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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pod cast

list map = [
 251648.0,254464.0,256000.0,257280.0,"Bay City",
 290048.0,290816.0,268288.0,270080.0,"Western Blake Sea",
 291072.0,294400.0,266496.0,272128.0,"Blake Sea",
 286720.0,289792.0,268288.0,269056.0,"Nautilus City",
 291840.0,295936.0,284672.0,289280.0,"Gaeta I",
 296960.0,304384.0,276736.0,281344.0,"Gaeta V",

The Italians have an expression for it: 'casa e chiesa', by which they mean a life spent going back and forth between a small number of places, never adventuring further afield. Must be in our DNA or something, because the same habit informs most of our second lives too. At least in proportion to the possibilities out there, most of us just commute between a few shops, and a handful of music, social or artistic venues. And of course that Elephant Ear Fetish club, but I'm not supposed to talk about that.
Cast around for some place less claustrophobic, and remember that yes, there is fresh air in Second Life, and not Full Sim Installs, but actual normal countryside, a patchwork of homes and history held together by roads and rivers.
Which brings us to the Mainland. Zindra and Sansara, the newest and oldest continents, are names we all know, but have you heard of any of the others above? Throw down a prim containing this Continent Detector Script, by Dale Innis and it will tell you where you are. Something less than half of Mainland is Linden owned, much of that given over to woodland and such. A sizeable chunk is abandoned. If you're interested in statistics about it, you probably have already visited Tyche Shepherd's site. That leaves the rest in the hands of private individuals and groups. Having wandered here as a newbie, curious about houses and roads, it's eerily unchanged, reassuringly unchanged, reprovingly unchanged. So who are the people who live here?  Are they different to the rest of us?  Does the contiguous lifestyle have something to teach to those of us who aspire to the island life? Does the Mainland matter?
Yavanna Llanfair knows about mainland. She also knows a lot about scripting. Modest of her achievements, serene, and an immaculately beautiful oldbie, she is the creator of the Yavascript Pods, a series of guided pod tours that take all over Sansara, Jeogeot, Satori, Corsica, Zindra, and more.
Her pods transform into boats, skiboats and back into hovering road vehicles, depending on the terrain. Her biggest Pod Station is at Yavascript on sim Durango. She includes a HUD with commentary, so you can learn something of the history of the places (suggestions for additional commentary are welcome) and to see what speed at which you're going.
Yavanna Llanfair: When I was new, I still remember walking along the roads near The Shelter, and around a welcome area. I like maps, and exploring. Maybe not everyone has the same spirit of adventure But I hope I can kindle that in them, if they come and have a ride on one of the pods. The history of it goes back a long way! When I first joined SL in 2006, I saw all these scripting things around me, and thought maybe I should have a go at it. My first product, a smiler and winker, was a success. I bought my own land, in January 2007, in the days when first land was still available. I liked the idea of sky boxes, so I made one, but needed a way of getting there.
Initially I made a basic, a simple one-person, non-physical "pod" to get me to any point I put in a notecard. Then I realised it could be adapted,so that it would do a tour. The first two-seaters sold around July 2007. Non-physical worked well, it was simpler to control, and looked quite smooth. But within a year, something seemed to change, and non-physical objects didn't move so smoothly. I knew I had to move to physical, and spent a while learning about physics in SL.  I tried some of the standard ways, provided by the LSL language, but none were really satisfactory. I had to go back to basics. I didn't realise it at the time, but I was creating something that would cross sim borders reliably and more smoothly than most physical objects do. I had to brush up on a lot of maths, things like matrix transformations, vectors. I had to learn what a quaternion is, and how to use it. (A quaternion is a way of representing a rotation.) I rekindled a love for maths that I had had during my university studies. It took about a year to bring about the pod that you see before you. Around October 2010, I realised I could put these things on the road. I was lucky that the "first land" I had was by a road thanks to a kind land-swap with my then neighbour, and wonderful person, Annabelle Babii. Just a short tour or two along the roads around Monowai on Jeogeot, as a way of showpiecing my creations. But soon I realised that I had something that I could use to the benefit of the community, to provide something for people to do on mainland. I made a decision not to do any kind of advertising on the pods, even though sponsorship has been offered. This project that should be something many people can enjoy. I just maintain a small YS logo on them to identify them as mine.
Inside the Information centre, you'll find a huge map showing the tours - Yava will soon have the Zindra map up too. Moving buttons represent the pods out on the road. You can click on them and tp directly - be prepared to run a bit to catch up with the pod when you arrive!  Tours vary in length from around 30 minutes up to 2 hours 50 minutes, and many people use a hop on hop off method. We went round the half-hour tour together, running into AnnMarie O'Toole's random vehicles from time to time. What larks. The pods, and Yava's project seem far more interesting than that whole dramedy.
Yavanna Llanfair: There are two things that drive me to stay here. The most important one is my friends. But being able to be creative is another. It keeps the mind active. It's good to have something that you can do, to feel of value, to know people are appreciating what you offer. I don't think this necessarily applies just to scripting Though I suppose by its very nature, scripting requires more maintenance than most other creative things And more support! I script alone. I do have some scripting friends with whom I sometimes discuss scripting and share ideas though. Tom Woodget's boats are great, and I have learnt one or two things from him which have become incorporated in the pods.
 The road wound on past houses and shops  that recalled the old days when people actually flew or walked places. When was the last time you did that? No, me either. With so much experience, Yava seemed the obvious person to ask about favourite or memeorable places to visit on the mainland.
  Yavanna Llanfair:  I'd have to mention Calleta, on Heterocera, the railroad hub. I have a pod station there, with many thanks to Thinkerer Melville for allowing me to use his land, right by the Hobo reservation. It's an ideal site, and a privilege to be there. The continent of Sansara, where we are now, is special. It is the original continent, and has a character of its own. . I do love this area aound the Wengen info hub, I have always adored snowscapes, in RL too. This area is all Linden owned, and it's so good that they maintain this area, and don't sell it off. For me, this is the thing that distinguishes SL from other grids. The "Linden Department of Public Works" (LDPW), who maintain these areas, providing some sort of "glue", communal areas, roads, rivers, providing a more real feeling to the place. If I were setting up an alternative grid, in competition to SL, top of my list of priorities would be something like the LDPW. Though I think I would make it even more visible to the residents. Without this, there would be far less of a sense of community than there is, and I think it's why other grids feel so soulless.  Heterocera is a lovely continent, with some beautiful routes, but the roads are long, and I have not had time to do it all - yet. All of Corsica is covered now, including the islands to the west - and even - since last week - the "Old Route 11". I don't have a base on northern Nautilus yet, though I cover southern Nautilus from my base in Mãebaleia. And I don't cover Gaeta V, though I have the offer of a base there, thanks to Ada Yven, with whom I have also been working on tours of Zindra.

We reached the top of the mountain pass. Snow was falling and it made me shiver. Of all the skills of SL, scripting is the most eternal, economical, pure, and truly virtual activities. It's a never ending labour of love for Yava. She's always testing, coming up with new commentary, updating notecards and tweaking her scripts. She has her own server, to make communication with pods more effective. When pods fail, as perhaps only one in a hundred will do, it's usually due to a sim crashing because of griefing, and that takes time too. **Add your own, much-repeated rant about the vicious cycle of Linden Lab's apathetic Customer Service record here.** 
Yavanna Llanfair: I could not have imagined back in 2006 what SL would become for me personally, but as a whole, I don't think it's changed all that much, in many ways. It's a lot bigger, but in terms of size it has not really grown for a couple of years, as far as I can tell. This is a problem, and I think the community feel of mainland is something that can attract people in. I think that, to survive in the long term, we (both established residents and LL) should be thinking about ways of getting people interested in what SL has to offer. And it has a lot to offer, but what will get people here who will stay here is the sense of community, and mainland is key to creating that. I do get quite a few comments from people, and to be honest any comments of the sort "I like your tours" are very much appreciated. Without them I probably wouldn't have the motivation to continue Someone did say that after riding my pods they felt like moving back to mainland, having appreciated again what it has to offer. That was a great compliment.
Yavanna Llanfair: When I am riding, I see the environment, but I always have half an eye on the tour - has the land changed a bit? do I need to tweak something? For example, on this tour, a couple of months ago, I noticed it was heading through the road at one point, because someone had re-built part of the road, at a higher level. There is always more to do. In the past month I have created a number of extensions to existing tours.  I've been asked to provide the official transport system for SL9B - I did SL8B last year. So I'm going to be very busy once the sims open up. It was an honour and a pleasure to be asked to do that last year. So this year, well, I couldn't really say no!
Visit the Yavascript  Pod Station any time to cast virtual body and soul back to simpler, healthier times. And of course, check out Yava's transports at the party in the middle of June.

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