Paying Invisible Avatars?

Okay, this is a new one for me.  On my Reader feed, I saw a post about someone getting scammed at a store.  When they paid for a product, it brought up a name they didn’t recognize.  After waiting a few moments, they realized the product had not been delivered.

They went to the redelivery kiosk and tried to have the item redelivered.  The item did not show as a purchase.  So now the person is trying to figure out what happened, where her L$ went, and where the item was.

I thought nothing of it, and went about my day.  Later, I was looking through Flickr and noticed a post with this same name mentioned.  The post stated that somehow, someone was able to rez an invisible prim in front of a store vendor, and then people would mistakenly pay the scammer rather than the actual vendor.

I wondered how that was possible, since I would assume stores would only allow certain people to have rez rights to avoid this very situation.  Reading through the comments, it appears the guess is that the scammer made themselves invisible (by wearing alpha layers?) and then stood in front of the vendor and collected payments.

Criminals are creative, I’ll give them that.  This would never have occurred to me, but then, I’m not a criminal.  Also, how do the buyers not notice that they are paying an avatar rather than a vendor?  I can’t remember for sure, but wouldn’t the pie menu have some different options when you click on an avatar (like add friend or something) than a vendor?  Are people just so busy spending L$ they don’t notice?

If you have names turned on, wouldn’t you see the name of the invisible avatar, even though they’re invisible?  Maybe that’s different depending on your viewer.

As thieves get more creative, I guess we all need to start paying more attention to the details.  Know what you’re buying and who you are paying before hitting that pay/buy button.

Bakes On Mesh Series – Part 1 (Preparations)

Image Source: xelerus.de

A few days ago I finally got around to trying out some of the Bakes On Mesh (BOM) features.  I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this. 🙂

For several years now, I have used the Maitreya mesh body and a LeLutka mesh head (Simone).  I know the Maitreya body is not the most viewer efficient body, but I like it.  Mesh heads have always been resource heavy because of the layers required for things like makeup.  Honestly, the heads were confusing to me, so I generally just used the makeup that was included in the HUD, because I hated having to faff about with appliers.

Also, Maitreya and LeLutka both used the Glam Affair skins in their HUDs, so I just stuck to those skins, since I could make my head and body parts match with a click of the HUD.

The amount of appliers was an issue for me as well.  Creators had to make items/HUDs/appliers for so many different bodies – I would end up deleting items for bodies I didn’t own just to keep my inventory down.

I did keep my SLink shoes, however.  Ages ago, before mesh bodies were a thing, many dancers purchased SLink hands and feet, because they looked miles better than the system avatar hands and feet.  Remember these lovely gems?

Losing consciousness . . . from the ugly . . .

Now, these are extra hideous because of the old shoe layers we had to wear with heels.  But still – hideous.

I have been watching SLink and her updates to the SLink body with the release of BOM.  My partner owns the male SLink body and since I already owned SLink hands and feet, I decided I would also splurge and get the new Redux BOM body version.

So I went to SLink and updated my hands and feet purchases and then purchased the new Physique body.  Let me tell you – there’s a lot of stuff in there!  When I tried to update my hands, I got a notice that I needed to send a notecard, because the updates had to be done manually.  So I did.

I got a lovely note back that I actually didn’t need the update, since I had purchased the updated body bundle.  The CSR also let me know that I had received a refund because they were taking into account my previous purchases.  Awesome!!  5 stars for SLink. 😀

Once I had all the pieces purchased and assembled, I was ready to sit down and start playing around with BOM.  Surprisingly, I still had a fair number of system skins in my inventory (I thought I had boxed most of them up and stored them).  I didn’t have much system clothing because I did box up most of it for storage or just deleted it outright.  I did find some pieces mixed in with my applier outfits, so I used those.

I did a first round of tests with my Maitreya body and LeLutka head.  Then I did a second round with the SLink body parts and the LeLutka head.  Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3, where I show you the results.

New Black Dragon Viewer Update

Image Source: xelerus.de

This was brought to my attention by a post in the Visionaire group from WrenNoir Cerise.  There has been an update to the Black Dragon viewer.

I’ve used the Black Dragon viewer before and really liked it for taking photos.  However, I haven’t used it in ages – mostly because I haven’t really been in SL much in ages.

But I will definitely be downloading it and trying it out.

The new update apparently lets you move any/all of the individual bones that make up your avatar.  So you can pose yourself exactly how you want.

WrenNoir included a link to a video in her notice, which I’ve embedded below.  If you can’t see the video, click here for the link.

The music was a tad annoying, so I muted it.  The first part of the video shows the editing of the avatar pose in Black Dragon.  The last half is photo editing in Photoshop, so you can skip that if you’ve no interest in that part.

I can’t wait to dig in and start experimenting.  Thanks to Wren for the heads up!

Bakes On Mesh

Image Source: xelerus.de

I saw a blog post today that said that the new Bakes On Mesh viewer would be released soon, perhaps Monday.

I don’t use the Official Viewer, so I am assuming that a new Firestorm update will happen soon after.  Once BoM is live, I expect content creators to issue updated mesh bodies to accommodate the new options.

I know that SLink has said they have updated versions ready to go, I can only hope that Maitreya will follow soon thereafter.  I have noticed that with my purchases recently, I have received textures that are labeled as BoM textures for some of the items.

BoM is supposed to help reduce avatar complexity, and therefore, I hope, the lag that is sometimes generated because of it.   I don’t expect it to go away completely, however, since lag can be caused by a whole host of factors, some of which can only be changed/controlled by the end user.

And, unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to educate themselves about what might be causing their lag, finding it easier to blame something else for the issue.

I have gotten into the habit of derendering people as I travel around SL.  It’s amazing how much faster you can get around then. 😛  Of course, I am generally either shopping or taking photographs, so I don’t need to interact with others for the most part.  For those who spend most of their time in social settings, I’m sure things can get frustrating.  Let’s hope this BoM update makes things better for those people.

Second Life releases new Fantasy themed starter avatars | Jo Yardley’s Second Life

Image Source: www.darrickbynum.com
Image Source: http://www.darrickbynum.com

Saw this yesterday – I’ve been toying with the idea of making a new avatar in order to do some walk-through videos for people new to SL.  Maybe with one of these?  Non-mesh avatars, so they might be easier for newbies to understand. I hope!

Linden Lab just announced (click) a new set of starter avatars with themes such as “steampunk, vampires, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic… and beyond!” Not a theme I have much affinity with, pe…

Source: Second Life releases new Fantasy themed starter avatars | Jo Yardley’s Second Life

Project Bento: avatar skeleton enhancements for Second Life | Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

Image Source:  amazingbody.weebly.com
Image Source: amazingbody.weebly.com

I am so super-excited about this news that I am up early just to blog on it!

Yesterday LL announced the new Project Bento – about enhancements for your avatar skeleton.

When I first heard the news, my mind was literally racing with what this could mean and how it would change things in SL.

It may seem like a small change, but it isn’t.  And after reading more from designers and creators, I can’t wait to see what changes come in the next few months.

Project Bento is still currently on the beta grid, but creators are already hard at work.

Many of the additional bones that are being added will not have much affect for human avatars – the tail bones, bones for extra limbs, etc.

However, Project Bento adds bones for ALL 10 FINGERS!  This means that your fingers can move individually!

As I think about what that could mean for animations – dances, poses, AO’s – I am excited. 🙂

Siddean Munro, creator of Slink, has stated on Plurk that she will be reworking/updating her mesh hands to reflect the additional bones.

Dancers – imagine being able to change your hand position during a dance (without having to change mesh hands perhaps?).  Bloggers – imagine being able to move that pesky hidden pinky out of your skirt or pants without having to move your entire hand.

You could create non-human avatars that are more realistic.  Talk on Plurk has mentioned things like centaurs, spiders, or even an octopus – with tentacles that would actually move.

Adding the new bones for facial expressions will be huge, I would think, for people who role-play, act, or make machinima.  Imagine being able to look shocked, or sad, in a much more natural way than is possible currently.

I had also hoped that the new facial bones would mean that mesh heads would be able to respond to facial sliders, allowing for more individuality than is currently possible.

After reading comments from creators, however, it appears that that isn’t one of the things that will happen.  Disappointment about that aside, I can’t wait to see what amazing things will come of this new enhancement.

As I’m not particularly techie, I’m a bit confused about how the new bones will affect mesh heads.  I think that it will allow for more facial expressions via the bones (rather than the head creators having to create the expressions themselves), but that the sliders (in the avatar appearance window) will have little to no effect on the shape of the heads.

Of course, I could have misunderstood all the tech speak, so if you understand it and can clear up my confusion, please leave me a comment!

If you’d like to try this all out for yourself, read Inara’s post for details about how to do that.  Be sure to watch the short video, it’s pretty cool. 😀

Source: Project Bento: avatar skeleton enhancements for Second Life | Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

The Secret to Shadows?

Shadows
Image Source: http://www.onebillionrising.org

Ok, people – somebody knows, and I’m not giving up til I find the answer.

*crosses arms and glares*

What is up with my shadows in SL?

Since a few recent upgrades to my computer, I’ve been running at Ultra with all the fancy shadows and lighting on and loving it.

It’s part of the reason I started taking photos in SL – because they no longer looked like the pixellated junk I’d been taking before.

However, I’ve noticed an issue, and I can’t seem to find an answer to the problem anywhere.

I’ve found a few places that mention the same issue I’m having, but I can’t seem to find where a solution is mentioned.

Up til now, I’ve just dealt with the problem by fixing it in Photoshop.

But I’m left with the feeling that there must be an answer *somewhere*.

Here’s the issue:

When I take photos, I generally wear my mesh body.

If I don’t wear my mesh body, I generally at least wear my mesh hands and feet.

Avatar feet are hideous, and although I resisted mesh hands initially, after wearing them for so long, I can’t stand the avatar hands anymore either.

I’ve had the issue in a few photos, but as I said, I just cleaned up the photo in Photoshop, or the photo was taken at an angle where the issue wasn’t really noticeable.

The other day I started to play around with using a projector to take some photos, trying to achieve some really dramatic lighting effects.

Here’s one of the shots I ended up not using:

ShadowIssues1I was really happy with the dramatic lighting and shadows I got using the projector.

Sometimes, however, I don’t notice problems.

Like the hand shadow.

Again, I usually end up either cropping out the problem area or fixing it in Photoshop.

Fixing it in Photoshop can be very time-consuming, so I’ve been trying to find a way to fix the issue when I take the photo.

Here’s a close-up of the problem area:

ShadowIssues2It may be a bit hard to see, because the photo is dark.

If you look closely, you can see the shadows of two hands – my mesh hand AND my avatar hand.

Now, I was initially confused by this, as my avatar hand is alpha’ed out, so it’s not visible.

Then I realized that the alpha just makes it invisible to me, not to the computer.

So it sort of makes sense that the computer renders both shadows.

The question is – how do I make it so it doesn’t?

Is that even possible?

I know I have seen photos by other people where the shadow in the pic doesn’t have this issue.

They could have just fixed in Photoshop (or some other photo-editor), but did they?

Is there some setting I can tweak that will save me having to do that post-processing?

In my research, I did come across an article by Honour McMillan about having issues with mesh rendering correctly.

In it, she mentions that sometimes she will derender avatars in order to get the shot she wants.

However, doing so may have unintended consequences.

The system sometimes considers mesh objects as avatars.

I’m sure someone out there with more technical knowledge than me understands why.

It does at least explain, when I go to crowded events and derender all the avatars, why other things can also disappear (like certain gacha machines at the Arcade, for example).

But back to my problem.

ShadowIssues3As you can see in this photo, there are clearly two foot shadows.

One from my mesh foot, and one from my avatar foot.

Soooo frustrating!!!

Someone please help me!!!

Any and all feedback welcome. 😀