Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

Of Fuzzies, rockets, annoying Genghis Khan, and more

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life and Kitely by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library.

As always, all times SLT / PDT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday July 27th, 16:00 Noon: CVL FUNdraiser with Gina Gracemount!

Gina Gracemount

Gina Gracemount

A special event to benefit the Community Virtual Library, and where the emphasis is very definitely on the fun as much as the fundraising!

Things kick-off with Seanchai’s founder,  Derry McMahon, at 16:00, as she DJs and gets the festive mood going. At around 17:10, Caledonia Skytower will be presenting A wave in search of a perfect surfer. Then, at 17:30, jazz and blues singer Gina  Gracemount will be taking to the stage to keep you tapping those feet and dancing.

So why not hop over to the Imagination Island Event Space?

Monday July 28th, 19:00: Far From Home

fuzzyGyro Muggins commences reading a new series for Mondays, with stories drawn from the “Fuzzy” series, initially started by the Late H. Beam Piper in 1962 with Little Fuzzy, and which continued in 1964 with Fuzzy Sapiens, and then posthumously in 1984 with Fuzzies and Other People. Over the years, further books in the series have been written by the likes of William Tuning, Wolfgang Diehr, John Scalzi and Ardath Mayhar.

Little Fuzzy charts the discovery of small furry species on the planet Zarathustra are sentient, and the other stories in the series build on this and the evolving human / fuzzy relations.

For Golden Dreams: A Fuzzy Odyssey, Mayhar took a different approach, re-telling the incidents depicted in Little Fuzzy from the perspective of the Fuzzies – or “Gashta”, as they call themselves. And it is from this book they Gyro commences his reading.

Tuesday July 29th, 19:00: Throw Back the Rocket Man

From Dreams and Snippets, a 2013 collection of short stories by Iain McCracken (perhaps better known in Second Life as Avatar Repertory Theatre co-founder, Sodovan Torok) comes Throw Back the Rocket Man, a special presentation by Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell.

In the far future, a world remarkably similar to our own, but which appears to be in the throes of de-evolution, an investigator is sent to check a religious group known as “The Cult of the Friends”, who have been gathered in the one spot for four years, in expectation of the Rapture. Instead, they received something else entirely: a rocket carrying a man from the past.

Once hailed as a hero, and harbinger of the Rapture, the rocket man not finds himself reviled, the cult wanting him and his ship gone Unfortunately, he has nowhere to go, his ship no longer being capable of flight, and he is stranded on a hostile world he should know, but does not.  What he brings from the stars is humbling, and thought-provoking.

Wednesday July 30th, 19:00: Douglas Adams’ Shorts

Exploring the considerable wit and wisdom of the late Douglas Adams

Exploring the considerable wit and wisdom of the late Douglas Adams

No, not his underpants. His short stories, some penned solo, some shared with others like the late Python, Graham Chapman.

Join Shandon Loring to discover why it is that “everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal, anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it; anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be all right really”. Or if you prefer, learn how Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged caused Genghis Khan to go on a bit of a rampage; why it is that war needs to be declared on Dongly Things, and much, much more.

Thursday July 31st

19:00 Smoke and Mirrors Selection

In this, Gaiman’s first book of short stories, his imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders — a place where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks.” – Goodreads.com

Join Shandon Loring for a trip through Gaiman’s inventive imagination.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for July-August is WildAid: seeking to end the illegal wildlife trade in our lifetimes by reducing demand through public awareness campaigns and providing comprehensive marine protection.

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Melusina Parkin: Closer Looks

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

I received an invitation to preview Closer Looks, a new exhibition of photography by Melusina Parkin, which officially opens on Monday July 28th at 15:00 SLT at La Sociedad de los Poetas Dementes gallery on Mexico MX.

I last reviewed one of Melusina’s exhibitions in May 2014, when she was exhibiting Themes, which featured 42 of her pieces on display at the The Nite’s Place Red Line Exposition Area. Closer Looks presents around 45 of her photographs, taken of various locations around Second Life and which, as the name of the exhibition suggests, presents them in close-up, focusing down on a specific element within each image, encouraging the observer to similarly focus their attention.

Closer looks, Melusina Parkin

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

“Watching things from close-up is an amazing practice,” Melusina says in the liner notes accompanying the exhibition. “Isolating an element or detail in a scene, focusing on it, is like when you repeat a word in your mind until it does lose its meaning; it starts then revealing unexpected associations suggesting unusual relationships, showing unforeseen details in it.”

As with Themes, many of these images in this exhibition appear to be drawn from certain thematic elements: cars, structures, ships, skylines, which at first appear to suggest associations between them. However, each picture in fact works on a far more subtle level than that, encouraging the observer to consider the associations which lie not so much between them, but in what is within each of them, and what they start to suggest to the observer’s own mind. It’s an effect Melusina intended to achieve within each of the pictures.

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

“When photographed, the most trivial object, thanks to framing, light, shadows and colours handling, can acquire a completely different than its own actual or usual one,” Melusina notes. “This is what I tried to do in each of these photos. Enhancing the evocative power of daily life objects and landscapes, showing them out of their context or catching their hidden fascination by camera framing and lighting.”

In this, this exhibition stands as something of a comment on Second Life, where the incredible diversity of creative expression can so easily become trivialized or marginalised by the incredible scope and beauty evident is seeing whole regions and estates, where houses, trees, vehicles, and everything else can so easily blur together that we can miss so much. It is only when we pause, when we take the time to focus down on things, that we can really see just how amazing things in this digital world really are and how incredibly different things really are, even when seemingly alike – and how they can so often challenge our own creative perceptions, encouraging us to think of ways and means of doing things, and so further adding to the creative diversity others can see and learn from.

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

Closer Looks, Melusina Parkin

All told, another thought-provoking and visually stylish exhibition from Melusina, with each of the images on display on sale for anyone who would like to take a piece home with them.

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Dolphin viewer: beta release made

dolphin-logoOn Saturday July 26th, Lance Corrimal announced the beta release of a new Dolphin 3 viewer. Version 3.6.99.32353 (Beta) is still very much a work in progress, but marks the first release of Dolphin in a year which has kept Lance exceptionally busy in the physical world.

The beta release brings with it some core updates from the Lab, including a parity with the SL 3.7.9 (ish) code base, which means Dolphin has full server-side appearance support, fitted mesh support, interest list updates (except the most recent), the original SL Share post to Facebook (no filter post-processing), etc. RLV support up to version 2.9.1 is also provided.

Lance notes that insofar as what was available with the last public Dolphin Viewer 3, the bet includes:

  • Mesh upload
  • Sailor’s mini map Mk.II
  • Worn tab
  • Inventory filters
  • Machinima toolbox.
The updated Dolphin Machinima Toolbox floater is included in the beta release

The updated Dolphin Machinima Toolbox floater is included in the beta release

He also notes there are still a fair few things waiting to be added, including:

  • All build tool improvements
  • Area search
  • Asset blacklist
  • Spam protection.

And there will be a number of things that won’t be added to the viewer:

  • Flickr uploader (see: SLShare)
  • Client AO
  • Media filter
The Experience Keys Portal Park as seen using the Dolphin beta

The Experience Keys Portal Park as seen using the Dolphin beta

The client-side AO and media filter were the subject of a recent Dolphin blog post in which Lance indicated his reasons for not implementing them. It’s not clear from the beta blog post if the exclusion of the official Flickr uploader refers to just that capability, or whether it also means the Twitter upload capability and photo post-processing capabilities (filters) will also be excluded, both of which formed a part of the same SL Share 2 update as the Flickr uploader.

As this is a beta release of the viewer, the downloads are not available on the regular Dolphin viewer download page – please refer to the links in the blog post announcement (the Windows link is a direct link to the .EXE download, and the Linux link includes additional notes for Linux users.

Note that in keeping with another recent announcement, Lance has been forced to discontinue Mac development of the viewer himself, there is no Mac beta available.

This is liable to be welcome news for Dolphin users. Due to the small matter of my physical life taking up a fair amount of time right now (not to mention Formula 1 and the Tour de France!), I’ve not had much time to drive the beta hard, but did find it behaved perfectly well with my Crash Test Alt, complete with fitted mesh avatar, which I took for a wander around the Experience Keys Portal Park and then over to the Cornfield, both of which still appear to be enjoying a lot of traffic. The only minor issue I encountered was that as this release of Dolphin uses the Second Life object cache on Windows, it initially hung while loading until I cleared-out the cache folder. Once that was done, everything ran fine.

So, welcome back, Dolphin viewer, and congratulations to Lance!

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Le Botanique: a materially beautiful creation

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr)

I first met Liara Okiddo as a result of visiting her home on the Region of Golden Rose back in July 2013, Garden of Eden was a 8192 square metre parcel of land where she had built a compact tour de force of what can be achieved without necessarily needing an entire region of your own in which to create an eye-catching build. It was a truly amazing and verdant design, rich in colour, flora and fauna, creating a tropical island like feel in which she had located her in-world studio and gallery.

In November 2013, Liara extended an invitation for me to see her next project – then a work in progress, Isla Okiddo, her own homestead, which opened to the public in February 2014, forming another visually stunning build where she had again created a wonderful tropical paradise in which she located her gallery and her home.

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr)

Sadly, Garden of Eden and Isla Okiddo now only exist in memory and pictures, although they remain two of my top 10 all-time most beautiful locations in Second Life.

More recently, Liara has been working on a new project, which she pinged me about early on (and for which I still owe her an apology, and life, the universe and everything meant I never really supplied the feedback she’d requested). The project opened earlier in July (and which the physical world again conspired to keep me away from) and is another masterpiece.

Le Botanique is a 64 metre square slice of rain forest-like beauty floating in the air above Miriam Brown, and it is a marvel of design and the use of materials – around 75% of the build is materials enabled.

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr) – note the beautiful wet sheen to the stone wall in the rain as it reflects the light from the lamp-post above; the beauty of materials

You arrive inside a summer-house in one corner of the forest (do make sure you accept the local windlight, if offered, on your arrival). The staccato beat of rain falling on the glass panels of the roof is your greeting, together with the crackling pop of wood burning in the hearth its accompaniment. A piano from the other room in the house might also add a little harmony to your arrival. But all these serve as background to the lush, rain-soaked slice of tropical splendour which awaits you beyond the sliding doors.

Rain splashes over everything here, pattering across cobbled terrace and wooden walkways alike, leaving a wet sheen over mossy walls, grassy rocks and dripping from the lush vegetation. A wooden bridge passes over a narrow channel of water separating the summer-house from an old terrace where sits a wrought iron garden table and chairs, dripping in the shower alongside a tall green house in which grow where exotic lilies and other plants are growing in rich abundance, sheltered from the rain.

Follow a set of wooden steps from here, and they take you up to the high point of the build, a rocky grotto where sits a table an chairs under a canvas awning.  Elsewhere, stepping-stones guild the visitor across the expanse of rain-speckled water below the summer-house and up to another rocky ledge offering another little seating area under canvas, this one with a touch of romance added: candles on the table, complete with a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a red rose.

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr)

All of this exists an in rich spread of flowers and plants, tall trees through which sunlight slants, and over which the rain falls steadily. It’s an amazing sight for even the most causal visitor. However, if you want to experience Le Botanique to the fullest, then you should enable your viewer’s Advanced Lighting Model (Preferences > Graphics > check Advanced Lighting Model) option, if it is not already active.

This shouldn’t result in too big a performance hit on your system – you don’t have to enable Shadows as well (which are the performance killer). When you do so, Le Botanique will spring into even greater life as the wet sheen on the rocks and walls becomes visible, and the light from lamps and lanterns is reflected in the wet surfaces around you.

I’ve fiddled around with materials myself in SL and more noticeably on Kitely with Fallingwater, but I’ve done nothing to the depth of Liara’s project. As noted above, the built features the use of materials across about 75% of it, and this has involved Liara carefully selecting copy / mod items which she has then painstakingly retextured with custom diffuse (texture), normal (bumpiness) and specular (shininess) maps, and the results are truly stunning, and incredibly life-like; so much so in fact, that it’s possible to miss some of them without a degree of careful camming, therefore time is the order of the day when visiting.

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr) – note the relief on the stone work and on the wooden boards

For those interested in the technical aspects of the build, Liara has created a special Flickr album charting her work on Le Botanique, and to be honest, her photos far outweight my meagre efforts here should you need any visual persuading to make a visit.

I never cease to be amazed and awed by Liara’s work; each of her creations builds on the foundations laid by the last, and each is in turn an incredible and beautifully immersive environment. In this, Le Botanique is no exception. It is simply glorious; a stunning demonstration as to what can be achieved with time, patience and materials, and (again) without needing an entire region in order to do so.

Le Botanique, Mirriam Brown; Inara Pey, July 2014, on FlickrLe Botanique, Miriam Brown, July 2014 (Flickr) – the light of the lamps reflected off the wet surface of the wooden boards

It is, in a word, glorious.

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