… And a star to steer her by

One of my very very favorite Solstice-time presents this year was this amazing Tall Ship; the Tradewind from Trudeau Classic Sailing Yachts.

Passing WIndlass, in weather

Bingo Strait, Qomene (120, 90, 22)

Christmas Day Sailing

It’s really an astounding ship, big and grand and detailed and authentic. It has many many prims, and in fact most of the ship is worn as an attachment because of that; the part that you rezz on the water is just a basic (invisible) outline, and the sitting poseballs. (It holds the captain, and I think up to three crew / guests.) It has an optional-rez cabin with a bunk that sleeps two, and you can change the color scheme, authorize other people to sail it, and do lotsa other stuff that I haven’t tried yet.

I liked it so much that when I got some RL cash for Christmas I converted half of it to Lindens, and used a fraction of that to buy a little daysailor from the same place; the Trudeau Twenty. It is an incredibly sweet little boat:

Sea of Tranquility (41, 110, 21)

Here I am moored next to a recreation of a Piranesi drawing:

Mar Menor (159, 8, 21)

(I love Piranesi’s dark fantastic work, but I was having too much fun sailing to stop and give it a thorough lookover; will have to go back there sometime.)

A wonderful feature of the Twenty is the boom tent. You can drop anchor and rez the boom tent, which includes a mattress with sleeping poesballs, for a nap or an overnight:

Boom Tent, Nautilus Harbor Rez Zone, Nautilus - Yamm

It’s practically a houseboat! (Now I have to play with the Tall Ship more, and see what surprises it has that I haven’t found yet.)

(Oh, and that’s an automated airship in the background, just pulling in. Have to take that tour sometime, too…)

Wind and Sailing in Second Life

Speaking of sailing in SL, a v good friend suggested that I say a word about how the wind works, for SL-sailing purposes.

The simplest sailboats, like my Skipjack “Indolence”, just go wherever you point them, as fast as you tell them to go; they are actually powerboats with decorative sails, and don’t care about the wind at all.

The Trudeau yachts, on the other hand, use a pretty sophisticated model of sails and wind, and have HUDs that tell you where the wind is coming from, let you raise and lower and take in and let out and reef the sails, and so on, and the behavior of the craft (including really nice water and sail sounds) is directly related to how the sails are set compared to how the wind is blowing. For some value of “wind”.

There are at least three kinds of wind in Second Life that a sailboat can use: the “built-in” SL wind that scripts can detect, a custom wind as specified by the sailor (it’s really nice, if you don’t want to tack painfully upwind in a narrow channel for hours, to just tell the boat “pretend the wind is coming from right behind us”), and “racewind”, which is a shared wind for an area that is broadcast by a scripted object, so that all the race-compatible boats around can see the same wind, and race fairly.

All these kinds of wind are described in more detail on the Wind page of the Second Sailing Wiki, which I recommend to anyone interested in the details.

All of which shouldn’t scare anyone off from SL sailing; it’s not actually hard at all, just lots of fun. I haven’t sailed in RL in years, and even then it was just simple one-sail boats on little lakes; but figuring out the controls on the Trudeau craft didn’t take me long at all (once I figured out which arrow was the wind-direction indicator!), and I’m finding sailing with an actual wind (of whichever kind I’m in the mood for) to be a lovely soothing thing to do.

Try it, if you haven’t! Maybe I’ll see you on th’ waves. :)

Happy *ISHH*!

It’s the time of year when everyone deluges each other with greetings and good wishes of various sorts, because it’s the middle of the winter in some places, and the anniversary of various things, and the start of a new calendar year in some calendars, and because the days have just stopped getting shorter, and because this is when everyone does that.

I usually do a solstice card in SL, but this year I was lazy through Solstice and never quite got around to it. When I logged in today there was a great poem from Beth Odets about *ISHH*, for “Insert Seasonal Holiday Here”. That’s a pretty good approach, but I didn’t want to steal it.

So I just did an early New Year card:

20009 New Year Card

Note how we are looking symbolically out at the sunrise. I’n’t it deep? :)

I went through my friends list, and for each person doubleclicked to open an IM window, and dragged an object with that image (and a little snow-particle prim) into that IM window. Once for each of the 300-odd persons on my friends list.

I feel virtuous!

Blood Elf Riding Chicken

The Blizzard folks must have done focus groups or something, and decided that retention, or buy-in by new members, or whatever, was suffering due to things taking to long at low levels, because they have really wildly sped things up down there.

Last Wednesday some friends persuaded me to roll up yet another WoW character :) so I could hang out on the server that they are on. Being into hunters lately, and them being Horde, I rolled up a Blood Elf hunter, named Deminestia (the first time I’ve used an automatically-suggested name unmodified; I like it).

I was curious to see what the notes for Patch 3.3 meant about having lowered leveling requirements at low levels. Turns out what they meant was that they’ve lowered leveling requirements at low levels, and you level really frigging fast.

(And they’ve also left all the existing quests in place, which means there are now far too many quests in any given area; if you try to do all available quests, like Spennix used to back in the day, you’ll be far too high level by the time you get to the last ones.)

And then once you get to Level 15, you can start to use the new “Find a Dungeon”, which will automatically hook you up with like-level characters from all the realms in your battlegroup, and magically transport you to an appropriate instance. One result of which is that you level even faster.

Having run Rage Fire Chasm twice and Shadow Fang Keep once, here’s Deminestia with her faithful dragonhawk Fido, on Friday, at level 20. After less than three days of playing! And pretty casual playing, at that (no staying up all night or anything).

Deminestia and Fido

(Prettier larger)

And since they’ve also wildly lowered the level and gold requirements for mounts, here she is on her brand new Blood Elf Riding Chicken:

Deminestia Mounted

(Also larger)

That is one embarassing mount. :)

I’m curious to see whether all this speeding up of the first twenty levels will just make the next sixty drag, as I get past the point where they’ve accelerated leveling, and no longer have a mount to work toward (since I already got one). Of course there’s still swift mounts, flying mounts, swift flying mounts…

Nosing into Hobbit holes

This morning the Lab announced that the previously-announced Hobbit Holes — I mean, Linden Homes — are now available for inspection on the new continent of Nascera (not “NASCAR”).

So I blipped over to look around.

Hobbit Hole Borders

There I am (elf guy in green mohawk for visibility) standing next to the same model Home as in the prior posting(s), with viewing of parcel boundaries turned on. Note that the parcel boundaries are drawn very closely around the house; the bit that I’m standing on is the Linden-owned protected land that separates the lots. So if you have a Linden Home, you don’t own any yard (or “garden”, for those of you in the United Kingdom). Except, in the case of this house, on the roof. :)

The covenant for the (oh alright) Linden Homes is inneresting. Here it is in lengthy detail:

Welcome to Linden Home for Premium Account holders. Linden Home is a residential community, located on the Continent Nascera, owned and managed by Linden Lab, currently in a limited beta. For more information, see our blog: https://blogs.secondlife.com/community/land/blog/2009/12/04/home-is-where-you-hang-your-avatars-hat

The purpose of Linden Home is to provide an opportunity for Premium Account Residents of the Second Life virtual world to quickly own a home and belong to a community. Linden Home is available to Premium account holders with 512m2 of available tier. Premium accounts are provided 512m2 available tier at no cost.

As a Premium Account holder, you are eligible for Live Chat and Ticket support from our Support Portal. If you need support for your Linden Home, go to the Support Portal and submit a ticket. Select the Land and Regions Issues ticket type. Under the resulting Region Request dropdown, select Linden Home.

Linden Home is governed by this Covenant, Linden Home Terms and Conditions, Terms of Service (TOS), and Community Standards (CS).

Linden Home Restrictions:

Linden Home has unique restrictions in addition to those outlined in the Linden Home Terms and Conditions. By accepting a Linden Home, you agree to additional restrictions as follows:

* Linden Home is for residential use only.
* Business use of any kind is prohibited, including parcel rental, rental boxes, classified ads or other forms of advertising, and event listings.
* Land cannot be terraformed, sold, deeded to group, joined, or divided.
* Land cannot contain sky boxes, temp-rezzers, or individual prims beyond the allocated size of the Second Life Viewer build tools – 10x10x10m (no megaprims).
* Linden Homes may not be removed, modified, exchanged, set or deeded to group, or transferred.
* Linden Homes should be kept presentable and in-theme.
* Linden Homes should not be used as sandboxes.
* Linden Homes do not include traffic tracking.
* Ownership is limited to one Linden Home per Premium Account.

Linden Home Benefits:

* Use your Premium account’s 512m2 tier-free allocation towards Linden Home.
* Ready-to-move-in themed home on 512m2 parcel.
* Select your own Linden Home theme.

* Decorate your home with furnishings.
* Invite your friends to your home.
* Meet your neighbors and make friends.
* Linden Homes are allocated 117 prims.
* Set Home to here at your Linden Home location.
* Set land and objects to group.

Linden Home Etiquette:

Living in a community includes courtesy towards your neighbors. Here are some guidelines for etiquette in Linden Home Regions:

* Use local chat say, rather than shout.
* Adhere to the Maturity Rating for the Linden Home Region you are located in.
* Respect your neighbors’ privacy.
* Review general Second Life Etiquette suggestions and incorporate them into your Linden Home experience.

Help References
The Second Life Knowledge Base (KB) includes many helpful articles for beginning landowners and Residents new to the Second Life virtual world. The following resources will help you get started with your Linden Home experience:

* Linden Home
* Linden Home FAQ
* Second Life Quickstart Guide
* Knowledge Base
* Video Tutorials
* Invite friends to join you in Second Life using SLurl
* Shopping
* Grid Status updates
* Blogs
* Second Life knowledge Q&A
* Abuse Report

We hope you enjoy your new Linden Home!

Interesting. I have no profound comments on it at the moment, but there it is. (Speculation on the two Mysteriously Empty Lines in the “benefits” section is most welcome.)

One thing the original posting said that interested me was “most will not share a border with other Residents”. I was thinking in terms of a checkerboard pattern, where doing that requires like double the area. But clearly these parcels aren’t a checkerboard pattern. So looking at the neighbors, again with “show parcel boundaries” turned on:

Hobbit Hole Neighbors

(may or may not be clearer larger).

While we aren’t sharing any borders in the picture here, the lots are separated by very thin strips of protected land. So it’s nice that your neighbor’s tree can’t stick through your wall (without crossing Linden land), but you’re still going to look out your window and see mostly the neighbor’s house.

I’ve looked only at the fantasy-themed area so far (I got distracted, what a surprise!), but I’m sure other people are out there also nosing around, and will have published lotsa good information before I even get to hitting “Publish” on this… :)

Update: For instance, Ari Blackthorne’s pictorial catalog of pretty much all of the houses in all of the styles! (I think I like the hobbit ones the best…)

Random pictures of me doing things in places

Hanging around the big Falln store for no particular reason the other day, and camming around like I always do everywhere, I came upon a nice Asian / Oriental furnishings place, embedded in but quite different from Falln, called I think “Little Boy Blue”. The products were very nice, and some were very nicely priced :) and I bought some.

Then wanting to actually put some of them out somewhere rather than just leave them in inventory forever, I decided to redecorate the Extropia pod a bit. Here’s part of the result:
Redecorating the Extropia pod

The tatami mats and the bamboo decoration in the corner and the little cabinet and the incense burner on the table and the Buddha and Ganesh on the wall are all from LBB. The table itself and the kneeling pads for it were a gift awhile back, and came from somewhere else. The table and lamp to the right are from RELIC I think. Other things are from other places. :)

Has kind of a nice open feeling to it I think…

Vaguely relatedly, a Zazen Coffee House:

Zazen Coffee House

Just a lovely tiny build (SLURL). Came across it through some complicated serendipitous path involving searching for the Philosophy House group to join it again after having to temporarily drop it ’cause I needed a group slot. Or something. :)

Later on, skating in the nice flat empty lot (empty except for skating devices :) ) out behind Snook’s Garden Centre in Caledon Morgaine:

Skating In Caledon Morgaine

(And yes, those are Christmas lights I’m wearing. :) A free gift from hoorenbeek.)

Then I flew my Barney Boomslang hoverpod up to the mysterious island that looms in the sky above Caledon Morgaine, and found an enigmatic fenced mushroom garden to relax in:

High Above Caledon

(The music stream was playing When You’re Evil; somehow it was just perfect…)

And then, sometimes it’s good to get down to ground level and just sit…

Just Sitting

(Click through to flickr for mostly the same words, comment boxes, etc…)

Free Hobbit Holes!

Hobbit Holes!I mean, Linden Homes! :)

In a recent posting to the official Second Life “blog”, the Lab has announced that they will soon be beta-testing a program in which Premium members can get a free plot of land, with a pre-installed Hobbit hole house on it, to live on. For free.

These Linden Homes will be limited in various ways:

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

If you can’t remove the house, I imagine you also won’t be able to modify it so that it consists of a single invisible phantom prim buried a meter underground. :)

My initial visceral reaction to this was sheesh here we go again with the Lindens sort of dipping down and futzing around with the world and the economy.

Sort of like having Athena Herself open a free pizza-place on the corner. Okay, maybe she only offers three toppings, and no Sicilian crusts, but I’m not sure how happy I’d be about it if I had a pizza joint in the same town. Or, alternately, if I was a big fan of Sicilian pizza!

I’ve read Jacek Antonelli on the subject, and she is hopeful that this will turn out to be a good thing even for the people that might look on it as wildly uneven competition.

I’ve read most of Second Thoughts on the subject (I admit I didn’t read the entire long chat transcript); Prokofy Neva thinks this is all part of the Lindens’ systematically destroying the mainland.

Whether or not the Hobbit Holes program succeeds in its stated aims, my larger impression is that, as I’ve noted before, the Lindens still think of Second Life as a thing of theirs, that they can of course do whatever they want with. They are not Deistic creators, setting the world spinning and then keeping their hands off; they are hands-on deities, reaching down and twiddling in ways both small and very large, not worrying all that much about what mortals might be swept asides in the process.

I have the feeling that the internal economy is in some sense not real to them; they probably know it exists, but it doesn’t figure at all largely in their calculations. They like being able to show big numbers in monthly press releases, but on the other hand they regularly do things that have large and disparate impacts on various sectors of the economy (freebie policies on xstreet, the Zindra exile, now the Hobbit Holes), and the only sign that they’re aware of this is typically some vague reassuring noises in the forums and the weblog.

And as I’ve probably also said before, this is entirely within their rights. It’s just a continuing sign that the way the Lab as a whole views the world, as a thing that they are doing, and that we are allowed to play in, and that they will periodically fiddle with in ways they think we will overall like, is quite different from the way that I would like to view the world, as a place where the Lab creates only the basic ‘physics’, and the Resis then create an actual functioning world on top of it. To me it is much less fun and interesting to see what a few dozen people in a California company would do with a world than it would be to see what thousands of random people from all around the world would do.

I’d like to be able to say that the world is gradually moving from the former model to the latter, but I don’t see it. It’s all too easy to tell a story in which things move the other way: in order to attract some possibly-imaginary set of neophobic corporate and mass-market users, the Lab wants more control, not less, over the way the world develops. And so over time the doings and the imaginations of the Residents become less and less important.

I hope that’s not the story we end up telling, ’cause I like Second Life, and I would hate to see it all cleaned up and sterile and dull and controlled. I hope that either the Lab decides that reducing Resident influence on the world is in fact not the best way to grow the business (and I think that it isn’t, myself), or we get some sort of compromise, where (sigh) parts of the Grid are all sterile and clean, and parts are allowed to remain as wild and wooly and unpredictable as (well) our imaginations…

Update: oh, and here is Ordinal, who I intended to quote from but forgot:

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

Exactly. And exactly what I fear for the future of SL.