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Archive for November, 2011

Inside the Pompeii Court

Inside the Pompeii Court

I’m going to a rather famous fire tomorrow at 12 noon SLTthe destruction of the Crystal Palace. In reality, this happened on November 30th 1936 – so we will be witnessing it exactly seventy-five years later!

Like most destructive events in Second Life, I imagine it will be great fun to watch – but it will also be mixed with sadness, because it represents the closing of an absolutely fascinating educational project, sponsored by one of Britain’s most prestigious academic institutions, the University of Bristol.

Outside the Pompeii Court at the Crystal Palace

Outside the Pompeii Court at the Crystal Palace

The project – which we covered on a Designing Worlds show – was to re-create the Pompeii Court at the famous Crystal Palace in London.  This was set up in 1854, when Bulwer Lytton’s novel, The Last Days of Pompeii, was at the top of the Victorian bestseller charts.  The novel centred around the people he supposed to have lived in a certain house that had been excavated in Pompeii, the one known as the House of the Tragic Poet.  And it was this house that was recreated in the Pompeii Court in 18854 for the Victorians to come and experience how the Ancient Romans lived.

What this project in Second Life did was to recreate not Pompeii, but the Victorian re-creation of Pompeii, and in doing so it raised fascinating questions about the changing nature of historical re-creation, and about the nature of history itself and to what extent it is dependent on our own contemporary attitudes.

The Crystal Palace from the north in 1854

The Crystal Palace from the north in 1854

The people behind the project are Dr Shelley Hales and Dr Nic Earle. Shelley is a Senior Lecturer in Art and Visual Culture in the Department of Classics & Ancient History, while Nic is E-Learning Co-ordinator at the Education Support Unit. Their build not only re-constructs the Pompeiian Court ((and part of the Crystal Palace construction) but also features bots from the Roman and Victorian eras who can – in some cases – interact with visitors.

You can see more about the project here on the Designing Worlds blog, and in greater depth here on the project blog.

The Pompeiian Court at the Crystal Palace in 1854

The Pompeiian Court at the Crystal Palace in 1854

It was a stunning use of Second Life and I am very pleased to know that the project won’t be lost, but will continue.

It will continue, however, in another place – in Open Sim, on servers belonging to the University of Bristol. And the reason for this is, very simply, that the cost of tier in Second Life, without the educational discount, is too high to justify continuing here, as Dr Shelley Hales told me.

Inside the Pompeii Court

Inside the Pompeii Court

It’s a great shame to see projects like these go – not because they have come to the end of their cycle, but because of changed policies by Linden Lab.  When the educational (and non-profit) discount was removed, it was clear that many organisations, especially in these straitened economic times, would be unable to continue and would look for cheaper alternatives.  And that makes our Second Lives poorer.

We saw it with the Homestead debacle, when Princeton calmly closed their art sims, citing the raising of their tier costs. And now we are seeing it as other academic institutions follow.

If you want to join me to witness the end of the Crystal Palace, you can join us here for the fire at 12 noon.

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Happy Hunting!

Happy Hunting!

Are you organising a Hunt and want to share the news? Are you planning a hunt and would like to find stores or other hunt enthusiasts willing to join in? Would you like your information on the next Happy Hunting! show?

It’s very easy!

On the Happy Hunting! blog, there’s a little Tab in the list on the right side of the screen that says:
Send your Hunt Information to Happy Hunting! – Click here to send us information about your hunt!

Hunt News form

Hunt News form

That link will take you to a form where you’ll be able to fill out all the information that we need to know. And that’s all you have to do!

We’re looking forward to hearing all about your hunt soon!

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Malaika Park Winter Sim

Malaika Park Winter Sim

Have you winterised your sim for Christmas?  Are you pleased with the way it looks, and would like to share it with others?

Or perhaps you have a favourite winter sim that you would like to tell Prim Perfect readers about!

Here’s your chance!  Fill in this form, send a picture to primperfect@gmail.com (or point us at a Flickr picture we can have permission to use) and we will include it in our special Christmas issue – and post examples on the blog too!

Devon Dreams in Winter (and you can just see part of the Giant Snails winter track!)

Devon Dreams in Winter (and you can just see part of the Giant Snails winter track!)

The sims can be in any virtual world – it doesn’t need to be Second Life.

They can be stunningly beautiful, packed with activities, or just lots of fun … or, of course, all of those!

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Retropolis

Retropolis

Join us at 2pm SLT today, Monday 28th November, at our new studio in Garden of Dreams2 for a trip to the stunningly beautiful and richly detailed world of Retropolis.

We’ll be accompanied by the owners and designers, Tricia Farella and Terra Volitant , who will be showing us some of the wonderful diverse locations and activities this sim contains. We only have time to show you a short selection – but it ranges from romantic beaches and jacuzzis to wrestling with gigantic monsters in a storm on the high seas and exploring deadly but beautiful swamps. And to cap it all, there’s an amazing nightclub!

There’s a brief taster of some of what’s to come at our Designing Worlds channel on You Tube – but this is just a toe in the water!

We will be screening this show in our new studio, designed by Kayle Matzerath, on Garden of Dreams2. Do come and join us there at 2pm!

Or – if you can’t attend in person – tune in at 2pm SLT on Monday for the live show on http://treet.tv/live – where you can now chat with other audience members and even some of the participants during the show – or catch it later in the week on our shows page on the Treet.tv web site at http://treet.tv/shows/designingworlds- our very own version of the iPlayer!

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Froukje Hoorenbeek of Dutchie released her first Mesh furniture set on Friday – a kitchen table arrangement – and she sent me a copy to have a look at.

Dutchie's new kitchen table set

Dutchie's new kitchen table set

I think Froukje should be very proud of this – the design is great – as one would expect from her – and the texturing is lovely – I particularly oooh’ed over the folds of the tablecloth (which, by the way, you can colour-adjust).  It weighs in with a prim equivalent cost of 20 – well, I’d certainly expect something like that to gobble up twenty prims (not even counting the beautiful tulip (a very nice Dutch touch!) so it seems fair enough.

To view it, I had to abandon my usual Imprudence and Phoenix and come in on the latest SL client.  Not a huge hardship – I like the new viewer and see it as an enormous advance over the clunky and counter-intuitive Viewer 2.  There are still a few things I haven’t figured out – when Music AND Media are set on a parcel, how do you listen/watch one and not both at once?  Is it possible to do it without going in to Preferences (clunky)?

And I wish that I could still keep Conversations and my Friends List open in the same window (maybe I can – tell me, gurus!) but I do like the increased functionality of the Friends list which brings it closer to the best of the Third Party Viewers. I am finding it much more stable, but I know that it is causing difficulty for people who have medical conditions that find flashing alerts a problem. I get the feeling there are still things that will be ironed out or improved … but essentially THIS should have been the much-heralded Viewer 2 rather than the morass we were given originally.

That viewer fed directly into the huge explosion in Third Party Viewers and, eventually, to the debacle of the Emerald Viewer when, in effect, the majority of users chose a viewer that had some very dodgy provenance. Phoenix arose from the ashes of that and is has proved itself highly popular, dedicated to meeting user needs, and far more careful of its reputation.

It also allowed a graceful retreat from those who fulminated that they would leave Second Life if Linden Lab banned the Emerald viewer. The fact that Linden Lab DID ban the Emerald viewer and people adapted does rather suggest that – far from being the hidebound Luddites that some see them as – the Second Life denizens will make necessary transitions when given reasonable options.  And the new mesh-enabled viewer is, to my mind, one such reasonable option.

So, now I am equipped with my mesh-enabled viewer, do I see Mesh as the Next Big Thing?  Well, there are a couple of things holding it back.

Many people are still wedded to the Phoenix viewer, or other non-Mesh enabled viewers, and this means that instead of seeing me elegantly seated at my new kitchen table …

Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)

Sitting at the kitchen table (in the latest Linden viewer)

they would only see this …

Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)

Setting at the kitchen table (Phoenix viewer)

The Phoenix team is making sterling efforts to bring their mesh-enabled Firestorm viewer at least up to non-buggy, stable-as-possible standards (and there’s a little cul-de-sac working on doing the same for Phoenix itself).  Other Third Party viewers such as Cool VL and Dolphin (to mention but two) are also mesh-enabled.  And it’s all the more impressive for Cool VL and Henri Beauchamp has back-ported the mesh code from Viewer 2 into Viewer 1.23 for those who really love that version (one of whom is, not surprisingly, Henri himself).

So, soon most people will be able to view mesh without needing to desert their favourite viewers (with all their favourite add-ons).  But is Mesh still a good thing?

Firstly, I think Mesh is proving a little slow to be adopted. There are mesh homes and mesh furniture out there – early adopters like Maxwell Graf and Abel Dreamscape have been building in mesh for a while – as you can see from this Designer Challenge.  But many of the well-known designers are coming on board quite slowly; the designers are reluctant to build until they are sure they can sell; the buyers are reluctant to buy something that they are not sure their friends will be able to see.

And, for the fashion industry, mesh clothing remains a problem.  Some people bravely turn up to parties wearing what to them looks like a gorgeous dress and super slinky hair – and many people see – or rather don’t see – an invisible body and a flat round torus hovering over a bald head.  But getting mesh clothing / hair to fit until the mesh deformer has been created will be an ongoing problem – if you want to know how that’s going, you can follow the Jira that’s been created here (but don’t derail it by starting discussions, Oz Linden asks).

In the furniture business, there may also be problems for people who are used to more flexibility.  Froukje has built in some great scripts to the kitchen table and chairs so that you can subtly adjust your seating position (something that wasn’t standard in most furniture until relatively recently).  But the nature of mesh means that you can’t change the overall positioning of the chairs – the set forms a single unit, and that may be a problem for some people.  And the need for scripts to adjust is going to raise the usual problems about the number of scripts in a region … but then, let’s be honest, non-mesh products is usually pretty script intensive.

I think it’s still early days.  It’s good to see high quality work, such as Froukje’s, coming on the market, and I hope it will tempt more people into making sure they can view mesh.

Newcomers, of course, will come in seeing mesh and will probably wonder what all the fuss is about. Once, of course, they recover from the painful realisation that as far as many people are concerned, they will always be known as WhatthehellshallIcallmyself2009 Resident.  It would be really nice to see some movement on that Jira issue – the last message from the Lab (the only message from the Lab) was on 1st November.

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Today, the Gianfar Peaks sims invite all dragons, & dracophiles, of whatever breed, genre, world, age or style, to a memorial service for Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragonriders of Pern stories, who passed away last week.  It will be held at 3pm SLT, Sunday 27th November at the Weyr Bowl at Shaula Weyr.

Weyr Bowl at Shaula Weyr, Gianfar Peaks

Weyr Bowl at Shaula Weyr, Gianfar Peaks

As they explain: “On Anne’s Pern, when a dragon, rider or person (or other creature) passes on, and the dragons wish to honour them, they keen – making an eerie, haunting sound, as a sign of their grief. The dragons of Shaula Weyr will be gathering at 3pm, on Sunday, 27th November, 2011, to keen for Anne; and we invite any and all other dragons to join us. There will be an opportunity for anyone who wishes, to say (or sing) a few words, in text or in voice.

“We are a roleplay sim, but this event will be OOC, and anyone asking for information about Gianfar will be directed to our welcome area on Kuma. This is a memorial to someone who has touched our lives, and will be sorely missed.”

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You can see a taster for this Monday’s show on our Designing Worlds channel on You Tube:

It’s a stunning location – well, a series of locations – you won’t want to miss this one!

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