Pages

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Perils of Blogging

Despite four years of blog posts here, I still consider myself a newcomer to the Art of Blogging.  You may recall my puzzlement when I discovered that, at least for a while, a whole lot of hits from Ukraine were inflating my page view count (Thank you, whoever you are.)

Today I happened to be looking at my blog statistics again, and noticed that a lot of today's hits had come from one website.  The address given was a "proxy," one of those shortened URLs you can get by using Tiny URL or similar services.  When I tried browsing to the page, my browser flung up a warning that it could be a Bad Place To Visit.  I'll post the actual URL here for anyone who feels in a daring and adventurous mood, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND visiting it and I take no responsibility for any consequences if you do.  http://affiliates.bet-at-home.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_80727b_34009&aid=

Isn't the Internet a strange and wonderful place?  Who would have thought that some scamming, spamming gambling site would provide references to my little corner of it?  I don't think I'll ever understand how this stuff works.  I had problems enough this past week when I inadvertently lost all the data on my hard drive due to a BIOS reset...and then lost the backup data by unwisely formatting the drive that I stored the image on.  Thank goodness for unformat drive recovery utilities!  I now have about 99% of everything back in place.

Here's wishing all of you a safe day among the perils of computer technology.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FLASH! Fine Hover Adjustments Return!

I've noted several times here that the "hover height" adjustment feature that used to be available in Firestorm and some other third party viewers became unworkable when Linden Lab introduced the new Server Side Appearance baking.

LL gave us a clunky workaround with the Hover adjustment in the Body sliders of the Appearance menu, but this had serious drawbacks.  It didn't work with No Modify shapes, and the adjustment increments were very coarse.

But now LL has incorporated a fine hover height adjustment into the latest Release Candidate viewer!  For more on this, with pictures even, see the post over on Inara Pey's blog or the official Linden Lab announcement at https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Now-Available-Hover-Height-Improvements/ba-p/2916962

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FLASH! Some Random News Notes

Today, a potpourri!

AMD/ATI has just released new video card drivers that are reported to fix the issue that these cards have had lately with Mesh objects!  http://support.amd.com/en-us/download

The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) conference is in full swing.  Today's program includes an hour exploring the Caledon Quest, a virtual world scavenger hunt in the Victorian Steampunk themed lands of Caledon.  http://vwbpe.org/conference/vwbpe-2015-calendar

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, gave the keynote address for the VWBPE conference, and it contains much news about upcoming changes in Second Life and about LL's "Next Generation" virtual world project.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR_CBsP5nr0

Fashion For Life is a major event in the annual Second Life Relay for Life charity drive.  It opens today, with NINE whole regions of fashion gloriousness!  Read more at Daniel Voyager's blog.

Speaking of hunts and steampunk, the tenth annual Steam Hunt is this month.  You still have time to collect tons of steampunk-themed gifts (or treat yourself to a nervous breakdown, depending on your hunting skills or lack thereof.)  http://historicalhunts.blogspot.com/

My Avatar Safety class is today, at 12 noon SL time.  In fact, it's every Saturday!  Oh, what the heck, here's my entire class schedule.

  • Buying and Renting Land - Friday, 1700 SLT
  • Avatar Safety - Saturday, 1200 SLT
  • Smart Shopper Fundamentals - Sunday, 1000 SLT
Those are just the ones I teach at Caledon Oxbridge University.  COU offers many other classes given by our wonderful volunteer faculty.  All of them are FREE!  Drop by and check out the schedule.  While you're there, tour the lovely campus.  New Lecture Hall, Caledon Oxbridge University

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kinky Pixels

A long time back, I wrote a post called "The Mechanics of Cyber-Sex."  I was re-reading it tonight and realized that I had not touched on a major branch of that subject:  Kinky Sex.  So, still bearing in mind that this is Not That Sort of Blog, let's take a little trip into the Dark Side today!  We'll do this with a series of definitions, accompanied in some cases with some landmarks to where you can find that particular kink in SL.  (No, you STILL don't get racy pictures!)

Age Play - Sexual activity between an adult avatar and a child or childlike avatar.  STRICTLY FORBIDDEN in Second Life.  This will get you permanently banned.  One location that skirts the dangerous edge of this is Old Lar's Warehouse, a club where teenage Lolitas go to meet older gentlemen.  Or Cherry 18, a "school" for girls.

BDSM - Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism.  A catchall term for sex that involves restraints and may include whipping or other forms of punishment.  BDSM is so common in Second Life that many "mainstream" sex beds have a BDSM menu in them.  Many people explore BDSM fantasies in online worlds like Second Life...because there they don't involve nearly as much risk (or pain!) as they would in RL.

Bestiality - Sex with animals.  (NOT spelled "beastiality!)  The K-9 Club

Body Swapping - The practice of exchanging avatars and accounts in order to "be the other person."  This skirts the edge of a Terms of Service violation.  In my opinion, it IS a TOS violation.  Not recommended!

Bukkake - Very sloppy sex, often involving multiple male partners.  The female participant is covered in semen.  A Japanese gang bang.  Bukkake Bliss , Slut Alley

Collar - a submissive will generally wear a slave collar.  This is scripted to designate someone as your owner, and the owner can leash you, and cause you to pose in various ways.  Depending on the settings, others may also be able to take control of you.  Note that in Second Life, this is all roleplay and the collar wearer always has a choice.  If you choose, you can remove an "owner."  Many people think of a collar in the same sense that "vanilla" (straight) people think of a wedding ring.

D/s - Dominance and submission.  A "master/slave" relationship.  A male dominant is a Dom.  Females are Dommes, dominas, or dominatrixes.  Submissive male partners are "subs" (male subs may also be called "sissies" but that's really a sub-genre shading over into forced feminization.) Female submissives are "subbes."  The D/s Academy

Dollification - Becoming, or being forced to become, a doll or doll-like avatar.  The Doll Works

Domination - Often roleplayed with physical manifestations such as collars, restraints, and various animations, domination is in reality a thing of the mind and the emotions.  It's all in your head, and a skilled dominant is very good at such head games!

Feminization (Often called "forced feminization.") - Roleplay in which a male avatar is forced to become a female.  Often accompanied by restraints, punishment roleplay, or humiliation.  Forced Fem University, The Pink Institute

Fetish - Many people are sexually aroused by non-sexual objects.  Almost anything can be a fetish. Some common ones are latex clothing, feet, leather, fur, high heels, nylons, tickling, smoking.  Or, um...tentacles.  That one seems to be popular with the Japanese.

FinDom - Financial Domination.  The dominatrix demands tribute in the form of money or gifts.  Mean Girls Lounge

Gor - Roleplay based on the "Gor" fantasy novels by John Norman.  Gor is not BDSM or D/s, but there is a lot of overlap.  Gor is a male dominated society and women are submissive to their male owners.  Gorean women wear filmy, revealing garments called "silks."  The Gor Hub

Gynoid - A feminine robot or cyborg, or a woman whose mind is reprogrammed via a computer and/or implanted electronic devices.

Humiliation - Some people get off on being put down.  Slave Humiliation Club

Objectification - Becoming, or being forced to become, an inanimate object, such as a statue or a piece of furniture.   Sin Labs.

OpenCollar - a collar and restraints system based on open source scripts.  OpenCollar devices are freebies, but don't turn your nose up at them.  The OC system is very good!  Temple of the Collar

RLV - Restrained Love Viewer.  A set of functions provided in many third party viewers (but not in the "stock" Second Life viewer.)  If you enable RLV, it allows your dominant to take control of a great many things in your Second Life.  They can dress or undress you, confine you in a cage or restraints, limit your ability to teleport, limit your ability to IM other people, and more...if, that is, you have given them permission to do so.  You can disable RLV in your Preferences, relog, and regain your freedom any time you choose.  Dolly Dreams (RLV Traps)

Shibari - A Japanese system of restraints, using rope instead of collars, cuffs, and chains.  House of Shibari

Snuff - Pornography in which the punishment of the sub becomes torture, resulting in death. (Ewwwww!)   Snuff Whores

TG, TS, T/S, trans - Terms relating to transgendered persons, a person of one physical gender presenting as the other gender.  This is so common in Second Life I hesitate to include it in an article about "kink!"  A person who appears to be a woman but is equipped with a penis is often referred to as a "shemale."  Another term in this area is "CD," or crossdresser.  However, CDs in Second Life are often in a class by themselves, appearing with a male body but dressed in women's clothing.  Transgender Resource Center , FABGlitter  , Stocking Tops

Vampirism - Vampire roleplay.  This is not ONLY sexual, but there is a strong element of D/s in vampire roleplay.  Bloodlines West

Vanilla - Not kinky.  Straight.  Connotation: boring.

Vore - slang term for "vorarephilia."  You may also encounter the term "Dolcett."  Sexual cannibalism.  (Another ewwww!)  Town of Stepford

Yiffing - Sex between or with Furries.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boxes

In a recent comment, a correspondent asked me to discuss boxes...putting things into them and taking things out.  So let's talk about this essential Second Life skill today!

When you buy something, chances are good that it comes in a package, a "box."  Any object or prim can act as a box...that is, one of the neat capabilities of Second Life objects is the ability to contain OTHER objects.  These days, a lot of boxed items also contain an unpacking script to make opening them easier.  When you rez the box, it might behave in one of three different ways.
  1. The box will have floating text over it saying something like "touch me to unpack."  Left clicking the box will cause it to send a folder of its contents to your inventory.
  2. A menu may open on your screen, with a button to click to unpack the box.
  3. The box may take the initiative!  As soon as you rez it, you get a message saying that it sent a folder of stuff to your inventory.  At first I did not like these overly-helpful boxes, but now I'm coming to appreciate them for the way they reduce my mouse clicks.
I have encountered other variations.  Once, when I rezzed the box, it opened a menu, and clicking the menu button sent me to a web site.  There, I clicked another button, and the inventory was sent to me from the web site.  You might even run into a web site where the "inventory" is not a Second Life item at all, but (for example) a UV weight map or a Photoshop .PSD file that you use in customizing the texture of a Mesh object.  On another occasion, the box contained only a HUD.  The HUD had a button labeled "send me my stuff."

Unless the box sends its contents right away, I open it manually.  Partly because I am a creature of habit, but also because it lets me select which contents I want, and drag them to the exact folder in my inventory I want to put them in.  For a description of the manual method of opening boxes, see either my earlier post, "Pandora's Box" or this helpful section of the Second Life Knowledgebase: Opening Boxes

But you don't have to be some high-powered merchant or clothing designer to use boxes.  You can put things into prims yourself!  I do this with textures all the time, to help keep my inventory count down by boxing things up that I don't use very often.  You see, a box only counts as one item in your inventory, even if it contains hundreds of items!
  1. Rez a cube.  You can be as fancy as you want and build a custom box, but all you really need is a simple prim, so that's what we're going to use.
  2. In the General tab, rename this object.  There is NOTHING more frustrating than having fifty boxes in your inventory, all called "Object!"
  3. Click the Content tab of the Edit window.
  4. Open your inventory, and find the thing(s) you want to put into the box.  Drag an item and drop it on the blank area of the Content tab.  
  5. You can select multiple items by using SHIFT+click or CTRL+click, just the way you do in any file folder on your computer.
  6. TIP:  When dragging large numbers of items into a box, using CTRL+drag may be more reliable than simply dragging them.
  7. TIP:  There is no limit to a box's contents, but the more things you put into a box, the slower things will become.  Once you have fifty or so things in there, it may take a while for the Content window to refresh itself.
  8. TIP:  You can put boxes in boxes!  This is one way to keep things organized and to keep things from becoming tooooo slooooow.
  9. Put a texture on the box.  This can be a picture of the clothing you're boxing up, or one of the textures you're putting in the box.  Anything that will help you recognize, years from now, what this box is all about!
NOTE:  You cannot store FOLDERS in boxes.  This is too bad, because it would be a great way to organize a box's contents.

The box will have the same permissions as its contents.  If the contents have mixed permissions (some No Transfer, some No Copy, some No Modify) the box may say it's No Transfer, No Copy, No Modify.  You can't make the permissions of the box less restrictive than its contents, but  you CAN make it more restrictive, without affecting the contents.  You could make the box No Copy, and this would not change the permissions of the contents.

When you are done putting things into the box, right click it and choose Take.  It will go back into your inventory, in the Objects folder.  If the items you put in it were copyable, copies of them are still in your inventory.  You can delete those now.

Pat yourself on the back!  You have just reduced your inventory clutter!

If you are using your box to contain textures:  I use texture organizers.  These are special boxes that are scripted to show you thumbnails of their textures.  You can find lots of different texture organizers on the Marketplace.  I put a copy of my textures into an organizer, and I have many organizers, each for a category of textures (glass, wood, stone, brick, water, etc.)  But besides putting them in an organizer, I also create a backup.  I put the textures into a simple box, and have all those in a sub-folder in my Textures folder called "Boxed Textures."

You can store boxes in your inventory, of course.  If you are worried about inventory loss and have some land, you can also rez your boxes on your land and store them there.  If they're copyable, you can store them in BOTH places.  If you store them in world, be sure to NOT check the "anyone can copy" or "anyone can move" boxes in the Permissions, or strangers may come and steal your stuff!

You can add a script to the box that will cause it to give its inventory to either you (the owner) or to someone else.  But then the box becomes a "vendor" and that's another story for another time!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Stressed? Take A Break!

It's awfully easy to get totally wrapped up in Second Life.  For example, I manage my rentals at Masocado, teach classes at Caledon Oxbridge University, and have to make sure the Oxbridge tutorials and handouts are correct and up to date.  And that's before even thinking about shopping, visiting my friends, and spending time with my partner.  Not to mention inventory sorting and a number of partly-completed building projects.

Lots of residents are even busier than I am.  They may manage tens or even hundreds of rental regions, run a club, fulfill DJ gigs, plan weddings, or try to come up with the latest SL fashion trend.  Merchants in particular can get stressed, especially if their brand is in demand.  The customers always want something new, and they want it NOW.

And then there is emotional stress and upheaval.  Perhaps we have a new love interest...or maybe we've just broken up with the old one.  Perhaps your content has been copybotted, or you fell for a phishing scam and your account is in jeopardy.  Maybe you have a stalker or a griefer problem.

Second Life is supposed to be a break from the stresses of Real Life.  How did we let it become yet another source of stress?  Just human nature, I guess.  We get involved in the things we love!

But unlike Real Life, where the only exit is a one-way door, you CAN step away from Second Life for a while, when the stress gets to be too much.  In fact, I recommend it!  At least once a year, log out and DON'T LOG IN again for at least two weeks.  Take some time to do more RL things, reconnect with your family and friends.  Go dig in the garden, read books, try a new recipe, go for long walks.

Lots of people do it wrong.  They get fed up and tell everyone they're "leaving SL for good!"  They may even cancel their account.  Then, a few days or weeks or months later, the pull of the virtual world becomes too much to resist and we see them back again.  Those who deleted their accounts are in sad case...they have to pay a $9.95 fee to get the old account reinstated, and they might not get all their old inventory or $L balance back.  But all of these returnees feel a sense of failure and a blow to their self-image, because they didn't do what they said they were going to do.

Don't fall into that trap.  Second Life is like the Hotel California -- "you can check out, but you can never leave."  Don't delete your account in a moment of stress or anger.  Just log off...and take a break for a few days, or a few weeks.  Your account and your friends will still be waiting for you when you get back.

If you are a Premium member and are contemplating a long break, I recommend selling your land and downgrading to Basic.  If your payment method fails for any reason, Linden Lab may delete your account.  But a free Basic account will never be deleted. 

Leading two lives can double your stress and ruin your sleep.  When you need it, take a break!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Take the Test - How Into SL Are You?

Followers of Second Life blogs may have run across Strawberry Singh's "meme" posts before.  She posts a list of questions and asks people to answer them.  Here's her latest set, and my answers.  You may get a giggle out of taking her little test yourself!  Here's the link: Have You Ever SecondLifed

  1. Have you ever owned a sim in Second Life? – Most of one, yeah.  It's in Masocado, baby!
  2. Have you ever created content in Second Life? – Yes, homes and buildings mostly.
  3. Have you ever driven a vehicle in Second Life? – Yes, lots of times.  See some of my earlier posts for examples.  My latest favorite is a PBY Catalina amphibian!
  4. Have you ever gone sky diving in Second Life? – Yes! In fact I have a launcher in my home sim.  Visit there, or try Booville Skydiving.  Plus, get inexpensive gear at Abbott's Aerodrome.
  5. Have you ever played a sport in Second Life? – Yes, but I lose a lot.
  6. Have you ever gone clubbing in Second Life? – Yeah, a lot.
  7. Have you ever fangirled/fanboyed someone in Second Life? – I'm not sure how you do this to someone, but I am a big fan of certain people in SL.
  8. Have you ever taken a picture of your avatar in water in Second Life? – I don't think so, but my partner has taken many pictures of me in the water.  Oh wait!  I have some pictures I took of us scuba diving!
  9. Have you ever taken a picture of a sunset in Second Life? – All the time!  It's the most beautiful time of day.
  10. Have you ever taken a nude picture of your avatar in Second Life? – Yes, but my favorites are ones with clothes on.
  11. Have you ever dated in Second Life? – Yes.
  12. Have you ever had or attended a wedding in Second Life? – I've attended several.  See my post, "I Always Cry at Weddings."  I've never had a formal wedding myself.
  13. Have you ever drank, smoked or taken drugs in Second Life? – Yes, yes and yes.  Although the drugs was just once or twice and I didn't inhale.
  14. Have you ever engaged in sexual activity in Second Life? – Um.  Yes?
  15. Have you ever been to Bukkake Bliss in Second Life? – Yes, but only to pick up the landmark for a sex education class I was teaching at the time.