Monday, 22 August 2011

A Nest by any Other Name: Nest Inventory Management

Something I have always thought is a bit odd: you can not rename Meeroo Nests. There is no option in the menu and the HUD Rename button will not work on Nests. This means every Meeroo Nest anywhere in Second Life is called something like "Meeroo Nest #465788" the only difference being the ID# of course. At first I was concerned, if the Nests can not be renamed how am I going to keep track of them? With previous breedables renaming the nascent baby form was always an option. I renamed the Object with a label based on its parentage and traits then took it into Inventory where it could be easily searched. I quickly realized that not being able to label Meeroo Nests in the same way is not really a problem at all, there are two (2) simple solutions:
One is to place the Nest inside another Prim that you create for the purpose. Since you own the container Prim you can name it whatever you like. Apply the label/name to the container Prim that you would rename the Nest to if it were possible, then place the Nest inside the Prim. Now you can take the Prim into Inventory and it is exactly the same, from a search standpoint, as if you has changed the name of the Nest itself. Pluses for this system: you can send other avatars the container Prim, with the Nest inside, when trading or selling. This way the nest information is passed along with it, and it appears in their Inventory with trait information already attached. This point is nullified if your labelling method is indecipherable. If nobody knows what the name means you may as well just give them the Nest. Minuses: You have to first rez the Prim then take the Nest into Inventory then rez the Nest when you want to Coax. You would also need to do the same to verify the correct Nest is in the Prim. Which could be a pain.

Another way, the one I use and prefer, is to create folders in your Inventory for each Nest. Create a folder with all of the same trait information you would use for a container Prim, or if you could rename the Nest, then take the Nest into Inventory and place it in the folder. I also have Personality type folders to separate the Nest container folders. [See photos below] That way if I am looking for mates based on Personality it is easy to view every one I have of the target type. One possible drawback to this method is possibly loosing the metadata when you trade or sell the Nest. I suggest transferring the folder containing the Nest instead of the Nest itself. This will give the receiving avatar the Nest inside the folder in their root Inventory directory. It may confuse them, if they are newer, that the Nest is not in their Objects folder, but if you explain where to find it that is easily solved. They can also find it in Recent items and of course by searching. On the up side it is easy to rez the Nests directly from Inventory to check them and, once they have been placed in the folder, when you "take" them back into Inventory they will go back to their proper folder. You do not have to manually place it back in the folder you rezzed it from, it will go right back there when you take it.
Personality Folders in my Inventory root directory
(the !!! is so, when sorted by name, they are at the top of the list)
Individual Meeroo Nests & their folders
Quick, but amusing note: If you employ random Meeroo Nest sellers in your business, especially if you do not have loads of Nests in it, you might want to use the first option to obscure the Nest ID#'s. If you do not then anybody who wishes to do so can edit the Object and check the contents. Once they have the Nest ID#'s they can check the WW of Meeroos website to get all the information about them. Sort of defeats the purpose if you ask me. However maybe more work than it is worth, more-so if you have fifty (50) Nests inside.

Either method outlined above requires that you use some sort of labelling system. This could be anything from parents names and coat to everything you can think of. In Second Life both Object and Inventory folder can have sixty-three (63) characters in their names. Technically sixty-four (64) according to the wiki. That limitation makes it quite a challenge to pack all of the trait information associated with any Meeroo into the label. Remember that this would not be alleviated by making the Nests re-nameable since they would still be limited to the same number of characters as any container Prim or folder.

So what information do you need in the label? That is up to the individual breeder but I do have some suggestions and reasoning for why:

Parents Names: You want to be able to quickly tell if Meeroos are related to each other because they can not breed with siblings. Also most breeders will be looking for specific offspring from particular pairings. So parents names are pretty much a must.

Coat: Coat is important enough you are going to want to know what it is without having to check the website or rez the Nest.

Eye Stats: Again, important enough that you want to know quickly. I include the Diurnal and Clear/Dusty in this since they are associated and also vital statistics.

Gender: Obviously, for breeding, this is very important. Make sure to include the gender of your nest in the label.

Personality: Even though I have my Meeroo folders as sub folders in an Inventory folder of their personality type I still include it in the label so I can easily verify they are in the correct folder and nothing is amiss. Also good for when I trade Nests with my partner, makes it easier to place the Nests in the correct folder.

Size: Size can be compressed somewhat as I will explain below, a very important stat to have in the label.

Nest ID#: Do not leave the Nest ID# off the label! It is very important. You will want to be able to correlate your Inventory with the spreadsheets you can obtain from the WW of Meeroos website, so you need the ID# visible. Also you want to verify that you have the correct Nest in each folder. I know I sometimes accidentally drag Inventory items to unknown places in my Inventory when attempting to move them or even rez them InWorld. If you mistakenly move one to another Meeroo folder you will immediately be able to determine which Nest is in the wrong folder. Also searching for the ID# will bring up both the Nest and its intended storage folder so it can be placed back where it belongs. There are so many things you need the ID# for, make sure it is in your label somewhere.

Special Traits: The vast majority of Meeroos, right now, are normal everything, for special traits. that is they have normal ears, normal tails, normal heads and normal fluff. In the case that a Meeroo has no special traits of those types I leave that information blank. it saves a lot of space in the label. You can assume that any Nest that has no special ear-tail-head-fluff indicators has all normal for those traits.

I did not include Generation above because I do not, currently, find it useful to have. Label length is already an issue so I leave off any data I do not absolutely require quick access to. If you use Generation data then make sure you include it in your labels.

You are going to have to abbreviate some of the data to make it all fit in the label. Even if your Meeroos all have three (3) letter names you will run out of space trying to cram to much data in. For coats I stick to the first five (5) to seven (7) characters of the type. So you get things like: Wine, Ursine, High etc... I do not have loads of special traits so I have not assigned abbreviations to them all. Just remember to pick something you will remember that is short and can be easily searched. I am going with things like "SUE" for Short Upright Ears and ST for Short Tail. Size information can also be compressed. I use one (1) or two (2) letters for the size tiers (i.e. TC = Tea Cup, TY = Toy, S = Small ...) The only sizes that share a letter and need two (2) are Tea Cup and Toy. All the other sizes have unique initial letters. You then only need the whole part of the size number to indicate the exact size. So TC0 is a Tea Cup 0.0 where as a TC1 is a Tea Cup 1.75. There are no duplicate whole numbers in the sizes so that is enough to be determinate.

Finally I will show you an example, the label format that I have come to use. Keep in mind it is still a work in progress. I use so many different separators in the label to make searching for specific traits easier. Instead of searching for "TC0" when I am looking for a Tea Cup 0.0 I can search "}TC0" and it is very unlikely there will be anything matching that pattern in my Inventory that is not a Meeroo Nest. Ok so, the label for the following Meeroo:

Meeroo: Eve
Species: Gael Meeroo
Coat: Highland
Head: Normal
Eyes: Monsoon/Diurnal/Dusty
Hair: Fluff Only
Ears: Normal
Tail: Normal
Gender: Female
Personality: Friendly
Size: Toy (3.5)



The space between the [ and the ] is where special ear-tail-head-fluff data would go if present. If she was also short eared it would be [SUE] and if short ears and tail would read [SUE-ST]. Again, using all the unique separator characters is to make searching Inventory easier, for me anyway. Search is blind to case, so "SUE" is the same as "sue" when you are looking for something. I might have items in Inventory with the word sue in them, or with those three (3) letters as part of their name. It is unlikely I have anything in Inventory with the string "[SUE" in it that is not a Nest, nor the string "-ST" if I am looking for a multi-trait Meeroo with a short tail. Remember that in order for that to work properly you need to pick an order for special traits and always list them that way. I have decided on the form I have used here: ears-tail-head-fluff. The data between { and } is first Gender and then Personality. So you can search for all female Meeroos with the search term "{F/".

No matter what you do keeping track of your Meeroos can be complicated and time consuming. It is all worth it in the end, but it can be frustrating in the meantime. The only other option I am aware of is leaving all your Nests rezzed InWorld all the time. This both uses up a lot of Prims and makes searching your Nests impossible. You have to manually check each one, even if they are placed according to a plan it is more complex than I can maintain. That is why I had to come up with a system for putting them in Inventory [Actually my partner scarlett gave me the idea of using hierarchical folders instead of Prims, thx sweetheart]. Assuming we do get the option to rename Nests at some point any label system you decide to use should still work fine. You would just transition from using Prims or folders to store Nests in to directly naming them with the label and then taking them into Inventory. So long as the rename function supports the maximum name length for an Object [63 letters] it should accept the label without issues.

Hope some of this helps you get your Nest inventory under control. If you have a method you think works better or just one you would like to share drop me an IM and if it is cool I will do a follow up post with ideas other people have had for organization. If you have noticed any flaws or errors above also please let me know before I label to many more folders ;)

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  1. I'm confused. Why would you need to organize them at all in your inventory when all the info is on the spread sheet from WWOM? You can search and sort by whatever trait(s) you are looking for, then once you have the nest you want, you simply search your inventory for that nest number.

  2. You make an excellent point; unfortunately the spreadsheet does not remove Nests you no longer have, so they will still be listed but no longer in your Inventory. Also, again unfortunately, many of us do not have computers capable of running a web browser and Second Life simultaneously; so we need to be able to do it all from within SL. I do agree that using the spreadsheet is the best option, if you can manage it. It not removing sold/traded Nests (and how could it if they have not been subsequently rezzed?) makes it pretty much useless to me since I often find a match only to realize I no longer own the Nest. :)

  3. Also the spreadsheet will not have any Nests on it you have been given but not rezzed yet. Easy to solve by just rezzing them of course, but I trade with people in my Fellowship quite a bit and prefer not to have to rez each one. Just my preference.

  4. Well usually is someone buys a nest, they buy it for a purpose and coax it right away or at the very least rezz it... but yeah, I see your point about people who are not able to run multiple applications.