Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fully Functional Shopping Cart!

If you tried to place an order on my site in the last few weeks, you realized that the shopping cart, she wasn't working so well after all.

This was finally brought to my attention. (The whole thing had worked, so it never occurred to me to check the second "checkout" page after the old items were added back to the cart. A mistake I won't be making again.)

Once I found out it wasn't working after all, it took me a little while, and a call to the very nice Support people, to get it working.

But it is now. At least the test orders have been going through with flying colors. So you should be able to place an order, for any book, deck, or print, and have no problem checking out on the Secure side of the cart.

If you do have trouble, please, please let me know.

In the meantime, if you placed an order anytime since the beginning of January, and you haven't heard from me, please contact me. We didn't receive any notice of your order, and don't know that you placed one.

Thanks, and enjoy the new pages!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Clothing 101 Book for SL™ Ready Now!

The Clothing 101 book, from the Lectures that I gave in Second Life® last November, is finished and ready to read at the Texture Library on Livingtree.

Product Image


You can sit there and read it for free, or you can pick up a copy to take home for only L$100.

It explains everything that I think you should know before you start to make clothing in SL.

I start by explaining the difference between texture clothing and prim clothing. Then I explain how to make clothes using the Appearance dialog, in case you don't know that.

Next, I explain what a 3D mesh, such as the one that makes all our Avatars, really is, and what a UV Map is. I talk about the 3 UV Maps that are used on our avatars, and why we only have one arm, and one foot, for texturing purposes.

After that, I discuss Clothing Layers - what goes on top of which, and how much of the AV each covers.

Then we get into the meat of the topic, as I explain how to wear a "UV Suit" (which is included in the book, using a Notecard) to design clothing. How to test for errors before you've put much work into a garment, how to get onto the Beta (Preview) Grid, so you can save Lindens as you test your work, and how to fix things when you find glitches.

Finally I show you the common problem areas on the Avatar - things that always stretch, and how to deal with them.

As a bonus, at the end, I talk about how to use repeating patterns as fabric for your clothing, by making Patterns in Photoshop®.

All of this is presented in a 42 page THiNC book, fully illustrated, with a link to my Website (so you can get the Subdivided UV "Templates" to use in your own work) a Notecard full of textures and UV/Test clothing, and landmarks to the Texture Tutorial and Texture Library where you can find other books. (Assuming you're not sitting there reading this one.)

If you're not familiar with THiNC books, they are as close to real books as I've seen in SL, with turning pages and everything. You can read them by zooming in, or, if you own the book, you can wear it as an HUD. I think it's the perfect way to publish a reference book for you to use in SL.

But come see for yourself! You'll find the book at the Texture Library on Livingtree.

See you there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Print Pages Up!

The new print pages are up, and ready to go! You can find them on my site, if you'd like to see.

They are all connected to the new shopping cart, too, although the shopping cart pages aren't pretty yet. That's the job I'm hoping to get done today.

This is the last day of the two weeks that I decided to "take off" from Second Life® so that I could really start to make progress on my site.

Having that time off has shown me a couple of things, one of which is that I really need to spend more time on the rest of my business, instead of putting nearly all my efforts into SL™.

So I'm going to be doing that.

Since I happen to know that it's very difficult for me to stop in the middle of something, particularly if it's going well, to work on something else I'm not going to even try.

Instead, I'll be concentrating on SL on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and concentrating on other things on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. So, if you want something from me in world, you'll be more likely to find me on those days.

This being a Thursday, I'm not going to be in world much today. I did finish the Clothing 101 book for the Texture Library, and that will be brought in world, published on the THiNC press, and made into a THiNC book, complete with notecards and landmarks, that you'll be able to read (and buy, if you'd like) in the Texture Library in world. There will be more detail about that tomorrow.

I'm also going to be opening Livingtree Cove, in world, for renting. Please IM me if you are interested.

The rest of today, though, is dedicated to CSS and my website! So keep checking back. After a long, long delay things are starting to move again.

And there was much rejoicing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why am I not surprised...

that getting the new Print and Book pages together is obviously going to take far longer than I expected?

As some of you might remember, I started to study CSS nearly a year ago. (The first post about it is Feb. 20. Wowzza!) I tried. I really did. But the penny didn't drop. I wrote some really easy stuff; just plain text, and it worked well. But when I tried to do more complex things, like manipulate floats, I just couldn't "get" it.

So after a couple of weeks of frustration, I wandered off, and did other things. Lots of other things.

But the site was still there, still needing badly to be made compliant, and so I decided at the beginning of this year that I was going to sit down again, and tackle CSS. I started to study it again last Wednesday.

And the penny dropped!

So now the pages really are getting made, the way they should be. :D If you'd like a Sneak Peek, go to the Print page on my site and scroll down the menu to "Songbirds" in the Oil Paintings section.

The Zoom thing, which you can see by mousing around on the picture, is a canned Javascript that I bought from Magic Toolbox, but all the rest of it I coded myself.

It took me a while to figure out how to center those buttons at the bottom without using a Table, let me tell you! But I did it, and then...

In order to show those really wonderful zooms, I had to have all the large images to use for the zoomed part, which had to include that watermark on them and the proper metadata in the File Info, for obvious reasons. So I had to make all of those.

There are 50 prints in production, at any one time. Did you know that? So I had to manipulate 49 images, on Friday and Saturday. (I haven't done the Tarot Print yet, because I'm not sure which one I want to use.)

Those are all done now.

And now I have to update 50 web pages.

I thought that wouldn't be such a huge deal. I mean, I have the template done, and it works perfectly. So really, it's just a matter of flowing the old text and graphics into the new template, right? Should only take a couple of days, right?

Umm... wrong. I had no idea how badly out of date those pages were. There are broken links, text that has to be rewritten, things I never linked at all that I should have, and endless similar problems.

Not to mention all the local formatting that has to be changed, and italics, bold, and colored text that need to be replaced with the appropriate meaningful span tags. But I am getting there. It's just not all going to be done, including the work in Excel to get the shopping cart into shape, by this time tomorrow. Not a chance. Sorry.

At the moment, I have 12 done. Which, with the books, means I have 43 to go. And that's just doing the pages that you can buy things from, so I can get the cart up the way I want.

But the good news is that I have the template, and I know what I'm doing; so even though it's not going to be finished by this time tomorrow, it should be done by this time next week!

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Everything New is Old Again...

I spoke to the Shopping Cart People, and it turns out that they can populate the cart with the old stuff. The downside is that the things I've added will be lost.

But I can put them into a CSV file, save it, let them put all the old stock back up, save that, and then meld the two in Excel, and load all the new stuff in at once. So that's what I decided to do.

Which means, as of this morning, the shopping cart is working again, and you can buy everything. I still can't ship any of it out until the end of next week, but you can buy it. :D

Monday, January 05, 2009

The New Shopping Cart...

is up!

Kind of.

After slogging through manuals, much experimenting, and a lot of testing, you can, once again, buy my books and Tarot Decks from my website.

It's not pretty yet, and you can't get anything else, and I have no clue how to make the Search or Softgoods work yet.

But, on the other hand, you will now automatically get a discount if you order more than 5 copies of When, Why ...If or the Tarot book, or more than 10 copies of The Theory of Cat Gravity. And if you order more than $100 worth of stuff, and you're having it shipped to an address in the US or Canada you get free shipping!

So it's coming along, and I'm sure I'll figure out the rest.

The thing that's troubling me the most right now is that the license says that it's an Evaluation License that expires in February. I didn't just pay almost $400 US for an evaluation license. On the other hand, if we didn't just buy a new cart last Wednesday, perhaps I should go take a look at LiquidWeb, which I didn't know existed until Friday, and which has some really impressive stats, according to SpeedTest.net.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

About the Shopping Cart...

In case you were wondering what's up with the Shopping Cart on my site, since it's not up, the answer is that it's going to be New and Improved.

We ordered a new cart on Wednesday, which was installed on Friday. Since it's essentially an upgrade to the cart that we had, I didn't realize that this meant the old one was going to be disabled. I should have realized it, but I didn't.

By the time that I did, the Shopping Cart people were gone, and they won't be back until Monday. So I can have the old one back up on Monday, or I can figure out how to use the new one over the weekend.

I was hoping to do that today, but I think I overdid yesterday, so today I mostly slept, and sat around drooling, and things like that. (Well, okay, I didn't actually drool, as it were, but I did have trouble tracking conversations, and wasn't able to figure out anything at all, although I did try.)

Since I'm not going to be fulfilling orders for a couple of weeks anyway, I decided there wasn't a huge rush, and I'm just letting it slide for the rest of today, and maybe tomorrow, depending on how much time I spend sitting around coughing.

But if you go there, and you see a notice that says we don't have a shopping cart, that's why. When all is said and done, it should be lots better. But until then, it's ... umm ... gone.