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Wherein Weasel makes a fancy party hat

Sarah D. to the rescue. She teleported me out of the naughty scary place and into a community college for Second Life newbies. Here you can click on various kiosks and posters to download notecards explaining how to do stuff. There are live classes. Nobody is wearing exogenitals. It’s cool.

Then she took me to the closest sandbox. A sandbox is an area in which you may create and manipulate objects. She reached into her inventory, flung a ballpark frank on the ground, scaled it to the size of a sofa and sat demurely on the edge of it, typing explanations at me with hairy paws.

I should mention, communication is by ascii text (for now). When you hit the chat button and type, you hear clickity-clickity sounds and your avatar hands rise up and play air-keyboard. You look like the silly boo-boo you truly are. It’s hysterical.

Then my hour was up and I had to go.

Next afternoon, I went directly to the sandbox. Right click on the ground and choose “Create” to get the modeling menu. This resembles, not surprisingly, a cut-down version of an application like 3D Studio Max. You got your shape primitives (“prims” in SL-speak) — spheres, cubes, toruses, whatever — that you stick together and carve
away from and apply textures to in order to build stuff. There are many textures already in your library for free, or you can upload new ones of your own (for a $L fee). There are also particle systems and atmospherics (fire, water, smoke) and behaviors (scripts), but basics first!

First, I jammed a red sphere onto a marble cone and made a pretty party hat. Whee! I’m a beautiful fairy princess!

When I model something in Max, I typically see four windows simultaneously: my object from the front, the top, the side, and the camera’s point of view. Here, you have to pan your camera around continually to get the same 360º understanding. Working from the front, my hat appeared to be jammed firmly on my head, but the overhead view revealed that it was flying fifteen feet out in front of me. Mmm. Rookie mistake.

Next, I applied one of the textures I found in my inventory. It was called moss-something. It was a mostly alpha (i.e. transparent) rendering of some hanging Spanish-mossy stuff and, applied to my compound object, the red stayed red, the green stayed green and transparent transparent.

Neat. This was a jaunty, plumey effect. I look like Koo Koo the Bird Girl! Thus, delighted with myself, ended day 3.

Wednesday is, apparently, Retarded Day on Second Life. They do system overhauls on Wednesdays, after which nothing works for shit. Or so I gather from reading the angry comments on their blog. Never mind. My task today was a simple one: build a hat better suited to my dignity and station in life.

See you soon! Why? Because we like you!


Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 8, 2007, 3:16 pm

Hmmm. I’ve got some things you might find interesting. If I hop on during your hour holler at me. Some of the work being done on SL is really amazing.

I haven’t been building much, as much because of the lag as because I tend to be in Newbie areas and I’m always getting interrupted. “Uh, do u know where i can get a dick?”


Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 8, 2007, 5:19 pm

Okay, so like an idiot I too had to go see what all the hoohaw was about. Lucky for me I’m off the grid (power line-wise) and hook up to the internet via satellite, which gives me that syrupy interstellar lag that finally broke me of TFC.

So if you’re wandering around Second Life and stumble across a bald narrow-eyed guy with a red billowy shirt and icky bown leather pants, that’s my avatar, probably frozen, waiting to find out if I hit the forward arrow or the turn-right arrow yesterday.

And Sarah D.: You’re not the Sara D., are you? You know, from LGF, PB, etc.?

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 8, 2007, 5:30 pm

Why yes jwpaine, ’tis me. I have some mens goth attire if you would like, nobody would recognize you in that. 😛

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 8, 2007, 5:36 pm

Yesterday was just impossible. It was like being in a giant electronic jello mold.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 8, 2007, 5:42 pm

The private sims are better lagwise. Stay off the mainland for sure.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 8, 2007, 6:59 pm

I’ll give that a try. I almost gave up in disgust two nights ago when I couldn’t “change” my shirt because I hadn’t “loaded my model.” And the help screen said it was just so damned easy to change my model, just rightclick on my avatar, but I couldn’t SEE my avatar, so how the hell was I going to change my god-damned shirt??!!

I’m feeling much better now.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: March 8, 2007, 7:01 pm

…and, glad that, like the truth, you’re still out there, Sarah D.

Comment from Sarah D.
Time: March 8, 2007, 10:00 pm

Thanks jw, I appreciate that. Email me your in world name and I’ll get you situated.

Comment from Chris
Time: March 11, 2007, 7:40 pm

Mr. Mouse would be proud.

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