Bloody LL!


Notice anything odd? Apparently, Linden Research doesn’t, because it’s been like this since the 9th of May. It’s not a glitch, the map tile files are actually missing. Normally I wouldn’t care, but the planetarium code relies on the presence of map tiles to determine which grid coordinates to check for sim names.

As such, I had to upload the map from the 8th today, and it’ll stay like that until they upload a fresh set of tiles to Amazon S3 service again. If by the next Monday they don’t, I’ll rewrite the code to brute force the coordinate numbers.

Can’t rely on ANYTHING with these people.

Atlas Project

I’ve mentioned this before, though, not in the blog. A few days ago, I kicked the atlas generation process and forgot about it. In the process of generating the starmap, the map generator separates clusters, so it dumps a list of all continental scale clusters and where they are located, for later use. The atlas generation process takes that list, and grabs map tiles to stitch them into per-continent files. I’m thinking about making a planetarium-like product that will be an auto-updating atlas of continents suitable for sailors and aviators, with appropriate markup, and for this to work effectively, it needs to start with the highest possible map resolution — as everyone well knows, enlarging images does not produce the lost information out of thin air, and the more interesting image effects will necessarily involve using all the resolution I can get.

Well, I forgot about it, fully expecting ImageMagick to choke on most of mainland anyway, (which is one of the major expected snags on this path) but apparently, I should have given it more credit, as it only choked on the bigger, newer continents, so now I have the highest possible resolution map of Sansara and Heterocera for my efforts. At a whopping 13056×15104 pixels, it’s 20 megabytes when saved as JPG. Big enough to use in something like OziExplorer, if such a program existed for SL. πŸ™‚

That's just tiny thumbnail. :)

That's just tiny thumbnail. πŸ™‚

You can have it if you like, though, I didn’t want to burden my offworld server with this traffic and used a file sharing service to keep it.

Get it from

P.S. More of them!

Northern part
Southern part


And about darn time too, I was getting tired with it. :)

And about darn time too, I was getting tired with it. πŸ™‚

It took me three bleeding weeks to go from the simple collected star map to a proper planetarium, but here it is, shiny and packaged, and can be yours for only L$1900.

Globe version

Globe version

Included are versions of the Map of the Known Universe previously described at length in the form of globes suitable for keeping on your table — both the full resolution and a low prim low resolution version, various sizes of the hollow torus from 10m to 32m, a 20m size in a ready made building for it, and a complete manual on how to make your own in a completely different shape if none of these are to your liking. All versions automatically poll the server daily for an update of the map textures, if any was uploaded.

The normal reaction of people seeing the full scale 32m version is 'wow'. :)

The normal reaction of people seeing the full scale 32m version is 'wow'. πŸ™‚

Available from my inworld store in Takalo and on XStreetSL.

For the first 24 hours and in the inworld store only, comes at a 50% discount — check the special vendor on the table. πŸ™‚

P.S. For those wishing to see it inworld, it has been set up on the sim of Kernow, courtesy of Trinity Dechou and Aimee Trescothick — you’re welcome to visit it and see for yourself. To get there, go to — you will land at the telehub for the sim, to get to the planetarium, you can use the distinctly marked teleporter sign.

Map of the Known Universe II: Map strikes back

Yes, I’m still working on it, hopefully, getting a proper planetarium projection system released by the weekend. The code for that is already done, as well as the update backend, and the only things left to do is clean it up and make proper controls for rotation, as well as set up the click-to-slurl code that will actually make it sort of useful. πŸ™‚

Usually the first reaction I get from people is 'Wow'.

Usually the first reaction I get from people is 'Wow'.

In the meantime, while looking for sane ways to compute some statistics, I have stumbled on a much simpler layer splitting algorithm. Previously, the map would get split into layers based on geometric rules rather than simple cluster size, which would results in clusters which are obviously a bit too small making the continent list and big ones shaped oddly not making it, and necessitated an extra layer, but I now have gotten rid of this mess — the map exists in four layers: Singletons, Islands (clusters that contain less than 10 sims), Continents (10 sims or more) and Mainland (Linden mainland and adjoining areas). This allowed me to create a map with much less nebulae to it, and it is in general quite a bit more precise:

Neater, prettier, and it looks even better with glow. :)

Neater, prettier, and it looks even better with glow. πŸ™‚

Along the way, some interesting statistics actually resulted. Since the beginning of observation, 423 islands sank, 372 were created. That’s two weeks since I’ve set up the map API interrogation script. The first conclusion from that is that the total number of islands is still shrinking, although, not terribly fast, so no more than 600 islands or so are sinking in a year. What’s more interesting is that while the islands that have vanished mostly seem to have been a part of a big estate, the new sims have appeared all over the map in small chunks:

Red marks the sims no longer present, green marks new sims.

Red marks the sims no longer present, green marks new sims.

Another interesting observation is that there is quite a lot more clusters classed as continents than you would expect — the list of non-mainland continents is 139 entries long, with Azure Islands, the biggest of them, counting 229 sims, which is bigger than the smallest mainland continent (141 sims). In fact, the distribution of land between these four classes is peculiar to say the least:

That's discounting the Land Store Pool and Teen Grid.

That's discounting the Land Store Pool and Teen Grid.

Even if you discount the mainland, which would obviously skew it anyway with it’s weights ofΒ 141, 776,Β 1355 andΒ 2906, it does not seem to follow a power law well, or any other sane distribution — in fact, all the attempts to draw a nice-looking histogram have so far failed. Even in logarithmic scale. There’s way too many singletons, (11593! And there’s 2390 sims arranged in pairs!) and the biggest non-mainland continents are way too big, (229, 103, 67, 64×3, 55…) for which I have no decent explanation so far.

Oh well. πŸ™‚

Map of the Known Universe

Mapping Second Life is not an easy task. For one, even Linden Research Inc. can’t tell us how many sims they actually have, and you have to pry this information out of their systems with a crowbar. For another, the process of finding grid coordinates of every sim is a dark magic, and I must thank SignpostMarv Martin for pointing me at the process described here and other useful tips, or this project would not be feasible. I must also thank Peter Stindberg and Hyang Zhao for helping me find the furthest sims you can actually reach by teleporting — though if you find that a sim isn’t shown here but reachable by an average traveler, don’t hesitate to tell me.

I collected this data for a pathfinding system for Hands of Omega TARDISes, which is a story best left for another day, but once I plotted it in 1 pixel per sim scale, I noticed how much the map looks like a starry sky.

Shows promise, doesn't it?

Shows promise, doesn't it?

Some people would be content with pasting it on a texture as is, but I thought it doesn’t look pretty enough. So I went on to write pages upon pages of code to split it into clusters based on rules — singleton sims in one layer, small clusters in another layer, and all the way to mainland continents, for a grand total of five layers.

Every type of cluster is painted a different color

Every type of cluster is painted a different color

Each layer then suffers a different image manipulation approach to make it look more star-like. The end result, with a grid overlayed over the whole thing and some locations marked, looks like this:

The end result. Still can be prettier. Looks better inworld with glow and stuff.

The end result. Still can be prettier. Looks better inworld with glow and stuff.

I’m planning to build a planetarium with weekly automatic updates – the whole point of writing all this messy rendering code was to fully automate the process so that it could go completely unattended. It might also show up for sale — I will need to offset the texture upload costs. πŸ™‚