Monday, June 30, 2008

questions of science, science and progress, do not speak as loud as my heart

Meet Colton the Copybot Linden. Who's he copying? AzA Zymurgy.

Is it just me? This hits me as weird. A Linden adores AzA's av so much he copies it nearly prim for prim?

Why?

Why not develop an original look?

Meanwhile, Winter Ventura has been struggling to get her girl-bot avatar up and running. (Apparently the girl-bot has been highly resistant.)

She's now running a poll so folks can help her narrow down a good price. If you have an SLUniverse account, go vote.

Even if you don't have an SLUniverse account, go look.

The rest of this is mostly scattershot images from SL5B.

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Wandering through one of the nine-billion-stores together parcels--this one by KSG? KSB?--I came across this little boutique tucked into the corner. They had huge faceted gems pressed through their window-glass.

Now, for sculpts, the gems were very sharp and pointy, and seemed better suited to hurling towards enemies one wanted to slow down, than as decoration...but that being said, they were pretty.

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Why some people should receive lessons in Glow. Yaaaagh.

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I wish I knew who'd done this, it's on a parcel nearly directly behind Caledon's build. But it's truly amazing--a several-dozen-meters-high vibrantly colored moving sculpture, that eternally opens like a flower and closes again, fronds wafting gently in the virtual breeze.

Quite, quite lovely.

More if I go again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

praying for the skies to open up and wash away your memory

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Milk Latte is closing soon. I don't know why, I do know it's sad. I really liked this little place.

Same sim, maybe different owner, had a whole warehouse full of low-prim Asian furniture. Now there was a fun concept, too.

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I had intended to come back and pay full price for the kimonos I wanted, and their full price, on many of these? Averaged between thirty and eighty Linden to begin with.

But at five Linden per kimono--and with her having such vibrant designs--how can I pass it up?

Anyway.

I got a chance to walk about SL5B at long last today. Some things were just phenomenal; some things were baffling as hell.

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Like...why did YuriLover Nightfire build a chair? Just a chair? Approved application, 100-200 prims depending on build parcel size, and...no. Just a chair.

Just one chair.

And the sharks. OMG Maxx Flyer's sharks.

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(Click for a larger version.)

Unfort, this is not the best picture, but these things are amazing--they actually react to the bubble--swimming around the center and pressing up against the bubble before swimming off. They're color-changing too, and they're in the bubble with two jellyfish, but forget all that--they are aware of the bubble.

That's...just...astounding, frankly.

Also, how is CodeBastard Redgrave's work--lovely as it is--PG? Is it just that it shows no genitalia?

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Maybe it's just that the rules are being applied so inconsistently. One artist had to airbrush nipples off a classical painting to exhibit it. Another artist was allowed to put up a full sculpted version of Michaelangelo's David, in three dimensions, complete with male genitalia. A third artist was told breasts cannot be exhibited at all.

Is it just that there's too many organizers and not enough definitions of what "PG" really is supposed to mean? Then why have it PG at all?

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And this is the picture that got the Caledon build in trouble.

I know. It's so very beyond innocuous in every way. It was banned because--and this still baffles to this very moment--Miss Cornelia Rothschild (seen on Iason Hassanov's metal shoulder) was seen in a picture beside Desmond Shang, an adult male.

Right. That picture is going to give people sexual thoughts of adults and children. That portrayal.

Gryffin Hax would roll over in his grave, I'm sure. Well, if he were dead. Thankfully, he's very much alive.

And just as baffled.

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And I will admit, the tribute to Callie Cline's ego display Grim Babies put up was...something. I won't say art, per se, but it was something.

I'll give it another walk-through tomorrow, see what else pops up. But for the most part? SL5B, for all the hype, is beset by lag and texture meltdown, far too many sculpted objects, and far too many stores and modeling agencies determined to get new customers.

Next year it'd be nice to fix most of these issues, but frankly? I don't see it happening.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

feel the beat now if you've got nothing left

The word went out a few hours ago, and I ducked in just before the ban went up, but didn't get to see even a third of my favorite places. For whatever reason--and the reason is still not clearly known--the world's a little smaller now:

    "SORRY PRIVATEER SPACE IS NOW CLOSED
    [Due] to Linden Labs refusal to communicated on an issue of abuse the privateer Space sim is now closed. This Sim was created and funded by me, Aley Arai, for you the SL. Residen[ts], but cannot continue to waste time and money on an company that refuses to communicate with it's investors."


Privateer Space, the space sim for all space fen, closed today. The Galactic Truck Stop, the Swinetrek, Mobius, Space: 1999's Eagle explorer...all gone.

All gone for...what reason? We're still unclear on that.

Sorry, Miss Arai. Your grand drifting dream will be missed, indeed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

just like a paperback novel, the kind that drugstores sell

Apparently I've been tagged by Sir Edward Pearse...*grumblemumbleglare*...

1. write the title to your own memoir using six words.
2. post it on your blog.
3. link to the person that tagged you.
4. tag five more blogs.


Six words. Six?? Mrr...

Confessions of a Neko in Trouble, maybe. Or The Train-wreck Love Life Exposed. *snerk*

Hells, with the latter title, we could probably even start it out..."It was a dark and stormy night..."

When she arrived in Caledon. Hee!

Tag five more victims...hmm...Can't tag the Duchess, can't tag Lady Christine or she'd kill me...So hmm, whose memoirs would make for really interesting reads?

1. Frau Annechen Lowey. There have to be tales she's saving for her official memoirs.

2. VelesJaeger Munster. I fully expect if his memoirs are ever written, at least one chapter will begin with, "No, truly, dis really happent..."

3. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach. Multiple memoir volumes, even. Likely fully illustrated. :)

4. Colonel Hotspur O'Toole. His memoirs? Likely a seven-day wonder when they're published, the cause of many a group of ladies fanning themselves after attacks of faint swooning.

and, finally, though I know she's rarely on the grid these days...

5. Lady Darkling Elytis. It will be a memoir comprised of scraps of poetry, recipes, fragmentary spells, folklore and sketches done in the margins in violet-scented ink, and it will come tied with vintage satin ribbon, with rose leaves tucked between the chapters.

you had your chance to right your wrong, can't we all just get along?

In conversations with a love this evening, I've had something pointed out to me, and frankly, it's something I should have, given time and thought, seen on my own.

That I didn't is more a failure on my part, along with the resurgence of 'we-have-rights' style of thinking.

(Because, let's face it, it's quite true--we don't have rights, it's their world, their game, and if they decide one day to pack the grid up and deny us all access? They can, it's their platform. We have only those 'rights' they choose to give us, and I've said this before.)

The point made was--Linden Labs is not, necessarily, the bad guy in this.

And I'm thinking, having had this discussion, they may well be right. And I may have been wrong.

Oh, but let me tell you why.

What's been our point all along? That the Labs are wrong, inherently and ethically, by banning the child avatars of SL from having exhibit space at the fifth birthday celebration.

And why have we been saying they're wrong? Well, I can't speak for others, and I won't, but for me, it's been that impression from the Labs--my impression of the actions of the Labs--that what they truly fear is another German crisis--some news agency, from somewhere, catching a shot of a child avatar, an adult avatar, and a bed, and spinning it towards fetishistic pedophilia, saying how bad, wrong and evil Linden Labs and Second Life is.

And I think that's valid, really, that perception--I think it's wrong to cave to special interests and let the religious zealots of any world run roughshod over our rights, our responsibilities, and our ethics--but again, as it was pointed out to me, that's missing the point.

This is the point--Linden Labs does not mind, per se, any individual user of Second Life building at the fifth birthday event. What they mind, what they don't want the world to see, is the Second Life childrens' community building a conjoined exhibit, in the manner of Caledon and other large communities.

So...why wouldn't they want this? Solidarity, exploration, exchange of ideas, cultural expansion...why aren't these good things?

Well, we're asking the wrong questions. The Labs, you see...what they don't want seen, what they want even more earnestly than to never again see "child sex" and "Linden Labs" connected in the same sentence...is to be known as the next Gaia.

Follow this through--because it's not a bad theory. The Labs do not want children, child avatars, being shown in accepting, positive, flourishing lights, because to do so might, and well could, convince some mother with a short attention span that SL is the next perfect place for her little darlings to romp about in.

Why is that a bad idea? Because Second Life is not a kids' game. And isn't that what we've been saying all along? Isn't that, in fact, why Linden Labs divided the grid between the teens and the adults in the first place? Isn't that what we've been insisting, in forums and IMs and emails and blog entries? That Second Life is designed for adults, that it shouldn't be sanitized, that it does contain innapropriate content for children? Real children?

So yes, they went about it tragically, and they made mistakes saying so, but if that was their main point...well, cumbersome and awkward as it was, they've held to it.

And maybe that's why they're not, per se, restricting non-PG content with the same aggressiveness--because non-PG content is less of a potential nightmare, for the celebration, than some journalist winging their way home and writing the glowing report about how perfect Second Life could be for the thirteen-to-seventeen set.

You know.

The children.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I think I'm drowning, this sea is killing me

[18:23] Meghan Dench: Second Life Birthday is being Restarted. We're sorry for any inconvenience. You'll need to leave the sim or you'll be logged off. Enjoy the event! : D

If you say so...

Speaking of Miss Dench, interesting exchange overheard on the Exhibitors' group for the upcoming celebration.

Seems one builder--without desiring to name names--is a tad, hmm, concerned, shall we say, over the PG-appropriateness of certain builds.

Shay Sunnyside stated:

[17:53] Shay Sunnyside: Under the definition of PG some of but not limited to the following will be prohibited: Nudity: Exhibits must not contain Mature content, if you are unsure of the rating of some of your content please contact a Coordinator. Ropes and Chains, graphic images or exhibits showing someone being bound will not be allowed, this also includes other content that may represent someone being bound in a sexual way.

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That's a reasonably clear definition, actually--surprisingly so, considering Linden Labs' marked and continual ability to vague up everything. But here's the problem.

Within this particular builder's range of vision, there's a bondage display of women in sexualized positions, cuffed and kneeling; there's a Gorean display of women being bound, in provocative attire; several booths down, there are images containing full-frontal adult nudity.

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It does make one wonder, just a bit--child avatars with their general insistence now on self-policing their community, to keep presentation, builds, and images kid-safe and kid-friendly, are not allowed; but a woman bound and kneeling and obviously made so to be more sexually attractive to adult onlookers, well, that's just fine?

What level of double standard is Linden Labs trying to feed us, here?

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Don't mistake me--my intent with the mention, and these images, is not to say oh-how-wicked, those-naughty-people--I, personally, am completely in favor of a Mature-rated, adult-inclusive celebration of five years of grid existence. Bring on the furs in rubber, the ladies clad in silk, bring on honest, open discussion of bondage, submission, dark RP, angels and demons, challenging art--hells, let's invite the churches in, too, and the homemaker groups, and people who prefer elderly avatars, and people who want to support their political candidates--let's even set up a big arena so anyone who has a problem with anyone else can go in and pillowfight to the death. Two out of three falls wins, and the loser has to move closer to Everett Linden's booth, which will consist of Everett sitting in happy-face boxer shorts in a dunking booth. Say, five Linden a throw, proceeds to benefit the RFL, or mass grid literacy, or to feed the starving gay puppies, or something.

I'm telling you, it would be a runaway success. And we might actually learn something along the way, and maybe have a true reason to celebrate--instead of resignedly realize, yet again, that we'd rather bicker and argue about what's appropriate, than proceed forward in a spirit of cooperation, tolerance, acceptance and education.

And in what may be the last comment from the SL5B blog entry, this one comment #142 from designer Raudf Fox:

Raudf Fox Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 5:42 PM

@Everett Linden,

"Child avatars are welcome at the celebration. However, we do respectfully decline the submissions we received to create exhibits for the event."

I think I see the reason for the 'confusion.' See, you say, "Child avatars are welcome at the celebration," followed by the "However, we do respectfully decline the submissions we received to create exhibits for the event." The implication is that you did decline the exhibits by the child avatars that did submit to you and that you did so BECAUSE they were child avatars.

Sure, they weren't banned because they could attend the event all they wanted, but be darned if they were going to be able to get an exhibit, because it would be automatically "respectfully declined," regardless of whether or not it met the PG guidelines.

This is what we are hearing. Now, it's great you've guys have "changed your minds," but we'd forgive you a lot faster/easier if we heard an, "Oops, we screwed up, sorry." than a, "There never was a ban, they weren't automatically declined, either." We
['ve] heard/seen what you said, we've looked at the track record for LL cutting in on resident run events, and we aren't stupid.

Excellently put; that's the heart of the issue in a nutshell. No, it wasn't that they said "ban", that they used the word "ban"; it was that their actions deliberately excluded a section of the grid population after exclaiming how wanted all cultures were.

Lest we all have forgotten how all of this started, let me refresh your memory in exactly what Katt Linden said:

Each year, on the date that Second Life came out of beta (June 23rd 2003), Residents and Lindens have gathered to celebrate the amazing world we've been creating. This June 23rd, our community marks its Fifth Birthday, and the volunteer Birthday Team (who has been planning this party since last year) picked a theme that will be hard to resist--"Celebrating the cultural diversity of Second Life".

Who do you hang around with in Second Life? What are your communities' traditions and signature characteristics? Are you proud of your sexy blue fur? Your excruciatingly detailed tea ceremony? Your murky environments? Your sculptures? The help you've given to others?


Now fast-forward to where we are, in this moment--a fully PG-rated celebration, under the thumb of Linden control, sans many communities that make the grid such a diverse place to begin with, rife with vague and indistinct rules threatening inspecific harm if these rules are broken. Gosh, yes, something to celebrate indeed.

Last thing, and it's completely off the topic--Nightwish goes steampunk? And is it just me, or is there more than a hint of Jethro Tull in that song?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

once that wheel is in motion, don't you lose what you have found (part II)

At this point, reading through the comments, I thought I had most of the major concepts down--the Lindens are scrambling to escape the deluge of bad press, the residents are complaining because of Linden-traditional vague policy waffling, and the casual users and readers are wishing everyone a happy birthday and fun celebration.

Then came comment #83 from Everett Linden:

everettlinden Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 9:13 AM

@44 Shoshana–as I commented on your blog, I think the Fringe Festival is a fantastic idea! It will highlight the range of creativity and expression on SL, and I’m sure you will have no lack of supporters of land, art, and exhibits.

Thanks again for all your continued work on this year’s Art Exhibition.

Now, about my invite….? ;-)


Wau. I mean, wau. Talk about chutzpah. Or maybe even, outright ballsy arrogance. One almost has to stand back and be vaguely impressed.

Almost.

Solomon Devoix responds again in comment #86:

Solomon Devoix Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 9:49 AM

everettlinden Says:

"I think the Fringe Festival is a fantastic idea! It will highlight the range of creativity and expression on SL, and I'm sure you will have no lack of supporters of land, art, and exhibits."

everett, given what you tried to keep out of this year’s celebration, I am firmly of the opinion that you have no business expecting to visit anything that would violate your precious "PG-that-is-cleaner-than-G" definition of a celebration. As in, "you made your bed, now lie in it."

everettlinden Says:
"Now, about my invite….?"

I tell you what. I'll personally create a celebration for you, in exchange for your dropping your revisionist bull, quoting your exclusionary post where you said exhibits from child avatars would be declined ("full stop", to borrow a Katt-ism) and just say why.

Oh.. and just for your information…

"Any non-straight answer will be respectfully declined."


Comment #95 from Ciaran Laval I also found succinct and to the point:

Ciaran Laval Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:12 AM

How on earth can PG only be as inclusive as possible? The mind boggles.

The fringe idea is a great idea, it’s a shame Linden Lab couldn’t be as forward thinking.

There are issues here whereby you’re undermining your own product by distancing yourself from certain innocent situations and you yourselves are taking the same, ludicrous attitude regarding kid av’s that leads to kid av’s being the victims of verbal abuse.

You should have shown some spine.

You also should have had a more adult area, adult doesn’t have to mean porn.


Really.

Still reading along, I had a moment of brain stun at comments #102 and #103, to wit:

Ceera Murakami Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:30 AM

To reiterate a point, G-rated pictures depicting avatars and their SL “Children” ARE being allowed now. I have two approved pics of that type in my exhibit. They did reverse that earlier “Policy”, even though they now deny that there ever realy was such a policy.

I would like to know if a pic of a child, properly dressed or in non-sexy PJ’s (like a wrist to ankle set of striped long-johns), and in what is clearly their own bedroom, would be allowed, if there was nothing at all sexually suggestive about the pic? For example, a little girl playing with toys in her own room? Or a Tiny anthro furry standing in her crib?

Or how about a mother tucking her daughter into bed for the night? Fully clothed parent, nothing suggestive or sexy. The sort of pic that could have appeared on any 50’s magazine cover, and no one would have batted an eye.

Are such images allowed, or is the ruling still “No images of a kid and a bed of any sort are allowed”? The revised wiki site that Meghan referred to doesn’t say.


and

Meghan Dench Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 11:37 AM

@ Ceera.

Images of Child Avs have been approved, lone images. Each pictures is reviewed first, I am not too sure about the mother tucking her child into bed, it would need to be reviewed. Images have been accepted though.

It doesn’t say on the wiki as each image is reviewed before it’s approved.


And whoa. Just goddamn whoa--"I am not too sure about the mother tucking her child into bed"?? What in the HELL...

Okay, seriously. Really. Run away from all the mania for a moment and think about this. Think about what she's really saying here. Break it down.

'I'm not sure a photograph, even non-sexualized in any way, of an adult woman putting to bed a young child, would be appropriate as there could be interpreted sexual content in such an image.'

THAT is what she's saying. Now, WHY IN THE HELL is she saying that?!?

In other words--no, sorry, can't show something like that, people might get the 'wrong idea'. So all parenting images are out, then? Every single one? Because certain people apparently can't see any adult/child interactions without having their brains flood with sexual imagery?

Guys. Really. It's called therapy, look into it. It might help.

And from there it just got worse.

Katt Linden complains about being called names; Deanna Wilson reinforces and clarifies; Solomon Devoix comments further on exactly what Katt Linden means when she says "ban"; Dusan Writer further reinforces that it's not "name-calling" when it's true.

Dusan Writer further stated in comment #121:

dusanwriter Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 12:59 PM

@ Meghan - I’m responding to Kat’s claim that and I quote:

“I realize that a number of confused rumors have gone around, but there is not and never was any “ban” on any group. It’s an exciting rumor, but it’s simply not true.”

There were no confused rumors. There were statements by staff members of Lindens and rejections of applications because of avatar types. I understand they were allowed later, but to make claim that there were a bunch of whispered rumors is false.

The community didn’t make this up, the Lindens did, and I pointed this out because I felt it was off-loading accountability for mismanagement to some sort of vague blogosphere rather than properly taking responsibility for their actions and missteps - something that I think is important in both managing a company and a community.


Daniel Regenbogen's comment (at position #133) is particularly telling:

danielregenbogen Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Katt, you are not saying the truth. You say there never was a ban - there WAS. Only after massive protests from all parts of the community, in forums and blogs, that ban was lifted. Kid avatars were BANNED from displaying their part of SL culture (in an event that was calling all cultures). There were NO questions asked about how their contribution would look like. There was not a single application turned down. It was a general rejection. “Nothing that displays the life of kid avatars in SL. Full Stop.” I’m quoting Robin Linden in her response to my mail to M Linden:

***
Daniel,

M Linden passed your concerns on to me about child avatars being excluded from the upcoming Birthday celebrations.

I want to be clear that child avatars are welcome to attend the celebrations, and we look forward to seeing you there. We believe a community sponsorship, however, is not in the best interest of the event or of Linden Lab, so we have to respectfully decline your participation at that level.

Best regards,
Robin
***

You know, Katt, what you are doing here, twisting words, is just another PR desaster. You insult the intelligence of your paying customers when you say that a general rejection is NO ban. This, in my eyes, is worse than the now revoked ban. That ban was simply a wrong decision while trying to do the right thing, to protect SL, and the pressure from the community (and as far as I know also from some inside the Lab) showed the decision makers that it was a wrong decision. What you are doing here is simply a shame.

Kids5B - Celebrating 5 years of Kid Avatars in Second Life


And Everett Linden chimes in just one comment down from Daniel's:

everettlinden Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 2:13 PM

@115 and @122 and others:
I am so glad to have a chance to answer this directly about my quote on Massively.

“Child avatars are welcome at the celebration. However, we do respectfully decline the submissions we received to create exhibits for the event.”

I explicitly welcomed child avatars. Therefore, it can’t be a ban.

We respectfully decline the submissions, not the submittors. Content and people are distinct.

No other groups are named, so connecting Goreans, Furries or any other groups to this statement is misplaced.

That said, I think I can see the problem. “…we received to create exhibits….” could imply the creators are included when we declined content. Not my intent. I’ve read that statement 20 times and didn’t see how that could be interpreted differently until today. Always learning.

So, if that’s the source of the confusion, let me amplify my two posts and Katt’s statements.

No ban = no ban. PG content. Everyone welcome. Enjoy.


Deanna Wilson takes issue with the picky semantics on the Linden side (which, frankly, she should); Daniel does not accept Everett's late recomplication of things; Solomon gets dizzy from the spin doctoring.

And so do I.

It's called personal responsibility, people. Have some. Admit you screwed up, move on. Don't try to throw more complications in the way, hoping we'll get distracted while you reinforce it never happened.

This is not now and never was about word choices; it was about actions. And all the tapdancing that Katt and Everett Linden are doing now to make it seem like it's all about the words is convincing none of us.

There may never have been a direct ban on child avatars. But there were content restrictions, to the point where it made things very difficult for child avatars to submit content appropriate under such restrictive (and recent to this year's builds) rules. And the same goes for other builds and other groups.

Regardless of what the Labs say about it.

Myself, I'm more looking forward to the fringe festival, and the SL kids' party. I may even decide to show up as a child, for that trip through...

In the end, Dusan Writer sums the whole thing up in a very succinct fashion, himself. Disheartening as hell, but there it is.

We'll see how much fallout there is from this--in terms of loss of faith and loss of trust--over the course of the next year. And me, I'm now very interested in seeing how the Labs will manage to cock up next year's celebration...

once that wheel is in motion, don't you lose what you have found (part I)

The infamous JIRA issue of protest has apparently now been resolved. Or closed. Or both. Meghan Dench explains things at the end of the comments:

Meghan Dench - 18/Jun/08 11:05 AM
I'm closing this issue, the confusion about the policies has been cleared up and nothing more as far as I can see will be done, this Jira issue is not needed and a waste of recourses.

Also to clear up my comment, I said No Nudity (Male or Female a nipple's a nipple)
I didn't say it was limited to a nipple. It means no male nudity, just as it means no female nudity.

(Please note I've not Closed the issue, just Resolved it)


So...she says she's closed the issue; but she wants to be clear that she hasn't closed the issue; and either way, it's been resolved. Thank you for coming, exit's that way.

I have no idea.

Katt Linden also muddies the waters further on the SL5B celebration blog entry. She states in comment #28:

Katt Linden Says:
June 17th, 2008 at 11:48 PM

@25

Hi, Abigail, I guess you misunderstood. Allow me to clarify.

There never was any ban on a specific type or group of avatar.

There was a request to keep things PG.

Full stop.

– Katt


By comment #30, of course, the backlash had started. One of the organizers behind the Kids5B celebration stated some (understandable) confusion:

danielregenbogen Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 12:04 AM

Katt??? We seem to have *very* different definitions of a ban - and I think my grasp of the english language is at least good enough to understand that something like “no exhibitions showing the life of kid avatars” or “no pictures that show both adult and kid avatars together” is simply that: a blanket ban. So, please, don’t insult the intelligence of the MANY people who saw it as exactly that - the words by Dusty and Everett are still to find at MANY places!

Why the heck can’t you and some others at LL not admit that they made a mistake! That wouldn’t be something bad, Lindens are humans, too. But what you are trying here with your answer to Abigail is LYING. Or do you deny, that totally PG builds offered by kid avatars, showing the live of kid avatars, were turned down in the first by Dusty? Do you deny, that totally PG pictures, showing adult and kid avatars together, were turned down in the first by Everett? Do you deny, that LL reversed the policy AFTER LL got hit by massive protests from around the whole SL community?

Admitting a mistake and revising decisions is not a bad thing. But coming here and saying that there was no mistake at all, never was, when hundreds and thousands of resident SAW these mistakes with their own eyes, it’s just so totally out of line!


Comment #32 from Sean Heying brings us a terrifying possibility; I'm hoping quite sincerely that he's wrong...

Comment #37 from Day Oh brings up more frustration:

Day Oh Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 1:38 AM

Are you saying it’s not true you’re disallowing images of young and old looking avatars in the same image?

These apologies and scowls from the event’s own art director?

"Before we kick off the event though, we want to spend a little time clarifying in order to clear up some of the confusion around the submission process and policy."

When?


By comment #44 things started (somewhat) to look up--Shoshana Epsilon's mention of a "fringe festival" sounds like something I'd like to participate in, and may well become involved with next year.

But all too soon it was back to the (mostly valid) complaints. Gil Druart's contribution of comment #50 I find especially relevant:

Gil Druart Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 3:34 AM

“All exhibits are PG, because we want to make the SL5B as inclusive as possible

..we are reviewing and approving content to make sure it matches our PG guidelines”

Katt - it’s censorship. You make yourself look ridiculous by claiming it to be anything else, or by pretending that the effect is not to actually exclude goodly portions of the community, love ‘em or loath ‘em.

I, for one would have a lot more respect for LL’s integrity (and potentially yours too) if you made a statement like, “Yeah, it’s censorship. We don’t like the necessity but give the number of neo-con-fundamentalists and desperate politicians and the fact that the US contains roughly 40% of the world’s lawyers, we don’t feel we have an option.”

That might get you support and sympathy instead of brickbats.

— A citizen of a country without First Amendment protections, who is constantly amazed by the way US citizens rush to trample on theirs.


It would have, too. In big major ways.

Ceera Murakami makes a note in comment #65 that Governor Shang and Miss Rothschild are not the only people suffering from the problematic image ban:

My exhibit at SL5B is dedicated to “Youthful Creativity and Roleplay”, and has from initial conception been a G-rated display showing some of the many pass times that one can do as a child or as a young adult in SL that have nothing at all to do with sex, and explaining something about those who for one reason or another play roles that are younger than their Player’s actual age.

And yet, when in response to rumors that any image with an adult and a child in it would be censored, I initially asked for a check on my G-rated display to ensure that there was no possibility of breaking any Linden rules, I was initially told by the volunteer staffer that I could not display a photo of my furry adult avatar and my SL daughter’s furry child avatar (age ten) in the same photo. This, in spite of the fact that it was a formal portrait, in which we were both clothed from toes to wrists and neck in full Japanese Kimonos, were not touching each other, and were not even gazing at each other! She stated this was explicitly because the Lindens in charge of the event had a “no exceptions” policy regarding any image that had a child and an adult in the same pic. Not “any such pics require review to make sure they are PG”, but “any such pics are not allowed at all”. In what universe would that image have been considered anything other than G-rated? So yes, there was initial censorship, and it was going way beyond “Making sure it is PG”.

To their credit, that same SL5B volunteer staffer contacted me several days later and said they had reviewed the image in question in a meeting with the Linden staff, and that they now agreed that there was nothing wrong with my G-rated image. I was encouraged to display it as I had originally done. They even allowed, with no further review, a second pic in which my daughter (in teen form this time) and I were gazing at one another as any loving child and adoring parent might, in a wholesome, non-sexual relationship. We’re both in Human form in that one, both dressed in jeans and T-shirts. So yes, there has been a policy reversal, or at the very least, a “policy clarification”, which has relaxed some of the overly-tight restrictions and censorship.

I am also supporting and displaying at Kids5B. There’s an info sign about that event at my SL5B site, and I have a photo display there that includes images that even now, the Linden Guidelines would not permit, such as a “baby photo” of my SL daughter, innocently standing in her crib in her room…

Yes, there’s tons of sex in SL. There’s tons of adult stuff going on in New York City, too. But we don’t ban children from setting foot in New York, just because they *might* walk into an adult business. So why should we assume that with all the wonderful possibilities in SL, any child avatar is up to no good? Over 95% of what I do in SL has nothing at all to do with sex, thank you. The other 5%? Well, that’s why my SL Partner and I now have a daughter in SL...


Solomon Devoix adds, just one comment later, that there's obviously been some redefinition of terms at the Linden level:

Solomon Devoix Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 5:53 AM

Katt, I’ll add my voice to others here. Robin, everett, and the ‘civilian’ organizers of the event stated, in public, on more than one occasion, that submissions from child avatars, regardless of content, would be declined.

Full stop.

That submissions from Gor and BDSM communities would be declined.

Full stop.

And now you are trying to spin things and saying there never was a blanket ban on certain avatars as participants, or certain types of content, PG or not?

Please.

Either you are (a) extraordinarily poor at communicating what you’re trying to say (ironic for the Communication Linden) or (b) you think we’re all a bunch of morons and don’t remember, or have access to, the original statements referenced above. Neither one of these shows ANY respect whatsoever for your residents.

I’m starting to wonder… were the jobs that you and everett held before at the Ministry of Truth? (ref. George Orwell’s “1984″ ;)

You say there was no blanket ban. Well, allow me to quote Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride”:

“You keep using that word; I don’t think it means what you think it means.”


Comment #77 from Tali Rosca I also found interesting:

Tali Rosca Says:
June 18th, 2008 at 8:43 AM

The really stupid thing is how this has turned into a “LL vs Residents” battle, when it could so easily have rallied everybody. Nobody is here to sabotage SL. We would all like to hold it up and say “look what we have”, fully aware that baiting sensationalist journalists would not be in our best interest.
But instead of appealing to this community spirit, LL came down hard, with implied moral judgments and a set of rules so astonishingly restrictive that they would probably disallow every movie ever made. (Irrespective of Everett’s revisionist denial of his documented statements, and Katt’s continued verbal tap-dance over what constitutes a “ban”.)
It may have been blind panic over some recent political posturing; it may be some specific Lindens’ agenda to create the grid they personally consider morally or business-wise acceptable. I do not know, and LL’s refusal to address it only breeds mistrust and unease about the future. I strongly urge LL to display their vaunted transparency, and describe the reasoning, chain of command and changes which has happened during the lifespan of the SLB5 planning. Even if some may possibly lose face, I think it is necessary to rebuild some confidence.


And, since I'm still going through the comments, I'm now splitting this into two parts...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

'cos I can't think of anything but getting tangled

I'm still trying to figure everything out. Near as I can parse it, so far, the screaming started in this blog entry on DMCA provisions; moved at comment #3 by Joshua Nightshade to this JIRA issue on the same topic; at comment #4 it leapt to this issue from the official SL forums, along with this issue on content theft.

Then the Common Sensible blog got in on things, and now I'm just confused. Will I also find items missing from my inventory? Will I find things only partially working? Will my inventory be completely untouched?

I have no idea...yet. But I'm going to be finding out.

[I've now found out. Total loss: Sex rugs, two. Sex beds, six in various colors and various manufacturers, all of which used the EC scripts. On the plus side, the devPose bed is fine, the couple low-end sex and cuddle beds I have from SexGen are fine. Be grateful for small favors?

[Sadly, I still have to find out if the canopy bed I have at home--Rivula home--is still functional...]


Meanwhile, another link led me to Morris Vig's blog and his mention of the Labs' stance on intellectual property rights.

And in comment #21 from the latest SL5B posting, Cherry Czervik says:

    "All exhibits are PG, because we want to make the SL5B as inclusive as possible."

    Um.

    Do you KNOW a vast amount of your user base?


Which is a damned good question.

Though...to that end...I am now participating in the celebration. I should note that this is not due to me having a change of heart and thinking everything's just peachy now; in fact, it's mostly due to one of the organizers calling for art content for the Caledon build. So, I considered, and weighed all sides, and decided helping out was the lesser evil.

We'll see how it goes.

On top of everything else? "Lindened" is now a word in the Urban Dictionary.

Monday, June 16, 2008

if I could, then I would

Another night, another hunt.

This one's at Mashooka Designs in the very oddly named Nerdaronie & Cheese sim. The goal: forty-four semi-transparent boxes, all about softball-diameter, so to speak, and all either translucent white, smoke grey, or translucent purple. Some have a picture on one face.

The hunt will net clothing (mostly sweater sets, miniskirted dresses, and colordrenched sari outfits), mehndi glove and sock sets, and dark-toned skins. The down side?

Nearly all the boxes will charge you a Linden to acquire. Which, generally speaking, is nothing, save there are forty-four boxen, and it's a scavenger hunt!

[Eeep--this morning, I am informed by Miss Aradhana Voight that to enter the Mashooka Designs sim, you must wear your group tag--in other words, to shop at Mashooka Designs, you must be a group member? Can anyone confirm this?]

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In the meantime, working on new eyes. These are almost entirely hand-painted. While I still like my things-that-were-not-meant-to-be-eyes sets, I may be getting good enough at this to market these soon. We shall see.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'm frightened by what I see but somehow I know that there's much more to come

First off, some rare good news concerning SL5B: the picture of our Guvnah and Miss Rothschild has been cleared to be shown! Which is a relief and a genuine good thing. I'm glad someone saw even a limited amount of logic behind this.

Meanwhile, there seemed to be some odd controversy over on Miss Marianne McCann's blog, concerning a new British child pornography act. This was used as sort of a broadside strafing run on Miss McCann's journal, "informing" her that once the law went into effect, Linden Labs would be destroying all child avatars to comply.

I believe I can honestly state, with no moral qualms whatsoever, that this will not be happening.

Why? Because the act, the way it is written, explicitly limits actionable images to those showing young children engaged in sexual activities with adults, for the direct purpose of adult stimulation.

Second Life child avatars, in nearly every instance, are:

* not sexually active;
* especially not sexually active with adults;
* what's more, it would never occur to them to *be* sexually active;
and
* not involved in the creation of images portraying children and adults in a prurient and perverse fashion.

So the new British law? Won't harm a single virtual hair on their pixellated heads.

So much for that scare tactic. Next!

he's a cold-hearted snake, look into his eyes

Just when you think it's safe to go into JIRA again...well, actually, this is more a report from the front lines.

Mr. Gryffin Hax is somewhat well-known in Caledon for avatar paintings. He was commissioned to do one for some Caledon-based celebration, and his chosen subjects were Desmond Shang--our Guvnah, sometimes I think the hardest-working man on the grid--and Caledon's own clockwork princess, Miss Cornelia Rothschild.

Today, that image--that completely innocent image, of an adult (the governor of Caledon, surely above reproach!) standing next to a young girl (Miss Cornelia, talented maker of hair, sublime songstress, charming to the extreme and above reproach, herself!)--was disallowed for the cover of Caledon's chapbook for SL5B.

STANDING. He is just STANDING next to her.

Nothing else.

NOTHING ELSE!

This? This is ludicrous. And infuriating. And deeply, deeply STUPID.

Y'know, at least when I got my reputation hauled over the virtual ashes, I knew I'd done something to deserve it. While it wasn't penetrative, I was only partially clad, and I was wearing a shorter (NOT child, I stress again, NOT a child av's shape!) doll shape than I do these days. And my partner in that image--that so incensed so many people--was taller, and broader, and most definitely male.

Did I mention Governor Shang and Miss Cornelia are fully clothed in Mr. Hax's painting? Quite respectably so, not that I would expect otherwise from either of them. And yet they're still treated as something shameful, something that by its nature needs to be denied, repressed, swept under the virtual carpet by a group of small-minded, very petty-thinking individuals.

It's just plain dumb. And I'll say again, just plain wrong.

Meanwhile, in non-ranty news, Skin City is having a hunt. For bottlecaps:

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Yeah, they look nice and large, don't they? Let me let you all in on the real size of the things:

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Yeah.

This? Is gonna be tricky...

Friday, June 13, 2008

I wish I had a river I could skate away on

*flicks on a bare bulb, kicks a soapbox crate under the spot, and stands on it, glaring*

Massively covers the SL5B debacle again; yes, I'm upgrading it from "shambles" to "debacle" deliberately, because Phaylen Fairchild makes the third of three named organizers to the position in the all of three weeks the position has existed, and Fairchild herself is about to walk off the job.

And now we have the latest in the long serious of ridiculous edicts--this one even more specious than the rest: that no child avatar can be depicted standing next to an adult--or, gods help us all, standing next to a bed, even if not in use--for fear of unspecified litigation.

I will state this plainly and blatantly: I don't care who you are, how religiously or morally conservative you are--NO. ONE. on this whole blighted grid will see a child avatar, and an adult avatar, standing quietly together and think immediately that they are having sex--UNLESS THEY HAVE THOSE THOUGHTS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I'm dead serious. NOBODY automatically leaps to child sexual abuse by adults, when nothing sexual is happening, UNLESS they're thinking about it.

Have we lost all ability to tell fantasy from reality? Do we as a culture honestly believe in our heart of hearts that no adult can have any level of interaction with a child without making of it something to be only confessed haltingly, years later, to therapist or priest? And where does this leave parents of children, parents who--because they are PARENTS--have cared for, bathed, changed, and touched those children on a daily basis, as they grew up? Is any of that, wrong, horrifying or shameful?

And these aren't even real children, in the flesh and blood sense! These are, by and large, adults, who for a myriad of reasons--everything from, they wished to explore the dynamic of childhood again, to recapture that sense of innocence, all the way down to their own childhoods were impaired, through an overheaping of familial responsibility, irresponsible parents, or yes, if we're being absolutely honest here, traumatic abuse themselves.

Each of them, every one of them, have their own reasons, and nine out of ten times very good reasons, and in large part very understandable reasons, for portraying a child on the grid. No, not every child is a creature of pure innocence and light, just as not every adult is noble and steadfast, but it is, all things considered, the actions of a marked minority that drew Germany's attention in the first place.

And what happened after that story broke? Yes, there was fallout, over a lot of communities there shouldn't have been fallout in. Yes, the child avatar community was slandered. Yes, the dolls were tarred with the same brush. The babyfurs, gods, they nearly got roasted alive, and they weren't well-liked and well-tolerated outside of their own community, before that!

And yeah, some merchants who'd tailored their wares to specific audiences took a hard hit as well, whether they had any connection to the issue or not. Makers of Lolita fashions are still struggling under the search term ban, and they were only the tip of the iceberg.

But what else happened? Charley's Castle went away, I remember that. I remember that because one client, very long ago, had asked me to meet him there, so I saw the place. After that abortive assignation, I put age restrictions in my escort bio for several months--that I'd 'play' no younger than eighteen, thank you kindly.

I am not saying that kids aren't getting hurt--real kids, real situations, it is a very real problem. And I'm not saying there aren't dangerous places on the grid.

But just as Second Life will never be used as a staging platform for virtual terrorist training, "kiddie sex" camps were not scattered everywhere on the grid. When the problem was noticed, steps were taken. And though they went overboard--just like they're doing now--people were already beginning to sit up and notice and speak out, before the story broke in the first place.

It sickens me that we're back here, to a place where I can't stand next to a child avatar without someone Linden-shaped thinking oh-noes-teh-sex. It infuriates me that an artist like Stephen Venkman, who was part of last year's celebration, is not allowed to exhibit his family-centered body of art--simply because he and his SL wife are seen standing next to, or sitting next to, his SL daughters. How ridiculous is that??

Have some personal goddamn accountability, guys. Either realize how stupid this all is, apologize, and get on with things already, or stand back and hold to your indefensible shifting 'high ground'--roughly equivalent to sand being gathered by the hurricane--and watch it all go down in flames.

Your choice.

*flicks off light, kicks the soapbox into the corner, and stalks off*

Thursday, June 12, 2008

you might have some advice to give on how to be insensitive

Caught via mention on Nicholaz Beresford's blog:

Dave L. said:

    A number of people have been e-mailing me directly complaining that this doesn't work with their GeForce 7 GPU. GeForce 7 was introduced in June 2005, which means it would be starting preschool in the fall. It's old enough to talk in complete sentences, it's beyond obsolete. Frankly, drawing the line at GeForce 8 (not even current gen any more) for a still-in-development high end feature is generous. That would be like Crytek saying they're not going to add any features to Crysis that are DirectX 10.0 only (probably a bad example what with the whole Vista thing, but you see my point). I'm not going to apologize for it, and I'm not going to pander to people who think a 3 year old architecture should receive as much support and attention as current offerings.

    The way I see it, if you don't care enough about graphics to keep and maintain an up to date system, you shouldn't expect to experience significant graphics improvements. If I invest resources to supporting an old chip that's being phased out, I get a much lower return on that investment than if I would have put those resources into a chip that's becoming mainstream. The number of installed GeForce 7's in the world is decreasing while the number of GeForce 8's is increasing, and I don't expect GeForce 7's to make a comeback.

    Now, before the over reaction machine spins up and I get an e-mail about an open letter from the cheapskates of the world, this doesn't mean Second Life is going to be GeForce 8 only, just that you'll need that kind of card if you want the absolute best experience. Second Life will still run on that POS laptop your boss let you take out of the recycling bin at work.


This strikes me as insanely dismissive, and I wasn't the only one who saw it that way. Callum L. responded:

    I think some thought needs to be put in to what exactly Second Life's target market is. I don't know what goes on inside the LL wall but I've not seen any such discussion outside it.

    I see it as a "casual game". Its not for the hardcore gamers with seemingly unlimited disposable income. They're all playing WoW, Counterstrike, Call of Duty, Halo and whatnot. Second Life is the virtual world for the rest of us. [It's] for the casual computer user, who buys a new mid-range system every 5 years. [It's] for that family member who's using that spare box you gave them.

    If you accept this view, this means LL must be much more conservative about pushing minimum requirements forward than most games. The target should be a mid-rangeish system from 5 years ago, the client should still run nicely on such a machine. All LL developers should be forced to do all testing on such a machine unless they're working on the new shinies.

    Which isn't to say LL shouldn't be trying to keep the graphics engine current. It just means effort has to be put in to "graceful degredation". Or perhaps "progressive enhancement". All it takes is to bother to put the effort into it...


And on the heels of that response came the one that changed the name of the thread. Matthew D. said:

    I'm changing the title of this thread since I have no problem with DaveL restricting himself to high-end graphics hardware for what is, let's face it, an early preview of an experimental feature in an experimental source code branch which isn't even scheduled to go into the release branch yet (and may turn out never to be released!)

    I do have issue with the "if you[r] machine is older than a few years, stop being a skinflint and buy a new one" implication of the e-mail though!

    There is a perception that LL is concentrating on fancy features which require top end, up to date machines at the expense of working on improving the stability and performance of SL on mid-range/older machines. DaveL's comments, and observations such as below about SL's performance on lower end machines (and there seems to be some controversy as to whether WL with all the shaders turned off runs better or worse than pre-WL on older hardware), only re-inforces this perception.

    To be honest, there is no problem with LL concentrating effort on high-end machines *if* their target audience is just the high end gaming community. However, if the target audience are typical home users (who are likely to buy mid-range machines which may even today come with the sort of hardware DaveL would regard as dead; and unlikely to be replacing them as frequently as 3-4 years), educational users (again buying mid-range machines, and typically laptops with embedded graphics), business users (typically embedded graphics and typically laptops) then needs to put most of its effort into getting it running well on the hardware such audiences will typically have - not berating them for not having the latest and greatest (but this shouldn't stop a few programmers doing high end stuff in experimental branches....).

    This is very much the essence of the Gartner report earlier this year - the typical business user does not run SL well - and for LL to say "tough - upgrade all your machines", is a little like the tail wagging the dog if LL wants to make inroads into that market, and they'll supply respond "fine - we'll use something else". That would be fine if LL has no interest in that market - however, the whole secondlifegrid thing suggest that they *do* wish to attract those users!


And they do. The whole upcoming "Your World, Our Trade Demo" (such a lovely catchphrase!) seems to be geared towards emphasizing business concerns over the casual populace. Which, I suppose, is fine--if that's the audience they're after.

And as Matthew points out--if that is their target, now? They need to realize that, and react in kind. By not stripping away lower-end features that will gut that sector of the population, time and time again. Forget the casual computer user--the average businessman in the cubicle won't come in. And all the corporate kowtowing in the world, at that point, won't make them--if they can't play on the machines they have.

Nicholas C. responds:

    Matthew Dowd wrote:
    ^ To be honest, there is no problem with LL concentrating effort on
    ^ high-end machines *if* their target audience is just the high end gaming
    ^ community. However, if the target audience are typical home users (who
    ^ are likely to buy mid-range machines which may even today come with the
    ^ sort of hardware DaveL would regard as dead; and unlikely to be
    ^ replacing them as frequently as 3-4 years), educational users (again
    ^ buying mid-range machines, and typically laptops with embedded
    ^ graphics), business users (typically embedded graphics and typically
    ^ laptops) then needs to put most of its effort into getting it running
    ^ well on the hardware such audiences will typically have - not berating
    ^ them for not having the latest and greatest (but this shouldn't stop a
    ^ few programmers doing high end stuff in experimental branches....).


    Here here. One thing I keep hearing about There is how it can run on a 56K modem. Not that I think we want to go THAT far, but if we ever want SL to be ubiquitous, it should be usable on a machine that was made at least 3-4 years ago. And even then you're letting quite a few people out. I have several friends who I keep trying to introduce to SL, but we just can't get it to run on their machine.

    Heck, I myself signed up for an account back in 2004 but the software wouldn't run on my machine. It was 2 years before I came back. At that point 2 years didn't mean much, because there weren't too many competitors. Now 2 years is the difference between success and marginalization. (Is that a word?) The point is that we're getting people use to a 3D world; if they can't run SL, they'll find something else, and they won't be back.

    ---- Chase


Nicholaz, in fact, states in the post addressing this issue:

    Now today comes an interesting comment from the Lab which is interesting. What it essentially says is, that except for the lowest end, in WL there are no settings which exactly match the older viewers. Of course you can turn off the sky, but a bunch of new features come in a packet (Preferences, Graphics, Custom, Basic Shaders), which will either hit your performance or which will leave you with noticeably less appealing visuals. I.e. with mid-range machines, you can trade off graphics or trade off performance, but there is no way in the middle as with old viewers. (If you are getting funny results with Eye Candy, even while you think you have similar settings, the Basic Shaders option may be the key).

    This may be a pesky little technical detail, but I found myself being irritated by the Linden's claim that Windlight was optional and could easily be turned off to give you an experience as before and the fact that whatever I did, I either lost visuals or framerates.


So now, with the new mandatory download candidate, there's no way to gain effective performance on slower machines, is what it sounds like. Yet another case of Linden Labs being woefully out of touch with their base population.

I became a paid user for this? *stares dolefully at her 2005-era machine*

Not only that, but now? Every time I log in--using my Nicholaz browser--the login screen screams at me to update to the latest candidate, but won't give me an active link on how to do that!

Gah.

And more activity on the JIRA issue that supposedly closed--this time backed up by Shoshana Epsilon, the head of the SL5B celebration's art department: now, apparently, no child avatar can be photographed with any adult avatar.

Not only is this deeply stupid, but it's also from the same Linden on crack, Everett. Someone really needs to drop-kick his av down a well for the next month or so, give him some quiet alone time to reflect on how much of a bonehead he's been through this entire thing.

Let's put it this way--though I've never gone out of my way to mention it here, Frontier Linden has always had the rating of 'most useless human ever' on my personal list, based on an incident in Rivula, where he came in and--after being told exactly what the sim managers had done to get to the point of calling a Linden based on tanking sim performance--insisted that the reason the sim was failing, was that the sim manager hadn't cleared his cache enough. Like, suggested cache-clearing as the answer for sim issues nine times in a half-hour conversation.

"Have you cleared your cache?"
"Yes."
"Well...you know, if you cleared your cache--"
"We've done that."
"Hmm...well, you know, many people forget to clear their cache--"
"CLEARED. THE CACHE. What else?"
*sound of Frontier pausing to think*
"Have you tried clearing cache and relogging?"

Now, he redeemed himself partially during the doll protests--mainly, for being willing to talk to the group of us when Torley was, hmm, shall we say, 'unavailable' during 'available' office hours for a scheduled meeting--and for that, I backed off a bit in personal conversations.

Frontier? At this point looks like a brightly shining beacon of Linden competence compared to Everett.

I'm apparently going to be aiding one of the builders on the SL5B project--text-based capacity, only, not actual *building* of anything--so I'm not on the SL5B group. They are, however, and it's interesting hearing what's coming from the project organizers, day by day...

I'm fairly sure SL5B has officially reached "shambles", but has not quite reached "catastrophe".

Wait a week; we could be moving (at speed) in that direction.

(Vint Falken's comment on the new rumors? Succinct and to the point as usual.)

the life I left behind me is a cold room

It took me a bit to remember why I'd come out to Domestic-V; when the first thing one sees rezzing in are a bunch of rats scurrying around the base of a carny machine containing a rotating chicken...I mean, really, what had I gone there for?

Then I remembered. I'd finally gotten down to that place in my miscellaneous folder and found the free doll Domestic-V had given out, at some point in the past.

This doll:

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This pink-tinged, slightly radiant, floppy bunny doll, with a stitched slit of a mouth, one spiral eye sliding off the faux fur...and did I mention the doll-heads-in-jars attached to the belt?

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The belt which seems, for all the world, like a seatbelt torn from a vintage Mustang?

And that was before I looked at the doll from behind:

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and noticed the child's handprint in please-let-that-be-fruit-punch on the back of the bunny-doll's head.

The designer calls her Bunbun. I call her creepier than Gloomy Bear.

Sometimes it's the little things, that get under the skin and tear at the muscles and bone. Six months ago, this wouldn't have bothered me. Nine months ago, I was walking around nearly everywhere with a ghostly hand attached to my shoulder. A year ago...

Well. A year ago, a lot of things were different. And some nights, some dark quiet nights, I obsess on the differences.

When I should just let them go. I've moved on, I've moved away from so much, why not this? Why do I care? Why is it still important?

It's not, is the answer I don't want to accept. But there's truth in that, there's truth in the denial, for once. It's not important. It's not my life. I can go on, I have gone on, and I'm still going. I haven't stopped, I haven't ceased, I'm still breathing, still living, still loving, still reaching out--

Just...no longer so far as before. I think...there's just a little touch of fear, as a reminder. As a remainder. Of what I tell myself, keep telling myself, I've moved on from, moved away from, moved on and left behind.

The handprint, though. One hand of might-be-blood matting the pink fur. Makes me decidedly uneasy. Not for what it is, but for what it represents...on some deep level...what it speaks without speaking, to the part of me that never leaves the dark.

I still need to find an animator. I think next week--the days I'm going to be present next week--I'll concentrate on that, and not these fruitless distractions. Then I'll need to call a meeting with the scripters and builders I know, and see if we can get a certain thing done.

It'd be one less project off the list. Then maybe...more eyes. More frocks. I might even try my hand at shoes...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

all of you, both of you, none of you, more than one of you

Welcome to this evening's fear:

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In the middle of an inventory sorting project, suddenly--no inventory. No folders, even. No titles. Just...blank. Blank nothingness.

To be followed by a blank IM screen, a blank groups box, a blank profile, and no buttons beneath the main chat bar (click the small image to get the large one).

Yet...I was still on the grid, in the world, able to interact...I had not redmapped, I hadn't crashed. This was...different, and far more disturbing.

This? Is just about as unnerving as you might think. I finally dumped cache and relogged, hoping it was all just a momentary glitch.

As it turned out, it was, but heart-pounding couple of moments, let me tell you.

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Now, really, I'm not so much singling out designers to harm, here, but get real with your branding ideas, people! If it has to say FIERCE across my posterior in BRIGHT PINK, I am obviously not doing my job.

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And this is why we hunt for cavorite ore with nets...

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And I know June Dion did not name this after me. But I was tickled enough finding this at Bare Rose, I had to buy it. It amused me too much not to own.

Friend of ours wants us to put up a vendor for a party she and others in her business collective are having. I don't entirely get it, but I'm not passing up the opportunity. Unfort, that means most of Thursday will be taking photographs of the new eyes, packaging them up, and putting them in the server. It's going to take hours, I just know it.

Still, more than time I did it, and I need to put out some new things anyway. Far too long since I created anything, and I need to, something, anything, just to start the process happening again.

I've been in a place of unmoving, I think, for some time. Not stagnation, not quite, just holding still, and listening, and seeing what was going to change, and if anything did. There was change, there will be more, but now, just now, it's peaceful enough. The changes don't bring disaster in their wake.

This is not a bad thing.

But me being me, of course, I was prepared for the disaster, and I'm not prepared for the tentative silvering hope to break through. So maybe it's time to let go, and realize half empty still means I have half a glass. Or that half empty means it's time to get more to fill the cup.

And that that's okay, too. That I can go back to the wellspring and come back refreshed, that I don't have to stand out in the cold on my own.

This? Is not a bad thing either. It's just not something I've ever been used to...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

kiss me in sweet slow motion, let's let everything slide

One last bit of action, it seems, on JIRA issue MISC-1231. This comes by way of Meghan Dench:

Just to Clarify, Child Avatars may Apply and the Applications will be 'screened' and if they pass our PG Policy will be accepted, we've already worked with one Resident to accept her application.
BDSM and Gor are non negotiable, for obvious reasons.

The PG Policy includes but is not limited to;

No Nudity (Male or Female, a nipple is a nipple) : D
No Chains, Ropes or being bound.


One wonders if they mean collars, too, such a persistent fashion statement on the grid...but I'll agree with them, PG is PG.

But is it just me? I don't hear acceptance and tolerance in this. I hear...their hand has been forced; now, they will go over all applications by SL children with the finest-toothed combs the Lab has; and if there's an undotted i, an ellipses in the wrong place, they will be discarded. Because they've said so, you see, with that 'screened'.

If nothing is amiss, nothing obvious, and they agree it's something they can't really get around as a project proposal...then, and only then, they will approve the project for build.

As they say, they've already approved one project for build, by working with a resident to make sure she comes under the proper PG guidelines...but if you notice, they never say that the one application that's been approved under the new standards--was submitted by a child avatar.

The drama goes on...it's just carefully behind Lab doors, now.

I want to talk a little on lolita fashion--deliberately lower-case "l" on "lolita"--since for a lot of people, "Lolita" means predatory, means Nabokov, means pedophiles on parade. This is not the case in Japan, and those of us who've adopted, in large part, the style in the west, are not doing it because we want to be seen as children. Lolita fashion in the west is, as so many other things, less innocent--but west or east, it's still fashion.

Let me run through a little breakdown of terms, so you know what I mean.

Gothic Lolita

This is used as a common blanket term in a lot of cases, both among those who don't understand the fashion, and for those who just want one thing to refer to that people understand. (Another blanket term, at least on the grid, has become "EGA" or "EGL"--'Elegant Gothic Aristocrat' and 'Elegant Gothic Lolita'--this is not because most designers design to these specs, but because Linden Labs banned "lolita" as a search term.)

Lolita as a fashion has been kicking around Japan at least since the 1970s, but as a distinct look didn't pick up until the mid- to late-1990s. Gothic lolita, as seen in Japan, is sort of an oxymoron--in Japan, 'gothic' and 'lolita' are distinct and different looks. But what we think of as 'gothic lolita' is basic--no frills, no layers, no extravagant head bows, no prints--just simple, black or white, plain, in a sense. Crosses and coffins were and are common motifs, and colors--now--are nearly always in the black, white, or grey range.

Baby, the Stars Shine Bright is now mainly a sweet lolita house, but when they started, nearly everything they did was gothic. Miho Matsuda is one of the larger names, and does both sweet and gothic lolita styles.

Draconic Kiss, Bare Rose, and many of the little shops dotting the vast Lico Lico mall carry gothic lolita outfits on the grid.

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(A lovely example of clean, classic styling of gothic lolita fashion from Harajuku, Japan.)

Gothic Aristocrat

Without the "EGL" appellation, gothic Aristocrat on its own refers to that rarity even in Japan--mens' fashion. Gackt Camui in the video Mizerable wears a perfect example of the style--very frilled, very ornate, heavy velvets, brocades, and lace essential to nearly every garment. Women also have been known to wear this, because the 'traditional' lolita look might be perceived as too 'girlish'. Since a staple feature of these outfits are long coats, long skirts, and jackets, men and women can wear them.

There are a couple other terms here to be aware of--ouji ("prince" in Japanese, leading to western appellations of "Little Prince" fashions) and "dandy". Ouji is gothic Aristocrat without the frills, buckles and ornate fabrics--the lines are similar, but it's extraordinarily pared-down. "Dandy" is pretty much male lolita--the same striped leggings, corselets or underbust corsets designed for a male physique, cuter shoes, and frills, hats and bows.

While this article has more to laugh at than genuinely good advice, it does have a little genuinely good advice. (But it's also funny as hell, and that's mainly why it's here.)

And the La Carmina blog has some lovely pictures of the style on men and women. See also, this primer on the look. And Fanplusfriend Garden does a wonderful job with the styles, as well as some punk lolita ties.

I think currently Silent Sparrow is the only house in world really playing with gothic Aristocrat as a style, especially for men, but Draconic Kiss and FallnAngel Designs are getting into menswear as well.

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(Two views of gothic Aristocrat, both designed and modeled by Mana, owner and designer behind Moi-même-Moitié, Japan's premier gothic Aristocrat fashion house.)

Sweet Lolita

Sweet lolita is just that--candy-coated, frilled and bowed, saccharine pastels and frou-frou skirting. Color tones are pink, light blue, lemon yellow, pale mint green...think Easter, with lots of lace, and bonnets, and cute stuffed animal backpacks--you've got sweet lolita.

Chelsea has some lovely examples of the look; so does Chocochip Cookie, Jelly Bean, Angelic Pretty, and Metamorphose Temps de Fille.

In world, you can find sweet lolita options at Wishbox, Bare Rose, and again, scattered throughout Lico Lico.

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(Example of sweet lolita on a girl just beyond Shibaya, Japan.)

Classic Lolita

So-called 'classic' lolita is a growing style, and takes the basic lolita look of pettiskirts and overskirts, long tights, strappy shoes and accessories, and does it all over in simpler designs and duller color palettes like deep rose, burgundy, chocolate brown, and also introduces prints--especially pinstriping in plain colors, and floral tone-on-tone designs.

Coquette Doll demonstrates the style perfectly on their web site. Alice Auaa wavers between gothic and classic lolita, but has some interesting pieces that demonstrate the style. Mary Magdalene is another classic lolita house, as is Garland, and Jane Marple does a lovely blend of classic and sweet.

In world, again, try finding classic lolita looks at Lico Lico.

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(Two good examples of classic Lolita, from Fairy Wish in Japan.)

Lolita Punk

Punk lolita is an oddity, but one that has a vibrant thriving presence in Japan. Essentially, it blends the two styles for men and women, creating an overdone look that's multilayered, tattered, and tending towards black, red and pink color tones. Lots of fishnet (over frothy lace), suspender belts, buckles, platform shoes, safety pins, screenprints of skulls, bones, random offprinted details...it's all part of the punk lolita look.

Striped leggings and arm-warmers are also big with punk lolita, as is club hair. Good places to see examples of that end of the style include Cradle Falls, Sooshii Dreads, Jaded Dreads and Hairfreax.

Hellcatpunks is known for their punk looks, and punk lolita dresses can also be found there; PUTOMAYO blends sweet with punk lolita for an odd, hellion-schoolgirl type of look. H. Naoto is forefront in bringing punk, gothic, and visual kei styles together. ID Japan also does costumery inspired by visual kei bands, many of which can be worn as lolita looks.

On the grid, the premier punk lolita house is Bare Rose, hands down. For pick-up mix-n-match details, try virtually any neko designer; almost all of them tend towards the punk. And Canimal has a wonderful line of striped and patterned leggings, along with mix-and-match Harajuku-influenced attire; I just wish she'd come out with more arm-warmers in matching patterns!

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(Punk lolita seen on a girl at a cosplay convention in Singapore.)

Hime Lolita

As hime means 'princess' in Japanese (like ouji means 'prince'), it's another way to refer to 'princess' or 'little princess' lolita fashion. Many houses do elements of hime lolita, no single fashion house does entirely 'princess' looks.

Think the little crowns, scepters, flowing laces, high collars, ornate prints, a distinct tilt towards seventeenth-century European styling. These are the most vintage looks, and can be very elegant.

Emilly Temple blends sweet and hime looks; Mille Fleurs goes for very frothy princess looks; and the huge megastore LaForet in Japan has an underground section that's all various types of lolita fashion, including hime.

Draconic Kiss and Bare Rose do hime lolita, and also All Dolled Up.

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(These two dressed up for a Sweet Lolita competition in China, but really more reflect hime lolita looks.)

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(A more gothic-inspired hime lolita look from Fanplusfriend.)

Color Lolita

This can be pulled from any fashion house, any style, or made at home--there's no specific guidelines on pattern, shape, and number of lace additions, it's simply that it must be all of one color. The two most common styles seen in Japan are subclasses of ama (another word for sweet) lolita fashion, and are very simply known as shiro (white) or kuro (black) lolita. (Though pink lolita, blue lolita, and the like are also seen, white and black are the two most common.)

Bare Rose has some few kuro outfits, as dose Draconic Kiss and Goth1c0 on the grid.

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(Example on the streets of Harajuku, Japan, of shiro loli fashion.)

Guro Lolita

Guro means "grotesque", and it's that simple--where one mixes the 'cute' of lolita fashion in general with the damage of the broken doll, or injuries on living flesh. Guro lolita fans who wish to make the largest impact dress in all (or mostly) white outfits, with blood (one presumes fake) in spots to indicate points of injury. Commonly seen are arm slings, bandages on legs and arms, eye patches (sometimes bloodied, sometimes with red crosses on them), braces, and on rare occasion, dressed-up canes and crutches. Common alternate names for guro lolita include "horror lolita", "wounded lolita" and "crime scene lolita".

To date, blablahospital is the only fashion line catering to guro lolita.

Draconic Kiss may well be the only design house dealing with guro lolita on the grid.

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(Guro lolita seen on two girls from Harajuku, Japan.)

Wa Lolita

Wa lolita is lolita fashion that meets traditional Japanese kimono and yukata presentation (wa means "peace" in Japanese); its counterpart in Chinese fashion is called qi lolita, after the traditional Chinese garment, the qi pao.

There may well be more, but Aya Dream is one of the few design houses I've found that makes wa lolita frocks. I haven't found a single place in world that blends Japanese or Chinese traditional looks with lolita; you'd nearly have to mix and match, wearing obis and lolita skirts, for instance.

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(Wa-loli dress example from Aya Dream.)

Erotic Lolita

Again, "erotic" has a different meaning in Japan than in the west--to be plain, though it relies on more adult looks, many "ero-loli" styles are actually far more covering than their cuter counterparts. What makes the presentation "erotic" by this definition is the amount of underpinnings used in the look--exposed garters and stockings, corsets, bloomers and petticoats. Generally, the most skin shown is at the shoulders and at the knees.

Roseate is one of the few fashion houses in Japan that deal with "ero-loli" stylings, though I'd also look towards Emilie Autumn for inspiration.

Goth1c0 does "ero-loli" looks, especially their "Tokyo Grunge" outfit, on the grid, and again, Bare Rose and Draconic Kiss pick up a few outfits that are more "erotic" by this definition than not.

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(Example of a mostly home-sewn "ero loli" outfit, most likely taken somewhere in Harajuku, Japan.)

Pirate Lolita

Pirate lolita started to catch on after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies hit Japan, though it had its roots in earlier historic-recreation outfits. Baby, the Stars Shine Bright's sister line, Alice and the Pirates, has done much to foster acceptance of this look. Assymetrical skirts, ornate captains' jackets and braiding, pirate boots and hats, horizontal and lateral stripe outfits, are all components of this style.

Draconic Kiss and, on rare occasion, Silent Sparrow are two houses that have occasional pirate lolita outfits on the grid, and of course, there's the pirate lolita-influenced miniskirt-outfit at Temenos Island.

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(Anonymous Emilie Autumn fan in pirate lolita.)

There's one last thing I want to cover, and it's another up-and-coming, not-often-seen fashion style:

Dosu Lolita

Dosu is a word shortened from a longer sumo exclamation, dosukoi, or "courage", in a sense; dosu literally means "dagger" or "short sword", and is itself a corruption of the word odosu, or "intimidate". The phrase dosu no kiita koe means "in a threatening voice" or "in an aggressive tone". It's long been a chant used by sumo wrestlers to build adrenalin and committment.

Dosu lolita is also called "sumo lolita" because of this, and it refers to plump or well-rounded women who wear lolita fashions. In large part, no pun intended, dosu lolita styles are excessively doll-like. Complimentary alternate terms are debu lolita ("chubby" lolita); insulting terms are desu lolita ("ugly woman" lolita).

There are no design houses, on or off the grid, that make dosu lolita fashions. It's all make-it-yourself, or mix home-made with brand. And there aren't many large-size avatars on the grid (though this is an interesting article explaining that).

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(Tending more towards the gothic, but still features elements in kind--hair in ringlets, frills, even if just around the hemline, though dosu does tend to feature longer skirts. This particular photo, rights are reserved to Ron Davis, photographer.)

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(Random cosplayer in dosu lolita from Animefest 2002, in Dallas, Texas.)

This is a short feature article on how adaptable lolita fashion is, and this is a list of seamstresses, domestic and international, who have experience with lolita fashions, and who may be willing to do your sewing for you, if you can't sew yourself. It's always worth a shot, if you can find a picture of what you want, and talk to someone in the know--the cost is not always prohibitive. Another good seamstress of various lolita styles is Leah from In the Starlight. Her prices are reasonable, and her styles diverse.

To that end, it's also worthwhile to gather pictures of what you'd like to wear and talk to designers on the grid. Not all will take custom work; most will be more willing if you can provide good clear images and/or high-resolution textile samples to them, as well as give them resale rights on any garments designed.