Friday, January 24, 2014

Dorena's World, and The Singing Sands

Depending on the day, hypergridding is five parts serendipity, four parts tenacious determination, and two parts swearing. There was no particular reason to hypergrid to Dorena's World yesterday, except that it's always easier to jump on a weeknight when the voodoo gods of internet provision are at their most beneficent, ie nobody's in the house sucking up my bandwidth watching videos of One Direction and Violetta. Don't even ask.
Dorena's World (URI: has been around for a long time, in virtual terms. I've been through here before a few times, and always found it empty, so it was quite exciting to see three avatars were in world, among them the actual Dorena!
Dorena Verne and Anachron Young met in SL, and ended up getting together in RL. They built this grid about four years ago as a sort of hideaway, but now share it with over a hundred friends.
So exciting that, of course, everything went pear-shaped. Thank you, Singularity Viewer! The main landing point on Dorena's World appeared to be an underwater chamber. This was problematical because as you know, when you first arrive in a new grid your viewer is already freaking out, there is blurriness and slow loading and instability. In general terms, the best landing place in a grid, speaking strictly from a hypergridder's perspective, is a fairly wide-open, low-prim space that gives you and your viewer time to acclimate. Mystery and ambience are great, but they create frustrating lag. In Dorena's World maybe a large part of the residents live under the sea, making it piscean-appropriate, and why not. I guess newcomers can just suck it up.
But hey! They have a freebie shop! There were actual people on the grid - that was too good an opportunity to pass up. How thrilling to say hello in IM and get a reply! That rarely happens (even in SL).
However the grid took ages to load, then sim-to-sim tp'ing wouldn't work, then there was some freezing, then some crashing and having to re-start my journey from my home grid, jumping through Hyperica Lower (I don't know why they insist they've fixed that 4095 bug, because the latest Kokua and Singularity viewers both still show me the 'No go' message). When I got back to Dorena's World for maybe the third time, I was in the presence of Dorena  and  Anachron. They could see me, but all I could see was deep endless blue sea water, although when I'd seen them for a millisecond on my first arrival, they were in a fairly conventional living room. Knowing I'd probably crash again, I got some quick questions in about the grid, this way in the 7-8 minutes it would take me to come back, they could think of some really good answers. Stuff like: had they found it hard to make their own grid, and what's the greatest satisfaction it gives them? Anachron answered as his English appeared to be the best.
Anachron Young: It took a while to get into making our own grid, but some experience in computers and network technology proved helpful. The best thing is we don't depend on other commercially interested companies. We are a big family, and care for each other.
Well, that's about all I found out. I did ask what I know you're wondering, 'what's up with the people wanting to live at the bottom of the sea?' Apparently, they don't know.
When it comes to events, this week is a good time to visit, because they're celebrating their 4th anniversary and in fact tonight at 10pm they'll be holding a guided tour. They have a bi-weekly dance night on Tuesdays, from 8pm European time, and I would have liked to know more in general about their philosophy regarding community events, because as you're aware that Hypergridding is a slow, serendipitous, open-ended activity. Anachron dismissed me with a link (I hate when people do that) which you'll not be surprised is all in German. It would also have been cool to get a picture because by now I'd finally rezzed on dry land, at a spot of high ground overlooking the town. Fearing that a point-to-point TP would once again screw things up, I asked if they could kindly come up on the hill for a 2 minute photo-shoot. They couldn't. They were off to SL. So that's all folks.
Here's the thing with hypergridding. It's all about patience. After those four or five false starts, the problems melted away. It may also have been that the three avies on the grid had taken off by then; that sometimes helps. Time to sight-see; there were some rough patches when crossing sim borders, but no more freezing and the crashing.

The grid has an old-world SL feel in many ways, primmy, not meshy, so if you have to fall back on Imprudence Viewer (my ancient but remarkably stable HG viewer of choice) you'll not miss out on much. One of the oldest things to see is a picture-show of, let's call it 'Big builds in the real world' (real, and a bit legendary) on sim Anachronia.
Then Vanish appeared.
Vanish Seriath (sometimes Vanish Sands) has been playing music since he was 6, and started playing the guitar at 15. he had a band, the name of which has followed him into virtual worlds: TGIB which is The Grey In Between, but also The Good In Bad and a host of other things. He did a show here in Dorena's World a few days ago, performing on this stage. I missed it, but he has several more coming up, notably in OSGrid (on Events Plaza) on February 16th, and in Metropolis on March 7th.
Apparently all the cool kids of open sim are in Google+ nowadays with explains eloquently why I know jack squat about what is going on; if you'd like to have Vanish come perform his music on your grid, you should look for him there.
Vanish.Sands: I've been writing my own stuff since 1999, so far about 60 songs or so. Much of that predates Virtual Worlds, and I'm really pretty embarrassed about many of them.   Since I've been in Virtual Worlds, I've been writing some poems, and lots of musings and stuff about VW, but no songs so far.  But honestly, the cool thing is that here I can play for audiences from all over the world, which is really the best part of being a musician.
With his partner El Firecaster, Vanish inhabits a fairy-tale grid called TGIB (of course) This is the terrace on The Loom. All the sims have poetic names; the grid is semi-private, but if you get the chance to go over there, I highly recommend it. It is a magnificent confection of light and space. It's one of the first places I visited back in the good old days of Pathfinder and the Hypergrid Adventurer's Club. So many grids fall into the trap of replicating the boring concrete boxes of the real world - actually a lot of them are worse than RL architecture, let's be honest - but this place is a fluid fantasy, a symphony of sinuous curves at twilight.
Vanish came to open sim after two years in SL, where he had been a fee-paying sim owner. Out of curiosity, he experimented with an early copybot, to understand how it worked, and got banned. The adventure had begun.
Vanish Sands: That was back in 2009. The biggest differences I've seen in open sim since then are the thousands of bugfixes that make it as stable as it is today. I don't want to sound like I'm talking about how things were back in the war, but man... it was rough. Other than that, I really like the way the hypergrid works now.
As you know Vanish runs OpenSim Creations, an excellent online resource for free content.
Vanish Seriath: We've grown roughly double the last year, both in terms of items, as well as in terms of users. Right now, we get about 5000 visits per day, which puts us in the upper spots of OpenSim related sites. There's about 1500 items and they've been downloaded about 250.000 times.
I wondered how he deals with the age-old problem of provenance on his site. You know, people in SL claiming their stuff has been ripped off and is 'selling' in open sim.
Vanish Sands: Hm. As a provider, I don't check. There's several reasons for that:
          1. I can't possibly know every single item in SL and whether or not someone has the right to upload it to OSC. 
         2. Even if I did, it's really not my job to police the site. That's the police's job.
         And 3. I would put myself in harm's way if I did so, because it could be held against me when someone does something wrong. Like: "Why didn't you remove this item when you say you're checking them; it's clearly infringing." There were a few court cases that went terribly wrong because someone gave the impression that they were actively policing items and then something slipped through. I'm kinda professionally interested in copyright law, so I keep track of all manner of stuff like that.
So what is available on the website?
Vanish Sands: We definitely have a lot of buildings, like houses and such. And all manner of oddities. Avatar accessories and clothes not so much, so those are always needed. The most popular item is a butterfly generator, which is basically just a scripted box that emits butterfly particles, but people seem to love it.  I made a small shop for myself, which is going better than I thought it would, so that's a plus. What I want to do more is make OpenSim items more attractive to merchants, i.e. creators who try to make some sort of income off them. I've started a site where you can click yourself a shop to sell your items online, but so far it didn't get a whole lot of attention. I guess the Kitely Market will be the place to go.
Having your own grid is a bit like having your own tardis. You can keep all kinds of stuff in there.
Vanish Sands: Mmmh, want me to show you something?
Thirza.Ember sure
Vanish Sands: You remember AM Radio from SL?
Thirza.Ember i do
Vanish Sands: WEll, hold on.Let's go to a region called "surface".
Vanish Sands: When he announced he would leave SL, it broke my heart to think that his artwork would just be gone, so I made a backup for myself.
Thirza.Ember just lovely. This is the beauty of having your own place
Vanish Sands: I know. I loved his items so much.
Thirza.Ember it makes me laugh when you hear in SL the artists squabbling about one poxy sim in the LEA
Vanish Sands: Haha, yeah. I've got about 6 sims full of his stuff. And with the power of OARs I can load them whenever I want.
Thirza.Ember "with the power or oar". I like it.
If you'd like to read more, go to TGIB is the blog of Vanish and El, with lots of musings, fashion thoughts, philosophical ramblings networking and techie advice, and/or follow him on Twitter. There is a nice article by Johnny Waugh about Vanish here  - hey! that's my photo of Vanish, John you picture bandit! I tell you, these open sim people.... shocking.

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