Opinion

I guess one could say we girls are spoilt for choice when it comes to clothing, shoes, hairstyles, jewellery, and all sorts of accessories and trinkets in Second Life. Well, compared to what the guys have to make do with, I guess it’s true. There’s a wild variety of styles, mostly derived from Real Life (RL) fashion, available for us, and about three months’ worth of average Jane salaries is more than enough to stock a female avatar’s inventory to the hilt with hairstyles, clothes, shoes, lingerie, and so on.

However, it’s when you start looking at what is actually available that the wares on offer by SL vendors and content creators that you realise your options aren’t as many as you’d have liked. Today, I’ll talk about jewellery, and ankle and foot jewellery in particular.

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NOTICE: The article below deals with adult and fetish-related topics and fantasies and contains NSFW imagery. If you are offended by such topics or are not a legal adult, I suggest you leave this instant.

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Way back in March, I read an interesting post by Antony Fairport, which largely echoes my views on RLV restrictions. There’s a tendency among designers of RLV gear (collars, gags, blindfolds, etc.) to include as many different restriction types in their attachments as possible; even functions that their RL equivalents could not possibly provide.

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I’ll be blunt: The majority of the media coverage of Second Life has been sub-par for far too long. It’s been a combination of an overhyping and dismissal as a “failed project” rollercoaster, and gossipy sensationalism focusing on the virtual world’s sexual aspect in a scandal-mongering manner. Another problem with much of the coverage SL has seen in its eleven years of existence is the attitude of many journalists / pundits: they don’t let facts get in the way of their story.

Marlon McDonald

Marlon McDonald, prolific contributor for Moviepilot.com, wrote yet another scandal-mongering article on sex in Second Life.

One would probably expect something better after all these years. But, sadly, cut-throat clickbait competition for notoriety and / or ad-generated revenue makes the gossipy, sensationalist, scandal-mongering, stereotype-milking approach every bit as attractive for web-based outlets and columnists as it’s ever been for their “old media” counterparts. So, I’m not surprised to see the same old stories get regurgitated ad nauseam by pundits new and “established”. A recent example of such a pundit is Mr. Marlon McDonald, prolific contributor to Moviepilot.com. In his quest for page views and notoriety which will get him featured on the website’s homepage in his chosen category, he wrote yet another article in which he presented Second Life as little more than a cesspool of debauchery, pornography, virtual prostitution etc. Inara Pey proceeded to write a very nice rebuttal to Mr. McDonald’s article, and I highly recommend that you share it with others. She also blogged about her rebuttal here.

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Let’s dwell on this post’s title a little. If I choose to believe that X is Y’s alt, then there’s nothing that will change my mind. How many times have we encountered situations where we’ve been accused of being someone else’s alt? How many times have we introduced friends to others, only to see our friends be wrongly accused of being our alts and be given a terrible time – with all the consequences that follow from this? I’m sure you’ve all been in situations like this. And, sadly, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it.

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The advent of materials processing (normal and specular maps) in Second Life brought about a number of changes to the way things are rendered, compared to how they used to be – at least for those of us whose graphics cards allow us to enable the Advanced Lighting Model (formerly known as “deferred rendering”. For a detailed coverage of this capability, please go over to Inara Pey’s excellent blog. Now, when this new capability was added, many people started jumping up and down about how “irrelevant” or “useless” it was, about how only… twenty users in total would be able to see materials, how it would really kill the performance of everyone’s viewer, etc.

I’m going to speak from my own experience. Up until this month, my main machine for using Second Life was a laptop. A 2009 midrange model, with a dual-core Intel T4300 CPU, 4GB of main RAM, and an ATI (now known as AMD) Mobility Radeon HD4500 graphics card. Those in the know understand that this was hardly “high end” even then, and it became antiquated relatively fast. I can’t vouch for how other people with older, and probably lower-spec, dedicated graphics cards, or with integrated Intel chipsets, would fare, but, ever since the 2012 updates to the rendering pipeline were made, I was able to run in deferred (ALM) practically all the time – without shadows and ambient occlusion. Yes, I know my computer’s performance wasn’t much. It was usable, though, and the in-world pictures I once envied so much were now within my reach. So, I believe that ALM, which is a prerequisite for viewing materials, is within the reach of more people than was believed back then.

Nowadays, I’m the happy owner of a laptop with a fourth-generation dual-core i7, 8GB RAM and an NVidia GeForce GT840M, as well as a desktop with an i7-4770K CPU, 16GB RAM and an ASUS ROG Poseidon GTX780 graphics card. As one would expect, my machines’ performance in SL is a few orders of magnitude above what I once was used to. Still, I have the feeling that, as beautiful as SL looks right now, it could be even more spectacular, had some rendering capabilities (i) not been removed with the advent of materials processing, (ii) been added.

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