Shoppe

FAQ: Buying Gifts

Short video explaining how to buy an item as a gift from BlakOpal vendors. Music: "Big Question Small Head" by Tipper. No, the song title isn’t any kind of insult to customers, it’s just a great song off of Tipper’s new album “Broken Soul Jamboree” that works nicely in the background. The avatar in the video is our shoppe model Opalnera Bolissima, an ‘alt’ account that we use for photoshoots. This will hopefully come in handy for new residents and people who are new to our shoppe.

FAQ: Making Purchases

Short video explaining how to make purchases from BlakOpal vendors, and how to open a package. Music: "Big Question Small Head" by Tipper. No, the song title isn’t any kind of insult to customers, it’s just a great song off of Tipper’s new album “Broken Soul Jamboree” that works nicely in the background. The avatar in the video is our shoppe model Opalnera Bolissima, an alt account that we use for photoshoots. I know this info may seem obvious for many SL veterans, but will hopefully come in handy for new residents and people who are new to our shoppe.

One Year On

Reachra1yr-01

Hard to believe that the BlakOpal region and its lonely island of Reachra recently celebrated one year on the Second Life grid. In that time, BlakOpal and I have had a lot of fun playing with different ideas and trying to make it a great place to explore as well as serve as the backdrop for the Main Store. Click here to check out a gallery of pictures from the island’s earlier days, and then click here to take a look at a series of 32 pictures I snapped this afternoon.

The photographs not only reflect changes (and hopefully improvements) in the build, but in the Second Life Viewer as well. In the newer photographs, I opted to make use of the new (and still experimental) shadow support for the Mac viewer. Shadows have been around for a while on the PC side (tucked away in the debug settings for those daring residents with higher end nVidia graphics cards), but for Mac users with nVidia graphics they only arrived in the last month with the release of Viewer 2.3. As of this post there are still a few issues to fix (eyelashes don’t render properly, and there are some odd/unexpected issues with prims that use shiny/bumpiness), but overall I believe the effect of dynamic shadows is amazing. Take a look for yourself in the photos - other than adding a slight vignette effect to the shots in Photoshop, the images are as they came from the Viewer.

Reachra1yr-04

Reachra1yr-06

Reachra1yr-14

Bundle Up For Winter!

bundle-up_001

For a little fun, we’ve created a winter-themed mini-shop called Bundle Up. It features our winter clothes, holiday items, and seasonal freebies all in one spot, and helps us to add a bit more to our lovely little island of Reachra. As gifts, we’re offering our winter scarf and gloves as well as this beautiful sculpted holiday gnome (see below). Bundle Up is located just down the street from our Main Store, but you can click here to visit the shop directly.

Gnome-tastic

Videos and Tutorials

Over the summer, one of the things I got started with was creating a BlakOpal Designs channel on Youtube. The intention was that we would produce short clips showing some of our outfits in motion. Sometimes the sign in a vendor or the still pictures in a notecard or on a web site just aren’t enough, and this would give shoppers a way to get a better idea of how the outfit looks in-world. Beyond that, we hoped to be able to put together some short tutorials and demonstrations, with the goal of sharing tips and tricks we’ve picked up along the way.

The plan was that I’d post blog entries here when new tutorial videos were added, but I’ve been slacking. But now that I’ve gotten the site redesigned and updated, it’s time to start getting caught up. Over the next several blog posts you can expect to see links and video embeds on the tutorials we’ve already made available, and moving forward I hope to keep things up-to-date.

Steampunk Aviator Redux

multi_Steampunk-Aviator

Back in August, we released a couple great outfits that, in retrospect, were kind of confusing. The Steampunk Aviator Dress and the Steampunk Lady Aviator Outfit both looked great, but the names didn’t do a very good job of explaining what they were. Both were outfits. Both were dresses. And in talking with a number of our customers, most had no interest in the hat (don’t get me wrong, it’s a great hat - but quite a few folks out there prefer not to wear hats in general).

So we took the occasion of the new blue version as an opportunity to repackage and re-introduce the line in less confusing terms. Long gowns and short dresses. The hat’s no longer included, and we’ve reduced the price. Still a lot of pieces to each outfit, and still a great victorian steampunk design. Click here to see more photos.

Marching Forth



Despite us being relatively low key in the new release department in the month of February, it was quite a busy month. Starting with getting things established on Avatars United, we had a couple of our best-ever days in the shoppe, appeared in the Modavia Fashion Directory XIV, and even made our first appearance in the Second Life Destination Guide! I also spent quite a bit of time doing some software testing, ranging from projects I can’t talk about to Snowglobe 1.3 and then towards the end of the month with the SL Viewer. There were a few other bits and bobs in-world, but a lot of time was also spent with upgrades here in our RL studio. I’m happy to report that BlakOpal’s machine is running beautifully and exceeding all our expectations, plus my redesign of our wired and wireless networking, and backup strategy seems to both be running well and ready for the next steps.

In getting ready for those next steps, I think it’s time to pull a few things off the fire. Linden Lab will be retiring the Battery Street Irregulars (viewer testing group), and the time seems ideal to back away from a few other testing programs as well. There are a couple I’m very interested in, and will not only continue with but likely become more involved with them. And I’ll likely continue to fumble my way through the Viewer 2.0 Open Beta, wrapping my head around its features and functions. But involvement in too many projects starts to stretch me thin, and worse it seems to invite some people to treat me like a personal tech support department or target me as a person to sound off on when they feel the need to vent regarding something LL does or says (and believe me, there have been some doozies). I’m happy to participate in technical group chat conversations from time to time, but that’s about the extent of it. Except for Miss BlakOpal, of course, as I do happen to be her IT department :-)

That said, I’m very excited indeed about the next steps ahead. BlakOpal’s first machinima video on her new machine came out looking great, and I’m looking forward to seeing more videos from her soon. Additionally, we’re both bubbling with excitement over ideas for outfits and builds, and I’m looking forwards to some big improvements in computing/rendering power on our next system upgrade (once certain hardware is released and we’ve saved enough lindens). There will hopefully be a couple new shoppe locations in there as well. It’s going to be an exciting month - I’m excited.

January Wrap-Up

The month of January seemed to fly right by. Feels like my last blog entry was only a day ago, not a month ago. I don’t really have any major announcements or revelations, so instead I’ll share with you a bit of a progress report.

At the shoppe, January started off with a bang. We had decided to participate in our first ever grid-hunt, and the Just For The Guys Hunt got started on the 3rd with a flood of people coming to visit. People seemed to enjoy themselves, and we both got plenty of compliments about our hunt item, so I consider the effort to be a success. While it’s not something I’d want to do too frequently, it is something I’d consider doing again at some point.

Shortly after the start of the hunt, it was time for Menswear Fashion Week. We had been getting excited about this event for the last couple months, and all the planning and preparation really paid off. The exhibition booth at the event sim looked great, people enjoyed themselves, and our feature runway show was a hit. Click here to see pictures taken by event photographer Tillie Ariantho.

I did a lot of back-end work on the shoppe as well. A few locations were remodeled, one was moved, and (sadly) a couple small satellite locations were closed. I’ve also updated some things on the back end, including some server improvements and new redelivery terminals, and continue to work on refining and updating vendors. We received countless notecards with a range of business offers and invitations to open locations all over the grid, as well as a number of requests for a diverse range of fundraisers. I’m not sure how ‘pay my tier’ has managed to become a legitimate fundraising category, compared with real charities and humanitarian efforts out there, they just seem selfish and greedy. After looking at different charitable options in SL, we decided to make our donations directly in RL in 2010. This way the money we give goes directly to that organization without overhead, without SL cashout fees, and without question. We’ve already made donations to Doctors Without Borders, and will continue to make contributions to them and other organizations throughout the year.

In the world of software testing, January was a very busy month. I installed and tested 9 different builds of things, learning a lot and having more fun than frustration, with the net result hopefully being that whatever gets released will be a better experience for everyone.

January also began with us starting to work on content for Blue Mars. It was an exciting step, since we’re already familiar with and use the professional 3D tools to create content. However, Avatar Reality’s developer program just didn’t make sense for us and by mid-month we halted development. I’m sure they’re swell guys and have no doubts they’ve invested plenty of time and effort into creating the virtual world, but with no compelling content of their own, an unfinished developer’s toolset, and no large installed user base, I can’t justify handing over 25% of our gross sales (plus land use and other fees). I’ll revisit the situation in the months to come, and hopefully either they’ll revise their program or the tools and user base will mature and expand significantly.

The planning phase continues for our second region, though I decided to slow things down a bit and not rush into anything. While other estate managers may make the job look easy, running a region and fostering a community (however small) takes considerable effort, and I want to try and take my time and make as few mistakes as possible. We’re probably looking at the second region happening sometime in Q2.

Our studio space continues to evolve and improve. BlakOpal’s new sewing machine is just waiting for her to dive in, and we’ve finally sorted out the mechanics of a vertical light table so she’ll be able to properly light and shoot fabrics. Next up is a new machine for her to have at home, which was ordered today and should arrive by the end of next month. Her workspace is shaping up really nicely, and now I find myself looking forward to upgrading a few things in my space as well.

While we missed this month’s spectacular Black & White Ball at Piermont Landing, we enjoyed the Eddie Izzard show tremendously. Both BlakOpal and I have been fans for years and seen most of his videos, this was the first time we’d seen his show live and he had us laughing so hard our sides hurt.

Musically, January was filled with elation as a few different friends released albums and singles and had some great achievements. While a small part of me wishes I were at all the shows and producing events or even performing, a much greater part is happy to be laying low and staying in. As I finish up a few other projects, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time in the studio, rewiring and reprogramming some racks, and making a little noise.

It’s been a great 2010 so far, I hope yours has too.


Looking Forward



It’s that time of year again, when people look back at the calendar year that’s drawing to a close and then look forward to the new one that’s about to begin. While I’m not really one for default world holidays and traditions, I’m all for a good celebration and changes and improvements.

The time’s been flying by, it seems. A year ago, we had just opened our first satellite location (Winterfell), and were about to open our second flagship store (Caledon Oxbridge Village). Actually I believe that by New Year’s Eve the shoppe itself was done and stocked, but the region had not yet had its grand/official opening. It has been an amazing year. We’ve met some truly wonderful people, opened a number of locations (some were fleeting, while others established themselves quite nicely), participated in some remarkable shows and events, opened up our first full region, had incredible amounts of fun designing/building/creating, and received some incredibly flattering reviews and praise along the way. BlakOpal and I have also had our fair share of RL adventures that’s left us grinning from ear to ear. As with every year it’s filled with ups and downs, but I prefer to get over the bad stuff, move on, and stay focused on the positive.

And there is a lot to be positive about in 2010. In RL we’re improving and upgrading our studio space and planning some wonderful adventures (London!). I’ve got a bunch of exciting music projects sitting on the back burner (stuff that got pushed to the side because I was having so much fun in SL in 2009). In Second Life we’re overflowing with ideas and projects that we’re excited about, including the growth and expansion of Reachra. I’m also planning to revise and expand the web site a bit, adding more in the way of tips and tricks and tutorials. You’ll probably also see us in Avatar Reality’s Blue Mars in one form or another. We gave the platform quite a bit of time and consideration in 2009, and if all goes well we’ll have some specifics to talk about sometime in the first half of 2010. Don’t get me wrong, we have no intention of leaving Second Life anytime soon. I think there’s plenty of room for both platforms to be successful, and I think Linden Lab has some exciting stuff on the horizon.

Behind The Scenes



Even though folks haven’t seen a lot of me, I’ve been ridiculously busy in the days since my last update. Let’s see, where to begin.

First off, BlakOpal and I finally decided to make the move to high definition in the loft. I know, the rest of the US made that move some time ago, but seeing as we don’t really watch broadcast television or subscribe to cable, we weren’t hard-pressed to replace the equipment we had. It seems our patience paid off well, as we ended up with something bigger than we previously had, for less than we had been expecting to spend.

That upgrade in turn led to the next project, designing and building a new HD media server. This would let us keep our favorite films and documentaries just a few clicks away (and turn the DVD’s on the shelf into backups), as well as give us an additional place to back up work/art files. I know that starts to sound paranoid (seeing as we already have hourly wireless backups of each of our machines), but we’ve both suffered enough fatal crashes where crucial files were lost that the additional peace of mind is worth the price of admission.

There have also been some assorted OS updates and testing, and in the last couple weeks I’ve been spending quite a bit of time working on Snowglobe testing as well. Version 1.3 is coming along nicely, with a number of fixes and behind the scenes improvements as well as the addition of double click to teleport and panning the mini-map (both of which work great). There are some additional things planned, but nothing yet for me to start testing, let alone report on.

Construction at Reachra has been happening more slowly than I’d like, but on the few occasions where I’ve had the chance to spend time in SL that wasn’t devoted to testing or basic shopkeeping, something else has come up. I’ve managed to get caught up on putting new things in the shoppe and putting out the holiday freebies, and now that the media server project is finishing up I should have additional time for building. I’ve also got some things to get ready for - in addition to a fashion week event in January, we’ll be participating in our first ever hunt (more on that later). I’ve also had a few ideas for an update to the vendors I use in the stores, and want to get around to remodeling Caledon Oxbridge in the near future.

I’ll leave you with a clip from last week’s Muse concert. BlakOpal and I had a great time at the show, and can’t wait until they return to SF again in the spring. Cheers!




De-Sewerfication



After quite a bit of consideration, and with a slightly heavy heart, I recently undertook the project of removing the sewers from the New Babbage region.

Providing a bit of background, they were the city of New Babbage’s original sewer system. Last winter, when planning for the region and what I had hoped would be a secure future for the shoppe, the sewers were a key element. Since I wanted the tunnels to be at least partially navigable, it required that the surface level be raised to accommodate the larger tunnels. During different stages of the build there have been a number of other secondary tunnels and spaces to explore, including an enormous cavern connected to one of the warehouse buildings, complete with elaborate docks and half-gutted pirate ship (in the process of being re-fitted with steam-power). As word spread of plans for a city-wide sewer system in New Babbage, I envisioned the systems being connected, and thought of additional tunnels and retro-fitting that would create a vast network stretching through the city-state.

Alas, it was the future that never was. My suggestions and requests to connect the systems went without response, and it was soon clear to me where things were heading. The traffic measurement devices at the sewer entrances confirmed that as the new system was put into place, fewer people were exploring the old sewers.

I had given thought to a few different possibilities, including the idea of creating some sort of winter wonderland ice cavern. Such a build would have been a lot of fun to work on, but unfortunately would have either required significantly more resources than I had available or not fit well within the victorian steampunk theme.

With the sewers effectively redundant, the entire north side of the region needed to be re-thought. I was excited at the prospect of Babbage getting some elevation, but the clockwinder eventually decided that BlakOpal and I were the only ones getting any altitude. At least until the region to the north came online. Unfortunately that region has been pushed back a few times in the development of New Babbage, with the last comment I’d seen leaving me little hope that it was coming anytime soon. Having a great view and being on a hill is all fine and good, but being the only guy on a hill is a little weird, and definitely not my sort of thing.

The elevation and the sewers and tunnels also present some technical hurdles, not the least of which was that we had to use a forced landing point. Due to the nature of how SL teleportation works, if you don’t force folks to a specific landing point, you run the risk of folks arbitrarily winding up below ground, stuck between levels, or generally landing in places they didn’t want to land.

So as I began the winterization process last weekend, it became clear... Level it. Sounds simple, but execution is a bit trickier. Even though New Babbage is no longer the main store, it still has quite a bit of traffic from the folks who’ve got old landmarks. Terra-forming and moving thousands of prims is a challenge on even a good day (and as Murphy’s Law would dictate, yesterday was not a good day in SL), but becomes even trickier when folks keep dropping by.

So, slowly but surely, I made the move. Actually, hundreds of little moves. Every prim that wasn’t pulled completely was dropped by anywhere from 2 to 20 meters, and then all of the typical fidgeting and fussing to get things to look and feel the way they should. Miraculously, I was able to move the shoppe itself without disaster striking. Once the builds were moved, I began the process of re-winterizing and filling in some of the spaces. It’s still wide open in a few spots, I’ll likely use some fill for the short term. While it’s a shame to see some things go, I’m quite pleased with the results so far, and excited to see what will happen next.

The snapshot below was from a hilarious moment later in the evening. As I was finishing up some of the details and getting to work on the sidewalks, I heard a loud rumbling sound. Turning to see what was the cause of the commotion, I saw that the place was being visited by a 50 foot marshmallow man! He explored he new space and continued on his sugary way - I can only hope that any future visitors of gargantuan proportions are as friendly as he.




Turning Point



The last few weeks have had me filled with anxiety - about getting the place built, about the opening, about the reception, about how the business might be affected. A million details, a million concerns, a million considerations. Fortunately, it appears we’ve reached the point where I can relax and breathe a sigh of relief.

Friday marked a turning point at the new Main Store. It was a minor measurement, but a major milestone. For the first time, traffic at Reachra surpassed the traffic at the old main store in New Babbage. That, combined with strong sales from the start and some truly wonderful compliments from friends and visitors, have sent me all the signals I needed - we did the right thing, and everything is going to be all right.

I have been making some progress on the island, with an additional building starting to take shape, and the gazebo in the picture above being placed this morning. I’ve also been toying with the foundations for some of the additional structures, and will hopefully start to get a few of those in place soon.

I’ve also made good progress on winter-izing our place in New Babbage. While the current state of the city-state leaves an awful lot to be desired, I intend to make the most of it. The picture below was snapped a few days ago, since then snowdrifts and additional texturing has been done. I still have a few more things I’d like to, and will hopefully get to that sometime this week.




Discovering Reachra



Over the past six months or so, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about trade routes. As you can probably imagine, supplying a string of shoppes scattered across the grid is no small undertaking. It was during the many expeditions into the desert to establish the Eridu Society’s Airship Outpost that I started to study the maps and think about establishing ourselves in a place that catered to trade.

I began studying the maps and charts, searching for an island. Not just any island, but one that could serve as a port for ships of the air and sea. I pored through countless documents and found dozens, if not hundreds, of towns and villages that had great potential. So I packed my gear and decided to go exploring.



Each week seemed to bring new leads, and off I’d go to see if the town might suit my purpose. But each week I returned in disappointment. Incredible sea ports. Amazing ports of the sky. But never, it seemed, in the same place. I have to admit, I very nearly gave up on the idea. Naturally, it was at that low moment, as I was drowning my frustrations in drink, that I first heard about Reachra.

I was into my fourth or fifth round with the publican and two of his friends, and we were sharing stories of the places we’d been, and one of the gents started talking about a place he used to go. Airships and sailing ships, there was always work and good drink to be found. At first I thought he was spinning a yarn, then my friend behind the bar nodded in agreement. He’d lived there as a younger man, but moved on after the airships left.

Despite having had a bit to drink, I suddenly felt quite sober and excited. This place wasn’t on any map I was familiar with, yet it sounded like a dream. But why did the airships leave, I wondered. I didn’t wonder for very long, as my friends knew Reachra’s history well. It seems there was a bustling airship outpost, with a great mast made from the biggest and strongest of trees from the mainland. I cringed upon hearing it, for I knew how the story would end. Any builder worth his salt knows you don’t build an airship mast out of wood. Not these days, anyways. Sure, you could use a strong wood for a sightseeing balloon, but for ships of any consequence you need iron or steel. But a great ship or a great storm would snap a wooden mast, and that is exactly what happened.



Apparently, way back in the great storm of ’42 (one the locals still refer to as ’the storm of the century’), a pair of merchant vessels were tethered to the old wooden mast. The pilots had been waiting for a boat coming in with some cargo or another, and thought they’d be able to get out before the storm came in. They’d been wrong, disastrously so, and in one cold dark night both airships as well as the tower had been destroyed. Without an airship tower, the boats stopped coming, and the town was all but abandoned.

While it was a tragic tale, I don’t think I could have been more excited. The very next day I stocked up and set out for Reachra. With fair seas and the wind at my back, I made it in a few days’ time. Exercising great caution (the name Reachra translates in gaelic to ‘place of many shipwrecks’), I approached and attempted to make land.



The eastern shore is a rocky, craggy mess - I can see where the place got its name. But the western shores were gentle, and a sheltered cove to the North where a great pier had been built. An old, run-down warehouse stood in a terrible state on the western side of the island. Still, it looked to be of solid construction, and the building looked quite salvageable. In fact, the whole place seemed rather perfect for my needs. Sure, it would all need quite a bit of work, but that’s never frightened me off.



I conducted a bit of a site survey, then did my best to make a map and update my chart with the island’s location, and then sought out the owner of the place. As I’d suspected, the owner had died some years ago. The loss of the airship outpost had all but destroyed him financially, which is why no attempt had ever been made to rebuild. His wife and son had survived him, but they wanted nothing to do with the place. Indeed, his widow had been getting on in years, and her loving son had been providing her care. We met over tea and then several dinners, it seems both were quite amenable to selling me the place. My offer was accepted, and before I knew it construction had begun.

The hilltop was perfect for an airship tower, and I soon found that the one I’d recently designed could easily be adapted for this place. An iron and steel framework, covered in brasswork, providing both form and function for the task at hand. Getting up the hill was another matter, but soon the rickety wooden steps had been replaced with stonework. The docks were in better shape than I’d imagined, but still took quite a bit of effort to bring up to snuff.



The warehouse would be a perfect place to base centralized operations - I’d be able to dispatch goods to any of our shoppes from there by sea or by air, as well as use the place to bring in raw materials and assorted supplies. Of course it made sense to open a shoppe here as well, a grande showcase of our latest and greatest works.



While I had given some consideration to the idea of designing a completely new building, those thoughts quickly vanished. Our tried and true shoppe would suit the place perfectly, and besides I would have my hands quite full tending to all the other tasks at hand. In what seemed like no time at all the island was habitable and functional again, and ships have been coming by air and by sea. While there is still a lot of work left to do, I’m proud of what has been accomplished in so short a time. A new trade route, a new shoppe, a new place to call home.











Summing Up Shoppe Things

After having read loads of clatter over the last several days on message boards, group chat, and in-world it seems an appropriate time to sum up our position with regard to BlakOpal Designs.

  • We have no intention of leaving XStreet. We wish the best of luck to those merchants taking their business elsewhere, but feel that XStreet will continue to deliver the best shopping experience for our customers and our business. And that’s what really matters.
  • We have no intention of tacking on surcharges to our prices, either in-world or on XStreet. Regardless of where our customers prefer to make their purchases, we are simply grateful for their business.

With that said, it’s back to work playing the role of the builder, designer, and shopkeeper. :-)

Soft Opening of BlakOpal



At the end of another long day. Today, however, I am very pleased to report that the doors to the new shoppe are actually open and the proverbial cat is out of the bag. A lot of the island is still unfinished, but I think that we have enough done that it’s safe to let people come and have a look.

Our goal is to create a space that is more than simply a main store on its own island. BlakOpal and I have been working intensely on the background and the art theme and build concepts over the last few weeks, with the goal that in addition to having a space to house our growing business we’ll have a fun and interesting place to explore.

The shoppe itself should look familiar - it’s an iconic build, and one of my favorite projects in Second Life. We didn’t want to just drop the building anywhere, so the challenge became to create an environment that the building would fit. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Early on, I began to center around the idea of a trading post. I’d just spend a couple months working on an airship outpost for Burning Life, and the idea of taking that further excited me. During the golden age of piracy, there were a number of island outposts where the law-abiding folks peacefully co-existed with those outside the law, and you’d get a mix of prim & proper and rough-around-the-edges types walking the streets. I wanted something like that, but not just another tropical island. In doing some research, I’d learned that there were port cities in the north that had exactly this sort of thing going on, with residents doing business with all sorts of privateers and questionable types.

North worked better for me. Nothing against the tropics, it just didn’t seem to fit the shoppe building as well. Not too far north, as neither of us are fans of winter weather. And it needed to be different - there are already a number of wonderful builds and communities in Second Life, we certainly didn’t want to duplicate one of the existing communities we love. New Babbage always struck me as being based on victorian London (though Mr. Tenk has suggested a coastal town in Poland in a post on the New Babbage Ning), where Caledon is more English countryside. And Steelhead wonderfully captures the pacific northwestern United States. Each done extremely well in their way.

Looking back, you’d think it was planned from the start, but it was actually a matter of all the pieces falling together at exactly the right time. Ireland. The timing couldn’t have been better, and the trip wound up serving as an opportunity for field research. And research led me to believe that while inspired by Dublin and by Ireland, it should be something slightly different. The coastal islands caught my attention - sort of like Ireland, but on a more manageable scale. As we were making our approach to Dublin, the plane circled near Lambay Island (see below), which I took as a sign.



On the other end of the spectrum from the brautiful island wilderness is the city of Dublin, and specifically the Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and surrounding areas. From that point, everything started to click and I went from scratching my head and thinking about things hypothetically and wondering if there’d be enough to fill a space and make it work to chomping at the bit and wondering if there will be enough space to do all the things I want to try and do.

The first couple buildings are in place - the shoppe and the giant warehouse across the street. The docks on the north shore are done, and I’ve gotten the shipping office building built (though the insides need a lot of work). The Airship Outpost sits atop the hill, though as of this writing the stairs leading up to it have yet to be built. But I think it’s enough to get things started, and so today the doors opened softly. Expect something grand in the near future. Come see BlakOpal.

The Cat's A Genius!




The end of what seems like a long day, and there's a kitten sitting in a beer box. What's she trying to say?

It's been a long several days for me - filled with back end projects. While it's not as exciting as something like skydiving on the moon or going to parties with monkeys, I've been enjoying myself. Testing is underway on a few different projects, and while I can't discuss specifics, I can say that everything has been going well.

The vendor machines in the stores have been getting updatd as well. Hippo Technologies released an update to their vending system that, among other things, improves communications. While their vendors have performed well for us, I'm all for reducing lag and fewer delivery problems. I've wandered to most of our locations to update and test each vendor, and also spent some time in the studio working out a revision to one of my own customized vendors. Maybe soon I'll be ready to pull the trigger on the remodel of the main store in New Babbage.

Maybe she wants me to ship her somewhere? No, that's not it...

I've been working on the site quite a bit lately, too. I suppose it's the nature of the internet, a never-ending project with limitless possibilities and limitless to-do lists. Progess!

BlakOpal finished a new gown that she's been working on for the longest time, and I was able to get that one into the shoppe and on XStreet last night. It's a really fun piece, I love the flow of the garment. To show that part off a bit, she even shot a short video over in Steelhead Shanghai - you can check out the dress and the video here.

Maybe she's thirsty? Why that's silly - not only is her water dish full, but she doesn't even like that brand!

We've also been tinkering around with a bunch of ideas for Burning Life, and I believe our theme camp application has been sent in already. My fingers are crossed, can't wait until we hear back. Between that and a few other fun build ideas, I only wish I had more time and energy available for playing with prims.

The last couple days have been crazy with notecards. Maybe it's me, but it really seems like something happened in the last couple weeks, because I'm getting more notecard/offers than ever before. Some of them are great, but an increasing number are just not even remotely a good fit. Hopefully it will pass.

Oh wait, I get it. She wants ME to knock off for the day and get myself a drink! The cat's a genius!

Welcome!



Welcome to this space, and the BlakOpal Designs site, version 3.0. It seems fitting to start with a bit of history.

While this site has only been in the production stage for the last week or so, it's been in the pre-production stage in my head for the last six months or so. Coming from a designer's background and having made my first web site back in 1994, the idea of having a web site supporting our SL adventures seemed obvious. We had hosting space available, and so early in the new year I built the first version of the site.

It started as a bit of an experiment, using the idea of a site for our SL presence and putting Apple's iWeb '09 to use and get firsthand experience of what the application can do and its ease-of-use. FYI, it's a great application that's perfectly suited for personal web sites, blogs, and basic podcasting.

We were both surprised and deeply honored at the success of BlakOpal Designs in Second Life, and with the success of the shoppe it felt appropriate to take the next step with the site. In the spring the 2nd revision of the site was born, living on the newly minted www.blakopal.com domain name. It's a strange twist, since BlakOpal Designs is a RL entity - we've been creating wearable art in one form or another for more than three years - but it took something like SL to get us off our butts and register the domain.

It was early in the planning stages for the second revision that I started planning this version of the site. While iWeb is great, it does have its limitations. But as often happens in the world BlakOpal and I live in, we've been juggling a number of different projects. Testing this and that, experimenting with different ideas and designs, and talking through different possibilities. Several conversations with developers later, and after testing new versions and squaring away an assortment of plugins.... here we are.

My goal is a site that not only showcases our virtual products, but also helps us show what we can do and experience in Second Life. Something that might be enjoyable to both our wonderful customers, as well as our amazing RL friends who scratch their heads and wonder what it is BlakOpal and I are doing with so much of our spare time these days. All of the standard internet disclaimers apply, of course. Pardon the dust, new (and sometimes unexpected) things are happening all the time. While there are many things I still want to add or include on the site, you have to start somewhere. :-)