Thursday, July 28, 2011

Second Life Shadows

If your graphics card is up for it Second Life Shadows are pretty cool. But be forwarned...even my 1GB 8800 Nvidea card has to be tweaked a bit and performance is really degraded. Of course this computer "only" has 2GB of RAM.

What's cool is that the shadow to the right of me is cast by a prim that has a texture that has transparent regions and that is reasonably well echoed in the shadow! How's that done?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More on Avination

My initial enthusiam for the $40 price for a sim is a bit tempered by a couple of limitations in Avination. The first is minor-namely it doesn't seem to support SL's media on a prim idea. In SL I am used to being able to have my blogs and my Flickr site open on prims so that I can at least see what's going on. The second is a bit more surprising given the OpenSim background of the owner, namely that Avination does not support OpenSim specific functions some of which are really cool especially the texturing functions.

On the plus side my inquiry about OS functions was quickly answered by their support staff. I also like that you can import prims that you own from SL using the Avination viewer, including scupted prims as my picture shows. Just be aware that it doesn't seem possible to import the scripts in the object- you have to do that separately or use Stored Inventory as explained here.

Of course Second Life is not sitting still what with pending rolling out of mesh and if you haven't noticed realistic shadow rendering like that in Blue Mars. Since Avination is billing itself as content creator friendly, I wonder how the introduction of mesh in SL will affect Avination.

Who knows, I may ultimately find it cheaper to set up my own Open Sim server, and link it to OSGrid. Not that I have ever done anything like that mind you. Hmm as cheap as computers are today...might be worth it to take that plunge.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Alternative to Second Life?

Somehow I keep getting side tracked. Today I stumbled upon a new virtual world grid based on open sim called Avination and of course checking this out took precedence over cleaning and reorganizing my study.

Avination according to its website was started by an OpenSim developer, Melanie Thielker who has created her own "spin" on Open Sim. See for more information about Avination's Staff.

Now I have invested lots of time and energy in Second Life, including on my college's land. Unfortunately Second Life has doubled educational fees for a ful sim to around $4,000 which has my IT people really nervous. Avination right now is advertising full sims with 15,000 prims at the special price of $60.00 a month. Hmm in SL I am at the $40.00 tier level which means I am paying about 6 times what I could be paying in Avination.

Well even a virtual lady can't resist a bargain so I went on over. Joining is easy and similar to Second Life in that you choose your own first name and then select a second name from a predefined list and select your basic avatar form. One slick thing is that Avination has terminals in Second Life. (Wonder if Linden Lab knows about this.) You can go there and use the terminal to assign your Second Life AV name. Which I did right away. You don't get to share your inventories or your appearance but when you log back in to Avination your SL profile name shows in place of your Avination AV name. The system is like SL's new double naming system so my Avination name still shows on my profile if you click on the Avatar.

You can use SL viewers for Avination but I choose to use the Avination viewer. This viewer is clearly based on the SL viewers but is a lot more like the older 1.2 series of SL viewers wth some things out of SL 2.X viewers. Just about everything should be familiar to veteran SL users. I have not had a chance to try any scripting but Open Sim's version of LSL typically has some things on it that are not found in SL's language so I would be suprised if all my scripts will always work.

Buying land. Unlike SL it looks like the best thing to do is buy a whole sim. In fact the map is set up as a huge grid and you pick your sim and which one of a limited number of configurations you want and buy the sim using one of several methods including Paypal.

The advertisements have a promotional code so you might watch out for that. A sim is $40.00 a month for the first three months and then goes up to $60/month. Mmmm sounds to good to be true even at $60 a month but the lure of the bargain was too strong so I am giving it a whirl. I am sure there are some limitations in terms of flexibility and service...we shall see. Supposedly I can port my SL objects to Avination-assuming I have permissions on the objects so we shall see. Probably can't port my nice Kimono collection though.

I had my sim within 5 minutes of the transaction. Seeing all that sunny empty land is a bit intimidation as I have always lived in the mainland in SL. By the way there is apparently no sort of division between PG, Mature and the "Dark side" but you can control access to your sim just as in SL. So I figure at $40 bucks a month for three months this is worth a try.

One risk is that this is a small company-when I was on there were about 850 users online (SL might have 60K users online at the same time) so that perhaps adds a bit of premium to SL. Avination has it's own currency(C$) I haven't compared it closely, but it looks to be valued roughly the same as the Linden. I bought 2,000 C$ for $8.00 so I can upload textures and files. Uploading costs are 10C$ per upload.

I am not ready to give up my SL account so you still find me in Carmine at

More to come.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today all started when...

My meat avatar decided to get a web cam to use with his desktop. Well the USB cable was too short so he decided to rearrange the office and computer. That meant a lot of cleaning and throwing away of stuff. Then testing the computer and the new monitor arrangement and the web cam. And then booting up SL and spending a delightful afternoon listening to jazz and doing some simple building. I had forgotten how therapeutic building in SL can be. So here is the first pass at the Tree of Life...

Pretty rough but lots of fun...more to come at