Times are hard, and with the ever-increasing performance demands that pursuits like sl place on our our hardware, and pockets, as technical innovations and improvements move on, it becomes ever more difficult for the committed sl resident to stay on top. However, fear not: to be tech-savvy need not mean being out of pocket – you can indeed have a top notch sl experience without having to mortgage your soul, and i’m here to give you all the hints and tips you’ll ever need.
Let’s start with storage – everyone who’s ever spent a decent amount of time inworld will know you can never get enough storage. Once you’ve maxed out your hard drive to accommodate the fattest cache possible, you’re going to start struggling for space to keep all those screenshots and machinimas that are just begging to be recorded for posterity… but nobody can afford to keep throwing away good money on dozens of new hard drives.
The solution is breathtakingly simple – all you need is a couple of clothes pegs, a flipchart pad you’ve ‘borrowed’ from work, (just roll it up and stuff it down your trousers – tell your colleagues you’ve broken your leg or something), and one of those giant packs of felt pens you can pick up really cheaply from WH Smiths. Now, when you want to capture that perfect shot, don’t reach for the mouse button, just clip the paper over the screen (you’ll get loads out of one sheet) and start tracing away – your screen is a self-contained light box!
The beauty of this method is that you don’t need any of those complicated phototools, and you get to choose exactly what you want included in the shot; no more bulging hard drives, and you can even show off your pictures when you’re nowhere near a computer! So much more convenient that email.
We all know that a good internet connection is essential for high quality graphics – so it’s no use trying to capture screenshots if your bandwidth is so piddly that the scenery won’t rez, so here’s a handy little trick that doesn’t involve paying through the nose for extra data allowances.
Find yourself one of those coffee shops – or preferably a few in the same location – that offer free wifi, park up outside, and enjoy all the free internet you could ever wish for. No bills, no crummy home routers and no hassle – what more could you wish for?
Actually, there are a few things more you could wish for…
Anyone for Oculus Rift? Do i hear a ‘hell yeah!’? Thought so, but let’s face it, until it’s starting to find its way into the charity shops, most of us aren’t going to be able to afford one any time soon. Be not down-hearted… i have, not one, but two cheap, cheerful and downright simple solutions for you. The first will come in handy if you happen to have a spare monitor knocking around somewhere: remember that flipchart paper you nicked borrowed from work, now you’re going to put it to use. Place your monitors side by side – but stagger them so that one is closer than the other – make a couple of cones from the paper, duct tape the wide ends over the front of the monitors – aim for the smaller holes to be just big enough to peer through. Fire up sl on both monitors and enjoy the 3D sensation.
Alternatively, with a bit of fiddling, you can get the same effect with just one monitor and 4 cheap shaving mirrors. With this method, you sit behind, rather than in front of the screen. Arrange two of the mirrors so that the front of the screen is reflected in them, then the remaining two mirrors in front of you, arranged so you can now see the screen reflection in the first two, (still with me?). Now, stare intently into the mirrors facing you, until you go cross-eyed, and bingo! 3D! This method works best with a wireless mouse and keyboard, or a co-pilot to do your typing and clicking.
While we’re considering innovations, how about Leap motion? Yes indeed, i have a solution that’s affordable, yet every bit as complicated and unpredictable as the real thing. Simply grab a batch of cheap mice, (the computer type, not the Tom & Jerry variety) – as many mice as you have spare USB sockets – and plug them in. Using what’s left of the duct tape, mouse up your hands, wrists, arms, the cat – and anything else you fancy – and you’re good to go. Certainly, the results can be unpredictable, but that’s the price you pay for being on the bleeding edge of technology.
Who says you can’t have high tech on a shoestring?
Well I wondered through fortune
And I flirted with fame
But we never got the money
We always gave it away
Ocean Colour Scene – Lining Your Pockets