Friday, January 30, 2015

Safari Regulars

It's official. Sitting down does reduce lag.even if you sit on a geometric shape and find yourself upside down. Also, lowering your graphics really does improve your chances of jumping.

Mass grid-jumping is the triumph of hope over experience, the before and after photos prove it.
Examine the evidence.
Here you have Joe Builder gently gliding over Need4Speed, the 64 sim racetrack region on Lost World grid, our first Safari destination this week. Note the peaceful demeanor, the completely rezzed landscape and the air of wide open spaces.
 And now see the actual Safari. Once the grid rezzed Racing car abuse. Aime  Socrates and Art Blue doing things to a vehicle that would make even Bernie Ecclestone shudder. Lucy Afarensis crashed two cars in the first fifteen minutes. We managed to crash Need4Speed on Lost World grid (URIs at the end of the post) but considering how many of us there were, and how gigantic the track is, I'm not surprised.
We were kind of expecting this, so some of the party decamped to a secondary destination, the Magical Forest, on the same grid. You can wander for hours through the various destinations, they are all huge, and reflect the quality content that Joe has acquired over many years in open sim. But many of us crashed, and ended up back on Lost World, the welcome sim that contains a dozen or more gates to different environments on Lost World.
Returning from a mass crash, we regroup on Lost World

All of these goodies run from Joe's home computer, so it's not all on all the time, you should consult him about availability. And upcoming is a new Mermaid's Cove world. My favorite bit was this monster, lurking in the depths. And the free mermaid tail.

Anyway, since racing was impracticable for most of us, we went to look at the dinosaurs. Some for us a little closer than others. We were delighted to have a large French contingency with us, and it was cool to hear them chatting away incomprehensibly in Voice.
Flossing the t-rex with Aime Socrates
From T-Rex to Red Heaven, we headed to our last destination, a shattered rag tag fleet of avatars. Isn't is odd how these days we take for granted how few bits get lost in the tp? The system gets better and better. Roxy Gellar's steel grey pyramid build Giza, part of her Thyilea build, was the venue for a Red Heaven concert, though we were lucky enough to catch a little bit of Deceptions Digital too. Safari has a standing monthly date with this music venue, and many concerts during the week, you can find info on all the usual social media.
Roxy works hard to bring more and more SL musicians into open sim; whether they will graduate from the commercial grids to the real thing or not I guess will be a question of taste and personality; certainly without the hard work of concert organizers, the metaverse would be a poorer place, artistically speaking. Playing music is fun. Planning concerts and babysitting newbie performers is a lot less fun, and involves a lot more talent and capability.
Roxy putting the pieces together on Thyilea, Kitely

Joel Eilde gave us a great hour of tunes, and along with a great many Safari regulars there were many Kitely stay-at-homes present, including the gorgeous Spiral Silverstar, whose gallery we visited last week.
The music rocked, but once again the particle show was gorgeously photogenic and so mind bending, that once again, Soul Purity is the particle goddess who haunts the Wizard's Retreat. All hail her genius.
After all those crashes, it was the perfect way to unwind.
And so to bed.
Wizzina, Miso, Wiz and I lose our minds among the mushrooms and cobwebs on
Wizard's Retreat. Or is that Wizards Repeat?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Safari Collection

Stephen.Xootfly: yeah, sounds like a good strategy.
Stephen.Xootfly: which I think is also what Custer said as well.

The instinct to collect and share, that's what this week's Safari was all about. Accumulation, classification, and determination. But we're always all about being determined. We are also about not minding if our faces suddenly disappear.
If you classify writers, you end up with a sort of fractal mental image. Not in the Dewey Decimal sense; something more philosophical. Good writers and bad, there's your first division, followed by famous/unknown, ancient and modern, fact and fiction, drunk/sober, read and unread, short-works/long-works, prolific and writers-blocked, reclusive and sociable. It forms a sort of lop-sided flowing tree of all the people who, whether they ought to or not, put pen to paper, fingertip to key.

The beauty of the Project Alexandria Library (part of VIBE grid; addresses, as always, at the end of the post) is its off-centeredness, its heights and depths and curved corners forming a perfectly balanced place for writing and for writers. Built by Kalaeon Amulet, [correction, built by Kira Komarov, but cared for and updated by Kalaeon - thanks Stephen] there are carefully cataloged yet essentially incongruent bookshelves up on the floating islands, organized in categories, and clickable if you want real texts. 
The bubble-oracle will take you to your heart's desire.

There's an oracle at ground level. You type in a subject word - try 'love' or 'roses' - and the Oracle will suggest some authors. Click on your chosen author, then on the bubble again, and it will teleport you to the appropriate stack. 
But you don't have to. There's nobody here to ask you how you're getting on, or to inflict their work-in-progress on you. There's no angsty huddling together to keep mediocrity warm, like NaNoWriMo, or those ghastly poetry groups in SL. There's just you, and the sea, the underwater studio, the tower, and the books, and the quiet possibilities of the next page. 

 Our middle destination was Truelie Telling's regular monthly concert, this time on Francogrid, in our club called Phew, on the other side of the mountain from the Clubhouse. At the club, you will find a collection of Safari destination addresses, if you look for it. Many have asked for a LM archive, so what we've done is put together all the places we've visited in our first 35 weeks, minus the ones that are on dead grids, although many of the old OSGrid destinations are now available on new grids, so where possible the new address has been added. 
Why addresses and not landmarks? Because they are more reliable. You copy paste the address into your map, and off you go. Remove the name of the sim if you get problems teleporting, then look for the sim name when you arrive on the welcome area. This can be particularly important on Kitely where most of the sims are switched off most of the time. Hypergridding direct to a switched off sim will get you a 'No such region exists' message.
Wizard Gynoid and Scottius Polke attempting a new 'sit on it' record. Truelie sings on, unfazed.
Thirza Ember: I think wizzy and scott have a very different take on dancing
Scottius Polke: minimalist
Wizard Gynoid: I hope someone is recording this
Fuschia.Nightfire: I am filming it
Serene.Jewell: Really loving the slideshow.
Thirza Ember: stephen - VIBE - what a lovely grid, we all made it there this week
PatriciaAnne.Daviau: It was awesome! till I crashed
A Safari Slideshow illustrates some of our previous trips

Truelie Telling was singing her latest creation, a song about HGSafari and how we occasionally break a sim.
Wizard Gynoid: we break a few sims on safari
Thirza Ember: a few??? 3 out of 4
Scottius Polke: hg safari... War of the Virtual Worlds
Serene.Jewell: Like Star Trek, seeking out new life and new civilizations
Thirza Ember: so how many of you have bought your hundred dollar Bryn Oh calendar?
Stephen.Xootfly: not I. I'm not familiar with it.
Thirza Ember: I'm not familiar with a hundred dollar calendar either LOL
Thirza Ember: we're going to do a safari calendar for 2016
Billy.Bradshaw: Thirza, great idea
Fuschia.Nightfire: will it be a naked calendar?
Thirza Ember: it'll be a 'where's my hair' calendar
Stephen.Xootfly: lol
Lucy.Afarensis: All of bald?
Billy.Bradshaw: A song for departed attachments would not be amiss
Wizard Gynoid: I want whatever Truelie is drinking
Thirza Ember: I always imagine Serene's hg trips as being way more civilized
Serene.Jewell: lol. Yes everyone on my tour has to wear formal attire and practice the queens manners.... not

Truelie's songs really hit the spot, with lyrics about hypergridding, missing hair, love, loss and underwear, but of course it was getting late - and some of us (naming no names, James) were supposed to be working. 
Our last stop was on Kitely, at Spiral Silverstar's sim, Phantasmagoria. He has art by a lot of really good people here. You're going to need some time to see the whole collection.
Spiral Silverstar's sim is an elegant game of architectural shapes. Spiral wasn't able to join us, partly because there's a 10 avatar limit on the sim. Not all of us were able to get there even though we tried to stagger our visits so that everyone could get a chance to visit, but that's just a good excuse to drop in on Spiral another time. 

It's nice to go alone, but it's way more fun to see art with your friends, new and old. 
It's always interesting to discover the metaversal connections too - Spike Sol, our good friend from Metropolis, is a huge fan of Spiral's sim, and encouraged us to look up at the artefacts in the sky. Not to be missed! But also plenty to see on ground level. More photos on Facebook, Flickr etc, as usual...
Spike Sol enthuses about art on Kitely
From fractals, to Fuschia, to phenomenal surrealism, there was a lot to see, but my favorite piece was this picture that made me think of Scott Rolfe. And how nice it is to have such a great collection of friends.

 This week's HG Addresses:
Project Alexandria, part of VIBE:
alternate VIBE Welcome Area:
Francogrid Clubhouse:
Spiral Silverstar's Galleries:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Maybes of TPs

          Never, ever, ever, ever say these words:  "Oh this week there's nothing to worry about. All three destinations are confirmed and guaranteed."
           Just don't. The God of Small Things (and let's face it, hypergridding is a very small thing if you look at what else is going on in the world) will make you pay for your hubris.
What does the God of Small Things look like? It'd be nice if he was something like Thor from Marvel's The Avengers, but he's probably more like your balding brother in law, the one who says he'll help you take that old couch to the dump on Saturday, to make room for the new one, and then never shows up. Why not? Well, his story changes every time you ask him what went wrong.
          He probably has visible butt cleavage too.
          Where do Hypergridding problems come from? It could be you. Maybe Windows just decided to pass your computer a patch. Skype or Dropbox or some other program can suddenly suck up all your resources. The kid next door may be uploading to Facebook or downloading a torrent using your internet connection.
           It could be the viewer you're on. Maybe you haven't cleared your cache in a week. Jumping from grid to grid means your viewer's memory fills up with all the stuff on all the sims you've been to. That's a lot of things to remember. Singularity or Firestorm? People usually hate one and love the other, but if you regularly use and properly maintain both viewers, the truth is they are equally good and equally fast on any grid. 
           Maybe it's the grid you're on. Maybe this sim is spartan and HG visitor friendly, but it's sharing server space with another sim full of NPCs. Maybe the grid has asset server problems, so it's struggling to find all your inventory and to transmit the relevant bits to your viewer and to the grids you're bouncing between. 
        Or is it you and your clicky finger, impatiently hitting that Teleport button over and over, and sending half a dozen TP Requests to the server? 
          Here are the strategies we use on Safari  when teleports won't work.
1.  Wait! The chances are that the TP didn't work because six people hit the button at the exact same time you did. Go get a drink or something. Let the TP request storm die down. But let us know before you go afk, there's nothing more annoying than waiting around for an avatar whose typist has gone out to walk the dog and not told you.
2.  Move! even walking to another parcel on the same sim can unblock the teleport problem.  The best place to TP off any grid is the default or original sim, usually the Welcome Area. Even when hypergridding teleports won't work, you can usually tp within the grid. Learn the names of the default sims on the major grids, and make use of them.
3.  Map it! Take time to learn about hypergrid addresses. The teleport is a blunt instrument. It might not be able to find the region name you want. It may have decided it doesn't like your Landmark. If you know how hg addresses work, you can beat the system.
4. Go home! Log off or hit CTRL SHIFT H, and try the landmark from your home base. This method can cut out a lot of the middlemen in your journey from A to B.      
          Maybe it's the grid you're trying to get to that isn't configured right. Maybe they have some security protocol in place they don't even realize, because everything works out fine for their own use. Perhaps the grid's on a home computer and it can't, after all, handle too many avatars at a time. Maybe the region should have been restarted and wasn't. Perhaps they've upgraded to the latest, buggy version of OpenSim. It's good and important that some grids test the latest version from opensimulator, but for the comfort of HG Visitors, an older version is much better. Our most successful recent Safaris have been on grids running on 
          Is it something you're wearing? You may have an attachment that appears in your Viewer, but the grid could be having trouble locating it. Grid hop in that condition, and the grid you visit will spew out errors, creating lag. Do you have broken links in your Worn Inventory? And what about your "My Suitcase" folder? We all know that you can avoid the 'where's my hair' syndrome by making sure you move all worn items into "My Suitcase" before leaving home. But is that folder now bulging with items you don't really need when you grid jump? 
          Every item in every virtual world has its own UUID. This 'Universally Unique Identifier' is randomly assigned for the most part, and it's a very long string of numbers and letters, so it ought to be impossible for two objects, avatars, textures or calling cards to have the same code. But hundreds of people in open sim are uploading thousands of items onto dozens of grids every day, and we're beginning to see cases where two assets share the same UUID, causing a rift in the continuum. OK, not an actual rift, more like making a grid difficult to visit, but this post is getting boring.  
            It is impossible for you to test the HG-friendliness of your own grid by yourself. Even if you clear all possible caches, create avatars on different grids and teleport in from there, the chances are that real HG visitors are going to have lag and rezzing issues you cannot anticipate. Be conservative in your expectations, but don't let that stop you welcoming people onto your grid. If things don't work out, they aren't going to hate you. Ask for feedback. Most people are polite guests, but if asked, they will detail their experience of your grid - and it may surprise you. We were on a region a few weeks ago, and the owner happily noted that CPU was only at 6%. What he couldn't see was the IM storm I was getting of Safaristas who were frozen, rubberbanding, or could only see flat earth.
          I could go on. The list is quite literally endless, since it involves a bunch of unknowns. And one person can be in hypergrid hell while another person departing from the same grid using the same viewer at the exact same time and going to exact same places can be having a perfectly lovely time. Maybe.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


            Pathfinder.Lester: hear circus music and feel a sudden crushing weight? that's just the Hypergrid Safari. we come in peace.
      Rome wasn't built in a day. It took Joe Builder about a month, if you add up all the time he spent on the magnificent region on Lost World Grid. The Coliseum, a Theater of monumental proportions, an exquisite bathhouse, and a shipyard.As always, the Safari took just the briefest look around. Another place to return to!
      Joe is up there in the pantheon of OpenSim Creators. He is an absolute machine when it comes to building, whether it's military vehicles, delicate classical textures, racing cars, or whole environments, from dinosaurs to science fiction - his latest project is a Borg ship, just a tiny piece of his massive Star Trek themed environment. All this, and much more - over two hundred sims and counting.
           That's a massive amount of  creativity. But complex builds + avatars = lag, right? And it's often worse in opensim. Not only because of the instability of the platform, but because people are so focused on their building they don't stop and wonder about other people's ability to see it.
           But again, Joe is in a class of his own. All this fabulousness... from his own home!
PatriciaAnne.Daviau: wow it is pretty lag free for being on a home pc!
Joe Builder: I have over 60 regions online now.
Pathfinder.Lester: yeah!
Serene.Jewell : This is all running on your home PC. :-) wow
Joe Builder: there is a trick to that; many may not agree
Fuschia.Nightfire: wow
vladimir.Djannovic: very good pc?
Serene.Jewell: You have a crazy computer at home?
Joe Builder: One is to use only 7.6.1 and 2 I have 16 gigs on PC :) 0.8's, var, and bullet use almost 2 x more resources so I use the older versions
Thirza Ember: the theory that the latest version is the best is proved wrong
Joe Builder: yea well, I tested all of them
Pathfinder.Lester: interesting
Joe Builder: Like I said I use a home PC, and resources is most important
Joseph Ros: 2 cpu in? graphics card?
Joe Builder: my cpu is old. The secret is ram. Instances and regions love ram, bullet is a hog in resource department. Plus, ODE physics is faster and better than bullet as videos clearly show. It's a developer thing that bullet is, not really for the everyday user on home PC's. As now, I can run 258 regions at one time, not smoothly, but its do able -don't let them fool ya!
Lucy.Afarensis: !
James.AtLLOUD : ooh my
Pathfinder.Lester: wild stuff -  i had no idea
PatriciaAnne.Daviau: wow!
Joe's worlds are not open 24/7, but if you contact him in Google+ he will be glad to make them available to you at a mutually convenient time. And there are some pretty amazing outfits too - this Centurion outfit modeled by part-time superhero Stephen Xootfly. Again, ask and ye shall be given.
           If you're tired of reading forums containing longwinded, unsubstantiated whingeing by SL content makers about how OpenSim is all stolen unoriginal content, then go visit Joe's builds. You could also be smart and stop reading that crap.

            Our second stop was Rutgers University. It's a much smaller grid than Joe's, just 35 sims. This is a lovely mixture of real University history, scale models of actual buildings, and virtual architecture, not an easy balance to achieve.

Rick Anderson: We have a class that meets in delta/charlie. They are building Voorhees Mall from the 1920s. We have a orientation learning path starting here around the stadium. Then the gardens are great for 1 on 1 meetings. We also had guest students from Greece make a colossus of Rhodes project. We have such a great combination of student work, Gwenette, and campus projects . The gardens are a recreation of the Rutgers Gardens. We crossed reality with fantasy.  The plants are acutally correct. We created Spring in Winter. I have 4000 plus snowy reference shots used to make spring. Then we embedded art installations like wind chimes. But cool animated ones by OpenSim artists. Also, we have little class room and hang areas in the gardens
Pathfinder.Lester: I love the reference photos you used on the food trucks for the menus and details. makes the trucks look totally real. I'm craving a Fat Cat now
Rick Anderson: They are based on real Grease Trucks at Rutgers. Unfortunately, they now only exist virtually now. The University disbanded the real ones after about 20 years
Pathfinder.Lester: awww they're gone in RL? noooo
Alizarin.Goldflake: they made me go get a snack lol
Thirza Ember: we are a simple people with simple needs
PatriciaAnne.Daviau: indeed we are
Fuschia.Nightfire: oh yes and we reduce Rick to our level
Pathfinder.Lester: Rick, are you doing anything still in SL these days? It's great to see you still doing cool stuff in Opensim.
Rick Anderson: Actually, Self Society and Virtual Contexts is still taught in SL.  I need to get the course to find communities alive and kicking in openSIM
Rick Anderson: I ceated a game from global Game Jam last year, and we got an NSF grant around it.
Pathfinder.Lester: oh congrats on that! that's great. The Safari has an embassy in SL if you and your students in SL are ever looking for political asylum, y'know.
Rick Anderson: Cool. I'll get the teachers this semester to check it out.
Al Scot: why are u all sitting on the sign ?
Wizard Gynoid: because it is there
Thirza Ember: Al, it's traditional
Pathfinder.Lester: Al, because sitting under it was too uncomfortable.
Rick Anderson: It's a people flag?
Thirza Ember: a cairn
Fuschia.Nightfire: HG Safari, see something, sit on it
Thirza Ember: Alizarine, that pose is illegal in New jersey
Wizard Gynoid: sssh. Aliz, pass me that pose.
Rick Anderson: I'm not there any enforcement of pose rules in NJ.
And before you knew it, it was time to go. For now- we'll be back.
Rick Anderson: Also, let me know if I can join in on projects or adventures
Truelie.Telling: and thanks Rick, fun and informative
Wizard Gynoid: "the great haul-ass to 3dcolab"
Pathfinder.Lester: you bet Rick. you should come on future Safaris too!
Rick Anderson: We can try this again. I can bring up the Livingston Campus sims, They are amazing.

Our last stop was the great railroad station on 3DCOLAB. This gorgeous build is a precise reconstruction of one of Detroit's most important buildings. Like Rutgers, there is a wealth of historical photography here, and the attention to detail is fantastic.

There were a lot of us, and some entertaining rubberbanding, and I can't lie, there was a lot of hair and shoes missing, not to mention ceilings and floors, but Casias Falta, aka Paul Emery, was ready to sing us the blues, and that was the main thing. He mixed it up with humor and commentary, and got us guessing the songs as he played. It's been a while since he's played regularly, he used to be on stage at Stiofain MacTomais's Maritime club every other week, back on OSGrid. The club, a replica of the famous night spot where Van Morrison used to play, often called the cradle of Belfast rhythm and blues, was a great meeting point for folks from all over the metaverse. But while the news about OSGrid continues to be grim, there is better news about the club.
Stiofain MacTomais: will be re opening maritime club very soon
Thirza Ember: oh I misread the sign... I thought it said Railroad trespassing is forbidden because it involved a peril as great as dinosaurs"
Alizarin.Goldflake: Linden Labs Bug Shipment is the name on the side of a truck outside LOL
Fuschia was still glowing from her special visit to the Borg ship on Lost World - she always gets the VIP treatment.
Wizard Gynoid: he invited you up to see his borg ship????
Thirza Ember: I bet he has etchings on board
Wizard Gynoid: that's an original line
Fuschia.Nightfire: oh he gave me quite a tour
Thirza Ember: well Alien offered me three peeled grapes and a massage
Fuschia.Nightfire: omg!
snowbody.Cortes: ahahah -  also a massage ? smart guy !
We better behave ourselves, or we will start getting banned...
Thirza Ember: lmao Vlad's dance is unforgettable
Fuschia.Nightfire: oh yes
Wizard Gynoid: lol
vladimir.Djannovic: lol
Thirza Ember: what is french for Blackmail
Alizarin.Goldflake: noir poste?
Fuschia.Nightfire: is he doing some kind of interpretive dance?
Thirza Ember: LOL what the hell is he interpreting???
Fuschia.Nightfire: i don't like to imagine
snowbody.Cortes: lol fuschia
Wizard Gynoid: gingers rule
James.AtLLOUD: apluzze

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Auld Lang Safari

Safari closed out the year the way we began. Confusion, last minute changes, hilarity, friendship and a good dose of excellent luck.
It's a virtual world tradition that most people go offline for New Year's, but about a dozen Safaristas showed up for our final tour. Fuschia may have been disappointed when she discovered the promised pub crawl didn't materialize owing to all the pubs being closed, but she didn't complain *what a trouper* and we were delighted to welcome some complete and relative newcomers to the insanity.
 There was some hair outage, but most of it was transitory. First stop was a bit o' dancing on Srannik Zipper's grid, Pirate's Atoll.
Selby Evans is a blogger, not a dancer, but Fuschia Nightfire and the gals more than made up for his stoic stillness.
We had a whole load of possible destinations lined up, but in the end the most challenging proved to be Great Canadian Grid. It seemed for the longest time that we wouldn't get more than two or three of us there, as people bounced between Metropolis, Kitely and all points elsewhere, but in the end pure determination produced the following very satisfying result. 
Why visit Great Canadian? Well, Mal Burns has a new televisual studio there. It's a fantastic space for anyone in opensim who wants to make multimedia products, whether it's promotional spots, interviews, machinima or ... well, why not your own weekly miniseries?  Contact Mal inworld for details about how to use his resources. 

It took so long to get us all here we didn't have time for a 'proper' tour, or to see the new HGSafari treehouse which in a few weeks will contain a little hypergridding presentation, but again, that's par for the course. We were there long enough to enjoy Mal's warm Voice hospitality, and to be reminded of what an extaordinary guy he is. 
The voices on Aire
And then it was time to go to Kitely, no minutes left to go walk in the jello forest of voices on Aire, or the gorgeous gate-castle under a planetary sky, on Ignis Fatuus. 

Don't worry, they're not going anywhere. We'll see them in 2015.

Our last stop of the year was a wonderful venue, Roxy Gellar's cyber pyramid Giza on a sim called Thyilea. The musician was the extraordinary Wolem Wobbit, here's just a tiny snapshot of what we enjoyed for ninety magnificent minutes.
And if that wasn't enough, the gorgeous Deceptions Digial followed up with an improptu show, featuring her tracks from 2014, so we got to see the New Year in, in the UK too.
 It's been a wonderful seven months of snags. lag, wardrobe malfunction, failed tps and general hilarity. I'd like to thank every one of you who has participated, or welcomed us to their homes, or followed our adventures here on the blog or in Facebook. We have had a great time, and our hope is that this new year will bring you peace, happiness, and the opportunity to explore Open Sim for yourself.
This week's URIs
Pirate's Atoll
Great Canadian Grid
Aire Mille Flux
Ignis Fatuus
Roxy Gellar's place on Kitely