Yay! Voice in SL! Soon! Having used Skype while SLing, it’s soooo much faster than typing it changes the whole experience, for the better. Roll on!

SL textures live from a webcam, on a Mac

There’s a neat trick you can do with Mac OS X 10.4 and one of the free developer tools, Quartz Composer. You can create a movie that uses the built-in iSight camera to show a picture of you on a remote web page. You can even create something a little fancier. Of course, all data remains local, so there’s no security risk.

But here’s a variation.

1. Set the same webcam-enabled movie as the media texture for your land.

Now you can see a board with your face on it in SL. That’s OK, nobody else can. The movie is client-side only.

2. Set some part of your avatar’s skin, say, your head, to use the media texture.

Now you can see your own face on your avatar’s head. Only you, so far.

3. Save the skin as a new item.

4. The picture won’t update until you move the sliders, so keep jiggling them until you’re happy.

5. When you’re finally in the right position, hold really still, then press Save and Close.

The texture will now “bake”. Other people can now see your picture on your avatar. You won’t be able to save it; next time you edit appearance it’ll be wiped.

So, if you have a Mac and want to check this out, head to my land in Caldbeck (218,26,40) and press play on the movie texture. The movie will play onto the Default Media Texture from the Library. Only one movie can show the iSight at one time, so close down the previous links if they’re still open.

For everyone on PCs, and because nobody believes you unless it’s on YouTube, here it is on YouTube. Music is original — enjoy! The movie is CC-licensed.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License.

New features… please?

Since I have more ideas than the voting system is going to let me suggest, I’ll suggest them quietly here.

It would be great if the texture tinting system could do something other than darken. Something like the symbol tinting functionality in Flash would be great, but something simpler would be fine. So… replace the current single color choice with color and texture strength. Default that to 100%, and at 100% it works as it does now: full strength colour change, white being no change to the texture. At the other end of the scale, the texture fades out, so that you can use a texture as a lighter tint.

What else? Scrubby sliders. They exist in the latest Photoshop and Motion, but not many people use them. Instead of using the little buttons or an existing slider, click on the label of a control (like opacity) and drag from side to side. Finer control without clutter. SL could really benefit from quick, accurate adjustment like this.

Freak out! CopyBot’s about!

SL just freaked out. More info: check the official Linden response: Use of CopyBot and Similar Tools a ToS Violation, or Tat’s thoughts on the currency reaction, the word from the source and an extremely erudite post from Ordinal Malaprop (scroll down).

It’s just copying, people. It’s really hard to lock down stuff that needs to be unlocked *so you can see it*, that exists in clear form on your machines. The protocols are open, packets can be sniffed, etc. Textures have been potentially thievable for months now. This is the same for objects, but not contents nor scripts. Object copying is not even new; Jeffrey Gomez’s Prim Mirror script did this many months ago.

If you’ve ever seen a picture on a website, you’ve been able to take your own copy for your own use or redistribution. This is the same thing; sometimes fair use, sometimes encouraged, often not, but it can’t and shouldn’t be forbidden. Any web design I make public can be stolen, yet that doesn’t stop me from selling my designs.

Even if it’s all locked down, someone can just sit around and recreate your work by hand. Fake handbags in the real world aren’t going away. All the attempts in the world to stop piracy just screw over everyone, like the DVD region coding debacle that continues to decline (e.g. my new laptop DVD drive won’t read out of region discs at all, not with VLC, not ripping, not flashable). Like the forthcoming nonsense with HDCP on both high-def disc formats. Like software activation tied to companies that no longer exist or Windows licenses that can’t be transferred. You can’t stop piracy technically without pissing off a lot of people. You *can* find pirates, shut down their accounts and delete their assets.

Finally, to all the people currently worried because “my stuff is able to be stolen”: have you ever copied a music track you didn’t own? Run some less-than-legal software? Now that you’re on the other side of the fence, do you have sympathy for the RIAA? They don’t deserve it. Just relax, recognise that some piracy (or imitation) is inevitable, and take it as a sign that you’ve made something people like enough to copy. Now make something better.


So Second Life has hit a million residents. It’s a milestone on the way to SL becoming the 3D social WWW. Places like The Register can mock and scorn as much as they like, but they’re missing the point. Did they see the WWW in 1994 and dismiss it all as being a pointless waste of time? Sure, Bianca’s Smut Shack served no higher purpose, but that didn’t make the web pointless. And sure, you can walk around in SL as a furry penis if you want to, but that doesn’t make SL pointless.

Of course you can find some spectacularly pointless stuff in SL. But that’s true of the web, and true of any medium. Enjoy the weeding process.

Adventures in RL

As Tateru says, Sunday night saw a Brisbane SL RL get together, featuring the RL people behind Tateru, Sladen, Lucy and me. (Sorry the circumstances weren’t more festive for Tat.)

Yes, we all had a good time. Yes, it was distinctly odd to make an RL connection to the people behind the avatars. I’ve known Tateru since I rezzed, just over a year ago, and it’s great to be able to extend a friendship (and make new ones) beyond the screen. To talk at normal human speed instead of finger speed. To be able to simply have a chat to a person sitting just *there*, because they’re not drowning in Live Help IMs.

Sure, we can’t teleport, fly or ride hoverbikes in RL, but… hell. It’s REAL life. Much as I love my second life, the sound of clinking drinks is always better in real life. Cheers, everyone. See you on the other side.


Sorry to be the bearer of sad news; Tat says it better. One of the first people who I saw regularly in SL, a touchstone and a mentor, has passed away. RIP Ginny Gremlin and the real person behind the avatar. You were appreciated. You made a difference.