Earlier this week, I caught a blog post by Inara Pey about changes that Linden Lab will be rolling out for region access.
Basically, the number of avatars who can access a region has increased. The amount of the increase depends on the type of region. A full region will increase by 10%. So if you have a full region (usually 100 avatar limit), that limit will now be 110 avatars.
There is a caveat, however. The extra 10% of avatars are limited to Premium members. I happen to be a Premium member, so this is a nice perk.
It immediately made me wonder about access to events (shopping and dance events came to mind first). If there is a full region dance event, for example, what does access then look like? Normally, once the 100 avi limit is reached, everyone would get a ‘region full’ notice.
Now, however, it appears that if the limit is 100, it will work a bit differently. 100 avatars can still get in. But the limit is actually now 110, with that extra reserved for Premium members. So if you are not premium, once there are 100 avis on the sim, you’ll get the ‘region full’ notice. But if you are a Premium member and there are only 100 people on the sim, you’ll be able to get in.
I can see how this would be frustrating to people who are not Premium members, but this is a nice perk for those of us who pay to be Premium members.
You can read more details about the changes in Inara Pey’s article linked below, as well as an article from Ciaran Laval here.
One other thing that I wondered about was regions where the limit has been lowered, as often happens with popular dance events. According to Ciaran, if you have lowered the limit (say to 50 from 100 on a full region), then LL will automatically assign 10% of the limit to Premium members. Which means that the limit for non-Premium members will be 45 avis, with the other 10% of the 50 avi limit (5 avis) assigned to Premium members only. Something to keep in mind if/when you are setting limits for your events.
That’s right – I’ve finally taken the leap and started the Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts (SOPA). 😀
I have long wanted to help other dancers acquire skills to allow them to advance in their performance dance careers. Dance in SL can be extremely intimidating to new performers and often even experienced performers have difficulty finding the time or place to learn advanced skills.
Because I know that time is a precious commodity (in RL and SL), I have purposely designed my curriculum with that in mind. Most of the courses are only one session and should last approximately one hour. My intention is that students can come to a class, learn a skill, and then immediately apply that skill to their dancing.
I am starting out by offering some basic courses, but I will be adding intermediate and advanced courses, including some classes on using the Artiste Suite. Initial course offerings include Basic Choreography, Basic Movers (requires the SpotOn Choreography Designer), Basic Set Building, Basic Costuming, and Basic Lighting/FX.
Classes begin on October 4, 2015. Classes will be held at the Kat & Mouse Theater on Sundays at 2pm SLT. You can join the Kat & Mouse group or hit up the subscriber at the theater to stay informed. Click here to visit the Course Listings page and sign up for classes.
A little background on me:
I am an educator in RL, and I have been teaching since 2004. I have taught at both the high school and university level, so I am familiar with learners of varying abilities. I suppose my RL occupation has led to my interest in teaching in SL. 🙂
I have been dancing in SL since 2009 and have danced in many different troupes during that time. I started out as a ball-warmer, then moved to chorus girl, and then solo performer. I have done solo routines, routines with 20+ dancers, and everything in between. I am familiar with many different dance tools, including the SpotOn suite of products, the Barre, the HUDDLES, and the Artiste Suite.
I hope you join me on my new adventure! I would love to help you learn the skills you need to take your performance dance to the next level. 😀
If you have any questions, just ask. I look forward to seeing you in class!
This post was inspired by someone asking in a group how/if alphas, shine, and glow contributed to lag.
I had recently been researching some other topics and had come across a page in the wiki about mesh/rendering weight costs.
In fact, I had been doing some testing on my avatar with render weight, because I seem to be wearing more and more mesh lately.
With a mesh body, mesh head, mesh hands and feet, mesh hair, mesh clothes, mesh shoes, mesh jewelry – it’s endless.
Though I have a decent computer, I try to be mindful of others who might not.
When I attend dance shows or crowded events, I try to be as low-cost (render weight-wise) as I can.
I’ve even started adding the render cost of items to my LOTD posts.
It’s interesting to see how much items ‘cost’ – some I would think were heavy turned out not to be, and vice versa.
Render Weight Basics
Your basic avatar (wearing eyes, skin, shape, and hairbase – all required items) should be 1000 ARC.
I got mine to 800 (there’s a note on the Wiki about some baked textures having a -200 score, but I’m not entirely clear on what that means or how it works).
However, I was surprised to see how much some ‘additions’ to items can affect their render weight.
There is a base cost for an item, but then you have to add in ‘multipliers’ based on certain features.
If you make an item ‘shiny,’ for example, it will multiply the render weight of the item by 1.6.
Glow is 1.5 and flexi is x5!
This Can’t Be True, Can It?
The question about these render weight factors was asked in a rather large clothing template group, and I was surprised by some of the responses after the render weight wiki page was shared.
Someone said, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to those. They’re just ‘guidelines,’ not rules.”
Another person commented that the page couldn’t be right, because it listed alphas as x4, and “alphas make things invisible, so there’s no work for the computer to do.”
If you want to check your avatar render weight, go to Advanced > Performance Tools > Show Render Weight for Avatars (if you use FS).
I try to stay in the green (around 20,000) if I am going someplace laggy.
I’ve found that most jewelry has a pretty high render weight, so I tend not to wear jewelry a lot anymore, except for photos.
(Don’t forget to remove all those pesky scripts from things like hair/jewelry/shoes – those can add to lag as well.)
Kay over at Avataric has some really good posts about render weights, including the one featuring the picture above.
Should You Care?
Why should you care about render weights?
You don’t have to, of course.
But if you spend time dressing up your avatar and want others to see you in all your glory, you may want to, especially since LL is working on new tools that will let people set a baseline for which avatars will render and which will appear as ‘jelly babies,’ as Nalates Urriah termed them.
So if your avatar has a 100K+ render weight, and I have my preferences set to less than that, I will only see you as a colored blob.
Probably NOT the look most of us are going for. 😛
There have also been a few changes regarding limits in SL that you may or may not have heard about.
Originally, you could only wear one item for each layer (shirt, pants, etc.).
Then the option to ‘add’ items was added, allowing you to wear up to 5 items on each layer, with a total limit of 60 layers.
Additionally, you could attach a number of items to your avatar, but could only attach so many to any one attachment point.
Currently, according to the wiki, you can now wear 60 layers total, but the 5 item limit per layer has been removed.
You can also wear up to 38 avatar attachments (including HUDs), but you can now wear all 38 on one attachment point (if you wish).
I’m not sure why you would need to wear 60 layers of anything or put 38 attachments all on one point, but there you go. 🙂
(Note – you must always wear a shape, skin, eyes, and hairbase; however, only one of each is allowed.)
As I said, I am trying to be more conscious of my render cost.
One of my ‘to-do’ items is to go back through my inventory and get rid of really high render cost items that I don’t really need/use.
Or at least box them up. 😀
(Sadly, some 40-50K+ shoes may be getting binned. But then I have an excuse to go shoe shopping, right?!)
As I acquire new items (and/or use them in LOTD posts), I am trying to keep track of which designers have low render weight items.
I’ve even seen a few designers putting the render cost on their vendor ads, which I love.
That way I can know the render cost BEFORE I purchase the item rather than after.
And now that I’m wearing sooo much mesh, it’s nice to know that I no longer have to worry about where everything attaches.
I’ve run into issues with that before, since so many mesh items are/were made to attach to the right hand.
Making outfits could get complicated. 🙂
I didn’t like mesh much at first, but it has grown on me.
Indeed, it’s getting harder to find non-mesh items these days.
Be an informed consumer, but as always – caveat emptor!
When I started blogging, I just knew that I wanted to write.
With sites like WordPress and Blogspot, it’s easy.
Create an account, log in, and start blogging!
Then, like everything else, it turns out there’s actually work involved. -.-
I don’t only have to worry about topics to write about and writing well, I have to worry about adding images, sizing images, page load times, increasing traffic, links, pingbacks, SEO, alt tags, descriptions, categories, tags, slugs – the list is endless.
It’s all a little overwhelming when you first start.
Thankfully, you don’t have to know everything. 😀
A few months ago, Becky over at SL Blogger Support started writing a series of articles aimed at helping bloggers to become better at blogging.
Many of the steps I already knew, but I had gotten lazy and wasn’t paying attention.
The first article was about finding a ‘niche’ for your blog.
There are literally millions of blogs, so finding that niche can help you find readers.
I’m still in the process of defining and refining my niche – just asking some very basic questions about my blog made me realize that I had wandered from my original purpose.
My blog is like me – it changes and grows.
As I learn about new things, I want to share what I learn.
So although my original audience was people interested in dance, I have expanded to include photography, art, and sometimes fashion.
(Maybe ‘style’ is a better word than fashion – I’m not always on top of the latest trends, but I know what I like. 😀 )
The next article was about SEO – what it is and how to use it for good. 😛
This one made me a bit angry with myself – some of these were very simple things that I knew and should have been doing, but wasn’t.
I made a few changes to my blog – I changed my tagline to reflect the added topics, and I changed my theme to one that offered better formatting/readability options than my previous one.
I am still debating whether it’s worth it to me to pay for a domain name or if I should just continue with the free WordPress option.
I know a fellow blogger had issues when changing over from the free WP site to a paid domain, and I don’t want to make extra headaches for myself.
While my dream is to someday get paid to write, I’m not there yet.
With only one income and lots of expenses (college tuition, anyone?), sometimes it’s hard to justify any extra spent on ‘frivolous’ purchases. 😦
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re making the right decisions.
It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who’s trying to figure it all out. 🙂
I did take Becky’s advice and I signed up for Google’s Webmaster Tools.
However, I don’t find using said tools to be intuitive in any way whatsoever, so I’ve decided to ignore them for now, and concentrate on things I do understand.
My SEO Changes
I have been paying attention to my post titles and changing the slugs to help with searches.
My LOTD posts are numbered, but since they are not my primary focus for the blog, I’m not too concerned with them.
When I started the LOTD posts, I was taking the photos in-world and saving them as .png files to preserve details.
However, .png files load more slowly.
Slow loading times can kill your traffic – because it needs to be instant on the internet. 😛
So I have begun resizing my images when I edit them and I save them as .jpegs rather than .pngs.
There is some loss in quality, but the faster load times are worth it.
What I wasn’t doing was giving my images (LOTD and others) meaningful titles.
Nor was I filling in the alt tags.
I make sure that I am doing both of those now.
Buffer has a great post on how to optimize images for blogs and social media.
I also have begun breaking up text-heavy posts (like this one!) with subheadings to help with readability.
Growing Your Blog
One of the things Becky mentioned is feeds and that if you are on feeds, search engines may see your blog as ‘duplicate content,’ which can hurt your search rankings.
For many SL fashion bloggers, being on feeds is a must.
You can, as Becky suggests, set it up so that your posts only show as excerpts so that readers have to click through to your blog to read the entire post.
However, some feeds specifically say that you must not show excerpts only – so what to do?
You would think that being on feeds would get you more traffic, but it turns out that isn’t always the case.
Becky’s latest post was one that really got me thinking.
I actually printed it out and made notes on it as I read through it. (Nerd? Me? Noooo!)
Again, much of what she writes are things I knew, but wasn’t using to my advantage.
Having taught journalism, I knew about headlines, subheads, pull quotes, etc.
(Side note: Pull quotes and other cool options are sometimes only available with WordPress.org. Rather frustrating when you are using WordPress.com – another item to weigh when deciding whether to pay or use the free version of WP.)
When you teach literature, however, the writing style rules are different.
Some things are too ingrained for me to change (like double spacing after a period), but I certainly need to be more aware of my writing style if I want my blog to grow.
It also made me go back through my blog and look at what people were actually reading, not what I thought they were. 😀
In addition to your blog itself, tying into social media is almost a must these days.
But with so many platforms available, which one(s) do you choose?
For me, it’s been trial and error.
I loathe Facebook, so even though I could probably benefit from using it, I won’t.
Yummy and I talked a lot at the beginning of the year about how things seemed to be changing – for us and for others.
As the year has gone on, however, more and more changes seem to be happening.
I don’t know if the announcement of LL’s Next Gen Platform (not SL 2.0, but Project Sansar, for now) played a part or not.
I know that, with the announcement, I personally took a step back to re-evaluate my involvement in SL.
I’ve been involved in dance since I started in SL.
But it seems that there have been lots of changes this year – more than normal.
Dancers moving to new venues, venues closing, venues opening – all normal activities, but the number of them this year seems to be rising.
One of the shifts centers around the label ‘performance art.’
Yummy stated that “There seems to be a collective mind-shift away from traditional dance-as-entertainment towards dance-as-art in the SL dance-show world. I think it is because here exists the perception that dance-as-art will allow more freedom for creative personal expression.”
I’m not sure that I agree.
I think that part of the shift has been because the terms ‘burlesque,’ ‘neo-burlesque,’ and ‘cabaret’ (which have usually been used by dance troupes), don’t really capture what dance-as-entertainment shows are in SL today.
Most of the dance shows I go to these days are what I would term Vegas-like fare.
After some researching of definitions, perhaps ‘dance revue’ is the most accurate?
A typical dance show is a variety of performers dancing in various acts – usually the length of one song.
Most acts have a single dancer, though there are also couples and group dancing.
And some contain nudity (much like Vegas shows). 😛
As more tools have become available, we now see avatars moving in formations, objects moving, sets fading in and out, and light/particle/special effects.
I wouldn’t label these acts as ‘performance art,’ though I will likely be in the minority.
Yummy’s post contained a quote/definition that sums up my feelings on the subject: “...Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a conceptual art which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes.”
Of course, what is art?
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so what you consider art might be something I consider junk, or vice versa.
I think the central concept for me is that ‘performance art is non-traditional.’
So simply changing the name of an act/venue/club/whatever from ‘burlesque’ to ‘performance art’ isn’t all there is to it.
It will be interesting to see how the shift progresses.
I spent most of the last three days taking a Photoshop class, and I learned enough to make my head spin.
I took a ton of notes and saved a bunch of examples of techniques that I hope to incorporate into my Photoshop repertoire.
But WOW was it a lot of information!
I’ve been experimenting with masks and filters on my own; however, the class gave me much better (and faster) tools for working in Photoshop.
I can’t wait to try out some of the cool things I learned.
I’ve been spending more and more time with photography and learning everything I can.
I started out with the LOTD posts for fun (and to clean up my crazy inventory!), but it’s become something I really love doing.
I get stuck sometimes, though, because there is a fine line between showing an outfit to you ‘as is’ so you know what it looks like, versus some of the heavy ‘post-processing’ I want to do on some of the photos.
So, I’ve decided to kind of shift some of my focus to photography.
I want to spend some more time taking ‘travel’ photos in SL.
I spend way too much time alone on my platform – it’ll be good for me to get out and about and explore and work on my photography skills at the same time. 😀
I will still be doing the LOTD posts – I do enjoy them, and I’m getting a kick out of coming up with little stories to tell with them.
As I said before, I am always learning.
Yesterday Becky published a post on SEO and blogging.
I’ve used both WordPress.org and WordPress.com, and I’m familiar with many of the concepts she mentions.
However, I have been kind of lax about paying attention to that sort of thing with my blog, so it was a good reminder.
I knew I could change the slugs on my posts, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to them before.
I will be making some small changes here and there to see if I can increase my traffic.
(I don’t want to say what changes I’ll be making, since I read an article the other day that said if you share your goals/intentions with others, you’re less likely to accomplish them.)
It’s another area where there is a lot of information to digest, so I’ll be referring back to the article, I’m sure.
Along with the changes here on the blog, I am trying to educate myself further about social media.
I often am reluctant to share what little I know (mostly because I assume everyone knows it), but after doing some research, many of my questions have yet to yield any easy answers.
When using social media, I am usually left with the feeling that I don’t know enough about the platform to make good use of it.
I decided to do some research on the various platforms I use to see what I could learn.
I started with Twitter, since that seemed like the simplest platform.
As I learn and I discover, I hope to share with you any helpful tips and tricks I come across.
If you have any, feel free to send them my way! 😛
I think ‘networking’ is one of those topics that everyone would like to know more about.
Over the last month or so, I was debating whether I wanted (or needed) to take a hiatus from SL and blogging to recharge my batteries.
I found myself struggling with writer’s block and despairing over finding my ‘muse’ again.
And then – serendipity. 🙂
Ailsa announced her weekly ‘theme’ exhibitions, I took a few classes, read a few blog posts, and now I am feeling energized and inspired.
It could also just be that school is out next week and my children’s joy is infectious. 😛
Either way, I’m looking forward to learning and creating.
The venue also houses L&G Entertainment – a group focused on helping ‘new resident performers find their feet in Second life by teaching them all the basics that we had to learn as new residents,’ according to their post.
So if you’ve ever wanted to try performing but didn’t know where to start, they might be able to help. 🙂
You can find boards listing the various scheduled performers in front of the venue.