Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Depth of Information IV: Interactivity

Written 27 April, 2009

Depth of Information: IV. Interactivity

The versatility of Second Life’s building and scripting tools allows almost every sort of build. Within broad limits, residents can build almost anything they can imagine—and, having built them, can cause prims to move, interact with residents, and communicate with the world wide web. This allows creation of everything from smartass robots to elevators to surfboard rezzers and slideshows.

Some sims make wonderful use of the building tools, but ignore everything else. Indeed, much of Second Life is visually stunning three-dimensional canvases, static and unmoving. There’s no sound and little movement and no interactivity.

In some sims visitors can walk around in silence, passing quiet seas and fires that burn silently and one unmoving object after another. You can look, but you can’t hear and you can’t touch.

The beautiful Tol Eressea sim (which has, alas, been transformed into yet another boring and horribly ugly Medieval build, see the before and after photos), was once breathtakingly beautiful. It was a pleasure to walk around the Tolkienesque sim, seeing the many visual treats—but alas, there was nothing to DO there. It seemed rather like a village in which everyone suddenly rose and walked way, leaving food on the tables and fires in the hearths.

Compare this to another disappeared space—Privateer Space. Privateer was stunning in a different way, as it made extensive use of sculptured prims and effectively used vertical space all the way up to 4000 meters. But Privateer Space’s entry area was filled with interactive objects: a free spaceship, asteroids that would collide with you when you flew through them, satellites that would try to shoot you down, teleporters, sliding doors. It didn’t matter that much of the rest of the sim wasn’t particularly interactive; you were already in love with the place.

Because of its nature (vacuums abhor sound), there weren’t a lot of environmental sounds in Privateer Space, so let’s look at the use of sounds on another place: the tinies sim Raglan Commons.

If you teleport to Raglan and stand for a moment, you’ll hear bird cries, the buzzing of insects, and a variety of sounds that are difficult to identify. As you wander the sim you’ll hear the lap of waves, the cry of an owl, bells in the distance—the sort of things one EXPECTS to find in a place named Ragland Shire. The sounds add dimension and presence.

Audio and media can spruce up a sim as well. I remember once landing by happenstance (I had tumbled off the wing of a friend’s biplane as we crossed sim borders) next to a giant stairway to nowhere. Just as I realized the stairway wasn’t a stair at all, but a gangplank, the billboard beside me began the title sequence of Titanic. Ask me, was I intrigued?

And then there are particles. A bit of smoke or mist, fireflies at night, a candle flame, a random explosion all can add ambience and drama.

Some sims are by design static— for instance, an exhibition of photographs. The focus is on the pictures; too much sound or motion might distract. But too many such exhibits really fail their mission, as you don’t really learn anything about the artist or the photos because there are no notecard dispensers.

Whatever one’s intent in building a sim, whether or sound or particles or scripts are put into use, it’s a shame not to create a depth of experience for visitors-- or, if your purposes is promotion or education, not to create a depth of information.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Depth of Information: III. Using Second Life Effectively: Two Examples

Sim View, Mannekins and Pastry Machines at 7Days Magic Bakery

Written 23 April, 2009

Depth of Information

III. Using Second Life Effectively: Two Examples

7Days Bakery is a brand of the Greek conglomerate Vivartia, in the Baking and Confectionary Division. 7Days baked goods are distributed across Eastern Europe (I learned this here, at Aleister Kronos’ blog). Some months ago 7Days established a presence in Second Life.

7Days Bakery is a wonderful interactive build that lets you create custom pastries that send your avatar into a foody ecstasy. You create them at a machine that moves you through the processes of mixing, baking, decorating, and packaging. Colorful mannequins talk to you, guiding you through the sim, leading you to the manufacturing floor. Best of all, you get to take home a 7Days vending machine that lets you dispense the tasty 7Days treats to your friends.

The 7Days sim takes full advantage of Second Life’s capabilities. The pastries send your avatar into a paroxysm of animation and particle emissions, showing pleasure in a way you couldn’t possibly in real life. The bakery machines are wonderfully scripted by Hiro Pendragon. Sculpted prims are beautifully textured. And perhaps best of all, the build takes advantage of new HTML capabilities to allow the various mannequins to actually talk to you without speaking in ten-second clips. The sim is absolutely gorgeous in a Willy Wonka sort of way, built and scripted expertly.

I didn’t find an area that actually educated visitors about the company (I didn’t even know until I was writing this that 7Days was a European brand), and I thought the company missed an opportunity—but as Aleister pointed out, the sim makes a great place for the production of stills and videos to promote the company—and, cleverly, there’s a still a’buildin' orientation sim next door, to which many new Second Lifers will be routed to learn about the real life 7Days.

But you don’t have to be able to build the ultimate sculptie or write clever code to use Second Life to effectively promote your real-life business.

Let me just say that the business I’m about to describe is more than competently built. It’s attractive and intuitive and informative a pleasure to visit. It was just never meant to be a visual and auditory tour de force like 7Days.

The Museum of Robots on the Kubrick sim (just teleport to Kubrick on the map) is more than a tribute to robots—it’s a gathering place for those who like robots and a promotional tool for Fred Barton, who sells lovingly crafted full-sized robot costumes in real life.
At the Robot Museum visitors can socialize with other robot lovers, watch robot-related clips from movies (and, on Friday nights at 5 pm, entire movies), look at the boxes of more than a hundred real-life robot toys, learn about various movie robots, and walk through permanent and temporary displays of robot-related art.

I was profoundly inspired by and heartily recommend the Robots and Donuts exhibit of Eric Joyner’s artwork. Robots and donuts! It says it all!

But I was even more taken by the story of Fred Barton. Alas, the display no longer seems to exist. It described how, as a boy, Fred saw the dilapidated Robbie the Robot from Fantastic Planet in a movie studio museum; how he was inspired to spend several years building his own Robbie, fabricating his own parts; how, as a new driver, he wore his Robbie costume to the museum, struck up a conversation with the owner, and, hired to renovate the now even more run-down Robbie, drove home with the original Robbie in the back seat of his convertible.

Today Fred sells full-size robots. They’re not cheap, but if I were the idle rich, you betcha I would have a Robbie or Maria in the foyer of my mansion. And if I were a robot fanatic, I would save my money so I could buy one of Fred’s robots to wear to science fiction conventions.

The Museum of Robots is sponsored by Fred Barton and co-owned by Bibi and Count Bayliss.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Depth of Information: II. Taking Advantage of Second Life's Fabulousness

Written 23 April, 2009

Depth of Information

II. Taking Advantage of Second Life’s Fabulousness

 The businesses and universities that flourish in Second Life generally aren’t the ones that bring their real-life sensibilities and business models to the grid. Rather, they’re the ones that adapt to and take advantage of the uniqueness of Second Life.

American Apparel’s clothing didn’t sell because it wasn’t competently made. It failed to sell because it wasn’t SL fabulous. I mean, they were selling sweat pants and pullover tops and their store was empty. Nonna Hedges was selling fabulous gowns, and her store was never empty. It should have told them something. They disregarded Second Life culture. Had they just looked around, they might have realized that because high heels and cruel boots don’t hurt your feet in Second Life, because big hair doesn’t take an hour to do up every morning, because we don’t have to make up our faces every morning, most female avis dress to the nines. And half of the male avis are shirtless to show off their tats. There’s just not a huge market for the casual clothes American Apparel was selling.

There’s a long list of entities that established a corporate presence here and then departed. Pontiac’s attempt to create a car culture in Second Life failed.. Their six-sim Motorati Island was up for perhaps a year, and then gone. Reuter’s lasted several years, then left. Playboy came and went. AOL. CSI. And many more.

Blogger Dusan Writer has attributed CSI’s demise to Second Life’s glitches and limitations:

Second Life is NOT ready for prime time. CSI New York proved that, and not just because it was a poor build. For the investment of time, energy and resources they might have done a far better job creating a cool Flash application. It might have been hard to create a CSI episode out of Flash, but hey... .the episode itself was no great hell either.

.... and, Dusan notes, many of the other corporate failures to the jump-on-the-bandwagon syndrome:

[Reasons for departures] include a broader weakening of the economy, corporate attention spans (I wonder, for example, whether AOL and Pontiac are currently running off to create the Facebook APIs or create better Google keyword strategies - some companies want to get in on the next thing out of quiet desperation but don’t have the long view needed to get the payoffs from platforms that require far deeper thinking than whether they’ve generated leads or sufficient traffic to justify returns on investment).

... but I think there’s more. We must consider the fabulousness factor.

But that I mean Second Life’s many limitations—the lag, the crashes, the erratic behavior, the sim restarts, the weirdness at border crossings, the griefing, limited and erratic ability to interface with the world wide web, the inability to have large groups of people in one place, even the bling and clackety shoes—are more than offset by its uniqueness. Here we can fly and teleport. Here we can build structures impossible in real life. Here we can give objects the ability to move in the world and interact with people in ways not possible in real life. Here we can walk the world in bodies we could not possibly have in real life. And here we can meet and interact face-to-face with people from all over the planet without spending a penny for travel.

International Business Machines has taken fall advantage of that last. Various workgroups have conferences here and collaborate on assorted projects. It’s been so successful that IBM has 39 sims (just type IBM on the map to see them all).

Dozens and perhaps hundreds of colleges and universities have flourished in Second Life. They hold classes, give students virtual space to display their projects and theses, and undertake collaborative projects with other universities—all at a cost of $295 USD a month!

We all—individuals, schools, and corporations alike, continue to learn and push the boundaries of what is possible here—of what is possible at all! The commitment and long-term presence of hundreds of universities, corporations, and private businesses tells us Second Life is indeed ready for prime time. To be successful here, we just have to be ready for Second Life.

Depth of Information: I. Mistakes of the Past

Written 23 April, 2009

Depth of Information

I. Mistakes of the Past

In late 2006 the media feeding frenzy around Second Life (cf here) caused a lot of big corporations to rush in world, buying and building sims to which nobody ever came. Most have since pulled out.

Second Life is an actual world, a place quite different from Earth, with its own physical laws and limitations, its own economic system, and its own social mores. Many of the early business presences here didn’t realize that or, realizing it, didn’t acknowledge it. They built faithful recreations of their first-world stores with faithful copies of their first-world products and waited for a rush of residents eager to purchase from them.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened.

Well, some of the corporate sims did get nuked.

It seems the Second Life Liberation Army took offense at the presence of corporate mundanity in Second Life— just as I take offense at corporate mundanity on Earth.

Eventually, most of the corporate entities closed up shop and left Second Life. The press, picking up on this, was happy to proclaim Linden Labs’ impending demise.

Early in my virtual life I visited American Apparel’s sim.

American Apparel, it would seem, is the largest manufacturer of clothing in the United States. I didn’t know this when I arrived at AA’s island, and I didn’t know it when I left. I knew only that I had seen a lot of boring clothing in a boring store.

Now, American Apparel could have used their virtual space to educate visitors about the company.And to be honest, perhaps a portion of the store was dedicated to informing the putlic and I just didn’t notice or don’t remember. But clearly, the purpose of their build was to sell virtual clothing that looked as much as possible like their real-life clothing. And clearly, avatars weren’t beating a path to American Apparel’s door to buy their clothing. I was the only person on the sim.
So—where did the corporations go wrong? Were they wrong to come to an unproven virtual world? No, of course not. Were they wrong to buy and develop sims? No. Were they wrong for eventually pulling out of Second Life? Considering they were without a clue and too arrogant or stupid to realize that new technologies require new ways of doing business, perhaps not. But by not playing to the strengths of SL, by not adapting to their new world, they were missing a great opportunity.

Many colleges and universities—and many businesses—are realizing Second Life is an inexpensive and convenient place to do business and impart information. They’re adapting their ways of doing business and developing new ways of doing business.

More on this in the next post.

More on Save Objects Back to Inventory

Written 23 April, 2009

More on Save Objects Back to Inventory

My good friend and longtime reader Tycho Beresford has commented:

Do you know if there is a JIRA on this? Your hordes of fans would surely vote on it!

Indeed there is! Here's  JIRA SVC-578, for those who might want to vote on it.

Interestingly, I found a related JIRA about something I hadn't noticed. If you rez a prim, Save Objects Back to Inventory is enabled, even though that prim is not and has never been in inventory. 

When I checked on this I discovered Save Objects Back to Inventory is always enabled in the Tools menu, even when an object isn't selected. It should be grayed out. Maybe one of my readers would like to make a JIRA on this.

To reproduce:

Open the Tools menu.

Observed: Save Object Back to My Inventory is enabled.

Expected: Save Object Back to My Inventory should not be enabled, as no prim is selected

You gotta wonder about an interface that gets broken so frequently. Updating or improving one feature seems to have cascading effects all down the line. Server update. Uh-Oh. Now I'm slowly sinking instead of hovering and the interface seems sticky. New server update. The sinking problem is fixed and the interface is no longer sticky! Woo hoo. But uh-oh, I can't select attachments that are close to my body. New server update. Woo hoo! I can select attachments close to my body. But I'm sinking again! Help!

Gwyneth Llewelyn blogs that the cascade effect happens because the SL server software and client are kludged, stuck together as a whole in such a way that making any change will cascade, causing unpredictable and usually unfortunate consequences down the line. She contrasts this to the OS Grid server software, which is constructed in a modular fashion. Modules can be switched in and out and a problem with one module won't affect the others.

Unfortunately, Gwen's website seems to be somewhat broken this morning; I was unable to page back to get the URL to paste here-- but for those who care, the post was dated sometime earlier this year, most likely in January or February.

Nope, her website isn't broken at all. It's me who's broken. I just figured out how to page back. Check here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Save Objects Back to Inventory is Disabled

Written 19 April, 2009

Save Objects Back to Inventory is Disabled

There's a little known feature in the Tools menu called Save Object Back to Inventory.

How little known? Even Sweetie didn't know about it, and Sweetie knows EVERYTHING!

About a month ago I suddenly started getting a blue box saying Save Back to Inventory was disabled.

That is, sometimes I got it. Other times I didn't. Since I at first figured it was a temporary problem and would soon be fixed, I lost some textures before I realized the feature had been turned off for the long term.

Here's how it works... er, worked.

In your inventory let's say there's a cube called Cube. It's nothing fancy, just a plywood cube. And of course, you being too lazy to rename it, it's called Object.

You pull it out of inventory and turn it green.

You can take the object back into your inventory. If you do, you'll have two objects named Object. One will be plywood, and one will be green-- and of course, short of rezzing  one of the objects,  there's no way of knowing which is which.

BUT if instead of taking the green prim back into inventory you select it, go to the Tools menu, and select Save Object Back to Inventory. The cube in your inventory will change to reflect the changes you made to the cube on the ground. You can then delete that prim, confident the changes are saved.

I used Save Object Back to Inventory all the time, especially with my texture organizers. I would pull one out, add or delete or reshuffle textures, save the organizer back to inventory, and then delete it.

Cool, huh? Yeah. And now the feature is disabled.

I'm hoping Save Object Back to Inventory is just broken and not on the way out by a unilateral and unannouced decision by the Lindens.

I'm not optimistic.

Sweetie Drops In On Melissa

 Sweetie Mitosi
Written 19 April, 2009

Sweetie Drops In On Melissa

Last night Sweetie dropped in on our friend Meissa. Literally.

We had been playing Greedy Greedy on the roof of our House of 1000 Plesaures. When she got up to stretch, she walked off the edge of the house and fell all the way to the ground, 350 meters.

She went splat on Melissa's porch. Melissa just happened to be standing two meters away. I flew down and joined them. Here's what it's like to have a conversation when Sweetie is present.

Sweetie: Oh, hi, Melissa. Sorry to drop in ;) I dropped a corporeal bomb on your house.

Sweetie: No nono!

Sweetie: It was an atmospheric pratfall. Sweetie trademarks.

Melissa: Ah, but you were impeccably dressed for the fall.

Sweetie: Thanks :)

Cheyenne: This almost, not quite, but almost as funny as the time she landed on a couple making out under the Eiffel Tower at New Paris.

Sweetie: We're off to see Hey! dancer :)
Melissa: Hey! dancer?

Cheyenne: One of the pecularities of having Sweetie as a girlfriend is she cannot say the word light. It triggers a light show.

Sweetie: No,  I only display it. It is a kind of enthusiasm  for the illiterate around me. I am just considerate like that.

Melissa: Of course.

[The talk turned to Animation Overriders. Well, to Sweetie's animation overrider.]

Cheyenne: She resisted getting an AO for nearly three years, but now she has both a facial emoter AND an AO. Her AO is very Sweetie.It's called, and I kid you not, Drama Queen.

Melissa: Oh, that's perfect!

Sweetie: This is where I wave to my adoring public. They are always around, even if only in my mind.

Cheyenne: Here's to all you little people.

Sweetie: We were in the canoe the other day. I was waving, waving, just in case.

Cheyenne: Never know when her adoring public will pop in.

Melissa: Exactly.

Sweetie: (Turning upside-down). This is my attention-grabbing sit. Just in case anyone stops looking at me.

Melissa: Oh, my!

Cheyenne: If that fails, she "dies."

Sweetie: I cannot-- unfortunately-- combine the sit with the wave.

Melissa: "I am a parade."

Sweetie: A parade, you say? Oh, my, what a delightful segue! I am my own parade ;)

Melissa: Uh-oh. Dylan imitation alert!

Cheyenne: Her mind is blowin' in the wind.

Sweetie: Okay, I will be my own band, then!

[She pulls on her Madcow Cosmos bandbot (well, one of them) and begins laying down a beat. The avi she chooses is two robots carrying a banner. So now there are TWO Sweeties!]

Sweetie: We are musica!

Melissa: That would be a lovely thing. Get people (and robots of course) together for a Sweetie parade. Should she have a car or a palanquin?

Cheyenne: What we have here is Sweetie mitosis.When she splits into four, I'm outta here!

Sweetie: We are a multitude! :)

Melissa Yeuxdoux: May I take a picture?

Sweetie: Gees, I  love publicity!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What Does it Mean When the Grid's Favorite Sim Sports the Red Fence of Friendship?

Written 18 April, 2009

What Does it Mean When the Grid's Favorite Sim Sports the Red Fence of Friendship

James Au's most awesome blog New World Notes had a post about Second Life's most favorite sim for the first quarter of 2009, as determined by Koinup users. Koinup is a social networking website for Second Life.

And Koinup users selected a sim called MaxMoney as top banana.

So of course I had to go there.

And of course, MaxMoney being as absolutely fabulous and popular as it is, I was absolutely the only avatar on the island during the 45 or so minutes of my stay. It was only as I was about to leave that one person finally came by.

I have to admit the entry area is impressive. A glass floor covers roiling waves that break over banana plant-covered hills (at least in the vicinity of the entry, the land is bare almost everywhere else). Glass stairs lead downward over a stream, ending at an observation platform at sea's edge. Other stairs arch upwards to a series of meeting rooms.

The landscaping on the sim is first-rate, and the waves are well done, but except for what I just described, there is absolutely nothing on the sim.

Well, of course, except for the money exchange machines. It seems MaxMoney has been licensed by Linden Lab to trade in Lindens.

The March 2009 issue of The Best of SL was displayed at the entry, with MaxMoney CEO Maxmilian March on its cover. Okay. Good for you. The mag was there purely for hype, since touching it didn't even get me a copy.

Build and scripts were turned off, which always pisses me off slightly-- but I was still giving the sim the benefit of the doubt.

That is, until I hit the goddamned red fence of friendship, of course. I was pretty much over both MaxMoney and Mr. March after that.

So now I'm wondering-- in a world with thousands of enchanting sims with no red fences and lots of things to do, how the hell could a region with nothing in particular to do or see, a sim that was vacant during the lengthy visit in which I composed this post, a sim with that frigging red fence, be voted number one sim of the quarter? WTF is up with Koinup?

I rather suspect Mr. March advertised heavily to get his photo on the cover of The Best of SL. And may have had the fix in at Koinup as well.

I checked MaxMoney's website and compared their exchange rate with Linden Lab's. I can buy $5000 from LL for $19.61 USD. 5K Lindens from Mr. March costs $22. That's a markup, according to my calculator, of 11.21 percent.

I like to see business people get ahead in Second Life, but I have an instinctual lifelong distrust of slick operations like this, paving the road to picking our pockets with glossy magazines and fixed popularity ratings.

I mean here's someone offering the same service as Linden Lab for 11.21 percent more money. Where's the attraction in that?

And where's the attraction in any sim with a red fence?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good Prims, Bad Prims

Here's a Very Nice Use of Sculpties from Animania
Written 15 April, 2009

Good Prims, Bad Prims

Prims is prims.

Except when they're not.

Once upon a time, prims-- or primitives, as they're more properly called-- were available in a variety of geometric shapes: rectangle, cylinder, sphere, torus, prism, tube, ring, and cone. May 2007 saw the introduction of a new type of prim-- sculpted prims-- which can be shaped to almost any form.

Sculpties were an advance, for they allow the creation of shapes that were difficult impossible with standard prims-- but they required an entire new skill set to create, and yet another skill set to map textures properly to their surfaces. Their biggest advance was they could cut down-- sometimes dramatically-- on the numbers of prims needed to create complex objects.

Because of the difficulty in creating them, it has taken a full two years for scrupted prims to come to maturity in the various products sold on the grid. Today they're used extensively in clothing (for skirts, belts, shirtsleeves and pant cuffs), in shoes, in hair, in furniture in homes, and in vehicles. They're everywhere. Some sims are made almost entirely from sculpties.

From my point of view sculpties have a variety of problems.

First, they're difficult to make and even more difficult to texture properly. Hence there are altogether too many butt-ugly sculpties on the grid.

Second, they tend to rez slowly. Teleporting to a sculpty-heavy sim requires you to go make lunch or watch an epidose of Law & Order. When you get back most of the sculpties will have resolved. The rest will look like giant globes on avatars' crotches or piles of round stones on the ground.

Third, they don't work well in the environment. When set non-phantom their physical edges extend far beyond the visible so you will, for example, stand a good five meters above a sculpted rock. When they're set to phantom, you fall through them. All this can be partially alleviated with screening prims (regular prims that approximate their shape and are made invisible), but it still makes for bumpy walking.

And finally, they're used far too often when a regular prim would do just as well. Too many people have gone slap-dab sculpty crazy-- too many people who are just not that good at sculpties.
When sculpties make sense in their use-- and when they are formed well and textured attractively-- they can add much to Second Life.

Unfortunately, they often detract from the Second Life experience.


Written 15 April, 2009


I am continually impressed by the creativity of Second Life's merchants and the style and quality of so much of the merchandise.

But then again, a lot of stuff is just shit.

I love Lilith Heart's plants. I don't know how she does it, but I just don't get that werid alpha effect from her stuff. Unless I really look for it. Her stuff is consistently well-made and attractive.

A lot of plant makers, however, just grab plant textures grabbed from the internet and paste them on both sides of three interlocking square prims. The result is far from pretty.

I mean, ya gotta wonder when you go to a nursery and they're landscaping with Lilith's plants instead of their own.

This morning I visited a sim-sized nature area and sales shop with every sort of plant and animal. I won't name it. The plants were all weird-- and check out the poor excuse for a whale, above. The sounds and movement were competent, but the texturing left much to be desired. I mean, who needs a galvanized sheet metal whale with crayoned-on mouth and eyes?

Compare it to this whale from Splash Aquatics.

And compare this eagle...

To this eagle,  made by Julia Hathor...

What's odd here is both Julia's eagle and Splash Aquatics' whale date from 2006 or early 2007. The ugly bird and the tin-plated whale are more recent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Eggs

Written 14 April, 2009

Easter Eggs

There are lots of hunts all over the grid this month. Easter eggs, mostly.

If you've never been on a hunt, you should try it. It's fun to wander around a sim looking under benches and behind trees in hopes of finding a freebie egg.

The presents are usually not worth keeping (IMO), but it's the find that's fun.

Above are two cleverly hidden eggs. There were 30 on the sim. I think we found 28 of them.

To find a hunt of your own, go to Search > Events and type in "hunt."

Steampunk Resource Centre

Written 14 April, 2009

Steampunk Resource Centre

Here's another great place to get destinations: the Steampunk Resource Centre at Caledon Downs. Don't let that creepy little eye in the center of the building weird you out-- it's blind.

Actually, for a good time, sit on the eye. It's scripted to follow the closest avatar and will go nuts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Destination Station

Written 13 April, 2009

Destination Station

A couple of weeks ago I followed Marnix Malifozik's blog (see my list of notable blogs to the left) to Destination Station on the Corona Cay sim. It’s a marvelous place with a building lined with photos of several hundred of Second Life’s most interesting and beautiful sims. Touching a picture gets you a notecard and opens the map for a teleport. Hey, there’s Whimsy, at the top there, just beside the door!

By chance, owner chugabug Goodnight was at hand. I gave her a landmark to the robot sanitorium (Whimsy Kaboom already on the wall) and we and a guy named Danny Dwyer began to chat about this and that.

It was about then that Sweetie logged in and teleported to me. In her pajamas.

Throw Sweetie into a perfectly civil conversation, and what you do you get?

You get all four of us occupying the same physical space, looking like an avatar hydra. You get me being bounced around a room by particles of black smoke. You find us being chased 45 rpm records playing Johnny Cash. You find our avatars being contorted and warped by photos on the wall. How strange, and how much fun! And all on the sim Locusolus.

Next time you're wondering where you might visit, bop over to Destination Station and take a landmark.
And watch Chugabug's video.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More on Behavior

 Written 9 April, 2009

More on Behavior

Whatcha Eaton left this comment to my SL Bullies post:

I've wondered about this as well and I would extend that thought beyond bullies to people (newbie and not) who seem to think their behavior in-world has no consequences. I'm talking about people who waltz into my house and avail themselves of the furniture (yes, even THAT furniture) even when I'm home.

As you mentioned there's nothing really harmful that these people can do to me and, since a lot of this stuff happens on land I control, I have several options for helping them leave, but I'm surprised at how many year-old characters think there's nothing wrong with behaving as they do.

I guess it's "just a game" to some people. I, on the other hand, live here.

LOL... I sound like an old man. "Kid's these days..." "Get off my lawn!"

Whatcha, I think sometimes it takes a while for people to understand that behind every avatar is a very real person. Some people, I am convinced, NEVER get it. I lost a very good friend because I was spending time with "imaginary people in an imaginary world." Even when she met Sweetie in real life, Sweetie wasn't real to her because I met her in Second Life. To many people IN world, it's the same. As far as they're concerned, they're interacting with cartoons.

To their credit, most people eventually figure out they shouldn't be coming into your house and using your sex bed while you're there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SL Bullies

Written 7 April, 2009

Second Life Bullies

Now I’ve had a chance to reflect on my recent unfortunate experience with a couple of rude Second Lifers, I thought I would make a more considered post.

You have to feel sorry for Second Life’s bullies. Well, you don't HAVE to, I don't. But consider:
  • They can’t physically harm you
  • They can’t shake you down for your lunch money
  • They can’t even verbally harass you, for you can mute them at any time
  • They can’t follow you around, for they don’t know where you will be
  • They can’t bother you on your own land, for you can ban them in an instant
  • If they go too far, you can report them for abuse

So it’s gotta be difficult for the bullies in world.

About the worst they can do is hang around in popular places and make snide comments about the people who come there for a LEGITIMATE reason.

Bullies are only effective if you allow them to get on your nerves. I’m Second Life, I just mute them.

The other night I muted the bullies right away, but my friend didn’t, and so they were bothering me by extension. I don’t like it when people deliberately annoy my friends.

In this case, the bullies picked my friend’s profile and used it to target their attacks. One was quoting Bible verses; the other was using all the vulgar gestures in her inventory. That earned one of them an abuse report—and, after consideration, I’ve decided to report the second.

One has to wonder what is lacking in someone’s life that gives them such a need to deliberately annoy and harass total strangers. Why are they so small and sad? Why does belittling others make them feel big and important? Were they taken off the bottle too soon? Are they in sad marriages? Are they unable to deal with their homosexual urges? Are they unpopular, underemployed, and alone? Do they feel inadequate and empty? Are they emotionally unable to express themselves in productive ways?

It’s sad when people are broken. And certainly bullies are the most broken of people..

So I take it back. Maybe I DO feel sorry for the bullies of Second Life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What's With This?

Written 6 April, 2009

What's With This?

I can't for the life of me figure this outfit out. Is it made for a woman with four breasts?

Rude Patrol!

Here's Some Man's Fantasy of What a Woman is Like 
Written 6 April, 2009

Rude Patrol!

Once again Chey is on duty, notifying the grid and the Lindens about rudeass avatars. This one saw fit to comment on my dress and my friend Ashera's when we visited a shoe shop.

Okay, so we were wearing togas. But she should not have commented on our appearance. Not while she was looking like a straight man's wet dream.

And of course she has clackety shoes.

She stopped just short of me Abuse Reporting her ass and just past me blogging her ass.

Her friend didn't fare as well. I ARed her because she took it upon herself to come and get in our face.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gort's Anger Management Class Was Not a Resounding Success

Gort's anger management class was not a resounding success. Fortunately, his laser eventually overheated and R2D2 trustee units were able to convey him to the HAL 9000 Memorial Secure Facility for the Robotically Criminally Insane.

Bender Incites His Fellows to Riot

The notorious Bender incites his fellow Bender models to riot, but after prompt action by the Whimsy Kaboom Police Department they wind up in the HAL 9000 Memorial Secure Facility for the Robotically Criminally Insane.

The R2D2s Make a Break For It

The R2D2 units make a break for it, but are stopped by the police.

Robot Escape Attempts

Posted 5 April, 2009

Robot Escape Attempts

Sweetie had the idea of doing a walk of shame at the robot sanitorium, with photos of inmates-- I mean patients-- who have tried to escape.

Following are the first three we worked up.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ritual and Dress

Chey in Roaring 20s Mode
Written 17 December, 2008

Ritual and Dress

I make a lot of jokes in this blog about being a fashionista—I’m not, really. Really.


I almost never dress up in real life.

I attribute this to a dislike of ritual. Wedding, funerals, graduations (even my own) are mild ordeals for me. I like to look nice for parties, to be sure, but I agree totally with Thoreau, who once said one should beware any enterprise which requires new clothes.

And why do I dislike ritual? It’s not that getting dressed up is painful, uncomfortable, expensive, or embarrassing (which it is, all four), or about being required to be around other people (which I rather enjoy), but because, I think, the individual becomes suborned to the ritual itself. I dislike getting dressed up because I feel I am secondary to the ritual.

Rituals are like mini-deterministic existences, providing temporary structure to our existence. Some people might need that; I don’t. And so I can claim to have slept or daydreamed through every sermon I heard in my entire life and nodded off or surreptitiously read a paperback during almost every ceremony I’ve ever attended (including all three of my graduations; I did manage to stay awake once when I was married, but then again I was standing).

I attend the occasional ceremony, but be sure— in real life I’ll be asleep with my eyes open and in SL I’ll be there in person but watching YouTube videos or running a spyware program or idly playing Bejeweled. Even when I’m a bridesmaid.

I’m not particularly proud of this, but it’s who I am and I’ve grown comfortable with it.

Strangely enough, I love getting dressed up when it’s purely for the sake of getting dressed up. And so I’m fond of fashion in Second Life. Having gone through my bling and butt skirt periods, I’ve become more sophisticated in my taste. I look for skirts that merge seamlessly into my avatar body, seams that line up, and finished edges, and I look for clothes that will work nicely with my shape. Many don’t. I look for drawn textures as opposed to photoreal. I look for clothing that can be modified. I look for clothing that is beautiful and unusual.

How strange! In real life I would wear jeans and a pullover top to meet a head of state (I have), but in Second Life I’m likely as not to be wearing a formal gown with flowing skirts and 5" heels when exploring or building!

You Never Hear About Anche Anymore

Photos, top to bottom: The late Forsaken Sim, Aerial view of Chey and Sweetie's Pele property, Pele, winter 2007.

Written 27 March, 2009

You Never Hear About Anche Anymore

When I first came to Second Life, the biggest celebravatar was land mogul Anche Chung. She was owner of Dreamland Estates and SL’s first real-life millionaire. She owned hundreds of private islands which housed thousands of residents, all of whom paid her tribute—er, I mean tier. She was interviewed and talked about everywhere, both in and out of world.

But you know, you never hear about Anche anymore.

A year ago, when the Lindens lowered the price of full sims and made 3750-prim openspace sims freely available, I wondered how Anche’s Dreamland Estates would be effected. Then, late last year, when Jack Linden announced Linden Labs’ (despicable) change in openspace policy, I wondered again about Anche and Dreamland.

I’m still wondering.

Last March, Sweetie and I and our legions of admirers (just kidding, it was only Sweetie and myself and the volcano goddess Pele) moved from our property on Dreamland’s Forsaken sim to our brand new sim of Whimsy. Whimsy is beautiful and, well, whimsical, and I dearly love it, but from time to time I’ve jumped back to Forsaken to see how the old place was doing. We did, after all, live there for more than a year.

Forsaken was, well, forsaken for a long time. Our old property was for sale, and so was the large property previously owned by Leaf Shermer (she bought her sim Eccentricity at the same time we bought Whimsy). Then ban lines went up as the Dreamland team prepared to rehab the land. The ban lines stayed up a long time. When they came down, someone bought the property on the northwest sim edge and promptly destroyed the volcano Pele. Northing like boring flat land, is there?

It was about that time— sometime during the summer or early fall of 2008— that Forsaken was turned into an openspace sim. It remained so until recently.

Several weeks ago, when I attempted to jump to Forsaken, I got a “no destination found” message. I doubled-checked on the map, and sure enough, Forsaken was no longer listed. Neither was The Cauldron, the sim directly to Forsaken’s east. Forsaken was just… gone.

I can’t be certain, and I’ve not even checked to see if there’s any news about Dreamland’s activities, but I suspect Anche made a deal with the Lindens last spring to turn a number of her full sims into openspaces. Perhaps she made another deal to roll her openspaces into full sims, or perhaps she abandoned some of her openspaces, perhaps even having to cede her stake in XstreetSL to the Lindens. I don’t know. All I know is Forsaken is no more. I’ll bet Pele is happy now she decided to move to Whimsy with us.

And you know, you never hear about Anche anymore.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Everybody's a Critic

Written 2 April, 2009

Everybody's a Critic

It costs a lot of money to purchase and maintain a simulator in Second Life. Certainly, owners are entitled to do with them what they will-- but many sim owners strive to make a statement with their land.

Consequently, there are many fabulous sims in Second Life. Sometimes, however, you go to a sim and it's just so wonky, out of whack, preposterous (in the bad sense of preposterous), unworkable, and ridiculous that you feel what I was feeling when I wrote the previous post. It's the What Were They THINKING syndrome.

We've all visited places and felt just as peeved as I was when I wrote the above. Most of us are wise enough to not write about them.

Usually I don't, either. But sometimes, ya know, ya just gotta say what you think.

Chey Takes a Day Trip to Orange Island

Written 2 April, 2009

Chey Takes a Day Trip to Orange Island

Okay, I like an adventure as much as the next avatar, but getting trapped by design of the creator in ridiculous shit like this is not my idea of a good time.

I hate circular staircases in Second Life. Hate them! Not one circular stair in one hundred is engineered well enough to let someone actually climb it. A pox on whoever built this! (Uh, would seem to be one Waghorne Truss). I had to reach my camera halfway across the sim and sit on a stupid arm wrestling pose to escape!

You know what else I hate? Frigging stumpy steps! I hate that stupid stumping sound you get when you climb over an object more than about .35 meters tall. It's easy to do away with that. Just put an invisible frigging ramp over it, dumbass!

You know what else I hate? I'm sure you do. You're just dying to know, aren't you? I hate pretentiousness. Check this out:

"Sugar, Spice, Snails, and Tails: The Human Element" is an immersive, metaphorical journey highlighting the opposing forces of life and how these same forces forge us into strong, balanced, powerful, harmonious beings."

Bullshit. It's a series of interconnected tunnels in the sky with particle effects like spiders and glowy moving prims. I blew through it in like 15 seconds. But hey, I felt completely strong, balanced, powerful, and harmonious afterward!

The particle house was cool, though. For like 5 seconds. Okay, so you made a very rough outline of a house using particles. What does it DO? And if you made it without prims, what the hell am I standing on? And just what, pray tell, is emitting all those orange particles?
Still, at least this exhibit made a bit of sense.

Another exhibit purported to be an attempt to create an environment of trees and flowers purely from sculpties. Oh-kay. But does it have to be so darn fugly? It looks like Bad Acid Trip Meets the Flintstones.

There are more exhibits here, but I'm escaping with what's left of my sanity.

So, what do you think? Do I have a future as a travel writer?