Dear Linden Labs….I am not happy

Yesterday evening (at least, evening in the eastern United States) Second Life experienced inventory issues (ironically, at the same time Apple’s iTunes store was also experiencing issues, so  the two activities I planned to do at my computer last night were interrupted).

I found my avatar suddenly sprouting huge hands and feet…but the torso of a regular woman. Attempting to put any shape on my avatar only triggered an error that the shape was not found in inventory. So, I did what most experienced users would likely try in the situation…I logged out.

Well, because I closed and re-opened the Second Life application, something else happened. An update was automatically installed. And suddenly, I can no longer use anything other than the lowest graphic settings.

Before the update, even though I couldn’t get shadows on my 2 1/2 year old Mac Mini, I could at least boost my graphics settings to higher levels in order to capture images. Now,  any setting above “Low” acts like the lights have been turned off. The problem does appear to be connected with Local Lights.

I tried the latest version of Kirsten’s S21 as well, and it appears to have the same problem. At least with that viewer, I can backtrack to an earlier version. But S21 is not, at least from my experience, a good viewer for moving around (it has had a nicer rendering engine, but apparently now  uses some of the offending code from the SL viewer).

So…while I’ve been hoping that Linden Labs will somehow get shadows working on less than state-of-the-art machines, instead the latest version of the viewer code has delivered lower quality graphics.

Ivalde and L’Abel with two sides of Lamb

Neferia Abel is one of the most consistent fashion designers in SL as far as vision and style, IMO. For those who don’t know, Neferia has two brands…Ivalde is pure vintage and historical styles, and L’Abel is contemporary clothing that usually has a vintage influence.  Each brand is included in a featured event this week. For Fashionably Late, Neferia has featured a delicate grey early 1960s-inspired dress called “Joan” (cue obvious Mad Men reference) under the Ivalde label. For Moody Monday,  L’Abel features a sweet top and capri set that hints at both country and regency influences (put that bodice on a long dress, and you’d pass for one of the Bennett sisters’ friends). I’m personally thrilled to see Neferia tempering the country influences because I haven’t been as thrilled with the “farmer girl” leanings of her latest L’Abel designs in the Summer Country Chic Collection. Hopefully, this is asign that the brand will be moving, at least a little, away from that.

Matched with these outfits are some high-quality freebies. Run, don’t walk, to Lamb and pick up the two freebie hair fatpacks available for a limited time.  The Lindsay Angel Pale skin was a Lucky Board prize at Mambo Chic.

Poses by Still Life.

 

On the hunt part 2: how to be a happy hunter (and help your fellow hunters stay happy too)

(This post focus on suggestions for hunters. If you’d like to read my previous post with suggestions for merchants,  click here.)

So, the Taste of Second Life Hunt has begun, and promises to be a rewarding experience for those with the patience to participate in the hunt. Here are some suggestions on how to make the hunt experience more pleasant for both yourself and others.

Hunt helps…

  1. Join the hunt group. The group chat will usually be a helpful place to get additional hints, and in most hunt groups, any  problems with locations will be posted in group notices.
  2. Set your graphics settings to the lowest level (for speed) and then set the following higher in debug settings (try 2.5 for each as a test): RenderAvatarLOD, RenderVolumeLOD, RenderTextureMemoryMultiple. Hopefully this combination will give you speed but also texture and prim detail.
  3. Move all hunt items into an inventory folder for that hunt. If you are doing the hunt over a number of days, you can easily check  the folder to avoid duplicates.
  4. Check out the hunt’s official blog site, and other sites that specialize in reporting  hunts, like SL Freebie Hunters.
  5. If the area’s environment is set to nighttime, set your environment time of day to midday.
  6. If you’re short on time, try doing your favorite stores on a hunt list, followed by smaller stores. Larger stores tend to be more difficult…with prim-heavy large furniture stores the worst!
  7. Practice the art and skill of “camming”…moving your camera around without moving your avatar, using the camera arrows in the “view” popup. A sweep at your normal “eye level” is likely a good first step…follow that up with a sweep near the ceiling.
  8. As you look around, notice signage and decorative objects. If the “camming” sweep doesn’t reveal the object, next look behind and under these objects (smaller stores won’t even have very many of these).
  9. As you hunt in a specific store, notice the location of other hunters. If there is an area of the store where you see a lot of people going to and staying for a while…and especially if you see people disappear from this area (teleport out to another location)…the hunt item is likely located nearby.

Do unto others…

This second section is about behaviors during hunts that are inconsiderate of other people.  I’ve witnessed each of these…many of these multiple times.

  1. Don’t wear HUDs and animations that have you bouncing around the whole area.
  2. Don’t wear massive  head pieces and other clothing items that will obstruct other hunter’s views.
  3. Do follow the K.I.S.S. principle (keep it simple, stupid) with your clothing, wearing low prim counts. This helps reduce the lag in busy sims.
  4. Don’t give people hints unless they want them. Some people absolutely hate to be given hints.
  5. Don’t fill up local chat with endless empty chatter, or worse yet, with rude or crude chatter.
  6. And last but certainly not least…the hunt locations are NOT your bedroom. Yep, I’ve witnessed that, and it was not pleasant.

On the hunt part 1: suggestions for merchants

Today is the first day for the TOSL Hunt, which appears to be one of the best hunts so far this year in terms of quality and quantity of items. I began the hunt this morning, and immediately this topic came to mind for a timely post.

This post’s focus is on what merchants could do to improve the hunt experience, both for themselves and hunters. The follow up post will be about how hunters can contribute to a better hunt experience (both for ourselves and for others).

Merchants: leverage the hunt!

I’m sure many merchants join hunts to increase their visibility on the grid. However…IMO most merchants don’t build on the visibility as a means to drive business and increase their customer base. Or maybe they just don’t know how to do that. Here are a few suggestions on how to further engage  hunt participants and use the hunt to drive more business.

  1. Your group joiner should be very visible, either at what is clearly the “hub” of your store layout, or at the entrance. It never ceases to amaze me how many merchants don’t do this.
  2. Consider displaying a very appealing group gift next to the group sign as an incentive to join the group.
  3. If your group is normally fee-based, consider temporarily dropping the fee, and use signage to indicate that promotion.
  4.  If it’s not against hunt rules, how about including a gift card in the hunt prize? You’re giving the hunter an incentive to revisit your store!

And finally…here’s a big one, and one that shocks me when I consider how seldom it’s tried. You’ve got increased traffic into your store, so how about doing something special to tempt those hunters to…you know…buy something?

Most of the time I see this idea implemented, it’s signage for a store-wide sale, or a clearance section of the store, and that’s not bad, but there are other things that could be done.  Like putting some very appealing creations on sale for an appealing price near the “hub” of your store layout, or near the entrance. Or, even more radical, make sure there’s some kind of special, appealing promotion near the actual hunt item!

And on the topic of the hunt item and it’s location…

Merchants…don’t frustrate current and potential customers!

Ask yourself why you are participating in the hunt. Is it because you like hunting? Possibly, but I’ll bet most of you also want to increase the visibility of your business and drive sales. Well, frustrating current and potential customers is detrimental to improving sales. Therefore, you need to consider how you can encourage a fun hunting experience and NOT frustrate hunting participants. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Consider your landing point. There may be reasons why you can’t change your landing point, but if that’s something you can control, your landing point should either be the entrance of your store or the central “hub” of your store. I know some merchants have a ton of land and want to show off their big majestic entrance, but guess what? Tick, tick, time is passing, and the hunter that is new to your store is confused and getting more aggravated by the second.
  2. Thinking about putting the hunt item on the second, third, or higher floor? Think again. What do you think you’re going to gain by putting it there? I suspect that a lot of hunters abandon the store after going through the first floor.
  3. You’ve got all these ideas for hard-to-find spots for hunt items. Step back for a second and ask yourself WHY you want to make the item that challenging to find. Yeah, you might get kudos from a few people regarding how clever you are. On the other hand, you’ll frustrate tons of people trying to find that item, and it’s unlikely those people are leaving your store thinking how great it is. Trust me on this, I’ve been there, many times, and my frustration was shared by many others.
  4. On the subject of hints…there is an art to coming up with a hint that gives most hunters a good clue, without completely giving everything away. Here’s a point where you can be really clever. But don’t make it too obscure or difficult to figure out. Here’s an example I’ll throw out that I used to help a fellow hunter on a recent hunt – “Your camming skills need to be in good SHAPE to find this gift.” Now right away, the other hunter knew that they would need to use the ability to move the camera view (camming) to find something that was hidden. And that it would be hidden somewhere around a shape for sale (this was a skin and shape store). For a general audience, my hint should have avoided the term “camming” because many people wouldn’t have understood it.

And finally, since that hunt prize may be the first item someone tries from your store, make it a good reflection of your creativity and quality, and make it something that is visually appealing. It seems to me that in most hunts, somewhere between 40% to 80% of the prizes are pretty blah (From what I’ve seen of TOSL, that does not seem to be the case). Remember the reasons why you are participating, and don’t blow the opportunity with an unappealing or low quality prize.

Next time…how hunters can improve the hunt experience!

Integrity in a Vitrual Universe

The story of U.S. congressional representative Anthony Weiner has dominated news in my country for the last week, as well as provided tons of fuel for late-nite talk show comics on television. Much has been said, and there’s likely much more that will be said in the coming weeks – in congress, on television news, on radio talk shows, around dinner tables,  and throughout the internet.

I’m going to take a little different approach in my discussion here, bringing the topic around to a bigger issue. The Representative’s behavior occurred within the context of social networking, which is closely linked to (and related to) the virtual universe of Second Life. While Rep. Weiner made no effort to hide his identity (which actually may give us a lot of clues regarding his psychological state), many others engage in similar behavior behind the apparent anonymity of the internet. Many people even “try on” behaviors that they would never be associated with in the non-virtual world. And that brings me to the topic of this post…

What does it mean to be a person of integrity in the virtual world?

Is that something important to you personally?

I’m going to be focusing on this topic for some upcoming posts. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts,  you are welcome to add your comments.  I encourage you to explore this topic, or similar topics on your own blog as well.

The Sea Hole $50L Sale…and my own private beach getaway

The Sea Hole is having one of their occasional $50L sales. One color on just about every item in the store is specially marked down. You’ll see the special symbol when you get to the store. Words can simply not do it justice🙂

Since all the items I picked up at the sale were rather summery, I thought I might find a suitable beach location for shots. Now, I love the beach, and I love virtual beaches even more (no sand between my toes!). However, doing a public photo shoot is rather dicey. One has to find a private place to change clothes, and as post a short time ago noted, beach sims can take a high toll on the processing ability of less-than-new computers.

I really wanted a private beach to myself, but the only land I own is landlocked. So these pictures are taken at my new sky platform. It’s one of Garth Wizenheim’s sky islands, available on the Marketplace and at his Skybox Store inworld.  I bought a 32 x 32 Castaway Island Skybox which fits perfectly on my 1034 lot. There are styles as small as 16 x 32 and larger than 100 x 100. Most are priced in the $450L to $700L range, and include water and wave animations. Some include underwater reefs. All are low prim.

I may never go back to a public beach again!

In case you’re wondering….the gold shoes in the first pic are from G Field. In the last picture, I have apart of a freebie top from STC under the one piece romper, because I was in serious danger of a wardrobe malfunction otherwise. The hair in all three pics is one of the A&A freebie hairs in the Marketplace, and the skin is from Glam Affair at the latest Dressing Room. And if I stay out in the sun much longer, I’ll need the other skin available now at TDR…a very cute sunburnt skin from YS&YS.

Freebie Alert: heat up | cool down

As the weather heats up, maxi dresses are a wonderful, feminine way to stay cool. Right: REMY Viola Maxi Dress in Citrus (Freebie),  Baby Monkey Ultimate Leona Shoes in Orange, Exile Darla hair in Chilli (former TDR Blue item), Meg Medium Sunny Girl Skin from Natural Beauty (former  Chic Boutique item), $GaNKeD$ Jealousy Jewelry Set. Pose from Still Life. Left: Pesca update group gift blue long one piece dress, YS&YS Pilar Denium Sandal (former TDR item), aLaMood Dream Ice Jewelry Collection, Exile Selma Brown Mix (former TDR Blue item), Bella Medium skin from Natural Beauty. Pose from Still Life.