Friday, 28 May 2010

The one word IM...

Hi all...

You know... there's like eight or nine unfinished posts associated with this blog... I start writing them and get sidetracked... or don't feel I can continue and actually publish my thoughts; but this is one I actually intend to get on out there. Maybe I shouldn't because its a highly personal opinion that some may be offended by, but its been something playing on my mind for a while...

I own a business in SL... a little hair place that if you're reading this I'm sure you know about... and naturally I get customer IMs for various things - missed deliveries, inquiries of various sorts... that sort of thing... I also get a hell of a lot of IMs that run along this line...


That's the complete communication... really... that's everything. In fact I'd go so far as to say I get as many of these as I do content-containing messages from people I don't know.

Naturally, I've gone to a lot of effort to chase these people up and find out what they want - I want to give a good impression of customer service (even if there's actually little I can do about certain problems), and am a little subservient at the best of times, and like to avoid ill-feeling and conflict...

One would assume that maybe its people who are not overly au fait with business dealings in SL - the new users, or the casuals; but this is very rarely the case. Most new users who approach me with questions or comments tend to be essay-writers - going into depth about what's up, what they want or whathaveyou. I very rarely have to chase anyone less than 100 days old in-world.

What I have observed, with very few exceptions... in fact I can only think of one off the top of my head; is that the use of an unsubstantiated 'hello' as an opener is little more than a powerplay. It is designed to throw the ball into the recipient's court so they are obliged to chase the original sender to discover what's up... It automatically puts them on the back foot.

I check the profiles of ALL people who open comms in this way; and from what I've observed, they more often than not state in their profiles that they are naturally dominant, have SL slaves, or SL families in which they are a parent. Presumably this means that they're used to being in control in all their SL dealings and possibly get some sense of self-validation from the merchant having to chase them.

Even so, IM chains that begin with an unsubstantiated 'hello' require more effort to resolve and take longer - often becoming drawn out over two or three days as before I or any merchant can action a solution, we have to go through the steps of chasing the person to actually get a jist of what's the matter. Naturally this reflects on the "speed of customer service" so not only do I feel its taken more of my time than it should, the person at the other end is likely to be less satisfied with the outcome because its taken so much longer to resolve... While I can turn around a "missed delivery" IM in 30 seconds or less without another word, when I have to chase someone about what's the matter, I'm usually adding another day or two to the cycle... sometimes longer if they're a weekend only player and IM me on a Sunday night.

I honestly wish it wasn't quite so obvious, and I know its probably a very bad idea to judge people based on the use of five simple letters in an IM - but I've dealt with around six hundred of these over my time in SL, and I have some innate ability when it comes to pattern spotting and trend analysis.

Now... I'm never going to be one to deliberately ignore IMs - the impetus to chase them for me is too high - but when I go into a situation like this, I'm instantly mistrustful of the person at the other end's motives...

What was so secret that they couldn't come out and tell me directly? In fact, if they spent their time looking up my information to send me the 'hello' in the first place, wouldn't have been more time efficient for both them AND me to just say 'hello - I bought x from you and it didn't arive' or 'hello - I was wondering if you're doing custom work' or ' hello - I have a mall in an RP sim that I was wondering if you'd like a booth at' or whatever, rather than let it hang on a greeting and a long and awkward silence because, of course, the 'hello' IMs always seem to arrive in the wee small hours (local time) when I'm asleep and actually AFK, so by the time I do get to replying, they sender is offline instead.


OK... apologies. I'm going to shut up whining and cut the ranting now. I guess, to cut a long story short, what I'm saying is that I wish people would just come clean and tell me what they want when they get in touch with me... or ANY designer for that matter. This is a regular bugbear from what I've observed on Plurk, in forums and from personal communications with a number of builders, pose and clothing makers, artists and so on in pretty much any area of SL. Some designers and store owners choose not to respond and that's their perogative. I can't see myself doing that, but it seems ironic to me in a world where everything is based on communication, that people choose NOT to when looking for help...

Just saying... oh... and 'hello'


Monday, 3 August 2009

Hair Fair and other shows on SL - One method to combat Lag?

OK... this is going to be a little contravertial, but to be honest it's been grating on my mind for too long not to present it to you all for your comments and analysis. Now before I begin, I'm just going to add that these are not solely my own ideas. Alice and I talked about this for hours, throwing things into the pot - but seeing as I have two blogs, to her zero; it's up to me to post our consensus opinion.

Furthermore, let me stipulate that I have nothing but respect for all those involved in Hair Fair... I am merely using it as an example for two reasons:

1. It's got a reputation for being laggy as anything. You just have to read the blog posts on it

2. It's the event I have most experience of. Unlike many designers there, I solely make hair; so I'm not going to be in attendance at a skins or clothing fair. It's worth noting though that a hair show is particularly primmy and texture heavy, so others may not suffer quite so badly.

Alice and I spent a LOT of time working towards Hair Fair this year. I made the styles... she created and assembled the booth. So we both spent a lot of time going around the site itself, and seeing the handywork that others put in. Alice even went as far as to visit every store and collect demos... so spent HOURS wandering around the sims, being hit with the 'Lag' that such events are known for. Once the doors were open, I barely visited - which I think is the case with most designers.

But anyway, despite the cries of "travel light" - most people who visited hair fair did not. Lag was pretty bad, despite restrictions on scripts and so on. The night before I was talking to Treebie Withnail and Booperkit Moseley... who was standing outside Treebie's store for a full ten minutes commenting that she couldn't see a thing. yet she said she could see both Treebie and myself. This got me thinking...

Objects in SL only rez when certain things come about - parameters relating to size need to load in... then textures, sculpt maps and gods know what else. Basically Booperkit's problem was that due to the sheer weight of objects; each textured differently, sized differently, and in many cases with different sculpt maps.

In short, there was so much information being piped to her computer that in the end it held up its hands and said "screw it".

Now here's the thing. Damien Fate created as standard structure and set of sculpts, textures and alike for the booths, with the statement "stick to these as far as you can." Now... the set was pretty limited and the vast majority of designers, wanting to express themselves, bypassed a lot fo the supplied content in favour of their own. Well OK... great... but this meant that for every booth there were different textures and maps to load in.

OK Math time (for that is, after all what I'm known for...)

If I were to stand in the middle of the four Hair fair sims with a draw distance of around 364m EVERY booth in the park would be visible. If we make the assumption that each booth uses 3 512x512 textures for floor, walls and roof, a further five 512x512 textures for embellishments and 2 unique sculpt maps of 128x128 pixels, you already have 350Mb used up on your video card; before we even address the shops' contents.

Contents... vendors... hmm... well I have to admit, with my colorway selection I'm a pretty bad offender... but let's dissect shall we?

Ok here we go... you've got 36 128x128 textures for the double packs, six 256x128 textures for the hue packs, two 512x64 textures for the demo and complete bars. Add to this the three 512x512 images for the front fascia, side textures and the actual pic of the hair itself and you've got an additional 4Mb sat on your videocard for a single vendor of mine... although for secondary vendors, you just have a quarter meg overhead in the texture bank for the additional hair picture... so... five styles... five Mb.

Some obviously use fewer colors than I do, but in turn others... (mentioning no names) use 1024x1024 textures for hair pics and even vendors frontage. Either way... assuming 4 styles on average per shop, 125 shops and 1Mb requirement per vendor you're looking at 500Mb overall.. plus the 350Mb for the booths. 850Mb... and SL automatically limits graphics use to 512mb at once, even if you have a 2Gb videocard. In short with this texture density, to put it simply, what you're looking for ain't gonna load. What's worse, that's before we even consider avatars... freebie boxes... subscribeos... scenery and the rest.

In short, no matter what restrictions you put into place, you're rooted from square one.

Now... I hear what you're going to say next... "Yes, but who in their right mind attends an event of this magnitude with a massive draw disatance enabled?" or "Doesn't SL have some means of culling and occluding textures? Surely this helps?"... well yes... it does. BUT... even with a camera draw set to the minimum 64m, you're going to have a quarter sim (practically) within your draw range - which correlates to 10 stores insome format or another... plus with 50 avatars on the sim, assuming they're equally distributed across it, 12 are going to be close by. OK let's look at an avie... ;)

This is me, right now... packing an ARC of 2300 or therearound. Some have much higher... others much lower... but again, it comes down, in part, to textures. 3x1024x1024 for the skin, 1024x1024 for the undershirt, jacket and underpants and pants layers, 16 different 512x512 textures for jacket, buckles, bent loops, straps, hair (alpha and non-alphas) and boots (not seen) - and assorted sculpts - 8 of them, each 128x128 pixels - meaning that for my av to rez on your screen, the textures required account for 12Mb of your graphics card. OK... this is a pretty bad example, because to be honest, I am not going to a laggy sim kitted out like this... Although some people will. Furthermore it's certainly possible to create an ARC 1 avatar with eight or even ten 1024x1024 textures (plus eyes) in use... and all these textures will have to be downloaded somehow.

Regarding occlusion and the rest... avatars don't tend to stand still and for some reason seem (to me at least) take priority over downloading on surrounding prims... so ideally, the less of the surrounding, the better...

The trick would therefore be to reduce lag by limiting all these texture downloads as far as possible, while putting the onus on those participating to do what they can, rather than bullying visitors into de-primming... and sad to say,the simplest way I can see of doing thisis to use the central sims in little more than an indexing capacity. Get rid of the funny builds, cut back on the variety of texturs to a bare minimum and do away with any given theme. Working to an end with over 120 spoons in the mixing pot will result in lag.

So... Indexing area? Yeah... basically a bare sim, or group of sims, marked out at regular intervals with simple walls to create three sided display stands. Product photos (selling demos) and shop logos to be displayed ONLY, and MAYBE one or two freebie vendors. Also present, an inter-region teelporter, set in the floor that TPs those who sit on it straight to the main store of the designer, where the designers can go nuts embellishing their vendors to their own liking. Requisites at the store? Teleporter to the main index area and a TPer each the store prior to and following thiers. A 'Random' teleporter to another store could be included just to mix things up a bit.

Now... I know I've had trouble in the past with teleporters... so this would have to be checked, checked and triple checked ahead of time to determine whether it's a practical solution, but in the grand scheme, the benefits of a distributed system are enormous.

The four sims of Hair Fair 2009 could hold a maximum of 200 avatars simultaneously; as they were all required to be in the same place. The indexing area would have a limited accesibility, true, but each store could act as a starter point for the fair, allowing residents to take part, pick up from ANY location. In fact it would theoretically open a fair to one tenth of the active grid at present levels, if all sims were full.

There are of course pros and cons of this solution

- Faster download speeds for textures and less lag on the index sims
- Distributed server load for the event as a whole...which means
- Higher concurrency of participating residents
- Designers don't have to relocate styles after the event has finished
- Multitude of entry points into the events, catching those not already aware it's happening
- Less of a likely hood that a single region failing cound 'down' the experience for a large number of designers

- Dull sim (potentially) at the centre of it all
- Lack of theme throughout could make the event disjointed
- Harder for organisers to monitor vendors re: charity donations (more places to check)
- More disparate - overall experience for designers likely to be limited
- Smaller designers run more of a risk of being overlooked if people are capable of "doing the tour" without hitting the central location
- Central events may have to take place on a skybox above the venues (with their own textures)

OK... as is apparent the idea is not 100% bulletproof; but I offer it for discussion. Please tell me what you think...


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Going viral...

I did say when I started this blog it'd be sporadic... OK; I didn't expect it to be quite as sporadic as this... in fact in the last seven weeks a lot has happened. Easter was surreal... somewhat morbid in fact but I'm not going to talk about that. I was... but I figured it was something I ought to keep to myself; especially after my post on oversharing. Since then other things have happened. Numerous things; including the dates being released for the 2009 Hair Fair. Basically I could have gone into all manner of stuff that have half formed as blog posts in my head, but I chose not to and have been working... and working bloody hard, I'll have you know.

But this has stuck...

I've noted that in the last 28 hours, over 100 people have joined the update group. One every fifteen minutes... and I don't know why.

There was an article in a prominent freebie blog yesterday featuring my products... well... this isn't the first time, and last couple of times the impact was negligable. They posted a pic of the group freebie as it is now... but nothing untoward. In fact aside from saying what it was and suplying a slurl, no comment was made about it.

Generally, blog posts never seem to have a huge impact on group joins or sales figures... not that they aren't apprieciated... but the last spike was just 34 joins in a 24 hour period - so what's going on?

I wish I knew. Only that the people joining seem in the main to be either Italian or Portugese; and while my google-fu is pretty good, I cannot fathom why. My only thoughts are that people have got the freebies and are telling their friends... en masse. OK - there's a slight pisser insofar that the bulk of these people are subscribing without so much as trying on a demo of any of the other styles (which to me says they're after the freebie and little else) but this after a fashion is to be expected; particularly with the economic climate the way it is right now. Besides, I'd be a right diva claiming that people who picked up teh freebie were obliged to actually buy something. If that was inded the case I'd keep a list and circulate manually... but no; I don't.

These days, people have less to spend on luxuries; and no matter how you slice it SL, as a source of outflow, is pretty far down the chain of importance. and I admit, nobody actually NEEDS a virtual hairdo... so people aren't going to spend unless they have to... or really WANT to. I know full well that I'm unusual, in the sense that I'm a premie - I pay the $72.00 a year premium subs like around 90,000 other subscribers... but I don't own mainland land. The reason I have it is solely so that I *can* should I choose to; and so that I know I'm supporting - at least in a very minor way - the company that hosts the service that I am reliant on as a source of income.

I know I'm lucky that I can do that; and I know there are people out there who are reliant on freebies to make a go of things in SL - they simply couldn't put the money in; and I'm not going to begrudge them grabbing what they can. There's been a lot of bellyaching of late from both sides of the fence though... designers talking about how they're going to stop giving out freebies because some residents seem to feel its an entitlement vs the residents out there who; while they do collect and appreciate freebies, feel it's tarring people with the same brush to include regular shoppers with those who feel that it is their right to go through life without paying a cent.

You know what? this is the real world... even if it's a virtual one. Everybody has different motivations; and in SL, the vast majority of people are simply being who they are in RL, except pixellated.

Regarding my stance on freebies... well... the majority of people who join don't immediately unsubscribe (some do... but that's unavoidable I guess) and those who take the freebie get a landmark and a sample of hair which, I hope, works for them so that they may consider coming back.

It becomes about playing the percentages. So far this year I have given out numerous freebies. Paige and Harvey in January, fatpacks the both... along with the fatties of Craig and Ragnar. I gave away a limited edition colorway of Avril, and the current one on the freebie stand is a 12-way color pack of Ramona. Basically, if you were subbed to the group on the first of January, by now you're going to have recieved L$3910 worth of free merchandise. Extrapolate this across the 2000+ members of the group, even those who have only received some, or even one of the handouts, and you'll soon see that I've given away no small amount of stuff.

That said, one fact remains; even though the last few days have shown little movement in terms of sales, my average daily take is still slowly rising; despite the world around us seeming poorer and bleaker; and the styles that I once gave as freebies, now that they have returned to full price vendors, are still selling in equivalent quantities to the rest of the range.

Maybe this is because the standard of stock has improved and people are more willing to buy it. I don't doubt that as I've improved massively since I started. Maybe it's because there's a bigger range... This is also the case... but maybe it's because I give away so much that people are seeing it and thinking "hmm"... I hope so at least. At the end of the day, show me a designer out there who doesn't want to be immediately identified and tied to the product they make? Actually having your stuff OUT THERE is the real crux of the battle. Some say that the best way to make a go of SL was to be here and making in 2004; and I don't deny that either. With a December '06 account I'm not new on the block, but I'm not old guard either. The real trick is to either create something so unusual that it's instantly recognisable and people want it, or to flood the market so that everybody knows your name.

Just a matter of finding that one style that's going to do that for me...

Until next time,


Monday, 30 March 2009

Well you can't really be friends...

Today marks an interesting day in my SL history... exactly one year ago I came home from a spot of RL, nervous of what I might find. Why?

One of my best friends... and certainly one of the longest serving on SL had posted to me just before I went away that they were ending it all - too depressed to carry on. She had been talking of taking her own life for quite sometime, dealing as she was with all manner of identity crises, lack of job, clinical depression and family issues that she had hinted at; but I had never decided to try and drum out of her.

So when I came back and found that she had not been online since our conversation, I did the only thing I could think of to do. I posted on the SL formus that I had a friend, somewhere in SLT+2 hours who had not been online for a few days and was threatening suicide. The response from the community was somewhat abrupt...

"What? you don't know their name or contact details... you can't be much of a friend" one said while others backed her up - and this hurt. OK... the one that said that Linden Labs wouldn't get involved in issues like this was at least civil; but it got me thinking.

Why is it so ingrained that to be friends with someone in SL, you have to know their RL information? Name... age... sex... location... family history... passwords... bank details... blood type... etc. To be honest, I prefer NOT to know too many personal details about people I meet in-world aside from the trivial (and even the most ardent segregationist shares a few personal details) but it seems that in general I'm in the minority, and that RL does come between people and get in the way. OK... close friends tell me more, and I share more with them - In the case of this friend I was, in many ways, honored that they felt comfortable enough to share... but really it wasn't so much sharing RL as a cry for help... and one I could answer.

Oversharing, however, has caused the death of at least one of my previous relationships in-world. I stopped dating the avatar, as they slowly transformed into their RL self, spilling way more information than I requested or required. In fact; it was more than I was comfortable to accept. In fact it's got to the stage that I believe that as soon as as I find out someone's RL name, then it all goes to hell.

OK... maybe I'm weird, or not using the metaverse's social networking base to it's fullest potential; but I see SL as escapism to a limited degree... I mean, even how I dress is escapist - I wear a lot of latex in-world, while outside I'm allergic - but I digress. In a place where imagination runs riot and you're not limited by your Real Life self, why tie your avatar so much to your Real Life one that your friends refer to you by the typist name rather the one floating above your head?

In the meantime, I am Kallisti Burns... in RL I am, as far as you know, Kallisti Burns... I certainly am to my other half... ;)

Anyway... Hopefully next time it won't be six weeks between posts. Work has been mental in-world, and I've had a lot of half formed ideas... just no time to develop them fully. So until then, I remain,


As it happens, one year later, the girl concerned has done a complete 180... has pulled her life back on track and is looking forward to the future. She's still one of my closest friends, and I'm so proud of her... :)

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

We interrupt this silence...

For my contribution to the Fashionable Relay Challenge...

The deal? Bloggers (mostly fashion ones admittedly, I'm out of my element here but have always fancied a go) are blogging outfits and passing the baton onto the next in line, who creates another outfit featuring an item or items from the last, and so on.

Achariya set the tone for today with an outlandish Mardi Gras special and I looked on and thought "Oh this'll be easy... I'll just lift the corset and..." then it occurred to me... I'd look like I always do and show once and for all I do not have an ounce of imagination or fashion sense above and beyond what people know me for... So I backtracked and went hunting... Also I called in a little help from my good buddy George... Say Hello to the nice people out there George...

George is my male shape that I use for my ad boards. Looking down the list of bloggers taking part I was hard pressed to see anyone male, so I thought, without being nasty to Sarah The Red who drew the short straw of following me, it might be nice to genderbend this time out and throw up something a little more masculine.

First things first. I wimped out, going for the easy option and the Flipside 'F10' facial piercings to carry over. Ok admittedly it was the only unisex thing I could spot, although the Schadenfreude corset is in my inventory... uhm... no... not today.

Finishing off the face furniture I've thrown on a pair of Primoptic Stilo glasses (Nibb Tardis has a fangirl in me... and I've more or less been in a pair of his Plumes for two years now). The hair, beard and eyes I must confess are my own. A little seemy maybe, but I knew what I wanted and they were free (to me at least...) so I ran with it. Sorry.

The shirt is from Boingo - their part sheer men's Drowned top. I've been a fan of Jeela's work for a long time; so had to include something! The grey camo pants from Rocx, NAU combat boots (that I'm NEVER out of) from The Abyss, and a Trench from Cubic Effect sans forearms - Which have been replaced with a pair of Needful Things Death Raven bracers, resized from the female base to fit a male avatar.

The Skin's a Belezza one - Ewen, Med 0 - a little bit of a tan, but cleanshaven. All that was needed seeing as I was supplying the facial hair.

Thanks George... you can go relax now.

Well I guess that's everything. Tried to keep the look relatively simple with a little bit of something to it. Next time though I may play closer to home and go girly because it's true. There's really not that much out there for the guys... or if there is, I think I missed most of it.

The slurly bit:

Belleza - Ewen med 0

Discord Designs - Craig (Midnight)

Discord Designs - Ramon (Midnight)

Primoptic – Stilo

Flipside – F10 Facial piercings (as worm by Achariya)

Discord Designs - Starstruck - Alicia

Cubic Effect - Leather Coat for Men (black) Cuffs not used.

Needful Things - Death Raven Armor

Boingo - Black T-Shirt (Drowned)

Rocx - Camo Pants (Grey)

The Abyss NAU Unisex Combat Boots (Size 25)

Here endeth the attempt at fashion blogging...

Kalli (and George)

Monday, 16 February 2009

Making mountains out of molehills for fun and profit

Now, in my previous post I went through my outfits and the clothes I choose and what they mean to me on at least a subconscious level... well now I turn my attention a little deeper... to the skin underneath. Now it has to be said, I flash a LOT of mine, all told.

There's been one thing that's always been hard for me in Second Life, and that's dealing with a universal truth. There seems to be a trend amongst some SL users to treat it as a "virtual Barbie Dolls-house" deal, and a lot of people seem to be content walking around actually LOOKING like barbie as a result. Now this is their choice, but I was never one to play with dolls. As such, my needs when it comes to my apearance are a little more uncommon when it comes to my appearance. I do not pass as beautiful in SL, certainly not from a traditional or "collectively enforced" standpoint.

I started making hair as I was looking for something that just wasn't there in-world. Now don't get me wrong. I am not saying what I do is better, not in the slightest. If I was trying to compete against the likes of Analog Dog or Damselfly I know I'd never sell anything. I steer clear of the filmstar hair and aim for something more esoteric; which is me all over.

My avatar is short, boyish, and generally pale. I am not fully loaded in the "T and A" department and my hip, leg and height sliders aren't maxed out. This oft causes one or two issues, particularly with the way the meshes behave; but the hardest thing with looking for a skin is dealing with two areas. and the issues in those areas comes down categorically to one thing. Countershading.

I'll focus on the one area - cleavage, rather than butt, as I'm not entirely comfortable with mooning you all, and I'm aware that could push the rating of the blog out of it's intended PG-13... so without further ado, let me present a sample of the skins that I've tried over my time in SL:

As you can see... a bit of variety. Reading right to left:

Redgrave - Jennifer (Tan) Smokey 4 makeup
990L a skin, or 2990L for 12 makeup fatpack.
Redgrave, let's be honest, are one of the leading names in skins on SL. They do a VERY good job of catering to public taste on there, where everyone wants to look like a Hollywood Beauty, whether it's Beyoncé, Mary-Kate or Rhianna, they're all there in beautiful detail. As you can see though, you're kinda required to have LARGE boobs to justify the tintage. Basically a no-no for me, from the tits to the tan. I bought this skin for some model shots; but don't actively wear it for anything else.

Second Skin Labs - GX2 Lyra Sublime, Mahogany (customised)
3000L for fourway makeup pack, additional 700L for custom work
Second skin labs are pricey. But the level of detail is phenominal; from teh downy hair on my forearms, through to the zit on my right shoulderblade. This skin is a work of art, and caters for my desire for a set of boobs that DON'T look like they're hemispherical and stuck on. The ONLY con is I have no ass as well... and the countershading down the crease makes it appear as if I've sat on a tan lipstick; but let's be honest, nobody sees my ass (aside from my other half) so I can live with that. The other thing I get is with the tint of the skin being quite Yellow, people often suggest I look a little ill. *shrugs* Either way, cost aside, definitely one of my favourites.

Second Skin Labs - GX1 Natural Red
2000L for the tintable skin
My love affair with Namssour's work began here. This was the first skin I bought in-world. It's over 2 years old now and still holding it's own. It has to be said, the shading on this suffers the same way as the Lyra, only moreso. But as the notecard in the box says, this skin is optimised for sliders of 35+ in the norks department. Mine are 23. It's my own fault so I just have to deal.

Boingo - Anu Pale, Nougat Gloss
I would like to say how much it cost, but it was a gift... *blush*
Jeela's skins are unique. The faces are just so expressive and the details on the bodies are glorious. What's more, they're all hand-drawn. Much as I'd LOVE to wear one full time, I just have three issues. The shading is lovely, just overdone for my frame. The tones are too dark for my taste, and I don't know what it is, but I always look so damn miserable in them. It's supposed to be sultry; this I know, and of you've got a statuesque amazon avatar, they are amazing. My alt Shinobu wears a Boingo skin, and at 6'7" and curves in all the right places she can pull it off remarkably well. Just a shame she only logs in to mule my inventory for me.

Ayiki's - Nordic
No longer for sale. Bribing Ayiki Takakura *may* get you one.
I use this one as the principle workhorse for the female models in my store. It's simple, subtle, and has the best nipples on any skin I own (and no, you're not seeing)... It's one of her earlier ones and it comes across as a little flat compared to what's in fashion on SL right now, but I have a soft spot for this one, and wore it for a LONG time (when not in the GX1). It makes it difficult to model in ginger eyebrows afterall... and we ALL know blonde women with black eyebrows... right? ;)
Of all the skins in my collection, this one also has the best butt on me!

eXceSs - Hermaphrodite Shadows 00 (TEA base with freckles)
1149L for brown/black eyebrow variants. Also ships with colormatched sculptie male genetalia... which was a surprise, let me tell you.
What can I say. The chest is perfect. The tone is just what I was after. The eye-makeup is dramatic, but a wonderful analogue for my grey neko custom skin from Ayiki. Nothing is over or underdone for my frame. I just love it. The female parts are painted on the skin, so the sculptie attachment sits gathering dust in my inventory. What more could a boyish girl ask for?

In summary; the range of skins on Second Life are vast, and the quality ranges as you'd expect. There is no perfect skin for everyone. If someone turns to you and says "These people are the best", don't go in blindly. Be prepared to shop around, but be prepared to spend a fortune. Skins are the most expensive thing you can buy for your, let's be blunt, it makes you who you are... which in my case is a diminuitive ladyboy, or so it seems...

Until next time,


Thursday, 22 January 2009

Not so much as a fashion statement... more of a fashion thesis.

"Here I am,
As I am,
As you make me
Think I am" - Therapy? - Nurse (Published A&M Records 1992)

OK I'm going to come out and say it. My avatar isn't quite what most people expect; and I get a range of comments based on my in-world appearance. ost seem generally quite taken aback with how I look. Some think it's cool... others are evidently disturbed, and the odd few (guys with creation dates less than 4 weeks ago) generally think that because I appear how I do, I must be in-world solely to screw... Well... I'm sure it would have gotten boring after two years if that were the case, but as you can probably guess, it's not.

When I arrived to SL in December '06 I was as lost as anyone else. Well... maybe not *quite* as lost as some. I played about on Help Island 4 for the best part of a week building, figuring out camera controls and getting to know the lie of the land before embarking into SL proper.. and thanks to a handy dandy credit card, and running across SL Boutique I arrived in-world prety much set as I first thought I'd be happy to appear. Short wavy red hair a la ETD, a Nyte and Day black halter, gray mix combat pants and a pair of (what turned out to be dramatically oversized) combat boots, with a shape that was petite; yet not stick thin. Nothing particularly dramatic I give you, but somehing that didn't look entirely like a noob.

In-world, I hit the ol' credit card a second time, bought some more lindens and invested in a Second Skin Labs skin - red to go with the hair... and my work was done... until someone... well... half the grid commented on my footwear being silly. Step in (the then blonde) Trinity Coulter, who whisked me away from Help Island Public, where I had become part of the furniture around the blue circle. She dropped me with aheavy thud in the middle of Curious Kitties, prior to the DK split. I went wow... went nuts and spent a fortune, acquiring practically everything in what were to become my signature colors - red and black. Kalli mark 2 was born.

Kalli, January 24th 2007

This was more or less how I stayed for a VERY long time. I flirted with neko around April, acquiring a Temenos skin and ears selection; but generally as I started to make hair, the effort of throwing together a quirky yet cute wardrobe became less of a priority. Don't get me wrong, I liked the look, and compared to how I am in RL, it was definitely fun. My Av became something of a dress-up doll, and there's no harm in that. Had it continued I suspect though I wouldn't be making hair, and if I were still inworld, I'd be a fashion blogger - knowing me, probably with a page called "Prim Whore" or something... but more on that later.

Either way, it ended because above everythng else, a lot of it felt contrived. While yes, I felt I looked good, and regularly was told I did, I didn't feel entirely comfortable. That and I was starting to work more and more inworld, making hair and so on... so it became obvious to me that when you're locked away from virtual humanity on a posing stand, you really don't have to break out the CK buckle skirt, WRONG braces and skinny rib croptop new from Artilleri. This in mind I started looking for a simple somethng that I could just throw on and work in... then I saw an advert posted in the SL forums. It's random coincidences like this that change your life, I tell you.

Anyway. a new designer (of whom I had never heard) named Jeela Juran had thrown out an advert for metallic hipster pants in a range of colors. I looked at them and though "ooh... they look a little different"... So I went over and after a little umming and ahhing (and a long talk to the designer's other half, Elf Juran) acquired a pair... in cherry red... that matched a camo top from WRONG almost perfectly. From July to October 2007 there I was in-world in a slight deviation from the red theme, and in a slight deviation from what is effectively the whole tee and pants deal. Nothing fancy, but something a little bit different.

Over the next few months, a number of things began to change. I felt more at home in SL... my business became established and I became more confident... above all else, I got to know the palce a little better, and realised that I could express myself a little more freely with how I appeared. I always wanted to push the envelope a little and make use of what was available in-world to stand out from the crowd (as if my diminuative av didn't already). Many people have referred to em as a goth... btu to be honest I never was. More industrial, and one with a penchant for large boots and heavy coats... The development of sculpted prims has been a godsend in that respect, and now I live in sculptie jackets, longcoats and trenches... but often with very little to nothing udnerneath (modesty aside... I cover those bits up!)

I still frequent Jeela's stores, and have updated the hipsters some, now wearing black latex ones rather than red metallic. Why latex? Why not... she does it very well, and I like how it appears. I also know full well I couldn't do it in RL... so it's a fantasy thing I suspect. Naturally I wear my own hair and eyes - Kaiba braids in Penny and Starstruck Alicias (dark hazel) as standard, and the redheaded skin is there, albeit the updated SSL version - a tweaked copy of the Lyra Sublime base.

The one thing I suspect that throws a LOT of people though is the one other item that's become a regular feature... or even a fixture. A Graves G04 leather harness, usually worn over the top of other clothes.

Kalli, 22nd January, 2009

I know what you're thinking. It took me a long while to appreciate why I felt so comfortable walking around in something so binding... so heavilly associated with submission, and that does take some explaination but I am not in any way, shape or form, bound or submissive to anyone inworld. I point blank refuse to, but there's a lot of ground there and I'll save it for another post.

I like my heavy jackets as they offer me protection. I refer to my own RL coat (the one that I take with me everywhere) as my armor, and this transfers wholesale to SL. Underneath it I am weak... vulnerable and easily hurt - hence the desire to be as good as naked under my carapace - more as a reminder to myself than a come-on to others... although it does look rather hot, it has to be said. But the harness is definitely not normal streetwear... but what it does do, symbolically, is hold me in... bound to myself in all my frailty, strapped into my body while offering little protection of its own, but providing a point of focus.

I walk inworld, trussed up in my own bubble. Seemingly confident on the outside but knowing that I am here, effectively, on my own; a prisoner of myself, but protected and safe as a result. I am my own mistress, and submit to my own will.

Until next time,