Delicatessen in Second Life & (yes) Tea Towels

Delicatessen (moderate)

One of the regions I have to check regularly is Delicatessen, the home base for Meilo Minotaur and Capcat Ragu. I revisit this location fairly often and not only because I admire them as artists.

Remember, I’m an avatar junkie and their Meta-Body project has resulted in dozens of amazing creations – all of which are freely available to us. Teleport around (you’ll find the controls in one of the strange objects at sea level, along with some cool options in a big tree) to find a vast array of odd things and beautiful beings.

On one of the platforms you’re told to “follow the teapot”. This reminded me of a story I was going to tell you – because, real life can be just as strange and mysterious as the virtual.

Delicatessen (moderate)

Let’s consider tea towels for a moment. I know there are people (I’ve met one) who not only have a drawer full of them, but they place the newly laundered ones at the bottom of the pile so they all get used equitably. I don’t.

This means that when I’m reaching the bottom of the drawer, trying to find a towel to use, something is not right. When the drawer is completely empty I know there’s a serious problem here.

I mean, come on, they’re tea towels. They don’t just walk off and people don’t steal that kind of thing.

Delicatessen (moderate)

So I do the logical thing. I ask my 93 year old mother if she’s seen the tea towels. “No”, she says. “I was going to ask you where they all went.”

I ask, “Well, is it possible they’ve wound up in your bedroom with your laundry?” “Don’t be ridiculous!” she replies. “I don’t have them!”

I waited until she was outside on the patio and went searching. I found tea towels under her bed, tea towels in her sock drawer, and tea towels laid out carefully on her chairs.

Delicatessen (moderate)

I told her what I’d found and she said “Oh, well I need those.” When asked why, she explained that she puts them on her chair so that after her shower the seat won’t get wet.

I pointed out that she has a huge basket full of bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths, and could use some of them. Apparently she doesn’t want to get them dirty. sigh

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need more coffee. I have to count the spoons again – something is happening in the cutlery drawer.

Delicatessen (moderate)

Zombies, Photography Tips, Windlight & Opaque Math in Second Life

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

One of the things I like about the changes being made to Shoregate is that I can stand outside the gates and cam in to take photos. This has nothing to do with fear of zombies *cough*, it’s just easier to concentrate when nothing is trying to eat your brains.

I’ll use this location to distract you from a random collection of tips & tools I’ve collected recently. I know you’ll all use them to much better effect that I. :)

Eupa recently shared a group of machinima tutorials by Erythro Asimov. They’re very good and include a lot of information beneficial to photographers as well. One tip he shares is how to save a region’s windlight so you can use it again. The instructions assume you’re using Firestorm, so for those on the official viewer I’d like to expand on something I told you about last year.

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

This is what I said then:

The Lab made changes to the Environment Settings window last year to allow estate owners to define default windlight settings for their land. On the positive side that means we know what creators want their land and builds to look like – heavy fog or red dusk etc.

The bad news is that it means sometimes you land and it’s dark or the sun’s angle isn’t right for taking photos. The changes mean that if (in the main Viewer) you don’t know what the default setting is you can’t manipulate it. The Edit Sky Preset tabs aren’t enabled unless you choose a Windlight Setting.

If you want to use the creator’s default settings, but still make some changes to them, you have a few choices. You can guess and try and come close; if they provide that information you can select their setting (if you have it); or you can take advantage of a bug in the Viewer (just don’t tell a Linden about this, I’ll be really pissed off if they fix it).

Standing on a region where you want to manipulate the region default Windlight, but don’t know what it is:

  • Open the Edit Sky Preset window and select a Windlight setting. It doesn’t matter which one, but you want to enable those tabs that you need.
  • Open the Edit a Water Preset window (World/Environment Editor/Water Presets/Edit). Select a preset. It doesn’t matter which you choose or even if you can see any water around you.
  • Use the little X in the corner to close the Edit a Water Preset window. You’ll see your environment switch back to the region default, however the tabs in the Edit Sky Preset window will remain enabled. You can now manipulate the region default Windlight without knowing what it is.

If you now want to add this Windlight to your permanent collection, change the name of the preset and save it. The settings on that region will be stored for you to access without doing that little dance.

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

One of the things I did on my vacation was to spend time online doing photography tutorials. I’m not much of a photographer in real life and all those camera settings are pretty much gibberish to me. Most of the information escaped my brain as soon as I received it, but one thing made an impression.

Most of you will already know about HDR – even your cell phone will allow you to do this. It involves taking exactly the same image 3 times at different shutter speeds. You can then use PS, Gimp, or specialized applications to merge them. This will (in an over-simplified summary) give you a way to reveal more detail in dark shadows etc.

I tried playing with a lot of the camera settings in SL in order to accomplish this process inworld. The difficulty I had (apart from my general ignorance) is that I couldn’t figure out a way to mimic different shutter speeds.

Now, I have avoided using filters on my images – I just couldn’t see the value to me of trying to make them look old, or weird. I mean, working with Windlight can do enough craziness for my purposes. Trying to use the functionality of something like HDR was an attempt to just get better photos. It turns out there’s a filter which can be used to try and achieve the results of HDR, without having 3 photos or different shutter speeds.

You can find it (and other cool stuff) in the free version of Perfect Effects 8. I’ve been playing with them a lot!

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

I also spent a long time playing with the camera debug settings. Most of these only take effect when you turn on Depth of Field, so I also experimented with changing them while minimizing blur.

When I was seeking ways to mimic shutter speeds I discovered that the default settings in SL are for a 35mm lens with a 3:2 aspect ratio. This seemed like something it would be interesting to play with, so I set out to optimize the camera for my screen aspect ratio and try different lens. However……

This is an actual quote from the wiki entry on these settings: CameraAspectRatio – “Camera aspect ratio for DoF effect” — Set this to the aspect ratio of the camera you’re modelling. For example, a 35mm camera has an aspect ratio of 3:2 (1.5). Second Life will use this as a frame of reference for how field of view and focal length must be adjusted depending on window size.

I’m not a math genius, but even I know that an equation requires more than 3:2 = 1.5. WTF do you do if you want 4:3? or 5:3? How did 3:2 translate to 1.5? Do I move the number up or down? How much?

I’ve tried a variety of things and can’t give you much help with this. If you figure it out, please let me know!

Zombies are much easier to understand. :)

Shoregate, Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Fun (adult)

A Second Life Backdrop to the Reality of “Why Should We Have To?”

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

This will be a short (considering the subject) and (therefore) superficial rant. I do just want to look at one tiny aspect of the much bigger issue.

One of the topics my brain insists on pondering, in idle moments, is that of women in technology. If you spend any time on teh internets you encounter the “girls don’t game” and “girls don’t code” mythos. You also witness brutal attacks on social media targeting females who say and do things which contradict those “truisms” and dare to stick their heads up and object to what they see as offensive behaviour. That sucks.

I recently bemoaned the lack of women on the long list of speakers and panel members at a Virtual World Conference (there was 1 out of a total of 44). Philip and Ebbe were asked about the absence of women in the industry (by that 1 on the list) and I assume they misunderstood the question. They both responded by saluting the accomplishments of females in Second Life. The actual question, and the issue, concern the industry as a whole – the programers, architects, designers, developers, executives, visionaries – not the situation inside the virtual world.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

The solution, of course, is to get more girls interested and more women active in the profession. However, this is not an easy path. A prevailing culture that reflects a frat-house view of life is not exactly female friendly.

Having said that, one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in various discussions on the topic has been put forward by some young women. When discussing the difficulties of entering and progressing in tech, having to deal with misogyny, sexual harassment, offensive comments and actions, their attitude is:

Why should we have to? Just get rid of the creeps!

um, let’s talk.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Why should we have to?

Nobody should have to put up with personal and physical attacks. You are entitled to the same treatment as everybody else in any profession you wish to enter.

Now, guess what happens when entitlement meets reality.

Malala Yousafzai is not the first female to have to fight to receive an education you’d expect would be her right. Oxford University actually allowed women to attend lectures beginning in 1870; they could do all the work and take the exams but, until 1920, they didn’t get their degree. Getting into something like medicine was even more difficult.

The academic world’s thinking can be summarized by “Harvard professor Edward H. Clarke (1874) who proclaimed that women seeking advanced education would develop “monstrous brains and puny bodies [and] abnormally weak digestion.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

It was also 1920 when women got the right to vote in the United States. Getting it wasn’t easy – campaigners were tortured, killed, and imprisoned.

Try being a firefighter, jet pilot, astronaut, or Head of State today. It’s not exactly smooth sailing.

Tech is a newer profession – that doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to behave like an adult.

Just get rid of the creeps!

Just get rid of them. Well, I appreciate fantasy as much as the next person, but there’s that whole reality thing.

What you seem to be looking for is a hero – somebody who will clear and smooth that path for you. I assume that person will have a sonic screwdriver and magic glitter.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Here’s the thing, creeps never disappear. They remain in every profession, no matter how forward thinking and equitable it appears to be. What happens over time is that they get marginalized and silenced, but they never go away. I think there’s a secret breeding program somewhere. I don’t like to dwell on that because the images are too scary.

The tech industry has some new wrinkles though, as far as creeps are concerned. First they can take advantage of all aspects of social media and its inherent anonymity to launch aggressive and sick campaigns – they can be as base and ugly as they want and giggle about it. This makes what you have to deal with very public and painful.

Second, that whole garage skunkworks mentality just feeds into the boys’ club culture and they never get past puberty. Think of them as Orcs with pimples.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

The good news is the third wrinkle – there are a lot of educated, intelligent, men in the industry as well. Many of them speak up.

Don’t look for a hero … find allies.

Look for men and women who will stand up in the middle of an offensive presentation and say “This is unacceptable” before walking out. Writing a blog post later is great, but having the creeps lose face in front of the alpha male they’re hoping to impress, or the woman holding the key to the investment they want, is better. When they lose funding and career opportunities, when their startup fails because of their assholery, they start to change their behaviour.

Look for the people on social media like one current and one ex-Linden I follow who respond to the creeps appropriately.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Why should we have to?

Because you want to be part of the industry. Because you want to help build it, create things, realize the possibilities. Because dealing with creeps comes with the double X chromosome package; like childbirth and PMS.

I’m not saying grow “Rhino Skin” to deal with these issues. Frankly, that would lead to considering the behaviour acceptable. I will say, have a big first aid kit. Report the abuse, mute the creep, slap on a bandage and keep moving forward.

The industry will evolve but, much like all others, the creeps will abide. They will become smaller, fewer, quieter, and easier to ignore.

You have to because the industry needs you. It will be much harder than it should be, but your future granddaughters will thank you.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)
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