congregation…

:nostos deer:
nostos deer

Take a walk over the bridge spanning the river valley (gorge?), and you’ll find more to see and maybe do. Dara’s own swan boats sit against a waterfront pier on the west side of the island, waiting for you to take a ride, while further south is an inviting campfire and chairs offering warmth and a chance to sit and chat – although not entirely without a further measure of the surreal! Down at the river itself you can grab a canoe and go a-paddling or, if you’re up for a little surrealism on your own part, you can sit in the middle of the river and enjoy some time in a rocking chair, hovering serenely above the water…

Teleports up to the Little Hopper store can be found around the island, notably as pictures hanging on walls, although I much prefer the mineshaft teleport. The store shares a similar sense of the whimsical, with Dora’s swan boat displayed atop a forklift truck, and the entrance to the “underground” store is guarded by a LandRover and a tricycle.

nostos deer
nostos deer

nostos deer is, in every sense of the word, a delight and more than worth visiting. Should you decide to go and have a little wander, make sure you give yourself a little time – while the region is open and apparently lightly built-out, there are a lot of little details which can be so easily overlooked but the hurrying traveller.

And besides, to hurry through would be to miss the point; nostos deer is about unwinding from the need to hurry, and giving oneself a chance to breathe, smile, and linger …

Related Links

(view slideshow full-screen)

SL project news 9 (1): servers, SSB, materials and Aditi

Deployments for Week 9

It’s a “lightweight” week for deployments, with all channels receiving one of two maintenance packages.

Server Life Server (Main) Channel

Region restart notifications: the "old" stayle (top), and the "new" style (bottom)
Region restart notifications: the “old” style (top), and the “new” style (bottom)

On Tuesday February 26th, the Second Life Server (SLS / Main channel) received the server maintenance project which was on all three RC channels last week.  This project has miscellaneous bug fixes, along with an impoved restart notification (which will only be apparent when this new version restarts for the next update) – see the image on the right.

While this is much better than the previous notification, it does suffer from the fact it will still fade from the viewer’s window and become a chiclet whether or not the OK button is clicked – and thus can still be missed if attention is not on the screen when it appears. To help avoid this, it is possible to set a sound for the alert using the Debug Setting UISndAlert, which requires the UUID of the sound, which coule be one you’ve uploaded to inventory yourself (Firestorm additionally has UISndRegionRestart, which can be set through Debug Settings or Preferences > Sound & Media > UI Sounds 2).

This release  means the until the RC channel deployments take place (see below), almost the entire grid is running the same server code – the only exceptions being a few “special” regions (such as the Linden Realms regions) – release notes.

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday February 27th, all three Release Candidate channels should receive a new server maintenance package which includes a fix for a crash mode – release notes (BlueSteel).

As always, there is a forum thread for discussing the deployments.

Server-side Baking

Following-on from his initial feedback given at the TPV Developer meeting on Friday 22nd February, Nyx Linden gave a further update on the recent Sever-side Baking (SSB) pile-on / load test when chairing the Content Creation User Group meeting on Monday 25th February

Thanks all for everyone who helped out with the pile-on test of server appearance last Thursday. The results tended to be that when the system worked, it was nice and speedy, however there were a number of issues that prevented it from working for everyone all the time. We got a good bit of data on the bugs we knew were there as well as a couple new ones. we’ve been crunching on the results and are starting to attack the issues, so it was definitely successful in achieving what we wanted: more data :). There will be future rounds, so thanks in advance for anyone who comes back to help us test again.

Z-offset Issue and SUN-38

As noted in the comments following my quick SSB test using currently available TPVs with SSB enabled, there is an issue with the “Z-offset” capability common to many third-party viewers, which allows the vertical height of an avatar above the ground to be adjusted, such that sits and kneels don’t leave the avatar apparently floating in the air, and which allow those with very tall / giant avatars or very small / petite avatars and those wearing full body mesh to similarly adjust their vertical placement relative to the ground / floor.

The problem was reported to Nyx in week 8, and SUN-38 was subsequently raised by Henri Beauchamp on February 24th to officially log the matter. Commenting on the problem during Content Creation meeting, Nyx Linden stated. “It hasn’t escaped our notice. We’re considering a couple different approaches … we’re considering a few different options. Suggestions appreciated, but we haven’t officially settled on an approach we’re going to commit to publicly just yet.” He also suggested that any questions on the subject be asked again next week, presumably by which time LL will have had time to consider the problem in detail, and hopefully consult with TPV developers.

Interest List Updates

Andrew Linden is continuing to work on the interest list code, with more refinements to come, as well as looking at a number of bug fixes. The updates about to go to LL’s QA include changes which should make scenery load faster  / more correctly when first logging-in to SL or teleporting to a region.

Aero Pines Park
Future updates to the interest list code should see scenery in your world view rezzing a lot faster

Continue reading “SL project news 9 (1): servers, SSB, materials and Aditi”

It probably doesn’t taste like chicken …

CuriosityMission managers have confirmed that Curiosity has “ingested” samples gathered from inside the rock dubbed “John Klein” and is now analysing them.

As reported last time around, the sample gathered by the rover’s turret-mounted drill has been used to clean the drill’s internal sample-handling mechanism. Originally, it had been thought the material might be dumped after this work, and a fresh sample obtained for analysis. However, concerns about the very long-term security of a filter required for processing samples meant the decision was taken to use the sample both for clean activities and for delivery to the on-board Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) and Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) science instruments.

Prior to delivery, the sample was processed by CHIMRA, the Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis system, also mounted in the turret at the end of the robot arm. This comprised vibrating the entire turret so that material of 150-microns or smaller could be deposited into a sample delivery mechanism which would then transfer small amounts to both CheMin and SAM over a two-day period.

The first delivery of a sample of the powder obtained from inside “John Klein”, equivalent to around half as much material as in an aspirin tablet, was made to CheMin on Sol 195 (February 22nd). Then, on Sol 196, a sample of equal size was delivered to SAM.

The left Mast Camera (Mastcam) took this image of Curiosity’s sample-processing and delivery tool just after it had delivered a portion of powdered rock to SAM on Sol 196. Mounted on CHIMRA, the portion delivery tube can be seen in the centre of the image, surrounded by a C-shaped windshield. The opening is about 4mm (0.16 inch) in diameter. Portions containing about half as much material as in an aspirin tablet were dropped through that opening into CheMin and SAM. This image was taken to check whether sample material remained in the tube opening after portion delivery, and has been white-balanced to show the scene under natural daylight on Earth.

“Data from the instruments have confirmed the deliveries,” said Curiosity Mission Manager Jennifer Trosper, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, following the successful transfers to both instruments. The samples will now be subjected to a range of on-board tests using CheMin’s X-ray diffraction instrument, a process which generally takes a minimum of 10 hours and according to mission notes can be spread out over two or more consecutive Martian nights, and well as by the suite of instruments which comprise SAM.

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Fashion for Life event schedule announcement

FFL 2013 LogoEvery year, hundreds of people in Second Life give their time, creativity and money to help raise funds and awareness on behalf of the ‘American Cancer Society’ at FASHION FOR LIFE.

This year from March 9th – 17th, an incredible 9 sims built by some of the grids best artists and builders will open to the public based on the theme of ‘The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.’

But it’s not only the very best fashion you can expect to see this year but also dazzling art, beautiful buildings and a schedule of live events and fashion shows produced by SL’s top fashion agencies!

Event Schedule

The week will also host a schedule of live entertainment, music and catwalk events and each scheduled fashion show will reveal different outfits from the all new ‘Fashion for Life 2013’ collection. All times SLT.

  • Saturday, March 9th Midday: Fashion for Life 2013 grand opening
  • Sunday, March 10th, 10:00: Fashion show produced by KV Dream Agency
  • Monday, March 11th, 16:00: Fashion show produced by Solo Evane
  • Tuesday, March 12th, 16:00: Elegance Agency Avenue
  • Wednesday March 13th:
    • 16:00: Fashion show produced by: Elegance Agency
    • 18:00: Antonio Galloway in concert
  • Thursday, March 14th: Fashion show produced by ZeroModa Italia
  • Friday, March 15th:
    • Midday: Changhigh Sisters Fireshow of Light, Life and Love
    • 16:00: Fashion show produced by Opium Evolution
  • Saturday March 16th, 10:00: Galliano couture-inspired collection produced by BLVD agency
  • Sunday March 17th:
    • 09:00: Grande Finale – SL Top Model Competition
    • 11:00: Closing Party & raffle winner announcement.

BOSL Radio will also stream across all 9 sims in partnership with The Velvet SL club.

In addition, there will be a public “Best FFL Photo Contest” for the duration of the event. The winner will receive items from participating FFL designers – details of the competition format TBA.

Sim Builders and Sponsors

  • Fashion For Life – Built by Eshi Otawara – Sponsored by Christianraven Resident
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria – Built by Bryn Oh – Sponsored by [sYs] Design
  • Great Pyramid of Giza – Built by Thoth Jantzen – Sponsored by Chop Zuey Couture and Jewellery
  • Colossus of Rhodes – Built by Rebeca Bashly – Sponsored by .:EMO-tions:
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – Built by nexuno Thespian – Sponsored by Leri Miles Designs, Quality mesh fashion
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon – Built by Patch Thibaud – Sponsored by Tres Beau Designs in honour of loved ones lost
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Built by KarlinJames Zepp – Sponsored by Sonatta Morales *8* Vintage Couture
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus – Built by  Kaya Angel – Sponsored by LAZURI
  • FFL Event Sim  – Built by Eshi Otawara – sponsored by Miss Mundo Virtual Organization

VIP Sponsors

  • Tjake Kearny
  • Giz Seorn

Related Links

With thanks to Frolic Mills.