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.

Tales from Ireland and space, mysterious books, and strange letters

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, or at their Kitely Homeworld.

Sunday, March 1st

11:00: Seanchai Kitely: Bard: The Odyssey of the the Irish

Caledonia Skytower reads selections from Morgan Llywelyn’s 1984 historical fantasy novel depicting a hypothetical 4th century migration of Galicians to Ireland, led by Amergin the bard.

13:30: Seanchai SL: Tea Time at Baker Street

Caledonia, Kaydon OConnell and Corwyn Allen reconvene at the rooms of 221B Baker Street to this week read the story of The Five Orange Pips, which first appeared in The Strand Magazine in November 1891.

In 1887, John Openshaw, a young gentleman brings to Holmes and Watson a strange tale concerning his uncle, Elias Openshaw and his father, Joseph Openshaw, which goes back several years.

Having lived as a plantation owner in Florida and then served on the side of the Confederate States during the American Civil War, Elias Openshaw had returned to England and settled at an estate in Sussex.

After a few years, he invited his unmarried nephew to join him, offering him the run of the estate with the exception of one locked room, in which Openshaw the elder kept his travelling trunks. Other than this, there is nothing really out of the ordinary.

Until, in 1883,  a strange letter containing five orange pips arrives. It sends Elias Openshaw in a frenzied downwards spiral of increasingly erratic behaviour, until he is found dead in the garden pond, having apparently drowned after a drunken fall. Then, a year later, having inherited Elias’ estate, John’s father, Joseph, receives an identical letter. Five days later, he is found dead, apparently the victim of a fall into a local quarry while visiting a friend.

And now, in September 1887, John Openshaw himself has received a letter, again containing five orange pips, and has turned to Holmes for help….

18:00: Magicland Park SLLeprechauns, Witches & Gold, OH MY!

With Caledonia Skytower.

Monday, March 2nd

06:00: The Emerald Atlas

emerald atlasCata Charisma continues his reading of John Stephens’ The emerald Atlas, the first volume in his fantasy trilogy for young adults, The Books of Beginning.

Having been passed from pillar to post through orphanages, three siblings, Kate, Emma, and Michael, find themselves lodged at the home of one Dr. Stanislaus Pym. Kate, the eldest of the three is driven by a promise made by her mother, that if Kate protects her younger sister and brother, then their family will be one day reunited.

But in their explorations of Dr. Pym’s house the three of them find their way into the basement, where they come across a mysterious door and a equally mysterious emerald-covered booth, entirely without text. When an old photograph touches the blank pages of the book, however, the three are immediately transported to the time and place depicted in the photograph. Her they find themselves in a realm populated by witches, henchmen, giants, dwarves and more – and one Dr. Stanislaus Pym, a good deal younger than when they last saw him in his house…

19:00: Starswarm

StarswarmStarswarm Station is a remote research station established to study strange alien life. The planet on which it is located is the home of the starswarm, intelligent plants living under the planet’s shallow lakes and seas, and roaming bands of centaur-like creatures dubbed “haters”.

The station is also home to Kip, a teenage boy living under the guardianship of his “uncle”. However, as Kip begins to discover, he has another guardian: Gwen, an AI system his mother had been working on, prior to her death, and which communicates with Kip via a small implant placed inside his brain at birth.

Gwen knows far more about the planet and the lifeforms it harbours than Kip could imagine. It also knows a lot about the company that runs the station and, for all intents and purposes, “owns” the planet on which it sits.

Slowly, Gwen reveals these various truths to Kip, including his own destiny. But in doing so, it puts Kip, and potentially the entire station, at risk.

Join Gyro Muggins as he commences a reading of Jerry Pournelle’s 1998 novel intended for teenage readers but which offers an interesting look at subjects such as neural nets and living computer systems.

Tuesday March 3rd, 19:00: Ireland: More from the Land of Poets

With Caledonia Skytower and Kayden OConnell.

Wednesday March 4th, 19:00: The Quiet Man

quiet-manReleased in 1952, John Ford’s The Quiet Man is regarded as a classic Irish-American romantic comedy / drama. Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara (and assorted members of their RL families!) and Barry Fitzgerald, it is a popular choice among critics and film-lovers.

The screenplay for the film was drawn in a large part from a short story of the same name originally published in 1933 in the Saturday Evening Post, and penned by Irish author, Maurice Welsh. Together with a number of other short stories by Walsh, The Quiet Man was gathered into a single volume of his short stories, The Quiet Man and Other Stories, which dealt with many recurring characters living in rural Ireland of the 1920s, and set against the backdrop of the civil unrest which affected the country at that time, while examining the complexities and occasional intrigues of life, love and Irish traditions.

Join Caledonia Skytower as she reads Walsh’s original tale of The Quiet Man, Paddy Bawn Enright..

Thursday March 5th

19:00: Celtic Myths and Magick

With Shandon Loring.

21:00 Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.

Saturday March 7th, Seanchai Kitely: The Faery Handbag

Shandon Loring reads Kelly Link’s 2005 winner of 2005 the Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

Genevieve has a somewhat eccentric grandmother, Zofia, who claims to have a community of faeries, about whom she often tells the strangest tales. The faeries are also, apparently, responsible for all sorts of mischief, such has hiding her library books when they are due to be returned, so they become overdue. Then Jake, Genevieve’s boyfriend, decides to steal the bag and see if it really does contain faeries….

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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 January / February is Project Children, teaching and building peace in Northern Ireland, one child at a time.

Related Links

SL project updates week 9/2: TPV meeting, SL roadmap notes

Less Than Three, Special One; Inara Pey, February 2015, on Flickr Less Than Three, Special One (Flickr) – blog post

The following notes are primarily taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, February 27th,  a video of which is included at the end of the article (my thanks as always to North for recording it and providing it for embedding), and any time stamps contained within the following text refer to it.

Server Deployments Week 9 Re-cap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, February 24th
  • On Wednesday, February 25th, all three RC channels received the same server maintenance package, which comprises:
    • A server-side fix for BUG-8297, “Unable to teleport anywhere using SLGO”
    • Improvement to server logging.

SL Viewer

Viewer-Managed Marketplace Project Viewer

[0:35] As noted at the last TPV Developer meeting, the VMM functionality still has some issues that are being worked on. some of these appear to be on the back-end of things, rather than within the viewer itself. As such, it is unlikely that there will be further updates to the viewer in the near future while these are being addressed.

Experience Tools Viewer

[0:50] The Lab is also continuing to work on the back-end of things for Experience Tools / Keys. This work is apparently focused on overall robustness of the service prior to fully deploying it to the grid. As no viewer-side changes are anticipated as a result of this work, the viewer itself should be ready for promotion to the de facto release viewer once the Lab is ready to go with things.

Avatar Hover Height Project Viewer

[4:21]  Vir Linden is continuing to work on a couple of the bugs uncovered during testing. One of these is related to leg position issues, which can see an avatar’s leg “buckle” if the position is adjusted downwards such that the feet sink into the ground, becoming more and more pronounced the lower the avatar is set. Currently, there is no ETA on providing a fix for this.

Mesh Importer Viewer

[5:47 – via chat]  It is anticipated that the Mesh Importer project viewer (currently version ) will receive an update in week #10.

Tools Update Viewer

[6:56] A line has been drawn under the current set of changes to the viewer-side build tools, so the aim is now to get the viewer in the release channel.

However, there are further changes already being queued behind the current set of updates, many of them contributed by open-source developers, which the Lab believe will further improve the viewer build process. As such, it is likely that there will be further updates to the viewer in relation to the build tools, most likely in the form of a “build clean-up” viewer, which will likely include all of the agreed updates which didn’t make it into the current version of the build tools viewer code.

The hope is that, moving forward, all viewers – LL’s own and TPVs  – can, as far as possible, be built using the same tool set the only difference being whether or not a TPV sets a build switch to use proprietary libraries (e.g. Havok) or not.

Group Chat

[2:10] The Lab continues to roll-out updates as a result of this work, and updates focused on the issue of group chat servers themselves stalling, and they are confident that progress is being made. This is supported by anecdotal evidence from moderators of large groups with active chat, who are indicating the instances of visible server slow-down / stalling have been decreasing over the past week or so. Commenting on this during the TPVD meeting, Oz Linden said, “we haven’t declared victory in this yet, but it’s looking a lot more stable.”

In the meantime, some groups are reporting performance issues whereby for short periods – measured in terms of 2-3 minutes, where group chat messages won’t go through at all, and no time-out message is being displayed by the viewer, while other messages are being delayed, but then getting through, but without the massive roll of delayed messages. These may be related to previous changes made to improve the overall performance of group chat, and news of the problems is being taken back to the Lab for investigation.

Attachment Reliability

[4:39] As I most recently reported in week 8, there are on-going issues related to attachments. Vir Linden has also been investigating these, and there is a project viewer in development which includes fixes for those issues the Lab has been able to consistently reproduce. Unfortunately, the infamous BUG-6925 is not among these, but Vir hopes that the updates he’s been making will address it to some degree.

There is currently no ETA for the project viewer, but the Lab hopes that when it does appear, they’ll get some clear and constructive feedback on what it does and does not seem to address.

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Singularity provides update to address AMD Catalyst driver issues

singularityAs I’ve previously reported in this blog, recent AMD Catalyst™ driver updates have resulted in numerous issues for SL users running AMD graphics cards and attempting to use the latest driver updates. These started with the 14.9.1 drivers, but which became particularly pronounced with the  14.9.2 drivers failing to render rigged mesh unless hardware skinning is disabled (see: BUG-7653), problems which increased with AMD switched yo automatic updates with the release of their 14.12 drivers.

In December 2014, Yoho Waco offered a workaround for the problems affecting more recent drivers (e.g. 14.12) using the 14.9 DLL files to overcome some of the issues presented by those drivers, and which should work for most viewers. With Yoho permission, I offered his workaround as an article in its own right, and DMC Jurassic reported the same approach could be used with 1.4.4 driver DLL files to resolve issues caused by both the more recent driver updates and those cause by the 14.9.2 driver update.

Recent AMD Catalyst™ drivers (1.4.9.2 onwards) have been problematic for Sl users, presenting a series of mesh rendering problems as a result of changing openGL support within the drivers (image courtesy of Maestro Linden, click for full-size)

Recent AMD Catalyst™ drivers (1.4.9.2 onwards) have been problematic for Sl users, presenting a series of mesh rendering problems as a result of changing openGL support within the drivers (image courtesy of Maestro Linden, click for full-size)

Now the Singularity team have stepped up, offering their users who use AMD graphics cards and who have particularly been affected by the rigged mesh issues found when using the more recent Catalyst™ drivers.

Version 1.8.6.6157 of the viewer, released on February 27th, 2015, is labelled as a “supplemental” update to the viewer because, as the release notes state, it only provides a fix for this particular set of problems, and offers no additional updates to the viewer as a whole.

Therefore, if you are not affected by the Catalyst™ driver problems, there is no need for you to update. However, if you have been affected by the problems, then this update could well be for you.

Related Links

With thanks to Maya Rosenstar for the pointer.

The Drax files 27: the magic of Nylon in Second Life

Nylon Pinkney is the embodiment of creativity and freedom of expression that Second Life offers to all of us who come into its digital domain with an open mind and an imagination willing to take flight.

A resident of Second Life for more than ten years, Nylon is a veritable tour de force of creativity, be it through avatar creation, art, photography, content creation, region design, or her support of the creativity of other Second Life users. Not only does her home region, Tableau, offer an in-world presence for her own brands – which include Nylon Outfitters, Oh Lala!, Paper Couture,  and the Wigglesworth Residence – it also offers a place where other content creators can host their stores, and provides a live music venue.

Nylon Outfitters, one of Nylon's store on her home region of Tableau

Nylon Outfitters, one of Nylon’s store on her home region of Tableau

And it doesn’t end there: the entire region is itself a unique work of art, drawing together content from around the grid and combining it with Nylon’s own eye for design and layout and her natural talent as an artist to present a whimsical, photogenic and delightfully artful environment, which she refers to as her take, as a woman from New Jersey, on a “bombed-out” town in the south-west USA.

Given her talents – which even extend to having supplied Linden Lab with some of their “classic” starter avatars and the fact her creativity has oft been subject to the attention of US comedian Drew Carey (who admits to still hopping into Second Life as and when he can) – little wonder that episode #27 of The Drax Files: World Makers settles down to profile her.

Nylon in Tableau (image courtesy of Draxtor Despres)

Nylon in Tableau (image courtesy of Draxtor Despres)

In a world which naturally lends itself to the fullest range of digital manipulation and photo-realism, Nylon’s work is a fusion of digital tools and freehand artistry. “Instead of taking a photo and trying to make it squash onto the avatar base,” she says in describing her work, “I actually hand-draw all of my textures. It’s not perfect, but I don’t have any interest in perfect.”

Perfect it may not be, but it is authentic; and it is the authenticity and fun evident in her work that has made Nylon’s designs so popular among SL residents. In a world where perhaps a little too much emphasis can be placed on digital perfection, she offers a pleasantly natural look and fell to her garments and designs. This is further reflected in her Wigglesworth Residence range of older avatars, which breaks the mould of SL’s eternally youthful population in a light-hearted way.

In the physical world, Nylon notes that she’s been very much a part of the family business, with Second Life providing the kind of creative freedom she was seeking; but as is so often the way, the physical world and the virtual have combined somewhat to make her Second Life businesses something of a family affair, with Nylon’s sister, Polyester Partridge, producing all of the accessories for their various brands.

Nylon (r) works in-world with her sister, Polyester (l) on a range of brands and items which have proven very popular among SL users

Nylon (r) works in-world with her sister, Polyester (l) on a range of brands and items which have proven very popular among SL users

Nylon is keenly aware of the platform’s potential to encourage learning and growth – something Strawberry Singh incidentally touched upon in one of her recent Monday Memes – noting how it has encouraged her, through her businesses, to develop her skills and art. This also again reflects a theme very much evident through the World Makers series, with many of those participating in the show pointing in some measure to the platform’s innate ability to encourage people to learn new skills and discover new abilities within themselves.

Obviously this is something well known to all of us involved with Second Life; it’s often the reason many of us actually become increasingly engaged in the platform, whether or not we have any form of in-world business; Second Life helps fulfil those inner desires for creative expression and freedom that might otherwise remain hidden or stifled. As such, it is an important point to consider when looking at the platform in terms of its potential for teaching and learning, quite aside from the more recognisable or considered uses for the platform as a more structured educational medium.

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