Saturday, April 30, 2011

feed me no lies, breathe through the years

More Minecraft.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This is another OpenGL error, though one that's not as common. This one persisted strangely for everyone who happened across it, though, not just me; so this may have been an OpenGL error on Hank's actual server, not my local Minecraft client.

It's essentially the same thing, but instead of the 'slice' of missing ground, everything goes away--ground, passive mobs, trees--and some of the upper-level monsters, as well, disappear, leaving just the deep spawns to remain visible.

(From the Minecrafting album)

It all started with a mysterious forest fire. We never did find out what started it. But I got frozen in place, and for once, relogging didn't help. I would relog, and be in the exact same place. It was frustrating and surreal.

In this shot, additionally, in trying to get a clear shot of the forward floating land sections, with the trees ablaze, I pressed F5, not F1. And I forgot I had F3 pressed. F3 checks your local FPS. The red bar with the spikes on the bottom left? That's my local FPS. Translation, since this pic doesn't retain the numbers: I had partially disconnected from the server, then rejoined, then spiked high on lag, then dropped again, then kept spiking.

(from the Minecrafting album)

For a bit, it was moderately entertaining--I'd watch animals walk by on air, and watch the progression of fire. I remember I kept getting asked if I could see a surface breach of lava anywhere. I said no.

We never found one.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And there is literally nothing below the floating land with this particular error--occasionally small mobs of wandering monsters, but other than that, nothing--it reflects exactly the sky behind it because, in that moment, the server is convinced that bit of land has simply ceased to exist.

(from the Minecrafting album)

All I could do was stand there and watch the trees burn.

Well, and snap pictures.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Then the sun started to go down. I panicked--trapped, unable to move, with monsters. I was significantly away from the base, I had found a clay deposit, and lots of wood and dyestuphs; I really didn't want to die and lose everything.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Shadows grew thick under the trees and I began to hear the moans and hissing of evil things approaching. Hank asked for my land coordinates--something F3 also lets you know in Minecraft--and I read them, doing everything I could to move. I managed to move partially across the large gap--and froze in place again. And that's when we realized Hank--functioning in godmode, as server admin--couldn't teleport me back to the spawn base.

With nothing else to do then, I disconnected, Fawkes disconnected, and Hank restarted the server. When it came back, I came back--under the one surviving tree in a very sunny morning. Laboriously I made my way back to the base, chopping down random burned trees as I went, while Hank checked to make sure his server was responding to the game as it should be. Once he was sure, he ported me back from wherever I'd been.

Weeks later, he finally explored to the point of finding those several meadows where the fire had decimated everything in sight. To this day, there's no clue why it started--no surface lava breaches, I hadn't been carrying a flint and steel, and--at that point--there was no weather.

Friday, April 29, 2011

hot cash days that you trailed around

More Minecraft.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Continuing from yesterday's mention of persistent deaths, soon after loading the new shared world on Hank's server, I found a nearly-departed ducken. That poor thing was trapped in the ground for ten full minutes as I circled around it, trying to understand why it wasn't just poofing into particles of demise and disappearing.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Another shot of the poor thing, with a clearer shot of Fawkes' floating Island.

(from the Minecrafting album)

A better shot of the Island from ground level, showing the mix of trees, earth, wood and water that make up the Island.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I mentioned multiplayer Minecraft was unstable, right? This is part of why: currently, the enhanced OpenGL graphics rendering is...glitchy, let's say. At times, it refuses to render a section of the map, instead showing a clean, clear slice through of ground to bedrock, and this is absolutely impassable.

And yes, I meant impassable, not impossible, because if one does succeed in stepping into the zone of disappearance, one is then stuck in place, attempting to fall to a bottom the engine cannot allow, as one is not, in fact, standing on air at all.

The only solution at that point? Relogging.

I will say that the right mathematically-aligned mind could likely take an image like this and extrapolate from it where the caverns are, the highest concentrations of monsters, lava, and resources. But, considering it happens with no consistency, it would never be a reliable means of divining what's in the world.

(from the Minecrafting album)

The angles are very sharp, and precisely sectioned. This is no help, mind, but hey, at least they're clean cuts.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And yes, cuts like this affect all layers, sky to ground--as this shot looking up at a bisected tree shows.

(from the Minecrafting album)

And one more shot from the first shared world--the Unsafe Bed, and the phasing sheep.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I see you there in a sea of faces, I see you there alone

I should also add, tip o' the hat to Mr. Icterus Dagger. I haven't investigated past this point in reformatting the blog--I find black, grey and blue soothing, so for now, I'm standing still. Still, blog name no longer reflects blog look.

Mr. Dagger did something about that, and a lovely job he did with the banner, too. I may mod it--slightly--but he's right, it does fit the look of the place. So my sincere and most genuine thanks, Mr. Dagger. It's lovely.

Now, more from the Mines. (I do have a point with all this.)

We start with Part II of Adventures With Spiders. Unfortunately, the image below will not capture the true hilarity of this situation.

(from the Minecrafting album)

So, Hank found the spider dungeon. He called us over. Over we went. I stayed back, watching. Fawkes, on the other hand, walked right in. And died. He returned to the spawn point, walked in again, and nearly died. You would not imagine the hissing.

He crawled out of the dungeon half-wrapped in spider silk string and wearily rezzed out a bed. Hank offered him bacon. He declined because it wasn't kosher.

Meanwhile, the spiders went nuts with his head that close to the door of their little enclosure. Damn, they hiss a lot when they're riled.

(from the Minecrafting album)

One of the interesting things about the new engine for world-building is that world 'seeds' can be selected. Type in anything in the selection field--characters, letters, numbers--and, since all characters have designations, the engine will use those as their template for the world. This one--the second shared world Hank flipped onto a server for everyone--was achieved using either "s1lent" or "s1lence", can't remember which one offhand. But it had an incredibly huge, deep overhang--so huge and deep that it was dark enough at the base for monsters to spawn during daylight.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This is Hank, just so you get an idea of the scale. It really was a huge, deep overhang.

(from the Minecrafting album)

There are some definite glitches in multiplayer Minecraft, and this is one. Not often, but often enough to notice, monsters will die--but the server will somehow forget to erase all of them. So the column of fire that killed them will persist, or their damage-red corpses, or--in this case--both. Only a relog takes them away.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Sometimes--and this was one of those times--the monster itself will vibrate rapidly, as if it's trying to fall through the ground and disappear, but can't quite. Or is trying to disappear, but is being somehow held, vibrating, in place. It can be quite disturbing, especially if it happens in a dungeon, or with a stone floor.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

and somewhere the plane went down, these things they never stop

More from Minecraft...first, a link to one of the scariest things in the game--people have now invented a way to hold lava aloft. Over their heads. Where there's only occasional chances of setting things on fire.

The hell, people! LAVA is not TRACK LIGHTING, where did you people grow up?!?

*coughs* Anyway. More pictures.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This was the first world I'd ever achieved a reverse tower on--glassed in all the way down, from the surface, clean to the adminium level.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Unfortunately, it was this world.

The crevasse you see was the result of a creeper wave: six creepers dead, two of me. The longer I lived on this land, the deeper that crevasse got. Finally, they blew up me, the house, and part of the substructure, and I gave up on the world.

(from the Minecrafting album)

It's very dependent now on what texture pack is downloaded, but at times I still stand and watch the world spin through day and night. It's still very beautiful at times.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This is also very dependent on what texture pack is downloaded, but at the time, I really liked the mix of cobble and clean stone for diagonal hallways.

(from the Minecrafting album)

It was this same update in which we found Notch had taught spiders to climb. Dear gods, why? WHY did he teach them to climb?!?

(And yes, I still had arctic spiders, even though I'd updated other aspects of the pack. I had Yetis instead of green-faced zombies, too.)

(from the Minecrafting album)

As a rule, I don't normally capture my avatar in the world, mainly because I know she needs a redesign, badly. ButI had to save this series of shots. First, because I doubt I'll ever go back to the paper lantern and wildly colored marble tile mod; but also, because it's a good sense of how I build structures. Earth or sand first; then glass to see outside; THEN I finally mine down far enough to get more than just the stone for a forge.

The yellow patches you see on the left, in the ceiling, were emergency creeper fixes when the roof blew off. I had almost enough earth, but fell short in four spots, and filled those spots with what I had on hand, which happened to be yellow-dyed wool.

I have to admit, in some games I'm a diffident crafter, in others the crafting system completely seizes me. Minecraft is one of those games. I adore playing with dyes and dyeing and making patterned carpets and patterned walls. The trick is to keep myself in dyestuffs...

(from the Minecrafting album)

Finally, part one of Adventures With Spiders. Here, Hank found a spider dungeon spawner nearly at that world's surface. He boxed it in, lit it, and it functioned as Spider TV for a while.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a figure waits in the shadow, someone drowned in the lake

Miss Inara Pey came up with a brilliant idea that Linden Labs is never, ever going to implement. And let me make this clear, it's not because it wouldn't be effective at keeping them tied in and maintaining the relevance of their virtual world. It would, simply and solely, be due to the Labs not being able to see other virtuals worlds without thinking they have to do better. Same thing with them seeing other virtual shopping spaces for SL, and thinking they had to buy them out and kill them.

It'd be a great thing if they could make it work. They won't, though. More's the pity.

Sadly, this candle is not for sale, but I'm also pondering how hard that would be to script in-world. Melting candles are possible; internal sculpts inside other sculpts are possible; this could be done. But--how difficult would it be?

News from City of Heroes--they're plotting out a steampunk pack for more costume/prop additions. Scroll down in that thread to see some really impressive pictures. Projected release date: June 1st (though it might be delayed if there are implementation problems).

So now--more Minecraft!

(from the Minecrafting album)

On one world, sadly lost to me now, I'd spawned on a beach and then, when wandering, discovered a high bluff overlooking a surface breach of lava. The lava made the trees in the valley burn, and I discovered I was so charmed by the 'eternal forest fire', that I would replant trees just to watch them go up.

The only down side--animals would wander in and burn to death. In this shot, you can just make out a burning sheep on the right-hand side, near the cliff face.

(from the Minecrafting album)

At first, I didn't have that much to work with--I dug a hole in the ground, hid until morning, dug out, and then began to build. The first house was straight earth, then I added windows. I thought it would be a simple architectural detail to add 'stripes' of glass interspersed with stripes of earth, which grassed over, being exposed to the sun.

Something I forgot--any patch of grass, indoors and out, can spawn animals. So suddenly, I had wandering cows, pigs and sheep on my new roof.

(from the Minecrafting album)

One of the things I loved about that world, and that house, was the view. I even built out a little lip of brick for mobs to walk on, in front of the windows.

So I could watch them burrrrn. Vindictive? No. I just enjoy watching things die that want me to die. That's fair, innit?

From Minecrafting

Soon after the introduction of what Notch called biomes for the game, I downloaded a new Painterly pack to update to the new changes. One of the changes that didn't work--and kept failing to work, though never this stunningly, right up until 1.5--was biome grass. In this picture, the tops are tinted to match some variety of grass that I've never seen even in sf shows. The hell.

Even worse? It wasn't even supposed to be grass; it was supposed to be snow!

(from the Minecrafting album)

It really didn't look any better by moonlight than by daylight. It was just slightly less bright.

(from the Minecrafting album)

My first attempt at a tree world was on the same world as Monolithia; but it was also before bone meal could be made from bones, and used as fertilizer for saplings. It never filled in the way I wanted.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This was the interior--wide, arching trees and glass, four stone columns with torches to hold up the roof. The floor was sturdy wooden planks. The center of the room was a raised platform with a white fluffy mattress--my first 'bed' ever in the game. It was pretty.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I don't know about you, I don't know about you

More from Minecraft!

(from the Minecrafting album)

When the update came along that allowed people to make dyeststuphs, I rushed out and harvested as much wool as I could, along with the new black, grey and light grey types of sheep. And I dyed my brains out...before realizing that I didn't have texture support for any colors of dyed wool.

They were all showing up as grey cubes. Along with the grey-cube pumpkins, which I also didn't have texture support for.

(from the Minecrafting album)

So off I go back to Painterly to download a new texture pack. While I'm there, I discover this really pretty (I think) Chinese red cinnabar window/door set. I immediately add it to the pack.

(from the Minecrafting album)

What I completely forget is that now this pack has some summer things, some winter things, and the carved cinnabar windows. And that the lovely little border I put in around the wooden floor was now going to show up as actual colors. Because the packets of dyes I'd made from the flowers I'd gathered had shown up as grey squares, too. I had no idea how many different colors I'd created!

(from the Minecrafting album)

Still, the place looked pretty when the sun was going down.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Another shot I found of Hanks' world. This was pretty much right as I learned that F1 would remove the HUD from the screen for photographs, so some have the HUD setup, and some don't.

This one did.

If you can't make out what it says, it says WELCOME TO HANK'S. In cubes of FIRE.

It was taken from the very top of the glass deck on the observation tower.

(from the Minecrafting album)

I wish I could find more pictures of this world. I rezzed in in the center of a selection of spires, so hollowed one out to live in. This made for a very narrow home, so I had to be pretty creative as to effective space management. Also, this was full-on holiday pack living, so even my glass cubes had frost and snow.

Sadly, so far I've just found the pic of the front door, but doesn't the wreath look festive?

(from the Minecrafting album)

If I remember correctly, I started in Minecraft somewhere between 1.19 and 1.20. I think. But either way, this was a pretty early shot, right after I'd tracked down Painterly and downloaded their first ever texture-for-everything set, for autumn.

While even Minecraft graphics have moved on since then, there was something so classically artistic about the shading on the sand textures. I adored them.

(from the Minecrafting album)

Same thing went for the earth cubes. I used this texture pack for months, literally. I was addicted to having autumn leaves on all the trees. And the leaf-and-grass look of the grass was heavenly. I'm finding my eyes still like the way they look.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

and I've been putting out fire with gasoline

I realize that I had a choice to manage sims for a living. I could have said no. And most of the time it's not arduous in any way, though it's nearly always challenging. The combination of customer service and repo girl, admittedly, can fray my nerves.

This went a tad bit above and beyond.

[03:26 PM] bFlat Unplugged: Hi Emilly. Is there any way you can either turn off those annoying tier reminders on Solace Paradiise, or else cut them down to maybe 1-24 hours before it expires and 1-12 hours before?
[03:26 PM] bFlat Unplugged: they hit me every 6 nhours for 48 hours before my tier expires, and frankly, that's harassment
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Unfortunately, that's a standard of the scripting across all our sims. We want to make sure that people get the message, because repossession when people really want their parcels is annoying all around.
[03:27 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you reallyt need to tone it down

First off, what he's talking about is our terminal box scripting. When you are within two hours of expiring, the terminal activates to start sending out reminder IMs, once every six hours. This is to ensure that our tenants get the messages, and have the time to pay tier. While we have the right by covenant, which every tenant agrees to in order to move in, to repossess exactly when the parcel expires, we try not to do that.

Winterfell sends me reminder messages when I'm coming due. Caledon sends me reminder messages when I'm coming due. Every parcel I've ever lived on has given me reminders, either via script IMs, notecards, or just the land owners dropping by and telling me. No one receives zero reminders on the grid. Anywhere.

But Mr. Unplugged took exception.

[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: And it's not harassment. Harassment would be me personally IMing you every five minutes. That's once every six hours, that's considered keeping in contact.
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Why?
[03:27 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i'm an adult, after all :)
[03:27 PM] Emilly Orr: Overjoyed to hear it.
>[03:28 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i'm sorry others aren't adult enough to remember when they need to pay their tier
[03:28 PM] Emilly Orr: Well, first, when you pay your tier, the reminders stop. Secondly, some people aren't in SL daily, and those reminders end up being capped for them.

Was that rude? Maybe. But he was asking about an autonomic process that no one in Solace has control over--not me, not Ayesha Lytton, the owner of the sim. The system was created for the Cove Islands chain, back when there was a Cove Islands change, before it became Solace Beach. Just Dinkin scripted it, and there's not a lot we can do beyond hiring another scripter--and she or he may put in the same every six hours notification system, or script in an even shorter notification system!

[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: every 6 hours isn't keeping in contact, it's annoying
[03:29 PM] Emilly Orr: We try to average between intrusive, and being out of touch. Obviously this doesn't work for all residents, but you'd be surprised how many people tell me they never got a reminder before they're up for eviction.
[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: uh huh
[03:29 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and they would say that if you sent one every hour too
[03:29 PM] Emilly Orr: They might, yes. But so far, we've found that sending one reminder every hour isn't helpful.
[03:30 PM] bFlat Unplugged: nor is sending one every 6 hours
[03:30 PM] Emilly Orr: For most residents, it is.
[03:31 PM] bFlat Unplugged: while I have you on here, it says that performers get a discount on their tiers in Solace
[03:31 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i have yet to get one
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: Have you talked with Ayesha directly about the tier discount? Or I could ask. I don't know about it, but that doesn't mean it's not an active program.
[03:34 PM] bFlat Unplugged: I thought you wqere my estate manager
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: I am your estate manager. But if you're saying I should take care of it, I'll do my best, but I don't know about the program.
[03:34 PM] Emilly Orr: So I'll talk to Ayesha.

Actually, I asked another estate manager, since Ayesha wasn't in world. She told me to contact Kalli Birman, our music and events manager:

[03:35 PM] Emilly Orr: Kalli, do musicians get discounts for tier in Solace Beach? I've never heard of the program, and a performer is asking.
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: performers can contact me....which performer?
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: we will do land trade for good musicians
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: bFlat Unplugged
[03:36 PM] Kalli Birman [Kalli Birman]: tell him to IM me tomorrow...i'm getting a Mankind show going right now

She means Mankind Tracer, who's very well known for being very good, and that information I subsequently conveyed to Unplugged. In the meantime, he was still sniping:

[03:35 PM] bFlat Unplugged: Good. I'll chack back every six hours, to "stay in touch"
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr sighs.
[03:36 PM] bFlat Unplugged: see?
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Thank you for the sarcasm. I'm asking Kalli, she may know.
[03:36 PM] bFlat Unplugged: it works both ways
[03:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Actually, it doesn't.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: It's a reminder which can easily be circumvented by paying tier. It only gets annoying for those residents who don't.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: However, contact Kalli Birman about the discount.
[03:37 PM] Emilly Orr: Though she's in now, you'll need to IM her tomorrow; she's managing a show at the moment and cannot receive non-staff IMs.
[03:37 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i don't pay nmore than a week at a time. you know why? because owners change hands all the time with no wearning to residents and i'm not ging to pay it more than a week at a time
[03:38 PM] Emilly Orr: And that is your choice. We rent by the week and by the month to make it convenient for tenants who want more options.
>[03:38 PM] bFlat Unplugged: i've known peoplew who logged in to find their land gone

Yeah. It happens. It's a virtual world. Sims disappear. Funding stops. Notices fall short. It's virtual, this means I can't simply stake out a section of real, solid, earth and declare fealty over it. But he seemed to be taking this personally.

[03:38 PM] Emilly Orr: In Solace Beach? That rarely happens. Though I will grant, if they don't log in in a few weeks, this has happened in other places. We try to contact everyone, but sometimes, it's unavoidable.
[03:39 PM] bFlat Unplugged: when you people took over Viana paradise we had no knowledge until after the fact

I love how it's suddenly "you people". As if the people behind Viana did any better by not telling their people that these changes were happening!

[03:39 PM] Emilly Orr: And do you know why? Because Viana did not contact anyone when they made the transfer.
[03:39 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you could have shut it down for all we would have known and we'd be out of a home
[03:39 PM] Emilly Orr: That was not us; that was Viana Estates.
[03:40 PM] bFlat Unplugged: my point is, that stuff happens all the time in SL
[03:40 PM] Emilly Orr: It is a virtual world.
[03:40 PM] bFlat Unplugged: it isn;'t virtual money
[03:41 PM] Emilly Orr: True enough.
[03:42 PM] Emilly Orr: However, you will find if you look around that the alternative--both on SL and in other virtual world platforms that are similar--is to either own your own land--in which case, you're still paying with real money to the Labs, or to the company holding those parcels--or to move to a game world--which may not have user content, or personal dwellings, and may charge a subscription fee every month besides.
[03:43 PM] bFlat Unplugged: there's no sucxh thing as "owning" land here
[03:43 PM] Emilly Orr: No. When it's all broken down, Linden Labs owns everything.
[03:44 PM] Emilly Orr: However, there is a difference between renting parcels from an estate company, and renting a parcel directly from the Labs.

Admittedly, we'd wandered far from the main point by this time; but maybe he just wanted to rant, and I was a convenient target.

[03:44 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and my whole reason for IMing you was to ask that you please tone down the frequency of the tier notices
[03:44 PM] bFlat Unplugged: that's all
[03:45 PM] Emilly Orr: And my response hasn't changed: even as your estate manager, I have no control over the frequency of the notices. Not even Ayesha, the owner of the estate, does. That would be the scripter, and I really doubt he'd be willing to recode that script, and drop a new script into every terminal box.
[03:46 PM] bFlat Unplugged: maybe he'd like to get notices every 6 hours for two days every week
[03:46 PM] Emilly Orr: Well, depending on the frequency of updates in the groups he's in, he might.
[03:46 PM] bFlat Unplugged: other companies don't find it necessary to bombard people with notices that often

Actually, most estates that I've been involved with do. Some are even more aggressive than we are. And if we step that up a notch into merchant spaces rented from malls, they get downright feral when we're approaching expiration of tier. He thinks this is bad, what about mall owners who send out messages every forty-five minutes?

(Don't laugh--that's happened.)

[03:47 PM] Emilly Orr: I don't have knowledge of any estate companies beyond Caledon, Lunitarium, Steelhead and Winterfell. And in those four communities, yes, they run about that often.
[03:47 PM] Emilly Orr: Except in the case of Lunitarium, where that particular sim sends out hourly reminders.
[03:49 PM] bFlat Unplugged: so, you're saying that I, as the customer am wrong, and you are right. I'll bear that in mind for future dealings. And I will check back with you in 6 hours regarding the performer discount

Some people are just really determined to find fault.

[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: No, I'm not.
[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: I'm saying I have no control over the scripting.
[03:49 PM] Emilly Orr: As it does seem to bother you, and we value our tenants, I will bring this up with Ayesha, but I don't know if she will, or can, do anything to change the frequency of your reminders.
[03:50 PM] bFlat Unplugged: that should have been your 1st response, not your 5th
03:50 PM] Emilly Orr: And you are, of course, welcome to contact me again--in six hours, or whenever you have issues on your land--but I've already told you you need to contact Kalli Birman tomorrow, and get registered as a Solace Beach performer
[03:51 PM] Emilly Orr: That was far from my fifth response, but as this is something that cannot be changed, I'm frankly surprised at your level of ire.

Yeah. Okay. That was snippy. But my gods, he'd been yelling at me straight for almost half an hour. That gets old.

[03:52 PM] bFlat Unplugged: you wouldn't be if you got these annoying notices every 6 hours every week
[03:52 PM] bFlat Unplugged: and then got attitude from your estate manager when you IMd her about it
[03:52 PM] Emilly Orr: On one of my lands, when I fall due, I get reminder IMs once every day for two days, twice a day the third day, and if I push it past that, I get reminders every four hours.
[03:52 PM] Emilly Orr: I don't think I was presenting that much attitude, but I apologize if you saw it that way.

He stopped talking after that, though I'm sure he could have continued to find fault with other things if he really wanted to try. There's just no pleasing some people.

Now, for about two months a bit ago, I rented a parcel on Wikelani Cove. I called it my office parcel, dressed it, had a landmark giver and a notecard drop. Not because I thought Solace Beach needed another office, but because I wanted to know the process. Because we do gain tenants and lose tenants, a slightly larger, more expensive, section opened inland, and a month in I switched, so I could redress and set for sale the beach parcel I'd been holding.

I found out how acquiring land works, how to pay the parcel boxes, what happens when I fall behind, what happens when I pay late. And I learned a lot about how land works in Solace Beach.

The one thing I didn't learn? Was that it was apparently unbearable harassment to send out reminders of rent coming due. I valued those reminders--just as I value the ones in Caledon and Winterfell--because they let me know if my internal clock is off, that rent should now be paid, and I set about paying it. To date, though I'm not saying it will never happen, I have never fallen behind on any parcel and simply not paid the rent that's due. I either make arrangements to give it back (that's happened once, for other reasons), or sell the parcel (which is not allowed in Solace, but is allowed in Caledon and, I believe, Winterfell).

If your rent is due and you're tired of getting the dunning messages--then pay your rent. If you can't afford it, then contact your estate manager. It's that simple. Why would anyone ever choose to complicate things by saying the procedure by which we notify people is annoying beyond all reason?

Have a better system in mind? Neat, script it up. Show us it will work better than what we have now, on a seventy-sim estate. If my boss believes it, then she can buy it and institute the new system.

But I bet you it'll have a line in the basic script that sends out reminder notices. Six hours or whole days apart, I don't know of a single rental system on the grid that doesn't have that coding involved. I'm not sure it's possible to script a rental system that is free of all reminders.

And seriously--who'd ever buy one?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

you'd let me know when the time was now

More from Minecraft.

(from the Minecrafting album)

This was the only image I was able to grab of Hank's world before it--and I--crashed. I had somehow failed to realize Hank had staggered his stone blocks with chests--I simply thought they were wood the first time through. But more than that, to get his world to that stage, Hank had done a lot of excavating and digging--in the Nether and out.

Somehow, Fawkes got hold of a stack of TNT. (A stack contains 64 pieces.) I can't recall now if Hank gave it to him when asked, or if he opened a chest and took it. However it happened, Fawkes snuck in ahead of us as we were returning to the main base structure, and lined the floor with blocks of TNT. When we got in, Fawkes touched one, and--BOOM.

However. What happened was not devastation and that curiously male sense of "I killed us both, I win, ha ha!" What actually happened was half the chests in that room were destroyed. And each of those chests was packed with resources.

Flint. Coal. Cobblestone. Netherrock. Arrows. Furniture. Gravel. Dirt. Feathers. Wood--both saplings, and trunk sections, as well as plank cubes and sticks. I think there were a few chests containing nothing but glass stacks. (Most of that didn't survive.) There were torches blown off by the explosion, and stacks of torches that rotated, freed from chests. Paintings were blown off the walls. Railroad sections simply disappeared.

Suddenly, we could not move. This was Second Life lag on Minecraft--the sudden appearance of all those rotating animated cubes--because each cube or flat textured square, when rezzed out, floats and spins slowly--meant the server staggered to a halt.

I crashed soon after. Hank shortly followed, though somewhere on my system there's an image of the three of us practically wading through resources before the End of All Things. And, since we were all on voice at the time, I think Hank and I nearly echoed each other when we said "Fawkes, you BASTARD!"

(from the Minecrafting album)

Fire is actually pretty impressive in Minecraft. For one, it can be started deliberately--by firestarter--or by accident--say, when lava breaches the surface (as in this case). I didn't take a picture of the start point, but I did snap several pics in between, and this one gives a good idea of just how vast this fire went. And it's not just blaze and die--in a courtyard, say, where there are only a few trees planted in precise locations, it can burn out fairly quickly. But in a random forest, especially one with saplings that could sprout any minute into new trees--it can be very deadly.

Fire (of any kind except sunlight-sparked undead burns), and now lightning (with the new weather system) can start trees burning. The leaves go first, and, if there are any leaves that touch the burning leaves, that tree will subsequently go up too. Then the actual wood burns, and wood burns slowly in the wild. So at any time, plant a new sapling in a less-than-distant place, that new tree goes up, and the whole cycle can start again.

Worse, while monsters can walk in and occasionally burn, so can animals. Cows and pigs especially just sound piteously sad when burning to death.

(from the Minecrafting album)

On another world, I dug down to where I started hitting patches of lava, and decided I would keep them as a 'feature'. Unfort, this required both a lot of glass--for some reason, lava can melt just about anything else, including players, but can't go through glass--and some creative digging and patching. Once or twice it got away from me, and I ended up with staggered lava and glass 'spills' that cascaded down narrow corridors.

This one came out pretty well, though. And watching lava glow is dangerously beautiful. (Plus, it provides an additional light source.)

(from the Minecrafting album)

This was a fire started purely for photographic purposes, but I made sure that no other trees were present. This actually became a really good example: the leaf cubes burn first, and hottest; then part of the wood will be consumed by the higher-heat flames; then the rest of the burn remains, and falls into a "normal" burn state, where it can take several ten-minute day/night cycles to finally burn out.

(from the Minecrafting album)

From the same world that featured my staggered 'art lava' walls, I discovered entirely by accident a patch of obsidian. It took me longer to find diamonds for a pickaxe to chip it out than it had to find the obsidian! But after a few weeks, I had one diamond pickaxe, and was able to laboriously mine out chunks of obsidian.

Obsidian is the second-hardest substance in the game, and it can only be mined with diamond tools. (The hardest is bedrock, or adminium--adminium blocks simply cannot be mined, because they represent the lowest level possible on that map.) But one of the features of obsidian is that it, when arrayed in the correct pattern, will open a portal to the hellish Nether realm.

I was very excited, this was the first ever world I'd been able to erect a portal to the Nether on.

(from the Minecrafting album)
My first trip to the Nether was...unnerving. Oh, I'd watched videos, I knew what to expect, and believe me, baby-voiced floating tentacle monsters that shoot fireballs? No picnic.

But it's more than that. For one thing, the Nether is dark. I mean, scary summoning-mobs dark. I actually lightened this image just so details could be more clearly made out.

But hey! Look at all the mushrooms!

Friday, April 22, 2011

last time we talked, the night that I walked, burns like an iron in the back of my mind

OnMark Productions has a page on Buddhist symbols. One of them ties in with the mythological Qilin (Ch'i-lin in China, called Kirin in Japan):
A mythical horned Chinese deer-like creature said to appear only when a sage has appeared. It is a good omen associated with serenity and prosperity. Often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body. In most drawings, its head looks like that of a Chinese dragon (see dragon above). Japanese art typically depicts the Kirin as more deer-like than its Chinese counterpart. Kirin is sometimes translated in English as "unicorn," because it looks similar to the unicorn--the later a hoofed mythological horse-like beast with a single horn on its head. Some accounts describe it as having the body of a deer and the head of a lion.
Why am I mentioning this?

(from the Avatars album)

Because I, like many Westerners, had aligned the Qilin with a sort of Easternized unicorn, and that's far from the case. Some had one horn; some had up to four; some didn't have horns at all. There have been descriptions of Qilin in records from the official to the fictional that describe them as having the attributes of dragons, of deer, of tigers or lions, even of giraffe. There are even those who think qilin had a chimerical humanoid form. And most of the statuary seen to this day more closely resembles dogs than anything else. (Hells, some of the statues, I'm honestly not sure what animal it's supposed to represent!)

(from the Avatars album)

I came very late to the party over at Mithica--a friend of mine had told me about it around 5:30 pm, and I didn't end up going over until 5:38. Miss Piper Shan was standing in the middle of the sim, and it seemed to be--find your egg; wear your egg; go back to her and tell her what you want.

So I thought of everything I knew about hunts in general, and--more guided by whimsy than anything else--wandered towards the shore, because shorelines can have good prims to hide things under.

Turns out there was a small pier at the waterline, and there were two eggs on the end of the pier! As it was a touch one per person sort of hunt, I touched one, and the egg disappeared, giving me a wearable egg in my inventory. Delighted, I ran back to the center of the sim, clutching the large Easter egg to me, and proclaimed that I'd found one!

At which point, Miss Shan asked me what I wanted.

Of anything.

On the sim.

My jaw dropped. I ran back to Rez Fantazy Avatars, staring avidly at the vendors. And one caught my eye, the Female Kirin in Black.

(from the Avatars album)

The first thing is, it's not actually black. Black is in there, but what it really is is black, brown, and purple, with swirls and flame-lick spirals in cream and slate blue. Amazing look to them.

(from the Avatars album)

They come with the hair, horns (changeable by menu), ears, digitigrade legs and hoofpads (that's the only way I can describe them--they're shaped like hooves, but they're not, quite), scripted tail, blinking eyes (also changeable by menu), skin and shape, and a HUD that allows further customization possibilities.

(from the Avatars album; this is the PG skin option [essentially, this option removes the nipples,
that's about the only difference] to show the chest shading)

They're definitely horse ears, but the legs and feet aren't, quite. The tail's bound like a horse's, but then ends like several other species. The head is very vulpine, but it's definitely a lion's nose on the end of the muzzle. The eyes are tilted and catlike, but the mane of hair could fit five different animals I can think of. Retail? L$850. And, having walked around in this since I got it, I think worth every Linden of that price.

I joined the group. They also design "Lupans" (wolf-like creations) and "Caprans" (modified goats), as well as a selection of big cats and at least one reindeer. And they seem to have sales around every two months or so. This could be very good.

(from the Avatars album)

The basic thing I'm doing my best to communicate here is that these are seriously impressive avatars, done by people who are really looking towards things that Second Life does not already have in spades. We should be encouraging this.

(Pictures were again taken in Oubliette; and the outfit was Bare Rose's Devilkin, it does not come with the avatar.)

Two things to wrap this entry up: first, the Thrifty Goths group (which I abandoned some while back, as being far too restrictive on what was considered 'gothic', and far too full of insane drama and daily controversy, very little of it gothic in the least) has tossed up an open poll. To wit, should neko parts, skins and outfits be considered gothic?

So far? The "yes let nekos in" crowd is ahead by over half. I'm amused.

The last thing is unfortunate, but must be shared--if you are ever in a position to try to rinse sharp, intense mint-flavored jellybeans from previous o'er-sugary bubblegum flavors, do NOT reach for mango-orange juice, because then your tongue will be very unhappy with you and rebel.

It is not a good thing. I'm just trying to stave off anyone who may be contemplating this situation by providing my own bad example. You're welcome.