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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Boxes

In a recent comment, a correspondent asked me to discuss boxes...putting things into them and taking things out.  So let's talk about this essential Second Life skill today!

When you buy something, chances are good that it comes in a package, a "box."  Any object or prim can act as a box...that is, one of the neat capabilities of Second Life objects is the ability to contain OTHER objects.  These days, a lot of boxed items also contain an unpacking script to make opening them easier.  When you rez the box, it might behave in one of three different ways.
  1. The box will have floating text over it saying something like "touch me to unpack."  Left clicking the box will cause it to send a folder of its contents to your inventory.
  2. A menu may open on your screen, with a button to click to unpack the box.
  3. The box may take the initiative!  As soon as you rez it, you get a message saying that it sent a folder of stuff to your inventory.  At first I did not like these overly-helpful boxes, but now I'm coming to appreciate them for the way they reduce my mouse clicks.
I have encountered other variations.  Once, when I rezzed the box, it opened a menu, and clicking the menu button sent me to a web site.  There, I clicked another button, and the inventory was sent to me from the web site.  You might even run into a web site where the "inventory" is not a Second Life item at all, but (for example) a UV weight map or a Photoshop .PSD file that you use in customizing the texture of a Mesh object.  On another occasion, the box contained only a HUD.  The HUD had a button labeled "send me my stuff."

Unless the box sends its contents right away, I open it manually.  Partly because I am a creature of habit, but also because it lets me select which contents I want, and drag them to the exact folder in my inventory I want to put them in.  For a description of the manual method of opening boxes, see either my earlier post, "Pandora's Box" or this helpful section of the Second Life Knowledgebase: Opening Boxes

But you don't have to be some high-powered merchant or clothing designer to use boxes.  You can put things into prims yourself!  I do this with textures all the time, to help keep my inventory count down by boxing things up that I don't use very often.  You see, a box only counts as one item in your inventory, even if it contains hundreds of items!
  1. Rez a cube.  You can be as fancy as you want and build a custom box, but all you really need is a simple prim, so that's what we're going to use.
  2. In the General tab, rename this object.  There is NOTHING more frustrating than having fifty boxes in your inventory, all called "Object!"
  3. Click the Content tab of the Edit window.
  4. Open your inventory, and find the thing(s) you want to put into the box.  Drag an item and drop it on the blank area of the Content tab.  
  5. You can select multiple items by using SHIFT+click or CTRL+click, just the way you do in any file folder on your computer.
  6. TIP:  When dragging large numbers of items into a box, using CTRL+drag may be more reliable than simply dragging them.
  7. TIP:  There is no limit to a box's contents, but the more things you put into a box, the slower things will become.  Once you have fifty or so things in there, it may take a while for the Content window to refresh itself.
  8. TIP:  You can put boxes in boxes!  This is one way to keep things organized and to keep things from becoming tooooo slooooow.
  9. Put a texture on the box.  This can be a picture of the clothing you're boxing up, or one of the textures you're putting in the box.  Anything that will help you recognize, years from now, what this box is all about!
NOTE:  You cannot store FOLDERS in boxes.  This is too bad, because it would be a great way to organize a box's contents.

The box will have the same permissions as its contents.  If the contents have mixed permissions (some No Transfer, some No Copy, some No Modify) the box may say it's No Transfer, No Copy, No Modify.  You can't make the permissions of the box less restrictive than its contents, but  you CAN make it more restrictive, without affecting the contents.  You could make the box No Copy, and this would not change the permissions of the contents.

When you are done putting things into the box, right click it and choose Take.  It will go back into your inventory, in the Objects folder.  If the items you put in it were copyable, copies of them are still in your inventory.  You can delete those now.

Pat yourself on the back!  You have just reduced your inventory clutter!

If you are using your box to contain textures:  I use texture organizers.  These are special boxes that are scripted to show you thumbnails of their textures.  You can find lots of different texture organizers on the Marketplace.  I put a copy of my textures into an organizer, and I have many organizers, each for a category of textures (glass, wood, stone, brick, water, etc.)  But besides putting them in an organizer, I also create a backup.  I put the textures into a simple box, and have all those in a sub-folder in my Textures folder called "Boxed Textures."

You can store boxes in your inventory, of course.  If you are worried about inventory loss and have some land, you can also rez your boxes on your land and store them there.  If they're copyable, you can store them in BOTH places.  If you store them in world, be sure to NOT check the "anyone can copy" or "anyone can move" boxes in the Permissions, or strangers may come and steal your stuff!

You can add a script to the box that will cause it to give its inventory to either you (the owner) or to someone else.  But then the box becomes a "vendor" and that's another story for another time!

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