Saturday, May 31, 2014

Keep your inventory under control (Part 3)

This article was published in Fusion Magazine, May 2014. Click for the magazine!

Greetings everybody! In the previous issue we learned the Search feature, which helps us find even the most hidden items, and serves also as a filter to speed up our sorting task. In this issue we're going to talk about packing.

Why packing?

First, because exactly as happens in the real world, there are items we stop using. From clothes to videogames to shoes, all those items have a moment in our lives. Many deteriorate and we have to throw them away. Others don't deteriorate, but we use them no more. In SL, it happens the same.

But second, and perhaps more importantly, because by packing, we may reduce the total number of items in our inventory. This has good consequences: it's easier to find what we're looking for, and we don't have to wait an eternity whenever the inventory reloads entirely.

Packing in SL doesn't mean getting rid of our items permanently. It means storing them in placeholders that will use less of our inventory space than the items themselves, unpacked.

Packing requires a specific prerequisite: rezzing and linking boxes. We will be assuming this knowledge here, but don't worry. If you don't know what this rezzing or linking boxes mean, the following link from the knowledge base will give you a good start:

Why do we need to know this? Let's think about this, with a practical case: We are going to pack all of our gowns, and do some cleanup after that (Guys, you can pick something different, like suits. Unless of course if you also like to wear gowns.)

Suppose that we have all of our gowns correctly sorted. There will be gowns using system layers and flexi skirts that perhaps nowadays we do not use, and there will be mesh gowns in all their sizes and colors.

Let's count all of them. How many gowns do we have? Six? Twenty? One hundred and thirteen?

Then rez a box, duplicate it, repeat... until you have as many boxes as gowns. You may of course arrange said boxes in rows and columns. (If you are the case of one hundred and thirteen... You will need this!)

Let's add a tip here: If you rez a box, duplicate it, and link the two boxes, now you could duplicate them... Having quickly, four boxes. And if you link those four boxes, then duplicate them... That's it, now you have eight boxes. If you are in need of a high number of boxes, this technique will speed the process quite a bit.

Since we're talking about tips, let's add something else here: when you link all the boxes, then edit the linked set, click the Features tab and change the Physics Type to Convex Hull. That will make, in almost all cases, for the Land Impact count to halve (if there are many scripts, then it may be slightly higher).

Yet one more tip: You can change the Physics Type right in the first box: the property will be duplicated when you duplicate the box, so when you link the first couple of boxes, the Land Impact of the two linked boxes will be just one.

Now, we can use the Name or the Description field of each box, for the purposes of labelling what we're packing: it depends on if identifying the items in each box is relevant for you, or not. It is for me, and this is how I proceed each time I pack:

First I rez and link all the boxes I may need. Then I edit the boxes, and click a checkbox named Edit linked. This allows me to select each box individually. Now I click the first box to select it. I use the Description field to copy/paste from my folder name, the label that will allow me to identify the item inside. Then I click the Content tab of said box. Then I select all items in my inventory, hold the CTRL key pressed, and drag the items from my inventory to the box. I wait to see the inventory of the box reload, then I click the next box, and repeat the process.

Why have I said to hold the CTRL key pressed? It could happen that among the selected items, there are scripts. If we do not hold the CTRL key pressed, the scripts will attempt to execute once inside the box. This may create all sorts of havoc. To make sure that nothing regrettable will happen, always hold the CTRL key pressed (Yes, there are scripts that could delete your linked boxes, and if a script deletes your boxes, there is no way to recover them. Double ouch if you were packing no copy items. Always hold the CTRL key pressed. Always.)

As a little side note: Do not drop more than 100 items at a time inside your box. This could cause inventory creation issues, and it's a pain keeping up with it. If a folder contains many, many items, select several at once, drag them from inventory to the box, wait for the inventory to reload, select more items, and repeat.

Why have I used the Description field rather than name? Because once I'm done, I untick Edit linked and then give the whole set a Name such as Gowns - Packed 2014/05/12, which will be the name showing in inventory. That way, when I look in my inventory and read the name of the object, I know what's inside the boxes, and when was the last time I packed.

Make sure that you are doing this at a place where you can rez. In order to pack, you need to rez inworld. If you don't own land, you may look for sandboxes.

We can now proceed and pack all the items in our inventory. The first time, this may be a very painful (time consuming) task. But once we get in the habit, packing each three-six months (depending on our shopping habits) will not take more than a morning, and we'll keep our inventory in really good shape.

In the next issue we'll talk about several ideas to delete items that have already been packed, in order to free space from our inventory. Keep up the good work!

Enjoy your SL.

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