Thursday, June 30, 2011

In My Car

Wandering the world on foot is a great way to savor the sights, but occasionally the accumulation of worn shoe leather, blisters, and chafed spots becomes too much and one pines for a different mode of transportation.

I was minding my own business on Linden Route 12 when first a tank, then an automobile came down the road, both driverless. This piqued my curiosity, so I reversed course and followed them.

Although both vehicles weaved across the road, neither left the highway. I wondered if I could induce one or the other to take me part of my way, so I climbed behind the wheel of the convertible.

After some time, I thought I might try my luck with the tank. This turned out to be trickier, as the tank felt no compunction about rotating its turret in my direction and firing a shell at me. Once I clambered to the turret, all seemed well.

Curious, I tracked the vehicles to their origin, which turned out to be on a different road altogether, Route 9, at the Putiki Fold Bus Terminal. The vehicles are made by Miss AnnMarie O'Toole. While the vehicles themselves are all free, each costs L$100 for the auto-navigation script.

Bus terminals aren't much in any life, I suppose.

I took a taxi north on Route 9. On occasion, I would encounter another vehicle heading in the opposite direction. A little dance would ensue - perhaps two sumo wrestlers trying to push the other out of the ring would be a better metaphor - and eventually the two vehicles would have enough room to pass one another.

I was impressed by the scripting. Whenever the vehicle started to veer off the road, it would make small corrections to find its way back on again. The biggest obstacles were the sim crossings. Every so often the taxi would be far off the road and it would take some time to find the road again. Nonetheless, I went through dozens of sims without a hitch, finally reaching what I thought was the end of the road...

...only to discover that the road continued as an underwater tunnel!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dark Alley of Caledon

Does Caledon ever seem just a little too clean for its own good? I certainly do, and, apparently, so does Mr. Denver Hax, who has created "The Shambles," the seedy dark alley of the Guvnah's otherwise shiny empire.

One walks at one's own risk, for dangers lie within.

Entertainment for gentlemen of discretion awaits:

Darker pleasures can be had as well:
That can't be...well, obviously that picture was doctored, but, as one can see, one can chase the dragon, or find release in other chemicals.

Of course, the forces of Law and Order must have a way of incarcerating those among the lower classes who breach the peace:

Rumor has it that one can find the legendary catgirl dungeon...if you dare. Not even your sidearm - you are carrying a sidearm in The Shambles, aren't you? - will protect you.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wandering SL8B - Day Three

Day 3 found me at Caledon's simple but elegant build, incorporating motifs from Oxbridge (the building), Caledon generally (the bunneh topiary), and, flying above the building... airship, of course.

Mr. R. Crap Mariner's build, The Magic of Music. (At his request, I'm not including the SLURL. To paraphrase: "Wander around and find it yourself." Fair enough, as that's what I did.) Be sure to read the poem on the tree stump in the middle of the build.

This one is called Point of View.

Winterfell's pastoral build:

Here's one called The Magic Lens, exploring the ways that different types of prims can distort pictures in different ways. Nicely done and fairly magical.

The awkwardly-named KittyCatS! combines birthday, magic, and cute in one adorable package:

Last, but not least, on our three-day voyage through SL8B, is 1920s Berlin, giving the visitor a small taste of that hard RP sim. Makes one want to smash windows or something. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wandering SL8B - Day Two

More from SL8B.

London shows a slice of that great city...
...including a well-known zebra crossing. (I'm the Fifth Beatle!)

A small slice of Whitechapel 1888, the Jack-the-Ripper-themed RP sim:

Demonstrating the physics engine in SL was Troll's Magical Physics, including the popcorn popping randomly:

Next is Honey Swamp, an atmospheric build:

I don't think this was supposed to be a horror site, but dude, bad Phillip flashback!

Music Island shows off a very large victrola:

Here's some magic: look at the text of the Owl and the Pussycat, then step through to immerse yourself in the poem's setting:

One more day to come.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Wandering SL8B - Day One

I started out with the idea of wandering through SL8B in a systematic way, stopping at the interesting builds. This worked for a while, but the combination of lag and time constraints soon set me making a more haphazard journey through the builds. Here are some of the ones I found interesting.

Octoberville, the annual sim-wide hunt, was represented with a small piece of the sim:

The Virtual Printers Guild celebrated the written word (or, er, the virtual written word):

Nearby, this build celebrated reading with a reading of Moby Dick:
Note the Crap Mariner cutout at the lower left, in white.

This was titled "Invisibility," and allowed one to ride through the colored tunnels. (I got stuck, but, in theory, one could ride to the end.)

This burning house was entitled "Phoenix":

I didn't catch the name of this build, but it seemed pretty:

This was "Time," and a touch of the clock created the chaos below:

In a homage to 1950s Japanese science fiction and the movie Independence Day, one wanders through this town larger-than-life, noting the UFOs hovering above the city. To the right in the picture stands a burning building, the result of a laser strike from one of the saucers:

As some observed earlier, although the theme this year is "Magic," actual magic seemed in short supply. Many builds seemed like blatant advertisements for stores or commercial sims. Others were well-done but not particularly magical.

More in the next post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aether Salon - Libraries!

The Aether Salon had two guests this month to discuss the subject of libraries in Second Life: Dame Kghia Gherardi and Sir JJ Drinkwater.

First, however, were the introductions, first of the Salon by Miss Jed Dagger...
...and then Miss Sera's introduction of the speakers. However, Miss Sera added an unexpected announcement: the next Salon - in August - would be the last! All good things must end, and the Salon is no exception, I suppose. Miss Sera suggested that Baron Klaus Wulfenbach might have some thoughts about what will be coming next, though the Baron seemed as perplexed as anyone.

Dame Kghia started by asking Sir JJ - whose typist is a librarian in that other life - about how his participation in Second Life libraries came about. He noted that SL libraries were already in existence when he arrived in 2006; this perhaps spoke of the innate usefulness of libraries. After working with the library on Info Island for a time, he started the Caledon Library when Miss CoyoteAngel Dimsum proposed a library and offered to donate the land and building.

Mr. Drinkwater noted that virtual libraries were generally limited to non-copyrighted materials, which was somewhat limiting. However, in the Steamlands, where interests ran toward older material, this tended to be less limiting than it would be elsewhere.

When asked what he learned about libraries in SL versus RL, Sir JJ responded:
Working on the library has taught me that the way libraries tend to organize sources, with non-fiction over here, and fiction over these, and blogs in a completely different category, isn’t perhaps the best way to serve a patron community. Gathering material together by subject, or by broad area of interest, has worked well for us.

Asked how he felt the Library has shaped Caledon, Sir JJ took a deep breath and said:
Big question! It was a surprise to me, about a year into the project, that the library had become a significant feature of Caledon. I think several things account for that...First of all, books are of great iconic importance to a lot of people...they have a complicated symbolism that takes in a number of important values. Books mean leisure, learning, literacy, the quest for knowledge, education, inquiry...things like that. Second, I see SL as being an extended conversation - A conversation that takes place with images as well as words, but a conversation all the same. What the library does for Caledon is give it material to extend the conversation. which is our life here. Finally I think the library reinforced the community’s identity, by mirroring its interests back to it. Any library does that to some extent, but when the community is a community of interest, rather than, say, a geographic community, the library can really give the community a chance to reflect on itself.

At some point, the Library expanded within Caledon, and then other libraries - particularly in the Steamlands, arose. Eventually they formed the current Alexandrian Free Library system. To again quote Sir JJ:
Well, the Caledon Library was an experiment that worked. After it had been in existence for about a year and a half, Riven Homewood was inspired to create a similar library in Steelhead - that was when we organized the AFL. It’s a consortium of libraries, and the members support each other with expertise, and by sharing materials. Our first few libraries were in the steamlands: Steelhead, Winterfell, and of course Babbage (and subsequently New Toulouse and Steeltopia) but we welcome any community library that’s willing to share its materials freely.

Above, from L to R: Front: Miss Sera, Miss Leslie Watson, Duchess Savannah Blindside. Back: Mr. Finn Firchank, Mr. MelKrupinski, Miss Herndon Bluebird.

Above, L to R: Mr. Aldus Faulkes. Sitting: Frau Annechen Lowey, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, Miss Riven Homewood. Standing: Miss Saffia Widdershins, Miss Bookworm Hienrichs, Miss Serra Anansi.

Miss Stereo Nacht and me.

Miss Solace Fairlady and Miss Darlingmonster Ember.

The large crowd - at least 32 people were present to listen to the speakers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Breakfast in Babbage - Fairy Stories

Another two hours of "What's in Mr. Pearse's wax cylinder collection?" for our enjoyment. This time the Clarendon in New Babbage was transformed into a meadow suitable to lure the fae to come dance. Mr. Pearse himself was magically transformed into a troll as he spun his Victrola.

Rapunzel was there, along with Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood, pirates, maidens, and a clutch of fae.

For many more pictures, I direct your attention to Miss Bookworm Hienrichs' collection on the Flickrs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Radio Days

May 20 saw the opening of an exhibit: Radio Days: An Homage to AM Radio. The exhibit, inspired by Mr. Radio's decision to remove his pieces from Second Life, features pieces by Mr. PJ Trenton, Mr. Stephen Venkman, Miss Rowan Derryth, and Mr. Raven Haalan.

The artists' pictures were all inspired by AM Radio's exhibits, such as The Far Away, The Refuge and the Expansion, and The Red and the Wild.

In addition to the gallery pieces, the exhibit also contains a replica of one of Mr. Radio's houses (with additional pictures inside)...

...and his iconic windmill and rusted locomotive.

A lovely tribute to an artist with a singular vision.