Pictures and Progress

Progress is being made on both online fronts. For the deeply confused, such as myself, here’s the rundown.

Second Life: Bowler Hat needs some love, but I think I figured out the final few steps to finish the meshing of it and I reviewed how to do an Ambient Occlusion bake (again) with another project. I keep having to look it up to catch all the “gotcha” settings. I wish there was a way to just “blammo” the settings for AO test and AO final bake (or is there one…).

Haleakaloha: Definitely making progress. It’s really only “up and running” when I happen to be working on something (or wandering about hypergridding) so the link to it won’t be available yet. But soon.

It’s within sight…

I have a total of 8 regions that are stable on my desktop. I may be getting a dedicated machine for running Dreamworldz/Dreamgrid now that my partner Rock Fall has expressed geekly interest in the project. If this comes to pass, Haleakaloha may be running 24/7, but that won’t happen soon.

The “Castaway” narrative will be starting up again. After reviewing a sh*t-ton of OAR files, since I had blown away my original terrain/RAW file for the “shipwrecked AV making her own survival stuffs” story, I finally settled on a modified 4×4 region file that is already beautifully landscaped and just needs some storyline props, buildings, and terraforming done (and this time, will try not to terraform the ENTIRE REGION while playing around with the northwest corner, which will become “Shipwreck Beach”).

Shipwreck Beach will be the landing point for the entire region of Club Castaway – some of the party/club area will remain although I dumped the somewhat tacky disco features. I will also use some LK content but replace it gradually with mesh, but some of her Western buildings are actually pretty good analogues for the French Polynesian shopfronts I need. Fortunately, I also have a sh*t-ton of photographs (some I took myself) of the real-life setting for the story, Kauai. I have plans for scripted gadgets – lei givers, gift givers, radios, etc.

My “home region” currently is Haleakaloha 1, where my workshop is. Next to it is a region-sized sandbox, and on the other corner is Garden by the Sea, a pretty and charming beachside home. On the NE corner is a region that is subject to change without notice, as I use it to test 1×1 OARs for useability. So it’s called “Scwondinavia” because why not?

All of these regions, though, are literally chameleonic: if I decide to build an entire sim’s worth of content and put together an all-original OAR eventually, I could offer it to the OS/Dreamworldz community. I could even put together an inventory archive (IAR) with useful items I make.

Marketing on OS is, well, more like HEY FREE STUFF, and care needs to be take to either provide “hey free stuff” that’s either entirely original, or has good open-source, CC0 or similar license info. I can see that I’m going to have to keep “open source OK” textures and content separate from “walled garden” content and assets (especially if I try to set up a shop in either Inworldz or Kitely, where marketing for some form of compensation is possible).

Open Sim is highly distracting (in a way that’s either good, or double-plus ungood, for productivity. It’s tricky getting around, it doesn’t always work as planned, and not every instance is running the same version of Open Sim software, so whether driving a fast vehicle across a sim boundary, or “hopping” to another grid with all your attachments, your virtual mileage may vary.

For example, the other night I decided to hop around looking for better hair, since making my own is way above my very particular set of skills.

I bumbled around looking for someplace that was mentioned somewhere that I couldn’t remember other than it was supposed to have nice hair, and then I went to the Hyperica hypergrid/blamgate village and got stuck “between.”

Basically, it’s a whole town full of entryways that either show “active” with a Stargate-style pool of elsewhere, or a starfield that uses an empty box to force perspective and give it depth. I started to go through, but the teleport failed and I was stuck in the box, hairless and bootless and footless because I had alpha images on my lower legs. I grumbled and made the obligatory “My God, it’s full of stars” comment, and then got more and more frustrated when I couldn’t get back out, and couldn’t go forward. Usually the trick when trapped is to “cam out” and sit somewhere outside the box or jail, but coudln’t find anyplace suitable. Finally spotted a chair with an old-style poseball, and THAT did the trick.

Speaking of poseballs, they’re really a thing in OpenSim. I struggled for 90 minutes a week ago trying to use an old pose-setter script to adjust a simple chair/barrel asset (it’s a common item that’s in many OARs as I think it was originally an LK item (and so they really need a little tweaking to make them different from all the rest). It took forever, and then today I found out that there might be a great alternative that’s now officially open source. Yay?

So there you go, 20 minutes or more lost to looking around for the scoop on the AV Sitter program, downloading, and cleaning old stuff out of my download folder. Time to get inworld and take some pictures.

(TWO hours later…)

Well, no new pictures, got distracted goofing around with inventory, sorting, and what-not. I did a little landscaping at Shipwreck Beach, and tried to download my maps for planning purposes, layouts and such. And I worked on a hat for a gift-giver. So much for productivity!

So then I went inworld and played around with Ruth 2.0 (not the final version, a tester).

More on THAT later…

All Dressed Up And No Event: Revisiting Qoheleh

This event looked interesting so I dressed up in an older kimono and dropped by. But no one was there at the appointed time and date, though dinner was all laid out.

Western Geisha Dinner and Chat

Our long-standing chat meeting to discuss anything – RL, SL, OOC or IC – whilst enjoying delicious Japanese food and drink around low tables. Kimonos often shown off but not required!

All dressed up and nobody to talk to!

This is an older Fall’n kimono called Elegant – it comes with a lot of extras, such as 2 versions of the skirts and a fur wrap that can be “removed” by clicking (it becomes invisible. As it’s almost spring it was suitable, and it’s still chilly out!

I was sorry to miss this event – I may have mistaken the time, or some RL commitment may have intervened. But in the meantime I discovered the nearby Companion House, so I took time out to do some tai chi.

This build is inspired by “Firefly,” which resonated with me as I spent some time in a Firefly-inspired sim in my very earliest days in Second Life. There are a number of other beautiful Companion Houses to visit, too!

It was very beautiful in Qoheleth; 10 years ago, I used to spend a lot of time there and in nearby Xenia and Epiphany Island. The very first hunt I ever did was in Xenia, something to do with finding lost penguins. Xenia was residential, but tasteful. Qoheleth was spiritual and hosted a lot of support groups and a virtual church (part of the U.C.C., and it’s still there). Earlier today I popped back in and looked around Epiphany Cathedral, too. It’s all mesh now but is much the same. It was familiar but changed in a good way.

Second Life can be so ephemeral – builds, people and entire sims come and go all the time. So it was nice to find a favorite old haunt that has improved with age.

Castaway Again

Thanks to +FerdFrederix, my connection issues have been resolved (all my own fault).

To celebrate, I picked up a few odds and ends. There were a LOT of quality items at the HG Safari region on the Francogrid. I’ve been following the saga of the HG Safari traveling club for a long time, it was fun to see their beautifully decorated HQ. This was where I found 3 – THREE – nice female AOs. No more duckwalk for me!

Also found my way to Taarna Welles’ wonderful emporium where I found this fun steampunk outfit. I was trying to adjust the skirt (it was way too short and needed to sit lower) when I flipped it inside out on my head.

Unfortunate. This won’t be my new profile picture.

After I got back, I had a lot of stuff in “My Suitcase,” the special folder that holds the stuff you pick up (most of it free) in Open Sim. One of them was a simple mesh dress that’s gorgeous – I retextured it 3 different ways with my own textures and now I have 4 dresses (likely all I’ll need).

Now I’ll have to go back to +TaarnaWelles shop and pick up some nice heels. The generic stuff won’t cut it.

I don’t have much evening time tomorrow. Maybe Thursday I’ll be able to check in with SL friends.

Also need to find some time for more work on the bowler hat, and make a start updating my sculpty-based SL hats in Blender. I think I could make a decent facsimile of the shape, now.

Last: still waiting for some action from Vivox re: voice. I’d love to use my sandbox as a “woodshed” practice area for some heavy choral stuff I have coming up.

Bowler Madness and OpenSim Sadness

Amazingly, I have been working on something in Blender and actually have something to show for it.

Remarkably like a bowler hat!








I’ve been obsessing about Blender lately, but not actually working in Blender. But I needed to get my head and hand back in the game, so here’s what I have so far. It will be a simple thing with a ribbon hatband, and possibly flexi-feathers on the side. I was thinking about doing one, and then saw a local production of the musical “Ragtime,” and was struck by the sight of many wondrous hats (gent’s bowlers, working-man’s bowlers, and 2 different kinds of top hat shapes).

This project started out as a sphere, extruded downward. I was stuck for how to make the brim and had to remind myself how to extrude radially and also how to fix the problem I keep having with “cancelled extrudes result in zero-space faces.” That one I had to fix with something called “clean up/degenerate dissolve” which sounds rather naughty.

In other virtual world news, I had been interested in using Open Sim again, but my old method using either New World Studio (defunct) or Sim on a Stick seemed to be dead. But the amazing Ferd Frederix (Fred Beckhusen)  has a simple solution available from his Outworldz  site. I got it working a few days ago, without the ability to hypergrid (teleport to other grids). And loaded up some old OARs (content) and found some new ones to play with. But then last night I enabled hypergrid, hopped to a few sims, picked up some free stuff, made some new outfits, and even created some skin files from free templates.

And then, sadly, I disabled hypergrid in an excess of caution, and now I can’t get logged in again. Perhaps Ferd will help me out with a little one on one coaching; I did something I shouldn’t have and of course with me a little knowledge leads to either success by sheer dumb luck, or abject failure. It’s something dumb that I happened to do right before but can’t figure out how to recreate whatever I did before that was right. (eyes rolling so hard).

No pictures yet; my workspace area looks much like it did but I’ve torn out most of the ugly old system trees and plan to rebuild my old St Helens shop building in mesh. I had previously exported it but it’s a mess of joined prims and extra faces and vertices, so probably best to start clean and simple. I’ve been reading the SL community forum on mesh creation and have a dim idea of what best practices have evolved to be.

I do plan to revive my “castaway on a desert island” narrative but of course that is the one OAR that I cannot find, from this picture:

For a future building project I’m hoping to advance to where I can recreate a little chapel I visited on a trip once: it would make a nice wedding chapel (online weddings are still a thing?).

For a continuing building project, I’m determined to make a better job of the holiday bunting I made in mesh 2 years ago; my modeling skills (such as they were) get rusty and also I struggle with the mouse options I have (trackball mice are tricky in Blender).

And this new project: it’s a simple hat, I’ve managed to make and then fix some common errors and I only ragequit once. Next, I need to get the hatband added, probably as a separate piece to be turned into something approximating grosgrain ribbon. Will need to do proper LODs and a physics cube (probably a cylinder is overkill for a worn attachment).

Meanwhile, I’m late in getting a March group gift out, but have a feeling it’s going to be green.

In Steelhead Bay, things are rather quiet, but plan on checking in there to see what events are planned this week. I did go to wonderful event to celebrate the opening of Elysium, with music by Gabrielle Riel.

And Dhughan? He’s such a slacker. He’s got mesh madness of his own.


GACHA: *DAWN* Beehive 000, Beehive 002, Honey Shed

Do people blog their gacha listings on the Marketplace? I have no idea!

I set up my beekeeping enterprise out behind the shop in Steelhead Bay.

I went to the Gacha Garden event with a specific goal – find a set of things that looked like they belonged in the dry goods store, not just for sale, but as part of the roleplay or ambiance, kind of like the funky “second-hand” shops my friend Kitty Vinje and others are doing over in SLURL: Bayou Chat Noir.

I went out a novice gacha player, I came back a beekeeper, with pretty much the full set of “Honey Farm” by *DAWN*. It looks pretty cute – I added an old saucer to catch the messy “honey dipper” stuff.

The extras are different versions of beehives, and I somehow ended up with extra copies of the shed. This was from the February Gacha Garden event, with the “Seeds of Inspiration” extra gift for 20 pulls. In this case, the SOI gift is a funky little framed plaque. I haven’t unboxed it yet, as I don’t know if I’ll keep it.

I read up on a few listings and how-tos on putting gacha items on the Marketplace; it seems easier than going the Caspervend route since I can resuse the template I’ve made. Gacha items will look different than my own products on the Marketplace and will be clearly listed as “second-hand.”

Limited quantities available on the Marketplace:

Gacha Beehive 000*DAWN* Beehive 000 (boxed) Honey Farm

GachaBeehive002-1*DAWN* Beehive 002 (boxed)

GachaHoneyShedRARE *DAWN* Honey Shed


Based on what I’ve been reading at the Creation/Mesh forum lately, I could really improve this.

Mesh Bridge 2LI LOD2_001

Using the excellent new mesh information tab on the Firestorm viewer, I can see that it has only 12 triangles (which is ridiculously low) but is not very well optimized, because it’s still 2LI. It only has the first two LOD levels (same file) and then I was lazy and left the last 2 LOD levels to the uploader to construct, so it degrades at distance.

I think when I made this it was some sort of array arrangement. I did unwrap it, badly, and made an AO map but didn’t use that in my final texture (which was a total botch).


So from my surprisingly organized note in the corner, this was an “etude” to study how to replace a sculpt in one of the OAR files I was playing around with back in 2015. I made more progress after that but then didn’t break through the Blender block, and found other things to do in real life (that were fun and healthier than sitting at a computer all day).

From what I can tell, I could re-do this item as a sort of pallet, re-model it completely, and maybe use this low-tri object as one of the lower LOD levels, and do them properly. The unwrap needs to be redone, the AO map should be redone, and used in the texture stack in GIMP. I have a better idea now on how to mark seams, how to unwrap for better texture usage, and even possibly bake textures.

DON’T get me started on why I’m in Blender Internal Render. THAT is why I got blocked in the first place; someone I respect very much in “Second Life Mesh Help” communities will only discuss texturing in Cycles render, with nodes. And no. I just cannot stand the thought of yet another learning curve beyond the one I’ve been stuck on for years.

But does anyone in SL need a crappy looking pallet? that is a legitimate question.

Meantime, I’ve been fretting for weeks over re-doing an actual mesh product I have up on the Marketplace, that I think could be better, but I keep avoiding. People actually seem to want to buy that item, but is good quality? I fear not.

And here it is, afternoon on a Saturday, one of the rare days when I can spend the day fiddling around doing everything but what I ought to be doing.

So of course I fiddled in Blender for a bit, checked out Bayou Chat Noir, and went to Gacha Garden. As you would.

And now I’m a beekeeper, apparently, but if I want to make honeypots I’ll have to learn how in Blender.


First Life Challenges and #SecondLife Obstacles

I should have a category just for “Is this thing still on?” posts.

My First Life has been taking precedence lately; I’ve been “keeping time” mostly in Second Life and have several projects on hold or stalled, partly from my own self-created obstacles, but also partly due to time constraints.

RFL Kiosk_001

A former member of my extended family has been very ill for a long time, and it’s been a very hard time for her and her family indeed. Although we were never close, she’s facing the end of her life. The only thing I’ve been able to do for her was to host one of her adult children one night, send her a bit of homemade soup (made by my dear Rock Fall) and offer warm greetings. We hadn’t spoken in years (she had burned many bridges), but no one deserves to leave this world with nothing but suffering.

I can’t go into details, but here is a recent news story that stands out in my mind in contrast:

In February 2017, Fagan was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. As her condition worsened, Fagan found herself surrounded by friends from every part of her life, providing support.

“So many people reached out to her in the end. It’s because we all felt like we had gotten something from her because she was so giving,” Howard said.
Chicago Tribune: Mary Frances Fagan

Read the whole story; it’s human, personal, heart-warming, yet sad. This woman died surrounded by friends (and family). It has odd parallels to the story now playing out on the far side of my family’s shirt-tails, but except for the dying in hospice part, it has a totally different outcome.

My former relative is surrounded by family and a few friends, but her so-called husband can’t be arsed.

There’s far more, but it’s just so petty, mean, cowardly, and sordid. A full recounting would just highlight how stupid and awful and junior-high drama league it has been for a couple of weeks now.

So watching all that at several removes has been pretty all-consuming; and then I had a very brief health issue this week myself (nothing serious, bad food). There hasn’t been a lot of time for my Second Life hobbies other than keeping an eye on my news feeds.

My obstacles? A stubborn inability to get stuff done because I think it won’t be good enough, and what I think of as “Blender Syndrome.” It’s that deer-in-the-headlights glassy look you get when you’ve watched too many tutorial videos, read too many Second Life Creation/Mesh forum posts, Googled too many old blog posts from 5 years ago (and many Blender versions ago).

However, SL offers a distraction from RL problems – not as an unhealthy place to hide out from them, but as a refuge from the trickle of sad updates that I get now and then via text. At any moment, she could be gone, and all the scattered family members who gathered for the first crisis 2 weeks ago will come back. Or it could be weeks from now, as she literally hangs in the balance.

At some point, her name or initials will be posted in glowing letters on a SL Relay for Life track luminaria. She wouldn’t understand and would roll her eyes at the thought, but it has meaning in my world, if not hers.

So, onward.

In Development: Possible Firestorm Local Mesh Feature

Firestorm may have a “local mesh” preview option, but developer Beq Janus notes it ain’t easy.

“I have a TODO item on my personal project list for build tool improvements, to add local mesh support to Firestorm (and ultimately contributing back to the lab so everyone gets it). It is, however, a lot of work.”

Via SL Community Forum:

St John Shop Closes 23JAN

As you may know, the St John estates are closing. My shop in St John Parish is open until 23JAN:

When is St John going to close?

Here is the St John estate closing schedule. Residents must clear their parcels when their tier expires or by 12:00pm SLT on the dates listed, whichever comes first.

Friday January 5 – Bayou St John

Sunday, January 14 – St John Woods

Tuesday, January 16 – Lake St John

Tuesday, January 23 – St John Parish

Tuesday, January 23 – St John Maurepas

I’ll be pulling furniture and things off my parcel, and have left a “Moving Gift” crate.

The building and vendors can stay up for a bit longer but it’s sadly apparent that builds (and sims) are disappearing fast. One friend pulled her nightclub/bar out the day after the announcement, right across the street.

I went for a walk last night after a productive day spent reorganizing the shared workspace in Tweddle.

The Tweddle outlet will remain as a joint holding with Dhughan, and we’ve been pruning prims there. It’s a 1500m2 lot so it’s roomy enough, but our workshops (and workflows) needed to be streamlined. We’re quite happy with the result, as it is similar to the old workspace in Steelhead St Helens years ago, in more productive times.

I have several projects and updates in mind but also need to reconnect with friends. So it’s hard to settle on priorities.

Dhughan has been quiet lately as he has been fretting over his texturing issues with a kit, but I expect he’ll have something new to announce soon. He, too, is pondering mesh.

Also we both plan to work with the Avastar Bento capabilities (especially for hand and finger attachments). I had missed the announcement but the Avastar Avamesh project, especially the quad topology mesh, has got me thinking about reasonably simple cut-out rigged clothing items.

Apparently it still uses the default maps for texturing, so I will be trying to make headway in Blender, Avastar, and Bento. Pretty daunting!

On a more social notes, I attended 4 events yesterday and enjoyed dancing, music, comedy, and friends. I regret there are no pictures!

The Snowflake Ball was hosted in Rosehaven by Eva Bellambi, music by Gabrielle Riel. This was a formal event with a free dance card hud. I change outfits so rarely that I had to rush but it was a nice break after pixel-pushing chores, and I actually couple-danced. Good thing I wore mah glitchie-pants, the first dance was a Lindy hop!

After a break to explore Europa Wulfenbach, owned by my old acquaintance the Baron, I started work on a texture HUD for one of my older hats. I got it done, next will be updating Marketplace and vendors.

Then I heard from another old friend, Holocluck Henly It was time for Swing Moon, his First Saturday electro-swing event.

And after that, a fun gathering with old friends from Cafe Wellstone at the Lonely Yak. This required yet another outfit change to bust out a flexi-gown. There are a lot of fun toys to click on and a dance bubble machine.

And I’m kicking myself that there are no pictures! But I’ve needed the reconnection. One of the gifts I put in the moving box is a picture switcher with some St John snapshots. This led me to walk in the old cemetery, after my costume change, in a quite mournful black and burgundy theme. The Bayou is cleared except for one big build that’s likely being repacked, the Woods and Lake are there but feeling melancholy.

I’ll have to take more pictures (feed, snapshots, and Flickr) in the future, but I didn’t have the heart then to document dying sims (again).

But perhaps I’ll feel like documenting living ones, like Rosehaven, Europa Wulfenbach, and others.