More ruins on the the rock


The new island layout. Like the previous island layout, only different :)
The new island layout. Like the previous island layout, but different 🙂

Back in May I wrote about the (then) latest changes on my little island home. At the time, I indicated that I was satisfied with the overall results, but couldn’t entirely rule out changing things again.

Well, guess what?

As a result of a recent project, I’ve ended up with an Inventory containing quite a few things I never expected to own, and which  – truth be told – are unlikely to see much use in the future. However, it seemed a shame that all of them should end up boxed away once more, consigned to the darkness of an inventory folder; and one in particular, the Fanatik Rocky Island, has been  nagging me.

The house sits rather nicely atop the Fanatik rock island, and the footpatth and other flat areas on the plateau mean I have room for garden paces and a nice walk either down to the moorings or to the ruins
The house sits rather nicely atop the Fanatik Rocky Island, and the footpath and other flat areas on the plateau mean I have room for garden spaces and a nice walk either down to the moorings or to the ruins

At 64×61 (ish) metres and 39.5 metes in overall height, this is a piece widely used around Second Life, both for shoreline scenes and inshore, which can blend easily with a landscape to present a dramatic plateau or rocky outcrop, complete with a path winding up one side. If I’m honest, the textures do suffer from being a tad blurry / stretched, but not enough to prevent its use. Fortuitously for me, width and length wise, it fitted into the north end of my parcel with only a little bit of resizing (although I admittedly also reduced the height so as not to completely terrify the neighbours into thinking I was building some Sekrit Island Lair 🙂 ).

The ruins are still there, complete with my pavilion and piano, all now on a slightly lower plateau. The ruins retain Kriss Lehmann’s Forest Tower, still one of my all-time favourite pieces of atmospheric architecture, as the main feature, the archway providing access down to the main quay, as before. I’ve also used Alex Bader’s excellent waterfall kit, to add,well, a waterfall, as hopefully a nice finish.

Couldn't resist adding a waterfall
Couldn’t resist adding a waterfall

I’ve fiddled a bit with the moorings as well, making them smaller, and reducing the number of things moored / parked there, so hopefully the neighbours now feel less like they’re living next door to some kind of air taxi service. There’s a second dock at the foot of the house plateau, but already that spot is nagging me to turn it into a beach; time will tell on that.

But sand and waves aside, am I happy now? Yup. Absolutely. That’s it. Done. Finished. time to relax and enjoy.

Well, for now 🙂 .


Santaurio’s summer draws to a close in Second Life

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

It was only supposed to be a summer 2014 setting, but Santaurio, Jac and Romy Mornington’s idyllic and mysterious island (originally sub-titled “The Lost Island”, in a nod to a certain television series), has endured for well over a year.

However, Jac and Romy have now announced that the region will finally be closing in a week or so, as they feel it is time move on to a new project. So, if you haven’t visited Santaurio so far, or haven’t been back in a while, now is the time to don your hiking boots, grab a hip flask of water and set out to do so, as the region is gain open to all for a land visit – no group membership required.

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

There have been a few changes since my first visit, back in April 2014; some subtle, and a nod to the passing of time, others a little more obvious and which present new little scenes that add more to any back story one cares to create for the island.

So it is, for example, that while the island’s signature crashed jet remains offshore, so the bodies within it have now gone (as has the scattered luggage on the beach), and over the passing of time seaweed has gathered around the wreck, no doubt sheltered by the ebb and flow of the tide by the ‘plane’s bulk. So to, interestingly, have some rocks grown up alongside the wreckage, providing a nice little sandy area on which the ever-patent stewardess now stands, ready to offer her greetings to visitors – well, it has to be better than a wet, slippery wing! 🙂 .

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

Just back from the beach facing the ‘plane, there had once been some strange ruins. These have since gone, replaced by a small encampment which indicates the downed jet isn’t the only aircraft to have wound up here: the wing of a light aircraft serves as a table, a propeller, presumably from the same ‘plane, propped alongside it. A radio set on another makeshift table suggests attempts to call for assistance…

Elsewhere, much that was familiar in the summer of 2014 remains: the beach club further along the coast from the crashed jet; the river winding inland to the secret little pools and hidden places, the numerous camps and places to sit and enjoy the scenery. Watch out or the entrances to what seems to be an old pirates’ hideaway; I don’t actually remember that from earlier visits – but it is entirely possible I missed it.

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

Santuario is another example of why I’ve always loved Jac and Romy’s builds; there is a wonderful attention to detail, with everything always finely tuned to flow together perfectly. Hence why they’ve tended to be covered a lot in these pages over the years – although admittedly, I’m so far behind in my travelogue visits at the moment that I have yet to make it to Bella Place – so expect to see that in these pages soon!

In the meantime, Santaurio still calls should you wish to visit – just don’t leave it much beyond the next week or so. And while it may well be going, I’m already anticipating whatever Jac and Romy have planned to replace it.

SLurl Details

Lab ends VAT charges on Premium subscriptions

secondlifeIn a further more to sweeten Premium memberships, Linden Lab has announced that with immediate effect, those Premium members who have traditionally have had to pay VAT on their membership subscriptions will no longer have to do so.

The announcement is coupled with a reduction in the Monthly billing plan for Premium from US $9.95 a month to US $9.50, and reads in full:

Being Premium comes with many perks, including a weekly L$ stipend, more privacy with a Linden Home, exclusive gifts and experiences, and now, live chat with the Concierge Support team at Linden Lab.

If you missed your chance to take advantage of our recent 50% off monthly Premium Membership offer – there’s no reason to worry! Now, we’re reducing the standard cost of a monthly Premium subscription to just $9.50 a month. Enjoy all the benefits of Premium Membership for less!

We will also no longer charge VAT for Premium subscriptions. If you live in a region where VAT applies, this means an effective savings in some countries of more than 20% below what you would have previously paid!

VAT payment were introduced by the Lab in 2007. At the time, there was a widespread  – and mistaken – belief that the Lab were having to pay VAT as a result of holding offices and European (notably Brighton, UK). Further misconceptions were voiced (and sometimes still are) about the Lab charging VAT “unnecessarily” on the grounds that they no longer have offices within Europe.

However, as Forbes noted in 2014 when changes were being made to the basic requirements, the EU has, since 2003, always levied VAT against the delivery of electronic services (which Second Life is) from non-EU countries, including the USA. The difference was that prior to 2007, the Lab opted to absorb the VAT charges rather than passing them on to their European customers – at last until things reached a point where it was no longer economically viable for them to do so.

With immediate effect, those Premium members previously liable for VAT on their subscriptions will not longer have the charge passed on to them by the Lab. In addition, the monthly billing plan for Premium is reduced to US $9.50 a month
With immediate effect, those Premium members previously liable for VAT on their subscriptions will not longer have the charge passed on to them by the Lab. In addition, the monthly billing plan for Premium is reduced to US $9.50 a month

With the announcement, it would appear that  – in part – the Lab is once again willing to absorb VAT charges, and in doing so, offer a very credible benefit for EU members who may have been put off upgrading to Premium as a result of the VAT surcharge.

Speaking as an EU resident, I’m more than happy to see my annual subscription reduced from US $84.00 to the standard US $72.00. Together with the perks and bonuses recently introduced – such as the move of Premium live chat support to the Concierge team, this is precisely the kind of creative thinking by the Lab which could go some way to making Premium membership more popular among some sections of the existing user base.

Alchemy 3.8.2 release: VMM and OpenSimulator support

Alchemy-logoOn Thursday, August 20th, the Alchemy team released version of their viewer in the first of their promised monthly updates.

This release brings the viewer to par with the Lab’s 3.8.2 code base – which means Viewer-Managed Marketplace support. Also, and interestingly, the windows version of the viewer is now built using Visual Studio 2015 (this will generate a VS2015 Redistributable  message as a part of the installation process as core elements required for the viewer to run are installed).

Also with this release  – and the Alchemy team are calling it a release, rather than a “beta”, as with recent updates – is support for up to 2 gigabytes of texture memory; improvements to the build floater and right-click context menu option; some tweaks to Preferences; and the arrival of OpenSimulator support as well.

So, as a quick look at the main updates.

Alchemy now has VMM support
Alchemy now has VMM support

The SL VMM support offers the expected Marketplace Listings panel, found under the Me menu.

I admittedly did not play with it extensively (i.e. I didn’t attempt to create an entirely new listing, as I don’t have anything not already listed via VMM), but everything did appear to be working quite happily while I poked at updating listings, etc.

In Preferences, the Sound and Media tab gets two new sub-tabs. The first of these is for media, and entitled Sounds; it also includes a toggle for enabling / disabling audio stream notifications.

The second sub-tab is called Voice, and does exactly what it says on the label: provides access to the Voice options.

A minor update to the Setup tab sees the Use Built-in Browser option re-labelled to be more generic in recognition of OpenSimulator support (“in-world” rather than “Second Life”).

A new tab in Preferences, called Grids, provides access to the viewer’s grid manager for adding OpenSimulator grid details, which can then appear on the log-in / splash screen grid selection. By default, both the SL main (Agni) and  beta (Aditi) grids are listed, and adding further grids is the usual case of adding the appropriate URI, with the Grid Manager set to recognise the more popular destinations.

Alchemy 3.8.2 brings with it OpenSimulator support
Alchemy 3.8.2 brings with it OpenSimulator support

In testing I found everything working as expected, and I had no issues adding Kitely and logging-in. In addition to the new grid options, the OpenSim updates also include both hypergrid support, and support for OpenSim variable regions.

The build tool updates come in two parts. The first is an expanded build sub-menu available from the right-click context menu, which now includes the various script-related options (recompile, reset, set running, etc). The second is the addition of a check box to the build floater itself to automatically synchronise settings (repeats, offsets, etc), between materials layers on an object / object face.

Alchemy 3.8.2 brings with it expanded build options in the right-click context menu, and the ability to synchronise materials on an object / object face
Alchemy 3.8.2 brings with it expanded build options in the right-click context menu, and the ability to synchronise materials on an object / object face

All told a tidy update in which the OpenSimulator support could be very welcome. As always, for full information on updates, any known issues, etc., please refer directly to the release notes.




Art in Hats set to return to Second Life

AinHArt in Hats will be returning to Second Life in November 2015, this year supporting the inaugural Team Diabetes of Second Life season in support of the American Diabetes Association.

Founded in 2013 by Quan Lavender, the initial event offered a means for SL couture designers and artists to present images of hats as statement of art, each with a story to tell.

In 2014, the event saw over 100 hats and their paired images displayed by designers and photographers, with donations made during the event (including a silent auction) going to support the work of Feed A Smile.

For 2015, the Art In Hats even will take place between November 4th and 14th, 2015 inclusive, with Emma Portilo taking on the lead as Top Hat Coordinator, supported by Chloe Seljan as Events Coordinator (particularly for European time zone events), and designer Kimmera Madison a Coordinator and builder, and Johannes1977 Resident as a Coordinator and managing entertainments which meet US time zones.

Art in Hats 2013
Art in Hats 2013

Applications to be a part of this year’s Art in Hats event are now open, and the team are looking for designers, artists, creators, bloggers, photographers and entertainers, as the official announcement notes:

If you are an artist, designer or creator of some sort and want to express yourself through hats, headpieces, attachments to the head of some sort (LOL) then this is certainly the event for you! Art in Hats marries art to fashion and brings about new amazing works! Enter now by using the Sign Me Up! link and completing an application!

Not a creator type? Do you blog or are you a great photographer? We’re also looking for you! Use the Sign Me Up! link to complete the appropriate application!

Art in Hats 2014
Art in Hats 2014

Do be aware that places are limited, so if you are interested in participating in, or supporting, this year’s event, you might be best served by applying sooner rather than later.

For further information and updates on the event, be sure to track the Art in Hats website.

Seeing A Bit of Red in Second Life

A Bit of Rd - MetaLES
A Bit of Red – MetaLES

Over the course of a century, Le FantĂ´me de l’OpĂ©ra’s  cloak has been thrown wide to encompass many retellings and adaptations in every medium – film, radio, stage, television and print – since Gaston Leroux first saw it serialised in the pages of Le Gaulois in 1909/10. Many of these adaptations, such as the 1943  film starring Claude Rains in the titular role, have themselves been folded back into the original story, adding to the legend.

And now, through until October 21st, that cloak has been thrown over MetaLES in the form of a tribute to the original story and some of its many interpretations, entitled A Bit of Red, by Kicca Igaly and Nessuno Myoo.

A Bit of Rd - MetaLES
A Bit of Red – MetaLES

Floating over the landing point on a series of large blocks (between which it is possible to fall if you’re not careful), lay key scenes from the story.  Most will be recognisable to those at least familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical production (and short notes, indicated by the presence of a rose or rose petal, help give context to each scene), although the influences do go back to the original tale, and reflect some of the other many adaptations.

Thus we have, for example, the motifs of the Phantom’s mask and the opera house itself (although sadly, not the great chandelier); there is a familiar great pipe organ, from which huge spherical notes  float, and there is a the ruin of a boat, and an iron grate through which one can drop to a tunnel below, all representative of the story; the last referencing the labyrinth of tunnels and cellars beneath the opera house and which play a key role in the tale. Finally, raised above the centre of everything, is a dais on which Erik, Le FantĂ´me and Christine stand, separated by a mirror, symbolically broken on one side, whole on the other.

A Bit of Rd - MetaLES
A Bit of Red – MetaLES

Alongside of these there elements rich in symbolism, such as the broken cage. In it we can see Erik’s desire to hold Christine as his own – captive, if needs be – and also his change of heart towards her in setting her free. It also, perhaps, symbolises his own heart held captive to her and destined only to be broken. Or if you prefer, there is an alter, reminding us on the one hand of Erik’s attempt to force Christine to marry him under the threat of destruction and the death of others, and on the other of her love for Raoul and her desire to be with him.

Then there is the memorial to Christine. It both serves as an affirmation of Erik’s promise to the Persian within the novel that he did indeed set both Christine and Raoul free, and as a reference to the  2004 Joel Schumacher film, carrying as it does Christine’s married title and her dates of birth and death.

A Bit of Rd - MetaLES
A Bit of Red – MetaLES

In all A Bit of Red has been carefully constructed and does present an interesting reflection on Leroux’s work and its various offspring. The intricate design the weaving of the key aspects of the tale into understandable vignettes is undeniable. Nevertheless, in exploring, reading and witnessing, I couldn’t help but feel I was merely that: an observer. I didn’t feel as involved in the installation as I had perhaps hoped on my arrival; the Phantom wasn’t there, inside my mind, so to speak. Perhaps he’ll be in yours.