VT heavenly bodies dance

Miss Eve kicked of VT's new week of dances with a theme of "Heavenly Bodies" -- the idea to come as something space-inspired, or just plain sexy, or.... something that matched the phrase. Mistress and I had to go with a space theme and we ended up dressed as (well, inspired by) the Sun and Moon.

While dancing I did my usual thing of allowing my camera to float around and capture those around us. You can find the photos over on imgur.


Frustrating customer support

Mistress loves to see me in a suit rather often but, since Toni arrived, she sees me in one less often (it still happens, just not as frequently). So you can imagine how excited we got when we were at a shopping event the other day and discovered that Gizza had made a female suit available.

Sadly it wasn't directly Maitreya-compatible -- only coming in standard sizes -- but this wasn't such a big deal given that it covered neck to cuff/ankles and so would only really ever need the hands and feet. A demo was tried on, it looked good in terms of shape and size and so I gleefully bought a copy.

Only when I tried on the purchased version did I notice an issue with it: it was displaying the annoying mesh-hair-on-alpha-texture issue you get with some clothing. You can best see it here:

Notice how, around the edges of some of the hair, you can see clear through the underlying shirt and right through to the background? To even better illustrate this here's me with my hair off:

Now, I'm sure we're all used to this. If you ever have a dress that has lace or something similar that needs the texture to have an alpha channel there's no real way around this; you get used to the fact that some dresses need a bob or an updo of some sort. That's fair enough.

But I could see nothing on the suit that required the texture to have an alpha channel. It seemed like it was an obvious mistake. So, as a content creator, I did the decent thing and dropped the creator a notecard (to one of their staff, as per the instructions). Here's the content:

I've just purchased the "GizzA -  Andrea Vested Suit [Black]" from "The Liaison Collaborative". First off I'd like to say I'm really loving it and it's just what I've been looking for for quite some time now. However, I've discovered what seems to be a small glitch with it that possibly reduces my outfit options with it.

It appears that some of the textures have been applied with an alpha channel which means that, with hair that comes down over the top of the jacket, I can often see through the jacket and either see parts of my body underneath, or I can see the world behind me. While I'm sure you know the sort of effect (especially seen with non-opaque materials such as lace) I've uploaded an image to imgur to illustrate exactly what I'm seeing:


Or a slightly more extreme version with a different hair:


Given that I can't see anything on this part of the jacket that would require the underlying texture to have an alpha channel I'm wondering if this was done by accident and, if so, might it be possible to get a copy that has that removed, or perhaps the alpha mode for the affected faces set to "None"? That way my hair choices for outfits using the suit would greatly multiply. ;)

Thanks for your time and help,
Antony Fairport

A reply came a few hours later. Sadly, it wasn't really a very helpful reply. First I was told that the problem wasn't with the outfit but was, instead, a problem with the hair and that it was a glitch that has troubled SL for years. This is, of course, partly correct and I'd already acknowledged this when I first contacted them. When told this, I tried to politely acknowledge it but show that this wasn't exactly what I was talking about:

Antony Fairport nods -- but in my experience it only shows if the hair is in front of a texture that has an alpha channel in it; I've run into this with things I've made myself. Removing the alpha channel, or setting the alpha blending to none on the texture has always corrected it in my experience.

What I mention here is from experience. While I'm no expert on making clothing, I'm not exactly unaware of the issues with textures and alphas and the like. For example, a while back, I purchased a really nice mesh leather catsuit. It too, out of the box, had the same problem:

While I could have solved this by simply wearing a hair that didn't clash, the catsuit was mod so it was possible for me to look at the alpha options:

and, with the change of the alpha mode from "Alpha blending" to "None":

the problem was fixed! I could wear any hair without seeing through myself (as a bonus, even shadows worked well).

So, it was with this in mind that I said what I said to the Gizza support person.

The reply to that (the reply in italic above) was... interesting. I was told that they couldn't be expected to fix it for "one person". I find that attitude very odd. In my experience, when a content creator fixes a glitch with a creation, everyone who has purchased it benefits. This is why we have sales records and update systems these days. This is how we let our customers know that we value their custom. They know that even more when they receive a fix to a problem they didn't even know they had.

It seems pretty simple to me: someone finds a problem, someone tells you about the problem, you fix the problem, you send out an update to everyone who purchased the item and everyone benefits and thinks you're brilliant for sending them an update.

After being told that they can't fix it for just one person (and after I politely pointed out that it would benefit others), I was then told that all I needed to do was "click" their hair to fix it. Again, not a solution. Not only will clicking it not really fix anything (yes, sometimes attempting to edit will make things pop, sometimes even removing and adding will make it work), it'll only be a solution as seen by me. No random person around me is going to benefit from this and I can't ask every person in draw distance to click my hair so they can see me as I intended.

Further things I was told was that it was "one of SL's imperfections" (see above, that's technically true but also simple to work around in a way that benefits everyone) and that "things in SL aren't always perfect".

That's not support.

That, to my mind, is telling me "we've got your L$450, we see that there's a problem with the product, we see that it can be fixed but we're just not going to -- just shut up and accept it".

This is also from a company that, in their MP listings, always say "In case of delivery problems, double purchases or any problem, send notecard. We'll help to you.." (sic).

I'd probably have minded less if I'd been told "look, a demo was available, it's not our fault if you didn't try it properly" (for what it's worth: if I had noticed this at the demo stage I'd still have dropped them a line about the glitch, it just wouldn't have cost me L$450 to go through the experience I went though).

I tried once more to make it clear what I was saying, how such a fix could be done, and why I thought it would benefit plenty of people but that got no further reply. That was it. After that I didn't see much point in pushing it.

At least I found out how valued my custom is.

I like the suit, rather a lot...

...but I'm highly unlikely to purchase from this shop any time soon given this experience. Which is a shame because, this glitch and their approach to customer support aside, I like their style.

The unnecessary script

I bought this unitard/bodysuit thing the other day:

I love it. I'm never taking it off ever again. At least not until the next thing I have to wear.

Only.... there's a thing that bugs me about it. This particular one is for the Maitreya mesh body but it doesn't auto-alpha out of the box; neither is it a perfect skin-tight fit so it does need some alpha work. That's not a problem of course, I can use the body HUD and I can then use the Maitreya auto-alpha script to make it auto-alpha for me.

Ideally I'd drop the script inside the item of clothing -- saves having to make a separate object that I have to add to any outfit -- but, as with many items of clothing, it's no-mod. And this is where it gets a bit silly and a bit unnecessary and where it bugs me.

Looking inside the item of clothing I see this:

A bloody "no rez" script. The sort of thing that, when you rez the item on the ground, it patronises you and then calls llDie.

So, for no real sensible reason I can detect, I have to carry around a script that reports that it will happily use up to 64k of script memory (why can't the author at least use llSetMemoryLimit to reduce that?) while doing nothing other than stopping me from rezzing it out. Worse, trying to stop me from rezzing it is a complete waste of time because all I have to do is find a plot with scripts turned off:

Meanwhile.... the Maitreya auto-alpha script can achieve the auto-alpha thing and it has support for the pointless no-rez thing built in as an option. Even better: it does this in a script that will use a maximum of 16k of script memory!

So.... dear clothing makers, please, please, think though your options and reasons before you drop a script into an item of clothing -- chances are all you're doing is adding scripts to avatars for no good reason whatsoever.


Miss Frifta's birthday dance

Yesterday's dance at VT, with Miss Eve DJing, was held in an Indian-themed pavilion with a suggestion to dress suitable for a cocktail gathering. Mistress went with an adorable dress and I got my suit out for the first time in quite a while. When we got over there we discovered that the dance was also to celebrate Miss Frifta's birthday.

As always happens, I flew my camera around the room and photographed everyone there. You can find all of the images over on imgur.


VT devils and demons dance

Yesterday VT's dances went to hell. Really, Miss Eve put out her own version of hell (well, I'm sure her own version of hell is rather different from this, but you get the idea...) and played lots of devilish tunes for us. Mistress and I decided that this would be a good dance to dress in similar, but different, ways. I think we looked demonically cute together.

While dancing I also allowed my camera to roam the demonic realm and captured images of the horrors that existed there. You can find them all over in an album over on imgur.