Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just a Little Scrapbooking...

Ye Gentle Readers may have noticed I have been posting fewer snapshots taken as I meander about Second Life. In part that's because I haven't been wandering as much. Between running my Lou's Clues trivia game and trying to figure out what I'm doing with (gasp!) my own teeny parcel of virtual land and attempting to deal with the new realities of Second Life being created by Viewer 2.0 and Linden Labs' third-party viewer policy…I'm exhausted. Oh, and of course, getting regular doses of trivia. Have to keep the training regimen going if I wanna be a contender!

But I have been taking some snapshots, I just haven't had even a loose thread to weave them together into a coherent post. So…guess what? Not having that thread is my thread! I hope Ye Gentle Readers will forgive me if I sit down, set out some tea, pass around a few snapshots, and tell little stories around them.

Up on a stone wall, watching the snow fall…

Back in December I had an odd coincidence of requests from no fewer than five friends and clients: could I send them a picture for the end-of-year projects they were putting together? Some of these were Web pages, some were for one-shot in-world events or parties, and others were for things like virtual memory books. I'd been meaning to try to make a new profile image anyway—little did I know Viewer 2.0 was going to come along and make a mess of things by displaying everyone's profile photos as 1:1 squares rather than the 3:2-ish format they had been using for years—so I seized the opportunity and tried to do something vaguely winter-y. You know, since it was winter at the time. I wound up in an AM Radio build "The Quiet: Further Away and Further Apart" that features a cabin, a frozen pond, snow-covered hills, and some winter forest…along with a low New England-y stone wall. I set myself up on it and tried to get some pictures together. This is the picture I liked best—as Lillian Shippe might say, it has a little bit of "narrative" to it—but it's not one I wound up sending off for any of those projects, or using as a profile picture.

Lou and Them in the snowy wastes

This image of me standing on a giant ant is straight from Second Life—although I admit to tweaking Windlight settings to get something resembling shadows, I didn't convert this image to monochrome or do any image editing. I took this snapshot at a fashion store called Deetalez. The store is under the snow and trees and hills—in fact, when most people go there they probably never realize there's an above-ground setup. I believe I was there because I'd been directed to a nice coat or sweater, only to find it probably couldn't be modified to fit an avatar of my small size. I idly cammed around and noticed there was a ground level to the sim: I quickly figured out how to get there, and went exploring. Unlike the store, there was absolutely no one else around, which was kind of a shame because it was a nice winter build. With giant ants. And that was a plus.

Walking down the glowing path to…is it a molecule? Or a spaceship?

This year, Second Life had a winter festival of sort around the end-of-year holidays, but there didn't seem to be a sim like Wintermute that captured my imagination. But somehow I wound up at Pteron. I have no idea what Pteron is about. It's certainly not holiday themed. It's aways night. There's a half-sunken, green-glowing city. There are puzzles and clues and weird vehicles and collapsing rooms. And teleporters that take you to apparently different worlds—they're really just separate builds say 1000m up in the air, but they might as well be separate. Like Omega Point, Pteron is the creation of a Japanese designer—Kei514 Flow—and while Pteron has no store or overt purpose to the place that I've discovered, I still have much more to discover. And Pteron is gorgeous, stunning, abstract, challenging, and ever-changing.

Another view on Pteron

And now for something completely different. For the last several months, I've been "provisionally" using Plurk, a Web-based Twitter-like social networking service with a kinda unique horizontal-scrolling timeline. Unlike, say, Facebook, which doesn't want anything to do with "fake" account belonging to avatars, Plurk seems fine with the idea, and even has World of Warcraft and Second Life set up as "locations" from which folks may hail. Some folks in the SL trivia community have turned into heavy "plurkers," and it's an easy way to keep up on events and communicate amongst SL friends without having to log into Second Life.

It turns out Second Life's trivia crowd are not the only SL people using Plurk! Imagine that! Through Plurk I ran into Carter Denja, who with partner Stormy Aluveaux creates Pocket Gardens—low prim, small gardens that people can use in rentals or other space-constrained areas to bring a touch of nature to often-sterile Second Life builds. But that's not all! Carter DJ's, often offering up world music at the Bollywood-themed Madhu's Cafe. I kept hearing amazing things about these sets, and via Plurk I realized that these weren't the gesture-and-bling fests one normally encounters at Second Life clubs—these were smart, savvy people, a lot of them creators and designers, all of whom can hold up their end of a conversation, and all of whom obviously had smart tastes in music. Normally I'm about the last person to be into DJs an dancing, but…I gotta say, I was sold about ten seconds after I arrived.

Carter Denja and Stormy Aluveaux at the old Madhu's Cafe in February

The music is outstanding—Carter really knows her stuff—and I always seem to have having three or four conversations at once while I'm there…I've even picked up scripting jobs from folks I met at Madhu's. And part of the appeal for me is the gorgeous build: very Bollywood-themed, but (as appropriate for folks who make gardens!) with great use of space, sky, trees, animals and plants to create a wonderful environment. Now, since I took these pictures, Madhu's has moved to a new ground-level location in New Toulouse but the core elements of the place are still intact, and Carter is still spinning sets, often on Monday nights (SLT).

Watching the sun set on Madhu's old location

Now, don't get your panties bunched up. I don't actually dance at Madhu's. (Honestly, pssh! What kind of avatar do you think I am?) So I usually wind up parking my little pixellated self on a stool or somewhere out from underfoot. One evening Stormy confessed that the gorgeous canopied little bar I'd adopted as a people-watching spot was one of her favorite things in the old Madhu's location…but it never seemed to get much use. As she and I were talking, I fiddled around with Second Life's environment settings and managed to get the sun to line up nicely with the trees and the scene. It's nice to have a few good pictures of the old location—and I look forward to tuning up my ears many times at the new Madhu's!


  1. "They" told me seeing "Them" and riding on "Their" backs like a triumphant world conqueror leading "Them" into battle with Soft Two-Legs were different things. Who am I to argue…?


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