by Liv Leigh
Imagine an avatar with a wild, wild haircut, imagine complex calculations. Imagine someone with a passion for mathematics who tries to solve the big questions of our little virtual universe. There’s a name that goes with this picture and it’s not ‘Albert’… Liv Leigh interviewed Hay Ah, the startline lady. A story about the ongoing battle against lag, about new features to come. A story about beach, Beach Cats and how Bittersweet Lime may have saved the J-Classic’s port-to-port races.
“I never knew about lag before I started scripting the racelines, I was innocent and happy.”
Liv Leigh: Most of us know you as the startline woman… But there must be a way you got into sailing and into scripting for it. How did it start?
Hay Ah: Well, I wanted to start scripting immediately when I was in sl, but it was way too hard for a newbee scripter to start.
Hay Ah: So I ended up partying and shopping for 3 months.
Hay Ah: Later i started with changing little scripts and eventually progressed.
Liv Leigh: I see, do you have a background in RL programming?
Hay Ah: Not really, I liked mathemathics in school, those problems were like puzzles to me.
Hay Ah: I knew how to edit some php scripts and java but that was it.
Hay Ah: I learnt everything from the lsl wiki.
Liv Leigh: That’s pretty impressive, considering the impact your items have made in the community so far. Especially in the relatively short period you’ve been providing them. Why did you choose for sailing as a platform to script for?
Hay Ah: Well, I was present in the sailing community since about summer ’08. I always liked beach living. I liked the openness of the community and off course I liked learn to sail in SL.
Hay Ah: After I had the possibility to buy land in the Sailors Cove sims I met Epicurus Emmons and he asked me if I maybe would like to write a startline.
Hay Ah: That was last februari.
Liv Leigh: Ahh.. and you had never done such a thing before?
Hay Ah: No, this was far more complex and difficult then I had ever imagined.
Hay Ah: I learnt scripting while doing it.
Hay Ah: Lots of testing off course, trial and error.
Liv Leigh: I bet..
Hay Ah: But i can surely say this is the most complex set of scripts i have ever wrote, learnt a lot from it too, especially about lag issues.
Liv Leigh: And I guess the work is not over yet?
Hay Ah: Haha. I thought I was ready at a certain point, yes, I truly believed that, but there are so many ideas to put in.
Liv Leigh: We know you are now one of 2 persons to have developed a networked line, which offers us the chance to do port-to-port races. This dream is well over 18 months old in SL, if not longer. I remember I heard Owen Oyen was working on one a long long time ago.
Hay Ah: Oh really? I didnt know that, I only knew of Cynthia and Yuu + Mothgirl.
Liv Leigh: I remember Joepie Korobase and I had been dreaming on it over a year ago. Mothgirl or Joepie told me this.
Hay Ah: Yeah, I spoke with Joepie too, she made me think about making a networked raceline.
Liv Leigh: Oh lol.. So I guess there are some people who do exercise influence on development in the background.
Hay Ah: Yes, Epi always had contacts everywhere across SL and he introduced me to a lot of people. Joepie had some very bright ideas about the lines, she wanted to set up a central server wich would connect all the lines.
Liv Leigh: That sounds a bit like Owen’s system for calculating currents. How is your line done now?
Hay Ah: Well, you can wear a special network HUD and you can assign the raceline to the role of start or finish line.
Hay Ah: You have to go to the sim the startline is in. When this is set as a startline, you will have to go to the other sim with your designated finish line.
Liv Leigh:That sounds not too hard.
Hay Ah: When they are both set, you just start the startline by the push of a button and its synced to the finish line. All data of the owner and the time will go to the finishline by email.
Hay Ah: Its really simple, I think.
Hay Ah: Point is, it had to be very easy to set up, and there couldnt be any problems like servers not being accesable.
Liv Leigh: Great.. What do you think the impact is that this system will have on sailing, apart from making the J-classic possible?
Hay Ah: I think SL sailing will never be the same.
Hay Ah: It’s just fun to not be bound to one place and feel free how to plot your own race in a way.
Liv Leigh: I agree, I also think it will offer us a lot of new course options within smaller areas even.
Hay Ah: Yeah, there can be made very peculiar races with a small setup.
Liv Leigh: Now about something else.. You do sail yourself. What boats do you use most?
Hay Ah: Oh!
Hay Ah: I love the Trudeau Beach Cat the most. 😀 It’s so much fun sailing that ship and it’s very, very fast.
Liv Leigh: A notorious speed monster!
Hay Ah: Yeah, it really is, and it’s not script heavy. But the features in the cat are a bit outdated, there is no windshadow or so.
Liv Leigh: Yes, it’s a pity it’s not being raced as much anymore lately.
Hay Ah: Sometimes I see someone sailing it. I believe Julia Ceres hold races with the cat sometimes.
Liv Leigh: Yes, one of it’s bigger fans you mentioned there
Hay Ah: Yeah, she is a speedmonster herself too.
Liv Leigh: LOL
Hay Ah: She is the only one I knew when I first entered the sailing sims.
Hay Ah: I met her way back in Violet Welcome Center in our newbee fase.
Liv Leigh: You mentioned your first 3 months in SL: Partying and shopping. Apart from that I think most of us have some places locked into our hearts from those beginning periods. What would be your favourite spots? and maybe one of the old spots is till amongst them?
Hay Ah: Ohh, that’s very difficult to say, I love to explore a lot through SL. If I have spare time, that’s what i do most.
Hay Ah: I love the XYZ sim a lot, very special art and structures there and no way of re-making them. 🙂
Hay Ah: I love to see spacy sculpty sims with abstract unknown objects, like Xeniversity.
Liv Leigh: I see.. I saw some in your profile. Also every pic had it’s quotes attached to them.
Hay Ah: Yeah, the quotes ^ ^ I love them. 🙂
Hay Ah: I am in a group called keep moving and they have a quote of the day always…..I just pick out the ones I love most for a certain event….
Hay Ah: “Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
Liv Leigh: You mentioned ‘lag’ before. The evil monster that lives in the depth of our seas and all sailors are scared of. Could you maybe, as scripter, tell us a little more what is meant with lag, and what versions we have?
Hay Ah: Oh dear, lag is pure evil.
Hay Ah: I never knew about lag before I started scripting the racelines, I was innocent and happy ^ ^
Hay Ah: But then my scripts didn’t react to my commands, they suddenly delayed when there where more and more boats present at the startline.
Hay Ah: Oh my, I have had nightmares of lag since then.
Liv Leigh: 🙂
Hay Ah: You can see it as the queing of printjobs. When an event has started in a script like the colission with the raceline, it will get delayed and queued.
Hay Ah: And thats not all.
Hay Ah: If that was it, it would be okay, but a sim has to process alot of events during one second, and if it is too many then it will be simply queued. 😀 As a result the commands given by the start line scripts won’t be able to start in time.
Hay Ah: It was very hard to find out how I should proceed at that point.
Liv Leigh: I bet. I think I would log off by then 🙂
Hay Ah: I tested it, changed a bit, tested it again and again and again, until I found the best combination of internal script communication and less delayed calculations. Bittersweet Lime helped me out on the point I was about to quit it.
Hay Ah: She explained how lag worked and helped me to form ideas I needed to solve the problems.
Hay Ah: Most of my scripting time went into testing how I could avoid lag, or better said deal with lag. I designed my line around it.
Liv Leigh: And now.. You have learnt a lot about it.. and helped revolutionise the lines.
Hay Ah: Yeah ^ ^ I feel great about it. 🙂
Hay Ah: I always wanted to do something for the sailing community, this has been my chance.
Liv Leigh: What would be the next steps? Ideas for the future etc.
Hay Ah: Well, the next big thing for me would be handicap scoring.
Hay Ah: That means that different types of boats can start side by side and when finished, every boat of a certain type would get an adjusted time accordingly to their handicap rating.
Hay Ah: Cynthia Centaur has a raceline in madaket wich usues handicap scoring and offered to help me with it, it would be great for future races when it doesnt matter in what boat you start.
Liv Leigh: Yes, it would help a lot of us who sometimes miss races for their favourite boat in the program.
Hay Ah: Also I have an idea to make a score board and a line that will give out the time standings inbetween a race.
Hay Ah: Yuu and Mothgirl are testing http communication with the racelines and I want to test it for myself too. I just hope there wont be too many sailors located in one sim in the very near future.
Liv Leigh: Could you maybe as a last thing answer my regular standard question? What would you, with your background in the SL Sailing world, advice newbee sailors?
Hay Ah: Ghihi…
Liv Leigh: 😛
Hay Ah: My advice would be to just have fun in every aspect while sailing.
Hay Ah: Then everything will be going automatically, it won’t be hard, but just very nice.
Liv Leigh: That’s great, thanks a lot for the interview!
Hay Ah: Thank you Liv. 😉