Seamless scrolling panoramas and screensavers made in Second Life. More can be seen on the Lusus Studio YouTube channel.

Tiptoes Christmas Little Planet


This year's festive jigsaw puzzle is a little different in that its a small planet scene. The image was taken at Dreamers, which offers a great Christmas scene to help immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the season. The location description says,

Bundle up the little ones for a family trip full of winter activities, an advent calendar by Tiptoes, and visit Santa to send a letter to the North Pole!

This jigsaw puzzle is available to download and keep, so you can solve it in your own time, or you can play it below on this page. The downloadable version however is a little more difficult. The jigsaw file is stored on Google Drive which scans for nasty content, so you can be sure your download is safe. Grab the jigsaw puzzle here.


To view the  puzzle here full screen click the icon to the lower right. There are also icons to the lower left that will show a ghost image of the puzzle as well as a thumbnail.


If you like this jigsaw puzzle, then we have a lot more for you here.


 Enjoy solving this festive jigsaw puzzle, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year!

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How To Update To Windows 10 For Free



As many Windows 7 users will know, Microsoft will be discontinuing support in January, leaving them with a choice of using an increasingly vulnerable PC/laptop or paying through the nose for Windows 10. What is not widely known however, is that it is still possible to get Windows 10 for free, if you're willing to do a bit of extra work. 

Getting Started

Before installing Windows 10 there is a little preparation involved. You will need:

  • To know the Windows 7 product key
  • To know if your PC is 32 bit or 64 bit
  • To know the version of Windows presently running on your PC, (ie Windows 7 Home, or Windows 7 Professional, etc)
  • A USB flash drive with at least 8Gb of storage
  • To back up your PC (not essential but recommended)

 1/ Firstly, you need to know your present copy of Windows' product key as you'll be asked to enter it during the installation process. It will of course need to be a genuine key.


If you don't know the product key there is software available that will find it for you. One such app is called ProduKey



Visit the web site and scroll down the page until you find the above options, then select the one that suits your system.


2/ This is where the second preparation step comes in, as you'll need to know if your PC/laptop is 32bit or 64bit. 


If you don't know this, the place to find out is under the Control Panel, and the System tab. The above shows the path where System information can be found. Bear in mind this is from a PC running Windows 10, so may look a little different on a Windows 7 PC.


3/ Armed with this knowledge, select the appropriate option from the list shown above to download the app. When updating a 64 bit Windows 7 laptop I selected the zipped version, which worked well.


After I downloaded and opened this app a warning from the PC's antivirus software popped up. This was a false positive, but if you're in any doubt, use another app.


4/ Once its downloaded unzip the folder and hit the exe file. The app will start and immediately show your product key. Write it down as you'll need it.


 5/ The next step is to find out what version of Windows the PC is currently running, ie Windows 7 Home, or Professional etc. This will also be displayed under the System tab.


6/ Now you will need to have either a USB flash drive with at least 8GB of storage, or DVR discs. This is to download Windows 10 to. (We'll now assume that the easiest option of a USB flash drive is 



7/ The final step is to back up your PC, just in case. 


We're now ready to get a copy of Windows 10

Downloading A Free Copy of Windows 10 


Microsoft still have an active page where Windows 10 can be downloaded for free, so follow the link then scroll down until you see the above. Connect the USB flash drive to your PC.

There are three help sections under the download link, the first two are the most useful. If you're going to install Windows 10 on the PC you're downloading to, then the first set of instructions should be followed. 
If you intend to install Windows 10 on a different PC, then the second set of instructions should be read.
This second set includes a list of older Windows versions which can also be upgraded to Windows 10, although there is one thing that should be kept in mind. If for example you're presently using Windows 7 Home, then you'll only be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home, and so on throughout the different versions of Windows.

Now you can download Windows 10 to the USB flash drive.

Installing Windows 10

The instructions on the Microsoft page explain clearly how to use the USB flash drive to install Windows 10. During the installation process you'll be asked to input the product key, so have it handy.
There is however one point the page doesn't make clear. There are in fact two ways to install the new Windows 10. The first is to boot your PC from the USB flash drive. This will install Windows 10, but you'll lose all personal files and folders stored on the PC.
The alternative method is to start the PC normally, connect the USB flash drive, and double click setup.exe from the drive. When the installation begins there will be an option to upgrade to Windows 10 rather than installing from scratch. This means all the files and folders will still be there after the installation is complete.
Follow the instructions carefully and the installation will be very straightforward, and you won't have to worry about your old Windows 7 PC no longer being supported.
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Creating 3D Text Using Gimp



There are many different styles that can be applied to 3D text, and its appearance can vary widely depending on the font used, as well as any further effects that have been added. However, all such text is created in fundementally the same way, particularly when using Gimp. The old way was to create a drop shadow layer and create copies until the shadow gave the appearance of being solid, which suggested depth to the text. The method demonstrated here however, although similar is much simpler and much quicker.


If you want to follow this tutorial using the same font and colours the details are given below. I believe (if I rememebr correctly) the font is automatically installed with Windows, but a download link is given for those who may not have it.


Font: Gill Sans Nova Ultra-Bold 

Red: #d46150

Yellow: #eadaa6

Blue: #193248

Creating 3D Text Using Gimp


1/ Open Gimp and select the font and shadow colours you're going to use. Also select the font. Here Gill Sans Nova Ultra Bold  was used.

2/ Type the text, and adjust the font size if needed.

3/ The spacing of the letters can be adjusted by clicking on the arrows highlighted in red, above. A setting of -2 has been used to bring the letters closer together.

4/ In the Layers panel a copy of the text layer has been added as well as two empty layers. Hide the top text layer by clicking the eye icon to the left of the layer thumbnail.


(The extra text layer isn't strictly necassary. Its more of a habit in case things go wrong with the first layer).


5/ Right click on the visible text layer and from the drop down menu select Merge Down, so it merges with the topmost empty layer.

6/ Right click on the merged layer and from the drop dowm menu select Alpha to Selection.

 7/ The text in the main window should now have a marching ants outline. Hit Select > Grow.
Homepage thumbnail



8/ The above window should appear. Select a size for the selection to grow by. This is so an outline can be added to the text. (This isn't essential for 3D text, but it suits the style of this graphic). In this example the selection will grow by 15 pixels, but you may need to choose a size that fits with your text.


9/ The text will look something like the above.

10/ Make sure the outline colour is selected. This should be the same colour the depth of the text will be.

11/ The active layer should be the empty layer below the merged layers.

12/ Select the Paintbrush from the Tools panel.

13/ Use the paint brush to paint in the selection in the layer below the merged layers. The Fill tool can be used instead, but it doesn't seem to give a clean outline like the paint brush does.

14/ Now hit Select > None.

15/ With the original merged layer the active layer, right click and from the drop down menu select merge Down, so the text and outline become one layer.

16/ Select Layer > Crop to Content.

Adjusting The Text

We'll now make a few adjustments to the text to help with the 3D look.

17/ Select the Shear tool, highlighted in red, above.

18/ drag the right edge of the text upwards until it looks something like above.

19/ In the Shear window hit Shear when you're ready.

20/ Select the Perspective tool.

21/ There should now be a rectangle with diamond shaped handles at each corner, surrounding the text. Drag one of the top handles so the text slants a little, then drag the other top handle to match the slant of the first. This helps to add to a sense of 3D once the text has some depth.

 22/ When you're ready hit Transform in the Perspective window.

Creating Depth 

 We're now ready to create the 3D effect.

23/ With the outlined text the active layer, select Filters > Light and Shadow > Long Shadow.

24/ A window as above will appear in the canvas area. As can be seen here the text already has a 3D appearance, without being tweaked.

25/ The angle of the shadow can be adjusted by changing the settings highlighted in red above. Tweaking the area highighted in green will change the depth of the text, and below that is an option to change the colour of the depth.

26/ The original angle setting of 45 seemed to suit this text, but the depth was shortened to 50. Since the colour was selected before opening the Long Shadow window that didn't need to be changed.

When you're happy with the settings hit OK.

The 3D text effect is now complete. All thats left to do is add a background and some extra elements if needed and to export the finished image. 
This is such a quick and easy way to create 3d text in Gimp, and a big improvement on the old method. Any text design made in Gimp, no matter how different it looks from this basic example, will use a very similar method. 
Have fun creating and experimenting with 3D texts in Gimp, and join us on Facebook to keep up with all of our  new content..
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How To Sharpen A Second Life Photograph With The High pass Filter In Gimp


Its always been my experience that raw snapshots taken in Second Life are not as focused as they could be. They tend to be slightly undefined. Taking snapshots with the Black Dragon viewer makes a difference, but can be very impactful on PC resources. Whichever viewer you use, knowing how to sharpen a Second Life photograph is essential, as its one of those select tools that can help make your images pop.


The image used for this tutorial was taken at Frogmore, a very picturesque sim where all Second Life photographers will find something to inspire them. The destination guide describes it very well:


Frogmore is a natural, photogenic, and fully immersive experience inspired by historic Cornwall, England, bordered by the Celtic Sea and the English Channel. Frogmore is rated Moderate and open to the public; please join the free group for rezz rights and enjoy the lavish experience of the Cornish Riviera.


Sharpening A Second Life photgraph With The High Pass Filter In Gimp

There are a number of ways to sharpen a Second Life Photograph in Gimp (some of which will be covered in later tutorials), but this technique works well and is quick and easy.

1/ Open the image in Gimp.

2/ Click on the icon to the bottom right of Gimp (highlighted in red above), to duplicate the image.

3/ The two image layers can be seen to the right.

4/ This step isn't strictly necessary, but it will stop the high pass filter from highlighting colours. With the top layer active, select Colors > Desaturate > Desaturate.
This image is here so it will be the thumbnail
on the homepage. Blogger is rubbish.


5/ This window will open. The Mode drop down menu offers different desaturation types. Here Lightness (HSL) has been selected.


6/ The desaturated image will look something like the above.


7/ With the desaturated image still the active layer, select Filters > Enhance > High Pass...


8/ The top layer will look something like the above, and the High Pass window will be open.


9/ Set a value for the Dev option. Here 15 has been selected. A little intuition is needed here because a few things will affect how much or how little high pass to use. Image size is one factor that may influence this. 

10/ The level of detail shown in this high pass layer looks about right.



11/ Click on the Mode drop down button to the right, highlighted above in red.


12/ From the drop down list select a blend mode. The section beginning with Overlay and ending with Hard Mix are the blends that work well with the high pass filter. 

13/ Here, hard light is the blend thats been selected.



14/ Your image should now be much sharper, although it can be tweaked a little more. If you want to sharpen the image even further the high pass filter layer can be duplicated, the blend mode can be changed, and the opacity adjusted. 


To see the difference the high pass filter can make, below is the before and after. Click to enlarge if you need to.



The effect may not be too dramatic here, but this is a very flexible method for sharpening images, and you're free to play around and experiment. 


We hope you've found this tutorial useful. If so bookmark, like us on Facebook, and generally subscribe.

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