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Archive for February, 2008

Exciting news about Meta Makeover – our first pilot show is now available on the web!

Just click on the image to see our show (it lasts about half an hour).

As it’s a pilot, it’s still a little rough and ready, but you can still see the amazing and gorgeous work that Anhayla Lycia of Treesong Designs did on the garden, and that Zasa Rossini of f La Belle Vie did on the upper floor. I’d like to thank them, and Jeannie Moonflower of Bygone Days for all their hard work.

And don’t miss the fantastic set design either. That was a custom job created for us by Rrishanna Regina and Prad Prathivi from PRrim Designs.

We’ll be able to post another episode very soon!

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the original servery at The LairTwice recently, I’ve been contacted by friends and advertisers who have found other stores selling goods that are suspiciously similar to products that they market themselves. One was Sue Stonebender who, at Serendipity Studios, sells her amazing pianos. The other was kalli and kadri Heart whose store at The Lair contains a wealth of really beautiful furniture, exquisitely finished. Indeed, kalli and kadri Heart, the sisters who own The Lair are our designers of the month for our March issue.

So I was disturbed to get an IM from kadri telling me that one of their customers had warned them that a copy of one of their pieces was being sold in another store. I popped over, and kadri showed me the evidence for myself – this piece here on the left is the original.

How do you know a piece is a copy? Well, a good way is to use the Inspect menu. Right click on an object, and then click More, and then More again. This will give you an option to Inspect, and clicking on this will bring up details about the prims that went into the object.

Quite often, you’ll see that the prims have different dates and time – it can be interesting to trace the history of how the piece was put together from this. And it will suggest that you’re looking at an original piece – each prim should have the creator’s name attached to it. So, if you have a chair designed by Any Designer, and you adore the sitting position, looking at the Inspect menu should should you the scripter/store that supplied that poseball, and you can pay them a visit. You’ll also see the primary prim in the piece that the whole thing links around – it’s very interesting!

Sometimes, the Inspect menu has a single time and date attached – looking as though the whole piece was created in an instant. There’s nothing wrong with this – you’ll see it with pieces on sale from wholly reputable and totally honest designers. It usually means that the piece has been copied from something the designer has in their inventory – perhaps because they’ve copied an existing chair and changed the texture of the seating, for example. However, unless something has gone horribly wrong, the real designer should have the original piece somewhere.

If that instantaneous time shows on a piece you’re concerned about, however, it’s an additional warning, and would certainly justify a friendly chat with the person labelled the creator.

The two pieces side by sideThe real check here is that the dates will give the game away. The real designer should be able to show the earliest date – the copied object will have a later date – and the copier won’t be able to show an earlier object.

In the case of The Lair, the copy is not a patch on the original (as you can see here, with the two pieces together – the copy on the left). It uses an all-over texture of wood, whereas the product made by kalli typically has great attention paid to detail in the texturing. There are slight variations in the rear part of the piece, but the overall detailing is just too close to be chance. There’s scripting too in kalli’s piece – the pump operates a lovely delicate particle water effect, while the copy just has a solid stream depicted.

If you want to check this for yourselves – the Heart sisters have both pieces on display at The Lair. The similarities are even more striking when you see them in three dimensions. And you can show your support for their work at the same time.

What, in this situation, can the designer do? They can, of course, complain to Linden Lab. Intellectual Property is a cornerstone of Second Life – if this is undermined so that honest designers have no recourse against theft, Second Life will have major problems retaining creative entrepreneurs.

Copy of Sue Stonebender's piano textureAnother way is to alert supporters and members of their groups to what has happened. This is what Sue Stonebender did recently when she discovered that a piano from her Serendipity Studios, using her textures, was being sold in a store and on SLEX. This isn’t the first time Sue and her partner, Baron Grayson, have faced the problem:

“From time to time Baron & I are made aware of people who have either stolen our textures and are selling them as or on their own work, or who have copied our work prim for prim. Most designers deal with this at some point, & we’ve always been very grateful when our customers give us the heads-up when something like this happens. We always look into it and contact the person selling the copied/stolen item. Most of the time people remove it from their shop. Not always.

“As the population increases, so do the incidents of IP theft. You have to pick your battles and decide if you are going to spend all your time chasing petty crooks, or concentrate on your core business and just keep releasing new things. Sometimes, however, an incident is really hard to look past, and we’ve had to make choices about this on more than one occassion: one seller who is still selling many of our items (and many that she has copied from other designers) as her own on her own sim and on SL Exchange, another who was selling stripped copies of my $50 sheet music for $500 a piece (yes, that garnered me a lot of screaming customers thinking I was the creator and ripping them off). We invest a great deal of time into our creations, and are committed to maintaining 4 sims that are primarily explorations, not retail, so when what we create is stolen it not only hurts our livelihood but our ability to continue bringing new things to do and explore to our region.”

This time Sue decided to act, and informed the Tryst group of what was happening. Politely asking the store owner to remove it was no no avail, but filling the store with people loudly discussing how appalling this was soon had an effect! He apologised, and withdrew the piano from sale.

That episode turned out to be a case of texture theft, which is even more common, sadly. The creator of the disputed piano had purchased the textures from someone she thought was a reputable dealer. Unfortunately, she was mistaken – which meant that all her work was with stolen textures.

As Sue Stonebender said, “It’s disheartening and hard to want to stay in business when you invest so much time in your work only to have it repeatedly stolen and resold for someone else to profit by.”

We are planning to cover textures in more depth in this coming issue of Prom Perfect, and we have a super article on textures coming up soon for the blog!

There are also signs that designers are beginning to unite against texture theft – among other things, Stroker Serpentine, Munchflower Zaius, Delora Starbrook and Lucius Obviate are co-ordinating the Merchant Theft Protection Group, and supplying a web forum. In addition, Chez Nabob is setting up an intellectual property rights awareness campaign which will launch towards the end of this week with a series of about seven ads featuring several of SL’s most well-known content creators. The object is to try to educate as many residents as possible about the issues, costs and consequences of content theft and IP rights violations.

Obvioudly, Prim Perfect will be covering these developments in detail.

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Nestled into a hillside in Gooruembalchi, there is a fun store and fascinating attraction known as Splash Aquatics.

Splash Aquatics front

Each tier of the store features a different product in a natural setting. There is a swimming pool, outdoor ponds, fountains, and wildlife. My favorite area is the habi-domes with penguins, beavers, and sea turtles, but the store is more famous for its deep sea aquarium and walk through tunnel. They also offer SCUBA equipment and the opportunity to explore the deep sea tank from the inside.

Splash Aquatics deep sea walkthrough

Finally at the top tier of the store, there are aquarium supplies – tanks, gravel, fish, and decorations. For the truly adventurous, they offer pirahanas that claim to bite. I don’t want to find out!

The newest area of Splash Aquatics is just beyond the habi-domes. Snuggled into a grove of trees is a cinema offering wildlife videos. Next to that is ‘Liquid’, an event area available for rent with an intimate stage downstairs and a larger stage with dance floor upstairs.

Splash Aquatics - Liquid and cinema

This is a wonderful place to explore as well as shop. The owner realizes that and sprinkles the areas with cushions, chairs, and benches. A picnic with the penguins, anyone?

Splash Aquatics - Habi-domes and picnic tables

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Plant from Bygone DaysOnce again there’s a Treasure Hunt in this month’s edition of Prim Perfect. There are TWELVE stores taking part this month – and you have to visit the store to discover the prim count of each of the pieces featured in the magazine. You’ll find instructions on how to find the prim count for an item on our Treasure Hunt Information page.

Today’s clue is another fun one from Jeannie Moonflower of Bygone Days. When she showed me this, I promptly said – “This looks like one of my plants.” And doesn’t it make a lovely (and highly realistic) addition to any Second Life home? Don’t we all have plants like this that we’e desperately attempting to revive?

Jeannie, as many of you know, is well known for her beautiful and realistic creations of period furniture – she recently worked on the most lovely ground floor for the Metamakeover show – and produced a splendid kitchen.

Kitchen from Bygone DaysSome of you (many of you, I hope!) will have seen the big house kitchen Poppet McGimsie produced for Morgaine Manor, which was featured in the December edition of Prim Perfect. Jeannie produced a kitchen of a similar era, but for a far less grand home with a wealth of fascinating details.

There’s a series of pictures as part of the broader set about the Makeover House, so you can see more shots of the downstairs, including a magnificent sewing room.  But I have a real weakness for the kitchen with its carefully crafted detail, right down to the clothes drying over the kitchen range!  I remember my grandmother having a drying rack like that, when I was so very tiny that the distance she hauled it up towards the ceiling seemed to be immense.

Her stove was rather more modern though!

With its special sink for washing clothes and the fearsome mangle, this is the perfect kitchen for people who want to have a kitchen area in their period home, but lack a vast amount of space to place it.   Although someone this organised would probably not be hunting for a spectacularly wilting plant …

That, however, is your task as you pursue the next stage of the Treasure Hunt.

For the treasure hunt competition, what you have to do is to find as many prim counts as you can, and send the details to primperfect@gmail.com, including your avatar name and an answer to the tiebreak question (which you’ll find in the magazine on Page 90). The person to find the most prim counts will win – and in the event of a tie, we will use the tie-breaker. Also: – you don’t necessarily have to find every prim count to win a prize! Just find as many as you can – by March 5th 2008.

See our earlier clues here:
February Treasure Hunt – Clue 1: Submariner Fabrications
February Treasure Hunt – Clue 2: Sweetbay Designs

Another clue will be appearing shortly!

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Spaceport Alpha

Did you ever want to ride a rocket into orbit? You can do this and explore many other related exhibits at the International Spaceflight Museum, located at Spaceport Alpha.Sponsored by NASA and JPL, The International Spaceflight Museum reminds me greatly of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Unlike KSC though, which has a more-or-less clear route to follow through the exhibits, ISM goes off in several directions. I picked one at random and started to meander.

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ISM has wonderful exhibits, like the solar system simulator (you can see Neptune and Uranus off to the far left—Pluto was off doing its own thing and had a pointer) and a map of Cape Canaveral.

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Other interesting exhibits include a planetarium, a model of the shuttle robot arm (which you can maneuver yourself), and a rocket ride which will take you into low earth orbit where you can see models of the Space Shuttle Endeavor, the International Space Station, and the Hubble Telescope. (Warning on the rocket ride: Passengers will experience launch forces in excess of 7 Gs and reach an altitude of 400 km. Do not board this rocket if you have a fear of 1. Small spaces 2. Vacuums 3. Exploding. Heh. Particularly amused at the exploding part.)

You can teleport from the low earth orbit platform out to explore the planets in our solar system. Very, very shiny. If you do or see nothing else at ISM, I suggest seeing the planet exhibit.

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At one point I’d found that I’d accidentally left ISM and meandered into Exploration Island to the south—hey, but there are some cool things there, too! In the Mars Mountain area I rode on the Mars Explorer Rover Sojourner as it poked around, flew with the glider, and rode the airbag display as it bounced down the mountain. (You have to be quick to sit on it.)

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Watch out for dust devils here—they’re three times more powerful than tornadoes on Earth. According to the provided information, you and two friends can ride a dust devil around Mars Mountain.

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After the dust devil passed I felt the need to rest a bit in the sitting area off to the right. Too bad I couldn’t pick up the coffee there—I really wanted a cuppa about then. (Below, Perry looks longingly at the steaming coffee in the very fashionable NASA mug.)

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Then it was back to Spaceport Alpha and the ISM. One of the very cool things about ISM is that it can offer a live feed from NASA. There are several areas where you can just sit and watch, for instance, a shuttle launch.

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Rockets from missions past and various countries are on display here in the Rocket Ring. Built to scale, they make a striking silhouette against the sky. Information placards are located at the base of each rocket.

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What visit wouldn’t be complete without visiting the gift shop? (I wanted some freeze-dried ice cream.) I did visit, and I found a WORKING TELESCOPE!

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Okay, so it cost me about as much as I would spend on a good skin… But it works! It’s scripted, and not only do you appear to look through the telescope, you can also see actual NASA photos. Very shiny. I immediately went home and tried it for myself.

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So if you’ve ever wanted to be an astronaut, or just have an interest in things spacey, Spaceport Alpha is a great place to visit. If you have more time on your hands, consider checking out some of the adjacent sims: Science School, Spaceport Bravo, Explorer Island, and NASA CoLab.

The International Spaceflight Museum can be found at Spaceport Alpha 49/79/24
Telescope created by Jenika Connelly of Jenika’s Eyes and Optics (Neon 23/75/22)

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Though the delightful French sim, Paris 1900, is still snow-covered, its elegance and delight is not disguised. Developed by YadNi Monde (for whom we all have a nostalgic gratitude for sponsoring the freebie warehouse that saw many of us through our newbie days), you can browse the shopping, visit the Moulin Rouge, ride the zip line from the top of the Arc de Triomphe or meander on a vintage bicycle.

I wasn’t in a very energetic mood, so I dressed in something marginally sophisticated and enjoyed a sip of absinthe at Le Cafe des Artistes.

I’ll be back.

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Greenhouse from Sweetbay DesignsOnce again there’s a Treasure Hunt in this month’s edition of Prim Perfect. There are TWELVE stores taking part this month – and you have to visit the store to discover the prim count of each of the pieces featured in the magazine. You’ll find instructions on how to find the prim count for an item on our Treasure Hunt Information page.

Today’s clue comes from Sweetbay Designs in Sweetbay – where followmeimthe Piedpiper (known to her friends as Pip) has been very hard at work recently! This greenhouse is one of her latest pieces – I love the way you can open a hatch on the roof to vary the temperature if all that glass makes it too hot! With a solid, brick built base and a natural wood frame to let in as much air as possible, this makes the perfect place for nurturing your seedlings and growing your tomatoes.

But Pip has been formidably busy recently. In the most recent edition of the magazine, I’ve mentioned her Cotswold Post Office for Caledon and I talked about her amazingly polished ballroom floor when presenting her LAST Treasure Hunt clue.

Narrowboat from Sweetbay DesignsBut now she’s extending her range yet further. Her new diner is worth a post to itself, and she’s currently engaged on an exciting new project that she allowed me a sneak preview of – a tradional English narrowboat.

I’ve always loved houseboats, and English narrowboats are a lovely subset of the the genre, featuring really beautiful folk art in the tradition of English fairground art. The colours that Pip has used are characteristic – the boat bottom is black, because it it caulked with tar to make it waterproof, and the upper part is a rich, war red. Even the scrolls and flourishes that enclose the boatbuilder’s name are traditional – all it lacks as yet is the boat name on the hull. And that, of course, is for a lucky owner to decide.

The latest version even includes a watering can painted with roses, a piece of folk art on the narrowboat that has been discussed on Wikipedia!

But for now, let’s concentrate on the greenhouse and the Treasure Hunt.

For the treasure hunt competition, what you have to do is to find as many prim counts as you can, and send the details to primperfect@gmail.com, including your avatar name and an answer to the tiebreak question (which you’ll find in the magazine on Page 90). The person to find the most prim counts will win – and in the event of a tie, we will use the tie-breaker. Also: – you don’t necessarily have to find every prim count to win a prize! Just find as many as you can – by March 5th 2008.

See our earlier clue here:
February Treasure Hunt – Clue 1: Submariner Fabrications

Another clue will be appearing shortly!

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