Second Life updates

Linden Labs has promised some big changes are coming to Second Life. The ones that have generated the most hubbub seem to be related to the mobile client that will finally bring SL to smartphones and tablets, and PBR (Physically-Based Rendering (Sorry, Pabst)) which aims to make everything in-world look more realistic. These updates promise great things coming up for SL, but among all the new features coming down the line, the one that excites me most is the Inventory update.

I know it may seem boring compared to the other updates, but this update will solve a lot of issues related to the inventory. In SL, the inventory is a collection of items an avatar owns or has. For those of us who love contributing to the virtual economy in Second Life, the inventory can grow very large over time. In the inventory, most items are in folders, but the folders all look the same, and going by a folder’s name it’s often impossible to recall what something looks like. With this update, it’s possible to assign an image to a folder, showing what the contents are. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this update.

There are a few drawbacks, however, though since this is being beta-tested, maybe they’ll change in the production versions. One potential drawback is that the images have to be square, and I think there may be a size limit. In the beta-test version of the Firestorm Viewer I’m using, when adding an image to a folder, there is some wording that implies the image can be a max of 256 x 256 pixels, but I’ve had good luck with adding images that are 1024 x 1024 pixels. Regardless, the image has to be square. 

Somewhat related to that is that only some vendors include square images with their products. A few of them include product images that aren’t square, so at least they’re making an effort, but more often than not, the vendor neglects to include any product images at all. Annoyingly, some vendors include an image of their corporate logo, but not the product. 

Lately I’ve been going through and finding the products that have square images included, and assigning them to the appropriate folders, but this seems a bit like busy work. The real work is in creating the images for the products that lack them. This is tedious, but I’ve found a bit of a shortcut. I’m also making images of my Outfits (see below) and making those often requires me to take photos of products lacking images. For example, in the image above, I made images that can be used for the hair, the head, the romper, and the heels. It would be better if the vendors included the images on their own, but this method is a good workaround.

Adding images to Outfits is sort of weird. In most cases, when adding an image to a folder I add the actual image to the folder, but because of the way Outfits work in SL, you can’t add something that isn’t worn, if I understand correctly. The workaround for this was to an Outfits folder in my Photo Album folder. It works well, and is sort of nice having images of all the outfits in one spot, but I still sort of wish I could add the images to the Outfits folders themselves.

A few years ago I began making images of my Outfits, but wasn’t really happy with them. They were just plain, against a white backdrop. This update got me thinking about how to create better images. Basically, I’ve been taking multiple photos in the viewer, then using Glimpse to edit them together. The black borders give them a bit of a retro split-screen feel. I’m not an expert with Glimpse in any way, so it’s nice to be able to practice with it a bit. (Sigh. It looks like Glimpse is no longer maintained. I could use Gimp, but maybe it’s time to switch to Krita)

If you’re interested in previewing some of these features, join the Phoenix-Firestorm Preview Group in-world. The preview editions aren’t ready for the public yet, so they’re only made available to people who join the group and agree to do beta testing. 

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