Some more home tweaks

Following on from yesterday, I've started to sort some furniture for the balcony. I did some window shopping, trying to find something that'd work but nothing was grabbing me. In the end I've gone with a retexture of a freebie grungy sofa from a great little shop called 19 Motorcycle (I should write a little more about them at some point 'cos Zardia and I got some great overalls from there -- perfect for the workshop). On top of that I've rezzed out a couple of really nice 1-prim mesh plants from Simply Xed (another shop you should probably go and check out -- they're small now but they have some really nice mesh items that are amazingly low prim).

I've also decided that there's little chance I'll be making much use of the bottom floor of the house (the last time I used this as a house I put a dungeon in there but we've got plenty of them on Raven Park already -- not to mention the fact that there's that special door round the side of my place) so I've done some knocking about and have opened it up on all sides. The house now stands on big brick legs. I just need to think of something to live in the space underneath now.

It's all starting to fall into place now.

I think the garden will need a little more attention, and I need to think of a use for the rather large attic. All part of the fun of setting out a new home -- lots of building and tinkering.


New home

I'm now close to finishing one of the consequences of the recent changes here at Raven Park. Because Miss Vila wouldn't be in world much any more it was decided that it didn't make sense for us to leave our house out on Raven Park. It was (and still is) a magnificent build, one that Miss Vila made from scratch to serve her own needs. We did consider leaving it out for me to use myself but, really, it was far too large for just me. So, with much reluctance, it was taken in last Friday.

I considered a few different replacements (including chopping up the existing build to make something smaller, or building something for myself) but I kept coming back to a building that's been a big part of my life in SL: the Woolman Sky-Store.

This build was first used at the first proper Z&A main store (as in, non-mall location shop) and went on to be my home when I moved out of Stonehaven Village and into Elf Fala (first as a skybox when I originally made that move and then down on the ground when we turned the sim into an adult sim and renamed it Shackles).

As much as I'm going to miss Miss Vila's home, it is nice to see this build back out on the sim (albeit in a slightly updated and even more wonderful v1.3 incarnation).

One of the nice things with the new version of the build is that it comes with alternate tops and a couple of these have doors which open out onto a balcony. With the addition of some steps that I built this turns it into a home that I can actually walk in and out of (previous versions had no doors so I used to use TP pads).

After sorting out most of the landscaping and building around the house (including a sim crash which rolled back a good two hours of work that needed to be done again) I'm starting to get it furnished. I've got the start of a sitting area:

and, of course, I've got my office mostly back again:

There's still a lot to do, with more furnishing to take place, but I'm taking my time over it. I imagine that BDSM equipment will feature less in the house itself this time (unlike last time, where every floor had some toys on it), but I have made sure that there's some space for some equipment should it be needed. This door, tucked down the side of the house, goes somewhere...

One other thing I need to look out for is some nice on-theme patio furniture. The view from the balcony isn't too bad, even if I have to look over Zardia's new house. ;-)

Yes, that is a tree you can see up at her place. Don't ask... Let's just say that's the last time I buy her a bonsai tree.


Why tracking an avatar doesn't need RLV

A day or so ago a discussion broke out in two groups (first in one group and then in the second when someone from the first asked advice in the second which they then passed back to the first) that, in part, related to how an avatar could be tracked by a third party. The usual things were mentioned, ensuring that they're not on the contact list and that map location wasn't being shared being the most obvious one. And then someone said something along the lines of "RLV will let you do it".

That, of course, piqued my interest. Not because it sounds like something RLV can do that I don't know about, but because I can't imagine a way that RLV would be needed to do it over and above the ways you could do it, with a simple script, without RLV.

This bugs me. The idea that any kind of stalkerish behaviour, that involves scripts, requires RLV, is unhelpful in so many ways. It's unhelpful because it generally isn't true (you could use it as part of stalkerish behaviour but the things people are most likely to want to do don't need it) and also because it gives people who don't use RLV a false sense of security.

Let's take tracking someone as an example. If you wanted to track someone you could make a really simple script that:

  1. Gets their position in a region.
  2. Gets the region name.
  3. Makes a SLURL from that information.
  4. Uses llInstantMessage() to send you that information.
  5. Perhaps do the above on a timer and also when they change region.
Of course, you could do something far more sophisticated if you needed, but the above is the bare bones of something that would stalk someone's location. The key point here is that all of the above uses normal LSL scripting. No RLV is required at all.

So, suppose you partner with someone and they hand you a wedding ring that they want you to wear all the time. Are you positive that a script like the above isn't running in it? Would you feel safer knowing that you're not running RLV so there's no way they could track your location?

A related issue that I see crop up now and again is the suggestion that chat spying goes hand-in-hand with RLV. This, again, is unhelpful for the reasons I mention above. While it's true that chat-spying is often an optional feature of collars used for BDSM role play it isn't the case that RLV is required to make it happen. Again, consider a function that does nothing more than:

  1. Listen to channel 0.
  2. When something is said on channel 0 use llInstantMessage() to send you what was said.
And that's it. Again, it's not a sophisticated way of doing it, and there's no way it would scale well, but it again demonstrates that you don't need to be using RLV for this to happen.

So, can we all agree to stop blaming RLV for this sort of stuff now? Yeah? Awesome. Thanks.


Some more changes

Following on from yesterday's blog post, we've made the first of a handful of changes we're intending to make surrounding Shackles, Raven Park and Z&A Productions. We've retired the name of "Shackles Femdom" and have transferred ownership of the old Shackles Femdom plot from the "Shackled" group to "Z&A Productions". What was Shackles Femdom is now called Raven Park and, from now on, it is offered as a Femdom-themed BDSM hangout and playground that is provided by Z&A Productions.

I won't go into too many details here given that much of it is explained over on the Z&A blog. Simply put though: this change makes the rest of our part of the sim a better fit with Z&A.

More changes are to come over the next few days and weeks but these will mostly revolve around our private residences. When these changes are made they'll be announced via the Friends of Z&A group and I'll also mention them here.


Some changes

Miss Vila and I started to explore the BDSM/Femdom world of Second Life, together, in early 2010. As most who know me personally know, we explored and experienced this in two fairly different ways. The person behind Miss Vila is also the person behind Zardia. We explored and learnt so much about D/s as Miss Vila and Antony and, likewise, we explored and learnt so much about building in Second Life as Z&A. The two have, of course, over the last two years, fed back into each other. As our BDSM tastes and interests (as Miss and I) grew and evolved it drove or tastes for what to build (as Zardia and I). Likewise, building and evolving Z&A fed back into what Miss and I explored.

Unfortunately, however, the time available for those different roles has decreased over the past few months. So, by mutual agreement, Miss Vila is releasing me. I won't go into any more details about the how and why because, obviously, it's a very private matter, but I wanted to mention it here for a few reasons. First, and foremost, anyone who pays attention to profiles will see some changes in mine. This blog post will go some way to explain those changes. Also, while we're not sure exactly what we'll be doing yet, we imagine there will be some changes with Raven Park and Shackles. Z&A Productions stays as is, we're not going anywhere and we've got big plans for our second birthday. However, we'll likely change the form and function of Raven Park and Shackles will probably have a bit of an update too (I'll write more about that when we decide).

With all that aside, I also wanted to write a heartfelt thank you to Miss Vila. While we have, obviously, had our ups and downs over the past couple of years, it's been a very real honour to share that journey with her. The person behind the avatar has been and remains my most trusted friend, the one person I've been confident enough to share this part of me with.

With Miss Vila's guidance, I've learnt so much, gained so much confidence, and have found a name and a place for that part of me which, these days, I still express and explore as Antony. Saying thank you doesn't even come close to expressing the gratitude I feel for that. I will miss her company. I will miss her protection. I will miss causing her to sigh, roll her eyes, and quietly grin when I'm not looking. ;)

Thank you Miss Vila. Thank you.


Two years of building

I'd have to dig around some more to be completely sure, but some time around now, two years ago, I started having a proper read of the RLV API. I'd been using RLV-enabled items for some time before then, having first looked at RLV about a year before on my original avatar, but it was when I entered SL as Antony that I started to have a proper explore of what it had to offer.

And, as a software developer in RL, it was inevitable that I'd finally crack and have a look at what's involved.

What very first started it was a friend, who I got to know at Stonehaven, gave me a script that would allow you to create a kind of "safety call" list for RLV. Simply put, it let you set things up so that if someone denied you IMs and TPs you'd still be able to interact with the person you set up as your "safe call" (for those who know RLV, it was simply adding some UUID exceptions to the relevant restrictions). The problem with the script was that adding someone to it was a little cumbersome -- you had to edit the script itself. Moreover, you could only add one avatar to the script so if you wanted more than one person on your "safe call list" you had to be wearing multiple copies of the script.

A day or two later, as an exercise in learning, I decided to rewrite it and have it load the "safe call list" from a notecard. The resulting script is still in my inventory and I can see that I created it on January 7th 2010.

A couple or so days later, with my curiosity about RLV, and Second Life scripting in general, growing, I decided to have a proper go at making something. The first thing I made was a cube that was worn on the right hand and was touch to lock and touch to unlock. I don't appear to have a copy of that any more so I'm not sure exactly when that was.

By the 24th of January I'd progressed to making my first "proper" RLV-enabled restraint: a simple sphere that locked on your head and made some changes to Windlight settings (this was to go on and become the Z&A Ball Helmet).

At this point I wanted to make a bondage device, something that would be rezzed in-world and you'd get locked on. I soon realised that this was where the business of needing to understand how to talk to an RLV relay came in.

The next two things I find in my inventory date from February 8th 2010. The first is a simple cube that, when an avatar sat on it, they'd be "locked" on it (by having the ability to stand denied). A subsequent touch of the cube (by anyone, including the victim) would release them. This was my first proper test of talking to a relay (there's lots of debug code inside that does an llSay() of just about everything happening).

The second build of that day was something I made to get to know how to a) play an animation when an avatar sits on an object and b) how to get chains to appear when an avatar sits on an object (in other words, this was where I went off on a tangent to get to know about LockGuard).

By the end of the day I'd married the two bodies of code and had made my first ever "lock and hold" RLV device.

That wasn't the end of it, of course, that was just the start. I kept improving the code, kept added more to it, kept learning, kept making it do more, and started to make a couple of other items to drop the code in.

And the reason why I'm thinking about all of this now and waffling on about this? Well, it wasn't long after that that Zardia twisted my arm into opening a shop and putting some of these things up for sale. So, between us, we built our first 14 products, polished the code up, and went into business together, fully expecting that within six weeks we'd have decided it was a bad idea, that nobody would want our stuff, and we'd move on. It didn't quite work out that way. Which is why, next month, this is happening:

I'm still a little amazed, and very much thrilled, that people like our builds. That never gets old. And I still find myself looking at this:

and feeling amazed that we started out with a little booth in a mall.