As many of you reading this blog post already know, in the weeks that have followed Linden Lab's (aka LL) August 15th, 2013 Terms Of Service (TOS) changes, there has been an explosion of concerns by the community of SecondLife® (aka SL)  Content Creators regarding their IP rights safety as well as even the legality of uploading content into the SL grid. 

This concern was initially sparked when one of the major sources of content (CG Textures) used by SL ontent creators placed a ban on their content being uploaded into the SL grid.  Since then, another content source (Renderosity) has joined the chorus of external content sites concerned about the Aug 15 LL TOS changes.  They also banned any uploading of their content into the SL grid.  As word about the LL TOS change (in particular section 2.3) spread among the SL content creators community (aka SL-CCC), the magnitude and scope of the concerns being expressed by this community can best be described as explosive and growing fast. 

The SL-CCC is a large fabric of SL residents who spend a known portion of their time either creating & uploading content into the SL grid (i.e. creators of textures, mesh, sculpties, music, copyright text, music, multi-media, etc.) for use across the SL grid, or, residents that tightly integrate with these creators on the grid (i.e. Merchants, Mall Owners, Art Curators, Venue Owners, etc.).  For the most part the SL-CCC is made up of two unique communities: the creators of commercial content (merchants) and the creators of artistic content (Artists, Poets, Musicians).  Generally these two communities don't often mingle.  But, because of this recent serious concern on the SL-CCC's IP rights being hi-jacked or the rights of those whom these up-loaders have been licensed to upload into SL being infringed, there has been a common merging of expressed revolt against LL on their recent LL TOS change.

Although there has been a significant and growing concern about this LL TOS issue, the communities realized there was no tangible view of what the SL-CCC members were aware of, concerned about, and would like addressed.  As such, to get a snapshot of these views, I (Toysoldier Thor) decided to develop a quick & dirty survey (using the free limited function features of Survey Monkey) to ask the SL-CCC member 6 questions.

Each of the questions allowed one answer of the options provided as well as an OTHER box.  Unfortunately due to an error during survey development, I failed to enable an option that let respondents select OTHER as an option.  As such, many respondents expressed "other" in the text box after selecting an option closest to what they were thinking.  Also, I say quick and dirty as this survey was limited in max responses of 100.  We reached that limit in less than 24 hours.  At the time of this blog, the total respondents was up to 134 but to see all respondents would cost me $20 and I don't think it would have dramatically changed the trends being seen.

So without further delay, here are the results from the 6 questions as answered by the first 100 SL-CCC respondents.
Observation on Question #1:  Clearly, the message about the Aug 15th TOS change and specifically Section 2.3 which contains the wording changes most troubling to the SL-CCC has got out since 83% of the 100 respondents felt they were aware or very aware of section 2.3 of the latest TOS.  Of course this survey was promoted out through the SL forum threads as well as several participating members of these threads.  This naturally created awareness.  If this survey was posted in general to the SL residents, these numbers would likely be different.
Observation on Question #2:  To gauge if there was consensus among the SL-CCC members on where they stood regarding their comfort on their rights being protected before or after the Aug 15th TOS changes, the results were very clear from the first 100 respondents. The vast majority felt they have become far less comfortable that their IP rights are safe after the Aug 15th TOS changes.  Also, NO RESPONDENT felt their IP rights were more safe after the TOS change.

There were also 3 "OTHER" responses among the 100 as well as 3 additional that I could see after the 100 limit.  They were recorded as:
  1. I believe that provision to be unenforcable.  See answer to last question.
  2. My rights are unaffected by the change as Section 2.3 specifies granting LL "non-exclusive rights". As such, this question is irrelevant
  3. this TOS is an industry standard in my opinion and nothing to be overly concerned about
  4. Speciifically about the LL right to alter and distribute even outside of SL without the creators consent or even
    knowledge
  5. Due to the TOS change I am not building new items for sale nor uploading anything for same.
  6. i couldnt give a shit, i think you are all over reacting
Observation on Question #3:  When asked how respondent's creation operations changing in response to their concerns about the LL's TOS changes, 39% of the respondents have put SL Content Creation & Uploading on hold until they see LL correct the TOS issue.  Another 20% believe LL will step up and fix the TOS wording so they continue to create but are holding back on uploading.  Another 25% of respondents are concerned enough / frustrated enough that they are pulling out their content from the SL grid and 1/2 of these respondents don't plan on returning.

There were a lot of "other" comments as many of these respondents wanted to clarify their position.  Here are the responses:

  1. THE ABOVE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION DOES NOT REFLECT MY TRUE RESPONSE. "Other" was not a valid answer to the quiz. I'm very concerned, but I have not changed my uploading habits. I am not a professional content creator. I am an IP attorney.
  2. I'm quite concerned but I can't just stop working because of it
  3. I continue to create because I have fees to pay, but I'm not happy with this TOS
  4. I am proceeding with caution as I believe that provision to be unenforcable. See answer to last question
  5. The options in this question are biased and far too narrow in scope
  6. I am not currently creating, but would not be inspired to do so until this was changed or corrected
  7. this TOS is an industry standard in my opinion. LL is not going to take my content and sell it etc. I don't believe that's what is happening here at all.
  8. OTHER: I still create and upload but only for my use, not for business purposes
  9. i will create content now - even upload to SL but i am holding back on uploading the larger more complicated work till there is some development in this
  10. Other (I will upload but obviousaly not anything to important to me.)
  11. I'm VERY concerned but have left current content on the MP but not creating anything new.
  12. I'm very concerned and still in doubt wether to continue my business in SL or not
  13. Other - its been at least 2 years since i decided to make all my own content and make it portable. if i feel in anyway threatened i will simply use it on other grids
  14. the is a busy time of year for me in sl and make most of my money so until after christmas i will continue to built in sl etc
  15. Very Concerned - But cannot afford to stop creating content due to RL mortgage needing to be paid. Am looking at options depending on outcome.
  16. I am creating and will upload SOME things but not all and I am concerned
  17. I'm aware and very dubious, but I have continued to upload to keep my business going - I just hope they change the TOS soon.
  18. cant you see this is just so that LL can sell SL & it's data on the servers to another company.... that other company might invest & give us better customer service, this could be awesome.... LL are never going to be selling on people's stuff individually... get over it allready
  19. I'm concerned, but continue to create. I'm especially concerned that outside Second Life content sources are prohibiting downloading their content into SL due to the new TOS wording
  20. I been uploading but just for custom orders i had from before august
  21. I'm not sure how this will affect me yet, but I'm mildly concerned.
  22. im worried, but i have commintments for now, so i keep creating for respecting those commintments
  23. Actually, I'm very concerned - mostly because I legally purchase licenses for merchant resources in order to create my end products for SL. Since TOS cannot be retroactive unless it is formally stated (which it is not), I will only be using existing content and modifying that to keep afloat until LL changes the TOS back to the pre-Aug 15 wording regarding for use on the service only.
Observation on Question #4:  To gauge what respondents felt would be the impact on the SL grid and its future if LL did not fix the TOS issue on section 2.3, almost 50% felt the impacts would end up being significant.  An additional 32% believed this would potentially kill the SL grid because of how the new TOS rules would scare off content creators.

There were also several OTHER comments provided to by residents to clarify their position. These were:

  1. I believe this indicates that SL is being lined up to be sold off, my confidence in the service is shaken
  2. If the status quo is maintained, no. But if they take someones creations and use it for profit without consent and compensation I believe most creators would stop making content and a class action law suit would follow.
  3. However, I think some content creators may misunderstand and potentially leave for less-developed places that probably have similar TOS - or will very soon
  4. This move indicates a further preparation by LL for an exit strategy.
  5. Other - for the average resident probably little or no change
  6. SL will survive, but the only quality content will be stolen.
  7. It will only change because of people's paranoia.
  8. If all the content creators become aware of exactly what this means, it could be detrimental to SL. But as with most things like this, most either aren't aware at all, or they think it's "no big deal", in which case it won't likely be that drastic of a change.
  9. BUT only because you are all over reacting to it!!!!! ohh and by the way you are making it worse with this survey, scaring everybody shitless
  10. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it will kill SL, or even affect it all that much - there have been a lot of major changes over the course of SL's history - but it all depends on how LL deals with it.
  11. Either the honest creators will leave and wash their hands of SL, which would devastate the grid, OR, only those who don't care about TOS (the rippers and IP infringers who currently flood the MP and grid with merchandise that is not legally theirs to sell) will stay. If new content in SL consists primarily of this type of illegal merchandise, LL's allowing this practice to continue won't be under the radar any longer. It will be front and center and they can kiss any hopes of expansion of the grid, or any other virtual product goodbye.
  12. Huge volume of already infringing content means change is unlikely

Observation on Question #5:  When respondents were asked how they would like to see LL step up and address their concerns about the TOS changes, there were 3 general flavors of responses available:  1) Do nothing,  2) Change it quietly,  3) apologize formally and change it.  The clear majority of respondents - 75% - believed that not only should LL fix the TOS wording to address their IP rights concerns but they need to publicly admit they made a mistake and announce they were correcting the problem.  This is likely a belief because the creators feel that LL needs to send a message out to calm the waters and assure creators and external content libraries that they acknowledge their error and have corrected it.

A slight majority felt that LL should revise the current TOS vs. those that felt LL should just restore the wording from the previous editions of the TOS.

There were several OTHER comments to this question as well a posted below:

  1. Revise the TOS to make it conform to contract law. See answer to last question.
  2. Only one phrase requires revision within Section 2.3
  3. I think LL needs to address what this TOS means and even more importantly what it does *NOT* mean. I think more than anything this is something that better communication could have avoided and could still heal. LL ought to have better public relations with the user community. There needs to be reasoned communication and discussion on this topic, not the one-sided shouting matches that have been occurring. I think that some who are most upset by this are actually misinterpreting the TOS. e.g., "LL is going to steal my creations," "LL is going to sell my creations," "LL won't let me upload licensed or open source content," etc. (And your survey needs a more unbiased answer choice for this question. I will select "Nothing - they changed their TOS and its [sic] over..." but the real answer for me is that LL needs to have better relations & better communication with its user communities.)
  4. dont have to be publicly - just change the wording to not claim right on content they did not make and release a new TOS
  5. Also explain the reason for change.
  6. Formally and publically acknowledge the TOS wording was poorly chosen and ill advised then revise the TOS with input from community to something that both LL and community agree is in the best interest of IP, creators and SL.
  7. it does need rewording, but i am happy for them to be able to sell SL on to a 3rd party
  8. I can understand that there is a concern by LL and they felt the need to revise the TOS, but I want the wording and intent to alleviate the concerns of outside and internal Second Life content sources and creators, so they are assured they have sole rights to their work.
  9. Either they should revise the policy and explain what they were thinking when they made which seems like such a blunder. The alternative is to be honest about why the company needs to make the change. I can not imagine any positive reason for users. Mostly I can imagine reasons such as preparing to sell the company, possibly also not good for users, especially content creators.
  10. LL should offer an explanation, but I'm not sure that they need to apologize, except for not making it clear what had changed when they made the change to begin with. It would be amazing if they changed the wording to include their intent, but I honestly doubt they would do it.
  11. Fire Rodvick, formally apologize to SL residents with promise this kind of TOS wording will never occur again
  12. Just put it back to the way it was before. I don't care about grandstanding and public apologies - I'm sure the bloggers will take care of that...
Observation on Question #6:  This last question was just a "personal opinion" question to the respondents.  It was not trying to calculate the legal standing of the TOS if brought in front of a court of law.  It was just to gauge the respondent's feeling on how viable the TOS was legally and where they felt the legal weaknesses of the TOS would be if it were to fail in court.  Most provided an opinion - 12% did not.  Those that did, there were an overwhelming opinion that LL's TOS would lose for many reasons if ever challenged in court.

That being said, there were also a lot of OTHER comments to this question as posted below:

  1. LL's ToS will not be challenged in a court of law. The arbitration clause will prevent that.
  2. I am not a lawyer so I do not know what the outcome would be, I just picked the answer I did so I could answer here.
  3. The TOS is a contract. Contract law specifically requires five requirements for a contract to be valid and enforceable. One is consideration. That is why a contracts specifically say "for $1 and other valuable considerations.... " They may think that being allowed to use SL is the consideration BUT the wording in that provision specifically says that there is no consideration thereby rending that provision unenforceable. I believe someone harmed could sue LL and win because of this. As far as waiving rights to sue, basically if LL enters into an agreement to perform an illegal act, this would not constitute a legal contract and the waiver is also unenforceable. LL's lawyers need to go back to law school. See this for the 5 requirements and explanation of each: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/5-requirements-contract-15616.html
  4. A completely irrelevant question which has no bearing in trying to persuade Linden Lab to correct a poorly-worded section within the ToS. Any answers can only be subjective in nature, as only those with a reasonable understanding of Tort Law, the history of holding to date when the ToS has been before a judge, and all limitations and caveats placed against those holdings.
  5. It's probably not wrong legally, but very customer unfriendly
  6. Other opinion: As a non-lawyer, I have no basis for an opinion. This is a meaningless question.
  7. I am not a media lawyer nor are 99.9% of the people commenting on this issue. However, I believe the TOS would indeed be upheld. It is an industry standard for user-created content sites such as Youtube, Facebook, etc. Please take a close look at the TOS for Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc. They are the same, and ascribe to the company the same types of rights over user-created content. From what I've seen, LL's TOS actually ascribes *more* rights to *content creators* than some of these others.
  8. ToS are rarely enforceable, period.
  9. I am no lawyer
  10. LL did not inform users of the change in TOS before changing the TOS, thus permitting users to remove content before the current TOS went into effect.
  11. every single one of us your agreed to the update,, also by clicking yes,, our e-signature is there and,, well a binding contract.. can that be reversed? I hope so..
  12. I have no idea
  13. no idea
  14. Other It would win in the vast majority because most people cannot afford to sue someone.
  15. No Idea-not a lawyer
  16. Other - but no one will challenge it publicly:) we've seen that before. stuff gets settled
  17. Assuming anyone has the funds and time to challenge them.
  18. not sure
  19. LL would lose a COPYRIGHT/IP case if they attempted to grab user-created content, but I don't believe that LL is gearing up to do that.
  20. i have no opinion on this
  21. I don't have legal knowledge to back up any personal opinion in this area.
  22. Unsure
  23. No idea. I'm not a lawyer
  24. No idea until it is tested in a court. I'm not a lawyer. I can only react to this as a content creator and how best to protect my work, as well as the resources I purchase licenses to use - I abide by those licenses and am therefore unable to transfer that license to LL (even if I wanted to which I don't).


CONCLUSIONS:
I want to point out again that this was a quick and dirty 100 max respondents survey to gain a general sense of the thoughts of the SL-CCC membership.  As it is only 100 respondents, the sampling is very small and does not necessarily reflect the feelings, thoughts, opinions of the entire population.  

But, there are some strong trends shown that indicate some consensus of where the creators of SL stand.  I hope this helps in the discussion and also begins to show to LL that its population of creators that make SecondLife what it is... are not happy with the recent TOS change - regardless of what LL's explanation has been via informal non-binding communications to the community.
 
For those that could not attend the SecondLife inworld meeting on September 29th @ 12noon SLT to discuss the Linden Lab Aug 15th TOS Changes, I have compiled and posted a PDF version of the entire meeting dialog that was on Local public chat.

You can click on the link below to download the PDF of this transcript from the meeting.
secondlife_tos_meeting-sep29-meetingtranscript.pdf
File Size: 117 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

 
Today is just a bit weird for me personally.

I know everyone is going to say "Its just a number" or "you are only as old as you feel" or "50 is the new 30"... and I completely agree with all those statements.  Also, I am not dreading my arrival of a big milestone / transition / change of label as one that has reached 50.  But I am sure almost everyone that hasn't yet or has already passed the BIG 5 0 milestone pondered this milestone from many different angles and has different feelings about their arrival of this major personal milestone.

Well I have this blog site.  So I thought I would use my blog to express my feeling and thoughts around this major milestone in my life that (unless I kick off in the next few hours) arrives tomorrow.

So, tomorrow September 2nd at 1:05am I turn 50.  Strangely enough, 50 years ago, Sept 2nd 1963, it was LABOUR DAY.  ;)  An appropriately labeled day for a mother to give birth to a baby.  In fact, for our city back then there was even a prize for the first Labour Day baby born in the city.  I was born at 1:05am and missed it by 15 minutes to another baby that won the honour.

More strange is that during my high school years I discovered that one of my good friends was born the same day as me.  Not only was she born on the same day but it turns out the same hospital and SHE WAS the Labour Day baby that beat me into this world by 15 minutes!

Another strange event is that it is not common for Sep 2 to fall on Labour Day, but it did 50 years ago and it does tomorrow. for me that seems like a special little gift from fate even though its just a fluke of math.  Honestly I remembered as a kid that I didn't like my birthday on Sep 2 because Labour Day was almost always JUST AFTER my big day so it passed a few days before school started and all my friends came back from summer vacation.  It was SUCH A TEASE - so close and yet so far.

So what is this strange feeling on the eve of me becoming 50 and entering the 2nd 1/2 century of my life.  Why did I post about the EVE of my big day and not ON the big day?  After all, Sep 1 has no relevance to me other than its the day before.

I think the best word for what I am feeling so strongly today is : "NOSTALGIC".   And why is the feeling so strong today?  Because once the day has arrived I think the moment of the new era in my life begins and the pre-50 era has passed.  So today is the day my mind feels it needs to honor and ponder and reminisce the 49.9999 years that have taken me to this day - the EVE OF MY 50TH.

First of all, I have always had a strange fascination for numeric milestones.  I don't know what it is but I do.  I am the one that when November 11th, 2011 at 11:11 am rolled by, I took an image capture of it as it arrived.  I am the one that has to always point out to my wife in the car "HEYYYY!! The Odometer hit 96,000! Look Look!".  In fact when my old car hit 100,000 miles I pulled the car over and took a picture of it :).  So.... of course, hitting the one-time event of turning 50... its going to hit me especially hard. :)

 Questions like: "What have I accomplished before 50?" and "What do I need to do in the days left in my life?" and "Am I officially now old?"... and most importantly...  " Why does that 55 Senior's Discount at all the restaurants seem sooo to close now and I don't feel like a Sr. deserving of the discount? "

This blog site / web site is focused / dedicated around my virtual persona of TOYSOLDIER THOR and his experiences in and around the world of SecondLife®.  As such, I know most of you that are reading this are some of the absolute amazing fun friends and acquaintances of Toy.... a part of my real life that started 5 1/2 years ago and I would be devastated if I ever lost.  Toy and all his friends and experiences might be part of this "SECOND" virtual life but it is as much a part of my "FIRST" real life as all that really is my real life.

But saying that. I know most of you don't know much at all about the RL man that runs Toysoldier Thor.  So all I can say about the RL me that will reach 50 tomorrow is that I have experimented, experienced, and accomplished a lot during this era that soon will pass in the next few hours.  I have also been blessed by fortune on my health up to the end of this era and as much as I don't treat my body with the respect it should deserve (bad diet, poor exercise, etc.) I thank the genetics that was given to me while I was baking in my Mom's lil oven. 

I also look forward to the new era that is about to arrive tomorrow.  I have so many new irons in my life's fire now (including some directly credited to my life in SecondLife® like my art) that I need to either make a success or expand upon.  I am a posterchild of entrepreneurship and I decided to embrace it for all its worth and all I have to offer by mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.  And thanks to the passion of art that SecondLife® spawned in my RL, I have so many avenues to explore and expand my deep new love for creating art.

So I conclude by thanking this passing pre-50 era for an amazing 49.9999 years of service and I am now ready to greet this new era of 50+ with a list of challenges to take on and a stronger passion to get them done!
 
Picture
All  ARRIVED   @ KeyWest Island Resort....

First . . .    August 2nd, 2013 arrived....
Then . . .   8pm SLT arrived....
Then . .     57 pumped up "Ready To Party" Avatars arrived...

Finally . . . Toy arrived   inside a wall of flames at his custom made mesh crooked stick microphone singing Trooper's "We're Here For A Good Time" . . .

and Toy's Rockin' Da Radio Dance Party was ON !!


During all his promotion of this event, he wanted it clear he is just a passionate SecondLife® Karaoke singer who loves singing is fave rock tunes over a blasting radio.  He didn't want to shock anyone in the audience that would think "WOW - this dude is just singing over top of the radio... he's not a professional gig singer like all the other amazing musicians that KeyWest Island Resort has".

So, it was a very pleasant surprise for Toy to see so many people show up for this event even knowing the quality of singing they were about to witness.

What Toy wanted was a Rockin' Party & Dance event where people could come, let their hair down, and fully engage in the event, dance, come on stage, and just have a hell of a lot of fun!  He didn't want the typical live / DJ events that are common in SL where the musician stands on stage and entertains the crowd while the crowd all quietly stands there and gets entertained.  For this event, Toy's singing was the catalyst and the crowd WAS THE ENTERTAINMENT !!

And that is exactly what transpired for the entire TWO HOUR event.
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Toy Workin his Crooked Stick Mic!
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KeyWest Venue Owner Liz Harley Workn' Da Pole & showing off her hot legs!
Thanks to Liz and the KeyWest venue, Toy was allowed to build a custom DANCE PAD up in the sky that was filled with the atmosphere to get the party crowd rockn! 

There were speaker cone dance poles all over the pad and most of them were being ridden hard by so many of the sexy hot ladies that showed up in their finest smokn' hot outfits.

Interestingly, and Toy was not complaining, there seemed to be a high population of sheer black stockings being worn by the ladies.  Hoping its a new trend.
The event started with 57 dancing party-goers.  And even though Toy sang for just under 2 hours with other amazing live musicians having their events at the top of the 2nd hour, the crowd stayed very strong at 45 and ended with a very healthy 30 when it ended.  No one could have asked for more.

Another amazing highlight to the event was the amazing hot RADIO ROCKERS Dance Troop that came with matching sizzling sexy outfits.  They wowed both Toy and the crowd all night with their coordinated dances to Toy's rocking tunes.  Even ladies in the crowd commented after the event to Toy how sexy they all looked and were a major plus to the atmosphere.
Of course who at the event could miss or forget the arrival and front stage sensual grind dancing by the likes of Chillee Hernandoz and Thalia Saramango. 

They got up on stage and swung their perfect poundage in rhythm to Toy's tunes - showing all those on-stage skinny girls how its to be done!  At a couple point, they made for two sexy slices of white bread for a Toy Sandwich!

All the time, Toy kept screaming out his fave rock tunes from bands like Nickelback, Staind, Volbeat, Coldplay, Daughtry, and even some country & blues tunes from Eagles, Urban, J. Reid, and Blue Rodeo.  Toy didn't think his voice would hold out for 2 hours (to some - they quietly didn't think it held out from the first note - LOL), but it did!
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Chillee & Thalia - showin' the Skinny Girls how its done!
All in All, Toy's Rockin' Da Radio Dance Party was a smashing success by all accounts heard so far.  It will be something that will surely be planned again in the future.  The hope is that all those that were not able to attend this event because of bad timing will be able to make the next one.

Toy wants to send out thanks to all those that helped him hold this event.  Liz for triggering the idea and asking Toy to do this.  Syd for coordinating the Radio Rocker Dance Troop.  The Dance Troop that volunteered.  Rachael Young for coming to my rescue at the last minute to make my mic animation work.  Coreo for her hosting support during the event.  And a big thanks to all those that attended and provide both Toy and the venue with their amazing generous tips!!  It was truly appreciated !!!

And......  Keep your eyes out for the next Toy's Rockin' Da Radio Dance Party !!!
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Full view of Toy's Dance Pad @ KeyWest Island during that heat of the party (click to enlarge)
 
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Toy's Rockin' Da Radio Dance Party

 LOCATION
 KEY WEST RESORT   (Click for SL URL)
(Toy's special Dance Pad venue @ KeyWest)


WHEN
Date:    Friday August 2nd
Time:    8pm SLT
              (until my voice or the audience runs out)

STYLING
Toy's voice can best be compared to the gruffy sandpaper textured styling of bands like Nickelback, Staind, Daughty, and Jimmy Reid.  Many songs Toy loves to sing are in the harder rock genre, although he will often tackle some of the country tunes that match his voice styling.

PARTY NOTES

Toy is a hard rocking passionate Karaoke hack
that will be abusing his vocal cords for all you
in order to sing many of my favorite rock tunes from some amazing bands  he loves, like:  Bon Jovi, Nickelback, Volbeat, Coldplay, Daughtry, Eagles, Urban, and many others!

This is all about partying and dancing to some amazing tunes.  So bring your best Dance Huds... or feel free to use one of the many dance poles that have placed for you in the custom created "TOYS DANCE PAD" located on the KeyWest sim.

 Toy created this Dance Pad using all of his own content creations, art, and mesh.  So come listen, dance, laugh, and enjoy the sights!! 

It will be a rocking time you simply cannot miss.
 
As many of you in SecondLife® (aka SL) might have already started hearing or reading about, Linden Lab  has been working for months on the introduction of a Materials System (aka MS for remainder of article) in SL that is available to the entire building community and would be visible for all SL residents.  This is extremely exciting when it gets fully deployed and will bring the quality and reality level within SL to another level !

But before I go any further I am sure many of you might not know what a MS is.  Well let me try to explain what it is and why it's so cool.

A MS is a technology that allows 2D textures (i.e. basic images like from a photo or a texture) react with corresponding shadows and reflections when light sources are directed at the texture.  
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Click Image to view my YouTube video this topic
Light sources within a gaming systems like SL can be a moving sun on a sim, or any lit prim (like a face-light or street lamp).  As such, since the MS enabled texture knows how to appropriately interact with these moving / changing light sources, if the light sources change in any way (i.e. they move or get brighter or dimmer or get turned off), the texture will respond to these changes and create shadows and shininess / reflections in a realistic way.

As part of this blog, I have created my first "Toysoldier Thor Video Blog Series" on YouTube whereby I actually show you how the new MS works within SecondLife.  Click on the video title image above to watch the 9 minute video.

Up until now (and until MS is fully released in SL), us builders have had very basic ways to provide realistic shadows and reflections on SL built textures.  What we have been doing is hard painting the shadows and reflections right into the basic texture to make it look like the texture is interacting with nearby lights.  This is referred to as "BAKING" the materials system onto a texture. 

As a 3D model / Mesh creator, my 3D modelling tool (ZBrush) has a powerful MS built into it that can interact with light sources, but then before I bring this mesh object into SL, I have BAKED the desired result onto the textures of the model.  When it shows up in SL as an art sculpture, you all might say that is cool and see the shadows and reflection.  But what the observer is subtly missing is that even if all the lights are turned off or moved, these reflections and shadows don't change.

This might sound like a small problem but the human brain is an extremely powerful interpreter of it's surroundings.  It picks up unusual lighting situations and concludes that what it sees is fake and not a real situation.  This reduces your human experience of the level of realism within SL.  Therefore, the better you as a builder can reduce these "Unnatural Reference Points" and fake out the human mind, the more believable it is to the mind and the more real the experience for you within SL.

I should point out one interesting fact.  SL has had a special MS active for a long time and we all see it in action almost every day when you are bouncing around any sim near the LL Ocean.  Yup... you got it.  Have you every noticed and marveled at how much more beautiful and realistic and interactive the LL Oceans are than anything else in SL?  That is because the LL Oceans have been specially built with a MS that directly interacts with the sim's sun / moon light sources.  That is why it shimmers and the reflections change as the waves are rolling.
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Texture or Diffuse Map
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Normal Map
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Specularity Map
Anyway, LL's MS is very close to full deployment and they already have a MS enabled viewer released.  Its not in the latest release of FS (4.4.1).  So I decided this weekend to experiment with this new MS on the SL Beta grid and installed the latest LL Viewer 3.6.1.

I took one of my landscape textures from my BANFF ROCKWALL texture pack that I have been selling for many years and convert it to be able to interact with SL's MS.  This is done by using a program that can interpret a 2D texture as it is being hit by light sources and creates a set of additions related textures that a MS uses to do it's magic.  These special textures are called MAPS.  

There are several types of maps but SL only uses THREE.  The basic texture map called a "Diffuse Map", the "Normal Map", and the "Specular Map".  The others are not used in SL.  To the left you can see all three of them I created for my RockWall texture.  The first one looks completely normal - because it is completely normal (ironically it's not the "normal map").  It is what I sell in my pack.  The other two maps look completely weird but these special colors on these maps are providing very important light reacting instructions to the SL MS so that it can create the shadows and reflections on your screen as light sources move.

There are many methods to create these maps, but an extremely powerful small programs that can very effectively create these maps from a basic texture is a program called CRAZYBUMP.  This is what I used to make these maps in a matter of about 1 minute.

Once I created the three maps, it was time to go into SL's Beta Grid called Aditi to do some experiments.  At the time of this article you have to use the LL's latest materials system enabled viewer - I used version 3.6.1.  Once logged in, I uploaded the three maps (i.e. they are just texture like any other texture so you upload them like you would load any image into SL).

I decided to create a floor and three balls made of this texture so that I could see how the sim's lighting and shadows interact with all the prims.  For each prim, I followed the instructions to load all three maps.  This is done in the newly enhanced TEXTURE tab of the object's EDIT window.  You first load the Diffuse map.  Then you load the Normal Map, then the Specular Map.  Both the new maps have several options to changes their interaction on the prim, but the specular map has more settings to increase/decrease the amount of reflection (aka Glossiness).
Once I was done, I set up the scene with the sim's sun set in the sunset position so I could see how the low sun's angle created the shadows and lighting with all around it (including me and a recent jail cell cage I created.

I also, create one scene with NO MS used and one with many of them prims using the MS.  

I also inserted a basic cube prim and enabled its "LIGHT FEATURE" similar to what we all use to make face-lights for our avatars.  You can see it glowing in the middle.  It was put there so I could see how the prim's shadows and reflections interact with this light source.

Finally I also took the same image of the MS scene from the latest version of Firestorm 4.1.1 to show you all that it does not yet know how to interact with the MS (even with all my settings at their max).

As you can see, even though my texture does a pretty good job in looking 3D-like with some subtle baked on shadows, there is just no comparison to the amazing realism that you witness when the prims are installed with the MS maps (the middle image).

Enlarge the middle image by clicking on it and tell me with of the three balls DOES NOT have the MS enabled.  Its very easy to see which one it is.

Also, notice the reflections on the floor.  What this image cannot illustrate but is very clear in my embedded video blog is that the reflections and shadow change with the changes in the light sources around it.  When I move the lightbox, all the shadows and reflections change to respond to where the light is coming from.  This is the most amazing feature of the new MS to SecondLife®.

When LL works out all the bugs and this is fully released into the grid by all the 3PV makers, grid residents will see an evolution to an amazing new level of realism.
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NO MATERIALS SYSTEM - LL Viewer (click to enlarge)
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MATERIALS SYSTEM on Most Prims - LL Viewer (click to enlarge)
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MATERIALS SYSTEM - FS Viewer (click to enlarge)
There was one quickly noticed annoyance regarding the EDIT of the MS deployment.  Once I set up the Texture, Normals, and Specular maps the way I want, if I later decide I want to change the texture's repeat pattern, the other corresponding textures must be manually changed to match the main texture.  Considering there are almost no instances where these 3 textures would need to be out of synch, I am not sure why LL did not lock the repeat values for these 3 textures together so that if any one of them changed, the others would also change.  They should have placed a manual override as an option but defaulted them to be in lockstep.

This concludes my blog on the new SecondLife® Materials Systems.  Looking forward to exciting new builds with it.
 
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Today I was completely surprised, shocked, and then angered when I found out from one of my many amazing SecondLife friends that the founders and contest manager of the ARTISTS4SL group disqualified my artwork submission because - as I was told the reason given to her....

"...it did not meet the spirit of the contest"

So what the hell happened that a so-called art contest in SecondLife by a so-called art group called ARTISTS4SL would reject my art submission !! 

Well I want to first tell those of you that are reading this blog posting that I almost NEVER enter these kind of contests.  Why don't I enter them?  Two reasons:

FIRST:  Because I am not one that likes doing photoart of avatars and profile photo art.  Its not that I can't do a pretty good job taking SL photos of avatars and  artistically manipulating them.  But avatar photos - clothed & nudes - have been done millions of times and in so many ways and by some amazing SL photo artists, that I couldn't think of a way I would add a unique inspiring perspective to this style of art in SL.
SECOND: 
Any art contests whereby the winner is chosen by open public forms of voting as opposed to being judged by a pre-determined panel of qualified art judges is just a sham of an Art Contest.  We all know that they are moreso popularity contests and not
We all know that these open vote contests in SL are just popularity contests and not a legitimate way of promoting the best works in an art challenge.  It also does not help the members of an art group like Artists4SL who's mandate is supposedly to help educate and ramp up beginner artists by showing what winning artworks on a theme would look like versus those that might need more aspects to their art.  By promoting winning artworks simply based on the most votes because the artist has a large network, it confuses new artists.

BUT, despite my natural tendency of avoiding contests like this NUDES theme of ARTISTS4SL, something inspired me to take a shot at this contest by this group.  The inspiration was because I got the idea that maybe I could blend a nude model pose in 2D format with my skills in 3D mesh modeling.  
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"ALL HE SEES" click to enlarge
So I recruited a lovely friend to model for me.  She patiently posed for me for over an hour.  Then I spent two days experimenting in my 3D modeling tool and photoshop to convert my SL photo into a surreal 3D looking portrait sculptured 2D photoart for this contest.

The result is what you see to the left and it was called 
"ALL HE SEES".

I contacted the organizer of the contest Jewell Wirefly on several occasions to understand how and where to register to be eligible to submit.  I asked what I could and couldn't submit.  I finally submitted, my work on the date (even though it was not ready that day).

Very importantly, as a final step of the submission instructions from the contest boards, it told artist to now go out and tell all your friends about your art in the contest and get them to vote.
As much as I don't agree with this "popularity" style of contest voting, it's what they promote so I played along and contacted a lot of my SecondLife, Flickr, Facebook, Koinup friends to look at my art and come vote for me.  I said it was a free vote.  After I sent out my request for their support, a few asked how many times they could vote.  I went to ask Jewell again.  She said only once but then dropped another undocumented bombshell on me... ONLY GROUP MEMBERS CAN VOTE.  Again, this was not in any instructions or rule.  But to show how lame the contest was, even though only group member votes count, they allowed anyone to vote and think that their votes actually counted.  I told Jewell that it would be proper that she at least post this new rule near the board - which she did.  

I had to tell my friends about this added rule to the voting and didn't expect any friends to vote knowing this.  BUT my friends are so awesome that most of them joined the group and then voted to ensure their votes counted.  In a matter of four days my art submission was far ahead of any of the other submissions - 57 where most didn't even break double digits!!


Then this morning when one of my friends went to vote, she was not able.  She contacted Jewell to ask why she couldn't vote for this leading artwork.  She was told by Jewell that she talked to the founder (whom I have to assume is JIMSLATER75 RESIDENT in SL and "artists4SL" in facebook) and they decided to disqualify the artwork because it was not in the spirit of the contest.

So basically I followed all the rules of this poorly structure lame art contest to a TEE and then because my popularity and that of my artwork were far greater than any of their other contestants, they quietly removed my art submission.

To add to the unprofessional manner of how this group's management operates, Jewell nor JimSlater nor anyone from the group even contacted me about their concerns or to inform me that they were removing my submission where I could have argued my defense.

I have removed my membership from this poorly operating unprofessional group.  I have demanded they delete my submission from their board that they didn't even do.  And I am updating all my notices in facebook, koinup, flickr, inworld SL, and this blog to tell all my art loving friends about what happened and how this group operates.

I personally want to apologize to all my friends for all the hassle and work I put them through to support me for nothing!  I love you all for your deep strong support of my art!!

Toy
 
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On Sunday June 2nd 2013. I was sitting at my main computer just popping around all my relevant sites like my SL Marketplace Merchant store, my art presence on DeviantArt.com, my art presence on Koinup.com, my SL Facebook account, and others.  Just was checking to see how things were going.  

Then I went to my FLICKR account to see how things were going there.  I guess it was my statistics review of top selling SL Marketplace items that piqued my interest on what are my most viewed and most "interesting" and popular artworks in my FLICKR page. 

Before I get into what are these "TOP X" submissions in my Flickr account, let me give a little story about my Flickr account and how its birth tied to a milestone of me starting my passion and hobby as a Digital Artist.

It is strange to know when one's new career or hobby or passion started to the exact day, but this is the case for me and my passion to explore my more ARTISTIC path in my life. I guess I always had that in me but it wasn't until the April 2010 SecondLife Fantasy Faire where my entry into a "Photo Contest" had me ending up winning 2nd place and it kick-started my career/role as a "Digital Artist". It was also on that day when I won 2nd place that I posted my FIRST ARTISTIC FLICKR photo submission. Prior to that date I only had 3 older images used to hold some group logos.  That date was April 20, 2010.

If you go to my inworld SecondLife Art Gallery you will see a lot of the artworks I have created since April 20th, 2010. But, if you want to see pretty much ALL of my created artworks, experiments, RL photos, textures, and basically any images I captured since this date, then my FLICKR account is the place to explore. It has a lot of works which I didn't think were worthy of placing in my art gallery - which already stands at 5 floors tall.

Now, one really cool feature of sites like Flickr is that it has a highly detailed account statistics section where you can see all kinds of information on all your submitted photos into your stream. 
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My 1st SL Artwork - click to Flickr Page
Well I decided to analyse and and compile these statistics for my Flickr stream and create a blog post about it - what you are reading now.  After looking at these FLICKR STATS, I have summarized some cool TOP X images that I will now share with you.  


The first general statistic is that as of the day I posted this blog I have submitted 176 images in total and they have been view 36,079 times up to today.  


To answer another question of "Why is your account called TOYSOLDIER98?".  That name came from my initial YAHOO account since Flickr is owned by Yahoo.  I have held some version of the name "Toysoldier" since I first came onto the Internet back in about 1994.  When I finally joined Yahoo chat rooms in 1998, there already was a "Toysoldier" so I just added the year to the end of it.

What I already have mentioned and you can see the image of it above, the first artistic Flickr submission I made was on April 20th, 2010 and it was called:
"Fantasy Faire 2010 - Sector Sci Fi"  ( 208 views, 2 faves, 6 comments )

One thing to point out is that if you click any of the images, you will go to the actual flickr page.  This will not only show you a larger image but I also provide a lot of "artist comments" for each work.  So feel free to click any image.

Here is the awards to my TOP 3 VIEWED Flickr images.  Top viewed means that the count does not take into account if the image had any "faves" or "comments" - it was just visited and viewed.  Following are the top 3:
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1ST - "VOYEUR"
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2ND - "MUCH TO LOSE"
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3RD - "GLOW ON GRUNGE STREET"
Here are the statistics for the 3 TOP VIEWED shown above:

1st - Voyeur (1407 views)
2nd - Much To Lose (707 views)
3rd - Glow On Grunge Street (682 views)


Here are the awards for my TOP 3 MOST INTERESTING Flickr images.  They are deemed most interesting to Flickr stats because they have the highest combination of Faves / Comments counts 
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1ST - "PRAIRIE WINTER"
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2ND - "FALL REFLECTIONS"
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3RD - "IRONHORSE EXPRESS"
Here are the statistics for the 3 MOST INTERESTING images.  The numbers in the brackets are (views/faves/comments):

1st - Prairie Winter ( 486 / 18 / 104 )
2nd - Fall Reflections ( 419 / 18 / 39 )
3rd - IronHorse Express ( 286 / 22 / 55 )


Some things to about the winners and their statistics. 

Viewing and popularity counts can be highly misleading since some works are older than others or I put more time promoting a submission into more Flickr groups, or other reasons.  Also, in the most popular list, Prairie Winter was my only recognized formal award winning artwork I ever created in SecondLife.  Fall Reflections is by far my most popular selling artwork in both SecondLife and MarketPlace. 

As for the fact that the 1st place Most Viewed being "Voyeur"... ^snicker^  I think that is because there are a lot of people with sensual naughty minds out there that like being... well... VOYEURS!  That is likely why it is by a factor of 2:1 higher in view count then the next highest views yet it only had 12 faves and 16 comments.

Anyway, I really hope you enjoy my little "TOYS FLICKR TOPS X TOUR"
 
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My new desktop layout (click to enlarge)
In my previous blog posting to this one "Taking My Graphics to Next Level", I excitedly announced that I just purchased one of my dream tools / toys for my home PC from Monoprice.com and that I was still anxiously waiting for it to arrive.  I also explained in that blog post the difference between a larger HD monitor and this class of ultra-high resolution monitors (the WQHD 2560x1440 or 1600).

Since then my new monitor successfully arrived as I went to the border of the USA to pick it up and bring my new baby back home with me.  I got it all unpacked and connected and mounted on the wall.  For those thinking of making this kind of investment for a 30" ultra-high resolution monitor, this post is here to provide a small review of my new monitor.




A Canadian Picking Up From USA

I am Canadian and monoprice.com is an american online retailer.  For those of you that are fellow Canucks and buy anything from the USA online, you know the several added costs and inconveniences incurred when shipping in from USA.  So many of you already know the hoops we jump through to reduce these major additional costs.

For this $629 monitor, monoprice was charging $31 to ship it to an American  border town an hour away from us and would have charged $80 to ship to my door.  But, since it crosses the border by a transport company (like UPS in this case) there would have also been another $60-ish added on for Brokerage fees.  
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Shipped Package (click to enlarge)
Then one also add the Fed & Provincial taxes - which for me is 13% or about another $80 and the Duties for the monitor since it was not made in USA or Mexico - about another $50  By shipping to the US border and picking it up I was able to avoid the $50 in added shipping costs plus the $60 in brokerage fees - less of course the $50 in gas.  I could have also avoided the duties and taxes when coming across the border but I would have had to stay 48 hours in the US and that would have negated all the saving.  I was also charged $5 from the border town's local US Postal Address delivery depot.

In all, I ended up paying $790 for my $629 monitor (since I already had $US account - there was no added exchange rate fees).  This might sound expensive but considering that similar classed monitors start at $1,000 and would have even incurred larger added fees, the $790 is still a HUGE BARGAIN for this monitor.

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Well protected (click to enlarge)
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The Contents (click to enlarge)
Opening the Shipped Monitor

The monitor is shipped in an extremely well protected shipping package as you can see in the "Shipped Package" image above.  The opening edges were also all taped up with taper-proof tape from monoprice to show if the package had been opened during shipping.  The stated weight was 36 lbs.

When I opened the top lid you can see how well protected the fragile large monitor is from any sharp severe drops or bumps.  And since the monitor was "made in China" by LG for monoprice, it was that much more important that all the components were cellophane wrapped from moisture.

The monitor itself is all black with the stand already attached.  The case is made of thin pressed steel - not plastic.There are only 3 buttons:  POWER, and Backlight Brighter & Dimmer.  That's it.  The back has a connector for the dual-port DVI and the power adapter.

In addition to the monitor, the contents included trhee other items:

  • The power adapter with a very large heavy AC/DC converter block.
  • One dual-port DVI cable that is made of a very thick solid cable (unlike the much thinner DVI cables on my 24" monitors).
  • An extremely limited manual that was moreso just a thin pamphlet that provides specs and how to remove the stand from the monitor (which you don't need a manual to figure out).
Plugging In & Turning It On

Setting it up was not difficult.  I already had two 23" monitors connected to my PC / ATI HD5770 graphics card.  I replaced my 23" LCD monitor and set this new 30" up in its place (just on a stand initially).  I was concerned that although my HD5770 technically had the ability to drive 2560x1600, it would not have the horsepower to do it effectively - much less that it was also driving my 23".  I pressed my power button and crossed my fingers.  I got real nervous when during bootup Windows set both screens into disabled mode.  Turns out it was / is a glitch with the 5700 when a disable HDMI device is also connected.  I unplugged the HDMI and everything worked!! WHEW!

Windows 7 started up and my new monitor started up and started to amaze me !!  My 5770 initially was able to drive both monitors quite well for normal PC windows activities.  The OSD (On-Screen Display) options for this monitor are ZERO.  As mentioned before, other than the power, there are two basic buttons to make the backlight brighter or dimmer - but pressing them does not bring up any OSD - the screen simply gets brighter or darker.

If set brighter, pure black starts emitting a visible shade of non-black dark grey.  But if you set the brightness to this level when the screen is black.... LOOKOUT when you open up a browser window with a lot of white - PUT ON THE SUNGLASSES!

Pretty much all the screen brightness, contrast, and adjustment controls comes from the graphic card's monitor settings.  I played with a lot of these settings but generally the best setting leaves the 30" dimmer than the 23" for darker backgrounds because you will become blinded with the extreme brightness if you dont tone down the brightness when the white browsers screens / windows show up.
WOW!  THE SHEER SIZE !

So lets talk about the size.  Just setting up the monitor beside the 23" already started to shock me (regardless of the resolution).  I took many picture for this blog posting but in all honesty the photos just doesn't capture its true size unless you are sitting right in front of it.


To give you all some perspective, click to enlarge the image to the right.  That is an actual view from where I would sit in front.  I have provided the actual measurements to show the difference in dimensions.  Also, the mouse and keyboard help put the 30" in perspective.

Simply put:  ITSS FRIKKEN BIG !!
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Compare Screen Sizes (Click to enlarge)
Comparing the Resolution - Why is More Pixels Better?

I was talking to some fellow SecondLife™ Merchants about my new 30" 2560x1600 monitor and was surprised how some of them had no awareness of how a larger screen by itself does not add real estate - just makes things displayed on the screen larger (and more pixelated at the same time).  Some didn't realize that its the major increase in resolution over the 1920x1080 that provides the invaluable added desktop space.
Well these photos will hopefully prove the points I was trying to explain on just how much more windows desktop space one can gain from moving to a 2650x1600 resolution from the traditional 1920x1080 monitors that most people buy for their PCs.

So the first image to the right combines two photos of my new 30" monitor.  The Top half shows the SecondLife™ screen scaled so that its window size is 1920x1080.  

The bottom half of the screen shows the same SecondLife™ camera angle as above but with the screen maximized and reporting a FireStorm™ screen dimension of 2560x1578 (my caption reported 2650 incorrectly should have said 2560).

Notice that although generally the view of the surroundings didn't get wider by simply maxing the screen, all the navigation screens and icons and controls remains the same size and therefore they became a much small portion of the overall screen.  In other words, you saw much more of the surroundings with little clutter of viewer controls.  The arrows on the screen help point out the increased range of views over the 1920x1080 screen.

But the added benefit of being on a much larger sized 30" screen with this resolution means you can zoom out and see far more of the SecondLife™ world without it being too small to see!

The following image to the right gives you another perspective and appreciation as to the substantial increase in screen desktop real estate you gain between monitors.  I maxed out the SecondLife™ screen on my 23" monitor inn windows mode.  Then I simply dragged half of the screen over to the 30" monitor.  

You can see immediately the magnitude of improved desktop real estate gained from the higher rezzed larger monitor.

Finally, to understand why a high rez larger monitor is a major improvement for anyone doing a lot of photo editing on programs like PhotoShop™ or 3D mesh modelling (like I do for SecondLife™ mesh art models using Zbrush as my tool), the large image shows my Zbrush app set to full screen on both my 23" (top half) and 30" (bottom half).

When you enlarge the image the arrows I super-imposed illustrates where the side tool menu options end on the 23" and how much more space is given to me on the 30" with the higher resolution.

The arrows also show how much more horizontal menu space
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SecondLife screen at 1920 vs 2560 (click to enlarge)
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Window spanning two screens (click to enlarge)
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Increased menu space (click to enlarge)
is provided to the operator as well as the increased workspace for the model itself.

FINAL OBSERVATIONS & CONCLUSIONS

I have only had the new monitor for the past week and I am still in love with it and appreciating the huge value it provides me on many of my business, graphic arts creation, and entertainment activities!  For the price I paid for this monitor, I could not be happier.

That being said, here are a few observations and few To-Does for me:

  1. The screen clarity is crystal clear, but I am noticing more and more that the ATI HD5770 is just borderline capable of operating the demands that this high rez monitor is placing upon it.  I have noticed tht SecondLife™ at full screen resolution causes the screen frame rate often to drop to very low numbers - almost not workable.  And, with my plans to attach my HDMI for my TV onto this card as well, I need a more powerful graphics card.

    As such, I am going to spend more of my SecondLife™ earnings to buy a new ATI 7950 graphic card.  They run about $300 right now but this will give me more than enough horsepower to drive all these monitors.

  2. I decided that in order to regain the deskspace on my computer desk, I bought two wall mounted articulating monitor mount arms for both my 23" and my 30".  It was $39 each for a full motion (except vertical adjust) arm that could hold up to 40 lbs of monitor.  They had to mount right into a stud in the wall.  But I am so happy I did this as it now provides me lots of desktop space!

  3. Monoprice.com had much cheaper 27" 2560x1440 monitors for about $400.  Unfortunately they were constantly out of stock with no end in sight for them to ever replenish.  If they were available, I would have bought two of the 27" at $400 each vs this one 30" at $700.  The increase Windows real estate would have been mind blowing and at very little increase in price over the 30".  I would have even been happy with the single 27" over the 30" considering the major cost savings.  But for me that was not an option.


I hope you all found this blogged review of my new 30" monitor of some value and if the money is available to you and you are a heavy PC graphics artist or gamer - this will be an investment you won't regret!
 
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Click image for product page details


Well, as one of those good 'ol country songs says... 
I have "Gone Out and Done It" today!


I pulled the trigger & bought an ultra-high resolution
30" IPS WQHD 2560x1600 Pro Monitor !

As many of my friends in SecondLife (as well as all those around me in real life) have already known, I am a budding digital artist for both 2D photo/image manipulation as well as my passion of 3D digital model / mesh development.  Like any craftsman in any area of interest, one is always dreaming of the biggest and best tools available to her/him in order to make it easier and much more enjoyable to practice in the craft.  

For a digital artist like me, one of the biggest items on our wishlist of tools for the trade would be the ultimate computer monitor to provide the largest and most crisp resolution and workspace to work with graphic programs like photoshop, Zbrush, photo-editing software, etc.  And since much of what I create for sale is at the target market of SecondLife and other virtual 3D worlds, a monitor of this class would take the experience there to another level as well.  

That class of monitor that has been on the market (although at very high price points for a few years) is commonly industry referred to as the WQHD monitors.  Technically there are many specific sub-standards within this QHD/WQHD standard but the two that are mostly sold are the  WQHD (2560x1440) for 27" monitors and WQXGA (2560x1600) for the larger 30" monitors.  Beyond 30", there is little out there for computer monitors of greater capacity and resolution.

In the past several months I have been researching these two classes of monitors (the 27" and 30") and learning about all the differences between the different manufacturers, the difference between the current IPS and the emerging PLS monitor standards, and the general price points for the two.  Prior to my discovery of the monitors being sold at monoprice.com, the general range for the 27" monitors have been slowly dropping down into the $600-$900 range and for the 30" monitors it has been in the $950 to $1,400 range.  As such, I have been constantly hunting for anywhere that a price break would happen for these two class of monitors.  As much as I wanted a 30", it was just too expensive to consider.  So I had already resigned myself to compromise and get the 27" monitor when one ever showed up with a good price and quality.

Before my story goes on, many of you are asking yourself now... "Why would anyone buy a 30" monitor for over $1000 when you can get monitors and even HDTV's much larger for a much lower price?".  The difference is the major change in resolution that these monitors are capable of.  Simply buying a 30" HD monitor of 1920x1080 (or 1200) resolution might give you a larger screen but it is simply stretching the same pixels across a larger space.  Not only does this not increase your actual desktop screen real estate (just makes it bigger) but it begins to allow pixelation to happen since the pixel must either get larger to fill the bigger space or small black space gaps expand.  With the larger resolution monitors, there are more pixels to stretch across the screen.  This makes the real estate of the screen bigger as well as more crisp.

Another real important note for anyone not familiar with these monitors and is thinking of getting one too... remember that you also need a graphics card with the ability to produce 2560x1440.  Although I have an ATI HD5770 card that can support it, I am considering an upgrade to the much larger/faster HD7900 series of GPU.  But, this means I also need to upgrade my motherboard to support this new card.... its like dominos :)


Now, back to the story.  I was not noticing any price shifts until I received an online promo from Monoprice.com offering me a discount on the next order if I would come back and buy something from them (I was a past customer).  I really didn't have anything I thought I wanted from them but I looked if they had computer monitors.  I FELL OVER when I saw they had an LG re-branded 27" WQHD monitor for under $400 !  I thought it was too good to be true and so I research the blogs on this monitor.  Sure enough most were saying at that price - its a no brainer!  I went to the site ready to buy two of them for this price.  BUT, they were out of stock.  I waited over 4 weeks and the stated ETA for in-stock slipped 3 times.  In fact I read blogs that said the monitors have been out of stock since early Jan.


Well today I did my regular check on the status of the monitor and although that monitor was still out of stock, I fell over again when I noticed they introduced two new larger 30" 2560x1600 monitors for sale and also at price points that were almost 1/2 of the general price for a 30" !!


I didn't hesitate at all.  I decided to take a chance and pull the trigger on buying the FVI interface only version of the monitor with a set price of $698.  I asked if I still had my "come back discount" of 20% but that expired.  But, the gave me a 10% discount which brought this monitor down to an amazing $629 - the price of most of the cheaper 27" monitors.


I can't tell you yet if I am happy with my purchase as it has not yet arrived and since I am from Canada, I shipped the monitor to a shipping address at the US border in order to majorly reduce the shipping cost.  LG is a good maker of monitors so although I don't expect it to meet the spec's of the top ranked of the monitors of this class, it will likely still be at a function and quality that I will be happy with.  AT LEAST I HOPE SO!


I will update this blog after I finally get it and have used it a bit.