Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Metaversel: Double Take

Last night, in a dual exhibition on Francogrid and SL, Anne Astier (virtually known as Mariaka Nishi) presented her new show, Welcoming Woman. it's a sort of family album, looking at the thoughts and feelings surrounding parenthood.
To be honest, not something I could get fired up about; pictures of, and by, other people's kids aren't that interesting. At least not as much as Mum and Dad imagine. However, the show was part of IMAB, the intergrid arts festival, and was the first to involve a dual stream in both worlds. There was a nice big screen at Francogrid, and of course in SL too. The transmission wasn't perfectly smooth; for some of us, on FG, there was no picture despite furious toggling; but luckily the thing was also transmitted on Livestream, so we could all get a chance to see what was happening. Well, we got a good look at the cleavage of the ladies present at the event, anyway. Which I suppose is something Mothery, right?
It took 5 attempts to get to FG from home, via Hyperica; when I finally got there, only the tickertape at the bottom of the screen would load for me. Maybe not being a 'local' FG resident prevented me seeing the picture - but it didn't matter. I was far more fascinated by the kilt worn by Francogrid's genial president Fabrice Parisi. Nice knees.
While the group attending the opening in FG was small, there was a fine turnout in Second Life, in part to recognize the work of the Tournicoton Gallery (which closes this week due to financial constraints), and in part no doubt because Ultraviolet Alter was due to perform after the presentation.
Ultra put on a great show, and there were many familiar faces at the event, including the Monarch of SL art, Bryn Oh, sporting an unfamiliar face - this is his new look. I like it a lot; the post-apocalyptic beanie, the army boots and the greatcoat suggest austere times for which the artist is prepared. I suggested a sidearm might be in order - not a utility belt, please, they've been done and done. He mentioned a possible accessory, which would be a paradox of utility - I hope he shows it off to the world soon.
As usual, the Imprudence Viewer makes mesh far more amusing than it's meant to be; Apmel got some great photos of the SL side of the event, go to his blog or his Facebook page to check them out.
On the whole, from the IMAB point of view, the show was a moderate success. Most of the public seemed to know little or anything of Francogrid prior to Mariaka's presentation, so that was a positive step forward, but having identical exhibitions in both worlds does not really encourage anyone to get off their pixellated butts and go into open sim. And although appearance is not everything, people do like to feel they can look their best at events - in many cases it's their only contribution to the evening. Clothes, skins and poses are available, it's up to us to make the most of them, however 'superficial' that side of things may seem. It kind of matters.
Here's hoping we will get more shows in Francogrid soon. It is a lovely grid, full of interesting projects in Cognitive Science, Cinema, Art and Literature. Perhaps, too, more SLers will get the open sim bug, and come and see what's going on.
Kilts option, of course.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to Chat: Twinity

You know exactly how it is. Loads to do, deadlines looming, and that little demon inside you says 'nah... let's go play'. So for absolutely no reason, a trip back to Twinity.
It's been a year, and what has changed. First of all, all the cities have disappeared. Apparently it's due to copyright issues with the Maps that formed the basis for those fabulous builds for which Twinity was rightly famous. *visualizing Googlemaps using a large stick". Well, hold on a minute, looking back, it seems that even a year ago, it wasn't possible to visit Tower Bridge, despite the pics of it plastered all over their site back then.
There was a free apartment waiting for Thirza, on arrival. It's supposed to be in Berlin, but there's no berliner ambiance; could be in a sealed container, since you can't really cam out of the window far enough to see, and you certainly don't seem to be able to go walkabout at all. There is no air here. But hey, real estate. Woot, right?
But hanging around in an empty apartment gets old surprisingly quickly. Logical step - go look for people. The main hangout is called The Pyramid, or somesuch name. Invitations to 'parties' and 'events' pop up pretty often on your screen. 
Unrezzed Twinity people are transparent, but anatomically correct - much nicer than SL's lil cloud, and lag seems to be non existent. The conversation was a pretty highbrow. It was really hard to resist the invite to Whitney's party.  It was going to be Awesome.
But no! resist! There's so much more to do, than plumb the awesomeness of Whitney's party. This crappy hair has to go. But what alternatives are there?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hobo from home

 Hobo. I say that, you probably think Thinkerer. But not this time: it's Patti Mallory, aka Judy Muircastle, who for years has had a Hobo dream all her own; a living, growing place of spills and thrills, the Hobo Fun Fair.
 Judy Muircastle: I built my first park on SL in 2008. It was built in the memory of my late RL husband. He felt so sorry for the homeless, and he loved amusement parks in RL,  so I decided to call it Hobo Park. I went to SL under the advice of my RL brother to get my mind off things. When  I learned I could build, I knew right away what I wanted to do, and started studying. It really has helped me heal from it all - it's just so much fun!

I visited the SL version with

Friday, September 7, 2012

IMAB Begins

The Intergrid Metaverse Arts Biennial isn't just a mouthful, it's also an interesting art project headed by Velazquez Bonetto and Josina Burgess. They want to raise awareness of multimedia art in all grids. They are based in Second life (with a presence on the Metropolis grid) and the IMAB ball rolling with a performance of The Change, a mixture of music, scripted scenes, costumes, particles, and general-mind blowing virtuosity. The show will be repeated each Sunday at 2pm PST on sim Benvolio (SL)so don't worry that you missed the premiere, which was timed to coincide with the centenary of visionary scientist Nicholas Schoffer. More about the opening night on the IMAB home page.
 Tonight, the fun continues with

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cherry on top

This week the already beautiful Francogrid just got even more beautiful. Terra Mater is now home to Cherry Manga, one of SL's top visual artists. Look in the sidebar for a page of instructions on how to visit, via hypergrid.
 For those of you who still hang out in SL sometimes, never fear, Cherry's store and showcase Mysterious Wave on sim Dark Swamp, a space she shares with fellow artist Anley Piers, is not going anywhere.
Here in Francogrid, she's sharing with another fine builder and lover of prims, her RL husband, Archael Magic, who she met in SL and married a couple of years ago. After just four days in Francogrid, Cherry and  fellow builder (or, as he prefers, 'cube maker') Archael are cautiously optimistic. This is still 'just a try'. The high prim limit and the free uploads are still delightful novelties. It's a place where both will be able to build side by side, which may slightly ammortise the sense of loneliness that most expats experience when

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Open Wales

Welcome, or should that be Croeso, to Little Wales, Susannah Avonside's home from home on Speculoos grid, handily reachable from Osgrid, for anybody who still hasn't figured out HYPERGRIDDING IS EASY, AND HAS BEEN FOR AGES...  
OK, calm down, have a cuppa, and a Welsh cake, and remember the people who get on the bus last are always the noisiest. The folk of Open Sim have been plugging away quietly for years, refining and improving the system in many different ways, and Susannah's been doing her bit, by adding a fascinating corner to inform and delight anyone who's curious about wales and its culture.
Susannah.Avonside: After being on SL for a while, I kind of got bitten by the virtual world bug and felt that SL was needlessly restrictive, predicated on greed. Being an enthusiastic supporter of Open Source (I've been a Linux user for four years now) I read up and discovered Open Sim and OS Grid. I created my first OS Grid avi in April 2010, but that first experience must have left a lot to be desired, as I didn't log into OSG for more than 18 months. Eventually I found my account details and password on an old half forgotten HDD, and came back to, well, 'Ruth'. I saw that there had been

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coming to Grief

Wandering from grid to grid has become such a piece of cake. Anyone can do it, jumping from Upper to Lower (with some stopoffs in the super-convenient Hyperica stations) using a single avatar. 
Backwaters, in other words apparently private or obscure grids, are now within Anyone's reach, and that may not be such a great thing, since the population of 'Anyone' seems to include a fair number of jerks.
Look what they did to EUITOP, a tiny Spanish Polytechnic grid, with a little Linda Kellie downtown area. The place is overrun by raw spheres spewing, in a sinister, almost Lovecraftesque manner, from the lagoon. 
The spheres bear the name of a lady from Francogrid, I won't name 'her', but it's easy to see who it is. Euitop is a relatively new world, it only joined the Hyperica database in March of this year, and still has Build open to anyone. We've all experienced the

Saturday, June 9, 2012


"It was a willingness of the heart."
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crackup
If you want free land, here's where to be - Les Carpathes. At the heart of this new grid you'll find some stunning sims, easily rivalling many builds in Second Life.
vladimir Djannovic and his lovely RL wife Miranda left their wealthy vampire life in SL in favour of another way of life. Here, they can be in virtual worlds, and have a safe place to bring their older children, too.
Miranda Djannovic: Ici, tout est gratuit pas de fric et pas de debauche.
Well said.
It's early days yet, just 40 residents on the books, spread out over a

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cereal Builder

Not one of these deserves the praise
That welcomer of new-born days, 
A breakfast, merits; ever giving 
Cheerful notice we are living 
Is it a fish, is it a bird, is it a refrigerator? You decide - on the Cornflakes region of Osgrid, located also inside the brain of the grid's zaniest (and nicest) Swede, Cornflakes Woodcock.
The region is carpeted in a red and blue nylon twill that conveys both safety and severity. It's a minimalist landscape graced by - what to call them? Cornflakes steers clear of any pompous noun for what he does, falling back on terms like 'thingies' and 'stuffies' to describe his output. 
Toys or models seems the most appropriate way to describe them, a plastic fantastic collection of playthings. Even the man himself seems like a doll of sorts. 
 Cornflakes Woodcock: Cornflakes? Oh, he reflects my personality. Never liked the idea of making me a Ken doll. Garry [Beaumont] is complaining about my carpet used on the sim, he says it give him a hard time seeing. I told him that I use the same pattern on the inside of my skull to make it even. 
Crank up your draw distance to take it all in. Cornflakes' region runs smooth as silk; that's one of the advantage of running sims on your own server. Another is the complete control you have over things like inventory. No nerdy fingers experimenting with 'cleaning up' the grid and losing all your treasures. After starting in Second Life in 2007, he came over to Osgrid in 2010, drawn by the prospect of space, and the desire to escape the reality-bound commercialism of the grid. Although he defines himself as a bit of a lone wolf, his region included a Sandbox from the start. 
Cornflakes Woodcock: What I was attracted to here is the possibility to create things, and leave them out instead of keeping them in the inventory. So maybe OS grid is helping people to be more creative. SL is just a place were they rip you off if you would like to make a place of your own. I made the sandbox here beacuse people need a place to rez things, and I was actually living there from the begining 2010. It was a fun place to live and to meet other creative people. In SL I was pretty much living in sandboxes or up on my platform 700 meters. I left, in the frustration of never having all my creations around me. This region is an inspiration source for me. I can pan around and look closer to my creations, and suddenly a new idea pops up. 
From those old days in SL, he brought with him several pieces, including the giant scorpion. One of the advantages usually cited by artists in SL is the cross-pollination that takes place, visiting other's installs, and attending openings. (Not to mention bitching and griefing.)

Cornflakes Woodcock: I did that a bit - go and see installation art. But I like to create, and to go explore steals time from that. It's pretty much the same here. 
That said, he's quick to honour the work of others. You can see a range of Star Trek ships including a magnificent Bird of Prey in the sky gallery. They're the work of a friend, Cornflakes is quick to point out - the merit belongs elsewhere! It's the kind of building task he personally would find 'too realistic' to do, but he likes the ships and was pleased to give them a home. Below, games of perspective keep your cam and your imagination constantly at work. Despite his cry for a less 'realistic' world, Cornflakes is far from an abstract artist. 
A robo-dog and her puppies - no bigger than an avatar's shoe - shelter under the giant ship. Some are set pieces, others look like a jumble of toys at first glance, but closer reflection reveals a little tableau of conflict. 

On the Freebie sim, harsh primary colours, clown figures and comical blocks square off against more organic shapes with sleek metallic lines, or detailed textures. Many are domestic, down-to-earth scenes with a twist - the giant clothes peg, or the improbable fish in its tiny, yet giant bowl. 
  The Sandbox contains Storm Petersen-like vehicles, and the Cornflakes' ingenious rats making off with the cheese. 
Primbuilds abound, but they're mixed with the softer lines of sculpts, when he feels the need. 
There is no prim-only snobbery here, nor any desire for the phoney fame so beloved of SL artists. No hostility either - after all, without Linden technology giving OpenSim a leg up, where would we be. But back to the 'thingys' - difficult work? 
Cornflakes Woodcock: They are mostly hard to do - all of them with some exceptions. If you check the prims on my thingys, you will find that there are a lot of them in my creations. and that takes time, but the dustbuster and levitated Dummies were two of the hardest ones.
Cornflakes' sense of humour is tinged with something darker, here and there. In the lumber room of his mind, the light flickers off and on. Could it be a rat problem? He points to the rats with their pickup.
Cornflakes Woodcock: Those are a bunch of Cornflakes rats stealing cheese. They chew my wiring off and makes me build crazy thingys. Got a lot of those in my brain. 
Cornflakes Woodcock: It's a virtual world, so why must things look like in real life? Never understood that. I try my best to bend on the RL rules, as you can see. I hope the people who like my stuffies will come to understand that there are other ways around. Hopefully my mission will be fullfilled someday, so others bend the rules too.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Hats off the Pathfinder, once again we have evidence of his greatness.
To take someone hypergridding for the first time doesn't sound like much of a big deal, especially these days. Yet, once you've volunteered to accompany a group, suddenly the enormity of the situation dawns. Urk!
The IMAB  group, who are currently working on a new multi-grid art festival, wanted some pointers on how to jump. Did you click on the link, and find, by way of an introduction to the project, a paragraph that is Byzantine at best, and probably copy/pasted from elsewhere, possibly from a notecard of some sort? Yeah, so did I.
It's never easy to establish a good time for teaching events, when you have people from all over the US and Europe who supposedly want to take part. I was secretly kind of glad when in fact only Alizarin Goldflake and Medora Chevalier showed up for our mini lesson.
The problem with hypergridding with newbies is that jumping is rarely instantaneous. Lag, or hesitation happens, and you spend a lot of time wondering if they are lost, or crashed, or slow, or what. Should you go back to look for them, or will that just make it worse? Are they not answering in IM because they are too far away? Should you mention the fact that they are now wearing only lingerie, or have no hair, or (blushes) boobage showing? I don't know how Path does it!
On this trip, I was a cloud for a long time, but the reason was obvious. My shoes. It was either the Invisiprims, or the fact that I had been editing linked parts while they were attached to me. Either way, simple solution - go barefoot.
There is no shortage of destinations. Maria Korolov's website showcases both classic destinations, and newer ones, and Pathfinder's excellent blog hooks you up with new, or newly emerging places of interest, and lots of other people are blogging about their adventures too. Having missed out on going on HGAC trips in recent weeks, this trip with Medora and Alizarin re-kindled the desire to get back into the routine. Pathfinder helpfully sends out emails regarding upcoming trips, and often chronicles the event afterwards - it's all on his blog.
Void Pipe's Hypergates, Alba, Osgrid
So - where to go? It seemed appropriate to show them a beautiful 'old fashioned' blamgate, and your common or garden hypergate. We checked out the two examples on Void Pipe's beautiful sim in osgrid. Ali saw how clicking on the green hypergate opens a window suggesting destinations (the same kind of stuff found, obviously, on the Hyperica website.) Bear in mind that not all destinations are online, or still currently at that address. Grids move!
At this point, you want a nice, up-to-the minute 2D map of where all the grids are, to get it clear in your mind, don't ? Yeah.
I don't have one.
Hyperica Central
Anyway, then off we went to the Hyperica Central. As you know, the three Hyperica islands have pavilions on them, each containing about 30 or so hyperpools (direct links to specific destinations on other grids). The Pavilions make it easier to choose where to go - destinations are divided into 'Shopping', 'Activities', 'Education', and 'Main Grids'. You step over the hyperpool linked with your chosen destination - take a breath - and suddenly, you're elsewhere! However, if you don't fall through, well, choose another destination is my advice - that'a a much quicker route to fun and relaxation than trying to figure out why it didn't work. Alizarin fancied going to Pathlandia, but it seemed to be down. We ended up going to FrancoGrid. Once there, Ali got frozen. It was quite a surprise that she hadn't crashed really. My own first forays were full of horrendous crashing. Things have improved since then! We moved on to  New World Grid. It was Medora's choice, as she wanted to go somewhere educational. We found ourselves looking at Graham Mill's molecules on BioZone. Nice!
Biozone by Graham Mills
Lastly, off to VirtuYou, via the Map, to see the lovely Asterix sim (which needs more interactive scripts!). There were a couple of moments there when I thought I'd lost my companions, but no - we all managed to stick together, and it was a surprisingly smooth ride.
If you've already got half an idea where you want to go, say from this page of Landmarks, you can just  jump by using your Map. Here are the steps.
1. Open the Map, put the hypergrid address (it's going to have a number in it, like 8000 or 9000)
2. Hit Search, wait and see if the map can find it. If the destination is too far away, you'll need to find a stopover grid, somewhere in the middle.
3. Hit Teleport.
I've found that the Map will sometimes throw a wobbly, denying the existence of a specific sim or even a whole grid with the annoying message 'Invalid location'. But if it can't find the precise address, it will often find the grid's Main or Welcome sim, simply remove the name of the Landing area from the end of the address. Then you can refine your search once you arrive.
NIFLAR Asterix village, VirtYou
Seeing it through the eyes of my two friends, it was striking to realize how very different Open Sim is to SL. The loneliness, the freedom, the wildness of strange lands. Let's hope the IMAB project is able to capture that and share it with a wider audience.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Car - ma

This is probably the one and only time you'll find a post about my stuff in this blog, but we had such fun tonight it seemed something you might like to see.
On my private grid, for some time now I've been working on driveable cars. It's easy enough to build a chassis and to get the lights and sound working, but the driving script proved a bit more of a challenge. This was my first effort, a sort of sporty number. I also made some funny anims to go with it, where both passenger and driver wave at passers by and at times cover their eyes. Looks like my companion's searching for a map in the glove box. *should have built a garmin*.
Those of you who know me in SL are familiar with my partner Snow, who's very good at scripting. But mostly he takes it to a higher level than just drivin' around. And, as they say, at the plumber's house, all the taps leak. 
In lieu of a really effective driving script, I moved on to making vintage cars. There are four so far. They're kind of pedestrian, but mmm! shiny!
This blue one is my favorite. The texture is a handmade seamless Lapis Lazuli,  all cool  and slick looking. 
 We got a bit too enthusiastic, and managed to crash two of them. Yeah, I know. Women drivers. All this space, and nowhere to park!
 The driving script works just fine with the arrow keys, except for one thing, the car goes incrementally higher if you go forward. So within a few hundred horizontal yards, you find yourself 50 feet up in the air. Not that we minded. The engine puttered and the tail pipe smoked. Ooh there's a thought, a radio. With static.
 After all there's the little matter of me not having really labelled the 'Passenger' and 'Driver' poseballs right, so it's always a bit unclear who's driving. Blame it on too much multitasking. New grids are great but there's just so darn much to do. Didn't matter. We both pressed arrow keys,  for fun. 
 The script has, in the past, made the whole grid crash. Perhaps. Who can really be sure it wasn't a coincidence? But I think trying to fly off the edge of the sims probably doesn't do.
 In fact, we try not to even fly out of the one region. It's strange how quickly the vast open spaces of open sim aren't nearly enough. In SL my 1/3 of a sim always seemed huge and way more than I needed. Out here, four sims, with your draw distance open to the max, seem just a handkerchief square in the face of the giant builds that spring to mind.
 My favourite bit of this car is the fan in the radiator. The least good bit - the headlights. But some work on particle scripts should sort out all that 'don't try to walk through the beams' trouble. At a certain point, my gal pal Hotti jumped out to check if the back wheels were following the front wheels. Turns out they were. Hopefully too we can fix the jumpiness in the visual effect in time also - the passenger tends not to move with the car, but hangs back, as if on elastic, and ping into position about half a second after the car has moved. On the other hand, there's the same issue in Arcadia Asylum's metro trains, on osgrid, so that's not bad company to be in. 
After a hilarious drive around the Welcome sim, including a trip to the top of the tower you see in the background, we were ready to quit. And inspired, perhaps, to iron out the wrinkles and build some more. Which is surely the point of it all.
What larks.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Full Immersion

Happy Saint Paddy's to you, if you're a believer. You're not going to be short of places to celebrate, but make Belfast in OSGrid part of your patriotic pub crawl today. They will have live music starting at 1pm SLT, (that's this evening from 9, for us in Europe) and the lineup includes Joaquin Gustav, Truelie Ellen, and some DJ's playing 'rare Irish Vinyl' to finish up with. All this, free Guiness - and the Titanic's 100th birthday - can you afford not to be there?
 In virtual worlds, we're always lamenting the transient nature of builds, but the real world can be just as bad. The city of Belfast has had much of its cultural heart ripped out over the years; not the marble mausoleums of Power, but the beating heart of real people, in the form of familiar landmarks, beloved, if dilapidated watering holes, and those everyday places that are as the air we breathe, an unassuming part of ourselves. In the past few decades, property developers have carved up the shabbier areas, often in a high handed way, and sometimes, the public has fought back, The Rotterdam is a case in point. But not all of it can be protected. It's a nice paradox, in a city of paradoxes, to see how stoifan nbmcmedia,  Izzie Applewhite, Paul Emery, Rebecca Travis, and the great Bob Solo are using virtual worlds to save the memories.
The Titanic was built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff yard, and they've done something the preposterous James Cameron can never do - they have brought the ship home for all to see. It lies muffled in misty  water in a wet dock, demure and decaying, occasionally hinting at its former glory.
 There's a real sense of haunted history down here. Fish pop out of the railings, and once in a while, you'll think you saw a ghost in the half light.
 Stoifan was dancing what appeared to be the last waltz with the lovely Mauvereen O'Hara as we chatted. The shark circled hungrily, but we didn't let that bother us. I peeped into the drowned Ballroom. You could almost hear the piano tinlking away. Spooky.
stoifan nbmcmedia: I started building in SL 6 years ago this June. I built a replica of the Rotterdam and ran The Maritime as well. But I wanted to build other buildings that were at risk or already gone, some from bombs during troubles, some from greedy property developers.  I've been in osgrid about two and half  years, now. I met all my fellow builders in SL, but we opted for OSGrid for a number of reasons: the expense, and because here we have full control over the servers. We have 15 sims here, 4 on Kitely and another 4 standalone, where we are building virtual Detroit. 
The team make OAR exports (a copy of an entire sim, including the land) of their builds, and in particular are looking to attract new users by making their Titanic build  available in different forms, and there's a strong emphasis on the teaching and heritage here.
stoifan nbmcmedia: It's a great way to introduce people to virtual reality. I wouldn't want to put anyone through the nitemare of their first time in SL. Kitely is by far the easiest way to get new users to try out virtual worlds. People can download the OAR then load to Kitely and have their own private titanic anniversary in a few clicks! We also have a version open to public on Kitely. We even have a sim-on-a-stick version, with premade characters that can be used for education, for example, behind a school firewall, so kids can explore the deck, and the engine rooms and get a feel for the place and the time in a truly ...immersive environment.
We decided to take a stroll. Mauvereen was none to happy to be abandoned. These bots have feelings, too.
Mauvereen Ohara: Jaysus your a clumsy big countryman you have left my feet like boiled hams feck off and learn how to dance gracefully like that lovely stiofain x!
We moved on to the Tea Room, a huge expanse of elegant tables.  A photo in the window shows just how close it comes to the real thing.
stiofain nbmcmedia: It is important that Belfast reclaims the Titanic heritage. About half the people I talk to don't know it was built in the city. For me, there's a personal connection. My great grandfather was a master carpenter and instrument maker, and his firm worked on the original Titanic. I'm not sure exactly what he made, but is nice to think I maybe built the same thing out of pixels that he made from mahogany or cedarwood, a hundred yrs ago.