Thursday, July 30, 2009

I wish for this nighttime to last for a lifetime

Mostly internet/technological news today, it seems...

Virtual worlds get a 'second life'? Interesting that this was also linked as an article to read on SL's login screens today, because overall, it's not that complimentary to SL.

Disney gearpunk; I don't know what the first one represents, but in order on the rest: Hollywood Tower and the Tower of Terror; Sleeping Beauty's Castle; another shot of the Castle on its platform; Goofy in tear-down; and Dumbo in carrymech mode. Somewhat creepy.

Also, convincing me I so did the right thing in leaving Facebook--Facebook is now using personal photos in their advertising--and yes, completely without asking for permission from the folks to whom the faces belong.

Way to go, Facebook--you've moved creepy net sleaze to a WHOLE new level. Thanks for that.

And Big Brother is watching Kindle users.

I have...no words.

And in strolling through various Hannibal vids on YouTube, the crossing of their videos with their current block of ads moves from sublime to ridiculous...or, at the least, quite funny.

Finally, eBay may shut down Skype. Though I can't help but feel there's wrong being done on both sides of the dispute.

Tomorrow, since I don't have the links today, a brief review of some amazing sculpt work on various Japanese sims. In the meantime, I'm not sure whether I'm pleased or appalled that this blog is steadily turning its attentions from SL to the wider world. I think, more than anything else, I'm ambivalent about the process; but the end goal being finding a new home, far from SL? I'm not that displeased about it, in all honesty. And I can only reaffirm what I've said so many times before: if I and others like me, who came in mid-way in the peak of things, end up leaving? The Labs have only themselves to blame, and their extended history of psychotically poor business decisions.

Still, Linden Labs is doing one thing right, at least: maintaining, even if shakily so. Because there's still nothing else quite like what they do in town. Blue Mars seems the closest, from all reports, but two strikes are already against my ever setting foot on that grid: first, no user-generated content, and second, tech specs far beyond what I currently have. Beyond that, most of the other big upcoming games haven't lived up to their initial buzz (Aion), or never managed to get off the ground in the first place (Stargate Worlds).

We're still waiting for the next SL, in short, and maybe that's part of the problem: no one else can conceive of the next non-game in their search for the next fad game to come along.

So, until then...we're on the grid. Some of us still busy setting it afire, some of us passionately supportive, and then my group, which is disheartened, disillusioned, and desperately wanting for things to improve...but feel as if any word to any Linden will be summarily ignored, so we've stopped bothering.

After all, the last time I felt compelled to write Lindens and plead with them on an upcoming project? Was on Zindra, back when it was still Ursula, and still in the planning stages. And look how well that went.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

make your own kind of music, sing your own special song

We live such small lives, such narrow little lives. Nothing is permanent, everything passes away. Trees, rocks, stars, galaxies, us--nothing is born that does not eventually die.

We know this, and yet we still spend the finite time we have arguing with each other, planning strife, playing games of war and conflict. Boredom, anger, fear, contempt, competitiveness--all these reasons and more to get blood on our hands.

We know this. And yet. And yet.

We love as fiercely as we fight, and if we do not love wisely, at least we can say, at the end of things, that we did love. Our passions consume us, some utterly, sparking into ash at a single touch of heated breath; some dwelling and slow, pondering each thing in the intricate game of cat and mouse that all too frequently, stars us in either role--or both.

I would not presume to claim I do not fight, I do not rage; Om Kali, Om Kali, I do, I have. I will never say I do not spend my time on foolish things. I have, I do, it's understandable.

Sometimes growth requires pain; sometimes evolution follows destruction. Sometimes our lessons can only be learned through dint of long struggle. We do not make it easy, on ourselves or others.

After all, if every new concept, new idea, new lesson, were easy--if each lesson in our lives were given to us whole and perfect--we would never have reason to improve. We would have no reason to forge ahead. We would stand still, never moving, never growing, never changing.

We would be a people of stagnation, a nation, a planet, a galaxy, a universe. And we would never know the longing: for instruction, for admiration, for friendship, love, power, understanding. We would not have understanding. We would not understand, ourselves.

Do not stand still. Do not stagnate. Move. Push past your comfortable boundaries. Open your heart to the lessons of the universe. Get hurt, get pushed down, rise up again and keep moving. Keep moving.

And never stop learning. And never stop taking chances. We have such small lives, such narrow little lives. Don't waste them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

but it's always gonna come right back to this

Do these folks know their target audience or what? So far, the only down side of early reports is that the stuph tastes foul--but one fellow recommends cutting it with lemonade, and that seems to cancel out the main flavor.

All I know is, they've managed, in one stroke of genius packaging, to make an energy drink that is at once useful for LAN parties, all-night paper gaming sessions, laser tag runs, and LARP weekends. Beautiful, just beautiful.

And...computer viruses are bad? Switch to better computer protection? Jackie Chan looks cool in white? Your guess is as good as mine.

I think she's going out with the wrong guy. Or...he's going with the wrong girl. One of them's in the wrong relationship.

[Guild] [Kiril]: rom: now with 100% moar crash!
[Guild] [Specials]: I second that kiril
[Guild] [Markuz]: runesofmalfunctioning

Pretty much. They did two major patches of the game, and so far managed to break part of the Auction House, part of the inventory system, part of several quests, and make the entire engine unstable.

Way to go, Frogster. You keep breaking your code like this, you're gonna have to come work for Linden Labs...

God contacted me today, From Beyond the Grid:

Stiv: Hey what music are you listening to lately?
emilly.orr: Specifically or currently? Currently I'm listening to Radio Riel
Stiv: Anything more specific?
emilly.orr: But in general, movie soundtracks, J-pop, Chechosov metal, Akira Yamaoka (the Silent Hill soundtrack guy), and an embarrassing amount of Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Evanescence
Stiv: lol clarkson
Stiv: Ahem
emilly.orr: Also Reverend Glasseye, the Real Tuesday Weld, Vernian Process, Dandelion Junk Queens...who else...
Stiv: Wait
Stiv: wait
emilly.orr: Beats Antique
Stiv: Slow down, didnt know any of those
emilly.orr: Steampunk music
Stiv: Wait, is that a genre even?
emilly.orr: Or, conversely, go here and skim until you hit the actual music posts
emilly.orr: Lot of bands, lots of links
emilly.orr: Reminds me, I need to hit another couple bands this week if I can
Stiv: Thank you, Ive been looking for something new
Stiv: Oh hey fancy page
emilly.orr: Hee
emilly.orr: I had fun with the background
Stiv: Oh actually you know who I bet you'd like if you dont already
Stiv: Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
Stiv: A Lovecraftean horror punk band
emilly.orr: Ooh
Stiv: Yeah I know
Stiv: Pretty awesome
emilly.orr: Yeah, that'd likely be something I'd cover :)


So, Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. I think I'm recommending them, based on just the samples on their music page? But...I don't know if they're steampunk.

Still...Lovecraftian horror-punk rock...what else could they be??

Toren Atkinson, a man with a lifelong interest in Lovecraft, started the band along with cofounder Warren Banks; they seem the heart and soul of nerdcore rock, as nearly all the members have some connection to gaming, either playing a lot of games, or actually in the industry, doing art and design for paper-gaming and videogame companies.

They've got a great FAQ that's packed with loads of information, and seems pretty keen on both giving you cool stuph to buy, and cool stuph to listen to in advance.

As limbo is currently extraordinarily heated, in bad unpleasant ways, your Faithful Reviewer has very little brain to put more information in; but do check them out. And I think I'll be dropping a word or two Radio Riel's way, see if they're willing to pick up a few tunes for New Babbage...and whatever lurks in the depths of the Vernian Sea.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a quick fix won't ever get you well

Whats your thoughts on the blog feed? (The one on this login screen)

* I like the way it is
* Should add LLs main blog
* Kill it with fire
* Don't care
* Something else (comment plz)


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Working on adapting to the Emerald Viewer now, and after their latest rebuild, they may actually have something--I can't use most of the bells and whistles, and I can't change skins or it's an auto-stop--but it loads textures with a reasonable degree of speed and doesn't toss up the BSOD. And there's some funky little things that make it enjoyable to ride through the occasional spate of turbulence--like, being able to auto-set the texture you want to load first, on any created prim, and the ability to pick the color for your edit particles, or their token rainbow effect.

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I just can't shake the feeling, though, that I'm not sending out little particle emeralds, but little particle Superman logos. Maybe it's just me, but that still makes me giggle.

At the very least, as evidenced by the poll I snagged from their intro page? They have a sense of humor about the whole thing. So maybe that makes all of us laugh.

It took me nearly four hours to figure out what was wrong with the script, and I still can't figure out the text-across-the-front-panel nonsense, but I now have two texture vendors in Penzance. It's eclectic stuph and oddity, for the most part, collated over three years of importing things piecemeal, but they're there, and they work. Yay me.

"It's not really about the rain, is it? It's about love. Everything's about love, isn't it? Which reminds me: Psyche was a princess so beautiful that the goddess Venus became jealous. In revenge, she instructed her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a gross, hideous monster. But the thing was, when he saw her, he fell in love with her himself. He took her to his palace; because he was a god, he forbade her from seeing him, and visited her only at night, as her mysterious, invisible lover.

"Now Psyche, actually, started to have a great time. The only thing is, she started to miss her family a bit. She persuaded Cupid to let her go back for a visit. She told her sisters all about it, and of course they were quite jealous; they always are in those stories. And they persuaded her that she should look at him, to find out if he was a monster.

"So that night, when he came to her, after they'd made love, he fell asleep--like blokes are wont to do. And she lit a lantern. When she saw him, and how amazingly lovely and perfect he was, she spilled some oil. It landed on his shoulder, by his wing, and burned him, and he awoke.

"Of course, he had to leave, that was it; Psyche had broken her promise.

"In the rest of that story, Psyche goes through torture, and tribulation, and humiliation, to try and find him again. She undertakes a series of cruel and difficult tasks, set by Venus, in the hopes of winning him back. In the end, she succeeds, because Cupid himself cannot bear to witness her suffering, and he pleads for her cause to the gods. Now, Psyche becomes an immortal herself, and they're married in heaven. But at the end of the story, she's not the person she was in the beginning, and neither is he.

"'But if, after her exile, and her torture...we should meet again, someday, in love's temple, there's no doubt...I will light your lantern on the altar, and that lantern will never, ever go out...'

"Lights out."


That's from Stephen Coates, aka The Real Tuesday Weld, and the Cupid and Psyche podcast, a mix of spoken-word readings and Tuesday Weld songs.

I admit, it got me thinking. Not only on the nature of love, and sacrifice, but on regret. Regret is so bitter. Regret is so heavy, and it can hold you down, stagger you, gasping with the heavy bitter weight of it, the unyielding pressure of its presence in your life. I know this, I know this all too well.

But what happens when we give up our regrets, those of us who bind them so closely? What happens when we release that ceaseless weight, that sodden agony of lost love and sharp-shattered dreams?

This is the fear, you see, that you will change, that we will change; that we will become shallow and uncaring, light able to pass through our substance because we have no substance remaining. This will not happen. The fear is that we will then lack our depth, our ideals, all that forms us, all that shadows us, draws around us like cobweb cloaking. I tell you now, you will not, for you are the one grown deep, from being held down so low, for so long. You are the one with depth, you cannot give that up, even if you release every regret, every guilt spasm, every pain you treasure so closely.

What will you gain, when you release regret? Perspective.

I will take it further, as I drag myself away from the wreckage of my past, and begin looking towards a future that may well be bright. One by one I let these cards fall from my personal Tarot. They will not be replaced or rewritten. I can only salvage so much for so long, and now, new parchment is needed. It is time, and more than time, I let these feelings go.

You never knew me. I can't believe I was shallow enough to be taken in by a pretty pale face and black leather buckles, but every time I tried to pry back that mask, and see the face you hid, there was nothing I could find. I was with you for nearly a year, mourned you for two months when you died, and was dismissed when you were brought back to life. Enough. I'm not your personal bank, and I'm not your girlfriend anymore. Move on.

You never knew me. All you heard, whenever I said I liked both genders, was that I'd give up the opposite gender to be yours. You never considered that for all the flirtation, your partner field was never empty. And you coordinated so very completely keeping the two of us separate. It also did not aid your cause that when you introduced me to the next man in my life, I would take insane jealousy from you as a caution to move farther away.

You, I thought I missed until the last time we spoke. Then I realized I was just something to do. You never wanted to talk to me, you just wanted the physical diversion. I thought I was your friend. I was wrong. I am sorry you lost a close friend because she couldn't understand why I would pick you when everything she did when we were together was scream at you and hurl invective at me. But it's over.

You were the only man on the grid that could make me smile, once. And I had an absolute blast flirting with you. I still think you're an amazing DJ, and I wish you all good things in your life. Lose my calling card.

You infuriate me. You lied to me from the beginning. And every opportunity I've given you since we parted, every single one, you've managed to work sex in there somehow. Enough. I'm not for rent anymore. And insulting me by calling me something I wasn't ashamed to be in the first place won't get me back. Grow up.

You really should have known better, dating a polyamorous woman. I told you when we met I didn't do monogamous; you waited eight months to tell me you were crazy jealous over everyone else I was with. In all truth, our relationship died that night; but I was the idiot who kept it limping along for another eight months. It's over now. I'll be your friend if you don't push it, but never anything more. I mean that; you keep pushing, I'm losing your calling card and unfriending you.

You, I never understood, but then, you never really got me either. I wanted someone strong enough to pull me out of the dominant headspace managing a busy club and a side business gave me. You wanted someone else to leash and beg. It wouldn't have worked out; trust me, you're better off on your own.

You...To this day I don't know why I started caring for you. You thought clawing to the bone was foreplay. I must have been out of my mind.

You just confuse the hell out of me. First you're straight, then you're curious, then you're gay, then you're gone. What the hell? I truly broke up with you when you abandoned me after asking to marry me. I've had enough nostalgic goodbyes. Good luck with the career; don't call me.

You may know me best of all. You may know me better than almost anyone else, know just what to say and when, but you threw me away over an outfit. You won't get me back for that, and following the path I leave will only ensure I'll walk faster to move away. The darkest of your shadows I found brighter than the face you turned to the sun. You should consider why.

You I still miss, but what we had, we can't have back. All the offers to marry me in the world won't change things. I'll keep in touch, because I worry, but loving you on the grid--that's over.

You...I still care for you, but it will never be what it was, and it shouldn't. How could it? Even so, I like to think we're friends. It works better for both of us, in the long run.

You were my one pure rebound affair. It did what it was supposed to, snapped my head back in place, and then you disappeared before I could figure out where we were going. Obscurely, I feel like I should thank you for that.

You utter rat bastard. I'm still trying to figure out what was the point of everything we shared...That I went even one week, even one day, let alone nearly a full year thinking I was completely at fault for everything that went wrong on both sides...You're manipulative, you're abusive, and no one will trust you again.

You were a mistake from the beginning. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking, I don't know what you were thinking, and the entire thing start to finish was too Oedipal for words. Let's not do that ever again.

Gone. Card by card, word by word, emotion by emotion...gone. I do not need this, I do not need to remain in these spaces.

Gone. Every one of you, gone as a claimant on my affections. Regret? No. I'm done with regret. At least over the double handful of heartbreaks, I'm done with guilt.

Enough. Time for new things. Time for new lessons. Time and more than time to move on.

"Lights out."

Friday, July 24, 2009

then it all crashes down and you break your crown, and you point your finger, but there's no one around

Let's talk about the Big Red Button Bomb over at Gloomyville.

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[5:14] (0thrive) BRBB: Big Red Button Bomb Prize System: Thank you for your entry, Emilly! If the bomb explodes you'll recieve your prize!
[5:14] (0thrive) BRBB: Big Red Button Bomb Prize System:
Main Prize: *SMOTD* Putrids Posh Poofiepants Full outfit ~ Boxed
Prize everyone receives if the bomb explodes.
Save Prize:
Prize you receive if you save the bomb.
Critical Mass: 100
Number of people required for explosion.

Click the Big Red Button to play, if enough people enter to reach the Critical Mass (Countdown will be red) before Countdown hits 0 then everyone wins. The Countdown will randomly change for each player, this means that it can go from being a long time off to only a minute left. If you save the bomb by entering when there's 10 seconds or less left and Critical Mass wasn't filled, you will get the Save Prize if there is one.


Essentially, it's another variation on the Lucky Chair, only it doesn't so much encourage traffic--because of the wide range of variable times (and the fact of no save prize), you're pretty much only encouraged to stop in and check on things if you haven't yet touched the button for the day.

[5:28] Emilly Orr: 53,909.
[5:28] Neome Graves: You are much more downerer now.
[5:28] Fawkes Allen: Yes, she is very much downerer than she was.


Yay for being downerer. More to the point, I'm done.

I hit 51,964, and said I was stopping for the night. I ended up going back to it a few hours later, and hit 50,838 at 3:58 am SLT.

Between gigs and wedding apologies, birthday parties and casual wandering, I went down, chunk by chunk, frock by frock, and along the way I started looking for advertising textures, floating text scripts, hover scripts, and landmarks. After getting rid of all the repeats there, I looked up, and at 1:08 am, I'd hit 49,837.

I'm done.

Three days from the upper sixty-two thousands to a scant few hundred under fifty thousand.

Guess I just had to find the right motivation.

the music that you gave me, the language of my soul

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That makes my head dizzy. Also known as, someone at Google was thinking ahead. Try it for yourself.

And LostCheetah's latest video reminds me, yet again, however much I may want to investigate motion capture in SL...one needs a very, very fast computer to make machinima, and I am just not there yet. If ever. (Not for the song, mind, I find Lady Gaga derivative at best, but for the movements--most of which, if not all of which, are from Sine Wave.)

It's odd, I fall into contemplation far too easily these days, but I realize I've been taking some things for granted, and not in a bad way. Like Miss Straaf's Eighties Mewsic on Radio Riel, Thursday nights at ten. Like--for all I'm terrible at publicizing it--the Poetry Slam, Thursdays at five (usually in Winterfell Absinthe, but today, for instance, we moved to Winterfell Laudanum and declaimed poetry whilst being pelted with falling mushrooms.).

Well, the Poetry Slam happens nearly every week, but the airwaves have missed Eighties Mewsic for more than a month. We may not have said it, Miss Straaf, but we did miss you, and your music, and we're very glad you're back.

(Of course, then Snowglobe crashes and it takes me twenty minutes to get back in world...grr...)

(Remember: you can always tune in on Radio Riel's events stream in world on your parcels, or on your external players; and if you like to show up and have fun on the ground, as t'were, you just need to hop over to Edison Hypatia from ten to eleven pm, SLT.)

So I've been trying like anything to get my inventory under control (mentioned here among other places), because it's gone on long enough; I have a low movement rate in world, packed sims log me out, I lag....it's just too much to deal with.

I logged out with 58,959 inventory items, then, after a brief spate of getting in and hacking at more inventory shrubbery, I got down to 57,709. Which is still good, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to do better.

As the day progressed to afternoon and evening and night, I've been logging in and out, checking things, deleting things, trying new combinations of search terms--anything to keep the progress moving forward, not reversing entirely (not easy when I hit three Midnight Mania boards at the behest of friends and they all came in--two of them texture packs!).

Around six, I hit 57,373; which was good, but there was still a great deal of work to do. Around nine pm SLT, I was at 57,282. Not much progress, and I was starting to get depressed. In a frenzy, I went through my eyes, deleting everything that wasn't up to the latest specs--that took me down to 57,178 (yes, I'm serious, I had that many eyes).

And then midnight turned, the Midnight Manias came in, and I knew the push was on in earnest. So I turned to the hunts folder.

Anything I didn't recognize, anything that didn't have a descriptive folder name, anything which seemed to be more attachments than clothing layers--erased. Anything that I hadn't looked at in over a year--a ton of Ivalde and Retrology folders disappeared then. Anything I hadn't worn in over two years--a lot of my older ballgowns went away, especially the ones from Prim & Proper and Nymphetamine.

At 2:20 am SLT, I hit 54,999.

My goal for tomorrow? 52,000. Or less.

This is hard, grueling work, though. My attachment to things is very strong.

One last note...

Much later, on idle in SL, helping Miss Allen develop more translucent and lovely avatar bits I will pray of being released...at some point...a member of another group I'm in revealed that she had gotten a desist-and-move notice from Linden Labs, requiring her to move her business (on the mainland, containing BDSM and Gorean equipment) to Zindra. Since Zindra ticket filing is coming up so very soon--all tickets must be filed by ten am, SLT, July 24th, which is not that very far from right now--I went hunting information for her.

In >this entry on Zindra, though, something else caught my eye entirely:

Greetings from Shell Beach!
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Shell%20Beach/221/23/36


...and I had to pause.

Linden Labs just made a Dark City reference. Did they think they were being funny? Did they think it was an ironic comment on the relocation and rebranding process Second Life is currently mired in? Did they think it through in any way whatsoever?

Or was it entirely unconscious, this choice of the Labs to portray Zindra as part of some vast conspiracy, having kidnapped their population forcibly, to enact experimental procedures upon them, knowing there's nowhere else to go?

At the very least, the irony? Is high.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

and yes, Virginia, all because the truth won't save you now

Erotic steampunk? Apparently so. In fact, it's the second such work to be published by Circlet Press, the first being A Wisp of Steam. An excerpt from Like Clockwork, the second book, was lovingly offered up on io9's site, wherein they mention a third volume, Like a Corset Undone, will be available from Circlet Press for purchase, or electronic download, soon--the same as the first two.

Hanging out of a day in SL. Wandering about, following random SLUrls, Midnight Mania mentions, tracking down things I've needed to track down for a bit...

I set up a friends' conference to keep track of my loves and their loves. It's a gaggle at this point--Miss Neome, Miss Fawkes, Miss Midnight Bohemia, who is Neome's otherlove. I set this up. I was talking to everyone. I was sending out chat to everyone.

We port to VenDom to see if there were new chair offerings and a new armor set in the Midnight Mania. We were also tossing odd net links back and forth to giggle at.

I sent this one, trying to figure it out, and got this message:

[20:44] Fawkes Allen was sent an instant message and has been automatically unmuted.

THE. HELL.

I mean, really...THE HELL?!?

This is apparently a very rare bug, according to Miss Midnight. To me, though? This is a very freakish and horrifying bug. Imagine that happening during a business conference! During an SL corporate address! During medical training classes, now held in virtual spaces, on those educational campuses Linden Labs so very much want Second Life to be known for having.

[20:44] Fawkes Allen was sent an instant message and has been automatically unmuted.

Which means he'd been muted in the first place. By SECOND LIFE, not me. Wrong, so very very very wrong.

[23:42] Rachire Andel: I like bondage
[23:43] Rachire Andel: so does ger
[23:43] Rachire Andel: alcohol makes bondage more fun


And people wonder why I don't talk that often in Caledon State chat much, anymore.

[23:43] Rachire Andel: too bad she cant pronounce the safe word
[23:43] Aevalle Galicia: Rach, alcohol and posting in the isc doesn't mix, sweetie
[23:44] Rachire Andel: too bad i didnt know this in advance
[23:44] Wrath Constantine: Don't drink and post.
[23:45] Rachire Andel: now you all tell me this


Of course, then it just got downright amusing.

Is it wrong that now I really want to play this game? Just to see if there's more to laugh at? Don't get me wrong, I adore Wolverine, runty little sociopath that he is. But really...that was not only absurdly violent, but insanely funny.

We're coming up on another Creators' Stamp Rally (the summer edition, natch) and already, a third of participating merchants have turned in their prizes for the run. S.I.C.'s outfit-and-weapon look really well done. Den-Dou's vampire skin is just fun. I adore the creativity that went into Gritty Kitty's artist apron.

The rules are the same as last winter: there are twenty participating designers, nearly all of them Japanese. You travel from sim to sim with your stamp card, find the stamp machine, get a stamp from each participating designer, and take the completed stamp card to the prize center to redeem your prize of choice.

To buy each stamp card, you find something that's got the CSR symbol on it, or is in a vendor where you can check what's going to be delivered, to make sure a card is in there. Each card will cost you at least one hundred Lindens. And yes, you can get as many cards as you want, just understand, you can only run with so many at once! (While I have seen a girl wearing eighteen cards, really, that does strike me as excessive. Though to be fair, there are 36 attachment points per avatar, supposedly.)

So far, only De'la's yellow slouch boots seem unpopular, but frankly, I don't think they're bad-looking boots--they're just bright yellow. But they're not ugly boots at all.

And do keep in mind to tip a little extra business towards Edelweiss, the main creative force behind the stamp rallies, will you? This is the first year they've done an outfit that wasn't pale pink! That deserves to be celebrated!

And lastly, this word from xkcd:



You know, torrent sites are even worse, I used to think...but they mean it when they say "This'll take three days; get a good book."

I logged out with 58,959 inventory items. Let's see if I can push away another two thousand tomorrow!

april trains may bring strange showers

Rezzable has developed such a solution, but it's one that is certain to cause problems if it ends up in the hands of those who aren't using it for the intended purpose of backups/exports/internal migrations.

So, is it right or wrong? Will Rezzable regret releasing such a device?

Ask Robert Oppenheimer, I suppose.
(From this entry on July 20th.)

In the end, [there] must be no sacred cows, and when confronted with knee-jerk apologists screaming RACISM! to defend the actual racists in our midst, we must have the courage to shout ALL RACISM IS RACISM! at the reactionary corruption of the system.
(From this entry on July 20th.)


Wandering through Crap Mariner's (I still twitch at the name, but maybe that's intentional) journal, because I'd heard he was running a series of informal concerts at his Clocktree. This details his latest concert, featuring a Native American flute player, unfortunately yesterday.

But I keep finding these astoundingly insightful things. I'll have to find time to read further. (And in the meantime, hopefully, show up at one of the performances...sadly, they're booked starting a half hour from the end of Terpsichore Tuesdays.)

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So I've been playing with the Snowglobe viewer. It has some really good points. For one, my standard 5-7 FPS (...no, not kidding; why?) jumped, somewhat alarmingly, to 27-29 FPS. That was wild for me. That was insanely fast.

Paired with that, though, are some astounding visual errors. For example:

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Ooh, creepy, right? Bizarre alien invader, hide the children!

There's only one problem. This is not an invisiprim-gone-wrong situation. If you look at that curving strip of blue? That is Miss Allen's skin.

Yes, now you're getting the problem.

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This was taken after I asked her to take off the upper prims. This is all the upper attachments removed, save the left eye.

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And this is her standing in all her mutated glory, both prim eyes removed.

Miss Uni says this is a glitching of the preliminary avatar-masking code the Lindens are mucking about with (must keep the corporate bottom line met, regardless of how haywire things go on the ground) at the moment; all I know is, I thought this was a one-time bug a few days back, when my face went missing.

Now here we stood in Glidden, and I realized I'd lost half a girl! There's no excuse for that.

The only fix we've found so far? And even it doesn't work all the time...is to change skins and hair, and sometimes Linden-layer clothing. Then, and only most of the time at that, your base skin will restore and you won't be Visible-Organs Avatar for the masses.

Still. Just bizarre to stand there, looking at someone hollowed out to only eyes and hair-stuffed brain.

Last little tidbit before I wind up my affairs and smooth into limbo for the next few hours: somehow, between one thing and another, my third-year rez day completely sailed by.

Bother.

So, all right, I thought, fine, we have the new store parcel, we'll fix that up and I'll make eighteen new somethings, and have a little hunt. In honor of surviving to age three.

Then the island chain what owned the sim that little parcel was in sold off to other people. Farewell new storefront.

More bother.

But I'm working on it. The only hitch so far? I have taken a vow. I can make no new products for store release until I see 50K in inventory again.

Pray for me...I have ninety ideas eating each other in my brain and pressuring me to work on them! Plus the hunt. Plus the mushrooms-in-progress.

But I will see 50K or less, sometime very soon. And then--back to creation!

Maybe I should just make three large packages, one for every year, sort of a what-I've-learned retrospective.

The only problem with that is...the first year would have to be somewhat perverse in nature. Miniskirted nun's outfit, or something. Tch.

We'll see. Watch this space, or, well, the blog at large. I'll see what I come up with.

(By the way, the little mutant snowglobe image? Comes from the Kiddley blog. Bwahahahaha...)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

in my heart, that barless prison, discolours all with tunnel vision

We attended the horror festival in Drowsy.

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The charm, as well as the bafflement, of any Asian street festival is that you never quite know what you're going to see. This is especially true with the Drowsy Horror Festival, which began on the 18th. Some of the quaint little canvas stalls are selling things you'd find anywhere--tees, skirts, there are cute little games to play...or at least they look like games...

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Like this one. It's...a pool? With colored balls, and a glowing...crowned...fishlike thing? The fish-esque thing you can buy, by the way, runs about thirty, for something I swear was called the Les-Fish-Necklace...though I could be misremembering.

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Miss Neome and I were endlessly charmed by the little skeleton dolls in this display. They randomly appeared and disappeared, first one, then two, then four, then all of them.

Technically they're selling the skirts on the dolls...but we just wanted the dolls! Or the skins on them...

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At the back of the festival was an old and weathered wooden house. It had a slatted door you could touch. When you did, inside was either pitch-dark shadow, fading darkness, or a giant dead girl.

Any way you look at it, that, at least, was genuinely creepy.

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I'm still trying to figure out what this stall sold. Was it a set of ghostly arms dangling from chains? Was it an attachment of two arms coming out of your stomach? Was it a half-arm blocking your face? What?

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Though finding a set of spirit-green limbs in the side field--attached to nothing--helped reinforce the creep factor, too.

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And the full version of the creepy little girl. That half-face is so pervasive, too, I keep wondering if it's directly from some Asian horror film I don't quite remember right now...

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Just over the mountain, by the way, is the main store for Kurotsubaki, Situ Yifu's main store. (The Drowsy Horror Festival is being sponsored by Situ Yifu and Kurotsubaki.) I found this fellow just standing, looking out the window. Strangely, he reminds me of 2D...

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The main store has gotten a lot larger, and there's room to wander, many fun things to see. She may even have other vendors. She's always had a defiantly quirky design sense, it's one of the things I love about her work.

At the very least, the Horror Festival is worth a visit. After all, if you can't walk around somewhere else on the grid with ice cream made of eyes and hallucinogenic mushrooms, what's the point?

bent a hook and in her spine, broke off a pin

Circling all day. Slow circles, heavy, shaking my head. Inevitable. Here again. I don't want to be here again.

Pain, there is. Anguish, there is. Hurt and confusion, and chaos on all sides. Mistrust? Maybe. Possibly. Who knows? I can't think that far ahead.

Circling. I keep coming back to the cliff edge. I keep stopping. I keep circling. There has to be a solution. There has to be something, something I'm missing, something I'm too blind to see.

Something. Circling. Waiting to be clouted by revelation.

But it's my fault, I'm told. It's me. I'm the one causing this pain. And if it is me, I have to stop. I have to stop.

If I am part of something in someone's life, part of something that hurts them, if I am part of what is hurting them, then I need to leave. If I am causing the pain, then I need to leave. If I am damage, then I as damage need to move far away, so that the damage I'm causing can heal.

Right?

That's logical. That makes sense. That's practical.

...but that's where I hit full stop. Full stop, no farther, I cannot go down this path. I cannot take another ending.

And even that's not true, I can take endings, endings, beginnings, they surface, they ebb, they happen all the time and I process them, I deal with them, I accept them every time. Life, death, comings and goings, beginnings, endings. Creation and destruction. It is life, it is my life, it is everyones' life, and it's the trade-off we make to be physical beings. We will be injured. We will suffer. We will die. We cannot have what we have, we cannot learn what we want to learn, if we cannot be harmed. If we cannot take the risk, we cannot learn the lessons.

Circling. To the edge of the cliff, circling. Back and forth, around and again. I cannot take that step. I cannot.

And I know this, the lessons of leaving, of endings, of failure, they all teach us things, necessary things. I know this, I've known this for a very long time. Sometimes relationships rise up, sometimes they falter, and sometimes when they falter the ground they grew in is poisoned. And if one side still loves, even if both sides still love...sometimes, it cannot improve. So much damage, it cannot be saved. It must end.

I know this.

...but that's where I stop. I can't. At the cliff's edge I'm halted, unable to step back for a moment, unable to step out into empty air and trust I'll end up where I need to be, when I finish the fall. I...cannot...move...forward.

I can't do this. I can't. No letting go, I can't do this. If I'm damage, then I change my nature. If I'm damage, then I have to fix me so I can't damage any further.

I keep thinking: this is like watching the sun rise in Winterfell. Something more of art than architecture, by design. Or mayhap, more chance than circumstance. Or maybe it really, truly, comes down to hacking the code, forcing the issue: because after all, the sun never rises in Winterfell.

Circling. Waiting for the impossible. Trying to have faith in spite of everything. Trying to listen, trying to learn, trying to accept. Trying to change.

Standing on the cliff edge, reaching out. I cannot take this step. I will not take this step. I will not walk so far away.

No letting go. I cannot. My path is not in leaving.

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This is what I look like without a face.

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I'm not sure this is helpful.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

and there’s a part of you that’s just a little scared of her

Jhonen Vasquez details the Cult of Rapture. Along with a lovely look at the print he was commissioned to do.

And tipped in an entirely sidewise fashion, what if steampunk persisted into space? Rabbittooth shows us what it might have been like on the Enterprise.

Also, tip to all Jagerkin (and others who favor fanciful colors), 42 has released a set of Galaxy skins for incredibly reasonable prices. 42's the business; 42 Lindens is also what Miss Imandra Wycliffe, the designer behind the name, is charging. Per skin.

Yes. You heard that right.

Does she have other-than-female skins? That I don't know. But feel free to stop by and find out.

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On the far site of the DV8 mall area is a small bay, with a floating whale.

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You heard me. A floating whale.

Sadly, this is not the first time we've heard of levitating sealife; it seems to be an especial hazard in Second Life seas. Even so, it's a rather small bay in the first place to hold a baleen, and second, hasn't anyone noticed this before?

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With the levitation, the plume of spray and undigested matter frequently reminds one of clouds, dotting the blue sky.

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At least it dips under the waves occasionally?

Friday, July 17, 2009

got to listen to the vision, play in the ashes of what you once were

Yes, yes, it's another entry for today. I told myself no more entries. So okay, I lied, but at least it was only to myself. And, well, to Fawkes.

But I didn't know it was a lie, it's just easier blogging about it than not, I suppose.

I went looking for particular hair at the behest of a friend. This is what I found:

Black Maria was my first stop, for the Maria hair:

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It's shorter than she wanted, but for L$100, full copy-mod permissions, it could just work.

Saru, found here in the same place, might work too, but it's got a built-in headband.

Next up: Kin, Kin Keiko the marvelous, Kin who has a new hair store in the sim named Boo. That makes me giggle.

Both Sera and Amaunet:

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have potential here (try both on as demos first, though), though Sera's more wild-all-over, and Amaunet's got the little hair ties.

Also--don't hit me--Emi could do the trick as well, with a little repositioning of the upper layers:

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There's also Karei:

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Not a lot is at her new main store, she's still moving things over.

I dropped by Mirai Style, because the "Nacy" hair was mentioned as being the first thing found, but...one, there's no "Nacy" hair there--at least, not anymore--and two, that place is terrifying. Texture glitching like you would not believe and the hairstyles scare me.

The Lightning style (above Tsue) from Androgyny might work with some modding:

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and also maybe Jo, in the corner.

Last stop, Penumbra in Carnivale, where I found Shino:

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The back sucks, but the front is fun; and Ruki, upstairs, also has potential:

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but would need major rework.

I think, all in all, each of these options would take serious repositioning efforts. But Kin comes closest, followed by Black Maria. I'd definitely try those two first.

Hope this helps.

All right, enough on hair. In other news, this:

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from Gauze is just phenomenal. I want, I crave. Very striking. It's almost enough to pull me back into geisha/oiran hair design.

(And no, this is not the first time I've used my blog to reply just to one person. Not by a long shot. It is the first time I'm not screaming or venting at them, though. This is just that--a reply. Much calmer.)

spin like a record, crazy on a Sunday night

More from Sanitarium Island.

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(With the advent of Zydrate and better organ-transfer procedures, organ theft is a serious concern.)

Mr. Rottissimo Shilling is the leader of GeneCo in Second Life, and he is no less firm on the ravages of organ theft as his movie predecessor. Repo postulates a society where organ theft, and black market organ transfer, are not ethical concerns but financial ones: with the development of genetic medicine, vat-grown organs removed and transplanted became an issue of commerce, not morality.

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(The Bates Motel...in Repo?!?)

All right, I admit, finding this amused the hell out of me. The marquee sign of the Bates Motel, urging enjoyment of the courtyard pool.

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(Don't let the children in there.)

The, err...courtyard pool. But that does bring up an interesting point: Shilo, in the movie version, is the only child we see, and even she's a young adult by the time the story opens. We hear of her mother's mythic pregnancy, and the hazards surrounding it; but it begs the question of what the rest of the society is doing. Has pregnancy become that lethal? Is everyone more afraid of dying, than passing on their genes?

Where are all the children of Repo??

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(Pirate radio stations advertise in the same governmental font on back alley posters. There's somewhat sketchy evidence for the pirate radio broadcasts being government owned and operated--maybe...)

One would assume that in a culture devoted to life at all costs, Zydrate would just be a momentary inconvenience: sure, it's highly addictive, but if the alternative is organ failure and death...But the existence of a pirate radio network posits the concept that there are those who reject the lure of Zydrate, and likely from a moral standpoint, considering how Zydrate is produced.

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(Graverobbers will be shot on sight.)

In a society where death walks apace with life, where death is oddly celebrated, funerary fashion is the largest fashion industry, and artifacts of the past are embraced easily and completely...graverobbing as an industry would be both embraced and rejected. Necessary, and loathed.

More to the point, though, Graverobber--reduced to a title, not a name--in Repo serves as narrator and Greek chorus, advancing the story moment to moment. He knows all, sees all, and links the tale from beginning to end.

In world, his representative is Graverobber Placebo, a devil-may-care fellow who may not be quite as erudite, but might be significantly closer to the character, as he's presented in the film.

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(Even highways die.)

The twisted, mostly-destroyed suspension bridge that (once?) connected Sanitarium Island to Falln Sanitarium. Will it be repaired, or will civic funds go towards more lobbying for organ repossession to remain legal?

(A tip: though flight is absolutely not allowed--and listed as a bannable offense--on Sanitarium Island, if--once it opens--one ports to Sanitarium Island, peruses the hair and skin offerings, the howlings of the mad in the substructure, then exits the back door and walks into the ocean ravine separating the two lands...one can walk up the other side, ending up in the graveyards of dream.)

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(A view of the graveyard, looking towards Nathan Wallace's home.)

The graveyard on Sanitarium Island isn't that large, all things considered, but one would imagine half the planet remaining in Repo would be memorials, commemoratives, crypts and mausoleums, gravestones and funeral statues. All the earth would be a place to mourn, one assumes.

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(Looking towards Falln Sanitarium from the graveyard.)

Usually I don't cross my movies, but the sight of the taxi-cab, nearly falling into the sea, reminded me stunningly of Silent Hill for some reason.

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(One of the many gravestones in the graveyard, this one set flush into the ground.)

Memorials are everywhere. As they might easily be in a society built on the dead.

There's still another entry full of pics in this to go. Stay tuned.

a thousand crystal towers, a hundred emerald cities, and the hand of the watchman in the night sky

This, of course, picks up from the last post on the topic, found here.

Law #13: The Law of Sacrifice

This law is simply stated, but somewhat complex to understand. In brief: to gain, you must lose. Or, you have to give something up, to get something of more value.

Still confused? Here's how the blogger in question put it:
But in some sense, these two laws are the same idea with different expressions. There is power in focus, but to get there, we have to make tough decisions about what things we will not do.

The Law of Sacrifice is all about saying "no" to opportunities. This skill is incredibly difficult to learn. I suspect that the only way to learn to say "no" is to experience the pain of saying "yes" too often.
Law #14: The Law of Attributes

This one's annoying, but I'll try to alleviate some of the really annoying bits. In short, this law states that if you have an attribute--that, obviously, your brand or your product has laid claim to--that, somewhere out there, there is likely an equal, but opposite attribute, that would also fit.

Still doesn't make sense? Gods, I wish I could help. I'm back with the fellow geek hurling this book across the room for its imprecisions, at times. Still, I would tend to agree--most of the time, with really obvious product attributes--turn those around, see what comes up. It may or may not be true, but at the least, it will let you think about your product in different ways.

Law #15: The Law of Candor

This one's simple, and actually clear to understand. If you admit something's not perfect with your product, that will make your client more positive about your brand, most of the time.

How can this be? Well, remember the Avis We Try Harder campaign? By admitting they were the guys coming in second, it actually brought them positive feedback from customers, and people who were charmed by the sincerity. (Of course, it didn't hurt that Hertz had just confused everyone who rented cars by offering a guy who flew through the airport to get to the rental counter--I mean, come on, if the guy could fly...why would he need to rent a car?)

But in general, it all comes down to admission and sincerity: people may not always be honest, but they admire it in products and brands. And they'll respect you more for showing it.

Law #16: The Law of Singularity

Another complicated one. The book states this as, in each situation only one move will produce substantial results.

Not true in the long run--a lot of moves can gain good results, some better than others, but they actually mean something a bit different. The blogger again to explain:
The pattern is fairly common. I call it "The Infinite Loop of Marketing Despair":

1. The product is languishing.
2. People start asking what to do about it.
3. Somebody says, "We just need to do more marketing."

4. The marketing team gets in a conference room and brainstorms.

5. They come up with ten new ideas and begin executing them all.

6. Go back to step 1.
Instead, just pick one idea; don't try to push all ten forward. It's like the Law of Focus: pick one phrase, one word for a description. Same thing. Pick one idea, the one that sounds best to do; don't do everything.

Law #17: The Law of Unpredictability

This one I'm just going to quote directly from Eric Sink, 'cos he nailed it in one:
The Law of Unpredictability says, "Unless you write your competitors' plans, you can't predict the future."

But that doesn't seem to be the main point of this chapter. What the authors are really saying is that long-range planning doesn't work. We can try to observe and follow trends. We can make big-picture predictions. But if we try to make detailed plans over the long term, our competitors will surprise us and those plans will end up getting scrapped.

I suspect this chapter is a lot more necessary for people like Pepsi and Burger King. Those guys probably do get tempted to make long-term plans. But in software, things move so fast that most of us wouldn't even think of trying to make any sort of detailed plan for a five year horizon. There are exceptions, but in general, the mere notion is absurd.

That's pretty much it. Obviously, note the market trends, but don't follow them; if you follow the market trends, then we're stuck in the land of babydoll dresses for another year on the grid. Be different. Be unique. Unless you can write your competitors' plans--and you can't, ever--then don't bother with them. Focus, delineate, identify--and be prepared for shifting ground underfoot.

Law #18: The Law of Success

Put simply, success makes you cocky, and if you stay cocky, you crash. The more detached you are from your customer base, the less involved you are in what's happening at the customer level--the closer you come to the big penthouse office in the seventy-story building, with three hundred middle managers between you and the sales floor...well, it's that much farther to fall. And you will fall, if you forget your customers.
But either way, forgetting the customer is a fatal disease. Fortunately, this disease is also preventable and treatable. Don't let it happen to you.
Sums it up nicely.

Law #19: The Law of Failure

This law is also pretty clear: Accept your failures. You'll make them. It's unavoidable. So get comfortable with it.

Every failure will teach you something, and likely more than a success would. Because a success will cheer you and lead you on to the next possible success--but a failure will make you want to learn why it failed.

By all means, try to learn why. But don't make it a personal statement. Accept your failures, they're part of the process.

Law #20: The Law of Hype

This law says that hype--press, buzz, critical acclaim, whatever form the hype comes in--isn't the best thing.

Why? Isn't word of mouth what you want? Well, yes. But hype and buzz are not word of mouth. And every business that gets picked up and embraced sooner or later gets thrown to the world.
The vast majority of companies thrive and make a profit in a world which is completely disjoint[ed] from the one where the [venture capitalists] and the press live. They don't spend their time convincing investors and reporters that their product will change the world. Instead, they spend their time convincing customers that their product is a good purchase. It's very difficult to do both -- that's why the companies you see on the front page are often dead within a few years, while the companies making real money are the ones you hardly ever hear about.
In short: OMG Twitter is the greatest thing ever! to Man, Twitter sucks, it's full of old people. In less than five years.

Does this mean Twitter is dead? Of course not. But it means don't go out of your way to become a media darling. Let that go. Give interviews if you want, but the point of your business is not to make good press, it's to make money, right? Keep that in mind.

Law #21: The Law of Acceleration

This law breaks down fads versus trends. Simplest definition of fad: iPod Shuffle, quite nearly the most useless, easily broken, easily lost member of the iPod family; proof of the point that people will buy weight and complexity over simplicity and convenience, if weight and complexity end up working better.

Simplest definition of trend: people now buy smaller cars, so car companies are building smaller cars.

See the difference? Follow trends, don't chase fads. Fads will bottom out; even if trends eventually do, they'll lead you towards other slow-developing trends. Or to risk the cliché, march to your own drummer, don't follow the leader.
Drawing their examples from mainstream consumer products, the authors observe the tendency for companies to overestimate short-term fads. When something new becomes big and hot, companies jump on the bandwagon, spending a lot of money doing so. They restructure. They invest in new equipment. They work hard to make themselves prepared to deliver products for the fad.

And then the fad stops, and the company is left with problems:

* "What am I going to do with all the olive green refrigerators and orange carpeting I bought just before the fashion changed?"

* "Oh, great -- I can produce fifty gazillion Cabbage Patch dolls per day. That'll come in handy now that nobody wants them anymore."

* "Darn it! I just bought a warehouse of fruit-colored translucent plastic, and now I find that the next iMac looks like a white desk lamp."

Fads accelerate very quickly, but often don't last long. Trends have a much slower acceleration, but eventually run fast and steady. Chasing fads is expensive, so it becomes very important to learn how to distinguish them from actual long-term trends.

Law #22: The Law of Resources

Let's go back to Eric Sink again:
The Law of Resources says that "without adequate funding, an idea won't get off the ground". The gist of the chapter is that marketing is very expensive and you have to be prepared to spend big bucks on advertising if you want to be successful, so you're going to need a lot of funding from your [venture capitalist].
But while that's very true...
Preaching these ideas to small ISVs is like showing up at your local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and telling everyone that a little red wine every day helps the heart.
Why so? Well, because by and large, while the principle is sound--in nearly every application, it takes money to make money--smaller businesses don't fall into this so very much. Who can afford to take out the huge ads? The big fish. But the smaller fish don't necessarily starve, either, with enough word of mouth and the occasional review--and why is that? Mainly, because "resources" has an entirely different definition on the grid.

Money is just that, money. And funding for businesses supports materials outlay, shipping costs, advertising, printing, employee salaries, rental fees if they don't own the land their production facilities are on, utilities (power, water, garbage, internet if they're a software firm), mailing fees, taxes. All these things go into keeping a business (RL) strong.

But for most businesses on the grid, financial backing means upload costs. Texture fees. Paying employees. Hours of work off the grid. Setting up groups. Sending out notices. The cost of the actual land for the business, which involves membership fees, or at the least tier costs, week in and week out. Vendor systems--some of which do charge per sale (and Subscribe-o-Matics are in that, too: only the first 500 members are free.)

Advertising? This isn't that important, beyond a blog or webpage that designers can toss their new releases out on. That is advertising, but it doesn't cost, per se.

And prims? Above and beyond the cost for owning land, building or buying your store, tier fees and/or premium account payments...prims are free. It's so easy to build things on the grid; the trick is to build things well and desirably.

So in the case of this last "Immutable Law"--while it's true, it's not as true on the grid. Though costs of business can still run high.

Anyway, there you are, twenty-two business guidelines which still, by and large, import enough solid information to make reading through them--or reposting them, yet again--of interest.

(Oh, and the idea to repost this? Weird linkage here--Prokovy Neva complaining on Rezzable leaving SL to Desmond Shang on the SL forums. Huh.

(But I thought it worth bringing up again.)

mercy this and mercy that, let justice prevail, but I just want my trophy back

The next phase of steampunk: depression punk? There has to be a better name. Miss Kamenev suggests 'hobopunk'; and, considering some of the surviving chip carving out there, it's not that un-apt a designation. Still. There has to be a better name.

Bit of a departure for me, I know, but I'm going to vault from a sub-mention to another blog entirely, and rework some guidelines originally found in a decade-old book on the subject.

The twenty-two Immutable Laws of marketing (I don't agree with the "immutable" tag, either, they contradict themselves in their own internal structure...but it was the title of the book, and thus):

Law #1: The Law of Leadership

This law affirms the importance of being number one in a category. People track by popularity; they usually know who the number one player in the game is, but don't often retain knowledge of who comes in second. Tylenol is the brand most people think of when they think of over-the-counter painkillers; even being accused of poisoning pills didn't remove their market share.

Who's number two? Very few people know.

(We could bring up Bare Rose, for instance, or FallnAngel Designs as examples of the law of leadership. Who's second on that list? Anyone come to mind--without serious thought?)

Law #2: The Law of Category

This law states that if you cannot be number one in your category, set up a new category. It's part of the larger principle of differentiation; making enough differences in your brand and your product to stand out from anyone else who, on the surface, makes similar things. Take on a large, diverse market of similar items, you'll get lost in the shuffle. Take on a smaller, targeted grouping, you may well rise to the top.

Find out what makes you different, and be that. Who will note this difference? Your customers. To them, even if you're in a smaller, subset grouping, you are number one in that category.

Law #3: The Law of the Mind

This law states that it is better to be first in the mind--that "household name" cachet--than be number one in the marketplace. This "mindshare" is tricky stuph, though, and far too many businesses fail who fall prey to it.

I'd like to state from the blog author's point of view, something on the hazard of "mindshare", as well:
"The problem here is that we talk about customer minds without reminding ourselves that not all of those minds think the same way. Remember the marketing bell curve? Changing the mind of an early adopter is cheap and easy. Changing the mind of a conservative or a laggard is expensive and hard. These differences cause us to either overestimate or underestimate the value of mindshare:

* If most of your mindshare inventory is in early adopters, you are in trouble. Early adopters don't stay anywhere very long. Eventually, you will lose most of them.

* Your valuable mindshare is among conservatives. It will be very expensive for anyone who wants to take these people away from you.

* If you are a new player trying to gain mindshare, don't be afraid to steal early adopters from your competitor. It's easier than you think. Just remember that the next guy is going to steal them from you."
He's not wrong.

Law #4: The Law of Perception

This law states that perception is nearly always more important than reality. In a sense, "reputation" could replace "perception", here, as it applies to Second Life, and the war for Linden dollars on the grid. People tend to think that the best product will win. Because that's how it works, right? Evolution, sports, music...the best design wins.

Except that's not always so. Packaging plays into it, reputation, perception, previous designs, "gut feeling"--plus the fact that "better" and "best" are both subjective terms, and have a disparate definitions set to start with.

Reality matters, yes. But perception ofttimes trumps reality, without reality ever catching on.

Law #5: The Law of Focus

This law is essential, it can't be downplayed. Every business needs focus like people need oxygen, like builders need prims. The book says, "the most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind." This means, you need to be incredibly precise with your marketing terms. If you can capture the essence of your business behind one phrase, one idea...one single word...you can be a market leader.

Twitter gives you 140 characters to play with. Most market types, advertisers, organizers, businessmen, when they ask what's your business, they want 25 words or less. Even better if you can snap back with one single word.
"The customer has lost interest after the first ten seconds. The wire between your marketing efforts and your customer's mind is an extremely low bandwidth connection. Less is more."
Law #6: The Law of Exclusivity

This law is blatantly, very nearly stupidly, obvious: two companies cannot own the same word in the customer's mind. One of them will always lose that battle.

The example cited when the book was written was the war between Duracell and Energizer. Both want to lay permanent claim to the term "long-lasting". They are right in that it's the most important quality for trusted battery brands, but--neither company wants to back down and release their death grip on that phrase.

Sooner or later, one of them is going to dominate the other, and then it's all over; but until then, they are two dogs locked on the same bone, in a tug-of-war. They want the same market share; they want the same concept. They can't both have it.

And in the minds of their customers, this is already clear.

Law #7: The Law of the Ladder

This law states that in most market categories, there's actually more than one slot available per product--at least, in the minds of the end users.

This is tricky to define, but think of an actual ladder: there are rungs, it's used to help us climb from one level to another. Simple. Basic.

The ladder can have more than one rung per level. It's not only possible, it's hardwired into the way humans think. How many brands of tea can you name off the top of your heads? How many artists? How many authors? How many brands of clothing?

There's more room, per category, than most people think; the trick is to define what you do narrowly enough that it's only seen as one rung in that one category. You know by larger definitions, you'll have your customers looking at all the other rungs. But by narrow definitions, there's only one. There's only you.

Law #8: The Law of Duality

This law is about endurance, it's about strength of market name and market share. One hundred runners start a ten kilometer race; one runner finishes. Or looked at another way, no matter how many horses are in the race to start, it's always going to come down to two horses on the field. And eventually, one will win.

That's human nature; that's nature in general; and that's the market.

This applies very much to SL, in that young businesses start, and grow, and some flourish, some die down; but sooner or later, as those markets grow up, develop, evolve, some of those businesses will die off. It happens. Sooner or later, the market will always settle down to two players. Coke and Pepsi. iPod and Zune. Nike and Reebok. McDonald's and Burger King.
"Buyers don't like choosing between ten or twenty players. It's too stressful."
And also keep in mind, most of the buying that goes on in Second Life? Is not original decisions. We see trees; we pull the tree into edit; we track down the profile, the business, and go look at the rest of the trees. We see a lovely gown; we pull the skirt into edit; we track down the designer, go to her shop, and buy the gown.

Maybe we'll buy the gown in another color; maybe we'll buy a different tree; but the point is, we didn't make that decision. We just made the decision to buy.
"Pragmatists buy something only after they see the Early Adopters buying it. Conservatives buy it only after the Pragmatists are buying it."
Law #9: The Law of the Opposite

This law is excruciatingly simple: who's your competition? Who's doing better than you are? Look at your main competition, and then do something else.

This is almost meaningless to say, but there it is. You can't just expect to make the same category of items, and have that miraculously vault you over the designer ahead of you. You have to be different. You have to find your strength and play to that. You have to find what sets you apart, and focus on that.

Never try to beat the number one designer at their own game. You won't end up number two, then, you'll end up out of the business entirely.

Law #10: The Law of Division

This law states that over time, one category will nearly always multiply; or, seen another way, will subdivide into more specific categories, from the initial general starting point.

This isn't bad, it's not even unnatural, but it can interfere from time to time. Especially when you end up with a subdivision and a product line you're not sure has anything to do with where you originally started.

Law #11: The Law of Perspective

This law states that all marketing has a long-term end goal, and that's fine; but that sometimes, immediate, short-term goals, can derail or even destroy those short-term goals in a business.

It's like what Bewitched Hair is running into now. When they started, far before the alpha bug which so plagues Second Life, they were top of their game. They were popular, they had a big sim, they had hundreds of different hair styles to choose from. They frequently offered freebies, and, in fact, became known for "Secret" Linden sales--certain of their products you had to find marked down to one hundred Lindens, fifty Lindens, or even one single Linden for a hair pack.

Then the alpha bug. And everyone changed their hair, for good or bad, even Bewitched, but it wasn't enough to save certain styles. People like Calico Ingmann of Calico Creations realized all her lovely curls would alpha, so broke into creating hair that was half-sculpt, half-alpha textured, or half-normal prim, half-alpha. She also paired with hyasynth Tiramisu of Silent Sparrow and now frequently offers hair for SS's clothing designs.

The design team behind Bewitched didn't do that. First they bought another sim, and brought in vendors for it. Then they redesigned their sim, in the hopes a new look would bring more traffic in. But they didn't change their hair beyond making it full-bright on occasion.

Now? A year later, they're staggering. Their "Secret" sales are generally on hair nearly everyone has, already. Their new release 'free' packs are now for fifty Lindens: which, granted, is around L$12 a hairstyle, depending on number in each pack, but still is a marked--and resented--departure for their patrons.

Now, this month, this week, they're realizing sales are down, customer traffic is down, and they're frantic, trying to figure out what went wrong, where--to the point they're offering a survey to their clientele. Surveys won't solve things, by a long shot; and part of what got them in this position is that they kept offering so much for so very, very little.

Or take Bare Rose, an example that proves the point, but positively: part of what draws people to Bare Rose is that the prices are phenomenal, compared to what we're given. And June Dion is beyond prolific, and she's no longer Bare Rose's only designer. If they can keep up the pace of at least one release a week--and they've never failed it, to date--they keep the public interest.

Essentially, this law advises against running a ton of limited-time sales. You might increase operating capital in the short run, as well, but you'll be training your customers to come in for bargains, not full-price items.

Law #12: The Law of Line Extension

This law says it's pretty much always a mistake to rebrand in the same line. What does that mean? Crystal Pepsi--sometimes nicknamed "Pepsi Clear" due to a brief resurgence of sales in Mexico in 2005, though nearly everywhere else on the planet had stopped selling it in the mid-nineties--is the single staggering example of this.

Pepsi: strong brand, strong competition, strong brand identification; hasn't fallen by the wayside yet, still pushing forward. But in 1992, in reaction to market trends signifying a desire for more 'pure' foods and drinks, Pepsi authorized the development and sale of Crystal Pepsi.

It was non-caffeinated, thus severing the high-caffeine connection with Pepsi. But it didn't conform to the typical lemon-lime--or even the less typical berry flavored--'clear' drinks comparable to it. In fact, though there was a citrus trace to the taste, it pretty much tasted just like Pepsi. Only not brown.

Sales skyrocketed due to novelty in the beginning, but six months later, sales had bottomed out completely. They yanked it, reflavored it as a citrus quencher, but two months, three months later that was over, too.

The power of the brand name is another thing that's viewed as an immutable principle. It isn't true. Rebranding within a product line won't strengthen the original, it will diminish everything made by the company. Think of Dare Designs, for instance: they're known for leather, latex, rubber, goth skins, occasional goth furnishings...Basically, if 'goth fetish' is a category, that's their niche.

What would happen if they suddenly came out with a line of tanned surfer-girl skins and a line of blonde hair to go with them? Every single one of their customers would be confused as hell. Worse, they'd stop going there.

Now, can a company switch product lines? Sure. I'm certainly not the one saying it should never be done. But switching product lines, and insisting that it's the same product...it doesn't work. It never will work.

I'm thinking I'm going to stop here, and do the rest of the rules in another entry. Because this is getting on the long side.