I’ve been Eclipsed!

Eclipse Magazine May 2019 cover

In April 2019, I was approached by Trouble Dethly, the owner / publisher of Eclipse magazine with a request that caught me off-guard: would I like to be the cover feature in the May 2019 issue of the magazine.

I say “taken aback” because the request came out of the blue and also because the cover features in Eclipse are intended to “showcase … a group or resident that has taken the Second Life concept of “‘your world, your imagination’ to such extraordinary heights that it has greatly impacted the culture and lifestyle of this virtual community.” Leaving both false modesty and ego firmly locked in a biscuit tin hidden under the floorboards of my mind, I really don’t see myself fitting this description.

However, after discussing things with Trouble a little more, I opted to go ahead, and the May issue came out (for me, being in the UK) in the “wee  small hours of the morning” (so to speak) of Thursday, May 23rd, 2019.

Within it is a celebratory article on the team behind FaMESHed, as they mark their seventh anniversary – a piece that makes superb reading; a tour of featured Linden Homes in Bellisseria; a perspective on Moki Yuitza’s Into The Net (which I also examined at the start of the month) and a host of regular columns covering home and garden décor, photography, fiction, places in SL to visit and readers’ own stories. All of which adds up to a cornucopia of interest quite outside of yours truly.

In closing, I’d like to offer my thanks to Trouble for both the invitation to be featured in the magazine and for encouraging me to do so, to Cajsa Lilliehook for the interview and turning a veritable wall of textual ramblings from me into something coherent, and especially to Lessthen Zero for the time she took in photographing me – I genuinely loathe having my photo (real or virtual) being taken, and Lez did so much to put me at ease and produced some truly amazing (and flattering!) shots, and the unnamed photographer who toured some of my favourite SL locations to take additional photos for inclusion in the piece.

You can catch all issues of Eclipse on-line, with the May edition available directly here: https://issuu.com/eclipsemagazinesl/docs/eclipse_magazine_may_2019.



More houseboat decorating in Second Life

Trying on the Barnacle houseboat for size…

It’s now just over a month since I snagged my Linden Home houseboat shortly after the new Linden Homes continent was officially launched (see: Lab launches new Linden Homes). I initially settled on the Windlass houseboat design to turn into a second home (see Making a (Linden) houseboat a home), but this week, because I like fiddling with things, I decided to try out some of the other designs, starting with the Barnacle.

This is the only design in the initial batch of houseboats that has an actually room upstairs, giving it an interesting differentiator to the other three designs, and gives it a little extra floor space. This makes it an excellent choice for developing a cosy home design, hence my interest in it.

An element from Blush Bravin’s Party Pack for the Barnacle makes a great wall divider when creating a cosy lounge area, thw warmth increased by the Lab’s sunflower interior wall colour.

Another aspect in my decision to play the the Barnacle was Blush Bravin’s Party Boat add-on for the Barnacle. This is one of a number of kits Blush has produced specifically for the new Linden Homes, all of which are available via her SL Marketplace store, and on the strength of the Barnacle kit, I’d say they are well worth the minimal investment of L$250.

For the Barnacle, the kit includes a range of items: internal room dividers, décor highlights, and external elements, such as a trellis for the upper deck and a porch for the front door, and a small room (bathroom?) that tucks into one side of the main floor. Everything is supplied in a rezzing system (which admittedly can require careful placement to avoid fiddling with bits post-deploy).

A snug living room

A HUD is also supplied for applying textures, although this didn’t want to work for me, so I relied on manual texturing. This wasn’t a problem as for my purposes, I only really required the room dividers and the brick wall panel from the main deck interior. One of these, with ceiling-height wooden slats, I combined with a humble prim to make a room divider to split the lower deck in two, giving me a lounge area and kitchen / dining space. The brick panel and smaller divider, became a breakfast bar for the kitchen.

I don’t usually go in for kitchens in SL houses (we don’t actually eat in SL after all), but there are some nice low LI mesh kitchen sets available, and I wanted to give the houseboat a homely feel so I picked up a nice kitchen and additional elements from [DDD] ~ Dysfunctionality: the wine rack, Christine fireplace, Heph’s Kitchen Counter, and Captain’s Lanterns, which together with my existing items from Cory Edo’s Trompe Loeil and a few other pieces from assorted sources allowed me to create the kind of look I wanted.

I don’t usually go in for kitchens and bit, but these houseboats call for them at times

Given there are four variations available with each house type which can be swapped with a simple set of clicks, swapping between them has already proven popular. Providing the fixtures and fittings used are both Copy and Modify, a rezzing tool such as Builder’s Buddy or those available on the Marketplace, makes the storing and placement of interiors for each style of house an additional breeze when swapping back and forth.

Just set your décor and layout items (piers, garden furnishings, etc.), use the rezzing system to record and store the pieces, make sure you also record the position of the rezzer (I use the Description field in the Edit floater), and – providing you don’t move to another parcel – you can swap between house styles and interiors in less than 5 minutes.

There’s even room for one of my beloved pianos – my Culprit Sonata Baby Grand. The small step between the two living spaces is to help break things up a little

The above is probably a case of preaching to the converted for some, but is does make swapping between house designs and layouts and lot more fun – and obviously, there’s no reason why you can’t have multiple layouts for any given house / houseboat type.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I might go and have a play with the Wallower houseboat 🙂 .

Finding rez zones in Bellisseria – Yasmin’s free HUD

Out and about in Bellisseria on my Piaggio SG33E Roadrunner scooter (reviewed here), thanks to the rez zones and Yasmin’s HUD

On April 24th, I blogged about the arrival of the Coral Waters airstrip off the west coast of Bellisseria, the Linden Homes continent (see Bellisseria gains a coastal airstrip in Second Life), which was also marked by the arrival of official rezzing zones both on land and around the coast of the continent.

Yasmin’s Bellisseria rez zone HUD

However, with reference to the offical rez points, being aware they are around is one thing, trying to find the nearest to you can be another – a list of regions is great, if you happen to know where each region is in the overall map. Of course, if you bookmark the list (or maintain your own list of rez point URLs on a web page), you can always use your browser to find one and hop to it.  However, Having them available on a HUD would make things so much easier.

Well, that’s exactly what friend and fellow aviator  / sailor Yasmin (YouAintSeenMe) has done: created a map HUD of clickable rez points across Bellisseria, including those at the Coral Waters airstrip.

Displayed on the Centre HUD attach point by default (obviously, it can be repositioned), the HUD displays a map of Bellisseria with all of the current rez zones (as of April 29th, 2019) displayed as blue dots on it. Clicking on any of the dots will open the World map focused on the coordinates of the rez zone, allowing you to easily teleport to it.

Its simple but effective, I’m looking forward to having to update it with new map 🙂 . Wear as a HUD, or can be rezzed in-world for use on a signpost (or whatever).

– Yasmin, discussing her Bellisseria rez zone HUD

Available free of charge through Yasmin’s Marketplace store, I can vouch for the HUD, which is now a part of my inventory – although I have made one small change.

In order to be legible, the HUD does take up a fair amount of screen real estate – which isn’t a problem, if you’re using it as a quick on / off reference (as intended by Yasmin). But, me being awkward, decided having it always available while wandering Bellisseria would be easier.

So, as the HUD is modify, it was simple enough to add a scripted root tab prim to it, then drop in a script. When the tab is clicked, the HUD now slides “on” and “off” my screen from the right side. It’s not a vital requirement, but it makes for a quick way to pull out the map (when attached) whilst exploring Bellisseria should I need a rez point 🙂 .

While the HUD can be easily attached / detached when needed, I opted to mod it to have it slide on / off-screen from the right when needed

The map is simple and elegant. Whether worn as a HUD or placed on your land as a signpost for people to use, it is a definite boon to those who like exploring new locations – or who may lose a vehicle whilst motoring / sailing / flying around the new continent – so a big thank you to Yasmin for producing it.

Marketplace Link

The Teegle Animesh horse

Teegle Animesh horse

At the start of April 2019 I reviewed the Water Horse Animesh horse – a horse that, unlike Bento horses, is not limited to having to be worn in order to be ridden – as it has its own skeleton, completely independent of an avatar, an Animesh horse can also be rezzed in-world, where it can wander, or ridden in the style of a vehicle, making it perfect for use both when riding, or as region décor.

However, the Water Horse model isn’t the only Animesh horse. Teegle, for example, are currently developing their own horse, which is currently in public beta – and in the interests of comparing the two, I recently picked one up and took it for a test drive. Err, ride.

Currently, the Teegle horse comes in two styles: a paint and a Hanoverian. The former might be seen as more suited to an American style of riding, and the later leaning towards more European riding, but the fact is that as both horses are supplied sans tack, you’re free to decide which you’d like, and then choose your preferred style of tack, or even swap riding tack depending on your mood.

The horse is supplied at two price points, which at the time of writing were: L$1,500 for the No Copy version, and L$6,000 for the copy version (allowing you to rez as many as you like). Again, note that these prices are purely for the horse, no riding tack is included; you can however ride them bareback. Tack will cost an additional L$750 from Teegle, although there are other suppliers. Other points worthy of note with the horses at both price points are functionally identical, and:

  • You can set them to be ridden by yourself or, when rezzed in-world, by others.
  • When rezzed in-world each horse can carry a rider and up to two passengers.
  • The basic LI for a Teegle horse is 28LI. With riding tackle attached, this rises to 35 LI.
  • The no Copy version come with a guarantee of automatic replacement if lost as a result of a bad region crossing, or broken as a result of incorrect editing. Replacements are delivered via the horse management HUD.
  • Horses can be individually renamed.
  • Retexturing is possible, but requires the purchase of texture packs at L$450, which include skin, mane and eye colour options.
  • The wander option when horse is rezzed in-world, does not require Pathfinding to be enabled within a region.

The HUDs

Two HUDs – both of which are still under development at the time of writing – are supplied with each Teegle Animesh horse.

  • A Management HUD, which:
    • Allows the horse’s gender to be set.
    • Includes a button that provides a chat link to a dedicated web page listing all Teegle pets you may have purchased. The last grind location the animal was recorded as being at, together with the date and time, is listed, allowing you to relocate a “lost” horse. A redeliver option is also provided here as well.
  • A riding HUD, which provides:
    • 4 different click-selectable riding speeds: walk, trot, canter, gallop. Riders can also move between these by tapping the UP arrow key (or W if WASD is set for avatar motion and the horse is being worn).
    • 4 horse animations: spook, (horse jumps sideways nervously and looks around); buck, rear, and reward (rider leans forward and pats the horse).
    • An autowalk function: set the horse walking in a straight line. The rider can look around, take snapshots, etc., or simply steer.
    • Follow (rezzed horse only): the horse will automatically follow the named avatar.
    • Lead (rezzed horse only): lead the horse via the halter when walking.
The Teegle riding HUD. Note the Lead / Follow options are only available when the horse is rezzed in-world

Riding the Horse

Before riding the horse, make sure any AO you have (scripted or client) is turned off to avoid any conflicts. Then either:

  • Add it to your avatar from inventory as a worn attachment.
  • Mouseover the horse in-world, right-click and select Ride.

The first option will add the horse to you, with you in the saddle (if attached to the horse); the second will place you in the saddle (if attached) of a rezzed horse. Note that if worn, you’ll need to the manually attach the riding HUD; if the horse is mounted while rezzed in-world, you’ll be asked if you’d like to accept the HUD, which then attaches automatically (note this is a slightly different HUD to the one in your inventory, as it includes the Lead and Follow options for the rezzed horse).

Movement is via the usual WASD / Arrow keys, with W / Up for forward motion, with double-taps advancing through the four speed options. Tapping the Down keys while moving forward will step back down through the riding speeds. When riding the horse from rezzed, the Down arrow will play a nice backwards walking animation.

Camera-wise, riding the horse from rezzed fixes the camera in a good position above and behind the horse, regardless of any camera offsets you may have set (not something seen with the Water Horse Animesh horse). Riding the horse from worn may leave the camera awkwardly positioned if you use custom camera offsets, the mousewheel and CTRL-Mousewheel generally fix this.

You can lead a Teegle Animesh horse to water…

Passenger Riding

Passengers can ride with you simply by clicking the horse. The rider can then select who “drives” the horse via a left-click to display the menu, and then the Driver option (rider 1= the avatar in the saddle; rider 2 = the passenger directly behind the rider; rider 3 = rearmost passenger). Who has the reins is indicated via local chat. The same menu option is used to take back control.

Riding Permissions

Who can directly ride a Teegle Animesh horse when rezzed in-world is also set via the menu: left-click the horse, then Settings > Driver Perm. At the time of writing, the options were limited to Private (owner only) and Public (anyone), but I understand more granular options will be added.

Other Capabilities  / Options

… and you can have it swim!

As the Teegle Animesh horse is still in development, it is hard to say what else might be included. However, some of the current additional capabilities include:

  • Linden Water swim option: the left-click menu offers a Settings option to have the horse swim in deep enough Linden water, complete with a companion swimming animation for the rider (but not passengers).
  • Flying option: you can set the horse to fly or disable flying (so no accidents when trying to jump an obstacle).
  • Motion function: set the horse to physical (default), so it will respond to objects around it (useful for racing, when wandering in  paddock, etc), or non-physical (useful for things like dressage).
  • Set wander distance via chat.
  • Rename function: Teegle horses can all be given their own name.

Adding Tack and Other Options

Riding tack by Teegle is easy to attach to the horse:

  • Rez both horse and tack in world.
  • With neither selected, right-click on the tack and selected edit.
  • Press and hold the SHIFT key and then left-click on the horse to additionally select it.
  • Click the Link button in the edit floater (arrowed, below).
  • The tack will correctly orient itself and attach to the horse, as seen in the inset image, below.
Adding options such as riding tack – use the Link option in the Edit menu (arrowed)

To remove an attached item (e.g the saddle or entire riding tack):

  • Rez your horse in-world.
  • Left-click the horse for the menu.
  • Click Unlink to display the Unlink menu.
  • Use the numbered buttons to unlink the required items.
  • Move your horse away from the unlinked objects and then delete them.
Removing items – use the Unlink option in the horse’s menu

Continue reading “The Teegle Animesh horse”

Making a (Linden) houseboat a home

The landscaping within the region offers communal areas to encourage people mix – such as the beach alongside the houseboats in the group where mine is located

As I reported that the time, Linden Lab launched their new Linden Homes on Monday, April 15th (see: Lab launches new Linden Homes), and according to reports I’ve received, they are proving very popular, with the first allocation of houseboats in particular running out.

So what are these new units like as a potential home? Well, pretty bloody good, actually. While I can’t speak for the town house designs, the houseboat styles offer good variation between them in terms of looks and space, and many of the parcels offer a fair about of flexibility for boat / seaplane moorings.

My Windlass boathouse with additions – fireplace flue, two sets of exterior stairs, moorings, etc., and (inset) how the default Windlass looks

While it is pot luck on the parcel you are allocated (and remember, you can abandon and re-try), I was pretty lucky on my first attempt: a parcel on one of the outer sandbars of Bellisseria, offering a nice view over the strait to the continent on one side, and a public beach and open sea on the other. The houseboat also sits with a beam-to-land orientation, leaving me with a body of water on the parcel that has a good breadth and depth, and avoids feeling quite so hemmed-in by the houseboats on either side.

With a land capacity of 351, there is a lot that can be done with these parcels in terms of decorating and (in the case of the houseboats) plonking down a boat or two (or three) or some boat / floatplane combination. For my part, I felt the Windlass houseboat offered the most flexibility for internal space (I particularly liked the fact the little nook under the stairs to the roof suggested itself as a good place for a fireplace).

The interior space (shown empty in the inset) offers plenty of flexibility: room for a raised bedroom and lower lounge (or vice-versa)

Another aspect of this design I like is the split level nature of the living space, which naturally lends itself to various options. With a little custom work, it’s easy to produce a railing system that nicely separates the two halves of the living space, or even add full internal walls, depending on your preference.

Décor-wise, the interior and exterior walls, floors, etc., can be “repainted” via the house control panel. For this Windlass, this can lead to an interesting half-and-half look which breaks up the colour scheme. Additional textures can be obtained from the house / houseboat selector, so any elements you add can easily be blended in.

Another view of the interior, showing the fireplace tucked under the stairway

For me, the only issue with my Windlass is that the door is on the landward side of the house, and the shape of the parcel meant a trek around the houseboat and along the public piers the set between the parcels. However, the design is such that it was pretty easy for me to add more direct access by dropping in my own piers for mooring, and adding a couple of stairways: one up to the houseboat’s “balcony”and thence inside, and the other to the roof.

Given there is a total 351 LI to play with, adding details like this doesn’t mean you’re “eating prims”; but if you are worried about counts, remember that if you build yourself, a considered use of prim and mesh and Convex Hull accounting can help reduce LI cost. The stairs, railings, room divider and moorings (and lighting) I added, for example, weigh-in at just 30 LI combined (I used Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Brick Path kit with a little bit of re-texturing for the moorings, simply because I had it to hand and linking works will with Convex Hull physics. The stairs came from Jed888, and are full perm).

The windless offers options for adding steep to reach moorings, if required, while the other houseboat designs offer water access from their decks, albeit with smaller interior spaces

As noted, the land capacity is more than sufficient to allow a boat or two (or more) to be rezzed. However, me being me, “one or two” is never enough given I change out ‘plane and or boat more times than I change my outfits :). So, I had to install a rezzer so I can pick and chose which boats / planes are rezzed with ease and without the need to drag, drop and position from inventory. It also means I can easily clear space friends to be able to moor when visiting. (For more on this see: Adding a little vehicle space with a rezzing system.)

Adding to my original post on the new Linden Homes, everything has been pretty well-considered. The houseboats and houses offer plenty of scope, the region offers a lot of general interest to see when exploring (with more to be added inland, as it is expanded in the  future) and it’s good to see the public areas include interactive elements to make them more interesting.

Potentially, my only critiques are in two areas: there should be more rez points for vehicles. There’s plenty to see when exploring by road / water, but the limited number of rez points tends to put people off taking a break and having a look around. There are certainly places where one might expect rez points – such as the little boathouses around the coast.

I’m actually surprised the little boathouses scattered around the coastline done offer rezzing points

Rez points are also helpful when region crossings go wrong, so having more (even just the road sign style on mainland highways for road vehicles) would be useful. My other critique is that a region of this size really should have a small airstrip or two, again with rez zones. A couple of grass strips suitable for small aircraft to get in and out of would add further depth to Bellisseria, both for people living there and for curious visitors who would like to fly in and take a look.

But the key question is, does my new Linden Home make me want to abandon my existing private island home? Well, truthfully: not yet; but that is only because things are still new, and I want to see how neighbourhood develop and communities grow. In the future, it may well be that a swap back to living in a Linden Home might well be on the cards.

I’ll let you know!

Footnote: When drafting this article on Tuesday, April 16th, I did actually gripe about the allowance of parcel banning / banlines within Bellisseria. This had already started impacting activities on and over the continent (try landing a ‘plane on water when your only option is to approach a channel over the tops of houseboats and then run slap into banlines …), and there were complaints at things like the LL Governance User GRoup on the matter. With my gripe, I mused on why LL hadn’t supplied a simple / regulated security system for the new homes, and disabled the use of parcel banning at estate level. However, as per a forum post by Constantine Linden, it turns out this is precisely what the Lab is doing in response to the general level of disappointment raised over the issue. So, kudos to the Lab for responding so positively and quickly! (And my thanks to Duckie Dickins for pointing out the forum post as we were discussing things!)

Celebrating SL Women 2019

Celebrating SL Women 2019

In 2018, as a means of celebrating International Women’s Day, Kyoko (Samara Barzane) and Brooke Brandenburg of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS), established a means of honouring women in SL who have contributed to “making SL a better place through their contributions.”

We wanted to do something a bit more than just a celebration so we came up with the idea of honouring ten Second Life women. And that’s what we are doing. Last year was a roaring success. So here we are again!

– Kyoko describing the Celebrating SL Women event

Nominations for come from a mix of names submitted by the event organisers and their assistants, CDS residents and – for this year, suggestions from the 2018 awardees. Names are then filtered down on the basis of some basic criteria, including the fact that the final list must comprise women who are still active in Second Life, until 10 honourees were agreed upon.

For 2018, those honoured were Treacle Darlandes, Sudane Erato, Rosie Gray, Kikuyu Kikutsuru, Nuala Marcus, Marianne McCann, Caryl Meredith, Bryn Oh, Strawberry Singh and Robin Sojourner Wood.

2019 Honourees

On Saturday, March 23rd, between 12:00 noon and 14:00 SLT, a special event will be held at the Gallery Barzane recognising this years honourees. they are:

  • Callipygian Christensen, an active member of the CDS community, an artist and DJ.
  • Laetizia Coronet: historian, aviator, photographer, modeller, and storyteller through her Flickr pages and her SL profile.
  • Gentle Heron, a founder and volunteer of the Virtual Ability community in Second Life, and mentor to users with disabilities.
  • Delia Lake, CDS resident, landscaper, educator and published author.
  • Leondra Larsson, teacher, mentor, and advocate for people with disabilities, work now works with Guardian At Litum as an advocate for children in dire circumstances.
  • Theresa Linden, Concierge in Second Life Customer Support.
  • Gabrielle Riel, community builder and founder of Radio Riel.
  • Elizabeth Tinsley, executive director of Fantasy Faire.
  • Imajika Wirefly, Director of Events for Survivors of Suicide.

It is my sincere privilege to say that the tenth person selected to be honoured in 2019 is myself.

2019 Honourees

I’m honoured to be included among such a diverse and richly talented group, and would like to pass on my genuine thanks to the  residents of CDS, and to this year’s organisers, Kyoko and Emilia Avindar for considering and selecting me.

I look forward to seeing and meeting my fellow honourees at the reception on March 23rd, between 12:00 noon and 14:00 SLT, and I hope those of you who can will join us at Gallery Barzane.

About the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS)

Currently comprising six regions, the Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS) is the oldest, continuously-running democratic estate in Second Life.Loose themed on Germanic, Alpine, Tuscan, or Mediterranean styles, the regions present an all-encompassing government based on citizen participation, with elections to the Representative Assembly held each six months, and the work of the Representative Assembly supported in its work by a Scientific Council.  This governing structure is not role play, as might appear to be the case: it is more a residents co-op, not unlike the way apartment buildings are managed in real life, where every landowner is a “citizen” and is granted the right to vote and be elected to manage the overall space.

Among the goals for this project are: to enable ownership of high-quality public, private, and open-space land; create a themed yet expressive community of public and private builds; and implement novel democratic forms of self-government within Second Life.