Thursday, June 26, 2014

Safari goes South

          People keep coming back. And new people joining. Safari is about friends and patience and sure some art also but mostly about the amazing possibilities opening up for creators and community, free and independent of SL. It is like standing on the edge of the prairie. Yes, it's not easy. You do have to think your way around the bugs, and compromise, and not mind if your hair gets stuck on your butt occasionally. But it is fun. A world of optimism and missing attachments.
          We met on Ilha Magica again. After weeks of thinking about it, I actually put up some freebie clothes. 
Nothing fancy or even meshy, just a few shirts and skirts. Where Pathfinder's group had a camp fire and dealt with real open sim news, we sit on the furniture and make jokes. But Wizard Gynoid asked a pertinent question.
Wizard Gynoid: why is it that every world's search works differently?. 
Thirza Ember: because every grid owner makes what they want of the material available. Each version of Open Sim is like this massive catalog of bits... the main stuff obviously you don't mess about with, but things like partners, Search, Map, they are extras, in a way. So when you set up the grid, you decide which bits are more important to you. Since it's a massive number of plug ins, everyone chooses the bits they care about most... 
          You may have a better answer than that - put it in Comments, it would be great to hear.
          Zaphod showed up. Or at least most of him. Before long there were about eleven of us. I say about; it's that kind of a club. It's really for people who are total novices, but all are welcome, as long as they are patient. Our speed is the speed of the slowest person, and we're not about to let anyone rush us. Very exciting to have soror Nishi along, and also Nara of Nara's Nook, along with Lucy, Siobhan, snowbody, Tuna, Miso, Fuschia, Wizzy and Wizardoz, and Avia Bonne who is incredibly experienced in open sim and not nearly as terrifying as I may have suggested previously. Here look, a photo to prove it. The skeleton is clearly enjoying the experience.
          So after about half an hour of messing about on Ilha magica, we tried to tp to Hyperica. Maria Korolov's sims are a way station beloved by many grid jumpers. Maria's many hypergrid gates aren't unique, and a number of them are broken, or mention grids that are gone, but that's exactly what makes it a place of history for open sim. I expect it will get re-vamped when she has time, and I will be sad when that happens.
          It was hard for us to get there because I forgot to say - let's not overload the server by all asking it to transport us in the same moment. That of course is the advantage of a gate, it makes hypergridding more structured. So there was a moment in which people tried different strategies, like changing sims and trying again. The odd thing was, when we got there, the OSGrid people who had been invisible at home were suddenly all there in full glory. We lost Siobhan briefly, and Nara a little more permanently. But no-one got hurt. 

          The idea was to practice jumping, and see that the foibles of the system are not your fault, nor are they permanent. It's still a system in flux, and we're all still learners. The format of a hg address is another interesting factor. In theory, you should be able to type the full address of the region you want to visit - here's an example, Ilha Magica on OSGrid's address is Magica  -simple right? But there are all kinds of things that can go wrong by doing it that way. is there a space between Ilha and Magica? Or is it that HTML thingy %20 ? My solution is to just use the grids main address (in the example, that would be ) and then type in ilha Magica when i get to the grid. 
          Grid Motu Topu was playing that game.
First, the Map's like "Never heard of that place". I deleted the name of the sim, and voila! 
          Take the line of least resistance, that's the Safari way. 
          Anyhoo, we had a date with Ervare Farroretre one of the hardest names EVER to type, thank goodness he's called Art Blue in open sim. He has a whole chunk of grid Metropolis where he shows an amazing amount of art, most of it passed over from Second Life. The landing point for us was sim South Horizon. Metropolis has been doing an upgrade - it caused a few hiccups, and we couldn't go to Rift Horizon or do the Vulcanicus trip this time. Good excuse for a return visit!
Wizzy expostulates
          My tights had changed color, a lot of people lost their hair, Wizzy outdid everyone. Art Blue was immensely welcoming, but I think he thought we would be more ... together. Poor guy, Art didn't know what he was up against.
Art Blue: now all here you know to come?
Miso Susanowa: the grand subjectivity of a hypergate safari :D
Wizard Gynoid: i should wear undies under my mesh
Thirza Ember: yes Art, let's say we are all here
Art Blue: great Thirza, will you say a word first?
Wizard Gynoid: we are in germany?
Avia Bonne: yes
Art Blue: we are in South Horizon
Thirza Ember: everyone, Meet Art Blue. He is going to tell you why he brings art into Open Sim
snowbody Cortes: :)
Art Blue: I shall tell?
Thirza Ember: yes!
Art Blue: great as I am a great talker and I talk long
Thirza Ember: I'm going to sit down then
Art Blue: so I made you a link as long talk mean long boring
Miso Susanowa: Yay!
Avia Bonne: yeah keep it short lol
Art Blue: the link is on the big plate "need painter today"
Wizard Gynoid:
Art, or Ervare, is an absolutely super guy. His enthusiasm and generosity just spill out all over his region. We got to see only a tiny fraction of it, by people like Jadeyu Fhang, Cherry Manga and we were messing about a lot of the time too, but we all came away with an overwhelming sense that this is a place to return to often, to admire the works but also be inspired by the enthusiasm and energy here. 
Art Blue: yes extended time capsule for some bigger contributors. I have 4 of such ... jadeyu, gem preiz, navah dreams, exy atreides, and 60 more smaller in vulcanicus, only with small items
Tuna Oddfellow: Lovely
Wizard Gynoid: so you are a collector of Virtual artworks that you are conserving on your grid
Art Blue: I shall mention ... all presentations are with stories, most of the stories are in a way well know in science fiction. You see here at this plate a good example. I look for stories that come with the art. I see myself here as a curator, a writer ... not as an artist
so my own work is not presented.
           There was a horse, and the inevitable photo op. I wonder: What will Quan do when, in about 5 minutes from now, LL pulls the plug on SL and the LEA sags back into the swamp from which it came? I mused, but not for long. WOOT Fuschia's' 'Restaurant at the End of the Universe' !
Don't Panic!
          We ended up in a sort of giant crane above the sim. 
          Gradually, people were having to go back to their real lives, but since Safari is meant to be a learning experience, it seemed reasonable to sneak in another Historic destination, just to help the newbies join the dots in their own head, so we went to Wright Plaza for a moment. The shops there seems to create an amazing quantity of lag, 
          But that was OK. Han Held joined us, and Avia Bonne gave me a handful of landmarks before she too left the group. 
          One was for Gimiso's G spot on OSGrid: there were only four or five of us left by then, which was a shame, because you can clone yourself there, always a laugh. 
           It was getting late, and time to log and post photos. The last thing I saw was this invitation to stop a moment, and think of the Scripters, without whom all this stuff would be so much less fun.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Star Struck Safari

Thirza Ember: Hypergridding is about weird shit. 
Our main purpose is to experience the weird shit together.
Fuschia Nightfire: weird shit is good

Wizard Gynoid: i love drinking my recycled urine. ;-)

          Ten of us, there were, this week on the Safari. We 'assembled' for about half an hour, at Ilha Magica on OSGrid, just to try to make sure we didn't miss anyone. Of course, I bet we did, but as you probably know, if you IM us in Facebook, we will wait for you, or send you our hg address, and help you figure out how to use the address to hypergrid, if you're a novice. The key thing is to say before hand you are thinking of coming.
          Mercalia Beck, who has a Travel Centre at Wright Plaza, and Kosmos Unlimited and Alex Zed were among the newcomers to the group, though not to hg in general. When there are such different time zones represented, from Australia to America to Europe, it's impossible to find a time that suits everyone, but we appreciate so many people fitting in with the current arrangements. First off, we all try to friend each other so that if hypergridding hoodoo fails us we have the option of attempting a personal TP. 
          We also heard Arcadia Asylum was on the grid, *starstruck!!* but it didn't seem right to bug her while she was building. So we left her alone. Or most of us did. Wizzy attempted to TP to her location but the sheer quantity of sims in the sandbox where Arcadia was working seems to have ejected Wiz right back to Ilha Magica. 
           Recently chatting with Bob Wellman of PMGrid, he explained why LMs seem to work on and off in open sim. If you are on your home sim and make a landmark and pass it to someone from another grid to use for gridhopping, it often doesn't work. That's because the information the LM collects to get someone from point A to B on their own grid is quite different from the info that you need to jump from one grid to another. So don't give someone from another grid one of your home-grown Landmarks. Does that make any sense at all? No-one in the group seemed to follow my explanation last night, so probably not.
           First stop was to Metropolis Grid to visit ChapTer Kronfeld's sim, galleRyART_nord, but he was a no-show. So after photographing Maria the Robot, we checked out the many TP doors on the sim, choosing the one that leads to the huge Pompeii build. There's something about a door that is so much more appealing than using the map to tp. It probably takes longer to wait in line and run through it, but definitely more fun.
           Avia Bonne exhorted us not to lose anyone along the way, and we did our best not to - partly because it was good advice, partly because her avie looked like Lara Croft and we were a leetle bit afraid! 
          Pompeii is a long term, major project in Metropolis, and Pixel Prim is at its heart, what a brilliant builder and what a massive undertaking it's going to be! It was fun to run about and look at, all together, and very inspiring to anyone who wants to use virtual worlds to bring real places in far flung parts of the planet within visiting range of all of us. 
          We didn't do the place justice, and all vowed to return and make it a destination another week. There is no volcano at Pompeii -yet- so maybe there will be by the time we return. The reason for not staying? We had an appointment with Lani Global! One or two of our number had to leave at this point, notably Serene Jewell who runs a similar group out of Kitely on Thursdays at 12 noon SLT.
Quick shout-out to my fellow Safarinas, who have been in on this adventure from the start: Wizard Gynoid, Wizardoz Chrome, and Fuschia Nightfire
          The store on Lani is a treasure trove for anyone interested in sci fi of all genres, machines, outfits, aliens, and other non-human avatars. The Dune-related trivia was flowing thick and fast when the lovely Lani Global arrived, with a warm "Greetings, Gridlings".  Most of us were a bit starstruck! But for over an hour, we were able to ask questions and get some insights about her virtual life and philosophy. For example, I'd always wanted to know if she started out in SL, before moving on to open sim.
Lani Global: I started out in other types of computer simulators, and in engineering/commercial CAD design. When SL came along, I used it also. OpenSim is the next great platform for simulators, so it is a logical step. I prefer OpenSim, but I still maintain a presence in SL.

          The conversation moved on to the various grids that have come and gone and been shut down; Lani's verdict was - that's normal. Being from Silicon Valley, it's something that she sees all the time. And like a good neighbor, she was gracious in her comments about the Lindens, and Philip Rosedale's proposed ventures. She did, however, make the interesting point that they may have missed an opportunity in not extending the L$ to open sim. It might have changed its whole complexion. We got her to share her general thoughts about the future, and her own reasons for being in vws.
Lani Global: Overall, I think the Freedom of the open source software is the wave of the future for simulators. HyperGrid is a major advantage.  I call our present platform "The TPV Metaverse" (Third Party Viewer) and it is the combination of worlds that are SL/OpenSim. The development of opensim by volunteer coders has picked up speed trememdously in the past year. It is amazing how much is being done, how things are progressing way beyond what SL has been able to do, in some respects. The advent of the huge size regions (mega regions or var regions) is a turning point in OpenSim development and as an immersive creativity canvas. Currently the limit for a var size region in opensim is about 8 kilometers on a side. My primary motivation in being a part of virtual worlds is creativity. I've evolved from simply 3d art creativity, to creating an environment to promote the creativity of others as well.
          So, does she see SL and open sim as mutually exclusive? Certainly not.
Lani Global: I've suggested that SL users should get a vacation home in OpenSim. They should start to build their inventory in OpenSim, and then it can be like a Second Lifeboat.
          She also told us about an invention made a few years back, a parody on Google StreetView, which she says, may one day be the way we navigate the 3D web, and much more that you had to be there to hear - fascinating stuff. Then to cap it all, we got the chance to meet Pete Camino, the creator behind all those brilliant Immaculate Contraption vehicles. 

I know. 5 star evening or what?

HG Addresses of this week's destinations: Magica

Friday, June 13, 2014

So near, safari

This week's safari was a bit of a change of pace. We met on Miguel Rotunno's sim, Ilha Magica, in OSGrid, and there were about 8 of us, which was a nice number - some cool new friends from Kitely were there, and even SaveMe Oh popped over to wish us well on our travels. We have plans for a machinima competition in open sim, I hope she and many more of you will join in, more about that in coming weeks.
We really lucked out with destinations this week. Our first stop was Francogrid. Their Fest'Avi was last week, and they have launched a new range of full perm avatars,with lots of weird and wonderful looks for you to try. Praline B, Cherry Manga, Phil, Gill, Cendres and all the guys and gals of Francogrid interrupted their weekly meeting at LeVillage to come over to sim Avatar and welcome us. It was immensely heartwarming. There are about 20 avies so far, and the plan is to add to the collection, so by next year, as Cherry said, there will be twice as many! It still very slightly a work in progress, not all the outfits were complete when she unpacked them, Wizard Gynoid tells me, so once you're grabbed your freebies, check in with the folks over there if you're missing a wing or a wingnut, and I'm sure they will sort you out.
From Francogrid to OSGrid, managed to lose a few Safaristas in the process, but bear in mind, our meeting time is the lunch hour/early afternoon in the US, not an ideal moment for many, and we much appreciated them joining in if only for part of the tour. We went to meet Avia Bonne on her sim DutchMountains. It's important not to add a space between the two words, or you may never get there! In fact quite a few people had problems jumping back to OSGrid. Your alternatives are, I suppose, two. Either move to a different sim within grid you're on, and try again or just log out and back in again, in which case you'll find yourself back on your home grid.
Avia's shops put the lie to the rumor that there's little or no mesh in open sim, or that you can't be a 'real' virtual designer unless you sell your stuff. She has everything from menswear to houses, dresses to sofas, (unmissable is Garry Beaumont's wall of manly accessories!) and it is all up for grabs. But please, don't actually grab the items! Take a copy, not the original. 
Duh, I know, seems obvious, but sadly, she keeps coming inworld only to find creations are missing from her stores, because someone took the shop 'original' by mistake. If you do use her creations, remember they took hours - even days - to make, so drop her an IM to say thanks. 
That's the open sim way. If you're not on someone's friends list, or are from another grid, you can still IM a person by clicking Edit on one of that person's prims, and in General, click on the Profile of the creator, then IM them. 
 Take a moment to pan away from the shops and see the full extent of her bravura. The sim has more than freebies to share!
 Avia has been in open sim, she said, for about 5 years, and has a huge portfolio of work on her regions, lots of Steampunk, plenty of fashion. Her generosity extends beyond the many free items she has made available, she's always quick to praise her fellow builders. 
Avia suggested we visit her neighbor Kathje Kitaj's sim, Hill Valley, based on the movie Back to the Future. The entire build is basically all mesh. It is amazing!
Next stop, the grid created by Vanish Seriath and his dear wife, El. The name is TGIB; it's pure poetry. The Grey In Between, The Good In Bad, The Ground Is Below, and a host of different meanings. The regions are poetry too, a tribute to the spirituality and charm of both halves of this lovely couple. All the anxiety of grid hopping seemed to melt away, helped perhaps by a quick dip in the lake.  Vanish explained about OpenSim Creations, which is of course an online 'community shop' for open sim items. I notice they also have a monthly building challenge, how neat! Vanish explained to me what a Var is - turns out you can have a variable sized sim now. I know, right? These crazy scientists! 
It was also a joy to listen to Miso Susanowa, who has been in vw's for just about forever, chatting about the early days of virtual living with DJ Phil and SSM back on Francogrid, as well as talking about the wonderful skin resource that Eloh Eliot put on line, oh centuries ago. Lag is probably the biggest headache in hypergridding. So many proxies, servers, signals, programs. It helps to have a second computer for Facebook or Skype or anything heavy that you need to keep open. Taking Ultra photos is a sudden pit of treacle. Inexplicably, people suddenly are reduced to a name tag and a head of Ruth hair.
 Fuschia looks invariably gorgeous in my viewer, I think it has a crush on her, but when Vanish Seriath, who had been along with the group from the start, took us to TGIB his upper torso disappeared. Does it matter? Not really, on the whole. There's a sense of being on the edge of a great ocean of progress and possibility in Open Sim, a world where people are in it not to make money but for the love of the game, the love of creating. 
Luckily everyone in the group is good at getting pictures, and a special shout-out to the lovely Wizardoz Chrome, who always takes such great shots. We now have a Flickr group too, for those who want to join there.
What about if you don't even have an open sim avatar yet? Don't let that hold you back. Sure, there is going to be an initial moment in which you'll feel dorky, or even invisible. You will crash, I can't lie. But we are in no rush, we'll wait while you come back on line, we keep FB chat open so you can send an SOS and get the hg address of where we are, in real time. Let me stress, it's not just me. You can also contact Wizard Gynoid, Wizardoz Chrome, or Fuschia Nightfire if you need help.  
Next week - the future, today! Join the Facebook group and page, both called HGSafari, if you'd like to know more.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Safari Starts

This week was the third outing of HG Safari, a new group nothing like Pathfinder's fabulous HGAC, which always seemed to work smoothly. The idea behind Safari is very different too: his Hypergrid Adventurer's Club mostly attracted seasoned, or semi-seasoned, grid jumpers and folk who already had their own grids. HG Safari is aimed at people active and experienced in Second Life, and maybe InWorldz, or anywhere in opensim from Kitely and OSGrid to the tiniest boutique grids, but who have not been out hypergridding very much. 
Reticulation on OSGrid
It's a rip-roaring clusterfuck of lag, miscommunication, disappearing skins, linden hair, and sheer determination. Not for the impatient or the faint hearted.

It's a slow process getting people started, and the aim is to assist SL artists and creators to reach a level of hypergridding savvy and new friends so they'll be able to make the most of the free uploads and masses of space that Open Sim offers, and then encourage and accompany their friends to see what's out there. In a few weeks, HG Safari will have its own clubhouse, where we'll be able to display our trophies, and more importantly, the members will be able to try out builds they can export and share.
The teleport  portal on Metropolis
You can use an avatar from any hypergrid enabled grid. I prefer to use my home grid (EasilyDone) avatar, since she has the most hypergridding goodies but EasilyDone is offline this month, so my second choice is my OSGrid avatar. In theory, Landmarks, friendships and TPs work across multiple grids but the most reliable contacts are between avies of the same grid, and since OSGrid is large, full of interesting destinations,and more reliable for hypergridding than many smaller grids, if you don't yet have an avie, OSGrid might be right for you, if you're just getting started. However, an avatar based in Metropolis, Craft, Francogrid, Germangrid, and about a hundred others you may not yet have heard of will also work. However an SL or InWorldz avatar won't work. Let us know if you're planning on coming along, and that's where Facebook comes into it. We need a central meeting point, and like it or not, FB is it. 
Robots and swimsuits are the order of the day on EasilyDone 
  We meet on Wednesdays at 12.00 noon SLT which is 9 pm CET, and notices go out from about 12 hours before the event. Our starting point has been Craft, but if and when that changes, notices will be set up on the Facebook page and group giving precise locations. Again, please send a message in FB to me or Wizardoz Chrome, or Wizard Gynoid letting us know you plan to come so we know to wait for you.  Shopping opportunities will be made available especially in these early weeks, as people get started, like here at Lani store.

The Safari aims are, in order of importance:
   To introduce people to the nuts and bolts of hypergridding, and expose them to its tiresome bugs, which smooth out with time and experience,
   To show some interesting destinations, (we aim to visit 4 or 5 different grids over the 3 hours of the event) and hopefully bump into some interesting people
   To discover freebie stores and find places where you can build up your avatar's look
   To find cool places for artists and creators to build!
If you are already in OpenSim and have a build or grid you'd like to invite the HG Safari group to visit, please email me at

Wizard Gynoid bracing for hypergridding in Craft 
        The first of these objectives involves a fair bit of waiting around, which is OK by me because I remember my first trips into the hyperverse and I was always crashing and freezing and trying to fix my hair. Half the time you can't tell if it's your internet connection, your computer, or the grid that's screwing things up. Lag makes communicating ... let's call it 'challenging' but with some stoicism the whole thing sort of works out. Take yesterday for example. The plan was to meet on Hydra on Craft Grid, for no better reason than Wizard Gynoid suggested it, and Craft Store has some good a/os worth grabbing. Hydra, the main Craft grid landing area had been non-cooperative earlier in the day, and in fact when the meeting time rolled around, the grid wouldn't let several of us in.
         We had avatars from 3 different grids involved, so that also created its own issues, since you can friend other grid avies, no problem, but until you do, obviously, you can't see if they're online or not. This is why the group is based in Facebook, because it's a common point of communication. Except it broke down, because not everyone saw the change of venue notice. The start of any Safari always involves massive disorientation because people are trying to fix their avatars and rez and find everyone else, and sadly we lost some of the group but in the end there were four of us, or three and a bit, if you take into consideration the fact I was a cloud. 
Folk Cafe on German Grid
        We headed over to German Grid where there was a nice concert going on at the Folk Cafe. Fuschia Nightfire was 'refused entry' to the grid, but it was her first hg jaunt, so I was not entirely surprised. Somehow, our computers seem to know we're not in Kansas anymore, and won't cooperate fully with hypergridding to begin with. You have to get over the hump, and then it's much better. Three or four trips usually gets - I was going to say "the bugs out of the system" but that's an exaggeration, better say, your computer lets you jump without making such a fuss. 
        We got to hear just one song on German Grid (the idea is to show people how to jump, in the first instance, not spend a lot of time in any one place) and off we went to Metropolis. There was quite a bit of swapping avatars and crashing and stuff going on the whole time, and there were times when there were two Wizard Gynoids and Wizardoz Chromes and even a pair of Fuschia Nightfires but we made it work, and got to see... the weekly meeting on Centerworld. Last week we crashed the Francogrid weekly meeting, and you can't help but be struck by the difference between Teutonic and Gallic meeting styles. They were planning the Metropolis 5th Anniversary event which is at the end of this month. Yet another good reason to start hypergridding now! 
Dorothea's 1001 Nights on OSGrid: no foreigners allowed.
        From there we moved on to OSGrid, and visited Reticulation, with all the yummy mesh statues you could hope for. We did try to visit Dorothea Lundquist's 1001 Nights, which I'd been in to see earlier in the day, but she's had to stop non-OSGrid people from visiting, because of griefing problems. Back on Reticulation, it was getting late, and we decided to make one last jump, to Ignis Fatuus. It's such a lovely grid, and best of all, we ran into Aime Socrate there. He introduced us to Ignis Fatuus owner Max Hill and Harthelie Quatre the project manager for their replica of the Paris Opera, 40000 prims and eighteen months in the making. 
The Opera House on Ignis Fatuus 
        It rezzed with eyewatering slowness. Aime apologized for the quality of their server, but, you know, I just think it was the intertubes in general playing havoc with all of us. This build is astonishing. Not just the amazing authentic textures painstakingly collected by Harthelie, nor the precise building skills of Aime and the rest of the gang, but the intriguing labyrinth of hidden passages and tunnels. It's being made for a school - but I'm betting grownups are going to love it just as much as the kids. By the time we'd taken the tour, it was late, and we ended on that note. A big thanks to everyone who welcomed us.
It's not a well oiled machine yet, the HG Safari, but we're getting there. And having some fun in the meantime. Join us, if you can.