Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Places to buy stuff: Maitreya

I fear this post should come with a Cali Financial Health warning: this place could be very bad for your Linden balance.

Maitreya boots and shoes are amazingly wonderful. They have got it *so* exactly right. I love the boots shown in the picture "Dune" by Onyx LeShelle. I have those, and Bloom, which I am wearing in the picture. Don't complain that I got in the way of the illustration: I am tactfully blocking a bare nipple.

There are desert boots, high heeled shoes, high heeled boots... if you have money to spare and like shopping it's a great place.

Places to go: PARSEC

I have to come clean and admit that I haven't actually successfully used PARSEC yet. It's a consequence of blogging in the mornings on European time, when hardly anyone (even the Europeans) is around. PARSEC is on the InterSection sim.

However, from what I have read, it isn't a million miles away from the Ice Caves that I set up in Nemesis in 2006 and in NCC in 2007 and which are still to be found underneath my shop in NCC. The idea is that sounds are triggered by the avatars... in my case the triggers are physical, and brushing against the stalagtites and stalacmites triggers the sound, in the case of PARSEC the groundbreaking part is that the voice system triggers the sound.

It's an interesting idea for those of us who can use voice, and it's pretty unfair to judge something I haven't seen working as it is designed to work, with seven avatars all taking part. If I get to see that I will report back, but in the mean time if you can gather six friends, and cope with reading a nest of notecards, then PARSEC is waiting for you.

Places to go: The Far Away

I can't tell you how atmospheric this build is. If you have ever imagined yourself in the middle of the start of the Wizard of Oz, in Kansas, that's the feel it has. Dream-like, odd, and very detailed. The Far Away.

The build raises awareness and hopefully funds for Heifer International, a charity that I had never come across before now.

There aren't many builds in SL which have managed to achieve this level of integrity, atmosphere and brooding strangeness, on so small a space. I'd love to see what the creator, AM Radio, could do given more space.

SL basics: moving around

One of the first things that you need to learn in SL, is how to move around. This means learning how to walk and fly where you are, and how to get to other places too.

Walking is easy; just use your cursor keys to direct your avatar. Some people who are used to gaming will use letters rather than the cursor keys, but that becomes a bit problematical if you want to talk and then move, as you have to keep closing the chat window.

Flying is easy once you get the hang of it. Use the Home key to take off, and then a combination of the page up and page down to control height, and the cursor keys to control direction.

These things become second nature after a little while. Note that you have a limited range when flying, unless you get a booster attachment of some sort. There are many for sale and a few free ones too.

You will find that apart from a few places where flying is not allowed, flying is the way that you get around in Second Life when you are exploring a sim or group of sims. You can fly across sim borders to the next sim if there is one next door.

If you want to go exploring, though, you are going to have to use your map or landmarks. Landmarks are exactly what they say they are, a marker which allows you to go to a specific place. They are stored in your landmarks folder in your inventory, and should also be stored as a list inside the landmarks category of your map. For now though, you can simply open up your inventory by clicking on the button at the bottom of the screen (unless it is already open) and then click on your landmarks folder to open it. You should see a list of places with a pin icon beside them. If you click on one, it should open and offer you a small window with a teleport button.

To go to the place, click on the teleport button and it should transport you to the place you have selected. Be aware, however, that sometimes when the grid is slow, teleports do not work properly and the system may tell you to try again.

There are other ways to find places to go. You can use SL's search. Click the button which says search at the bottom of the screen and then use search to find something which interests you. Using a keyword is a good way of coming up with some random places to visit. If you click through to see details on a search result, it will offer you a teleport button. If it is a place you like, you can landmark it yourself when you get there.

You can also open up your map by clicking on the button at the bottom of the screen, and then either click on a place on the map that you can see and choose to teleport to that location, or key in the name or part of the name for a sim, and choose to teleport there. Thus if you know that my shop is in NCC, you can click on your map, type in NCC i the space provide and click search, and then choose to teleport there when the location is found on the map.

Most people have a few favourite places, and they love to share landmarks... why not ask the people you meet for recommendations, and have them drop a few landmarks on you?

Appearance: the basics, and saving

When you arrive in Second Life, your avatar is dressed in Linden basic clothing, unless you have signed up to one of the commercial orientation experiences which sometimes provide their own clothing and skins.

What you need to know is that some base elements of your appearance can never be removed, they can only be replaced. Other items can be removed and your avatar can survive without them.

So, you will always need a shape, which controls your avatar's size and bodyshape, you will always need a skin, which controls your avatar's outer layer, and you will always need base hair and eyes.

You can also have items of clothing, tattoes, shoes, attachment shoes, hair, and a multitude of other attachments which can give you jewellery, gadgets or anatomical parts, furry or human.

When you start out, you will probably find that the elements of your appearance are in a folder, but they may not be. My advice to you is that before you start to mess around with your appearance, you make a copy of your current appearance.

It's easy to do this. Right click your avatar, choose appearance. The appearance window will open in front of you, and your avatar will take a special stance that tells other people you are editing your appearance.

At the bottom of the window you will see a button "make outfit", if you click that button a window opens which shows you the items you are currently wearing and offers you tick boxes, some of which are already filled in.

Along the left hand side you will see boxes which aren't checked, for skin, shape, eyes and hair. Check everything you are wearing, including these, and rename the folder using the space provided near the top of the window. I tend to date my avatars, and give a quick indication of the clothing worn.

What will happen is that everything copyable will copy into the new folder. Everything which isn't copyable will migrate to the new folder. This can be a pain if you aren't aware of it. For example, when you start buying outfits, and find that you have saved your avatar and have consequently lost the top from that dress or the bottom from that jumpsuit.

But for now, if you are wearing all copyable stuff, you should now find you have a copy in a new folder.

You should be aware that if you make changes, say to your shape, and save them, the current copy of that shape will now be as you changed it. You will need to go back and find the original to be able to revert back.

If you think of your appearance as being a set of documents in a folder, and altering them as being exactly like changing a word processed document, you will understand... you can only go back if you saved the last version.

The elements of your appearance are governed by permissions in SL, like everything else. Linden stock items are usually set to allow you to modify, copy and transfer them. You should be aware that many of the commercial versions of these things do not. Some will allow you to copy them, but not to transfer them to another avatar. Others will allow transfer, but you can only have one copy and transferring the item to another avatar will mean that you lose your copy of the item.