Cobra Sims

Thanks to guest blogger Oura Scribe!

Who knew I could get into trouble building? Giggles, well not really trouble.

I’m minding my own business, building away, frustrated at sculpty stairs. I decided to put a question out on Builders Brewery Group Chat. A very smart and helpful group of people, I might add. Davido Chrome IM’d back and offered a tp. After falling off his mountain and getting lost in the observatory (great build), I finally found the balcony where he was hiding. David (I understand it is ok to drop the ‘o’), walked through several sets of sculpty stairs with me. We talked about spirals and ladders. Basically I think the proportions of what I am trying to do are out of whack. That is the technical term, I assure you. 🙂 I have yet to build the stairs because I got seriously sidetracked. But when I do get back to them, I am quite certain I will be much closer to having a set I can actually walk on.

The subject of sculpties led to sculpt studio and blender and then to a wonderfully unique parking spot that was made with Blender. David created a ‘hang over the cliff’ spot for bikes to park in. At first glance this collection of rough wooden boards did not look sturdy enough to hold the sign, but it indeed held a bike. I had not realized it, but I was on the Cobra sims, a collection of sims built with bikers in mind. What a treat! I did notice the tag “Sidewinder” but hadn’t given it too much thought. Tags can mean just about anything. At this point David rezzed a nice purple and gold bike to show me how well the parking spot works. He offered me a ride. In real life I cannot pass up a ride on the back of a bike. I guess I am the same in second life. Of course I tried to sit in the driver’s seat and was informed promptly that it was locked. Hmmph!!! He said try the back. 🙂 I hoped on and off we went. The trails winding down the mountain from the observatory were steep and narrow. David maneuvered them perfectly. I was very impressed. We went on tracks and over bridges, in tunnels, and even in an underwater maze.

The Cobra sims are 12 in total. There are off-road tracks, paved roads and natural beaches. I saw many shops, chalets, boats, and a great bike store. I am told (by good authority) that Bud is the man to see. He is very nice and has a great selection. There were lots of friendly people about and some very interesting avatars to boot.

It was a delightful ride, and I hated for it to end. I really do think I could have ridden all afternoon. Such a comfortable bike and I loved that I wasn’t fighting the sim crossings. Davido did a great job and I would recommend him for a tour anytime (although I do not know if he is officially a tour guide and I must warn you – I think he drives with no hands *laugh*).

Just goes to show you – that even when we try to concentrate and build and be ‘good’, we often get to wander (and wonder) off to another part of the world and experience all the best that SL has to offer.

Thank you, Davido, for a wonderful afternoon surprise!

If you get time, check out Cobra Sims!

– Oura Scribe

And thank YOU, Oura, for helping me out today with a guest post! 🙂

SL Fatigue

I’ve just finished reading yet another blog post, this one by a blogger I know personally and respect, that claims that SL is boring and dull, less interesting.  I do understand that sentiment.   I agree that there are many things that do not seem to be working well in SL, that many “famous” SL avatars have left (or claimed to have left) or have posted that they probably SHOULD leave. I have heard from many “old” avatars that SL is not what it was.

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2

I myself have taken little vacations from SL, reducing my time, cutting back my contacts. I, too, have sat about in SL wondering why I am there, what is there to do, being bored. I suggest to you that SL is what we make it.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

For the most part, the people that I hear complain of boredom are people who have been here awhile. Years, not days. I think that we tend to fall into routines, into ruts, after the initial thrill. First we are thrilled, then we find “our crowd”, then we start feeling “it’s the same old same old”. The people who are new seem to still be having fun, enjoying themselves, being enthusiastic about all the possibilities. The people who are building and creating new things seem to still take joy in the world. Let me point to the people who created In Land: The Search for the Sy. Let me point to my friend Honour McMillan, who deliberately sets out each day to find something new and interesting in SL. (My apologies if I have embarrassed you, Honour, but your dedication and joy in exploring SL is a delight to me.) The newbies I have met (who made it past the first hour) are still fairly wide-eyed with interest and delight.

Here’s a suggestion to my dear friends who are feeling like Hamlet. (That would be Hamlet the Melancholy Prince of  Denmark, not Hamlet Au.  *grin*) Maybe it’s time to leave your usual haunts, your usual crowd, and go try to find something you have NOT done. Take a page from my dear friend Hunter (who I miss very much) and go walk the highways and byways of SL. For me, meeting the horse avatar from Kingdom of Sand infused new energy and fun into my SL days. I am having a wonderful time hanging out at Carriage Trade with the horses. I’m willing to bet that there is still something in SL that you have not yet tried, not yet seen. Chestnut Rau set herself a challenge of finding a new interesting location every day. Oura Scribe builds for work and pleasure, for clients and friends.

I know that there are many factors that contribute to SL fatigue. Certainly I think we all go through cycles of being more and less involved in SL. I am not saying that you are wrong completely in your assessment. But I do think that there are things that we can do to refresh ourselves and our SL experience. Go find it. I wish you joy and fun in the search.

My thanks to Honour for helping me with the photos: “Setting out” and “Detour to see the cows”

Winter Weekend

My rowing machine came this week. Yay! It seems that maybe the last lingering effects of the smoke inhalation have left. Bigger YAY! So when I woke up this morning, I knew it was time to get back in shape. I warmed up on the treadmill (thank you knees for cooperating) and then sat down to row. Oh, I LOVE it! I think it’s been 4 months since I last rowed, but I was able to do a decent workout. Even managed to have energy left for the weights. *grin* Fantastic.

Since my atomic self was feeling fit, I decided my digital self needed to do the same. I used the oft-maligned “Search” for ‘rowing machine’. It is very curious what gets returned. But among the oddities was one that made sense: YuNi Bike Shop in Blanc. Yes, it sells motorcycles, but the upstairs has exercise equipment. Treadmill, free weights, back extensions, rowing machine and other such gym equipment are offered for sale. They even have arm-wrestling! The rowing machine is by Yuriko Nishi, and although it’s a slightly different model than the one I found at Amazon, it seems to work just fine! I need to update my wardrobe, however. I need a good headband to keep the hair out of my face. I also need better gloves for working out – I had to use my good riding gloves. So if you know of any stores selling such, please let me know!

After the workout, it was obviously time to relax. I’m not sure why, maybe pity, but both Honour and Oura gave me presents this week. Honour found an adorable elephant chair that she said was made for me. She is right – I love it. Even better, it comes with a baby elephant, so that Bamboo can have his own chair. The elephants are from Kurotsubaki in Drowsy. The store is adorable and worth a visit. There were many cute items there, including a basket of fresh bread. I love bread. 🙂

Oura gave us ponies. Little stuffed pony dolls, but cuddly adorable ponies nonetheless. Bamboo and I had a bit of a ‘discussion’ over which of us got the black and white pony, but he now seems content with his pink and blue one. The ponies are from Altya’s in Archers. Altya’s is another store full of delightful and weird objects. Our Jarhead Unibike avatars are from Altya’s. Bamboo and I relaxed by the fire with our ponies, eating warm rolls, drinking coffee. Ahhh, such a pleasant winter’s morn.

Search for the Sy

In-Land Search for the Sy is one of the current exhibits at the IBM Exhibition Space in SL. It is among the most interesting and creative exhibits/builds I have seen in SL. It is beautiful. It is engaging. It challenges you. It is cohesive. The thought, effort, care and passion that went into this build are evident everywhere. As you can tell, I was totally blown away by the experience.

Search for the Sy is the creation of Alchemy Sims Build Group. The three original members are Annabelle Fanshaw, Vicki Brandeburg and Layton Destiny. I first heard of the exhibit at a talk in SL – I think it was one of the guests on Metanomics, but I am not sure. The speaker was talking about how he’d just experienced this incredible interactive learning sim. Another friend was at the talk and managed to get a link and information.

I headed over to the sim the other day to get some background pictures and some information so I could post about it, even before I’d started the game. When you arrive at the sym, you are given a notecard with the background information and explanations. I wanted to print the notecard in its entirety, but wasn’t sure that would be permissible. So I IM’d Annabelle Fanshaw and asked permission. She IM’d back very quickly, not only giving me permission but offering to give me a guided tour. (Wow. Look at that. Being polite pays off. *grin* Although my manager has always taught me that it is better to just do it and ask forgiveness after.) I was delighted at the idea and asked if I could bring a friend. I am NOT the most reliable of bloggers and I take mediocre photos and sometimes I don’t SEE all that is to be seen in SL. I was hoping that I could have Honour join us. Annabelle said “of course” and we arranged a time to meet. Annabelle took Honour and I through the sim, explaining the whats, whys, hows, and wheres. We agreed not to give away any secrets. *grin* Honour has already blogged on our experience and posted pics. So I urge you to go there and get more information. I am going to print the notecards and such that you get at the beginning.

The tour was fantastic. I confess to being delighted with the teleporters. I will definitely go back to do it again on my own, take my time, and experience the build. There are 3 different levels, each with its own atmosphere. You start by knowing very little of the Sy but end in immersion. There is a group you can join to get hints, support and exchange stories. One warning – damage IS enabled on the sim, so don’t be surprised. There are traps and misleading clues. If you have already DONE the search, know that the team is always adding new features to the build weekly in order to have surprises for return visitors. Definitely take some time and check this out. If you want to have a “sneak peek” at the sim, view the video.

Living in the Presentation

This is a fantastic example of why learning and working in a virtual world is superior to standard presentations. A friend passed this url to me.

Greg Pfister has been blogging since January 2007.  You can reach him at “The Perils of Parallel“.   He’s an author, engineer, and expert in parallel computing, among other things. He recently took part in a course in SL. As he writes, it was a wonderful chance to compare a learning experience in a virtual world with a learning experience in the atomic world, as he’d taken a course with this organization before. He writes clearly, simply, with humor and makes his point.

About a week after the course, the participants were asked for their feedback. Excerpts from Greg’s post:    (Font and style done by Ahuva)

Everything I wrote above about the sessions is, in fact, direct from memory. I didn’t take any notes during the course. This is unusual for me. I am normally terrible on details, remembering relatively little outside of my notes. So what happened?

Somehow, the experience of walking around inside those places, navigating their geographies, being immersed in it, makes the content easy to bring up from memory.

So I didn’t attend that presentation, I lived in it. No wonder I remember it.

But something much better is possible, something that appears to harnesses our hindbrains directly: Living in a presentation. It cannot be done in two dimensions. You cannot even do it in real life. It’s something virtual worlds are, uniquely, good for.

Thank you, Greg Pfister.  I wish I had been able to convince people that building collaboration tools for use in virtual worlds was important, vital, and worth the funding.  Because I, too, believe that when you are living in the presentation, or living in the EFFORT (the work), it harnesses our brains to best effect.

Panland’s Cyclone

Staying with my resolution to get out and about more, I looked through my inventory for some place fun to visit. I was sure that Panacea had sent me a landmark ages ago about her new roller coaster. Yep, there it was – in SOHO-New York, the Cyclone Roller Coaster! Wow. Judging by where it is in my inventory, I am very late in getting there. I think I remember Chestnut posting about it also, weeks ago.

I do not like roller coasters in real life. You may or may not remember that waaaaaaaaay back when I started this blog, Alaska convinced me to go sky diving with him. I was as sick to my stomach doing it in SL as I think I might be in RL. No, not that much. Because I did actually jump in SL. I’d NEVER jump in RL. *grin* Did I ever mention that stupid ride, The Caterpillar,? I KNOW that was the ride, but if Wikipedia is correct, I was never in any of the amusement parks cited as having that ride. Still. That is my memory. I was I don’t know how young. The linked carts went around in a small circle. There was a little bit of up and down to the track, but nothing like a roller coaster. There was also some cover that opened and closed as the little cart went around and around, up and down. I screamed so hysterically that they actually had to stop the ride to let me off. Yup. Big brave Ahuva.

So I was not really sure I wanted to do a roller coaster, even in SL. *grin* My husband and father got me on a roller coaster down in Disney World – some Frontierland ride through coal mines I think. What we do for love. They ALWAYS put me in the front seat, I don’t know why. I’ve finally learned how to deal with this sort of thing. I close my eyes, and I do math problems in my head. *grin* Yes, nothing like reciting the multiplication table or other number games with your eyes closed to make most of the roller coaster disappear.

Those tricks were NOT necessary for the Cyclone. Although the Cyclone has wonderful sound effects, and you do go up, up, up, UP before you go screaming down, I was able to deal with it. Pan did me the good deed of coming to ride with me, so I didn’t have to go alone. She knows all the ins and outs, so I knew to set the sun to midnight. Different seats give you different rides. I got brave enough in the front to actually release my death-grip on the handle bar, but I don’t think I’m ready to ride in the back and do handstands the way Panacea did! 🙂

Grab some friends and head over to Panland and see for yourself! Maybe I’ll meet you on the ferris wheel!

Dusting Off the Scripting Skills

Hanging about at Carriage Trade has made something abundantly clear: I have LOTS of chocolate and wine in my inventory, but not too many horse treats. I headed over there the other day to take some photos of the shops and stable. I was hoping In The Habit was open (it wasn’t then but is now) so I could perhaps add a bit to my clothing inventory. Because you know I NEEEEEEEED more boots. 🙂 After taking some pics around the shops, I went to the stable.

Chancy, a beautiful buckskin, was there when I arrived. We started chatting. She asked me about the group rules and about the sim. I really didn’t know much more than what it said on the sign and said so. Moonsorrow, a lovely Arabian, showed up while we talked, asking the same questions. When Mute, a handsome palomino, came seeking the same information, I IM’d to Georgianna. Help! We all have questions. It was truly fascinating. The horses can join the group, rent stalls and some other benefits. People can come to the livery to ride or take out a carriage. There will be a cost for that. The horses and the sim will share in that. *grin* I think that’s great! It’s a wonderful way for people who would like to ride to find a mount willing to take them. The horses make money and have fun and don’t have to support the overhead.

It apparently sounded fine to Mute also, who rented a stall. I looked for a suitable stall-warming gift. I was SURE I had an apple somewhere. I found it finally – rezzed one on the ground and passed one to Mute. But that wasn’t satisfying. It seemed to me that a stall-warming gift or a treatsie should be more interesting than that. I resolved to do better.

I returned home and built a basket. Yes, you read that correctly. I dug out my building skills and made a basket. (I confess – first I IM’d Honour and whined that I needed her to build me something. And then realized – hey – *I* know how to do THAT.) My friend had already passed me carrots and sugar cubes and a better apple. I put the foodstuff in the basket. I’d forgotten how to wear the basket properly. I IM’d to Shenlei for help on that one. Oh, right – poses and script. Done. My wonderful script teacher HellspawneD had taught me how to make a script that offered a choice, so I modified that for carrots, apples and sugar cubes and headed back to the barn.

I tested the basket on Belvidere and Apollo. They seemed to like it. I noticed a problem, however. Given the choice between nutritious carrots and sweet sugar cubes, the horses chose sugar. Repeatedly. THAT is NOT healthy. *grin* So I resolved to brush off my scripting skills and modify the script again. This time I’m going to LIMIT how many sugar cubes a given horse may have in a given SL day. That’s right, Mom is watching. 4 carrots, 2 apples, 2 sugar cubes in an SL day. I’ve already put Dale and Hell on notice.

I also met another of the barn cats – Midnight. I LOVE SL animations. If you touch Midnight, there are options for petting, following, meowing. 🙂 We all went out for a ride, and Midnight followed right along. I can see that I will have to add cat treats to my basket.

Sunsets Sepias and Other ‘Scapes

I’ve missed a lot in SL the last several months, but I’m baaaaaaack! I hate missing parties and I missed the Victorian Vernissage in Caledon back in November. The vernissage was for Callipygian Christensen’s newest art exhibit: Sunsets Sepias & Other ‘Scapes. Honour was fortunate enough to be there, in proper Victorian dress. I knew I would probably miss the vernissage so Calli invited me over to watch her as she hung the pictures. These photos were all new to me. This exhibit is a collection of images of the Great Wall and the countryside around it. Calli has been experimenting with sepia tones and the results are lovely.

Although the exhibit started back on December 14th, it will be on display until January 30, 2011 at the Kiku Gallery of Amatsu Shima. When I went to visit, the sim had already gone into winter-mode. It is a beautiful sim. I played about with the windlight settings, trying to practice. It takes me awhile, but ultimately I’ll grasp some of the essentials of lighting.

I enjoyed the gallery also. Often I end up in places where I need to figure out how to get from one altitude to another. Yeah, these things are still difficult for me. This building has simple, clean lines. The architecture is not fighting with the art work. In the center of the building is a restful area with benches, open to the sky. Both the exhibit and the building have a serene atmosphere.

Welcoming 2011

For many, many years now I have hosted a small party for New Year’s Eve. There’s the usual suspects, sometimes a newcomer or two. This year I realized at the beginning of December that it just wasn’t going to happen for a variety of reasons. As it turned out, in addition to those reasons, I was still suffering from major smoke inhalation (clearing a fire-ravaged apartment) so it was a very good thing that we (my family) had just decided to stay home and relax. For me this meant reading and getting on the computer.

I logged in to SL to greet the UK folks, who were MUCH closer to the new year than I at that point. It’s also Bailey’s birthday so of course there was a party going on. I realized as I sat and listened to the music, read the chat, watched all the crazy things rez, how much I’ve missed these people. I’ve been in touch a bit through Plurk, but it’s so cheering and fun to be together in one place and time. Thanks all! And Happy Birthday Bailey!

I managed a few IMs to US folks too. *grin* There were A LOT of people logged on this year. Maybe there always are, I don’t know. I arranged to meet Dz and Daez later for dancing. I figured if I was going to try to stay up that late, I’d better eat some dinner. So I logged and took care of food and pets and family. I also ordered a rowing machine online. My office is renovating yet again and part of that includes no more work-out room. I’ve been without stair-master and rowing machine since September and I miss them. Two weeks and I can be rowing.

When I came back in Shenlei was on and was going to go for a ride. She invited me to join her and Chancy. I tp’d over to the stables and met Draenei, who graciously agreed to be my mount. They all agreed that it was about time I learned to “ride”, so Drae turned the controls over to me. I think I only rode us into the bushes maybe 2 or 3 times. 🙂 Chancy and Shen had been practicing their caprioles. They were great. Perhaps once I learn how to go in the direction I intend…..

From there I headed to join Dz and Daez at Von Johin’s concert at Fogbound. I’ve met apollo in the last few weeks – he’s very new to SL. I invited him to join me at the concert. He was there and able to rez, but had insufficient band width for audio also. 😦 So whereas he could dance, he didn’t really get to enjoy Von, who sounded great!

We were monitoring Noma Falta’s group chat while we were dancing. Seemed like she crashed the sim she was at. *grin* That woman can really rock and bring a sim to its knees. She had another show at 9pm SLT, which was MIDNIGHT for me! So I took a bit of a break so I could watch TV with the family, watch the ball come down, and have a new year’s kiss. Tradition! Then it was back to SL and Noma at Prim Economy to start the new year off right.

I was not sure how a new year’s eve without my rl party was going to feel to me. But so MANY folk were online at one time or another during the evening. I got to chat with so many friends, party, dance, ride, see a friend’s new home. It was a lovely lovely evening and a wonderful start to a new year. I wish a happy, healthy, rewarding new year for us all. *hugs*