Of cardboard and cats and wealth and wisdom

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and all events in Second Life are held at the Seanchai Library’s home at Bradley University. Locations for events in InWorldz and Kitely are given within the write-ups for those events.

Sunday, May 31st

13:00 Tea-time at Baker Street

Caledonia Skytower, Kaydon Oconnell and Corwyn Allen continue reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, originally published in 1894, and which brings together twelve (or eleven in US editions of the volume) adventures featuring Holmes and Watson, as originally published in The Strand Magazine. This week: The Adventure of the Cardboard Box.

The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

In choosing a few typical cases which illustrate the remarkable mental qualities of my friend, Sherlock Holmes, I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to select those which presented the minimum of sensationalism, while offering a fair field for his talents. It is, however, unfortunately impossible entirely to separate the sensational from the criminal, and a chronicler is left in the dilemma that he must either sacrifice details which are essential to his statement and so give a false impression of the problem, or he must use matter which chance, and not choice, has provided him with. With this short preface I shall turn to my notes of what proved to be a strange, though a peculiarly terrible, chain of events.

So begins Dr, John Watson in re-telling one of Holmes’ more grisly cases, which was first published in The Stand Magazine in 1892, before forming a part of the Memoirs anthology in the UK, and His Last Bow in the United States.

The affair begins when Miss Susan Cushing of Croydon receives a grisly parcel of two severed human ears, packed in salt. Inspector Lestrade is convinced that the parcel is a prank on the part of three medical students Miss Cushing was forced to evict from her lodgings due to their unruly behaviour. Lestrade points to the parcel as coming from Belfast – the home of one of the former lodgers – as reason for his suspicions.

On examining the parcel, however, Holmes is certain that they are dealing with a far more serious crime, involving tormented minds and extra-marital relationships…

18:00 Magicland Storytime – Thomasina Part 1

thomasinaJoin Caledonia Skytower at Magicland Park as she commences reading Paul Gallico’s 1957 novel (and later a 1963 Walt Disney film starring none other that Patrick McGoohan, alongside Karen Dotrice – who also appeared in Disney’s Mary Poppins and The Gnome Mobile – and Susan Hampshire).

When Thomasina, young Mary’s cat, suffers injury, Mary’s veterinarian father and widower, is typically unsympathetic , and rather than treating the cat, has it put to sleep – earning himself the enmity of his daughter, who declares him dead to her.

Thomasina, meantime, finds herself in cat heaven, only to be returned to Earth because she has lived only one of her nine lives. Thus begins a series of adventures involving Thomasina, Mary, her father and a local woman regarded as a “witch” by the children, but who has a caring way with animals…

Monday June 1st, 19:00: Science Fiction with Gyro Muggins

This evening Gyro reads from two short stories. In Isaac Asimov’s 1956 story, Pâté de Foie Gras a goose is discovered which actually lays golden eggs. Meanwhile, in If at Faust You Don’t Succeed by Roger Zelazny, Robert Sheckley, the contest between the forces  of Good and Evil for control of the  universe resumes, but Mephistopheles has mistakenly signs up a  medieval cutpurse named Mack the Club, thinking him the  learned Dr. Faust. And that’s just the start of Mephisto’s problems…

Tuesday June 2nd, The Great Gatsby, Part 2

Great GatsbyCaledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kaydan Oconnell continue reading of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnificent 1925 novel.

In 1922, Nick Carraway arrives in New York to learn about the bond business. He rents a small cottage in West Egg, home of the newly-rich, only to discover the owner of the huge Gothic mansion next door, the deeply mysterious Jay Gatsby, is prone to throwing lavish parties every weekend, to which in seems everyone comes. Everyone it seems, except Nick’s cousin Daisy, who is married to Tom Buchanan. Together they live across the bay in the more fashion East Egg, where the “old money” resides.

Following a visit with them, Nick is slowly drawn into their world, both discovering Tom Buchanan has a mistress who lives in the Valley of Ashes, an industrial area lying between the Eggs and New York city, and finding himself increasingly attracted to the Buchanan’s friend, the beautiful, if cynically minded, Jordan Baker.

Then, one Saturday, Nick finds himself invited to one of Jay Gatsby’s great parties, and is thus drawn into an increasingly deep well of infatuation, lust, and tragedy, witnessing first hand a darker side of the so-called American Dream.

Wednesday June 3rd

06:00: Forever Erma

Erma BombeckErma Bombeck achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s. She also published 15 books, most of which became bestsellers. From 1965 to 1996, Erma Bombeck wrote over 4,000 newspaper columns, using broad and sometimes eloquent humour, chronicling the ordinary life of a mid-western suburban housewife. By the 1970s, her columns were read twice-weekly by 30 million readers of the 900 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada

Join Freda Frostbite and Trolly Trollop as the delve into Erma’s wit and wisdom of everyday life, joined by Caledonia Skytower.

19:00: The Night Fairy

With Faerie Maven-Pralou.

Thursday June 4th, 19:00: The Night’s Ocean

Shandon Loring reads from the 1936 short story by H.P. Lovecraft and R.H. Barlow.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for April / May is Habitat for Humanity, with a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live – a safe and clean place to call home.

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SL12B: Of press applications, time capsules and videos

We’re approaching the start of June, and with the run-up to this year’s Second Life Birthday Community Celebrations. As noted in the banner above, the event will take place between June 21st and 28th, and will feature fifteen regions packed with builds, performance areas, stages, works of art and more, all celebrating the rich creative diversity within Second Life. On Monday, June 1st, eager exhibitors will gain access to the regions, ready to start construction!

As a part of the build-up to the main event, there will once again be a special Press Day – Saturday, June 20th, 2015 – when the fifteen regions will be open for bloggers, photographers, machinima makers, and so on to tour them and preview all that awaits residents in this year’s celebrations.

If you would like to participate in the Press Day for SL12BCC, please make sure you complete and submit the SL12B press application form.

The SL12B Time Capsule

The Time Capsule is a traditional part of the SL Birthday celebrations. It is used to contain items donated by SL residents, which are placed on display at future SLB celebrations. This year is no exception, and the SL12BCC organisers have issued an invitation to residents to submit designs for a time capsule that represents a significant technical enhancement for the year, or which is inspired by the year’s celebratory theme, which this year is “what dreams may come?”.

To give some examples of past time capsules, the SL4B capsule had flexible prims which that of SL5B featured glow – which were technical developments in SL in their respective years, while the SL6B time capsule was a meteorite chunk, in keeping with that year’s space theme.

SL9B Time Capsule
SL9B Time Capsule

If you’d like to submit a design for this year’s time capsule, please read the guidelines set-out in the official blog post on the invitation.

Video: The Calm Before the Builds

I have the honour to be invited by the SL12B CC coordinator, Doc Gascoigne, to produce a series of short “preview” videos marking how things are developing on the celebration regions as building commences – and obviously without giving too much away!

As work starts in earnest for most exhibitors on Monday, June 1st, 2015, we thought we’d start the previews with… a preview! Enjoy!

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Return to a City Inside Out in Second Life

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

In March I wrote about Haveit Neox’s visually stunning City Inside Out, a full-region installation at LEA 20, which is displayed as a part of the 8th round of the Artist In Residence series.

On Saturday, May 30th, a new element in the installation, City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” opened, and takes the visitor down under Haveit’s remarkable cityscape, where stories await.

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

To briefly recap on the original build, as per my initial post about it:

This is a city we’re asked to see through the eyes of the homeless, the dispossessed; those who have nowhere to be, nowhere to go. For these people, the city is a very different place to the one we know. It’s a place where everything is strange, alien, and threatening. A place bad enough in daylight, but as Haevit further explains, becomes much, much worse at night…

As I noted at the time, this premise of seeing a city somewhat in reverse, as a homeless person, makes for a remarkable  – and is some places uncomfortable – place, where nothing is quite as it seems, be it the had offering money or the man walking his dog; threats real or imagined and spurred by fears and a sense of separation, can be found everywhere…

City Inside Out Phase II: "Stories"
City Inside Out Phase II: “Stories” – LEA 20

With Phase 2 of the build Haveit incorporates a series of short stories written by other Second Life residents on the subject of homelessness in the physical world as they perceive it. These  are laid-out in an underground labyrinth sitting beneath the lowest level of the main build, and are arranged as a series of seven chapters reached by following subterranean paths.

There are a number of different entry points to these paths – simply walk onto one of the moving roadways and follow it, and you will drop into the underground world. However, to follow the chapters roughly in order, the best point to start is to walk to the dual carriageway that lies just behind the landing point information boards, and follow it eastwards. It ends in a slice in the ground that will lead you down to Chapter 1, which sits directly under the roads. Do note, however, that the route through the chapters from 1 to 2 to 3, etc., isn’t necessarily linear; spurs and turns can lead you through the middle chapters in different ways, depending on the route you take.

City Inside Out Phase II: Stories
City Inside Out Phase II: Stories – LEA 20

The paths also provide a hint of narrative as well the the story boards located along them. As you walk through them they change from a trench-like cutting to what could be long-abandoned mine workings or the underground vital intestines that keep a city alive,  through to vast subterranean chambers suggestive of a city that has built over itself time and again, burying or hiding its past from view – just as we so easily can blot the homeless around us from our view.

This is a fascinating addition to what was already a brilliant installation, both in terms of the build and the stories it contains. It is also one in which you can play a role; Haveit is still accepting pieces on the subject of homelessness, and will add them to boards throughout the underground world as they are submitted. Simply send him your words via note card together with an IM notifying him you have sent something. Additions to the narrative will continue through until June 25th, and both phases of City Inside Out will remain open until June 30th.

If you haven’t already visited, I urge you to do so; and if you have been before, do make sure of a return visit and walk the underground paths.

City Inside Out
City Inside Out Phase II “Stories” – LEA 20

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Wine and Checkmate in Second Life

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Checkmate is the homestead region designed by Amae Moriarty which is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most breathtaking places in Second Life I’ve yet visited. I first came across it as a result of seeing Goizane Latzo’s photos on Bitacora Vajera about a week ago, and they promoted me to hop over and have a look – only to bump into Ziki Questi, who had  the same idea!

The region description sums the place up perfectly, “a rambling vineyard enveloped by a hazy sky. Wander through the grapes as they soak up the sun, producing the best vintage of pixel wine on the grid” – or to put it another way, a beautifully crafted island that offers visitors a lot to see and enjoy, with rich scenery and plenty of opportunities for photographs, and for cuddles and chats.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

The arrival point sits above the vineyards atop a plateau to the south, on one of a number of rocky uprisings – which, in difference to the rest of the region, is partially awash in a very local shower of rain, making a pond of the landing point. Fortunately, it’s only a short walk to get out of the rain, although which direction you take is up to you;  I’d suggest heading a little northwards, and up to the edge of the cliff and a commanding view over the vineyards in the valley below.

For those who wish to climb a little higher, a set of stone steps leads the way to an old Edwardian folly and a view out to sea past the lighthouse. however, to get down to the vineyards, one must follow the switchback path down the side of the cliffs to the valley below.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Here sit tidy rows of vines, heavy with lush red grapes ready for picking. Going on the scale of the operation, this looks to be a family operated business, specialising in reds. They clearly enjoy visitors – alongside the vines sits a square pergola where guests can sample the wine with cheese and meat slices while playing a memory game; further tastings can be had in the winery itself. A rounded pergola sitting amidst the vines suggests the folk here enjoy a good end-of-day dance and music, while in a small bay, protected by a beachy headland sits a dock and a Loonetta 31, ready for those days off and trips out into the opens waters.

Footpaths pass around the island, providing an easy means to explore, encompassing as they do the local house with its own beach. In fact, beaches are aplenty here, each of them nicely situated to offer those using them a degree of privacy one from another as they sit and chat. My favourite sits at the end of a path turning between the tall rocky cliffs, where an old garden atelier sits on the rocky edge of a beach, and which has been converted for comfortable uses and pastimes, such as painting.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

Throughout the region there are plenty of places to simply sit and relax, be it in a seafront cuddle space such as the atelier or the little cabin nestled under the cliffs, or sitting from a bough-hanging bench swing for two. For those who like to hike, the plateau to the  north-east offers a hot tub to make the wake even more worthwhile, the cosy fireplace in the old converted greenhouse nearby presenting a place for warm, after-tub chats in old, comforting armchairs, or the opportunity to catch-up on some reading.

Such is the delight and design of Checkmate, it seems that where ever you go whenever you visit, there is a new charm waiting to surprise you. For the romantics, for the explorers, for the photographers, the is a place that offers so much; so don’t be surprised if you find yourself tarrying a lot longer than you’d anticipated when paying a visit.

The Vineyard, Checkmate; Inara Pey, May 2015, on Flickr The Vineyard, Checkmate (Flickr)

And the wine? Most assuredly the best pixel vintage available on the grid!

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Second Life project updates 22/2; server and viewer

Obedience, LEA 1 - blog post
Obedience, LEA 1blog post

Server Deployments, Week 22 – Recap

The planned RC deployment scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th was rolled back as a result of a back-end issue. This currently leaves grid as a whole on the same server release.

Commenting on the roll-back at the Server Beta User Group (SBUG) meeting on Thursday, May 28th, Simon Linden said, “there was a minor issue but it was worth reverting; some internal tools weren’t running right and sending postcards was broken. [However] that code will likely be back next week, [as] I’ve already fixed the bug.”

These issues aren’t related to the region restart issues / caps failure people have noticed with some regions following a rolling restart, and as reported in my week 21/2 report, and which Simon indicates have yet to be looked into in-depth.

SL Viewer

Thursday, May 28th saw the Avatar Layer Limits viewer, version 3.7.29.301305, updated to the de facto release viewer. This viewer removed the limit of only being able to wear a maximum of 5 items per clothing layer (e.g. a maximum of 5 jackets and 5 shirts and 5 pants, etc), with a global limit of 60 layers which can be worn in any combination (e.g. you can wear 58 jacket layers, a tattoo layer and a pants layer if you wish).

This leaves two RCs in the release channel at present: the Avatar Attachment fixes RC (aka Project Big Bird and currently version 3.7.29.301943), and the Experience Keys viewer (currently version 3.8.0.300963, and which is awaiting the completion of back-end updates to the Experience Keys services). Both of these viewers will be updated to match the new release viewer, and it is anticipated that they will be joined by a new Snowstorm RC viewer in the near future (see below), which is currently awaiting some fixes prior to release.

General

Project news coming out of the Lab is a little light at the moment. This shouldn’t be taken to mean there isn’t a lot happening with Second Life. There are several projects that are in the pipeline – Viewer-Managed Marketplace and Experience Keys (/ Tools) being two that people are aware of.

The Lab don’t talk too much ahead of time as to what is going on, but it’s clear to see from Simon’s back-end work around avatar counts in regions, that there are various things which are being looked at. Again, we only recently had it confirmed that the Lab have, as a part of continuing work on improving the CDN services, shifted to another provider – and they are looking to move the delivery of more asset types to the CDN in the coming months.

In the meantime, we can expect to see more RC viewers appearing  – notably the next Snowstorm RC viewer with Avatar Complexity, and which should include STORM-2082, the ability to save and load graphics settings to assist with viewer performance, depending on the environment you’re in.

Jonathan Yap is working on the ability to various graphics settings in the official viewer, allowing users to quickly change between saved settings depending on their performance needs - this should be appearing in an upcoming Snowstorm contributions viewer (note the finished panel may not resemble the one shown left, above)
Jonathan Yap is working on the ability to various graphics settings in the official viewer, allowing users to quickly change between saved settings depending on their performance needs – this should be appearing in an upcoming Snowstorm contributions viewer (note the finished panel may not resemble the one shown left, above)

 

World Goth Fair in Second Life

Currently underway over the region of cursed in the 2015 Second Life World Goth Fair (WGF). The event started on May 15th, and will run through until midnight, SLT on Monday, June 1st.

Some 40 merchants from across Second Life are participating in the fair, which, in difference to previous years, is restricted to the one region this year – Cursed -, but which is still officially sanctioned by the organisers of  World Goth Day, which this year was marked on Friday May 22nd.

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

A further change to this year’s event is that it is not charity-oriented, and it currently appears as if future WGF events will go the same way. The reasons why the fair is both reduced to a single region and is no longer associated with a charity are explained in a blog post by co-organiser Bronxelf. However, and in short, the reasons can be summarised as a) the loss of one of the supporting regions for the event, and that trying to organise the fair in a very active second region has always been problematic; b) problems in dealing with the UK-based Sophie Lancaster Foundation have regretfully forced the WGF organisers to withdraw their support for the charity with this event. At this point in time, they are uncertain if ties with an alternative charity would not result in similar issues.

As is usual for WGF and events at Cursed in general, the fair is an extremely atmospheric event, with the fair this year taking place n an extended churchyard, with the crypts standing as stores, and the Church the main events centre, with mist floating over the ground, statues wreathed in shadows, bats winging overhead, and a pale moon hanging in the sky. There are even local zombies citizens. ready to gnaw on your leg or arm provide assistance, should you need it! 😉 .

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

The range of items on offer in the (literally) cryptic shops is obviously focused on the Goth lifestyle, with clothing, jewellery, accessories and furnishing all on offer as one follows the cobbled paths, with many of the crypts decorated by store owners to further enhance the atmosphere and theme of the event. A full list of participating stores and region map can be found on the WGF blog, which also provides updates on events and activities.

So, if you fancy getting your Goth on – hop on over to WGF at Cursed!

World Goth Fair 2015
World Goth Fair 2015

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