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In an attempt to move myself into the present decade, I'm now over on WordPress at kateamdahl.wordpress.com. See you there!

The party has been moved over to WordPress!

In an attempt to move myself into the present decade, I'm now over on WordPress at kateamdahl.wordpress.com. See you there!

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I'm going to pass up something that sounds delightful, but I thought I should mention it in case you would like to take it up. It's called the Luxe Box.

Lately, I've been trying something new and completely different in Second Life: I'm trying to only buy things I know I'm going to use. Believe me, it's a departure! But getting a Maitreya Lara body (which was unexpectedly delightful, even though it was labor-intensive) caused me to decide to start my wardrobe over from scratch, putting aside most of my existing outfits.

That put me in a different situation than I had ever been in before. When I first joined Second Life, I was careful about what I bought, but I didn't have nearly the wardrobe I wanted. Later I bought things right and left, and some worked out wonderfully, while others I never wore because they didn't look good on me, or worse, they did look good, but I forgot about them!

What I've been doing in recent weeks is getting demos of almost everything I wear. Buying only Maitreya-compatible clothes takes care of most of the fit issues, too, so there's very little I've bought that didn't work out. I've had a lot of fun -- too much fun, maybe! -- methodically hunting down items to fill out my wardrobe ... certain kinds of casual outfits, dressy outfits, club outfits, formal outfits, and so on. And my wardrobe is almost done!

Then something comes along called the Luxe box. This is a situation where a dozen or more top designers (like Blueberry and Magika, for instance), each contribute at least one surprise, exclusive item to a box that you can receive on the 15th of the month if you sign up and pay a L$1,500 fee. They just started in May.

Now, normally I wouldn't think about paying L$1,500 for anything sight unseen, but the things you get in this box are beautiful. For instance, a lovely little shingled house, a Pomeranian, two or three top-shelf hairstyles, four or five outfits or clothing items, and so on. If you like surprises and don't mind having some things in inventory that, however nice, aren't for you -- or if you can bear to delete them, since they aren't transfer -- then it may feel like Christmas every 15th of the month.

You can still get the box after the fact by paying L$2,000, so even if you have missed the boat on some past offerings, or miss the boat on signing up before midnight SLT this Friday, you can still join in the fun.


There's an explanation of how the Luxe box works at www.luxeboxsl.com, and answers to some questions at www.luxeboxsl.com/faq.

The Luxe Box is geared toward women, but there seems to be something new for men along the same lines called the Swag Bag.

I heard about this on Strawberry Singh's blog, and she has a fun video of her unboxing the May offerings. Take a look!



I was interested to read, recently, a bitter debate on the Flickr forums about whether or not Second Life photography and other computer game and virtual world photography was real photography, and separately, whether all of those images were ruining Flickr.

It was a distressing read, because people were talking about things near to their hearts but in defensive and divisive ways, but it brought up some fascinating points, some of which have been on my mind for quite a while.

"Novus City" by Nico Time

Is Second Life photography actually photography, or is it digital art?

For that matter, is it art at all?

Even if it is art, whose art is it? The person who composes the picture using the photo feature in Second Life or another tool? The graphic artists who created the assets that are being photographed? Someone else? Everybody?

And is there even any reason to care?

"Wandering off the Path," again by Nico Time. You can see I love his work.

Let's talk about the art and authorship questions first. In the discussion I was reading, clearly some non-digital-world people were thinking of images taken of virtual worlds as being simply user clips of some game artist's creation. This can happen in Second Life, at least mostly, for instance if I go to Da Vinci Gardens and take a picture of a dragon flying past the castle there. The dragon, the castle, the landscape, and even the dragon's flight path are designed.

But in other situations, and even in that one, we know there's more to it, especially when avatars are involved. For a building, you might have the structure designed by one person, textures used for parts of the structure--brick, glass, wood floors, and so on--by several others, furniture by others, and so on. Avatars are much more complicated, with everything from shoes to hair to skin to eyelashes designed by different people, and sometimes more than one person. Than you have a shape that might have been designed by the user or by a separate artist, and whoever brought all of those elements together onto the avatar, usually mostly the user. Clothing is not only selected, purchased, and coordinated, but also fit to the body. An animation override or animation or pose determines how the avatar is positioned. Each of us, each avatar, is a work of art in her, him, or theirself!

"Celestial Beings" by Caitlin 'Caity' Tobias

And of course all of this is true for each avatar, and there may be several in the photo, or in the most extreme case, dozens. Avatars and builds and environment together, meanwhile, run on top of umpteen thousands of aesthetic and technical decisions made by Lindens in creating and gradually improving Second Life as an environment in the first place.

To that you add the photographer's own selection, framing, composition, timing, perhaps posing of subjects, usually Windlight setting selection (where the Windlight setting might have been created by yet another person), and other decisions, and you have a collaborative artistic effort that may literally show the work of hundreds of people in a single frame! And that's before any post-processing--for instance, the blurring some people do of backgrounds to create the impression of limited depth of field.

So, that's definitely art of some kind. It can be good art or bad art, and unfortunately one bad texture or wonky animation where a hand is penetrating an avatar's side, for example, can make even a beautifully-composed photo look a little "off," but it's definitely people creating visual material in an intentional way, even if it would be impossible for many or most of the contributors to imagine the final result.

All of that might suggest that each picture in Second Life should be considered a group work, but I think that's probably not the most useful way to approach it. After all, if a First Life photographer takes a picture of a beautiful woman walking down the street, does that photographer have to share credit with the people who designed the woman's clothing, the woman herself (who has maintained her body in a certain way, chose clothes, applied makeup, selected a hairstyle, and so on), the architects and builders and painters of every building on the street, the road crews who constructed and later repaired the street, the designers of each automobile parked on the street that might be reflected in a store window in which there might be a display designed by a store clerk ... ? And what about the sunlight, the puddle from last night's rain, the tree growing nearby? Do we need to include God or Nature or evolution in the copyright notice?


"Derriere la Gare Saint-Lazare" by Henri Cartier-Bresson (a First Life photographer)

Well, you see where I'm going. Photography is the art of seeing, selecting, framing, and timing an image occurring in things that (usually) the photographer has not helped make or design. Of course there can be exceptions, just as in Second Life a person can build things and then photograph them, but the thing that's unique about photography as an art is that it is all about receiving. Here is this world arrayed in front of me: what do I see in it, and how can I show other people what I'm seeing in a way that resonates and connects?

So am I saying that Second Life photography is real photography? Well, here is where I'll get picky about linguistics. When we say that Second Life photography is or isn't actual photography, we're not really saying anything about Second Life: what we're trying to say something about is photography. Does photography as an idea include "photographing" things that don't physically exist? And there is no definitive answer to that, and can't be, because when different people use the word "photography," they mean different things by it. It makes perfect sense to mean, by "photography," "making images of things as you encounter them in the physical world." It also makes perfect sense to mean "making or combining images of things you find or set up." Or choose your own definition: regardless of common usage, regardless of usefulness, and regardless of the Oxford English Dictionary, two people can both use that word and legitimately mean completely different things by it. Since we can't tell each other what to mean when we speak, then as long as the word is communicating effectively to some people some of the time, we have to accept any definition as legitimate.

"That Time of Day" by Nico Time

Second Life photography is real photography. And it isn't. And it sometimes is, but sometimes isn't.

With that out of the way, being the "let's settle this once and for all" kind of person I am, I'd like to gently suggest that the most useful definition of "photography" does include Second Life photography, because the principles and process are so similar to First Life photography. I know that some people will still disagree vehemently and say that it isn't photography, but rather digital art, but I think that's misleading. To me, at least, the term "digital art" implies that someone is creating something rather than receiving, selecting, and framing. It suggests to me that colors are being chosen and applied, strokes traced, forms conceived and executed. Including virtual world photography in "digital art" makes the term "digital art" less useful, and excluding it from photography makes "photography" about things that aren't central to that artistic process.

That's my two cents, anyway. What about yours?

Windlight and the Face Light War

There are some strong opinions and bitter words coming out these days about face lights in Second Life. It's a surprisingly complicated issue, but fortunately, it has (I think) a simple solution. Let's start at the beginning.

And what is a face light?
If you don't use Windlight (more on that soon), you may have noticed that at times your face, or other avis' faces, take on harsh angles and weird lines. It just doesn't look at all nice.


What to do? Well, fortunately there are invisible attachments called "face lights" (or sometimes "body lights," "beauty lights," etc.) that glow in such a way as to soften those shadows and remove those lines. I'm using a very subtle one below. There are stronger ones that are more flattering, and looking at these pictures, I'm thinking the one I'm trying might be too little of a good thing, but we'll see in a moment why there's reason to be conservative.


So for a long time, most people who put much time or attention into their appearance wore face lights. There were jokes about people who went overboard with it--I remember an evening when a friend came to a dance venue with a massive metal apparatus strapped to her body that featured multiple floodlights. It was a parody. Often, though, facelights were used tastefully--but then came Windlight.

Windwhat?
Windlight, introduced, oh, something like seven or eight years ago now, is an alternative lighting approach for Second Life that allows setting all kinds of details about the lighting--colors, intensities, directions, all of that. It's wonderful for photography. I'm not an especially skilled photographer, but if you've seen Second Life pictures with stunning sunsets or water effects, usually Windlight was used. Fashion shoots also tend to use them, because lighting can be controlled precisely and subtly. Here's a 2010 photo using Windlight by Mescaline Tammas (www.flickr.com/photos/mescalinetammas/3686181955/):


Good so far? Wonderful.

Now, since Windlight looks so gorgeous, many people with high-end computers have started using Windlight for daily life. I just started trying this over the last day or so. It can make for some striking and beautiful scenes, and I think I'll keep doing it. Prior to this year, my computer wouldn't have been up to the job. Many fashionistas seem to like it, I think, because they can make their skin and clothing look ideal--but only for themselves. You can't push Windlight onto other people's computers. The computer has to be capable of it, and Windlight has to be turned on.

(If you'd like to try Windlight for yourself, instructions are here: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/WindLight_settings. You can download Torley Linden's Windlight settings on the same page, and there are many, many other settings out there that you can download freely.)

The problem comes because in some Windlight settings, some face lights are terrible. They look like people are carrying streetlights in their cleavage. Here's a picture of me with a Sintimacy face light in a Windlight dusk setting:


See how I'm casting a circle of radiance, and not in a good way? And this is definitely not the worst example. I believe they can get much more intrusive.

Understandably, then, some Windlight users consider it rude and disruptive for people to go walking around with extra-bright face lights. This has translated into fashion-forward people in Second Life often insisting that no face lights should be used by anyone at all. People who don't use Windlight are (also understandably) sometimes miffed by this, because most people don't use Windlight, which means that most of the time you'll look better with a face light to everyone except perhaps yourself and others who are walking with Windlight settings turned on.

This goes back and forth, because strong face lights really are disruptive, and without Windlight, faces generally do look terrible without face lights.

So, what to do? Fortunately the answer is pretty easy: use a soft, subtle face light, for instance the free Nlight one you can get on the Marketplace (or IM me and I'll send you one). Here's the same scene as above, but with the Nlight instead of the Sintimacy one:


No glare at all. Nobody's night is ruined!

Here's a close-up comparison of no face light in a Windlight setting ...


... to the same setting with the Nlight face light.


As you can see, both of these examples look perfectly nice in terms of lighting, and if you go back to the first couple of pictures, you'll see that the Nlight helps in a non-Windlight setup. So, no irritating glare, no drawbacks to appearance in Windlight, and better appearance in non-Windlight: the verdict seems to be in favor of using a subtle face light. Does anyone have any complaints with this approach? Here's to universal peace. ;)

^^^\ Kate /^^^
As of about 12 days ago, I was pretty sure I never wanted to get a mesh body. They were very expensive, I was told, and I would have to revamp my entire wardrobe, and they made dressing much more complicated, and you'd only be able to wear compatible clothing. What was worst, from my point of view, was the prospect of giving up the shape I'd carefully crafted for myself to use some generic body shape a million other women were using. On top of all of that, I wasn't even sure it would make much difference in how a person looked.


Me in mesh.

My goodness, did I have my facts confused! Either way, I couldn't quite put the idea away, so I started doing some research, and about 10 days ago, I bought a Maitreya Lara body and ... oh, I just cannot tell you: so very, very much better. But that's another post. In this one, I just want to share some of the things I found it hard for a mesh body newbie to figure out about mesh bodies, even though practically every mesh body owner and her evil twin knows them!

So don't get me wrong about mesh bodies: they are expensive by Second Life standards (though still dirt cheap in First Life), and they do take more work, and most of my old clothing is now useless ... but that's actually fine, in part because there are a lot of little advantages I hadn't imagined.

Anyway, here are the top things I completely misunderstood before getting my mesh body.

  1. Compared side to side, a mesh body looks much nicer than a system body, but in subtle ways. For instance, parts of your body may look more natural (or more lush), body details will be physical rather than just marks on your skin texture, and parts of you that used to look folded or flattened sometimes will now always look natural

  2. When you get a good mesh body, you don't have to give up your shape! Unlike a mesh head, a mesh body is based on the shape over which you wear it and adapts if you change shapes or move sliders.

  3. Mesh bodies, by the way, don't generally come with mesh heads, which are a whole different matter

  4. An "applier" takes skin-tight clothing like the kind of thing that would go on your shirt or pants layer, for instance (no prims, no mesh, no flexi) and applies it to your mesh body.

  5. There is a gadget called an Omega applier that you can buy cheaply for your particular brand of mesh body that will apply layers from any Omega-compatible clothing. They have an Omega gadget for almost every popular brand, but as of this writing The Mesh Project is an exception.

  6. Regular system clothing and clothing not designed for your mesh body or Omega will not go on your mesh body nohow--but you may not care, because clothing for mesh bodies tends to have no stretched sections and to fit better and look better than old system clothing. Time to throw the old system clothing away! (Or OK, if you're me, into a nostalgia folder.)

  7. You can still wear regular mesh clothing and deal with the regular mesh clothing issues, although (big bonus!) ...

  8. The best mesh bodies come with an alpha HUD: if something doesn't fit quite right, you can turn on the alpha (that is, make part of your body invisible so it doesn't poke through the clothing) for just, say, your shoulderblades, or your nipples, or any combination of dozens of areas on your body! You can also save these alpha configurations in different slots. I love this feature!

  9. Clothing layers sometimes have to be turned on or off to be visible, even if something has been applied to them. You do this through your mesh body HUD.

  10. Some of the very best clothing for your mesh body will have fitted mesh versions for your particular brand and body (say, Maitreya Lara or Belleza Venus). Well-designed versions of these fit your body perfectly without tweaking and without alpha layers!

  11. You can easily swap between outfits that use your mesh body and ones that use your old system body. You don't have to throw everything out.

  12. Regular alphas will not work on your mesh body, because back when you put the mesh body on, your entire system body was already hidden! On the mesh bodies I know, your alpha HUD is used instead.

  13. You can buy and use skins for your mesh body as long as they have a compatible applier (for your brand or Omega). If you don't do this, you may have a weird skin tone difference between your face and your body. I haven't gotten myself a skin for my mesh body yet, because all the ones I find look too bitchy. However, I heard that LAQ recently started making their skins work with mesh bodies, so time to hit the shops!

  14. The feet of your mesh body aren't usually compatible with shoes designed for system avatars. Separate foot systems like Slink may not match up with your mesh body's skin or can pose other problems. Fortunately, mesh body feet are very much like Slink feet in that they look beautiful (not mashed little loafs with toes drawn on them in crayon) and that shoes designed for your mesh body will fit beautifully. You can wear stockings or tights with your mesh body shoes, too, as long as the stockings or tights come with an applier for your mesh body brand or for Omega.

  15. Boots, sneakers, and other footware that goes on as a prim and is masked with an alpha attachment can often be used on your mesh body by substituting use of your alpha HUD for the alpha attachment. The boots I'm wearing in the picture above are sculpties from Bax, years and years old, and they work perfectly with my mesh body.

  16. It's common for a mesh body to offer multiple foot positions (in the case of Maitreya, high heel, medium heel, and flat), and some also offer multiple hand positions.

  17. The best mesh bodies have skin color and nail color options you can change through your HUD

  18. When you get dressed with a mesh body, you may have to juggle a lot of different HUDs at once. These include the HUD for your mesh body (foot position, clothes layers on/off, alpha configuration, and so on), appliers for any skin-tight layers, an Omega applier relay if you're using a Maitreya body with Omega clothing, and often HUDs that will let you change clothing pattern, color, or configuration.

  19. The clothing HUDs that come with some mesh body clothing are incredible! It's not uncommon to have half a dozen or a dozen color/pattern choices when you buy shoes or dresses, for instance. In some ways, it's like every clothing item becoming a fat pack, without being much more expensive than single items have tended to be! I hope designers are not having to go to an enormous amount of work to have that happen, but either way, I appreciate their efforts!

  20. They do offer mesh bodies for men, too. I can attest that they look great, but I don't know how similarly to women's mesh bodies they work.

  21. The most popular mesh body by far appears to be the Maitreya Lara, and I can understand why: it has a great HUD with great features, it's lovely, and at L$2,750 it costs less than the other top competitors. After getting mine, I discovered that many of my friends had made the same selection. Other very popular choices include Slink, Belleza, and The Mesh Project.

  22. There are many, many options for mesh bodies out there, to say nothing of mesh feet, mesh heads, mesh booties, mesh hands, and other body parts. I personally only compared the top few body options, because I wanted one that would have lots of clothing options.

  23. Some designers are retrofitting their existing offerings to work with some mesh bodies. There may even be updates available for some clothes you've already bought, though I don't know much about this.

  24. Because mesh bodies are becoming more and more popular, an increasing number of designers are making offerings for them, even though it's a pain in the neck for them.

  25. MeshBodyAddicts.com is a wonderful resource for reviews, newbie information, and more.

  26. It's hard to say how predominant mesh bodies are on the grid, because surveys about them almost always are posted in places where only the most fashion-minded resis would respond. However, among fashionistas, they are very, very popular.


One of my favorite new mesh body outfits, "Gabrielle" by Stars Fashion. The boots are included.
I'm also over the moon about some new hairstyles I found by Argrace, like this one

There it is. I'll probably have more to say about mesh bodies and revamping wardrobes, but I hope this post will be useful in answering some basic questions. It certainly would have helped me!

^^^\ Kate /^^^

Moving Day

Until a couple of years ago, my home in Second Life was with one close friend, and it was a fairly large home, a two-story beach house with an indoor spa, a patio dance area, and a lavish skyhouse of floating disks with a cascading waterfall and flowers everywhere.

But when we sold our land to a friend, I had to seek out my own home in Second Life, at a time when I wasn't really doing very much. I tried at first to have no home, but I found that vagrancy didn't suit me very well, even though I wasn't around much. I finally settled for renting a beach house from my friends Jen and Seven Shikami, the inventors of Seven Seas Fishing, who have a beautiful sim called Flotsam Beach.

I spent about two years there, but was in-world so little that I never finished furnishing my house or taking advantage of the generous prim allowance. Eventually, I began to see other homes disappeared as renters at Flotsam Beach moved on or left Second Life. Where one there were dozens of homes, at least to the best of my recollection, there came to be fewer and fewer. As of today, there are only two: mine and another one across the way. The island's commercial area still seems to be going strong, but the residential area has shrunk to almost nothing. Here's the island today, with some lovely tourist attractions, a big commercial area on the left, and the two houses: mine (the green one), and one you can only see if you look closely, hidden among trees on the right at the end of my street.




Honestly, I'd reached the conclusion that I might be more of a burden than a welcome client for my friends. If they weren't maintaining a residential area any more except for me and one other person, it wasn't likely to be something they wanted to keep doing.

And as for me, I needed a change of scene, for two reasons. First, I had never really finished making my new home my own. My old home, the beach house with the magic elevator and the sky waterfalls, felt like home. This one I never got far enough to make feel like that. What's more, I didn't want the responsibility. I wanted to move somewhere with more residents, somewhere new, and somewhere predecorated. So I packed up my belongings and let my rent expire.



It didn't take me long to pack everything up. It's funny how in Second Life you can just pack everything into your inventory, you don't have to change out of your go-out-dancing dress and heels, and the place is already broom clean without you having to do any work.

The spot I found is in a sim called Ohana, where they have a variety of different pre-fabricated, pre-furnished, pre-decorated homes. There's a tropical island retreat, some modern-looking houses, and so on. I opted for the city loft. It felt a little exciting, even though it's mostly pretend, to feel like I was moving from my quiet home by the sea into an apartment in the big city.



The apartment exceeded all my expectations, actually. It's very private, not actually in the middle of a bunch of residents at all, but there are resident-only areas in the sim, so I'll be able to go to the beach and the nightclub and maybe meet some of my neighbors. It came furnished not only with a complete living room, bathroom, and kitchen, but also with a punching bag (complete with animations), a guitar, an easel for painting, a dance pole, and a sex bed. Only in Second Life does real estate come with compromising positions already built in!

It doesn't feel like "me." It's certainly not an expression of who I am. At the same time, it's fun, and it's simple, and I could just vanish from that apartment for any length of time just to come back months later and rent one just like it (as long as the good people at Ohana stick around). I don't need complexity in my Second Life, because the rare times I actually take part in it, I want to spend time with friends or going fun places, not figuring out furnishings or security systems.

I'm still very close to vanished from Second Life. Most of my friends are gone (though I've seen a couple I hadn't seen for a long time just in the past couple of days), and I'm so inattentive to my Second Life that I missed both my fifth rezday and the Hair Fair this year, but as long as I'm maintaining a tenuous hold on that life, I might as well have a little adventure with it.
Well, I know I haven't posted in a long time, and honestly there's so much going on in my life that I'm a little shocked I'm posting now, but here you have it.

I stopped into Second Life for a short time today looking for a sundress, because the weather is just turning beautiful in my part of the world and my whim is turned strongly toward looking summery. In looking for good places to shop for sundresses on the Second Life Marketplace, I quickly came across tulip. (small t, period at the end), formerly "The Kiwi Project," a store for designer Minami Susanowa. And does she have the skills! Here's the sundress I bought:

Tea & Crumpets dress in Petal

Well, the "Right Kind of Thing" about this isn't just about having found nice clothes, though. The build she had created was just gorgeous, if you ask me-and really, I usually am not very excited about the "make it look like really things hanging up" kind of store, since it's easier to imagine what something might look like on me when I see a picture of it on someone else. Honestly, I don't know why Minami's build is flooded, but it has a beautiful field that's mocked up to look like it's in the middle of a huge, blue-sky plain with nothing around but flowers, which if you pull back away from the store turns out to be not at all the case. The feeling of being in a warm, pretty, quiet, sunny, inviting place is strong, and if I wondered a little about why I was walking planks over water, well, perhaps it's sort of a sympathy-with-the-Midwest kind of thing. Anyway, it's a beautiful spot.

Party Dress in Purple
 
And while I was there, I came across Minami talking with a friend, and just hearing the playful way they were talking cheered me up. It's been a very long time since I've been in Second Life regularly, and just being reminded that there are good friendships that are a joy to both parties makes me happy.

 
Denim Set in Dark Blue

All right, but enough about virtual world experiences: what about the sale? Well, Minami has put all kinds of things up for sale for ridiculous prices--I mean, when's the last time you bought a really nice outfit for L$30, for instance?

So that's all I have for you just now, just some random musing and a very good link to a sale--oh, you'll want the link! It's here. Buy lots of things if they suit you as happily as they do me (though boys: sorry, I don't think there's anything for you here). :) Have fun!
 
^^^\ Kate /^^^

Four

It was four years ago tonight that I first came out blinking into the virtual light of a Second Life day. I used a tree branch in the newbie rezzing area as my changing room and spent hours and hours trying to learn my way around and especially to find something to do and someone to do it with.



Photo taken at Sinful Temptations Boutique (it"s a cake you can pop out of)
Photo taken on a cake you can pop out of at Sinful Temptations Boutique

I'm in a very different place in my life now than I was then. I'm always busy, but these days I have some very specific priorities that demand more attention than the things I was playing around with in 2006. Together with my family, there's also my First Life partner, who makes me profoundly interested in spending more time in what my friend Soph used to call the "atomic world" (which is to say, the one made up of actual matter).

I think this was on my very first day, or close to it. No wings yet, even! That's Chastity Sin hovering over the water.

It surprised me recently, when I looked at some posts from the very beginning of this blog (started less than two weeks after I joined Second Life) to realize that my theory of what Second Life was good for then was pretty much exactly what it still is today: I think Second Life mainly serves us by filling in the things we're not getting from our First Lives. Freedom to do as we please, wealth, youth, beauty, even friends are easier to come by in Second Life than they are in First. Relationships are much simpler (but perhaps no less likely to blow up! Even though none of my own ever did), escapes are much cleaner, and everything is much closer in Second Life. Even now, I'm drawn back to Second Life from time to time just because it's so much easier to find a place to have fun and talk to interesting people. True, it's much harder than it *needs* to be to do that, and sometimes you can go all evening without finding a single interesting person to talk to, but in First Life interesting people can't be teleported to, and you can't skip from one event to another and browse people's profiles just by clicking on them. I wish you could!

My first "home," a tree branch in a public area. When I changed here, *usually* I didn't get anyone popping in unexpectedly.

And yet I'm clearly on a general trend of drifting away from Second Life. Who knows if I'll even be around for my fifth rez day? Most of the people I knew from long ago when I started are gone now. It's fairly common for me to be in a room full of people and find that I'm the "oldest" one there. While Second Life is still so difficult and limited--more of a world-sized chat room you can build in than a different way of doing practical things like First Life shopping or having business meetings--maybe it's doomed to be nothing more than a chapter, or a few chapters, in each of our lives.

But I'm not gone yet, so who knows? I've thought of myself as being on the way out the door for quite a while already. Maybe I'll even be successful in getting Finch in, although why we would spend much time in Second Life when we can be together in First I don't know.

Who else is here of old timers? How are you feeling about your Second Life? And in case I missed yours ... Happy Rez Day!

^^^\ Kate /^^^

Minimalista

So, I've been to the Hair Fair this year. Three times! Each time hoping that things would be different, and each time ... not so much. :(

Before I went, I read and resolved to follow most of my friend Harper's tips for the Hair Fair (except of course for the one about waiting until it was less crazy!) at http://slfashionpassion.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/hair-in-my-soup/ . Especially, I put on an outfit that used very few prims, relying mostly on system clothing, and no scripts. I went barefoot and without a facelight or AO, and my wings were a simple 2-prim set with no scripting.


Voila! The result: a great butch avatar to take to Greek lesbian club--which is to say, not exactly my style. While I'm happy to be obviously and publicly bisexual (in Second Life, anyway ... in First Life almost everyone seems to assume I'm straight, what with the boyfriend and all), I do like to have *hair*, at least!

Actually, I wouldn't have minded a bandana, but I'll tell you a secret about my shape: in order to get my face exactly the way I wanted it (I made my shape myself long ago when I first joined Second Life), I had to sacrifice a gracefully-proportioned skull--which normally doesn't matter, because I always have hair! Unfortunately, my short, flat skull (which I hope to someday fix if and when Linden Labs introduces additional avatar design tools) looks completely grotesque to me, so I can't get away with the cropped-to-the-skull look or the just-a-bandana look. I need a hairstyle to make my head the right shape!

But please don't bring my weird head shape up - not unless you want to see me use a crying animation, and I assure you those, like my skull shape, aren't pretty!

Anyway, Greek Butch didn't quite suit me (although there are butch lesbians and Greek people whom I admire, and it's no offense meant to either), so I tried again, giving up the hat and instead searching out the lowest-prim hairstyle in my entire inventory. It turned out to be my snood hair, which normally goes with a net and bow (which make it look much nicer), but which without weighed in at only 22 prims. This, I decided, was as low as I could go and still feel like me. I was also happier with the more casual shorts and top, because they matched the bare feet better, and I had a wider choice of skins because I didn't have to find one with a hair base. Needless to say, my wings had to be selected to suit the new outfit. Here's how I came out.


But enough about my attempts to dress semi-presentably at low bandwidth! How was the hair fair itself?

Unfortunately, I can't say I was inspired. The dun-colored canvas tents were anything but festive, and the lag, of course, was absolutely terrible. I tried flying, running, and walking (running seemed to work the best for me), and soon stopped caring about doors and instead just walking directly through walls, which doesn't help the feeling of browsing happily through vendors.

Each vendor had only a few hairstyles on view, which I hadn't remembered from past Hair Fairs. To my great disappointment, I found very little that I really wanted to buy! I think the real problem is that I already have many, many hairstyles, and finding one that I really like that isn't a whole lot like some other hairstyle I already have is a bit of a fool's errand!

I wished that they used different colors for different tents or even for different vendor sections within each tent. That way it would have been much easier to see where I was going and where I was coming from!

But even more, I want Linden Labs to come up with a solution for the lag problem for large events. I know, it's a terribly difficult technical problem, but surely it's not insurmountable! Right now it's excruciating to ever do anything with large numbers of people. There must be a better way, right? For instance, what if there were a way to lock a sim as "no changes" after everything was set, which would mean that while already-rezzed objects could be manipulated, the only way new objects could be rezzed would be for someone to teleport away, change their attachments, and then come back--through some specific portal or something. This would allow preloading of all prims and textures, with only a trickle of new information at once--you would wait patiently while the sim loaded and then enter.

Oh, I know, that probably wouldn't work--I can think of half a dozen problems with it now, and there are probably dozens more, but my point is, Second Life isn't a viable place for people to gather until we can do it without ridiculous lag...so some solution - Faerie magic, perhaps? Anything will do, so long as it works! - is desperately needed. Gathering lag is stunting the growth of Second Life along with some of the other big villains, like the learning curve and the inability to find an interesting group of people to spend time with on demand despite there being tens of thousands of people online!

I think I'm beginning to sound a little hysterical, though, so I'll stop right there. In the end, I think what I learned from the Hair Fair is that for me, it's not worth going to mobbed sims, and that I don't need any more hair. Now, if we have a *shoe* fair, my attitude may have to change...do we have one of those?

^^^\ Kate /^^^

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Chanchal
kateamdahl
Kate Amdahl

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