Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Charity Benefit at Creations Park

A note arrived in my inbox today announcing a ten day-long charity benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

The Winter Festival benefit is being held at Creations Park from November 6 - 15.  It includes shopping, with products provided by some of SL's top designers  including BamPu Legacies, Blue Moon Designs, and Kari's Kreations.  There's also live music and DJs, including  Seth Regan and over 25 other live singers.

There's a Hunt, free gifts, and amusement rides from Dutch Amusement Rides and Entertainment.  And, for your Winter enjoyment, a sim-wide ice skating area!

See more about Creations for Parkinson's on The Drax Files, Episode 13, available on YouTube:  Creations for Parkinson's  or read their blog at

100 percent of all donations go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Here's a great opportunity to have a lot of fun while Doing Good!  My Dad suffered from Parkinson's, so I'm planning on visiting Creations Park...more than once!  Here's your taxi: Creations Park Winter Festival

Friday, October 23, 2015

60 Clothing Layers!

When I first came to Second Life, most clothing was on "clothing layers."  These are textures that are painted directly onto your classic avatar body.  (See my earlier post, "Layers and Layers of Layers" )

At first, there were only skin and clothing layers.  Over time, new layers were added.  First we got tattoos.  Then came the "physics" layer that isn't really a clothing layer at all, and is used to make your body jiggle.  Finally, the old invisiprims were replaced by alpha mask layers to hide parts of your body under mesh clothing and other clothing or body part attachments.

The big problem was that you could only wear one thing on each layer.  One undershirt, one shirt, one jacket.  Clothing designers often provided the same top on all three layers, so that it was easier to put together an outfit.

Then Linden Lab made it possible to wear up to five items on a clothing layer by using the ADD command instead of WEAR.  This made it possible to stack shirts, for example...but the biggest benefit was that we could add multiple alpha for your SLink feet, one for your hands, one for your mesh pants, another for your mesh top, and so on.

But people were still running out of layers.  I had to compromise some of my outfits because I maxed out my available alpha masks.

Now LL has come to our rescue again.  They've implemented the "LayerLimits" functionality in the viewer.  I am not sure exactly when this moved from a project viewer to the released viewer, but it's been in place there for at least several months.  (Nobody ever TELLS me these things!)  It's in the Firestorm viewer too, and probably most of the other popular third party viewers.

LayerLimits removes the five items per clothing layer limitation.  Now you can wear up to 60 (!!) clothing layers IN TOTAL, in any combination.  This does not affect the "Essential Four" items (shape, skin, eyes, system hair) or the physics layer.  Only one of each of these items is allowed.  But it does affect tattoos, alpha masks, and the traditional clothing layers such as jacket, pants, gloves, etc.

Woot!  Good job, LL.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tales from the Dark Side of SL

Today, I'm going to risk spreading a little FUD...that's Internet slang for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt."  I'd like you all to pay attention to the three stories I'm going to relate here, but please also bear in mind that this sort of thing does not happen often in Second Life.  In fact, it happens so seldom that it can be hard to verify. 

Verification is important.  Many people in SL have something startling happen to them, and they think, "I've been griefed!  I've been hacked!  I've got a virus!"  But in reality, what happened was their own fault, or they simply haven't understood what is really going on.  Or maybe something happens to someone, and they tell a friend, and they pass it on, and so on.  The tale gets distorted in the telling, until people wind up spreading wild and untrue rumors and complete misinformation.  That's why you sometimes hear people say things like, "Linden Lab is going to put a cap on Inventory items!"  or "LL is going to appropriate everyone's content for themselves!"  Utter nonsense, in other words.

But...sometimes...someone who seems to have their head screwed on tight comes to me with a tale.  I can't personally verify it, but it seems to be a real occurrence.  Here are three of those.

The Club Protection Racket.
The owner of a popular club came to the Answers forum with a complaint.  A group of griefers had begun showing up at the club.  They demanded protection money, and threatened to shut down the club if they weren't paid.  Despite being banned, muted, and ejected, they managed to completely disrupt the evening by persistent attacks with multiple accounts.  I have actually heard this scenario in several versions.  The griefers may use familiar tools like particle attacks, object rezzers, and sound emitters.  Sometimes they will use graphics crashers.  In at least one or two cases, they've used something that crashed the sim. 

The usual eject, ban, and mute tools, and repeated Abuse Reports on each griefer and each incident will generally resolve this, although it may take a lot of time and patience, waiting for LL to ban accounts.  Depending on how long the attacks continue, it can put a club out of business.

The Unstoppable Griefer.
Normally, you can keep unwanted people out of your land with ban lines or a security system.  You can keep most unwanted objects out by limiting object rezzing to group members, and by turning off object entry and scripts on your land.  But I have heard of one or two cases in which a griefer seemed to be able to ignore these limitations.  They have been reported as entering land which had all protections turned on, and somehow creating or getting griefing objects in as well.  Nobody seems to know how they did this.  The speculation is that they were using some sort of hacked, illegal viewer.

The Object Thief.
Here is the last and scariest tale of all.  A griefer was able to actually take objects that didn't belong to him.  The land was fully protected...access limited, security system, scripts turned off, all objects on the land Locked, even.  And yet a person was able to stand outside the parcel and somehow "reach in" and take objects, including several No Copy items.  This was not copybotting, they took the actual objects themselves.  The people this happened to tell me that they spoke with LL, who confirmed that this was actually possible, and that the incidence of such attacks was increasing.  Again, it is believed that the perpetrators are using an illegal viewer to do this.

The victims were able to get LL to check to see when the objects left the region and roll back the region to a time before the theft, and were thus able to recover their things.  However, LL does not do rollbacks often, and there is no guarantee that they will do so for every reported incident of this sort.

This is truly frightening, because the sanctity of objects in Second Life has been a matter of faith for all of us.  I don't use ban lines or security systems, and I've always said, "why worry about trespassers, they can't break anything or steal your spoons."  This may no longer be entirely true.

Pleasant dreams, everyone!

PS:  If any would-be griefers are reading this and thinking, "Cool, I gotta get me one of those illegal viewers," I would advise against it.  Most illegal viewers are more dangerous to the user than to his potential victims.  Besides the risk of getting permanently banned by LL for using one, a lot of them contain malware that can infect your computer and steal your passwords and personal information. 

On second thought...go right ahead!