CLSA: flying in Second Life at L$10 a plane

Flying over the home island in the CLS Aviation P2010

Whirly Fizzle pointed me in the direction of CLS Aviation on the Marketplace after owner CaithLynnSayes introduced an across-the-board price drop for all aircraft in this modest collection to just L$10 per vehicle – the catch being that the aircraft are now sold completely unsupported. As such, they make a bargain basement opportunity for those curious about SL flying to kick-start their exposure.

There are only nine aircraft in the CLSA range, and these form a mix of vintage and light aircraft. The models are built by Helijah Bailey and scripted by Reconx86, the scripts being based on those originally developed by Cubey Terra.

Both the P2010 (shown) and the P92 have acceptable default paint options (in theory changeable via the menu), and support custom finishes. Each features touch-to-open doors

I have previously flown the Firestorm limited edition of the CLSA Ryan Navion and found it acceptable, if not exceptional. For this test, I grabbed the “Tec-N” (aka Tecnam of Italy) P92 and the P2010 on the basis I haven’t got any high-wing monoplanes in my collection. Each aircraft is supplied with at least one variant of the plane itself (the P92 has a version with fixed wheel undercarriage, suffixed “T”, and a version with floats, suffixed “W”), a detailed manual, a quick start guide, a basic HUD, and a set of set of basic texture templates for creating custom paint finishes.

The flight system is the same for both aircraft, offering the usual control options: PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN for the throttle, UP / DOWN; arrow keys for pitching the nose down / up; the LEFT / RIGHT keys for banking (or WASD, if you use them). Other control surfaces (flaps, air brakes) are accessed via text. The HUD for each is fairly basic, and includes a button option for accessing the menu system (also accessible via chat command when sitting in the aircraft).

The P92-W(ater) version flying past a familiar (to this blog!) landmark

As with all CLSA aircraft, both models reflect their physical namesakes with reasonable accuracy. Each comes with a number of menu-accessible paint finishes, and slots within the menu for adding custom paint finishes (instructions for use in the user manual) – or that’s the theory. Both aircraft are also Shergood Aviation N-Number Registration compatible, meaning that when first rezzed, it will have a unique N (United States) registration number, which is also registered at the Shergood Aviation Aircraft Database.

Handling-wise I found the P92 and P2010 acceptable, although the P92 suffered the same issue I had with the CLSA Ryan Navion: banking tends to be flat, with the first part feeling like the aircraft is slewing into a turn. The P2010 felt a lot more responsive by comparison, rolling rather tightly in turns, but having the feel of a small, well-powered aircraft, and was definitely a lot more fun to fly. Airspeed is measured in metres per second, and it’s advisable to read the manual to get things like rotation and stall speeds fixed in your head.

The P92 float and wheeled variants, showing off two of the supplied pain finishes

I did have some issues with each plane – the aforementioned lack of initial banking when turning the P92, for example, together with a visual niggle that the main struts supporting the floats don’t actually meet the fuselage. There’s also no means to retract the wheels on the floats, giving the ‘plane an odd look when landing on water with wheels extended before and under the floats. As with the Ryan Navion, both the P92 and the P2010 will happily land on Linden water, taxi on it and take-off again, even when sans floats – which is a trifle odd, and possibly part of their Cubey Terra scripted heritage – as I noted in my review of the Ryan Navion, there is a degree of similarity in the handling of the Navion / P92 and Cubey’s Stingray in particular. However, these are relatively minor niggles.

A more annoying issue lies with the P2010. For me, this repeatedly gave a scripted texture call error when first sitting in the aircraft and on making region crossings, becoming quite the distraction at times. The menu option to access the paint controls was also non-functional, even after a full reset of scripts. However, I don’t believe the latter prevents the manual application of textures, if handled with care.

All CLSA aircraft seem to share the common trait of being able to operate on Linden water, regardless of whether they have floats! This is the P2010 “parked” on Blake Sea following a successful landing

If I’m totally honest, a CLSA ‘plane is unlikely to become a favourite with me; I’m simply too attached to my DSA aircraft (although the camera management on CLSA planes during regions crossings is admittedly far better than DSA). However, even allowing for the issues and niggles mentioned above, at L$10 per ‘plane, they really cannot be sneezed at for those wishing to join the world of SL aviation flying a fairly reasonable aircraft with a decent flight control system, and are a far better introduction to SL flying than many of the low-cost / freebie alternatives to be found on the MP.

Additional Links

CLS Aviation on the Marketplace

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Isla Pey: all change

The Maven Eco IV, with mods, and part of the updated island

So, yeah. Last time I wrote about the pet project of Isla Pey, I passed comment that unless it went through a major make-over, it likely would not be changing too much. Well, guess what? We’ve just had a major make-over 😀 . It wasn’t intentional; we happened to visit Cerys’ magnificent Collins Land (see here), which got me reconsidering island designs; then I discovered the Maven Homes Eco IV house (available in either unfurnished or furnished variations), which became a “must have”.

The House particularly caught my eye for a number of reasons. The unfurnished variant offers  very flexible living space (a large open plan front area which can be easily made into two rooms and a separate room to the rear, alongside of a comfortably sized wooden deck) neatly fitted into a 25m by 27m footprint and 99 Land Impact. However, the attraction for me is the soft echo of Frank Lloyd Wright in the design and styling: the cool stone walls, the pseudo cantilever angling of the roofs, the use of glass. All of these made it pretty irresistible. So really, I had no option but the consign the cottage and ruins design to a rezzing system and start over…

The Maven Eco IV with Trompe Loeil Keliana pool (left foreground) and steps down the cliff to the boat moorings

Of the two variants of the Eco IV, I opted for the unfurnished since furniture is something we’re hardly lacking. As noted, the large space to the front of the house offers two open plan room spaces, either side of the front door. I borrowed an idea from Leaf and Birdy Moone, adding some low-level stone “room dividers” to further break up the space, putting a lounge on one side and a study / music / cosy on the other.

There are one or two things about the Eco (as with any house design) which didn’t quite suit our preferences. The Eco’s fireplace, for example came across as a little too modern, while the lighting in part comprises fluorescent style strip lights which frankly aren’t that attractive. The old cottage came to the rescue here, providing me with both a replace fireplace and chimney, and a pair of suspended candle lights. The former did require a retexturing of all of the stone walls in the house to blend the chimney into the design, while the later required a little script tinkering and lighting prim placement to both get the candles to work with the built-in house controls and give a decent lighting effect both above and below, but none of this was in any way onerous work.

The modified day space in the Eco IV: the fireplace, dividing walls, ceiling fan and lighting candles are all additions to the basic house, and the stonework is not the original texturing

The use of several large base sections in the house makes it relatively easy to add to the structure and avoid bumping the LI too much. In this case, I added the fireplace, room dividers, additional lighting, rugs, carpets, wall hangings, paintings, photos, and ornaments totalling 38 LI individually for just an additional 14 LI on the house. Controls for the house a pretty good as well. The main panel includes a security /access system, controls for the lights (which can be set to turn on / off at region dusk / dawn and have a colour options), door controls (including setting them to auto-open) and a window opacity / tinting system.

Of course, a new house required a re-working of the island as a whole, and I opted for the Fantik Lofoten Summer rock kit for this, as it offered the best flexibility for the look I wanted to achieve. There are nine basic rock formations in the kit, all with physics. This can limit resizing opportunities due to increased LI; however, if you have rocks you won’t be walking on directly, use the old trick of flicking the physics over from Prim to Convex Hull (Build / Edit floater > Features tab), and you’ll find they are a lot more friendly to resizing.

Looking down on the new house. The chimney actually came from the “old” cottage, with a retexturing of the stone on it and the house to blend the two together. Some of the wood and cement beams on the house have also been tinted to darken them

Those who have used this kit will know just how flexible it is, and it allowed me to easily design the new island around the house and a new water feature of two rocky pools linked by a series of small falls (courtesy of Alex Bader’s Waterfall kit) stepping their way down the rocks, together with a final fall to the sea (with a sluice to prevent the ducks, geese and fishes from being swept away! Kriss Lehmann’s excellent Botanical Edge Brick Park Path kit came out of retirement to provide the paths and steps winding down the rocks, including down the the new boat moorings below the back of the house.

The southern end of the island has been a little truncated – we really didn’t need all the space – and redesigned using elements from the Fanatik kit. Some of the old castle ruins have been retained here – not about to get rid of them entirely! This provides a nice home for our MSD Dragon Garden and offers a shaded little seating spot, while the Trompe Loeil Outcrop Hut is also retained from the last design, giving us a place to watch the boat races go by.

The view from the front of the house looking south over the pond and water to the old ruins

So, that’s what’s been keeping me occupied for the last couple of days, and one (among several) of the reasons the blogging output has slowed of late. But as we’re both happy with the result, I’d say the effort has been worth it 🙂 .

If you’re interested in seeing Eco IV in-world, you can fint it at Cain Maven’s main store.

New blog layout – poll results and thoughts

Contemplating the blog layout…

On June 2nd, I blogged about this blogs new layout and asked for feedback directly or via a poll. As a week has now passed, I thought it time to provide an update on things.

The new layout is not without its problems (notably the banner image on every page), and some had issues I couldn’t easily replicate. My thanks to Richard, Sue W and JMB in particular for their feedback on specific issues, all of which helped me further tweak things – hopefully for the better.

Overall, of those who responded to the poll, most seemed in favour of the changes and the layout, and I’m growing accustomed to it. As such, it will be remaining for a the time being, so I’m not annoying everyone with what feels like a changing look and feel.

However, I’m still looking at options to get something which offers a similar level of functionality and allows plenty of room for images to appear in a decent size, but without having the huge banner image appear on individual articles and pages.

Sadly, while there are a fair few WordPress themes which avid the big banner on individual pages and offer things like a scrolling menu bar, etc., they tend to do so at the expense of text & images, which often get squeezed by an inordinate amount of left-side white space. So, I’ll keep looking.

In the meantime, thanks again to all who responded, be it with comments and / or via the poll.

Giving the blog a face-lift

The new banner – displayed on opening the blog, with latest posts displayed below it

It’s a bit hard to miss, but yes, I’ve made a change to the theme underpinning this blog. It’s by no means a permanent change – that depends on the feedback I get. However, there are a number of reasons why I wanted to change things a little, so I’m hoping readers will prefer the new layout.

  • A lot of effort has gone into the menu system, but it was always a pain to use with the “old” layout, as it was locked to the top of a page – scroll down too far and it would vanish off the top of the browser tab
  • Some readers stated they found the old layout difficult to follow, with the sidebar on the right seeming to “run into” the body text
  • It didn’t loan itself to viewing on mobile devices that well
  • I wanted to tweak the text a little and (hopefully) make it easier on the eye.

As the changes are template-based, it is possible some pages / images in this blog have gone a little sideways in places. I’m working through everything to double-check (unfortunately, the preview option in WordPress doesn’t entirely match the actual page layout, so I could only start checking things once I’d made the change to the new format. Ho hum). Please make allowances if you come across something that looks awkwardly formatted on a page in the meantime 🙂 .

The thing I’m hoping will prove most useful is the menu, which will now following you down a page as you scroll. Given I’ve put a fair amount of time in trying to categorise and track articles and pages in the blog via the menu, this will hopefully make it far more reader-friendly than has been the case in the past.

The menu bar should now move down / up the page as you scroll through this blog

I’ve also revised the default body and headings text font – again, my hope is this improves readability and comfort when browsing. Unfortunately, one thing WordPress won’t let me change is the use of block caps for headings; this is locked into a CSS I can’t access, but I how the use of caps in titles and headings isn’t overpowering.

Finally, this theme had a better set of style sheets for mobile devices. I’ve no idea how many people read this blog from the tablet, etc, but (with the possible exception of the menu, which is a bit “ugh!” on tablets, etc.), it should make for easier reading if you do.

As with the last major restructure to this blog – in 2012, can you believe?!), I’m offering a little feedback poll for those interested in letting me know quick thoughts on the layout

Poll closed – see the update here.