Saturday, March 31, 2007

Linji Haven, in-world directory

I was playing around with the "Vendor" portion of the Hippotech Rental System, and although using a vendor to market rental spaces doesn't appeal to me, it does strike me that it could instead be co-opted into functioning as a directory of shops, public places, and even (if people wanted) private homes.

Essentially, the "vendor" pages through pictures of each rental parcel, and when clicked, can show the map location / set the red "Beacon."

In the future, when the little boutiques, parks, art galleries, and whatnot are ready, perhaps I could load the "vendor" with pictures of each shop, and the display placed in the corner of a central, public place.

Just an idea.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Linji Haven, future ideas

Hodge-podge of ideas, about furthering formation of "community" in Linji Haven:
  • sharing textures or objects, to better integrate the visual feel of various parcels
    • if a particular footpath / road texture can be agreed upon, it'd be nice if we could all have access to it
    • nobody can "force" anyone else to use the same texture, but some may wish to use the same style, to keep things nice looking
    • the same might go for, say, lamp-posts, public benches, etc.

  • sharing / discounting creations
    • there seem to be a significant number of content creators in our midst
    • I'd be happy to write a vendor script that would sell or give objects ONLY to people who are in the Linji Haven group

  • community events?
    • I'm really, really wanting to try to convince some musicians I know (in the rather tiny Classical Music community) to perform live. This wouldn't be a "regular" thing (remember our guidelines: low-impact events, no huge crowds that will shut down the sim to others), but I'm thinking more along the lines of a half dozen to a dozen people in an audience

  • public space building
    • I think it'd be a bad idea for a single individual to, on their own, just start building in the public areas. I can see hard feelings and conflict, if either someone else didn't like what was built, or if they had wanted to contribute
    • rather, it might be good if people who were interested in beautifying the public areas had a way to cooperate, either by building at the same time, or by having a forum where suggestions and ideas could be shared
    • I posted in a comment someplace that perhaps a public Wiki (readable by all, but posts only by Linji Haven group members) could be used to coordinate efforts

As for sharing objects and creations, here's my contribution:
  • a week or so ago, I wrote a parcel audio-stream radio, that can read an unlimited number of audio stream URLs from a notecard
  • when clicked, you choose your station via pages of buttons, with each button labeled with the station name
  • I'm planning on putting this in a script store, but would like to distribute it to all the Residents in Linji sim free -- especially since any parcel audio radio requires being deeded to group, which only I can do, so maybe this will preempt some minor hassle for me ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Linji Haven Group Settings

The group role abilities listed below are my attempt to give maximal flexibility to Linji Haven Sim residents, while trying to keep inadvertent disasters to a minimum. (Like, OOPS, I didn't mean to terraform that beautifully crafted garden of yours into a small mountain.)

Group Roles
  • Owner (Ged Larsen) / Estate Manager

  • Resident
    • this is the baseline role that ALL renters will get

  • Resident Plus
    • this is an additional setting that will TEMPorarily be assigned, on request

  • Regular Member
    • residents can invite people to join the group, who will then be able to rez objects that will be set to the Linji Haven group, so that auto-return will not affect them
    • they will NOT, however, have access to the ANY other Resident abilities (except the ability to set home on group land, vote and receive notices)
    • this will be useful for people who want to give a partner or friend the ability to build on their parcel

  • Invite People to this Group (ALL)
    • non-owners can only invite people to the plain "member" status
  • Eject Members from this Group (ALL)
    • non-owners can only eject people who have plain "member" status
  • Toggle 'Open Enrollment' and change 'Signup Fee' (OWNER)
  • Create New Roles (OWNER)
  • Delete Roles (OWNER)
  • Change Role names, titles, and descriptions (OWNER)
  • Assign Members to Assigner's Roles (OWNER)
  • Assign Members to Any Role (OWNER)
  • Remove Members from Roles (OWNER)
  • Assign and Remove Abilities in Roles (OWNER)
Group Identity
  • Change Charter, Insignia, 'Publish on the Web', and which members are publicly visible in Group Information (OWNER)
Parcel Management
  • Deed land and buy land for group (OWNER)
  • Abandon land to Governor Linden (OWNER)
  • Set land for sale info (OWNER)
  • Subdivide and join parcels (OWNER)
Parcel Identity
  • Toggle 'Show in Find Places' and set category (ALL)
  • Change parcel name, description, and 'Publish on the Web' settings (ALL)
  • Set landing point and set teleport routing (ALL)
Parcel Settings
  • Change music & media settings (ALL)
  • Toggle 'Edit Terrain' (OWNER)
  • Toggle various About Land > Options settings (ALL? or TEMP?)
Parcel Powers
  • Always allow 'Edit Terrain' (TEMP)
  • Always allow 'Fly' (ALL)
  • Always allow 'Create Objects' (ALL)
  • Always allow 'Create Landmark' (ALL)
  • Allow 'Set Home to Here' on group land (ALL, regular members)
Parcel Access
  • Manage parcel Access lists (OWNER; no banlines allowed, except to specific avatars)
  • Manage parcel Ban lists (ALL)
  • Change parcel 'Sell passes...' settings (ALL)
  • Eject and freeze Residents on parcels (ALL)
Parcel Content
  • Return objects owned by group (OWNER)
  • Return objects set to group (OWNER)
  • Return non-group objects (ALL)
  • Landscaping using Linden plants (ALL)
Object Management
  • Deed objects to group (OWNER)
  • Manipulate (move, copy, modify) group-owned objects (OWNER; TEMP?)
  • Set group-owned objects for sale (OWNER)
  • Pay group liabilities and receive group dividends (OWNER)
  • Send Notices (ALL)
  • Receive Notices and view past Notices (ALL, and regular members)
  • Create Proposals (ALL)
  • Vote on Proposals (ALL, and regular members)

Map of the Linji Sim, and parcel requests

Linji Haven availability: all parcels claimed

Parcels are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. When a request is posted here specifying a specific parcel, that spot will be "reserved" for a couple of days. If not claimed in a couple of days, it will be released to the next person who requested it.

The above shows the entire Sim, with blue markers placed every 32 m. A square of four blue markers encloses 1,024 sq m. Encouraged plot sizes are 2,048 (two squares) to 4,096 sq m (four squares).

One central and one peripheral 2,048 sq m plots is being reserved for use by the community to turn into public spaces, for example for use as public plazas, parks, meeting spaces or performance venues. Also, I am very likely going to permanently assign three 1,024 sq m plots as "Linji Haven Protected Land," which will not be available for public projects, but will kept as low-prim green and open spaces (with trees, bushes, and perhaps paths and a few parkbenches.)

I also wonder whether those interested in low-impact commercial endeavors might be encouraged to take plots that are more central, perhaps along a path, to maximize their foot-traffic. Residential only plots might be more comfortable on the perimeter, where they could be afforded more privacy?

I've scribbled in possible paths below. They look "grid-like" here, but I hope they'd wander a little bit, back and forth, around vegetation, trees, rocks, etc. But, these are YOUR parcels, the final design will be up to you. I just wanted to start by penciling in some ideas. Suggestions welcome!

Current list of participants:

People who are considering joining the community might want to check out the Linji sim in person, and post a comment requesting what size parcel and the preferred location. I'll update the map whenever I can, to show how the planning is coming along.

After I receive your request, I'll parcel the land and set up a rental box set to your SL avatar name. If you change your mind, or don't "claim" the box after say 3 - 5 days, I'll open up the spots again so other people can request them.

The planned use listed certainly is NOT "binding", but I thought it might help people choose locations near friends or to facilitate cooperative efforts.

  • Ged Larsen: mostly residential; maybe a script gadget store ;)
  • Sierra Mills: probably residential
  • Taffy Allandale: mixed residential / commercial (Taffy Apple Designs)
  • Gabriel Watanabe: residential
  • Eleanora Newell: light retail
  • Stephen Bentham / Caliah Lyon
  • camilla Yosuke (retail)
  • Charron Marseille / Roslin Petion / Morgaine Maktoum
  • Euterpe Zagoskin / Caliah Lyon: light retail (Haute Couture clothing, Muse Jewelry)
  • Shizuka Hayashida
  • Tigress Jewell (residential and retail)
  • Crispin Cleanslate (medieval theme, retail)
  • Tiy Ferraris (ancient Egypt educational museum and shop)
  • Stephen Bentham (light retail and public space)
  • Harriet Hallard (non-commercial build)
  • Tamala Tombola (medieval theme, retail)
  • JH + Jessie Gervasi (residential + retail)
  • Patric Rotunno + Theodote Carthage (residential + art gallery)

Requests submitted:
  • Lizbeth Saens (waitlist)
  • Stuart Simonds (waitlist; prefer 3,072, but 2,048 OK; residential and future retail)
  • Nefertiti Nefarious (posted on Linji Haven, proposal for more green space", but parcel too small -- 512 sq m)
  • no more requests are being taken


Amount of rent will be closely tied to the Linden Lab Mainland Tier Schedule, recalculated in L$ per week at the current L$ sell exchange rate, correcting for the 3.5% LL exchange fee.

Example: if the current L$ "sell" rate is L$267 per US$1 + 3.5% LL exchange fee:
  • 1,024 sq m: US$8/month = L$2,211/month = L$507/week
  • 2,048 sq m: US$15/month = L$4,145/month = L$951/week
  • 3,072 sq m: US$20/month = L$5,527/month = L$1,268/week
  • 4,096 sq m: US$25/month = L$6,909/month = L$1,586/week

Linji Haven Progress Report

Public Space Expansion

I think I'll go ahead and reserve TWO 1,024 sqm parcels near the center of the Sim as public areas, that Linji residents can collaborate and cooperatively sculpt into a pleasant center park / plaza / open space. I imagined that one 1,024 sqm parcel just wouldn't be enough to maintain a sense of open space.

Rental system set-up

I have purchased and read the documentation of the HippoTech Rental System (looks great, hopefully easy to get started up).

Group abilities and roles

The concern is that due to the restrictions of Mainland (compared with private islands), ALL members of the group with an ability will be able to apply that ability to ANY parcel in Linji Haven.

I do not worry so much about malicious damage -- hopefully the Sim will select for people who will play nice and be considerate -- but it is altogether too easy to mis-click and cause inadvertent damage. So, the goal is to give EVERY ability that is safe to give to all residents of Linji Haven. Other abilities (like terraforming) might be given for a couple hours at a time upon request, and then removed. And finally, some will never be given -- like, the ability to sell the entire Sim for L$1)

Because all these settings are quite new to me, and because there is little documentation, I would like to list them all here, and perhaps people can tell me why some innocuous ability is actually "dangerous," or why some "dangerous" ones are actually fine.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meeting creative talent: Caliah Lyon and Argent Stonecutter

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Caliah Lyon, via a mutual friend. She's already shown herself a talented jeweler (Muse Jewelry in Imogen), and is now branching into watch-making. The watch-making is how I had the good fortune to meet her -- her watches needed a little more movement to them, so I wrote a script for the clock hands (hour, minute, and second), so that the timepieces would show the correct time.

The script was a fun little exercise, but best of all was getting the chance to see in person the exquisite detail work that goes into tiny prim sculpture. Let's just say that I was unable to even test the scripts, because I didn't even have the skill to select a watch hand, let alone manipulate it. Anyhow, I hope the watches will be released soon. In the meantime, I'll take the liberty of displaying the picture that she shows on her blog page:

Also, last night I got to meet Argent Stonecutter, who happened to be test-flying a very cool flying machine over the wide open spaces over Linji. I knew of Argent from his very informative posts in the Scripting forum, and just had to hail him. We had a pleasant chat, and showed off various scripting thingies we had each written. I got to pull out my ancient Lissajous prim thingie as well as a medium-sized geodesic dome, and he let me swoop and soar on his really incredible flying machine (I've got to get me one of those things...)

I think the best part of SL is meeting people who are talented and creative.

Linji Haven

The below information is being kept for archival purposes only.

--== LINJI HAVEN ==--

This is the
charter of Linji Haven (last updated 2007-April-8). Whether you are interested in joining this community or not, questions, comments, and suggestions are very welcome.

The goal of Linji Haven (in the Linji mainland sim) is to provide:
  • an unthemed mixed-residential and low-impact commercial oasis on the Mainland
  • a community of like-minded individuals who believe that the Mainland can still be a beautiful, wonderful, minimal lag place to enjoy Second Life
  • the lowest price possible
To insure that the Sim can maintain it's zoning guidelines, it is a rental only community.

We hope to have more information and community discussion at the Linji Haven blog and forums at Estate Managers to contact for more information or problems:
Ged Larsen and Sierra Mills


Residential and low-impact commericial

  • be considerate
  • low-impact commercial welcomed
  • small events encouraged
  • no Casinos, no Clubs, no Camping, and no Crap (ad farms, lag hogs, incredibly ugly builds)
Lag control
  • try to use efficiently-written scripts, without loads of listeners and scans
  • try to use the minimum-sized texture that gives you good results
Spelling it all out

Really, if you're just being considerate of others, you don't need to read these details. If you are trying to use this list to find loopholes of what you can get away with, this community is probably not for you.

if you and ALL your neighbors are OK with it, bending the guidelines is fine too. Just see "Conflict Resolution".
  • restrict build heights to twice the distance from the nearest parcel boundary, unless you and your neighbors agree otherwise
  • try not to obstruct your neighbor's views
  • no major eyesores
  • no excessive particle effects
  • no flashing / rotating / neon signs
  • no banlines (banning specific avatars is fine)
  • no walls or fences that completely close off your land
  • skyboxes shouldn't be visible from ground level builds
  • no non-consensual combat
  • events should not be so large and frequent as to cause problems for other residents


Goal: it would be wonderful if instead of a bunch of separate carved out parcels, we had a community. Of course, this can never be something dictated, but I'd welcome ideas to help promote this.

Some ideas:
  • footpaths and small roads to encourage foot-exploration of the sim
  • a central 2,048 sq m Linji Haven public park and a 2,048 sq m waterfront parcel have been reserved for use as public spaces, to benefit the entire community
  • three 1,024 sq m Linji Haven Protected Land parcels will be maintained as lightly landscaped open areas
  • shared resources (e.g., pre-fabs, landscaping objects, resident creations, etc.)
  • events: live music, product shows, classes, get-togethers

  • I want to remain as absolutely hands-off as possible, hoping that the simple rule of being considerate towards others will minimize conflict. And, I hope that people will be as open-minded and accepting as possible of other people's tastes. But, conflicts happen.
  • if 3 members of the community have a grievance against another member, and a Linji Haven Estate Manager agrees, then the grievance must be addressed.


In addition to weekly rent, there may be an
initial L$1 per sq m non-refundable joining fee, which will be used for community purchases and other expenses. This fee is waived for the founding members of the Sim.

Weekly rent will be closely tied to the Linden Lab Mainland Tier Schedule, recalculated in L$ per week at the current L$ sell exchange rate, correcting for the 3.5% LL exchange fee.

If the current L$ sell rate is L$267 per US$1 + 3.5% LL exchange fee:
  • 1,024 sq m: US$8/month = L$2,211/month =~ L$507/week
  • 2,048 sq m: US$15/month = L$4,145/month =~ L$951/week
  • 3,072 sq m: US$20/month = L$5,527/month =~ L$1,268/week
  • 4,096 sq m: US$25/month = L$6,909/month =~ L$1,586/week
  • encouraged plot sizes: 2,048 to 4,096 sq m (1,024 plots may be considered, but the goal is to avoid a cramped feel of packed plots)

  • prim allotment: 234 prims per 1,024 sq m
    • extra prim allotment may be rentable, based on availability. The rate will be based on the 4,096 sq m parcel rental rate; i.e., US$3.125/month for an extra 117 prims

  • rent to be paid weekly, in advance
    • there will be no grace period for late rent
    • if there are people on the waitlist when the rent expires, it is possible that the parcel will be re-assigned to a new tenant

  • full refunds of remaining rent, with no penalty, if one week advance notice is given
    • otherwise, a maximum penalty of 1 week's rent will be assessed, and the remainder refunded

  • no plans to increase rent
    • the only reason I will raise rent would be if LL's mainland tier prices increase. If this were to happen, I would increase rental rates proportionally, and offer current tenants the option to cancel their leases with full refunds without penalty

  • no support for sub-leasing
    • you will be able to add others to the Linji Haven Group, but they will be regular group "Members" without the "Resident" abilities that tenants will have (see below)
    • however, on a case-by-case basis, estate managers can grant "Resident" abilities to multiple people who are sharing a parcel


I am not trying to make money from this venture, and would like to keep it going so long as I am not LOSING money in monthly tier (currently US$195), and hopefully, slowly offsetting the initial purchase price of the sim (US$2,756).

However, should it become necessary for the sim to be sold off, I will do my utmost to keep the following promises:
  • I will give at least several weeks of warning
  • I will offer each parcel for sale to the current parcel resident first
  • if the current tenant does not want it, it will be offered to sale to other Linji Haven residents
  • if sold to a Linji Haven resident, the land sale price will set at the "Avg L$ Paid Per Square Meter" price for the previous month, available at
  • if no Linji Haven tenants want it, it will be sold on the open market


The group role abilities listed below are my attempt to give maximal flexibility to Linji Haven Sim residents, while trying to keep inadvertent disasters to a minimum. They may be adjusted, as necessary.

Group Roles
  • Owner (Ged Larsen) / Estate Manager
    • Estate manager has all abilities EXCEPT:
      - assign members to any roll
      - assign and remove abilities in roles
      - deed land and buy land for group (?)
      - abandon land to governor lindon
      - set land for sale info
      - pay group liabilities and receive group dividends
    • the Estate Manager also has to be a member of the Resident group role, to be able to assign new tenants to the Resident role
  • Resident
    • this is the baseline role that ALL renters will get
  • Regular Member
    • residents can invite people to join the group, who can then set objects to the Linji Haven group, avoiding auto-return
    • they will NOT, however, have access to most other Resident abilities
Group abilities, complete list

  • Invite People to this Group (ALL)
    • non-owners can only invite people to the plain "member" status
  • Eject Members from this Group (ALL)
    • non-owners can only eject people who have plain "member" status
  • Toggle 'Open Enrollment' and change 'Signup Fee' (OWNER)
  • Create New Roles (OWNER)
  • Delete Roles (OWNER)
  • Change Role names, titles, and descriptions (OWNER)
  • Assign Members to Assigner's Roles (OWNER)
  • Assign Members to Any Role (OWNER)
  • Remove Members from Roles (OWNER)
  • Assign and Remove Abilities in Roles (OWNER)
Group Identity
  • Change Charter, Insignia, 'Publish on the Web', and which members are publicly visible in Group Information (OWNER)
Parcel Management
  • Deed land and buy land for group (OWNER)
  • Abandon land to Governor Linden (OWNER)
  • Set land for sale info (OWNER)
  • Subdivide and join parcels (OWNER)
Parcel Identity
  • Toggle 'Show in Find Places' and set category (ALL)
  • Change parcel name, description, and 'Publish on the Web' settings (ALL)
  • Set landing point and set teleport routing (ALL)
Parcel Settings
  • Change music & media settings (ALL)
  • Toggle 'Edit Terrain' (OWNER)
  • Toggle various About Land > Options settings (ALL? or ON REQUEST?)
Parcel Powers
  • Always allow 'Edit Terrain' (ALL? or ON REQUEST?)
  • Always allow 'Fly' (ALL)
  • Always allow 'Create Objects' (ALL)
  • Always allow 'Create Landmark' (ALL)
  • Allow 'Set Home to Here' on group land (ALL, regular members)
Parcel Access
  • Manage parcel Access lists (OWNER; no general banlines allowed)
  • Manage parcel Ban lists (ALL)
  • Change parcel 'Sell passes...' settings (ALL)
  • Eject and freeze Residents on parcels (ALL)
Parcel Content
  • Return objects owned by group (OWNER)
  • Return objects set to group (OWNER)
  • Return non-group objects (ALL)
  • Landscaping using Linden plants (ALL)
Object Management
  • Deed objects to group (OWNER)
  • Manipulate (move, copy, modify) group-owned objects (OWNER)
  • Set group-owned objects for sale (OWNER)
  • Pay group liabilities and receive group dividends (OWNER)
  • Send Notices (ALL)
  • Receive Notices and view past Notices (ALL, and regular members)
  • Create Proposals (ALL)
  • Vote on Proposals (ALL, and regular members)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Putting my money where my mouth is: I have a Sim

I've spoken, written, rambled, and even ranted in multiple venues about how it should be possible to create a community that would not have the eyesore and lag issues that frequently (but not always) plague the mainland.

And moreover, that this vision should be possible at a price better than individuals acquiring land on their own (because the L$ per sqm tier price improves dramatically, as the amount of owned land increases).

Well, enough ranting. Enough waiting for someone else to do it. I'm a fool, and a dreamer, but it was time to try putting my money where my mouth was. Last night, I bid and won an entire mainland Sim in LL auction. It came down to being outbid in the last 15 seconds, and then throwing in one last bid, and winning.

My goal, my dream, is still as previously described: to gather together like-minded individuals in a residential and low-impact commercial Sim, with the simple covenant of trying to be considerate. Raymond Figtree, on the forums, suggested an interesting covenent, which I've extended just a little bit: the C with no CCCCC Covenant: - be Considerate, with no Casinos, Clubs, Camping, (huge) Commercial, or other Crap. Simple enough.

I've written before, both here and in the forums, about how a Private Island would be far more flexible for this sort of goal. But, my other goal, to keep it CHEAP, with rent equal to mainland tier alone for 2,048 and/or 4,096 sq m plots, meant that with a private island, I'd require at least 75% occupancy, merely to cover the monthly fees. There's no way I could assure myself that that would be possible. But with a mainland Sim, I could survive at break-even with only 50% occupancy (overlooking the large initial expense though...), but with these drawbacks:
  • loss of terraforming freedom and unlimited water access
  • loss of ability to "sell" parcels to individuals (although selling on an Island is just glorified renting)
  • relying on "groups" to deal with land permissions and parcels
  • loss of the Estate tools (including monitoring highest lag-offensive scripts and physics)
  • no control on the visual clutter of what might be placed in adjacent mainland sims
There's a lot of thought I still need to put to this. Maybe a few months from now, this experiment will confirm that I'm a dreamer and a fool. Or, maybe this will become a sanctuary, an oasis, and a retreat that will bring enjoyment and creativity to a small corner of SL. And maybe even serve as a model, of what CAN be done, if people work together.

We shall see.

See for more information.


Some pictures, from a giddy and proud land owner:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

heat map, code snippet

It's been a long time since I've posted a little code snippet that might be of use to people. (OK, not many people.) But, I wrote a function to simulate a "heat map", to map a number to a color, depending on where it falls in a range.

As mentioned previously, one way to generate a rainbow progression of colors is described here:

What I wanted to do was to write a function so that "big" numbers would yield a red color, which would then progress through yellow, then green, to light blue, to dark blue. In other words, 4 of the 6 segments in the above progression.

The following function "heatMap()" takes 3 input variables: map, min, and max. "Map" is the number you want to heat map. If it's greater than or equal to "max", the color is returned as red. From "max" to "min", the colors progress through yellow, green, light blue, and dark blue. It's a linear function, and a "map" value exactly in the middle of "min" and "max" maps to pure green. "Map" values lower than min return pure blue. It returns a vector that can be used in color-setting functions in LSL.

I used the heatMap() function for color-coding in my avatar radar HUD, so that avatar target radar blips above you were red, those at the same altitude were green, and those below you were blue, all along a spectrum of colors. I found that the color was enough information, and less cluttered than numbers.

Hope you find the function helpful :)

vector heatMap(float map, float min, float max)
// by Ged Larsen
// map a float to 4 of 6 segments of a color progression
// -1 to -0.5 <0,0,1> to <0,1,1> dark blue to light blue
// -0.5 to 0 <0,1,1> to <0,1,0> light blue to green
// 0 to 0.5 <0,1,0> to <1,1,0> green to yellow
// 0.5 to 1 <1,1,0> to <1,0,0> yellow to red

float fraction;

if (
map < min) { fraction = -1.0; }
else if (
map > max) { fraction = 1.0; }
else {
fraction = 2.0*map/(max-min)+1.0 - (2.0*max / (max-min)); }

if (
fraction < -0.5 ) { return <0.0, 2*(fraction+1), 1.0>; }
else if (
fraction < 0 ) { return <0.0, 1.0, 1.0 - 2.0*(fraction+0.5)>; }
else if (
fraction < 0.5 ) { return <2.0*fraction, 1.0, 0.0>; }
else { return <
1.0, 1.0 - 2.0*(fraction - 0.5), 0.0>; }

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Illusion of Privacy

Because scripting forces you to understand the "details" of how Second Life works, it sometimes reveals that more is possible than one might previously have thought.

"Privacy" in Second Life is somewhat of an illusion, especially when compared to real life. (Although, privacy in RL is also somewhat illusory as well.)

Most of us know that "talking" in SL can be heard by everybody within ~20 meters or so (and whisper within 10 meters, shout within 100 meters). Most of us also know that even if there are no other avatars within 20 meters, chat still might not be private, if there's a scripted object, a "bug" so to speak, within 20 meters that can "hear" your chat and then either record or relay it (although this is against LL's Terms of Service).

As far as I know, IM's are the only way to communicate privately in SL. There were some forum posts that even suggested that IM's are transmitted to and from the client program encrypted, so even packet sniffers should not easily be able to read chat.

But what about visual privacy? Unlike in RL, with a little facility, SL has camera controls that allow you to look around corners, through walls, etc. By default, this range is limited to about 50 meters, but that's still a lot of freedom. Sensors in SL can detect avatars within 96 meters, so some people think that if there are no other avatars within 96 meters, they have a semblance of "visual privacy."

I learned recently that this, too, is an illusion. It is possible to remove camera distance constraints completely. On quick testing, it seems that you can see anything within the same Sim, regardless of distance. You can also view the terrain / parcel boundaries many Sims away (but apparently not avatars or prims). So, even if there are no avatars within 96 meters, any avatar within the same Sim as you can see anything you are doing.

I think the bottom line is it would be good to assume that privacy (except, as far as we know, private IM's) in SL is purely an illusion.

How did I stumble upon these issues? Well, I've continued to play with my avatar sensor + radar HUD. It evolved because although I love my MystiTool, knowing simply distance to avatars seemed limiting, so I wrote the HUD radar.

But then I thought that only having relative position information was also limiting. If you were trying to find a friend you were following, and had gotten separated, wouldn't it be nice to be able to have a quick glimpse at their surroundings, to try to get oriented?

So, I updated the HUD / AV radar so that if you clicked on an avatar radar "blip", the script would take control of your camera and move it to a few meters from the avatar, pointing at them. Even at this point, the thought about privacy issues made me uncomfortable, so I hard-coded into the script a 5 second maximum "look time". But, this is a purely arbitrary limit.

Of course, I'm always tweaking and experimenting, and trying to see how far I can push something... So, I then learned about movement controls, and looked at some freely available scripts, and found that you could also very easily have the camera respond to your movement controls, to look around. But, I initially hit the 50 meter camera distance limit.

But, then I found that the 50 m limit is also arbitrary, and easily removed it.

Well, now I have an HUD / avatar radar that detects any avatar within 96 meters, allow clicking on a radar blip to move the camera to them, and then freely control the camera at its new position. So much for visual privacy in SL.

I'm sure some people will consider all this essentially public knowledge, but it was a minor revelation to me.

I still want to release my avatar radar HUD, but think it might be best to release it in a crippled form, with only quick-glimpse capability and without camera movement controls. But, it still makes me uncomfortable.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

LandScanner v1.0

LandScanner v1.0 is an avatar-attached multi-purpose tool performing functions ranging from prim-counting and parcel analysis, to sim-wide land-ownership and terrain evaluation. It is highly configurable and able to provide information across multiple parcels in multiple Sims with minimal user intervention.

LandScanner v1.0 available now at SL Exchange and SL Boutique, and will be available very soon in-world.

  • for each parcel, LandScanner reports:
    • parcel name, description, and size
    • parcel owner (avatar name and key) and group (key)
    • parcel prim counts
      • total prims by category (owner, group, other, selected, temp on rez)
      • if you own the land parcel, lists number of prims used by avatar name
    • parcel flags (i.e., fly, scripts, landmarks, terraform, damage, create objects, access group, ban list, land pass list, spatialized sound, push restriction)

  • for each Sim, LandScanner reports:
    • all avatars (names and keys) and groups (keys) that own land in that sim
    • maximal and minimal terrain elevations
    • approximate percentage of sim terraformable to water
    • calculate the average "slopiness" of the terrain in the sim, a degree of how un-flat the Sim is
    • region flags (i.e., damage, fixed sun, block terraform, sandbox, collisions, physics, fly, telehub, push restriction)
    • entire lists of sims can be cut and pasted from the Linden Lab "Auctions" page, for convenient teleportation to and analysis of upcoming sims

  • completely flexible configuration, via a notecard, to specify:
    • as many parcels, in as many different sims, as desired
    • whether whole-sim terrain analysis should be performed
    • whether whole-sim land ownership analysis should be performed
    • whether parcel flags and region flags should be displayed

  • output to owner chat, allowing copy / paste from the chat history

How to use the LandScanner:
  • wear the LandScanner as an attachment
  • right-click the LandScanner and choose Edit
    • navigate to the Contents Tab
    • double-click the notecard "scan program" to open it
  • edit the contents of the notecard "scan program" as desired
    • see the Notecard Configuration section and sample notecards below
    • save the notecard
  • close the notecard window and edit window
  • touch the attached LandScanner to start!

Notecard configuration:

  • sample notecards, from very simple to complex, are included below
  • LandScanner starts at the top of the notecard, and works its way down
  • blank lines are ignored
  • all characters after a '/' character in a line are ignored (helpful for comments)

  • SIM~simname, or simname (#,#)... (the format of the LL Auction page)
    • if not currently in the sim "simname", will offer teleport to that sim
    • once arrived, will execute any whole-sim analysis desired

  • PARCEL~x,y~comment
    • will analyze the parcel at the coordinates in the current sim
    • "comment" is an optional comment that will be in the report
    • the report will note if the prim allotment is exceeded
    • if comment ends with "|###", "###" will be taken as a maximal prim count (rather than the LL-assigned max prim count, based on parcel area)

    • all subsequent Sims in the notecard program have terrain analysis done if TRUE, or not, if FALSE

    • all subsequent Sims in the notecard program have land owner cataloging done if TRUE, or not, if FALSE

    • all subsequent Sims and Parcels in the notecard program will have Sim and Parcel flags reported if TRUE, or not, if FALSE

  • SCAN~## (default 8 meters)
    • sets the scan distance in whole-sim analysis to "##" meters
    • ## = 4 meters will be a completely accurate but slow scan (all 4,096 4x4 meter possible parcels will be analyzed)
    • ## = 8 meters will be 4x faster

  • DELAY~## (default 7.5 seconds)
    • set the waiting time allowed to return an avatar name from a UUID key to ## seconds
    • set higher for more accuracy or laggy sims

Sample Notecards:

  • Goal: check prim counts in 2 parcels located at <40,50> and <70,90> within the sim "ThisLand". If you own the land and are renting parcels out, this will report prim-usage by avatar, for each parcel.

  • Same as above, but with optional comment and 234 as specified prim limit. Useful if you've allowed a "double-prim allowance" on your parcel.
    PARCEL~40,50~comment about a plot|234
    PARCEL~70,90~another comment|234

  • Same as above, but then teleport to the sim AnotherLand, and check another parcel. Great if you are renting out parcels in multiple sims.
    PARCEL~40,50~comment about a plot|234
    PARCEL~70,90~another comment|234


  • Same as above, but also include parcel flags for the parcels in AnotherLand, and after checking the parcels, check a high-resolution sim-wide owner analysis of the sim GooberVille. Finding all owners of land in GooberVille may facilitate forming a Sim Landowners Group, or identifying people who might wish to buy or sell land within the Sim.
    PARCEL~40,50~comment about a plot|234
    PARCEL~70,90~another comment|234



  • Same as above, but finally, do a lower resolution terrain analysis (without flags or owner lists) of a set of Sims cut and pasted from the Linden Labs Auction page. A very quick way to get a sense of which new Sims may have waterfront potential.
    PARCEL~40,50~comment about a plot|234
    PARCEL~70,90~another comment|234



    Mills Haven (128,128) Mature 65504m 2h 23m US$2,751.00
    Ottewell (128,128) Mature 65536m 2h 24m US$2,751.00
    Malvern (128,128) Mature 65536m 2h 24m US$2,732.00
    Peacock Park (128,128) PG 60656m 2h 25m US$2,539.00
    Laurier (128,128) Mature 65536m 2h 37m US$2,731.00
    Granville (128,128) PG 60544m 2h 37m US$2,501.00
    Maplegrove (128,128) Mature 60144m 2h 41m US$2,632.00
    Granada (128,128) PG 62944m 2h 41m US$2,601.00

  • As you can see, notecard scanning programs can be as simple or as complex as you want

  • recommend being in "fly" mode, at an altitude at least 50 meters above ground
    • "no-script" zones do not apply, when high enough over the ground

  • however, Sims with defined "telehubs" may force you to no-script ground levels, so you might have to manually fly back up
    • if your scanner program seems to stop, make sure you are not in no-script territory

  • inter-sim teleport is not possible via the LSL scripting language without any user intervention, so you will have to click the "Teleport" button when moving between sims

  • how "fine" the sim-wide scan depends on how accurate you want the results to be
    • the minimum size of a parcel is 4 x 4 meters (frequently used for those 16 sq m ad spam lots), so if you want to be sure to detect these, you will want a "SCAN" fineness of 4 meters
      • will catalog EVERY owner of land in the sim
    • scanning every 8 meters will be 4x faster, and will catch every parcel greater than or equal to 8 x 8 meters
      • will catalog almost every owner of land in the sim
    • scanning every 16 meters will be 16x faster than the 4 meter scan
      • good for a quick terrain analysis

  • the "DELAY" time will determine how accurate assignment of owner to an avatar vs. a group will be
    • there is no LSL function at present to determine for sure whether a UUID key belongs to a group
    • there is no way to retrieve the group name via a UUID key
    • instead, LSL forces you to try to find an avatar name linked with a UUID key, and if no response is returned, we assume it was a UUID to a group
    • the "DELAY" time is how many seconds the script will wait for an avatar name to be returned, before giving up and assuming that the UUID is for a group
    • set the "DELAY" time higher for more accuracy, or in laggy sims

  • LSL allows checking of current ground height and terrain slope, but not what the original pre-terraforming levels are
    • therefore, estimates of percent of sim able to be converted to water may be inaccurate
    • for example, imagine an entire sim with an original elevation throughout of 4.1 meters which is then maximally terraformed downwards to an elevation of 0.1 meters; when the LandScanner runs, it will erroneously report that the entire land mass is within terraforming distance of water, although in actuality, none of it will be

  • LSL does NOT support checking to see whether a parcel is for sale, for what price, or allowing automated buying
    • the "Landbots" that you may have heard of use custom-written clients to access SL

  • if Linden Labs updates LSL to allow for any of the above issues to be dealt with, LandScanner will be updated and distributed to all purchasers

Friday, March 9, 2007

Island plans shelved for now

Ah well, there doesn't seem to be enough interest in sharing a private island for me to be able to relatively safely proceed with those plans. No worries -- perhaps some day in the future.

While browsing around though, I did find a really cool looking freeware (Mac) tool, Backhoe. It allows for easy editing of the 13-channel .RAW topography description of private islands. It looks very cool, so maybe I'll play around with it, for use in the future ;)

If the private island project ever did have enough interest, it'd be fun to easily custom-create the terrain, so that everybody involved could have exactly the sort of terrain they'd like. Fun! Doesn't it look cool?

(from Zarf Vantongerloo's Backhoe webpage)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Island dreams, continued

I'm still dreaming of acquiring an Island, as a shared place to live. The idea is to gather together a group of like-minded individuals in a residential / low-impact commercial environment with no theme, but the general consensus that we would try to all get along, not engaging in activities that impinged on the enjoyment of one another (no major lag-inducers, clubs, casinos, malls, camp chair farms, giant rotating for sale signs, etc).

If enough people could be gathered, I would be willing to pay the upfront costs of acquiring an island, and residents would pay only the equivalent mainland tier prices for 2,048 sq m ($15/month) or 4,096 sq m ($25/month) plots of land.

Here's what the "default islands" look like, from Linden Lab's "Land: Island's" information page. However, the cool thing is that you can custom design every aspect of the island, as well, submitting an appropriately designed terrain file. Still, the default islands are a good place to start:

1) a nice coastline and interesting terrain, but I wonder whether the interior parcels might get a little dull (although they'd have the advantage of altitude)

2) maximizes land available, but is rather dull

3) very promising! the edge parcels having ocean, but the interior ones get a nice lake, as well as what looks like a good amount of terrain variety

4) also nice, with the bays and interesting terrain, but people with parcels on the western edge might not want quite so much water

My personal tastes run towards having access to water, gentle rolling green hills, and perhaps, if possible, a steep drop-off someplace for a bit of a dramatic look.

Although terraforming would be available, it'd be nice if the island started with a general terrain format that would be acceptable enough that terraforming changes would be more "tweaks" and less "drastic," because drastic changes might impact on neighbor's build plans.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Sensors + HUD's: an SL radar

Despite 2+ months of messing with scripting, I've never written a script that used Sensors or tried my hand at HUD's (heads-up display). Yesterday, I decided to finally give it a shot.

I really like my MystiTool HUD, and it has a very helpful feature of showing all avatars within range, and the distance to them. But, it's still a bit of a hassle when you're trying to find someone, because it doesn't give the direction ( although there is a feature to send particles towards a target).

So, here's my first attempt at an avatar radar:

It basically scans within a specified range for all avatars and then displays their position on a radar-like HUD, in a top-down representation. The wearer of the HUD is in the center of the circle. Avatars that are straight ahead are at a 12 o'clock; behind are at 6 o'clock, etc. If the wearer rotates, the positions of all the target "blips" rotate around the HUD.

I thought it worked out pretty well for a first attempt!

There are a bunch of tweaks I'd like to implement:
  • take the text height information out of the blips, and change the blips to squares vs. upward and downward pointing triangles to represent targets that are at the same height, above, or below the user
  • re-scale the HUD. Right now, it's a "linear" scale, just like a normal map. Usually you are most interested in positions of avatars within 20 meters. If they are farther than that, relative position is good enough. So, I'd like most of the HUD area to be used for targets within 20 meters, and then the outermost rim of the HUD to be for all targets from 20 to 96 meters. This should decluster clumping of the avatars, and all the text info.
  • click on a blip to track ONLY that target (reduces sensor lag, and declutters the screen); click again and show all targets again
  • when tracking only a single target, display more information about them (perhaps the llRequestAgentData, but that could be a bit slow)
  • click the HUD to minimize it (get it out of the way), and again to maximize it
  • it'd be easy to add the option to scan for not just avatars, but physical / non-physical objects, scripted objects, etc.
  • add in a nifty submarine "ping-ping-PING" sound, as well as the option for sending griefer missiles at the targets (just kidding!)
It also amuses me when instead of wearing it as an HUD, it can be placed on the ground, and you can watch the little green blips moving around. Can anyone say "Mischief managed!" for a Harry Potter-esque Marauder's Map?

Kind of fun to work on something besides LoopRez for a bit!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Land -- wouldn't it be nice...

Land in Second Life -- it's an interesting situation. Perhaps the best option is to purchase a private island, shared amongst friends. Why?

Well, thanks to a very generous person, I've recently tasted land ownership for the first time. Although I am VERY fond of my 512 sq m plot, the 117 prims allotted are just not enough to comfortably furnish a place to live. Still, I'd like to show off what a few friends and I have done with the place. Here's a pic:

But, now, not surprisingly, I want more space. I've notecarded my 3 adjacent neighbors asking if they might be interested in selling, but no responses thus far. And in the long run, the people in the sim trying to get extortion money with their 16 sq m plots with giant, rotating eyesores will still be there.

I've looked into land for sale elsewhere on the mainland, and even educated myself a bit on how LL land auctions work, for entire Sims as well as parcels. All of which makes me wonder whether the best option is to get together with other like-minded individuals, and going all-out and purchasing a private island.

Rentals I would definitely consider for the short-term, but in the long-term, it doesn't really make financial sense. Owning for long enough should provide savings.

Mainland small parcels
  • at historical high prices now, generally over L$13 per square meter
  • historically, just half a year ago, land could be obtained for L$6 / sq m
  • a "quality" parcel (protected water-front), might run to L$20-30 per square meter; this gets REALLY expensive
  • at risk of plummeting in value, if the rumors of LL's stepping up sim releases are true
  • no matter what the neighborhood looks like currently, you might always end up with "land griefers" putting up their ugly signs, or starting up a giant camp-chair driven casino

Mainland entire sim auction purchase
  • because a quality parcel can run up to L$30 per square meter, I wondered whether a better way to obtain a "quality" parcel might be to purchase an ENTIRE sim at auction, keep the nice parcel for my own use, and then sell off the rest, hoping to not take on too much of a loss (i.e., selling off parcels for L$, and then converting to USD)
  • the goal would NOT be to become a baby land baron, but merely to acquire the small parcel for a net cost that would be less than trying to purchase it separately
  • here's how the math sort of worked out:
    • mainland sims are now being auctioned at ~$3,000+ USD
    • tier for an entire 65,536 sq m sim for a month $195 USD
    • exchange fees to recoup L$ to USD transfer 3.5%
    • current exchange rate ~L$270 per USD
    • $3,195 USD = L$ 862,650; increase that by 3.5% = L$ 892,842
    • divide by 65,536 sq m in a Sim, means you'd need to sell the whole thing off at an average of L$ 13.6 per sq m, just to break even
  • this REALLY makes me respect the Land Barons, who must be working at really slim profit margins (granted, their $195 USD of tier is split amongst many Sims, not just one)
  • with this tight a margin, I could imagine not being able to sell all of the rest of the Sim, and getting stuck with additional months of tier fees
  • sounded rather risky
  • and even if it succeeded, I might end up living next to a giant lag-inducing casino, under a neon sky of rotating porn advertising

Private Island

  • when mainland sims are auctioning for $3,000+ USD, it starts to make the startup cost of a private island at ~$1,700 sound almost reasonable
    • also, unlike the current mainland sim auction prices, I'd be really surprised if LL dropped prices of Private Islands, given that they've just recently increased them; this makes it perhaps a bit more stable of an "investment", as its value should not drop precipitously
  • add that the complete control you have over what types of neighbors will be allowed, and the advantage of increased terraforming flexibility, and it sounds like a better guarantee of long-term pleasant surroundings
  • however, monthly island fees are $295 USD/month, compared to $195 USD/month for a mainland sim's worth of tier
  • and, as an island owner, you are left with the bill, no matter what. You can't really "sell" off parts of the island; in the end, the island owner is stuck with the monthly bill.
  • but it's still an enticing thought. How might this work?

I think the way it could work would be if a group of people with similar overall land desires grouped together and shared an island. Because LL will only recognize one island owner, there has to be somebody willing to take the risk of island ownership.

What I would envision, ideally, would not be a themed community, like the wonderful sims of of Caledon, but more like a Mainland sim where gross inconsideration and eyesores were disallowed. A pseudo-mainland sim, free of ugly signs, laggy casinos, griefers...

So, suppose I was willing to foot the $1,700 bill for a private island, retaining sole ownership of it (seeing as LL only recognizes one island owner)?

And suppose I knew enough people in SL, who felt the same way about just wanting a nice place to live, to rent from me? At a rent enough to offset the monthly $295/month island fee, as well as to slowly offset the $1,700 initial investment?

Mainland tiers: are $15/month for 2,048 sq m; or $25/month for 4,096 sq m. I think many people who want a "nice" place to live are looking at this amount of space.

So, suppose the rent was simply EQUAL to what people would pay in mainland tier:
  • if there were 32 people renting 2,048 sq m plots at $15/month --> $480 USD/month
  • if there were 16 people renting 4,096 sq m plots at $25/month --> $400 USD/month
I kind of doubt a private island could be kept at FULL occupancy, and it'd probably be nice to have a nice central plot of public area, so rent income would be less than that. Plus, rent would probably be paid in L$, so there would be the 3.5% fee to convert to USD (which is how LL accepts Island monthly fees).

Anyone renting under what I envision would have all the benefits of Mainland ownership, and more. They would be able to terraform beyond the +/- 4 meters height change. They would not have to pay the purchase price of currently overpriced mainland.

They would live, without the fear of their neighborhood becoming a horrific laggy eyesore. BUT, they would lose freedom -- need to agree to some basic level of covenant.

Covenant would likely be something like:
  • mixed residential / low impact commercial
  • play nice
  • no horrible rotating signs
  • no maxing out sim capacity with avatars or laggy scripts; i.e.,
    • no camp chair farms
    • no very busy clubs / casinos
  • no terraforming / building heights that would ruin a neighbor's experience
    • probably some sort of "distance to border" / "height" ratio
With such a vague covenant, this really would depend on people "playing nice" and not trying to abuse the system. As such, it would probably work best with a group of friends, and friends-of-friends, as opposed to bringing together complete strangers.

Anyone else interested?

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Comments on LoopRez Deluxe

This is what makes it all worth it :)

  • OMG this is a very very big help for rush orders. Typically yes I will take the time to meticulously put each prim in the proper place but sometimes, some jobs don't requre so much detail. I think this is great, Thanks for this great tool - NG

  • Some days ago I got the LoopRezzer - its a wonderfull tool ,never made a skirt easy like this. -UD

  • Your free version of this little gem was great this was even better. I was hunt for something that free me up from the tedious task of tweaking numbers and let me get to the core of designing, this dose the trick. I foucs on texturing my strength and do on the fly adjustment much as would as if I were really sewing with real fabric. (I am master level costume designer in RL) -Q

  • I just purchased this item and I have to say I'm very excited about it's ease of use and how quickly you can make a prim skirt! I look forward to a full wardwrobe!!
    Thanks for making something so very helpful!!! - anonymous

  • great working tool,and at half the price of other's that do the same exact thing.....a bargain.Many thanks for making this tool. - KA

  • This product is an absolute MUST for dress/clothes makers.
    I have arthritis & it helps me immensley.
    Not so much fiddling about. I can now concentrate on making good clothes in great time.
    Thanx so much Ged for coming up with this fantastic gadget :) - BS

  • I bought this item on about February 15, 2007 for about L$2200. I actually already had another prim skirt maker, which is quite good, that cost more than twice as much as the LoopRez. I like the LoopRez better. The first advantage of the the LoopRez is that it has copy permission so I'm not nervous all the time about the possibility of accidentally deleting it or messing it up. Also I find that the center ball makes it easier to adjust a skirt properly on an avatar. The the Parameter Template DropScript works great too. I'm very pleased with the skirts I've made using this tool. I recommend it for making prim skirts. -KK

  • This is a must-have product for the beginning dressmaker, and even for experienced dressmakers.

    I'd previously tried the ###### and been dissatisfied with it's functionality, so was hesitant to buy another product. But, after trying the personal version, I was completely sold on this script and invested in the commercial version.

    Even if you like to modify your skirts afterward (which isn't necessarily a requirement when using this product), the LoopRez Deluxe will save you hours of time creating your baseline skirt.

    Thank you for taking the time to create this product, and for making it so flexible and easy to use!! -RD

  • I just bought your LoopRezDeluxe, and I just want to say that I love it. You're a true genius! ;) -SS

  • Hello Ged, I just bought your LoopRez Deluxe and I love it -NS

  • I am very sorry to bother you with a direct IM , but I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying the LoopRez Generator , its a fantastic invention :-) Thank you very much. -ID

  • I just had to tell you thank you for making the Looprez deluxe commercial. it is so cool. I hope you continue to make more cool items. thank you again. -KS

  • Hey, it's cool, hon! I just got the LoopRez Deluxe yesterday, and for the first time, I've been able to make clothes! -LC

  • From a happy customer: Thank you ever so much for developing the Free LoopRez script. I've played about with it, and loved it. It made my life so much easier in SL! You made my day when I discovered it. I've treated myself to your commercial edition and I look forward to having lots of fun with it. Thanks again! -UP

  • thanks for making such a wonderfully useful script! - RH

  • Ged, your device is simply fantastic. I picked it up today and have been tinkering to get the hang of it. Having made panel skirts 'by hand' before I nearly fell off my chair when I saw there was a way to automate the process! Thank you so much! -MC

  • I'd like to ... thank you so much for proceeding with your plans and releasing the LoopRez Deluxe. As an owner of both products now, I can say with all honesty that there simply aren't any improvements to your product that could be suggested based on his. The LoopRez is far superior in every way. - BD

  • I love your LoopRez!!!! I just took the class on it - IE

  • I just wanted to stop by and say "Thank You!" for your looprez script. Really, you cannot imagine how tedious making a flexidress was before this. - VT

(If anybody does NOT want me to share their comments with others, let me know, and I'll happily remove it.)