Friday, October 31, 2008

Sweetie's Opinion on the Openspace Fiasco

Sweetie's Opinion on the Openspace Fiasco

For my entire life, and especially for the last few years, it has been do more with less, work longer for less, pay more for less… it just costs more! Deal with it! No, you won’t get any more, no we won't explain why it costs 30—50—80 percent more. You have to pay. You already signed up— already invested— already have a contract.

Second Life was the one place I could get away from that. Now they “just can’t help it” and “couldn’t have anticipated it” and “No, we won’t reward you for responsible use or crack down on those who misbehaved, so prices will be raised and performance won’t improve,” and “No, we won’t give you a break after screwing up by overestimating what our servers would handle and so you get for your loyalty just this: nothing.”

SL was one escape from the giant corporate world of unpredictable ripoffs. Suddenly this game isn’t so much fun any more with the new folks in charge who are happy to screw us anytime. Second Life, brought to you by Exxon Mobile and your local cable company.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Subtext of a Bad Decision

Written 28 October, 2008

The Subtext of a Bad Decision

On its face, Linden Labs’ decision to increase purchase and tier prices on Openspace sims makes no sense. That’s because the price change will do absolutely nothing to alleviate the stated problem of overload by heavy development of Openspaces.

The decision WILL do two things, however: it will bring Linden Lab an additional $300 US a month for every Openspace server in use, and it will return ownership of hundreds and perhaps thousands of servers to the Lab as Openspace owners abandon their sims in droves. And guess what? The Lab will be free to sell those servers once again, either for $1000 to future purchasers of private islands or for $500 to purchasers of new Openspace sims.

This feels like virtual... well, I was about to use the word rape, but instead, let’s just say fraud. It seems a decision deliberately calculated to provide quick and easy money to Linden Lab at the expense of the investment and good will of Second Life’s landholding citizenry.

Watching The Wizard of Oz taught me to look behind the curtain, and I’m about to do just that. It will be speculation, of course, but what do you bet one or more of the following scenarios have some truth to them?

Scenario: Let’s shift everyone’s attention away from Afghanistan and Bin Laden toward Iraq so we can invade and get their oil.

Oh, wait! Wrong scenario!

Scenario: Let’s accuse Obama of being a Muslim and a terrorist and a dirty commie, because clearly we’re not going to beat him on the issues.

No, darn it! Wrong scenario again!

Sorry, folks, too close to the election, I guess.


Scenario I: The Financial Crisis

Linden Lab has severe cash flow problems. Bills are due. There’s not enough money on hand to keep the lights on. Due to the developing depression—sorry, due to the developing almost-recession, banks are no long making loans, and the Lab’s usual sources of ready cash are no longer available. Whatever can Linden Lab do?

Scammer Linden: Hey, I have an idea for a scam using the Openspace sims!

M. Linden: Well, let’s hear it.

Scammer Linden: We can create an imaginary problem and use it as a justification to raise prices.

M. Linden: Hmmm.

PlausibleDeniability Linden: I think Scammer’s onto something.

MissDirection Linden: Maybe we could raise the tier on Openspaces. We’ve sold a million of them lately.

Scammer Linden: Nice, MissDirection! People will either pay or abandon their sims, in which case we can resell the servers.

M Linden: Brilliant! It might enable us to meet our payroll. Jack!

Jack Linden: Yes, Your Eminence?

M. Linden: I’ll leave it to you and your wrecking crew to come up with a reason why we need to, no offense, jack up the purchase price and tier of Openspaces.

Jack Linden: We’ll get right on it. I already have an idea.

Scenario II: The Corporate Takeover

M. Linden: I’ve been CEO of the Lab for four months now. Now that I’m finally able to put my freebie prim penis on and take it off, I’m ready to take the helm of this sinking ship. I’ve called you all here to announce a new and exciting change of direction.

Sycophant Linden: Whoo hoo!

M. Linden: As you know, Linden Lab is a privately-owned company. We’re not a corporation. As a company, we exist to serve the needs of our customer base.

Asskisser Linden: That would be the residents of Second Life?

M. Linden: Of course not! That would be the generous venture capitalists who fund my obscenely large bonus! We OWE them!

Asskisser Linden: (inaudible).

M. Linden: It’s time to announce what everyone already knows: I was brought on board to prepare Linden Lab for corporate takeover. At this point it’s unclear whether we’ll be acquired by big oil (in which case we’ll mandate drilling on every parcel, and make the residents provide the prims); or one of the pharmaceutical conglomerates (in which case we’ll require every resident to take experimental psychotropic drugs designed to make them forget we’re taking advantage of them); or a giant agrifirm (in which case every parcel will be required to produce a quota of soybeans or corn or wheat); or the virtual military industrial complex (in which case every parcel will house a concealed ICBM site).

MissApprehension Linden: Nukes?

M. Linden: Virtual multiple thermonuclear warhead missiles, yes. It’s possible, of course, that Second Life, which is merely one of our intellectual properties, will be shut down by the new corporate owners.

CodeMonkey Linden: Isn’t it our ONLY intellectual property?

Supervisor Linden: CodeMonkey, what are you doing away from your cubicle? Get back to work! I want that new bug implemented before you go home tonight.

MissApprehension Linden: You mean bug fix, don’t you, Supervisor?

Supervisor Linden: No, we’re introducing new code to make random objects disappear from inventory.

MissApprehension Linden: Hasn’t that bug been around a while?

Supervisor Linden: Yeah, but we’re modding it so it will specifically target items that cost more than $1000L.

PlausibleDeniability Linden: Sweet!

M. Linden: Before the grid goes down for good, I want you all to do whatever you can to increase our income from residents.

Asskisser Linden: Yeah, let’s rob ‘em blind while we still can!

Scammer Linden: I have an idea.


Linden Lab, you are just SO wrong on this one!


Written 28 October,2008


Has Linden Lab Lost Its Collective Mind?

“We will increase the monthly maintenance fee [for Openspace sims] from USD$75 to USD$125 per month. This price increase will apply to all owners of Openspaces on January 1st as well as new purchases after that date. There will be no grandfathering of Openspace maintenance pricing.”

-- Jack Linden, Linden Blog, 27 October, 2008

Last night Linden Lab announced that because “Openspaces are being used about twice as much as we expected, in other words being loaded with double the content/avatar load than we’d expect for a region that is supposed to be light use,” which results in “additional strain on some of our network and database infrastructure,” monthly tier will be increased on 1 January from the current $USD $75.00 per month to $USD $125.00. Upfront fees for new Openspaces will be increased from USD$250 to USD$375.

In some scenarios such a price increase might make sense—but in this case it is sheer Linden insanity—linsanity, as I have termed it.

Last night’s announcement was the flip side of an announcement made in early April, when Linden Lab announced the availability of single Openspace sims for purchase by sim owners (previously, they were available only in lots of four) and a concurrent increase in prim limits on Openspaces from 1750 to 3500.

And now the Lab is shocked—SHOCKED!— Openspaces have twice as many prims and avatars? Puh-LEASE! What did they expect would happen when they doubled prim allowances? Did they think owners would say, “Oh, wow, now I can not put another 1750 prims on the land! Now I can have 2000 free prims instead of just 250!” Yeah. Right! In their dreams!

Rather than disciplining owners who are overloading their Openspaces with prims, avatars, and scripts by running clubs and malls, rather than placing limits on the avatar load or number of scripts on Openspaces, rather than saying, “Okay, okay, okay, we screwed up! Because our servers can’t handle 3500 prims on Openspaces, we’re taking prim bsack down to 1750,” rather than charging increased tier on new purchases of Openspace sims, Linden Lab is punishing every Openspace owner by increasing tier by 60%, a move that will do absolutely NOTHING to alleviate the supposed problem of overload.

See? Linsanity!

The Lab’s April decision to reduce island prices cost a lot of people a lot of money in lost land value. The current decision will cost island owners more money, as they will lose their purchase price when they abandon their Openspaces—and many, many owners will indeed abandon them.

I’m ordinarily a supporter of Linden Lab, even when they make bonehead decisions—but Jack’s announcement smacks of deceit and dishonesty and misdirection. I cannot continue to support Linden Lab unless it does something to make this untenable situation better.

Arrgh! Where's My Inventory?

Written 22 October, 2008

Arrgh! Where’s My Inventory?

Last night Sweetie, who is careful to keep me modestly clad, pointed out my dress. “Is that a nighgown?”

I took a look at myself, and indeed, it did look rather like lingerie! And I was in public!

When I went to my inventory to grab a more modest garment, however, nothing was loaded. The only things that seemed to be present were my landmarks. All the folders and subfolders were in their accustomed places, but all showed as empty.

Subsequent relogs didn’t fix the problem, and when I logged on this morning with the Nicholaz EC-F viewer, everything was still missing.

I made a call to the concierge line, where a friendly Linden suggested I clear the cache and relog.

I did, and it it worked. My inventory was back.

Whew! And woo-hoo!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jet Skis

Note the Jumps in the Background

Written October 22, 2008

Jet Skis

Abranimations had changed since I was last there. There were some interesting new products, including a sky joust game which seemed to be modeled after the video arcade game of the same name. There was also a first-rate bumper car game.

I wandered out the back door to look at the several products for sale on the ground, and stumbled across the Devils Moon sim.

I’d been to Devil Moon before, but it was changed. Nowadays it’s a pretty lake with places to cuddle, a rideable rowboat, and a jet ski rezzer.

I had a great time zooming around on a jet ski and repeatedly taking it over a ramp, which it jumped gracefully, providing I was moving fast enough.

I had to buy Lindens to do so, but I purchased the rezzer and took it home to Whimsy Kaboom. I pulled out and placed the long unused decking from East Beach, which once graced Pele, my former home. Alongside the planks, I put out two rezzers—one for a jet ski, the other for a jet ski with a rope and poseball for a waterboarder. Then I built a couple of ramps and plunked them into the water.

I had fun zooming around, stopping only when it was time to go to work.


Sweetie beat me online last night. It took her mere minutes to find the jet skis. When I arrived she was zooming about, taking the ramps in fine style. I jumped onto the ski board poseball behind her jet ski and she towed me about, frequently crashing me into the sides of the jumps and the edges of islands as we raced around the vast watery spaces of Whimsy Kaboom.

Later we rode around on jet skis with our friend Michel Runningbear. We finished the night with all three of us in or on Sweetie’s great little stunt plane (there being but two seats, I was perched attractively on the wing, secured, I told Michel, with great strips of virtual Velcro). We did figure 8s and inside loops, trailing red smoke, eventually landing on Kaboom, where Michel produced a paddle boat on which we floated sedately through all three of the Whimsy sims. I was enjoying myself, since Michel was doing all the work, but then I realized my avi was paddling too.

“Hey!” I said. “I didn’t sign up for this! I’m going AWOL at the next port of call!”

“Shut up and paddle, you blackguard! I’ll stand for no mutiny or desertion!”

All in all, it was another fun night in Whimsy.


Feel free to try out the jet skis on Whimsy Kaboom.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Personal Hugger

Written 22 October, 2008

Personal Hugger

Some months ago, my free personal hugger quit working. I would approach Sweetie as always, but instead of hugging her, my avie would repeatedly lunge at her; when I wore my Zero Style Mai hair, it looked as if I were a poodle  hunching her leg.

Figuring some thousands of Sweetie hugs had worn my hugger to its nubbins, I found another. And another. None of them worked.


Hmmm, Havok4 was just implemented. I wonder….

Yep. That was it. The free personal huggers seemed to be broken, at least insofar as it came to my hugging Sweetie.

I discovered that if I flew and descended to just above ground level, I could sort of hug her, but that was annoying and particlely, as my MystiTool dust would obscure my rather delectable view.

Then my brother Mordecai had cause to hug us both. And his hug, unlike ours, wasn’t broken.

Mordecai told us he had gotten his hug at Abranimations. I made a trip there, but didn’t find a hugger—although I did see and almost purchased a couples animator. The $995L price tag seemed a bit steep, though, so I didn’t.

Yesterday morning I work up early and was online before my usual time. I caught Mordecai before he had to leave for his job, at which he defends and protects the British Empire from evil intergalactic forces. He confirmed his hug was powered by the Couples Animation HUD at Abranimations.

I took myself straightaway to Abranimations and, having sufficient Lindens in my account to affect the purchase, picked up the Couples HUD.

I’m eager to try it out on Sweetie. I missed the opportunity last night, however, because my inventory got scrambled and wouldn’t load, and because we were distracted.

Distracted by what? Glad you asked. By jet skis.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Second Rez Day

Written 24 October, 2008

My Second Rez Day

Today was my second rez day. Two years in world. Wow!

Second Life has changed my life for the better.

Cosen: Zen Master of Appearance

Photo: No photo. Cosen was gone when I got there to take the snapshot. :(

Written 22 October, 2008

Cosen: Zen Master of Appearance

For several weeks now an avatar named Cosen has been in Appearance mode at the Hanja Welcome Area.

Two weeks in appearance, and his hair still looks like shit! It’s worse than Philip Lindens’!

Cosen’s extraordinary time spent immobile in world hasn’t escaped the attention of the hangers-out at Hanja, who have been keeping an eye on him. He’s a frequent topic of discussion, and someone has even formed a Cosen fan club group.

The general opinion is whatever is going on with Cosen is far more than puzzlement and ineptitude with the sliders in Appearance. Somehow, most people will say, he has become ghosted in-world and will remain at Hanja until the sim is re-booted.

Perhaps that’s so, but I prefer to think of Cosen as more than a ghost. Perhaps he’s a human—or rather, avatarian—artistic statement. Perhaps Cosen’s human typist sees him as everyavatar. Perhaps he or she has placed him at Hanja to comment upon avatars’ inhumanity (inavatarity?) to avatarkind. Perhaps Cosen is an avatarian mime, holding a pose with consummate skill. Perhaps Cosen has sworn to remain in place until Barrack Obama is sworn in as the President of the United States or until the last Russian troop has left Georgia. Perhaps he’s out to set some sort of in-world Guinness world record. Perhaps he’s angry and holding his virtual breath until he turns blue. Or perhaps he’s working out hypercomplex equations of relativity or curing cancer or solving the problems of world hunger and world peace.

Whatever is going on with Cosen, I’ll be disappointed on the day I go to Hanja and find him no longer there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inventory: Some Hints for Management

Written 21 October, 2008

Inventory: Some Hints for Management

Get Your Textures, Photos, and Sculpties Out of Inventory

I couldn’t BEGIN to tell you how many textures and photos are out of my inventory and in my K.R. Engineering organizers. Let me just say I recently bought a box of 10,000 textures from SLExchange and there were really 10,000 textures in the box. I spent a good week sorting them into organizers.

Many people sell organizers, and most are copyable so you can have organizers for any number of categories. Some organizers are rezzed on the ground, and some work as HUDS—but all get those pesky textures out of your inventory. And your photos too.

I have a free sculpty rezzer I picked up from somewhere. It’s handy, looking at a sculpty texture map will tell you little. How nice to scroll through the flexies, seeing them rez before your eyes. And bye bye, sculpties, from my inventory.

You’ll be amazed how much more svelte your inventory will be when the textures and photos are gone!

Box Rarely Used Items

I once packed items in boxes. I packed those boxes in boxes, and THOSE boxes inside boxes, eventually winding up with several thousand free items in a one-prim box, woo hoo!. I put it in inventory, and it promptly disappeared.

I chalked it up to carelessness on my part, but when I did it again and the box disappeared, this time with objects I had actually paid for, I decided it might not be such a great idea to pack thousands of items in a single box and put it in inventory.

But you can easily pack a hundred or more items into a box, and it’s unlikely to disappear from your inventory.

If you have land, you can leave heavily loaded boxes on your land. I have a prim storage platform high above Whimsy, where boxes within boxes within boxes have rested safely for months. So long as tier is paid, they are safe.

Eliminate Duplicates

Sweetie, bright star that she is, told me she looks for duplicate landmarks in the Landmarks tab in the Map. She sets the filters in Inventory (more on filters, below) so they show only landmarks and, when she identifies duplicates in the list on the map, searches by name in inventory. Then she kills the duplicates.

If something is copyable, you need not keep more than one copy. You can safely eliminate duplicates.

This isn’t the case with no copy items, however! If you have four non-copyable chairs, keep them all!

Use the Filters

You can set the filters in your Inventory to show only certain classes of things—landmarks, calling cards, objects, notecards, scripts… You can also set filters to show things acquired after a certain day. That makes it easier to find that outfit you bought day-before-yesterday. When you finish, be sure to reset the filters.

Nest Your Folders

Scrolling around in your inventory can be clumsy. I try to keep mine less than one page in length by nesting items. Sweetie makes fun of me for this. I have a folder, for instance, called Chey’s Things. Inside Chey’s Things is a folder called Vehicles. Inside the Vehicles folder is a folder called Aircraft. Inside Aircraft are folders for airplanes, helicopters, lighter-than-air craft, spaceships and rockets, and novel aircraft (in which one finds the bumblebee plane and the mustard and ketchup dispenser planes).

Open a Second Inventory Window

When sorting objects in inventory, you can open a second window and drag stuff from one window to the other. It exempts you from clumsy scrolling.

Back Up Your Important Items

It’s not a bad idea to make backups of copyable items you use frequently: gadgets like the Mystitool or Conover’s sim scanner, your hair, your vehicles, your houses, your furniture. You can keep them in a special folder or put them in a box, it doesn’t matter—you’ll have it when you need it.

Have a Yard Sale

If you have objects you don’t need but can’t bear to delete, why not have a yard sale—or go to one of the welcome areas and gift a new citizen with an outfit or a free house. It’ll make their day, and it will make you feel good besides.

Inventory Control, Revisited

Help Stamp Out Free T-shirts in Second Life

Written 21 October, 2008

Inventory Control, Revisited

As a prologue to my post about inventory control, please read this post from March 2007. It made even me laugh, so it can’t be all bad.

Now that’s out of the way, flashback to last night. Sweetie is in world and sorting inventory.

Sweetie is predisposed to trance states, which she often enters without warning. Sometimes she spends fifteen minutes lining up a snapshot on her laggy Mac; sometimes she’s throwing around prims in a builder’s haze; sometimes she’s sorting inventory.

I especially like it when she works on her Objects folder. One never knows what will materialize. A plywood cube. A beach house. A bumblebee airplane. A penis hoverbike.

Last night was an inventory night. Sweetie stopped speaking in Skype, and I could hear the clicks as she did a search-and-destroy through her Inventory.

I managed to get her talking again, and we worked up a list of words to help ferret out duplicate and useless items. Here they are:

Bald. Every hairdo comes with a bald base. You need only one.

About. Many products come with a notecard that serves no real purpose. About will find most of them.

Hover. Many unpacked boxes contain a script for hovering text. You might place one in your Scripts folder so you can make your own hovering text; throw the rest away.

Float. Some of the above scripts may be named Floating Text.

Unpack. Some boxes place an unpacking script in your inventory. You can safely kill them.

New Script. Some sellers don’t bother to rename floating text and unpacking scripts. You can safely kill scripts so named, especially if they’re in your clothing folder.

Delete. Some unpacking scripts are named “Delete Me.”

Free. This will get rid of freebies you no longer need.

Invitation. Purge your inventory of old invitations.

Join. Ditto.

T-shirt. Get rid of all your ugly freebie tees.

Gentle reader, if you can think of other handy terms to search, please comment.:)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was New

Chey When She Was Brand New in October, 2006

Written 10 October, 2008

Ten Things I Wish I Had Known When I Was New

1. Hitting the space bar will stop your fall.

Well, it doesn’t actually STOP you, but it does slow you to a snail’s pace. When you’re on the ground, you can hold the space bar to move slowly on the ground. It’s useful at the edges of cliffs and such.

2. You can suppress the typing animation.

Hate the way your fingers move and you emit keyboard sounds when you type in Chat? Go to the Debug submenu under Tools and set Suppress Typing Animation to TRUE. The animation will remain suppressed even after you relog.

3. You can fly in no fly zones and see music and media URLS on any parcel.

Sound to good to be true? It’s not! Go to the Advanced Menu and turn on View Admin Options. At one time this survived relog, but lately it must be turned back periodically.

If you don’t have an Advanced Menu, CTRL-ALT-D will turn it on and off.

4. You can zoom your camera far away from your avatar.

Go to the Advanced menu and turn on Disable Camera Constraints. You’ll be able to move your cam far away. The limit seems to be draw distance; the higher your draw, the further you can see.

5. You can see invisible objects!

CTRL-ALT-T puts a red haze around invisible objects. How handy to find that alpha prim you just rezzed but can’t see!. Hit CTRL-ALT-T to turn this feature back off.

6. You can use Edit on the attachments of other avatars.

Yes, you can! Just click on one of your own attachments (your hair, maybe) and Edit. Then, with the Edit menu still open, click on an attachment of another avatar.

You can also use the Inspect feature in the pie menu to look at another avatar’s attachments.

7. You can use Edit to track down objects you see and would like to buy.

Just click on the profile of the creator and go to the Picks tab. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find a store listed. If you don’t find a store, you can IM the creator.

8. You can zoom in really close! And you can zoom really far out!

Hit CTRL-0 to zoom in and CTRL-8 to zoom out. And REMEMBER THIS: CTRL-9 will reset your view to normal.

9. You needn’t be stuck with the cheesy dances in the dance balls at clubs.

Visit Sine Wave Island or Abranimations and pick up some dances you like. You can locate them in inventory in your Animations folder. Open them and play them in world—or you can buy a chimera which attaches to your body and will let you and your friends choose dances at any location which is not set to no-script.

10. Muting people gets rid of their chat, voice chat, sound spam, and particle effects.

Can’t enjoy Burning Life because of a particle attack? Can’t hear the music due to the audience’s excessive wooting? Mute the avies responsible. You can also mute annoying objects like store greeters and ‘sploders.

If you can’t find the source of a particle attack, go to the Advanced Menu > Rendering > Types and turn off particles. They will stay off until you relog or turn them back on.

Bonus #1. You can “tear off” submenus. Just click on their header and the submenu will detach and remain open as a window until you close it or relog. How handy! Now you won’t have to dig through menus to turn those particles back on!

Bonus #2. You can chat while in mouselook!

When in mouselook, just hit enter and the chat line will open. You can then chat without leaving mouselook. You won’t be able to send IMs, but you can see incoming IMs if you have your Preferences set to show your IMs in chat (don’t worry; others can’t see them. Only you can).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Power of the Mute

Written 7 October, 2008

The Power of the Mute

This morning, wasting time before going to work, I teleported into the Hanja Welcome Area. I was immediately under auditory assault from a crackling microphone.

I located the source. “Hi, Hirohito,” I said. “Your mic is crackling on the air. One really needs to use a headset. Would you please plug in or mute your mic when you’re not talking?”

“Thanks,” he said, and the sound went away.

Next, I located an annoying spatial sound—a repeating loop of “Barbie Girl.” It was coming from (no surprise) the spinning prim Barbie bot. I got the name of the owner from the object and muted him. The sound went away.

The owner’s profile was really nasty. It bragged out him being a sexual predator and willing to do whatever was necessary to bed anyone he considered beddable. I wanted to mute him all over again.

Next, I located the source of the annoying particles. It was a blonde with too much hair and too little clothing. I muted her and the particles went away. My frame rate went up by 25 percent.

Then I was IMed by a vampire who wanted to bite me. I told him no thanks. When he tried to convince me to let him bite me, I told him he was muted.

On the land (I have to find out how these folks bring their builds into a no-build, no-script, no-object entry area), there was a wonderful build, a newbie male mannekin that looks stunningly real. He was clearly marked in his description line as a freebie and not for sale for profit. His current owner had him marked for sale at 100 Lindens. I told people where the mannekin could be picked up for free.

 Someone in a Greenie avatar was playing head games in Chat, saying the only way to test the character of someone is to put him or her in a situation in which he or she can do anything without consequence—which was an interesting and perhaps true thought—but since it was he who had the freebie set for sale, I told him he had shown us all who he was and muted him.

I got an IM from someone who was born last December but said this was his first time actually in world. Our conversation began pleasantly enough, but when he started to brag about how many women he had fucked in SL, I decided to mute him.

“Pretty lady, will you give me 500 Lindens? I will be of service to you if you do.” Mute.

“Do you want a job?” Mute.

Fart noises. Mute.

Boorish in voice chat. Mute.

Playing stupid vocal gestures. Mute.

Insulting others for no reason. Mute.

Clackety heels. Mute.

Too much bling. Mute.

Naked. Mute.

Prim penis. Mute

Just plain stupid, Mute.

Mute, mute, mute.

Pretty soon all was peaceful.

There weren’t all that many people left to talk to, but at least they were WORTH talking to.

Stupidity at the Welcome Areas

Written 6 October, 2008

Stupidity at the Welcome Areas

Initial arrival in Second Life can be profoundly disorienting. There’s a complicated interface to master, and it’s difficult to learn when you’re surrounded by masses of equally confused people.

Linden Lab has been making arrangements to allow avatars to have their first rez anywhere in world. Good! But until that becomes operational, most new citizens will eventualy arrive in one of the welcome areas.

You’ve probably seen these areas. They’re at the intersection of four sims, and they feature a central plaza and glass pavilions at each of the four compass points.

They might be CALLED welcome areas, but most of them in fact aren’t, for they are habituated by, in addition to genuine new citizens and a few dedicated mentors, alts, griefers, sim-crashers, sound and particle spammers, and people who think they know everything but are clueless.

They would probably be infuriated to know I think it, but the worst of the lot at the welcome areas are the twentysomethings who gather to talk in voice. Their general lack of information about anything other than computers, coupled with personal lives and relationships that leave much to be desired and frequent alcohol abuse makes for conversation that also leaves much to be desired. Ignorance is a word that comes to mind. Stupidity—which, unlike ignorance, is incurable—is another. A third word, and a fourth, would be intolerance and rudeness. These are the people who make the welcoming areas in actuality unwelcoming areas.

I’ve heard these folks insult people whose English is inadequate (as if THEY speak any language other than English) and speculate in person if people who sound female to me in voice—myself included—are male or female, or straight or gay.

I’ve heard several conversations that might have become intelligent, but the boors predominated. One young man, for instance, was trying to explain how Wal-Mart has destroyed tens of thousands of American businesses. He was shouted down by the clueless. I brought up the idea in one welcome area that it was in fact, not a great place for new citizens; this caused umbrage among the voice speakers, who clearly felt, because they hang out there, that it was THEIR area; they took it as a personal insult. “The noobs have everything they need on Help Island,” one said scornfully. “So it’s on them when they come here.” This from someone who, two years in world, has no real idea about what Second Life is and is not. It’s as if she came to the welcome area and never left—which statement, in fact, may be pretty near the truth.

People come to SL for many reasons, and if being young and stupid is a reason, good and fine. But Linden Lab should take steps to keep the welcome areas friendly to new citizens. And those who use voice to belittle others and glorify themselves at the expense of those who need help should give serious consideration to getting a real second life.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ahern: My First Rez Spot

Written 29 September

My First Rez Spot

I was first-rezzed at the Ahern welcome area. It’s located on the mainland at the intersection of the Ahern, Morris, Bonifacio, and Dore sims.

For the first three days of my life, until real life friends found me and took me home with them, I lived at Ahern. I ventured into the world during those three days, certainly, but I rezzed at Ahern and it was to Ahern I returned.

It was then and remains a busy area, full of newly-arrived avatars and a few who have been around for some years. It’s a no-build, no-script, no-object-entry, no-damage, no-push area, but it’s still by far the most bizarre place I’ve been in Second Life. It’s full of sound spammers, people who abuse voice, bizarre avatars, naked people, people who act stupid and profane in Chat, and new people running around asking questions in a dozen languages.

Sometimes, when my creativity has run low and I’m not building something, I’ll go to Ahern early in the morning or late at night and sit on a wall, watching the circus. Occasionally I’ll spot an avatar or two who seem intent on learning about SL, and I’ll help them by giving them landmarks and a flight feather. A few of these folks have become my friends.

Ahern (I’ll call it Ahern even though people wander freely across the sim borders) never fails to disappoint. This morning, for instance, I heard a newbie chatting up an older but still newbie-looking female, telling her he would teleport her to a private spot and he hoped to hell she was really a female so he wouldn’t get a lifelong neurosis. I was interviewed by a South Korean reporter in a cell-shaded Snoopy avatar. A naked woman from Brazil was running around asking for clothes (as if she didn’t have any!). Someone was continually playing a song called Banana Telephone (I muted him). Two avatars were arguing drunkenly in voice and chat because one had called the other’s silks Gorean whore clothes. Other avatars, clearly in their early twenties, were talking in voice about the tribulations of apartment living. When one complained about nine illegals sharing the apartment next door to her, someone asked in Chat why she discriminated against Mexicans. Someone else talked about listening to a man beat his wife all night long.

This morning I made friends with a man from England who was online at work and a three-week old woman from Indiana and we sat on a wall watching the circus and chatting. We helped orient a new woman from Germany.

When I left to go to work, my new friends were helping the new citizen from Brazil. She was sill pretending she didn’t have any clothes.
“Don’t bother,” I IMed them. “By this time next week her tits and ass will be out to there and anything you give her won’t fit. Extreme sexual stereotypes seems to be a Brazilian national characteristic.”

“I know,” said my friend from England. “I can’t wait.”

Ahern. Where the weird turn pro.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Indispensible Things

Top to Bottom: K.R. Texture Organizer, HippoTech Vendor, Kitto Flora's Steam Train

Written 1 October, 2008

Indispensible Things

There are a number of gadgets in Second Life without which I would find it difficult to live (how's that for a gramatically correct but convoluted sentence?) Here they are.

1. My Mystitool. The wondrous Mystitool, made by Mystical Cookie, is a multipurpose HUD with about 100 functions including: flight assist (speed adjustable), avatar light (also adjustable) avatar radar, sim scanner, remote sim scanner, builder’s platform, sky elevator, break reminder, color calculator, land/prim calculator, mimicer (mimicker?), anti-idle, anti-push, non-physical vehicle, animation stopper, facial animator, particle beam friend locator (you can also stand on your friend’s head), builder’s cam, channel listener, easy ban function, defensive and offensive weapons, teleport memory, UUID finder, object rezzer, and can opener. It has been described as the Swiss Army knife of Second Life.

The Mysti takes up minimal space on your screen and costs only $396 (and there is a free version!). Find it on the Blumfield sim (29, 149, 296).

2. Rez-Faux. It seems the new client interface will allow objects to be linked at distances of more than 50 meters (the previous limit was 30 meters), but even so, Rez-Faux (and its competitors) are invaluable for preserving big builds. Lex Neva's Rez-Faux is inexpensive, easy to use, is frequently updated, and, at least for me, has worked flawlessly, allowing me to rez and reposition large buildings in mere seconds. Search Lex Neva in People and go to the Picks tab in his profile to locate his store. I seem to have misplaced the landmark.

3. My Train. Kitto Flora’s steam train is a joy to own and ride. Priced at only $1200, it comes in several colors with copyable and transferrable track which allows the creation of elaborate layouts. It works perfectly, subject only to Second Life’s limitations (the engine will stop and wait when sim lag gets atrocious). Avatars come from all over Second Life to ride the train at Whimsy, and every time I get an IM from the engine telling me someone is driving it, I smile. Find the train on the Wish sim (152, 40, 30).

4. My Texture Organizers. Without K.R. Engineering’s great texture organizers, my inventory and probably Linden Labs’ asset servers would have gone south long ago. The organizers (I use the plural because they’re copyable, meaning I can create as many of them as I want) have 16 nameable categories and a 17th for temporary storage. The organizers can be searched and textures reassigned to new categories, and duplicates can be easily located and deleted. Textures can be viewed full screen, singly or tiled, lighted or unlighted, and textures can be retrieved from the organizers and placed in inventory singly or by category. Find them at Karoastoff (54, 144, 77).

The organizers are a bit primmy, but not overly so, and a HUD version is available.

5. Mahjong

I learned to play mahjong in world; in fact, it’s the only place I play it. I have a table in a sky pavilion 1700 meters above Whimsy and go there late at night and sometimes during the day to play a few games. It’s relaxing.

The table works great, and it’s free! Find it at Seacliff (236, 72, 28).

6. Outy’s Auto-Emoter

I wore a smiler for like five seconds before taking it off. I thought it made my avie look stupid. I was standing there and grinning like an idiot at random intervals.

And so I took myself to Outy Banjo’s place and bought his Auto-Emoter. It’s a HUD that sits at the top right of my screen (like all HUD objects, it can be repositioned). A click opens the HUD, allowing me to select from about 20 different facial expressions, but I usually leave it minimized, where it runs in the background, animating my avatar, parsing my chat and responding to key words with the appropriate expression.

When I say the word “afraid,” for example, my avie express fear facially. And if I type :P, I stick out my tongue.

SL facial expressions are far from what they might be, but Outy makes them practical—and effortless—to use. I never take off his auto-emoter. Find it at Epione (168, 125, 84).

7. My Zhao AO

I bought my animator from Sensual Casanova. Nowadays, it costs $850L, but it’s worth it for the value-added animations. I wore it for more than six months before I learned enough about Second Life to stuff it with custom animations.

Like all ZHAO AOs, Sensual’s is a HUD. Mine sits at the upper left on my screen, where it takes up a minimum of space. There’s a drop-down menu which allows me to select among five walks, five sits, and five ground sits, turn the sit animation off in favor of the default SL sits, and load notecards with different animation sets. The notecards allow me to tailor animations to circumstances. For instance, I can call a card with modeling poses when I want, or a card with kimono animations. The cards take about 20 seconds to load, and the change in animations is seamless.

It can be a pain to get the names of the poses I want to call correct in the notecard, but that’s not Sensual’s fault. Sometimes it takes a while to get a new card tweaked, but thereafter it works perfectly.

To Sensual’s credit, she didn’t put a single stupid stand in her AO. Even with the default card I don’t act stupid, slutty, or coquettish. I move like a normal person. (When I want to be stupid. slutty, or conquettish, I use my own cards.) Find it on

8. Conover’s Advanced Object Locator HUD

When I was new to Second Life, I was forever losing prims. Sometimes I would blunder upon them weeks or months after losing them. They would be at 764 meters or at 0,0,0 on the sim, or underground, or right where I left them, but invisible. And of course, most of them were named Object.

Eventually I bought PTools, a gadget primarily for attack and defense, but with an object locator. PTools would find objects within 60 meters or so and direct me to them with a particle beam, provided I could name them.

Not long ago, however, Thomas Conover released a sim-wide object locator. It’s a HUD, and it works marvelously. It can search at variable distances, by prim name, by owner’s name, or by parcel. It rezzes a bot which points at located objects with a particle beam, and I can sit on the bot and fly right to the lost object-- anywhere on the sim..

I don’t lose prims nearly as often as I once did, but it’s no worries now with Conover’s gadget. I wish I had had it two years ago! Find it at Titian (146, 232, 351).
9. My Wurlitzer
When I first got my property, I bought Weedy Hebst's Wurlitzer jukebox. It's a controller that lets you set streaming radio stations on your land. It comes with a programmed list of stations which you can update or expand, and operates handily by voice control. It's not fancy and web-based, like some media systems, just a functional and easy to use gadget. Find it at Tuliptree (8,7, 31).

10. HippoTechVendors

When, about a year ago, I started my store (it’s called Flights of Fancy, and here’s the SLURL), I bought JEVN vendors. They worked great, but it took forever to get the first one stocked because the product name had to match exactly with the notecard. I had to track down subtle differences like double spaces—and in some cases, it seemed the names were exactly the same and things still didn’t work.”

Life got easy when I bought HippoTech vendors. Because they’re web-based and not dependent upon the clunky word processing tools of Second Life, and because they allow you to select from the objects you have placed into the servers, setup is fast and mostly error-free.

With the Hippo vendors, as with the JEVNs, one puts objects, notecards, and photos into servers. The servers can live anywhere on the grid. They communicate with vendors, allowing multiple points of purchase with no need to revist the vendor locations; updated are done from the server. Nice!

The Hippo improves on the JEVN because of the web capabilities. Keeping information in an external database has its advatages. But kudos to both JEVN and HippoTech. Find the Hippos at Hippo Technologies (110, 131, 44).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Guitar

Written 22 September, 2008

My Guitar

I picked up my guitar yesterday morning and played for more than hour.

Ordinarily, playing my guitar wouldn’t be blogworthy, but I put it away last October and hadn’t picked it up since.

The last time I played it I was serenading Sweetie in real life. She asked me to stop because all my songs sounded sad to her.

Since I’m not a good enough musician to put a happy feets sound to Tom Dooley, I laid it down. That was 11 months ago.

Yesterday morning I logged into Second Life and stood on Robot Island (there are no robots on Robot Island, but I once built some bots there, and it acquired the name). I listened to the birds for a while and then picked up my Epiphone and started playing John Prine and Steve Goodman’s Souvenirs.

I hate reading old love letters
For they only bring me tears
Can’t forget the way they robbed me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs

Souvenirs is a sad song, sure enough. It was new to my repertoire last fall, so probably Sweetie had a point about me playing sad songs, but I’m glad I picked up my guitar again.