Calas Galadhon re-opens

Calas Galadhon
Calas Galadhon

Calas Galadhon has re-opened.

That’s the good news.

The really terrific news is that Ty and Truck have managed to re-organise things so that only two regions – Bay of Belfalas and Sea of Nurnen – have gone. While both will be missed, particularly the latter with its underwater “garden” with sea turtles and mer-friendly dance area, it means that the rest of the park remains intact and ready for a new season.

Ty and Truck: keeping their vision alive
Ty and Truck: keeping their vision alive

During the month-long closure, Ty and Truck have been busy right across the parklands, which are displaying signs that autumn is upon us, and we’re entering the shadow months of the year. Dimrill Dale and the Grey Havens have seen the most extensive changes, although there are touches and changes right across the entire estate.

“We added more romantic areas and new dances in the intans, too,” Truck informed me, when I dropped in on him and Ty shortly before they opened the gates once more. “We have three new gallery shows on main street,” he continued. “I’ve discovered Hamish Blakely, a RL artists we love… and of the period. And we have new rideable whales and dolphins.”

Dimrill Dale
Dimrill Dale

When looking at the issue of continuing to finance such a large public environment such as Calas Galadhon, Ty and Truck had considered allowing a small number of rental properties into the estate to help offset the costs of running so large an estate. Another idea they were toying with would be to limit park access. However, after giving both options cosiderable thought, they’ve decided to reject both, and continue to run the park as a place open to all.

“Considering our original vision of ‘Calas’ as an unique Estate destination (and haven) in Second Life, both in its size and natural beauty … we felt we’d be cutting off opportunities for those good folk who have not yet found us,” Ty comments in the blog post announcing the re-opening.

So when visiting, please do remember the donation points scattered throughout the regions and pass on a few Lindens so that many more can continue to enjoy the estate.

Live music will also continue to feature at Calas as well, with a new programme of events kicking-off in September at both the Dolphin Cafe and OZ Nightclub.  Details of events and performers can be found at the information hubs across the park.

Glanduin
Glanduin

Sadly, my semi-preview visit was cut short by the needs of real life. However, I managed to see a good deal of the park and can say that while two regions have gone, what remains is even more stunning than ever. The Calas Galadhon parklands aren’t simply to be explored and enjoyed, they are to be savoured, each of them a feast for the eyes. If you’ve never visited before, I really do implore you to do so; there is so much to see and to do, whether you opt to hike the tracks and trails, take to a horse, pilot a boat or ride the winds in a balloon. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled above and below ground (and ready to peek under water as well!), or you still might miss something!

Calas Galadhon
Calas Galadhon

With sincere thanks to Ty and Truck for continuing to make this all possible, and congratulations on the re-opening!

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Musiclandia: in relation to music

Musiclandia, a full sim art piece by Livio Oak Korobase, opened on LEA-11 on Wednesday August 28th as a part of the 5th round of the Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programme. The piece is billed as an exploration of music as an art form, and offers-up the following teaser:

What is the definition of music? What is the relationship between music and mind? What is the connection between music and emotions? Search for your answer in Musiclandia.

Musiclandia
Musiclandia

It’s a fascinating piece, offering a watery landscape in which musical instruments form a series of set pieces inviting exploration. This is an interactive piece, requiring a reasonable amount of time in order to discover all of its secrets, so it’s worth taking your time to look around each of the pieces and discovering what there is to see and learn – note cards are offered at various points around the installation, providing further information and food for thought.

The arrival point provides some basic instructions – you’ll need sounds active to enjoy the exhibit (although not necessarily media streaming enabled) and you should drop draw distance to 128 or so metres to stop most distractions from the neighbouring regions creeping into your view. There’s no set order to exploring things, just go where your eyes take you, out from the little village square under the massive brick piano and across the water.

Musiclandia
Musiclandia

Some of the many roles music plays in our lives are explored here; how it can channel a freedom of personal expression, how it can play an emotional, spiritual or therapeutic role. In these explorations, issues of identity and self are also touched upon. Symbolism is also strong here; some of it obvious, some of it less so; when it comes to matters of self, a towering stag, harp held within its antlers, reminds us umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu – “you are who you are because of how you relate to others around you”.

The food for thought comes in a number of forms; the Musiclandia Beach, for example delves into the role of music and sound in creation myths, including the origin of that simple Biblical phrase “In the beginning was the word”. Elsewhere, the Lab and Jam area examines the role of music in therapy, while Feathers and Kites probes matters of self and identity.

Musiclandia
Musiclandia

In these explorations, Livio draws on the writings of a number of people; some may be recognisable – even notorious / controversial – to visitors, others perhaps not so; but the selected passages do invite further explorations; if you find this is the case, the sources are cited, and the Interwebz are your friend.

Which is not to say that it’s all a dry, intellectual piece; there are plenty of opportunities to find your own self-expression through music, be it via dance, interacting with objects or enjoying the sensation of simply playing an instrument.

Musiclandia
Musiclandia

The piece isn’t limited to the ground, either, there are a couple of sections up in the sky; Moby and Paradiso. The latter looks like it is intended to be used as live music / entertainment venue, although this is by no means clear (at least, I didn’t get a note card explaining its purpose on my arrival).

Getting around the exhibit can be done on foot, via the teleport map in the village square, or for those who are feeling serene, via a number of Harleywan Haggwood’s flyable kites. As mentioned above, this is a piece that requires a little time – and an open mid – to explore, and the kites are actually a fun way of getting around and letting thoughts and reactions to the piece flow freely.

Musiclandia
Musiclandia

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Kitely opens their marketplace for business

Kitely-logoIlan Tochner, CEO of Kitely, dropped me an e-mail on Friday August 30th to let me know the Kitely Marketplace is now open for business.  There’s also an official announcement from the Kitely team on their blog as well, which is recommended reading for those interested in the Marketplace.

First announced at the start of the year, the Kitely Marketplace has taken eight months to reach the point of launch – and with good reason. The Kitely team have been working to develop an online experience which is initially available within Kitely, but which can be expanded in time to support other OpenSim grids.

The new Marketplace can be accessed directly from the toolbar displayed on the Kitely website
The new Marketplace can be accessed directly from the toolbar displayed on the Kitely website

The Market combines features familiar to those used to using the SL Marketplace or markets such as the (now defunct) Apez and Metaverse Exchange: items can be browsed on-line, then purchased (using Kitely Credits (KCs) or US dollars), prior to being delivered directly to the purchaser’s in-world inventory in a similar manner to SL’s Direct Delivery mechanism. Additionally, the Market functions more like e-commerce sites such as Amazon, where items can be searched for using attributes as well as a category hierarchy, making the search process and drill-down easier and more flexible for both merchants and consumers.

The Marketplace allows for flexible serach using a combination of category, attribute and filter-based searches
The Marketplace allows for flexible search using a combination of category, attribute and filter-based searches

In addition, the Kitely  Marketplace allows for multiple versions of a product to be listed as a single item, thus simplifying the listing, viewing and reviewing of products. So rather than having five individual listings for an outfit which is available in five different colours, a merchant can create a single listing for the outfit, which includes the 5 different colours, allowing consumers to buy any of the five from the one product listing.

Products can include multiple variations in a single listing - in this case five versions of the same mesh dress
Products can include multiple variations in a single listing – in this case five versions of the same mesh dress

A further aspect of the Marketplace is that demo items can be “built-in” in the main product listing, eliminating the need for additional, separate listings to deal with product demos.  Where a merchant offers a demo (indicated in the product listing), the potential buyers can try it by adding the item to their Shopping Cart, where they’ll  get a link called “Try demo”. When they click this link, the demo version is immediately added to their inventory.

There are other subtle touches as well, some of which may be familiar to users of virtual world marketplaces  – such as the ability to click on a store name either in a list of multiple products or within an individual product listing, in order to display and browse the contents of that store. Other touches aren’t so obvious, but are nevertheless pleasing to find – such as rolling the mouse cursor over the thumbnails of any variations of an item to see each of their full-sized images displayed in the product listing.

In developing the Marketplace, Kitely have focused not only on the usability / functionality aspects of the system, but also on optimising the servers and putting in place strong automated capabilities and additional safeguards.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner (via Google+)
Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner (via Google+)

“We spent a lot of time optimizing the backend so it will be able to provide a snappy user experience even thou each page returns multiple dynamic counters (the number of results given the existing filters in each category and attribute that contains relevant search results),” Ilan informed me in announcing the launch. “Kitely Market remained fast even when we tested it on databases of more than 1 million different products and many concurrent bots (and this is without starting to scale up the hardware we use for the marketplace or distributing it to multiple servers).”

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