Archive for the ‘product reviews’ Category

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Are you with OrangeBroadband? “NoSLForYou!” Nationwide service outage prevents thousands from accessing the virtual world

May 19, 2008

Arghh.

Ok this is a bit of a long one. Last night I discovered I couldnt access Secondlife.com – I was getting DNS error on login, and also I couldnt access the Secondlife.com website, nor the jira, nor lindenlab.com, or basically anything the big green hand of linden-ness had ever touched. Initially I thought it was a problem with my router, or my connection, or something, but this morning a friend of mine who is also on Orange Broadband, (my isp) contacted me telling me they had the same problems.

So, I did a bit of digging, and found out that while I cant connect directly to any of these services, I can connect indirectly, by using a web proxy server to access the websites, or using ajaxlife to connect to the grid.

Also, strangely, I can’t download the flickr uploader, and imdb.com doesnt work.

So I thought, hey, this sucks. Then I thought, I wonder who else has this problem. So I contacted friends and family in Manchester, Tunbridge wells, Kent, St Albans and a few other places in London, and whadya know, NOBODY on orange broadband can connect to secondlife, or the websites, or any of the other sites/services I can’t access.

I’m not particularly technically minded, but I had a chat with someone who is and we spent a bit of time pinging this, nslookup-ing that, and generally dissecting the problem with all manner of geeky tools that I don’t understand. The upshot of all this is that basically yes, Orange, either deliberately or not, is blocking access somewhere along the way to those websites and services.

Further digging revealed this post wherein I learned that a similar problem has arisen before, and if anyone is geeky / techie enough to look at that, and possibly extrapolate some kind of solution, then kudos and go for it, but I’m not/cant 😦

I spoke to the people at Orange, and after speaking to several different people in an indian call centre (the future’s bright, the future’s….hindu?) and being told to factory reset my livebox several times (like thats going to fix a nationwide service outage..) I eventually managed to get hold of the telephone number to their escalations department. I think I finally got it through to someone that this was an undiagnosed issue affecting their entire customer base.

So a few phone calls later, but no help. I couldn get through to their senior uk based technical support team, which meant a very difficult phone between me and someone else, neither of us being technical enough to sort the problem out or diagnose it in its proper technical terminology – but at least I finally got the info to someone in the UK with a line to the head office.

If you’re having the same problems as us, and you’re on Orange Broadband, then a) may the lord have mercy on your soul, and b) please, please send an email to this address Broadband.response@uk.orange.com (or click here for a direct link) – one of the things that came up is that they need to see more response from people saying its a nationwide problem before they’re likely to look into it. The only reason I got through to anyone even in the same country as me is because I managed to get the non-public escalations team number out of one of their reps in india – a number they’re not supposed to give out. (I definetley wont be posting it here, dont ask. If I do they’ll just change it and that doesnt help anyone, anyway)

So there you have it. NoSoupForYou. Unless they get a flood of emails to the above address, they wont be fixing it, and everybody in the UK on Orange Broadband now cannot access secondlife. Which seems a bit silly, considering they’ve just launched 4 sims in Secondlife this year to promote their brand..

If you’re a geek/techie/someone who knows more about DNS and IP ranges and routers than me, then for the love of god get in touch, lol – I’d really like to help diagnose this problem a bit more, and be able to give orange more info, as its likely to get the problem fixed quicker. Leave a comment with your email or MSN or whatever and I’ll get in touch. Let me know if you want me to make the comment public or not, I know some wont want their details shared.

Thats all folks and I’ll see you.. who knows when.. ?

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New Prefab : Rowen House

May 18, 2008

Hey folks!

I’ve been tinkering with this for ages, but seeing as I have some downtime between projects I thought I’d finish it off and try to get a few prefabs out there for you all to enjoy.

So, drum roll please, presenting SL’s newest prefab (for about the next 6 seconds) The Rowen House!

Rowen House!

As I mentioned, I’ve been tinkering with this for a while, so I had the extra time to put into some nicely detailed texture bakes, and to do unusual things I’ve not done before like the reverse slanted roof and the sliding door on the front. I included a nice patio area at the front of the house, so you can sit in the sun and bask in windlights glow with your friends

All in all she weighs in at about 190 prims, which is a little heavy, but with all the extra detail, I think its worth it. At any rate, the base and railings are seperate linked objects, so if you need to preen a few back its easy to do.

Inside, the modern open plan living space is split onto two levels, with a larger communal area to live and love and share with friends, while a cosier snug area up some stairs gives you a bit of personal space and a great view out of the elevated windows. This flows through into the bedroom or study, with high concrete walls providing privacy and a protected environment to make your own.

Overall I’m really happy with the way the build came out. The bedroom might look a little sparse with nothing in it, but with some nice pictures on the walls and some cosy furniture the place really comes alive, the contrast between light and heavy works really well. I wish my place in real-life was more like this, actually!

I had fun with the sliding doors, I’ve never used them on a prefab before..

So thats the Rowen House Prefab! I’ll be selling them for L$3500, and they come all nicely packaged up in SL’s easiest to use and most reliable auto-rezzer – so you’ll be up and partying in your new home quicker than you can say ‘missing image.

As usual I still don’t have a shop set up yet, but if anyone’s interested then drop me an IM in-world (Neil Robinson) and if you mention my blog, I’ll give you a whopping L$1000 discount! Hows that for an incentive!

Thats all folks, watch this space for more updates and special offers!!

Keep on primmin’

Neil Robinson

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Sport Relief in Secondlife 2008

May 17, 2008

Well it was a while ago but I thought I’d post these pics of the Sport Relief in Secondlife event that we held recently.

It was a great fun time and we raised a ton of money in a virtual world to save lives in the real one, well done to everyone who took part!

Here’s a few pics..

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Roundhouse

January 28, 2008

So, this is the first thing I’ve built for a while that wasn’t a commercial development for another company. I did this originally as a club for a friend, but then realised that if I retextured it, it could make a pretty nice space for general living, conferencing, or just hanging out. Fast forward a few hours and presto – The Roundhouse, for your perusal.

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So there you have it.. I’m planning to sell this via my new OnRez store, priced at L$3500.. it has a full auto-rezzer system so its super easy to put out on your land – just rez the box, click, choose rez and then move the box and the build will auto-reposition..

I tried to go for a mashup of two styles I’m really into at the moment – I’ve fallen in love recently with some of the bali/tiki/tropical style residential places I’ve seen some designers doing at the moment, so I guess it has a bit of that in there, but I didn’t want it to just be another ‘me too’ type creation, so I injected a bit of oriental simplicity with the textures and layout – for me it kinda has that zen like tranquility to it inside.

I think it’ll be good for anyone that wants something a little bit special as their ‘virtual home’ – the open plan layout creates a light, airy atmosphere, with plenty of space above (so no nasty camera problems), as well as making it ideal as a club, conference/meetup space, or just a cool skybox to have fun in. That central grass/water combo is just waiting for your favourite tree to create a fantastic indoor arboritum feel, or pave over it to give yourself access to the centre and chair your meetings in style!

Oh, one other thing, I don’t actually have any ‘virtual land’ to display this one on, so if anyone wants a free copy, give me a ding in-world (Neil Robinson) and I’ll hook you up with one, if you let me sell it from there too.

See you on the metaphysical side…

NPR.

nb – the cool polaroid effects are courtesy of Nylon Pinkney and available from her store on the island of Tableau..

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Hobbits!

January 23, 2008

One of my Super Favourite Designers Cory Edo has just released this lovely little hobbit cottage thingymabob. Its everything I love about Corys work, well detailed, really inventive and new, and her texture work has an element of simple purity to it that i’ve always really been a fan of and tried to get into my own work.

You have to see this thing really, to fully get how nicely put together it is. Which is why later on I’ll post a direct teleport link (forgot to get one first time around!)

Until then, you’ll have to make do with these pics 🙂

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Product Review – Jextone EasyRez 1.25: First Look

January 21, 2008

jextone easyrezThere are times, when working on a project, that you may find it beneficial to work in a location other than that which will be the final installation space for your finished designs. For example, right now I’m building a small virtualtown, and I’ve chosen to do so up in the sky, because when placed the town won’t be aligned to the grid – so i’ve created it up in the sky, aligned to the grid, with the intention of moving the whole thing down afterwards, into its final position. Or, you may wish to sell your buildings or products, in which case you need an easy solution to enable your customers to rez and position their new acquisitions in-world.

There are many ways to achieve this, but by far and away the simplest and most straightforward answer is to use a ‘Rezzer’ – a device/box which stores the linked segments of your build/project, and then on command will ‘rez’ for you in a location of your choosing.

There are many rezzers on the market, but in the past they’ve always had their limitations or been quite difficult to use. So I was intrigued when talking to a friend of mine in Secondlife by the name of 10khz Tone, he mentioned that he had recently scripted a very simple to use yet extremely powerful rezzer, that could retain an entire sim’s worth of content, and rez it without difficulty irrespective of distance (within the confines of a sim)

Using the Jextone EasyRez is simple enough, first you link your build together, then drop a script into the root prim of each linked object, then rez the box, then the packer. Click the packer and it copies all the info regarding your project into the box, then pick up the project either as one inventory object or just piece by piece and place it into the box. Pick the box up and thats it, you’re ready to go.

In trying it in a fairly empty private sim, I found it easy to set up, and easy to use. While the build I was packaging wasnt exactly superhuge, it was nearly 700 prims or so, and yet I found it easy to dragselect bits of it and link before putting the script in each root prim. I’ve heard some people talk about how difficult rezzers can be to set up, but this really was a piece of cake and if you’re one of those that do feel like you spend too much time packaging your products for sale after the already hard task of creating them, I’d definetly reccomend you contact 10khz and ask for a demonstration of his product.

I havent so far had a chance to test out rezzing a huge huge (several thousand prim) project in a super super laggy place (cordova sandbox? (or whichever of that set it is that allows active scripts)) but based on my experience with other products created by 10khz, I’m confident that when I do, it’ll work just as well and easily as it has done so far. In as much as its ease of use, which is what I was trying to establish at this early stage, Its about as difficult as making toast 🙂

You can pick up a copy for yourself here on SLexchange , or here in secondlife

For those of you wondering what the hell this secondlife thing is, signup for free here 🙂