Sunday, April 22, 2007

Too Many New Toys

I may never sleep again! I have too many exciting things to do.

On Thursday, my new island sim for Second Life was delivered. (Insert happy dance here.)

I had no idea how much control we have on private islands. So I spent some time playing with all of them, and swapping terrain textures, and digging down to zero with the Terrain tools just because I could. Playing on a totally empty sim, with no lag at all, was also an an amazing experience. If I was rich, I'd buy one just to put my workroom on.

On Friday, I got the new Adobe Creative Suite CS3 with Photoshop extended. I was so busy playing with my new island that I didn't install it until Saturday. (I also wasn't sure I was going to keep it, since the software and the island, together, cost as much as a new computer. Quite a nice new computer. But then I decided to go ahead.)

When I did try to install, I was horrified to find that I couldn't. The installer reported a conflict with the public beta of Photoshop CS3, and wouldn't work. So I dragged the beta to the trash, and emptied it. Big Mistake. It turns out that you need to use the Uninstaller. I was stumped until I found this blog post which explained how to get the script from Adobe to fix it.

Running the script was a little scary, because it has warnings that say if you do it wrong, you could lose everything on your drive. I was already mostly backed up from a system crash about a month ago, but I backed everything else, and it ran as smooth as silk. So CS3 is up and running.

Once that was done, I spent a couple of minutes playing with .raw files for my island. This is going to be so much fun!

And then, even though it was very late at night, I decided to just peek at Photoshop's new 3d layer.

It works like a charm, except that you can't add textures. You have to open a 3d image that already has them.

e-frontier has a free exporter for Poser 7. (It's a Python script, really,) that does this. But, as I found out after three hours of pouring over the opened files in BBEdit Lite, comparing them line for line, you must not leave any spaces in the name when you save the file. (It's the .mat file that can't have spaces in the name, but unless you want to edit it manually, just save the whole thing without spaces.)

Once I had it working, of course, I had to play with it a little, and see how much easier it really makes it. (Even though, by this time, it was no longer really late, and was more like a little early the next morning.)

It's going to save me a lot of time, I think.

The lighting is a little disappointing. I wouldn't be happy if I had gotten it primarily to use rendered models in my work. But since I got it mostly to work with the textures on those models, I'm pretty much delighted.

You can't paint directly on the models; you have to paint on the textures, and save them to see the painting updated. But since that's a single keystroke (and another to step backwards if the paint didn't land where you wanted,) it only took me a couple of strokes before I found that I kind of knew where it was going to show up while I was painting.

Updating in real time without a save would be even better, if Adobe could manage it, and painting on the model itself would be even better than that, of course. But I'll take this!

More on that later, though. For now, I have an island to play with!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm Back!

Whew! As you can see, if you look at the previous post, I was beginning to get very busy, and very sick, in November.

It just got worse and worse, in both directions, and I had a really rough winter.

I did manage to get some stuff done, though. I expanded my stores in Second Life by purchasing land in Daikoku (the "sim" (server) next to mine,) and switched stuff around, made the old Non-Avatar store into the new Kick the Can main store for kids in Benten, and moved all the Pagan/Wiccan stuff into a new store in Daikoku that I named the Broom Closet. Then I moved the Wiccan Learning Center over there, and set up a store with various Garden Goodies, all in Daikoku as well. It was really nice to have enough prims to display everything I wanted to display. (I'd been running out.)

I made some stock, although not as much as I'd have liked, and finally got the skins for boys done a few weeks ago. If you are interested in seeing what else I did, I'm afraid that you'll have to look in the stores, because I honestly don't remember now what I did when. I'm sorry.

Then, about a week ago, a club that is renting space in Daikoku began to fill the sim. In Second Life, if (roughly) 40 Avatars are in the sim, anyone else who tries to get in is told that the sim is full, and they cannot enter. Try again later. The problem got worse and worse, and a day or two later, the sim was full virtually all the time.

On Sunday, I decided that I couldn't afford to lose the business I was losing because people couldn't get to my Daikoku stores to buy anything. I had been talking to the owner of the club since it became a real problem (4 days in a row, at that point,) and he remained adamant that he didn't intend to do anything except to continue to use all the resources for the entire sim, nearly all the time.

So I purchased an Island. It should be delivered sometime in the next couple of weeks. (Frightened Grin.) An "Island" in SL is a sim that you have all to yourself, out in the ocean. It's not really attached to the rest of SL, although it shows on a "map" as if it were. But you can only move between islands, or between islands and the Mainland, by teleporting; and you cannot see neighboring islands even if they are quite close. Really, they are all Pocket Universes. They are fairly expensive to buy, and there's also a hefty maintenance fee every month. If you have more than one Island Region, by the way, it's known as an Estate. When you order one, you get to choose the Estate Name and the Region Name. My Estate will be called Robins Wood, and the Region is Livingtree (pending approval of the names.)

On Monday I leaned on the sim border until someone left the club and I could get in, and dragged both my stores back across the border into Benten. In order to do that, of course, I had to pull all the "residential" areas that I'd set up for my friends and family; but I would have to do that to move anyway, and all of them said that they can be "homeless" until the island is set up.

On Tuesday, I spoke to the Lindens, and was told that as long as the club owner isn't using camping chairs (a way for avatars to remain in the game when their players are off doing other things, usually used as a way for property owners to artificially increase dwell, and new residents to earn pocket money,) there is nothing they can do. (He's not.) I was told that they are planning to implement a long-term solution that will allocate the sim resources according to property ownership, but that they have no idea when that will be implemented. (Years, if past performance is any indication.) And then I was told that I'll just have to live with it. Sigh.

But I'm not going to, of course, because I'm going to have my own island, and I won't be sharing that sim with any clubs, or anything else.

This is both very scary and very exciting for me; and it's going to take a lot of work to set it up. But I'm feeling much healthier, and more able to tackle such a huge project.

So that's that.

In other news, the Bella/Pella site has apparently actually gone live, and, after more than a year and a half of intermittent work, i had my first real live order that needed resizing from the website today.

So it looks like work is going to be coming in from several different directions!

And that's how things stand. With any luck at all, I'll be able to update this blog, at least several times a week, so those who read it will once again know what I'm up to. :D

See you later!