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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Expectations

I had an interesting chat last night with a student in my Land Basics class at Caledon Oxbridge University.  She was interested in how to find mainland for a "fair" price.

After some discussion, it turned out that what she meant by this was "less than $L1 per square meter".  That rather made my eyebrows go up, because I happen to think that mainland at that price (the price LL is charging for Abandoned land) is quite the bargain.  I well remember the days when mainland sold for $L10, $L15, or even much more per square meter.

But, by setting the large amount of Abandoned mainland at this price, Linden Lab has essentially created a "new standard" for mainland pricing.  There is so much Abandoned land out there that private land owners needing to sell their parcels must consider the $L1/m2 price a ceiling unless there is something special about their land, such as being protected waterfront.

We did a bit of Searching, and sure enough, we got significant numbers of results with the search parameters set to a price of between $L0 - $L0.5 per square meter.  (Actually, the Search box does not let you set a "per square meter" price range...we looked at parcels of a set size (4096 square meters) and a price range of $L0 - $L2,500.)

It's got to the point where the real consideration in buying land is not the initial cost, it's the monthly tier (well, tier always WAS the biggest expense of land, but most people shopping for a parcel didn't really think that way.)

When looking for mainland, buyers can afford to be choosy.  There is no need to settle for a patch of bombed-out, badly terraformed land surrounded by ugly builds and tall "privacy screens".  I know of one 4096 parcel on a steep, snowy mountainside with an absolutely gorgeous view that has been on the market at $L1/m2 for a couple of weeks now with no takers.  But if you want land for a skybox, some of that "garbage" land can be had for almost nothing. 
View for Sale, Cheap! (no, I don't get a commission)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireworks!

Hello again, and a happy Fourth of July to all...even if you happen not to be in the United States.  One of the defining features of this national holiday is fireworks displays.  I love watching those...the lights and colors suddenly blooming in the air.  They are lovely and exciting...an incredible form of performance art, done with explosives!
There are fireworks in Second Life, too, and some of them are pretty spectacular.  One of my favorite performances is put on weekly during the summer months by Marianne McCann, usually at the Livingtree region.

Here are some performances that I found by checking the Events calendar.

DeCuir Fireworks  All day displays, and you can buy them too.


Helping Haven.  Celebration starts at 11:00 SLT


Purelife Lodge.  Celebration begins at 12:00 noon SLT.  Party, airshow, fireworks.


The G Spot Club.  Wytchwhisper performs live.  Fireworks on the pier, 3:00 pm SLT


US Military Veterans Center.  Toby Keith tribute event, 4:00 pm SLT, also 6 pm SLT


Cystic Fibrosis University.  Boomer Esiason Foundation charity event.  Live singer Potlatch Foggarty.  3 - 6 pm SLT


xOne club.  DJ Jester, 6 pm SLT

Equus.  Eagles and the Doobie Brothers.  Eight hour long extravaganza.

You'll find many more with an Events search of your own!

So much for the social part of this post...on to the tutorial!

Fireworks in Second Life are one example of particle effects.  Particles are used to create many effects, from fountains and water splashes to lightning.  Smoke and fog are particles too, and the flashy bling of your jewelry, and the fire of a jet or rocket exhaust.  All these effects are created by properly setting the parameters of one general purpose particle script.  That sounds easier than it is in practice...but there is a series of tutorials offered free by The Particle Laboratory to show you how to do this to create various effects.

Sometimes particles are used by griefers.  "Poofers" are objects that contain a particle script, and if you see a sky full of offensive or rude images, some griefer is using a poofer to create them.  You can turn off particle visibility in your viewer with the shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+= .  Toggle them back on with the same keyboard combination.

But don't disable particles today...you'll miss all the pretty fireworks!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Zapped!

Friday night, and I'd just logged out of SL and was idly surfing the internet.  Suddenly, the lights flickered, and my UPS uttered a bleep of alarm.  A few more seconds, and all the lights went out, except for my computer (supported by my faithful UPS).

I shut things down in an orderly fashion.  Then, hearing a strange roaring sound above, I made my way up from my basement office...to find what I at first thought was an approaching tornado.  We live in a heavily wooded area, and all the trees were being lashed by the fiercest wind I could remember, worse even than the times hurricanes have plowed their way into our area.  The sound was frightening, to say the least.

Fortunately, it was neither a hurricane or a tornado, but the damage was nearly as bad as if it had been.  A squall line of thunderstorms, moving at an incredible 65 miles per hour and containing gusts to 85, passed over our area.  Countless trees were knocked down, and along with them, power and communications lines.  More than a million homes were suddenly without power.

The area is recovering slowly.  Our power was restored earlier today, and the only permanent damage in our own household was to a couple of containers of ice cream.  But sitting in a dark and silent house, with the temperature and humidity gradually rising, I reflected once again on how fragile the infrastructure that supports our "modern life" really is.

Suddenly, we had no more two way communications.  Television was gone.  Cell service was down.  The internet was down.  Our computers were down.  We had no air conditioning, no refrigeration, and no means of cooking a hot meal except the outdoor grill.  Light was candles or battery powered lanterns.  We had a little hot water in the tank, but once that was gone, it was gone.  We had suddenly been hurled eighty years into the past.

The Resident Geek is off looking at backup emergency generators, with my blessing...but in a really extreme situation, we both know that that is not a real solution -- because increasingly, our lives depend not only on electrical power, but on a fragile, interconnected network of systems, many of which we are powerless to affect.

I'm not sure what the answer is.  Redundant and fault-tolerant systems are possible, but costly.  Perhaps it's best to simply accept that sometimes Things Get Zapped...but that's sure not how you feel when it suddenly happens to you!