VT beach dance

Yesterday afternoon VT kicked off their new week's dance theme with a beach dance. That's something I could do. I have beachwear. So beachwear was worn and dancing was done.

(yes, that is a Z&A Lifeguard Chair in the background)

As usual, I took a whole bunch of photos, all of which can be found over on imgur. Also, like with the Weird & Wonderful dance, I did some more experimenting with recording video too. This time I kept the audio in all of them. The main issues I ran into this time was the occasional client-side lag spike (which I'm assuming is when the recorder buffers to disk -- I really must look into some way around that) and also a very odd circular artefact around one avatar that only appeared while I was recording; the moment I stopped recording they rendered just fine again.

Anyway, those issues aside, here's the videos I took (note that these might not be available in some countries, and you might have to click through to view them in most, due to the music).


VT weird and wonderful dance

Yesterday afternoon, after sorting this week's Z&A release, I made it to the final dance taking place in the set Miss Eve first put out last Friday. The theme was "Weird and Wonderful" so I decided to use the "weird" part to grab and wear an avatar I've wanted to get for a while:

As always, I took a bunch of photos while I was there.

Also, while at the dance, I had a play with an idea I'd first mentioned to Miss Eve last Friday. Talking about the Alice set I'd said that, really, photos didn't do it justice and wouldn't it be great if there was a way of having a video snapshot of a dance? Because of that I took this opportunity to experiment with that idea. I first took a video that also included the music stream. You can see this over on YouTube. You'll notice I didn't embed it here, the reason is that it includes copyrighted music in the background and, to my surprise and delight, YouTube picked that up, worked out what it was and who the publisher was, checked the rules about using it and set the video up to enforce that (not being allowed to embed on other sites being one such rule).

I then tried a second test, this time with the music stream turned off:

In both cases I'm pretty pleased with how the videos turned out. I can see that the camera movements are going to need more careful planning, and I think I need to practice on trying to get very smooth movements (I'm using flycam mode, moving the camera with a SpaceNavigator). The whole business of YouTube handling the copyright/music problem (even to the extent of offering to remove the soundtrack if it's problematic!) makes things easier and gives less to worry about though.

If I can, in the future, I think I'm going to try and grab a little video snapshot of dances -- it adds a nice extra dimension.


VT Alice in Wonderland dance

VT just kicked off a week of Alice in Wonderland themed dances with, well, an Alice in Wonderland theme. Miss Eve built the most amazing set, designed so that there are loads of fun places to sit and explore and also so that it's possible to dance in interesting ways, including upside down.

My outfit tried to channel the White Rabbit, but with a rock/biker feel to it. So I went along in leathers, with the Z&A White Bunny hood, and with a copy of the clock from the Z&A landing point. I think it worked. ;)

I took far too many photos, but it was impossible to stop snapping because it all look so good. You can find them all over in an album on imgur.


VT comics and games dance

Given that The Velvet Thorn's dance themes start on a Friday and carry through to the following Wednesday, generally all variations on a similar theme, and given that things kicked off last Friday in a comic book shop, it seemed pretty obvious that Purple Landar's gig yesterday was also one I'd have to attend (something I'm doing more and more anyway as it's a great way to chill out after putting out the latest Z&A releases).

VT delivered in the form of a "comic or game character" dance. Sold!

So, of course, like last Friday, I struggled through a period of choice paralysis but finally decided that it had to be a game character. And, while my current non-SL obsession is GTA:V, going to a Femdom dressed as Franklin, Trevor or Michael didn't really seem like the best idea (not that anyone at VT would have cared). That and they're all characters that are tricky to portray anyway.

In the end I went with a character inspired by my other absolute favourite game (well, other two absolute favourite games):

It was fairly easy to sort out too. I combined these overalls and t-shirt from FATEPlay with a handful of Portal props that I'd once found on the MP (yes, the cubes and the sentry gun are attachments -- I attached them to my avatar middle so they followed me around but appeared to be stood still and rezzed on the ground while I was dancing). The only downside was that the t-shirt in the FATEPlay outfit didn't come with a texture template so I could throw an Aperture Science logo on it (to be fair, that would be an unusual thing for a creator to do -- but in this case it would have been really handy).

The dance itself was all kinds of fun and, of course, I grabbed a load of photos while I was there.


World Goth Fair

It's that time of year again. One of the few events/fairs that I really look forward to. Less because there'll be stuff to buy (while there is lots of stuff to buy, most of it isn't really bloke-oriented) and more because I just love looking around the shops, at what people have made, and at the build itself.

And the build itself is always wonderful to look at.

As it is, I even managed to find a couple of male items that had promising demos so I'll be sure to pop back and pick up the actual items.

Mostly though I just enjoyed the build.

Given that I popped along after yesterday's VT dance it was pretty late when I got there (late local time, that is) and I stayed up far later than I intended, managing to walk around the whole fair (I think).

There's no question that it warrants at least one more long visit just to be sure I've taken it all in.

Geeky dancing

Yesterday's dance at VT had the theme of "Geeks, Nerds and Dorks", with the general idea of dressing up in some way influenced by that -- be it dressing as the stereotype or, in most cases, embracing your geeky self and dressing in a way influenced by what you geek out over. This, of course, meant that there was huge scope for cosplay.

Which caused me a problem, because SO MANY OPTIONS!

In the end though an old outfit won out. It's one that's been in my inventory for quite a long time and has only had the one "official" outing before. It's one of my absolute favourites and it's one that's straight out of my favourite TV show and movie:

If you want to see who else wore what at the dance you can find a whole load of photos that I took over on imgur.


Second Life is not one world

Most of the real nonsense contained in the recent slhamlet blog post about the "skewed" perspective of Second Life has been addressed: people have pointed out that his characterisation of some of the regions in "the list" doesn't match what's seen in the region (or that the alleged popularity isn't actual popularity); people have pointed out that adult doesn't actually mean there is extreme of violent content on a region; people have also pointed out that you don't "fix" the perceived negative perception of the grid by being negative about positive perceptions (yes, that one tied my brain in knots too).

Pretty much all the content and the claimed motivation of the post has been nicely dealt with.

That's not to say that those critical of the blog post don't have their own distorted view of the grid's content either. I think that's worth keeping in mind too.

With all that aside, I've being thinking more about how people view the grid -- especially when being critical of it -- and I've come to the (not exactly novel) conclusion that the whole "if you don't show the parts of SL that I want people to view as bad" narrative is simply nonsense.

Normally click-baiting nonsense.

The sort of motivation that would have had me using the title "There is no adult Second Life" for this post, for example.

The thing is: there really is no adult Second Life.

No, really, there isn't.

I have, along with a small group of other people who like to share it with me, a region. That region is rated adult. The reasons why it's rated adult obviously encompass the fact that the public parts of the region allow for activities that can be enjoyed by and should only be enjoyed by consenting adults. I have a dress code for the public part of the region that allows for full nudity. If people want to create erotic scenarios in public I'm completely fine with that too. As long as all activities are well within the bounds of what the grid allow I'm likely fine with it.

These things are very rare to see on the region but I have the region rated Adult so that adults can make informed decisions about where they go and what they visit. There is no extreme content here. The region is very much themed with adult relationships in mind that revolve around the mutual and consenting enjoyment of dominance and submission, but when you land and walk about you're really not going to find the sorts of thing that some people think an Adult rating means.

It's that simple: it's an Adult-rated region so that adults can make adult decisions before even visiting.

But Raven Park and Z&A are not part of "Adult Second Life". They're not part of "Adult Second Life" because there is no such thing as "Adult Second Life". There are lots of adult regions on Second Life -- there are even lots of regions that have similar themes on Second Life -- but "Adult Second Life" is not a coherent whole.

Neither is "Fashion Second Life". Neither is "Aviation Second Life". Neither is "Fantasy Role Play Second Life". Neither is.... well, you get the idea.

Even more to the point, those loose groupings of similar-themed regions especially aren't a single entity called Second Life.

Second Life is a platform. It's a set of tools. It's a protocol upon which people can create things and express themselves and enjoy the creations of others.

Second Life is not one world.

This fact, for me, is the reason why I find the original slhamlet article so shallow, why it gives the perception that the author lacks even a basic understanding of the grid (yes, yes, I know... that's what makes it all the more hilarious and further gives the impression that it was disingenuous click bait, lacking only an Upworthy-style headline to really give the game away). Unless you're writing about the tools, the protocols, the underlying design of the grid; there is no need or requirement to report about every single style of region that exists.

It makes perfect sense to me that someone would write an article that documents what their curated visit showed them. It also makes perfect sense to me that a curated visit would be... well, curated. Even in my own narrow "not really a world" corner of Second Life -- what we'd loosely call "The Femdom Community" -- if I were asked to show someone around I'd obviously show the places I like, that I appreciate, that I consider to be good examples, that I can speak about with confidence, that are chosen by informed opinion.

I absolutely would not show every single place that shows in search under the term "Femdom".

The reasons I wouldn't do that are:

  1. Not all of them are actually Femdom locations.
  2. Not all of those that are Femdom locations are to my taste.
  3. I don't even know them all and I like my opinions to be informed when I share them.
And, at no point, should I ever be expected to treat every single findable region or plot that employs that term in search as a coherent whole. Because they're not.

It's simple really: Second Life is not one world. It's a rambling collection of loosely-connected and crazily overlapping builds that, if curated correctly, will delight you.

I think, in my 9 years on the grid (starting with my original avatar), I've probably explored 1% of it. No silly "most visited" list will dictate how I view the other 99%.


Velvet Thorn freak show

Another Wednesday, another couple of products released and all admin done, so another decision to quit the workshop and go and enjoy some tunes and relax over at Velvet Thorn. This week the theme was circus-based, with that particular dance's theme being old fashioned freak shows.

I figured I could pull off "bearded lady".

As usual, I took plenty of photos while there, so over on imgur there's a collection of photos of all the VT freaks.


The SL false dichotomy

So, once again, there's a bit of a "thing" happening in SL circles -- especially in the SL "reporting" circles (and I do use scare quotes very much on purpose) -- about how someone wrote something nice about SL and someone else wrote something not nice about the nice thing and... and of course, once again, it descends into the very common Second Life false dichotomy.

Which one?

This one:

The above is a comment made on plurk. Who made it doesn't matter, what matters is that it's representative of a common theme that bugs the hell out of me: Second Life has two sides, the pretty side and the adult side.

Utter bullshit.

That's a completely false dichotomy.

Can we please stop doing this? Seriously, can people start being adult about this and understand that these things are not mutually exclusive? Can we please drop the narrative that everything adult in Second Life is ugly and extreme and borderline illegal or even about sex at all? Meanwhile, can we also accept and acknowledge that all of the pretty static photos that use static poses and mesh clothing that looks fantastic but only really makes sense as long as you don't move, that's photographed with machine-crippling viewer settings, also isn't a realistic view of the grid?

Even better, can't we acknowledge and accept that these two things, and a thousand other facets of the grid, overlap? And, better still, some results are awesome, others are horrible, and it's all a matter of taste?

Can we?



Didn't think so.


Bad luck with demos

Yesterday, on a whim, I dropped in on Fameshed (I'll never stop reading that as "fame shed"). It's quite a while since I've been there and I've seldom had much luck in getting something suitable for me. But, what the hell, a little trip out.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I found a suit that looked rather good, as well as a jacket/shirt combo thing as well. Demos grabbed I headed back to the workshop to try them on.

The suit is... well, the only way I can describe it is damn clever while at the same time utterly useless to me. Here it is without the alphas:

While I'm really liking the whole "full length rigged to avatar" thing (I've always liked when suits and similar things don't come in different parts but come as a single whole) the arms.... just no. If it's not obvious, notice that the arms of the suit are tucked into the pockets, as if the wearer is walking around with their hands in their pockets.

That's actually pretty clever. I have to admit that. I've not seen anything like it anywhere before and I have to give credit for a neat idea. Sadly though it just doesn't work. Not for me anyway.

The main times for me to wear a suit would be to head out to something vaguely formal -- so that's going to be a dance or something similar. Despite the fact that, even as an avatar, I'm a reluctant dancer, I still wouldn't dance with my hands in my pockets. This also stops any chance of wearing any form of attachment on the arms (so no cuffs of any sort) and don't even get me started on how disrespectful any form of kneel pose would look.

This really seems to be a male version of so many female mesh items I've seen of late: look fantastic for static poses that work well for photos (so, I'm guessing, playing to the bloggers) but utterly impractical for normal use.

If the maker ever does a version with the arms rigged to the arms I'll be all over it though.

As for the jacket/shirt thing I picked up... please forgive the gratuitous naked (but man-part-less) crotch shot but I really wish people would make alphas that actually make sense:

Given that there were no pants to go with this, and given that the shirt part was close in to the body so wouldn't mix well with mesh pants, it makes sense that this would be worn with good old "fabric layer" pants. Only, that's not going to happen with that alpha. Not unless I want a very odd hole in me anyway.

So that got dropped into trash too.

Yup. Wasn't my day for demos yesterday.


Red dance

Having sorted this week's Z&A release and done all the various little admin tasks that relate to a release, and especially given I already have next week's releases sorted (and even more especially that I'm currently ahead of schedule for an event Z&A is taking part in next month), I decided that it might be nice to kick back in the chair for a couple of hours, have a drink and listen to some good music.

So off to VT's red-themed dance I went.

It gave me a reason to reuse the jacket I got for the Wanda Maximoff outfit I made for last Saturday's Raven Park dance and I also threw on a red-tinted hair I had from quite some time ago (that I got for another Raven Park dance).

As usual, while there, I took a whole bunch of other photos. You can find them in an album over on imgur.