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.

Releasing Into The Wild: Plain Silk Top Hat

New on the Second Life Marketplace – a mesh project that I finally finished, for once!

A simple black top hat, which reveals a moire’ satin texture when using Advanced Lighting (see viewer preferences under graphics, must be enabled depending on your hardware). Any biggie, Tiny, Dinkie, or Furry avatar can wear this hat with pride! Note, the interior does NOT have invisible or deleted faces, so it could be placed upside-down on a table to display a pair of gloves, etc.

  • Materials – requires Advanced Lighting to see effect
  • Is a matte silk fabric hat on low settings
  • Unrigged – resize/stretch in any dimension

Source: Second Life Marketplace – @LC@ Top Hat – Plain Black Silk

Second Life Marketplace – Chameleonic Possessions Sale Prices

With the coming closure of the St John Estate, my main shop will now be at the mainland location in Tweddle, sharing space with my business partner, Dhughan Froobert.

SLURL: Chameleonic Possessions and Frooberts Further West

I’m undecided about whether I’ll open another secondary shop again. I am quite tempted by 2 locations, both run/managed by old friends. Both are either in the Steampunk genre, which I’ve missed, or in the “early Americana” style, which has a comfortable vibe for me.

Almost all of my older products will be priced at about 50% off. I’ve deleted a few really old ones that nobody wanted (and with good reason)!

I’m actually looking forward to changes. What use is being Chameleonic without it?

Source: Second Life Marketplace – Chameleonic Possessions by Lelani Carver

Long After Last Call

I am bummed, because Kitty picked up most of his wonderfully eclectic junk from his bar in the Bayou, before I had a chance to take more pictures.

Long After Last Call at Kitty Vinje's Love Shack_001

Meanwhile Janus Rhiadra’s general store across the way is gorgeous, stocked with gacha stuff. Makes my old Dry Goods store look so 2007.


So today I tinkered with a long-stale project in Blender, got frustrated several times, will keep trying and will review the basics. Again. Because I forget them from long disuse, again.

I also chucked out some old products from the Second Life Marketplace and my vendors. I visited a friend’s little town in SL and found a beautifully made stained glass lamp, with wrought iron and frickin light bulbs, and it’s ONE PRIM. Dhughan is feeling quite depressed as his old-fashioned products just are not up to snuff. Not. Up. To. Snuff.

It’s either bootstraps, or kits. Prims and sculpts are just not happening.

Onward into the future! Time marches on! Education is liberation!

Oh, and Happy New Year.

First Life First, Second Life After

Gabrielle Riel, owner of the St John Estate where I currently live and have a shop, has come to a hard decision:

I believe this. I always told everyone that if they needed to cut back their time in the virtual world that I would fully support their decision, because as much as I love and respect the platform that I turned into two businesses, I believe in Real Life First. Always.

With all my belief in “Real Life First”, there was one person to whom I never gave compassion or the ability to choose real life first.

Me. And it’s time for that to change. There are serious things that I need to attend to in my real life.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and residents, I am closing the St John estate and I am semi-retiring from Second Life.

This was the scene last night at Kitty Vinje’s place in St John Bayou, next to his bar, the Love Shack:

Kitty's Box

Free Kitten

I went along on an expedition with Kitty and other Bayou denizens to check out a land sale at one of those sim-rental/sale places. There was a lot of discussion of what to name it but there may need to be more discussion of how many people would be committed to going in on a shared sim rental, with one person designated as the owner to collect rents. They have a lot of thinking and organizing and number-crunching to do, I can’t even imagine. It’s a talented group but what they want to do is re-create their beloved bayou, and that takes work and passion.

Meanwhile, I have to get ready to pack up the shop in St John Parish, change all the landmarks in the Marketplace, change all the landmarks in all my boxed products, and make a fresh start.

I started by going to the beach.


I bought a simple cheap parcel, on the sim edge looking east, just a 512 with a little beach shack I found on the Marketplace called “Life’s A Beach.” I can put out a few things and call it done; last night the others were talking about the prims they need to put out by the thousands. I just need a place to be and listen to ocean waves and maybe a little music.

I spent the afternoon yesterday thinking about what Kitty will do with his wonderful “Love Shack” bar, which has such a wonderfully eclectic collection of stuff. He really does need to find a place with swampy ambiance for it; it won’t do to simply plop it down in the middle of generic grassland. He doesn’t know anything about terraforming or sim management; my dabbling with Open Sim gives me some dim idea of what’s involved with RAW files, terrains, terraforming, prim budgeting, and water levels. I hope he lands on his wee black paws. There aren’t many other places with a bayou vibe, and of those, I don’t know if they have a spot for a tough little black cat in a bowler hat and a set of brass knuckles.

Pussyhats Galore_002

Kitty’s Love Shack Bar, St John Bayou

I’ve had a lot of fun in St John but have to admit I’m not as shocked, surprised, and grieved as I was over the closure of Steelhead. In the former case, it was a very unfair situation – the estate owner got in some dispute with Linden Lab and was locked out, unable to pay tier and unable to resolve. In this case, Gabrielle had given some very clear signs that things in her personal life were needing to take precedence. Also, although she had plans for Christmas decorations, I missed any announcements after her first notecard; something went wonky with my ims-to-email and I wasn’t getting inworld messages. I feel like I let Gabi down on my general lack of presence, but my own First Life got busier 2 years ago and there was less time for Second Life.

I just wish we could have had one more Mardi Gras. I missed the last one with my own hiatus, and regret that.

I have some admin stuff to do too, and also I have some simple Blender projects in mind, which this little beach hut will benefit from. The “beach” is a sculpt prim and I’m pretty sure I can improve on it. And as the hut is prim based, it can be edited. There was another hut I liked that had a small deck for lower LI, so I may try that later. I was thinking of making a simple mesh deck and maybe an ice cooler. My needs are simple (and so are my skills).

For now, I will just try to be present, reconnect with friends, and get stuff done that I enjoy doing (along with less enjoyable chores).

Sansar Marketplace – 60 Day Marvelous Designer Free Trial Announced

Sansar has come a long way since we first caught wind of the project. In 2015, Linden Lab, the company behind the wildly successful Second Life virtual life simulator, saw the potential of virtual reality and set out to develop a successor to Second Life that would take advantage of modern graphics technology.

Word is getting out to surprising places – Tom’s Hardware, sellers of high end graphics cards – stands to sell some upgrades to Sansar users.,36138.html

I got the email from Linden Labs announcing the extended free trial of Marvelous Designer for Sansar users. The new virtual world project by LL has an integrated version of MD for clothing tweaks (which is needed due to poke-through problems).

It seems likely that some bigger designers will migrate or branch into Sansar, and also likely that fashionistas will migrate to Sansar to play with tweaking their own clothes.

But many have a lot invested in mesh bodies and heads, too. Not sure how it will work out. If the fashion bloggers and customers who power much of the SL economy decide to abandon the older platform for the New Pretty, the mesh builders and designers may feel the pull.

I don’t have any interest in exploring or marketing in Sansar. I need less fragmentation in my virtual selves, not more. I doubt my simple fedoras or top hats will get much play there, and I’m no fashion designer.

I wonder how others feel about it.

6 creative links for 11 December 2017

Today’s links on this topic:

A Macho Home on Guys’ Wrists: In the August issue of Vogue, Zayn Malik embraces Gigi Hadid, with a turquoise-and-silver ring on his right index finger. In an ad for Dior’s fragrance Sauvage, Johnny Depp rolls up his sleeve to reveal an armful of jewelry, including a turquoise-and-silver bracelet. – by Max Berlinger – Tags: blender, create, second life –

Hem fatale: ten of the best party skirts – in pictures: A gold lamé dress isn’t everyone’s cup of tea for the Christmas party. – by Melanie Wilkinson – Tags: create, feedly, ifttt, second life –

Spectacular! Penthouse Level Ocean Front 1 …: Simply sublime! – Tags: create, second life, travel –

Editor’s picks: best new launches for menswear: From Erdem for H & M to Alexander Wang for Adidas, here’s our pick of the season’s best collaborations and debut brands – by Helen Seamons – Tags: create, fashion, second life –

1915 gentleman’s valise – Tags: create, second life –

Applying Fabric to Full Perm, Mesh Templates: Fashion Designers who wish to move beyond system clothes with Flex and Sculpt attachments, but who do not know how to create their own mesh can purchase Full Perm Mesh Templates from creators such as Meli Imako. – by BJ MacIntyre – Tags: create, second life –

Check back again for more collected links!

The Greatest Blender Tutorial Ever: Oh God, It’s All Gone Horribly Wrong

It’s been quiet here, but I’ve been making slow and not very steady process in learning Blender again.

I’m signed up for a very comprehensive Udemy course, I’ve got several versions of Blender installed (and will need to update Avastar soon), and I’ve got plans for Christmas decorations at the St John shop.

But much of my Blender self-education consists of watching tutorials, some of which are helpful, many of which are not, and ONE of which is hilariously bad, strangely comforting, and actually useful.

I salute you, sir. You uploaded a cool chair without a physics model, without any attempt to create Level of Detail (LOD) files, and you have no idea how much you spent to upload your subdivided cube-chair. And at least you did it; you didn’t hold back and think “I can’t figure Blender out” and play endless games of Spider Solitaire like me. Well done, you.

Other things I’ve been tinkering around with:
CMFF mBody Mesh Body – Chip Midnight’s attempt to make a logical mesh body for Second Life is officially abandoned, but it can be used with regular mesh clothing. He responded to my request for redelivery, as I had deleted it in a purge, and remarked that he’s not really actively developing anything and has found a new career (also, well done Chip).

Ocasin Mesh Body – about as hilariously bad as the attached tutorial, it’s a very, very inexpensive mesh body with Bento-capable hands and face and absolutely enormously engorged nipples. The fingernails and toenails are pretty awful, the shape is not bad, the alphas HUD is actually quite good except that it’s rotated 90 degrees and is off to the side of my monitor (probably the creator has a very large format monitor). It was dirt cheap, about 10% of the cost of a conventionally pretty mesh avatar, whch is why I decided to ask Chip for a redelivery.

Various open source skin files and tutorials
Eloh Elliott’s Another Skin
Ferd Frederix’ Outworldz is also hosting all of Eloh Elliot’s skins plus a ton more resources for OpenSim
Splendor by Szezmra Svarog – hard to find, weird site.

Multi-Chan Hax
This bizarre Photoshop tool can be set up to work with GIMP; it requires a PSPI helper plugin and also you’ll need something to take the place of Flaming Pear’s Solidify filter if you have 64 bit as I do. I found an alternative via GIMP chat. And what do you know, once I actually read and followed the instructions, it worked. There’s also a filter called “Resynthesizer” that may do something similar.

I’m in “tinkering and dabbling” mode. I want to work on improving old crappy sculpt based products and make a dream I had come true. And I don’t need to wear a beautiful mesh bod, but wanted to have the option to dump the “oh, God, it’s all gone horribly wrong” lumpy SL avatar now and then. I don’t plan on becoming a skin artist (can’t draw, mousing is crap) but I can manage a light template mod, just for my own use.

Dhughan was busy with a project at Halloween and is working on some men’s clothing from kits; he’s a bit stalled on something but will soon be on the right track, I hope.

I’m feeling more confident now. And taking comfort that trying and failing is always better than not trying.