Sunday, November 29, 2009

you cross a lawyer with the Godfather, baby, he'll make you an offer that you can't understand

The English version of DMCA, a badly-conceived idea to start with (Britain, NEVER IMITATE the United States, trust us, it will SCREW YOU UP), staggers on to attack publishers and media agents.

Will the stupidity of this bill never cease? If y'all actually publish this, I will point and laugh.

And then, likely, I will cry, because it's a BAD, bad law.

Miss Sphynx Soleil has been tossing me job apps and possible employment opportunities, and I've been slowly weeding through them, but along the way she mentioned I should check out Maxwell Graf's profile--in specific, the section in his Picks regarding "Lindenial".

As he defines it:

"Lindenial [lin-di-nahy-uhl] -verb. Refusing to acknowledge or address the scope and scale of direct threats to your customer base while obtusely planning new methods of profiting from them."

Oh, that's just perfect. And so very, very true.

I was pondering this very thing when, in a discussion with my loves, the concept of Runes of Magic's latest charity offer came up. While, granted, it's to support a childrens' charity, and the horse made of flame and tentacle swords would give any reasonable child nightmares, it's still a very, very cool thing. Affordable enough for virtually everyone (299 diamonds, or about $12 US), it gives those who buy one a cool mount to ride around on, that won't go away, and the knowledge that for each mount sold, three Euros will go to the international Save the Children foundation.

runes of magic

That's actually a little under a third of the price of each mount; and we decided we wanted one each, so one of us went out to one of the local stores carrying the gift cards and plunked down $25 for one. So all of us could have one (considering, admittedly, it was a double diamonds sale, so that $25 would cover mounts for four people).

How easy was this? "We want this mount. It's a good idea. It supports charity. We're tossing money at this game."

runes of magic

It's actually amazing-looking in game. Even clicking the larger images won't tell anyone how amazing. Each mount looks formed from solid, moving, translucent fire, with a waving black-feather headdress and armor. Burning red eyes and hooves carved from red-gold flame complete the look, and those curved claw-sabre things off the front of the barding? Those things move. It doesn't work like this in game, but I swear, anyone walking by should receive cutting damage from the flexing blades.

I contrast this with Second Life. While, yes, recently they got into the charity game, too, with resident-designed holiday wreathes that go to support Kiva, and also while, yes, they are not an MMO...the similarities stand out and strike me.

When was the last time the Lindens had a Linden sale? Buy 250 Lindens, get 500? When was the last time the land store had a sale--get an island this weekend, we'll knock $150 off the buying price? I remember one sale, distantly, back in '06...has there been one since?

Instead, they're seemingly focused on ways to get more money out of people, apparently ignoring the fact that the economy's bad all over, while making it harder, not easier, for folks to list things to make money on the grid--the proceeds of which could very well be used to procure premium accounts.

Offering deals will get people to invest.

runes of magic

Sure, they have the premium account options--X price for one month, X price discounted for one quarter, X price discounted even more for one year--but have they ever said, buy twelve months, we'll throw in the thirteenth free? Or buy an island, get a house?

How hard is it to, bluntly, not be dicks about things?

I normally don't involve myself in fandom wank, but this was just too good to pass up. Ghostbusters is a landmark of cinema; love it or hate it, it made its mark in many diverse ways, and became a part of popular culture. And not just popular geek culture; it became a part of popular culture at large.

Which is why this dismissive woman's condescending review of the film needs to be read, at least once, to understand how some people just won't get it. Ever. Because her total end impression of the film? If you take away the special effects, and the fun lines, well, it's just a bare outline of a film, insubstantial as dust.

And yes...with the script gone...the characters gone...the special effects...the SETS...the plot is pretty thin; anemic, even. It takes the sets, the characters, the actors, the script, the special effects, and the keen sense of irony, humor and impeccable comic timing that the talents tied to the film, bring to the film...to make it something that still works to this day.

Pff. Some people.

And, because I recently had reason to finally watch the new Star Trek film....this. Oh my dark gods, THIS. Because Saldana may be very good at whatever it is she does, but she is NOT Uhura and she NEVER will be and Nyota the strong and defiant needs to come back through time and grab her alternate-universe counterpart and tell her, slowly, that when she was in an alternate universe, she got to taunt people with daggers, not wimp around stripping in front of her Orion roommate. (*facepalms* Orion. Roommate. Just....no.)

And this film looks...derivative and somewhat inane. I may have to see it anyway--it stars Thomas Jane--but seriously, now, haven't we seen this already, with the Cube films? This concept has been done before. More than once.

Friday, November 27, 2009

the prettiest broken girl you've ever seen

Everything has a dark side, including the web. This is nothing new; "to modify Freenet," they say, "is to destroy Freenet." At what price freedom, after all?

Security insiders want to answer that question, by developing technologies that can monitor large networks instantly, and build up so-called "automatic dossiers" of information used to track 'potential threats' down. But who is a potential threat? Everyone, it seems.

I've been working on box art for shapes for someone else, and I forgot I still needed to do the one male shape. Without thinking, I shifted shape, and I was oddly struck by something:

photography,second life

He's not bad in full Geisha makeup.

photography,second life

And he doesn't do badly with the hair and outfit, either. Huh.

Finally, the tenta-coos are released in Black Sands! What are they? Adorably twee Lovecraftian horrors to cuddle. I'm not kidding, one has wee little tentacles and a pacifier! They float behind you, endlessly curious, or you can cuddle them if you really want.

Cutest. Eldritch. Terrors. EVER.

Club "Forbitten" is hiring--they're apparently seeking hosts, bartenders, "Blood dancers" and "Exotic dancers"--I wonder what the difference is. They left an ad on the forums:

About The Club:

Forbitten is a brand new, innovative, different club opening in the heart of The Domain, VITAE RP area. It's inner workings are much like a real life club, because of this our staff has special requirements. Some requirements are negotiable, others are not.


Hmm. If roleplay is my job, am I still banned from roleplay?

1. You MUST be a roleplayer. (Vampire/Werewolf/human/hybrid preferred)

I can do that. Probably can't be a full 'shifter, but I could pull a vamp, I have the skins for it. I don't want to touch them if they have Bloodlines in their sim, but...

2. If you agree to working a shift, you will show up for it. If you CANNOT make it you will let staff know.

Standard. They want people to let them know at least twelve hours in advance, preferably twenty-four, so fine, that works.

3. Absolutely NO out of character (ooc) drama is tolerated. Please leave it at the door.
-=- THIS APPLIES TO PATRONS AND STAFF ALIKE. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS.

I understand the breakdown between in character and out of character, thanks. But just OOC drama alone, or OOC anything?

4. Your account must be over 4 weeks old.

Yeah, I got this. I think a 2006 decant date qualifies.

5. You MUST be able to read, write, and understand English.

I got this, too.

6. HAVE FUN!!!

-=- We want the staff of Forbitten to be happy people, at least about working here. If you have any concerns, issues, or otherwise at anytime, please write a note card and send it immediately to Elskede Paine (Owner) AND the manager. No concern or issue is unimportant.


Which is neat to hear, but wau. No concern is unimportant? And I still don't know the difference between "Blood dancers" and "Exotic dancers". Guess I should go find out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

you can arm yourself, alarm yourself but there's nowhere you can run

Nomnivore!

Pardon.

Apparently there's a gnome thing in Left 4 Dead, the first version. Not wanting to be outdone, I guess, there's a gnome in the spin-off, as well. Being as this is the internet, someone captured the whole jarring adventure for posterity.

Out of the mouths of MMORPG: "...if you're anxiously watching for the next big thing to come around and grab your attention, what you might actually be doing is anxiously looking for an escape from the game that you're currently playing."

It's a list of five ways to know when you're just not into your MMO anymore, but I think it applies equally well to virtual worlds. Second Life in particular, all things considered, and that passage above reflects what many of us feel right now: if all we're doing is sitting around hoping for the perfect combination of Blue Mars and Sims Online to stroll by, so we can get OUT of Second Life...kids, we are just marking time.

And Eloh Elliot cements the issue for "reasonable proposals" from the Lindens.

(This entry's good, too: "It's biblical: Colossus Linden keeps saying 'flood' as if he's building an ark." Hee! And she has a translation from the Linden on the Roadmap article.)

So the saga of parcel-switching continues: no nibbles yet on the parcel for sale in Penzance, but now two offers on potential land to move too.

Oh, for great wealth--I'm more than slightly tempted to invest in both.

In other news, Mininova is restricting its content distribution to existing torrents only, by order of a Dutch court. While they are considering an appeal, they are surprised that the court did not find in their favor, due to a few factors:

The court did not agree with Brein on all demands. Specifically, it ruled that Mininova does not infringe copyright and neighboring rights. The court also found Mininova can not be expected to remove files that are “reasonably likely” [to] refer to infringing material.

Remarkably, the verdict does not give any consideration to the fact that Mininova has developed a content filter for Brein, nor to the cooperation between Mininova and other organizations of rights holders. This surprises Mininova, because it has always stressed the importance of cooperation.

The main reason people go to Mininova over more known torrent providers like Pirate Bay is simple: Mininova checks their files for viruses and riders, and in general, content found there can be trusted to be clean, and safe within reason. This case was important because, while they did engage in content creation in terms of offering company-generated Torrent files, they were very conscious of the large number of lines already drawn, in their homelands and abroad, in terms of operation. Everything they created, they argued, was not infringing, and while (as a file hosting service) they received content that could be considered infringing, they did develop a working filter system that weeded out the worst offenders.

As stated, they haven't decided yet whether they're going forward with an appeal, but they were shocked by the verdict--especially when the courts ruled that their actions, according to Dutch law, were not copyright-infringing.

In yet other news, the job search continues to be dismal. I got involved with something odd last night called Earn2Life. Located in Vargas, they offer a HUD that basically consists of five separate steps.

Step One:
Get HUD from machine.

This was easy--find machine; click machine; get HUD.

Step Two:
Attach HUD to...well, HUD.

This was where things started to get complex, and honestly, it's a step many newcomers would be utterly baffled by. The signs past this point kept saying, Push the Select Offer button, and I'm looking at the equivalent of a sine wave in invisi-prims.

Then I realized it was tilted at an angle, upside down, and facing the wrong way. A quick bit of editing--and a bit of detaching, and reattaching to the center position, as it detached my AO--and I was ready to start.

Step Three:
Push the Select Offer button, wait for acknowledgement, and start earning Lindens.

This was where it got complex as well. From what people have been saying in the group chat, sometimes the HUD gets stuck on one address. Sometimes it won't port people at all. Always, it turns off after each offer completion, and I'm nearly 100% sure it's designed to do that.

I kept at it, though. Going from business center to home rental place, making sure to "wander" (their idea of "wandering" is just not to stop moving, and sometimes when the offer's only in someone's small shop/office, it's hard to fully "explore" without walking off the parcel--in which case the HUD beeps at you in a loud and distressing fashion) until my minute or two minutes or four minutes were up--then acknowledging the receipt of funds.

I couldn't draw out funds without signing up for an account online; okay, I bought the bullet and did that, assigning a password that was very far from my SL password just in case. I couldn't draw out funds earned until I hit L$10; to be safe, I waited until I hit L$20. Then I turned the HUD on and pressed "Withdraw".

I was told to go to the site; I went to the site; I was told I had successfully drawn out L$20; and I would receive it on the 29th of November, four days hence.

I'll keep the HUD around, but effectively, that terminated my involvement with them. I'll likely ditch the group on the 30th.

The other option I'm considering is Blue Moon Bordello. Now, I know, 'Bordello' in the title is rather a tip-off, and the fact that the parcel is on Adult land is not exactly subtle. But they say they're hiring dancers as well as escorts, which makes me think the escorting is optional.

I may be wrong, there.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS:
1. You must be an adult, preferably over 21 at least.


Right. Fine there...

2. Your avatar must be of good enough quality to blend in with our Club

I think I can do that, yes...

3. You must be able to communicate effectively in written English and type reasonably well. Translators are not adequate.

LOL I kin speke an typ rel gud!

*coughs* Sorry. Moving on...

4. The Blue Moon only hires adult human females. That means that we do not hire people who appear as anything else.

...

How....species-ist. And this is also why I didn't talk to them last night, as I was wandering the grid in golden neko form. But, okay, fine, it's a common prohibition, and it's not like I don't have human skins. I'm fine there.

5. You must agree not to work for other clubs or work as a freelancer while employed [at] The Blue Moon.

I guess that's fair--but further perusal of their rules makes this both better and worse. Their Conditions and Rules notecard says that dancers, strippers and escorts must have the Blue Moon mentioned in their Profile and their Profile Picks....and man, I'm out of room as it is. I can't be adding every single business I wander through! I don't have the space!

6. The Blue Moon is designed as a vintage Bordello. We encourage that all girls dress and act accordingly - think 1950s and before - then add a dash of steampunk and a hint of 21st Century glam.


........

The...hell?

So what they want is...

This: media

plus this: steampunk,media

plus apparently...this? media

Huh?

(The above images, btw, left to right: Copyright Al Buell, all rights reserved; found on the Boy of Bow blog, no idea where xie found it, though the picture itself credits "misspixie93"; and all rights reserved to Jean-Claude Forest, originator of the "Barbarella" character, and to Paramount Pictures, current holders of the copyright for the 1968 film version.)

I don't quite get it; maybe it's an SL thing.

I'll think it over and keep looking, but the job market at present is rather dismal. I just want something to do to earn Lindens that doesn't take up a Picks slot. Is this so hard?

Monday, November 23, 2009

there's no answer, just surrender, send all your barriers into the fire

Just to start things off--I am selling or trading my section of Caledon Penzance; I have a notecard I am more than willing to give out in world, and you can leave me comments on the Steamlander boards or send notecards on the grid. At this point, sale is likely the better option, as we might have lined up a better shop location--if I can raise the funds.

Here's hoping.

Instead of treating the web as a platform of possibilities, it recasts it as a tool for mass theft.

A collection of astronomical clocks from Dark Roasted Blend.

Zombie MMO? HELL, ye--wait.

Console MMO?

Bastards.

Peter Strindberg costs out the new XStreet changes.

I've heard a lot of folks proposing even higher changes; I've heard folks wondering what the big deal is in the first place. "Well, it's all advertising, isn't it?" "It's not like that's even the price of a latte, come on." "I spend more than than in world in half an hour. Get real."

Let me tell you about the bottom of the barrel, then. For everyone who doesn't get why I--and so many others--are pulling from XStreet now and trying to find alternatives.

I no longer work in SL. Right now I could work--if I went back to escorting and dedicated a certain number of work hours per day to voice clients. Right now I could work if I wanted to join a modeling group and get the rights to "camp" in a certain spot for tips plus L$1 to L$2 every fifteen minutes I "worked". Right now I could work in SL if I wanted to go back to stripping, which means going back to being human most of the time, with larger tits and smaller (visible) intelligence, and likely emoting licking the pole I'm dancing around and writhing with what was starting to feel like entirely manufactured lust the last time around.

I haven't yet found that offer that doesn't involve sleeping with people, and while I have no ethical objection to going horizontal for money, it's a little depressing at this point.

So, right now, I am borrowing from friends and loves to make rent at all.

Rent, currently, is $1425 per week, $5700 per month, $74,100 per year. In case that doesn't make an impression, that works out to roughly $285.00 US I pay every year for the privilege of living in Caledon. I could live elsewhere; so far I'm gritting my teeth and trying to make the business pay for more of my expenses. But SL is not a cheap game for me.

At present, I have a L$50 listing fee I pay just to be listed as a business every week in the main SL classifieds. So a search for my business name will pop up at all. That's L$200 per month, L$2600 per year, or $10.00 US per year to list my business.

Total so far: $295.00 US, each and every year I operate.

Total salary in SL currently: L$0.00.

Does it start to make sense? Note, now, I am not laying all this out so the 'woe, pity me' chorus can start up in the background. I'm fine if you want to support me; personally, I don't care if you do or don't. If I'm working for someone, I tend toward scattered but resiliant loyalty; if I'm working for me, then I'm putting out there what I want to see in world, and if it's used by the one person I want it for (me), I'm good. Anything else is lovely and helps to pay rent, but is not required, in that sense of "this is my RL job and my future hangs in the balance".

In all seriousness, I am going to start looking for ways to maybe pick up income on the side, blog-wise--not in terms of ads placed here for in-world stores--though, honestly, if someone has a good offer, IM me, we can work something out--but in terms of a little sidebar something from Amazon and the like. I have decided that I am profoundly against selling my Twitter stream, so if I advertise products there, it's because I like them, not because I'm getting paid to pimp them.

[Late insert from the Editrix: FINALLY I get the Amazon widget working. HONESTLY. Rotating list of seventy-odd (depending on revisions) books comprising my constant book companions, these days, plus some amusing flash drives and odd movies. If you feel like perusing, feel free. If you don't, I'm very cool with that. But it's there for the option.]

How'ver, as far as SL currency goes, I have to find a way to increase income there, so likely will break down and sell surveys to people, or dance in some club or other, or join some in-world modeling group for ten to fifteen hours of work per week standing in someone's shop corner--just to possibly break even and stop borrowing so much from other people to pay in-world costs and fees. XStreet's proposed fees, on top of things? I literally, cannot, in any way, afford.

We pound our fists or flow around the rocks--depending on past experiences and temperament--and we enjoy our lives as best we can.

Hotspur O'Toole finds the timing of all this especially dubious. I do too, when linked in with MutantPink's "VIP survey" and the disbanding of the Mentor group--considering the bulk of what Mentors do is to help newcomers to the grid out with full-perm clothing, notecards, and landmarks of places to go to get more help.

And Rock leaves OpenSim. He makes genuine points.

In the end, all that's recoverable from this BBC story is the by-now trivial observation that Second Life has high barriers to entry; but then that's not exactly news.

Lastly, I am now registered on Cariama. We'll see how that goes; they still have yet to launch.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

and you'll fight it, you'll go out fighting all of them

Dragon Age Origins: Meet Oghren! (If you don't get why that's funny, then keep in mind--the voice actor who did Oghren? Also did Cowboy Bebop.)

A few, so very few, updates on the merchant thing.

I'm currently bashing my forehead against the warded spiked padlocked acid-dripping gate that is MVX. I take everything back I've said against Slapt.me, bring it on--anything to get me out of trying to list on MVX.

I hate MVX with every further step I take to list on this thrice-damned quasi-merchanting service.

Check this out:

* It was difficult to make an account;
* It was difficult to track down the server box;
* Once the server box was tracked down, rezzing it out meant actually rezzing out the server, not a box that unpacked the server with instructions;
* I had to click Edit on the server box to find the instructions;
* After dragging in what I thought they wanted, I found out they didn't want what I thought they wanted (and I had to export out all of my box art to my hard drive later when listing items);
* and all of that was before I started the insanity of listing items.

On top of all that the page looks like it's shiny vintage 1996 for webcoding, and that is...just...insanely scary. It's the 21st century, people. You can do better than that.

But the Bloody Carni dress, the Bloodscratch EGL dress and the Rapture's End gown are all up.

So...now I have five items in the skybox just dedicated to vending: Apez (which is starting to look like the least terrible of many terrible options), Slapt.me, MVX (which, unless they DRASTICALLY IMPROVE are only EVER seeing three items listed from me), meta-LIFE (which may well be the second runner-up), and the hippo-Vend server box, which I need to revamp, restock, and get up and running again.

And if Cariama is serious about telling me when they launch, I'll have a sixth scripted prim from them. You have to be kidding!

What was the point of this? Oh, right, because Linden Labs got stupid and greedy. Gosh, I nearly forgot. Turns out we know now where the mutant glowing bunny comes from--Pink left eBay for the Labs. Oh, GOODY.

Second Life Update briefly analyzes the problem; which I don't entirely get on reviewing it, because who ever searched for free items on XStreet and not using "free" or "freebie" as search terms?

In the meantime, entries keep popping up on forums and blogs:

I’m saddened to have to add my name to the list of merchants leaving XStreet SL, but I have no choice.

and

Smaller merchants are now leaving XStreetSL, as well as any merchants who cannot afford the listing fees for their products. I myself would be paying well over L$1000 for it, which just isn't viable for me.

and

SLUniverse takes on the price hikes.

and

This is going to kill a huge part of Second Life's economy. Only those who are earning thousands from their sale will be able to pay these fees, and even they won't be happy about this.

and...and...AND...It's getting insane. I think this is starting to rival the negative feedback generated on the OpenSpace debacle.

And are they listening? Oh hell no. The Labs don't care.

follow your dreams in through every out-door, it seems that's what we're here for

In the advent of Twilight: New Moon hitting record weekend sales after release...How Twilight should have ended.

[16:22] Catrina Meili: Someone purchased an item from a seller, and that item doesn't work... they contacted the seller back and were told that their computer is too laggy to use the item, to go buy another computer
[16:23] Catrina Meili: and no refund or fix for the problem was given so now they've paid money for an item that doesnt work
[16:23] Larrissa Ninetails: wow what a charmer
[16:23] Catrina Meili: when the buyer continued to complain they were told they are going to be reported for harrassment
[16:23] Emilly Orr shakes her head. No doubt.
[16:23] Catrina Meili: Any idea on a course of action here?

This seems to be happening more often. Is it just the sudden anticipation of changes on XStreet, or are people just generally getting angrier in Second Life?

All right, so three products are now on Apez; two gowns in the Gothic Splendor collection, and one gown in the Neo-Victorian collection. (Though to be truthful, the Gothic Splendor collection will likely contain more items as I go.)

Slapt.me remains difficult to work with, and impossible to figure out where one is categorizing products; to date it is my absolute least favorite. If it weren't that I were staying off XStreet for agonizingly good reason, I would resume service there in a heartbeat to get away from having to use Slapt.

That being said, the Rapture's End dress is listed there, as well, along with the remade Bloodscratch dress and the Bloody Carni dress.

And I have a meta-LIFE box, which is still, for some reason, insisting on uploads of the in-world inventory UUIDs for the product texture; a practice which will slow down their speed considerably, but not only that, I can find no information about how to set up a "warehouse" so I can upload textures and images to that location. What in the hell? Talk about making it difficult for merchants.

All that being said, you can also find all three dresses there, currently, whether your desire is carnival stripes, psychopathic Lolita, or neo-Victorian plaid.

And we'll see how it goes.

As far as other merchanting news, Miss Ghanie Lane is holding a little poll:

In light of the recent Xstreet developments, this sale will be hosted at all sites I was able to register for and will also be extended an extra day (sorry, I could not get a box for one of the locations so they have to be left out of this poll). I am including my shop in case you would prefer to buy in world.

I will start hosting my discount sales at the location that receives the most purchases.

If you would like to vote for a site but do not wish to buy this set, drop a notecard in the white email box at the entrance (next to the pink balloon photo) ... please note that votes will only be counted from past buyers (in the hopes of avoiding alt-voting). I will post a tally of the results after the sale ends. Thanks in advance for your help on this matter.


She's hosting the poll based on sales at Apez, her in-world store in Lithe, meta-LIFE, MVX (which I'm still struggling to figure out), Slapt.me and, of course, XStreetSL.

The sale ends Tuesday, November 24th, at five pm SLT; after that the item reverts to full price and she begins totalling votes.

I bought the set on Apez. It seems to be the least annoying, if not precisely the best, or easiest, choice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

choking on saltwater, but I'm not giving in

The Oilpunk Trilobyte. Keen! Where are the plans?

Antonius Misfit analyzes XStreet's anti-competitive measures.

And Miss Ordinal Malaprop takes on the price hikes with some excellent points (as expected):

The distribution of the message that Xstreet is for a certain sort of person to make money. It is not a general method of distribution for educators or philanthropists. I also say "a certain sort of person" because the economic engineering here encourages certain business models over others. There is no economy of scale and no attempt to allow for one; you should be making small numbers of high-priced items that all sell well, not even small numbers of high-priced specialist items (see above).

and

A corollary to that is the message that Linden Lab is not interested in you making things better for other residents by means of its services. In fact, Linden Lab would rather that you didn't, and will charge you more if you intend to.

And she's absolutely right. The Labs, at this point, have no interest in being everyone's virtual world--unless the end consumer has money, and lots of it, and a desire to give lots of it to the Labs--they couldn't care less.

Again, individual Lindens? Nifty people. At large? Mass mob of intoxicated bookies screaming for blood.

So, based on yesterday's revelation--I could price my one demi-free item back at L$4, and remove the in-world free option, or I could reduce it to L$1 or L$0 again, and then get hit with that L$102 (L$99 plus the L$3 commission) fee. It wasn't worth it to me, so I'm now entirely off XStreet, with, sadly, no other clear alternative on where to go.

Bah.

In vendor news...I hate Apez. I really do. They are not at all intuitive, they are hard to use, they are hard to figure out how to get started, even, and the mere concept of getting a vendor box to start seems beyond their ability to make simple. It was agonizing work trying to figure out which little highlighted word went to the right damned place.

That having been said, I'm running the same test I'm running elsewhere, only this one has an option for in-world, as well. So you'll find the Bloody Carni gown and the new revision of the Bloodscratch gown on the grid in Black Sands, as well as on the web in the Apez store...somewhere, because unlike XStreet, they do not maintain separate shop sections.

I'll be adding more when I can, I think, though, anyway--because as frustrating as they are, they are established, and it gives me time to test out other firms, and see how they work.

Over on MMORPG, they're discussing what makes a healthy community. They're talking about MMOs, and their sometimes drama-ridden forums attached therewith, but I wondered if the same rules applied to SL.

What makes a healthy community?

I view community health as a combination of how active conversations are, ease of entry for the newcomer and general online safety. For my purposes as a community manager, customer satisfaction with the game isn't a component of the community health. If customers are dissatisfied, I want to make sure that there is a readily available channel somewhere in the community where they can discuss their issues.


The Labs tell us this "readily available channel" is the blogs, and the blog forums. I say, that's deceptive at best, and maliciously duplicitous at worst. One wonders what it takes, honestly, to get through Linden egospeak; as many have said, individually, Lindens are all right; but as a collective, they're an ungodly mess, and willfully deaf to boot.

Dealing with emergencies

When I fire up my browser to look at the forums, I know that anything could happen. A major exploit could be emerging. Servers may have gone down two minutes ago, and there's always an eight page thread on login troubles which will grow past 50 pages within the hour. These are the ones that need to be jumped on immediately.

In the face of a major service issue, people aren't posting contemplative thoughts, sharing strategies and insights. They're posting their real-time emotional responses to the issue at hand. It's a mob, calling for a fix to the problem, threatening to quit the game, and calling for developers to be fired. In their heightened agitation, players start flame wars amongst themselves, the word idiot will get thrown around and people will generally make themselves miserable while they wait for a response from you.

The Lindens have seen this. Over and over they've seen this. They've had residents calling for resignations, calling for firings, calling for the heads of various Lindenforms to be delivered to them forthwith while they burn effigies of Philip in heated pixel flames.What community managers need to do, Mr. Wachter points out, is be aware of these pressure points, and realize, community members are customers, and while their problems are generally problems with developers, programmers, coders and the like, getting an honest answer--or at least something that feels like an honest answer--is important when the customer thinks there's a crisis.

If you don't recognize the bad decisions before they go public, then you're back on the damage control treadmill.

Where are the Lindens right now? On the damage control treadmill, maybe--though I'm fairly sure they're not even close to the damage control treadmill, they're still standing around in shock because the whole damage control gym blew up.

Ciaran Laval speaks on Linden reaction to the BBC article; and I'm terribly amused by one point:

Now first of all, I do find it rather humourous that the lab are complaining that M was approached to do an interview about "a look at Second Life today - what's it up to, where's it going, why so quiet in the media after such great press a few years ago, etc." I find this humourous because not long back I attended an office hour that was about "Freebies, Demos, and Promo offerings on XStreet" that somehow got morphed into a policy to introduce listing fees for everyone selling an item of L$1 or more on XstreetSL, so providing input on one thing and then discovering that it ends up being about something else is an area where residents have experience, maybe Linden Lab will understand how that's not such a great thing to do to people now, hey?

Yeah. So not wrong.

we built our world of metal, watched it grow, fuelled the fury solid to the bone

Winter Ventura has deactivated all her items on XStreet, and has a very effective cost breakdown of exactly what the new Linden-mandated fees will mean, in terms of USD$ upfront, per month, per year, and what it adds to someone who's already paying for premium account membership and tier fees for land.

Ciaran Laval cuts through the "myths" that the Lindens aren't listening by providing DIRECT PROOF that they don't listen. Which is all well and good, and it's a good read, but--they're likely still not listening.

As far as my own items go, all but one item--the one that has been, to date, selling and selling well--have been deactivated. I will be going through all my stock, repackaging, and getting things up on other services. In the meantime, to compensate for the new fees, that L$1 item is now L$4 until I figure out if any of the other services will work for me.

I hate this. But my prediction is that item, because it is now no longer a Linden-only item, will cease to sell. Still, if it keeps selling, I can make it a rotating 'what's new' placeholder, and drop in a couple of whatever textures are currently in the store, I want to sample out.

Maybe.

It's also Munchflower Zaius' rez day today. Partially to celebrate, and partially to show her dissatisfaction with the XStreet proposed fees, much of her 2,239 items of content on XStreet are L$100 or less until...she says it stops, or deactivates her items. Truly not sure which she wants to do at this point, honestly.

In other news, the issues surrounding Revenge Gears spiral on. For my part of it, I'm fascinated by the music more than anything else--well, that and the fact that she's starting to look so strung out, ill, the dark patch of melanotic skin on her chest bothers me...but in spite of all that...

Claims against Revenge from March 2008
Claims from Aprille
More claims from Aprille
More claims against her from May
Revenge Gears has been banned, June 2008

Which is all well and good, but...she's still in SL. Huh? More to the point, most of the 'proof' the SLThievesHunter blog--and Shopping Cart Disco--provide seem to provide indubitable proof that she was recreating designs, but--by their own posted photos--not copybotting them. Copybotted textures look exactly like their real counterparts because they are the real counterparts; Revenge Gears' items, while clearly and unmistakeably made to imitate, are not direct lifts.

Shopping Cart Disco's take on it from Aprille 2008

I have no idea what it all means. It's more than halfway tempting me to leave the SHE WANTS REVENGE group, though. Another source of drama I do not need.

In other news, I hate it when Prokovy Neva makes sense. But--as I live in Caledon--I know Mr. Metropolitan's side of the story, and Desmond Shang's reaction to it (which was to sever all connections to the NCI group, making Oxbridge pretty much an independent operation unsupported by the Lindens). And it matches at least some of what Prokovy is ranting about.

I'm still trying to figure out where Tateru Nino comes in, but as far as the rest of it--yeah. That's why Caledon doesn't have their own entry point anymore. Though speaking of Tateru Nino, Massively analyzes the XStreet situation.

And while we're here, Philip Linden rips off CodeBastard Redgrave? Well, there are differences, definitely. But I see what they're trying to say.

And apropos of nothing in particular, how to optimize profile pictures by size in Second Life. Because I've gotten a few questions on it recently, so there you go.

I'm running behind on analyzing other choices for XStreet replacement; why? Because I found I had to entirely rebuild--and reupload new textures for rebuilding--the Bloodscratch dress.

Sad, but I have learned a lot since I made it, and I have a different take on things, and even with two different lace panels and ten separate skirt sections, I still came in under forty prims on the skirt build! Considering the other one one comprised one lace panel, one cloth panel, per file..

And we end with the signature tag I can't bring myself to use, or delete, for Gmail, so I'll share it here (because it's too long for Twitter):

"If anybody has any tips for coping with having your demigod take possession of a scrawny naked guy, transform into some other guy, lose a small holy war, and then get stripped of his powers, I'd love to hear 'em. I'm having a crisis of faith over here."
~Barrett (Gaia Online)


You'd have to have played in the last Gaia Halloween event to truly get why that's so funny; but maybe it's funnier without the context.

I've lost love, lived with shame, I was humbled by my fall from grace

"No person should have that many zippers...I don't care what fantasy it is." Very funny, and kudos to the Lyonesse, Kamilah Hauptmann, for finding it.

Also, Revenge Gears has a new video out. It's akin to listening to a soloist in Bedlam. I'm not recommending it, for anyone who doesn't want to experience the further descent, but I'm linking it because she makes an unsettling point.

The doctor, wants a piece of me, me and
The doctor wants a piece of you, too...


*shudders*

Now we have someone keeping a running tally of Evony ads as they, also, slide downhill. Interestingly, the one I liked a couple days ago isn't there. I may have to dig it up and toss it into the comments.

Courtesy of Mal Burns, a tour briefing for SLENZ, SL's virtual midwifery training group, turns into a "What Not to Do with Tour Groups" experience. Okay, so it didn't go as well as planned, but the virtue of such things must be the tips to avoid such things in future. Which this article details excellently.

And Jeansuis Short is selling stolen items on XStreet. This is not unusual save for a few factors:

1. He's instantly muting anyone who contacts him regarding the stolen textures.
2. Having been a resident since late October, 2007, he's old enough to know better; even though his profile still reads like a who's who of free sex palaces and Zyngo parlors, he's been on the grid over two years, which is more than enough time to get the idea that ripping textures is wrong;
and
3. He's selling the ripped textures no-transfer, rendering them useless for builds.

Part of the conversation held with Happyholly Grigges, owner of Fairy Unique Designs, one of the makers Jeansuis Short is ripping off by this:

[20:03] Happyholly Grigges: Emilly, can I ask a question. Was the textures full perm when you got them?
[20:03] Emilly Orr: No. Copy/mod/notrans. Seems everything he's selling is no transfer.
[20:05] Happyholly Grigges: Oay, thanks for letting me know. :) Apparently that is what they told the other texture artist is how they feel they can sell them and get away with it. *shakes head*

So...he thinks he's in the right...because he's changing the permissions to make them unusable by designers...so it's okay to resell things that aren't yours?

Man. People are unrelentingly stupid. More than that, I'm starting to consider stopping my habit of boxing up one-offs my inventory is too crowded for, and selling them--I might as well just delete them, or give them away, anything else and I might be tagged as a copybotter. That's the last thing I need!

We start today with Meta-Life, a very basic system with lots of clean, crisp, we've-taken-a-great-many-graphic-arts-classes logos. It sets up incredibly fast if you're in world; just go to the SLUrl, touch one sign near the entrance to register, then touch a box near the middle of the platform to get the vendor box itself.

During this entire process, I found out that--for at least some of my vendor shots--it is true what some have said about the Labs--for whatever reason, the Labs tends towards forgetfulness for any image older than one year. What perplexes me about this is that I had to take new product shots for my Bloodscratch dress--seen below--but that the pictures I have stored from 2006, as pictures, seem fine. So whatever it is that happens, it's alarmingly selective.

So...okay. I have been insanely busy all day; so...I'll do follow-ups on Metaverse, MetaLife and Apez tomorrow, hopefully. Because I have to recreate box art in order to list anything, and....why do I have to do this? Why do I have to pay twice for the same box art?

Well, because I was stupid and threw away the original box art on my comp, but...no! That's still stupid--why does the asset server discard content randomly at all?!?

Cariama lost me as a customer nearly immediately, and yes, I know it's me playing the elitist card of literacy, here, but--come on, now:

second life,shopping

No. Just no. Not until they correct that glaring mistake.

It's "EASILY". SPELL IT RIGHT.

And so far, that's all we've found.

Creatures of the Night were for so long, so recently, deliciously terrifying...Somehow, you wandered out, alone, into tonight's chill woods. You know the dim light you hold will soon fade, your thin slippers tear, but still you walk on, the layers of fallen branch a snapping scaffolding for your nightmare, the thin cloth across your shoulder a mantle for your shivering, rain-drenched dream. The light flickers and falters, a candle-sputter away from enveloping blackness...and just as the light finally fades, it dances, green and cold, in her eyes. As her night wraps you up, you know you are lost, forever.

Lady Darkling returns. She may not be back in the world, but she has found her poetry again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

up from the ashes grow the roses of success

Alas, Beaker, we hardly knew ye.

[17:13] Hring Swansong: "Little Suzy from Boston Mass
[17:13] Hring Swansong: "Stood in the ocean up to her knees."
[17:13] Hring Swansong: It don't rhyme, now, but it will when the tide rises.

There are times I positively adore the Poetry Slams in Winterfell at der Hut.

How to float awkward questions at that job interview.

In the list of steampunk films, and steampunk-influenced movies--why does no one bring up Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

steampunk,media
(The first sight of the restored car.)

Filmed in 1968, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was based on a children's book written in 1964 by none other than Ian Fleming, the writer behind nearly every Bond film ever made. It was actually based on two high-performance (for the time) racing cars nicknamed "Chitty Chitty Bang" by their designer, Count Louis Zborowski.

steampunk,media
(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes flight.)

Roald Dahl, of all people, was half of the screenwriting team for the screenplay as it transited from high-spirited children's book into the musical extravaganza it became. It starred Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, mad inventor, and Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of the candymaker who falls for Van Dyke's eccentric ways. (The daughter, not the candymaker. That would have made an entirely different film.)

steampunk,media
(Potts testing rocket propulsion.)

The film wasn't so greatly enjoyed by adults, but children ate it up like cream, worldwide. To the point that, for one of the first times in existing movie history (remember, this was 1968), movie tie-ins were generated--lunchboxes, Truly Scrumptious dolls, car models, dress patterns for Jemima's dress (all of which are still highly-sought-after collectibles to this day, as the film remains popular) and many other possible "Chitty Chitty" based things.

steampunk,media
(Truly confronting Potts in his laboratory garage.)

In fact, for a while this film--though again, not being as popular with adult audiences--spawned a brief Renaissance, so to speak, for Edwardian-era fashions remade for the time, simply because Truly Scrumptious was so breathtaking in her pastel parade of costumes.

steampunk,media
(Potts and Truly face down the owner of Scrumptious Sweets with a confectionary invention.)

The film was simple enough, if slightly bizarre--the eccentric creator (who has lost his wife through tragedy, one assumes) is raising two children (played in the movie by Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall) in a highly unconventional manner. They fall in love--as children are wont to do--with an old car, noted for winning the Gran Prix one year, but having now fallen into disrepair after an engine fire. Their father finds the funds to buy the car, and they take off to the seaside for an adventure.

media,steampunk
(Flying to Vulgaria to rescue Grandpa, kidnapped by Baron Bomburst.)

While there are many side plots and diversions--the invasion by dogs of the Scrumptious Sweets factory being one, the introductory back-story on where Chitty Chitty comes from, and Truly Scrumptious' slightly stalker-worthy song on how to get Potts as a husband (matched only by the childrens' song to Truly exclaiming ultimate frenzied devotion after knowing her for two days), the real 'meat' of the story unfolds in the form of a tale told to the children before their nap.

steampunk,media
(Marital bliss in Vulgaria--the Baron won't be happy until the Baroness dies.)

As the story goes--and everyone seems quite swept up in it, adults and sleepy children alike--a ship was sighted, coming for Caractacus Potts, the inventor that Vulgarian despot, Baron Bomburst, desired above all things, for he, too, wished for a flying car.

steampunk,media
(Grandpa Potts in the Vulgarian labs with the very very old scientific team.)


How'ver, they slightly got their wires crossed, and ended up kidnapping Grandpa (played by Lionel Jeffries, which was made even more amusing by the fact that he was six months younger than Dick Van Dyke at the time) and carting him in his 'laboratory' off via zeppelin to Vulgaria--leaving the hapless family, and Truly, to chase after them using Chitty Chitty's wing propulsion system.

steampunk,media
(Potts and Truly playing birthday party toys.)

As it turns out, the Baroness of Vulgaria is deathly afraid of children. She has ordered that all of them be declared illegal, and has even set aside funds for a Childcatcher permanently on staff, a beak-nosed, thinly vile man who is very, very good at his job (portrayed in the film by Robert Helpmann, whose carriage went out of control during filming, and nearly saw him slain before his time--thankfully, his long career of dance and acrobatics came to his aid, and he was able to leap free and land on his feet). He steals Jemima and Jeremy, and nothing for it but that Truly and Caractacus must get involved to save them, save Grandpa, and liberate all the children of Vulgaria!

steampunk,media
(The Childcatcher caught.)

And therein follows several fun songs, the Baroness in a corset dancing through several attempts at murder by her husband, a revelation on where the children of Vulgaria live, and a surprise appearance by Benny Hill (yes, that Benny Hill) as the Toymaker to the royal house. In the end the day is saved, the Vulgarians have normal families again (one assumes), and Chitty Chitty flies off home to England. Yay?

steampunk,media
(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang saves the day!)

So why is this relevant, you might be asking. Which is where my confusion comes in in the first place--why aren't you already convinced? The mad inventor, the trappings of Victorian times, the pulling-up-from-your-bootstraps mentality, the Rube Goldberg Breakfast device in the kitchen, the Vulgarian zeppelin--I mean, it's all there! Follow the Steampunk 101 list and really, it's almost textbook. All it lacks is something powered by steam alone, and something made from cavorite floating to the sky!

It's perfect. Hells, it even lines up to Edward Pearse's claim that there's a brighter steampunk world, to balance all the rust and shadow! Edward, this is your film! A brighter, happier steampunk vision was never recorded. Hells, even the hints of danger and child endangerment sound fun.

So why isn't this listed with so-called "traditional" steampunk fare? Go 'head, hit me with your answers, I'm curious.

(All pictures are screen captures from Netflix; all rights reserved to Netflix and to the production's copyright holders. For anyone who has a Netflix account, btw, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" can now be seen at any time, or sent to your home on disc. How cool is that?)

sometimes I cannot take this place, sometimes it's my life I can't taste

MMORPG's list of ten MMOs that made a difference. It's not a bad list of history-making MMOs, with both good and bad games on the list.

Miss Ina Centaur makes some very good points here.

All right, so I'm sure everyone's heard by now that Linden Labs are dissatisfied with the level of profits they're getting currently (in that they're not WoW), so they're jacking the prices of things on XStreet.

Especially freebies.

While doing nothing to stem the rising tide of blatant copyright infringement and business-in-a-box sales.

So...you're irked with the Labs and you have stuph for sale...what do you do?

There's a limited list of alternatives. One is Slapt.me. Built by three residents and hailing out of the Netherlands, it uses an unfortunate orange color scheme and a rather slow server, all things considered. Setup is a bit tricky, but doable, and no more brain-croggling on listing items than XStreet.

They're discounting largely their advertising fees:

slapt.me does not charge merchants for standard item listings on the Marketplace website.

slapt.me charges Marketplace merchants a commission for each sale. Standard commission rates are as follows:

All Items: 5% of the sale amount

* Commissions are rounded to the nearest Linden Dollar using straight rounding (e.g. 1.5 is rounded to 1).
* Commissions are charged at the time of each sale.

Listing Enhancements

Featured Item Listing

Homepage Featured Item Listing - L$2899 - (Special offer price) L$499 per 30 days
Homepage Featured Item Listing (7 days) - L$899 - (Special offer price) L$139 per 7 days
Highlighted Item Listing - L$299 - (Special offer price) L$69 per 30 days
Bordered Item Listing - L$299 - (Special offer price) L$69 per 30 days
Bold Item Listing - L$99 - (Special offer price) L$24 per 30 days


I'm trying it for a month to see, with one or two items. I'll tell you how it goes.

Down Sides: To date, there's no effective 'payout' for goods. They say they're working on it. I have doubt. But this is what their FAQ now says:

* How do I withdraw my L$ funds to real cash?

We are currently working towards introducing a method to withdraw your funds directly to RL. We will post more information when we have it and are able to share it with you. For now you can only withdraw L$'s back to your avatar via the inworld terminals. See below for more details.


So...find an inworld terminal--or host one in your store, if they say yes and send you one--and you're good for at least in-world things. This is not the worst concept. I will say that Slapt terminals are much more prevalent in world, now, and it's equally easy to withdraw funds from a Slapt terminal as it was from SLBoutique.

The other big down side: their formatting is crap. There's just no way around that. Their formatting of rigid box sizes and fields that can't be read if they go outside the boundaries of the box ensure that I'm pretty much making a blind stab at category for my outfits, and have no idea what my items are actually listed as. This is not good.

Metaversal Exchange is another virtual reseller to investigate. Many merchants are drifting over there for two reasons: first, it's a fairly easily understood format, easy to set up an account, easy to list items; and second, they claim their end goal is to serve all virtual good designers, in all worlds, so if Second Life ends up being inhospitable to non-business accounts, the assumption is that merchants can hop to another world and still list their items for sale.

Terminals are a little odd to get to, but they're growing; I have an account and I'll try to get set up as a merchant with a sales box tomorrow.

The SL Mentor Group is closing. I can't help but think that, barring the few genuinely helpful souls, this is a good thing; both because the Labs are becoming evil mercenary thugs, and also because the SL Mentors group was becoming full of tinpot dictators with delusions of grandeur...wait, why is Linden Labs closing the Mentor group again? Sounds like their mix of thuggish insanity would fit in fine with the M Linden Labs!

I'll keep you updated, either way.

if dirt were dollars we'd all be in the black

Decals for Second Life? It's a JIRA I voted for, admittedly, but it would ease some texturing worries. I just can't see a way to do it technically...

This Friday, the Transgender Day of Remembrance will be held in SL, at three times during November 20th, so that anyone who wishes to attend, hopefully can. It will be a candlelight vigil with guest speakers and all are welcome. This year alone, from January 1st to October 22nd, ninety-five people--that we know of--died by their own hands or in violent ways at the hands of others, simply for being transgendered and visible.

That's RL, people. Though in SL, the prejudice is widely felt.

For more information, interviews in advance of the day, or to sign up as a partner site, please contact Winnie Sweetwater in-world, or via email to winnie_h@yamail.com.

Now, a certain ralph Anderton, someone's not-very-well-disguised alt (Prokovy Neva mentioned he may be an economics student named Jason, in which case, it's an even stupider idea) proposed a L$500 filing fee--per item--to list items on XStreet.

We need to raise standards and create a fair and level playing field for all, without product spamming or traffic gaming the system [.]

I agree with that. I do. I think that's a great concept. It has some significant flaws, how'ver.

* How are we raising those standards? Whose standards are we imposing?

* How do we level the playing field? Do we offer building classes to everyone so we can be "assured" they are producing "quality" items? Who is judging what counts as a "quality" item? Do we certify builders and scripters in world, so they can add on a specially-designed checkmark logo to their wares?

* Do we offer everyone a set budget for advertising? Or high and low restrictions--to advertise at all, say, each resident must spend no less than L$50 per item, no more than L$3000 per item to have items listed? Do we control keywords? Do we control product names?

Most importantly, how in the hell does in-world traffic apply to XStreet sales?!?

The thread has a lot of replies already, most of them saying some variant of ralph, yer a loon, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Linden Labs--in their *cough* "infinite wisdom"--have already taken some of Mr. Anderton's ridiculous suggestions to heart.

Witness Exhibit A. And I quote:

The Roadmap:
We will enact the following new controls for the Xstreet SL Marketplace within 90 days, with at least two weeks' notice, in order to improve the shopping experience:

Monthly Listing Fee for Freebies of L$99:

  • Listings for free items will now be treated as a marketing/promotional tool and thus will have a price.
  • L$99 is the price of our least expensive listing enhancement and so we will start there.
  • Depending upon desire for this marketing opportunity and perceived value given such demand, we will adjust the price as necessary to maximize this value and keep the freebie listings from becoming bloated again.
  • Expected Delivery: 30 - 60 days
Minimum Commission of L$3 on all items priced L$1 or greater:
  • We will enact a minimum commission of L$3 on all sales of non-freebie listings.
  • Since Freebie listings are now considered marketing and are charged as such, they will not incur this fee.
  • A L$3 commission will raise the commission on all listings under L$50. This was a range suggested by residents, but it turns out that this is the price range where there is a very high transaction volume and low commission income which combine to cover the costs of those transactions.
  • We may adjust this minimum commission as we see its effects on the marketplace. L$3 does not cover the full cost of a transaction, but the goal here is first to manage freebie growth first.
  • Expected Delivery: 30 - 60 days
Monthly Listing Fee of L$10 for all items L$1 or greater:
  • All non-freebie listings will now be charged L$10 per month to remain listed in the Xstreet SL Marketplace
  • Currently, less than 20% of Xstreet SL listings make at least one sale per month. This displays just how much clutter of unsold items exists on Xstreet SL.
  • Doing this will provide an incentive for merchants to remove listings which are not selling, while keeping this fee low enough to have a minimal effect on listings which are selling and are desired by shoppers.
  • By reducing the overall number of listings on Xstreet SL, the shopping experience will drastically improve which will please our shoppers and be a boon to the business of all of our merchants.
  • Expected Delivery: 60 - 90 days
Oh, just WONderful.

So the cost of my--so far ONLY--selling item these days on XStreet--a dollarbie collection of two hand-drawn madras textures in light and dark, Caledon tartan varieties--will go up by L$109 per month, plus for every single Linden I make, XStreet will gouge me L$3 for that. Resulting in a net loss of L$109 every month, and a loss of L$2 every sale I make.

Now, why am I bothering to sell on XStreet again? I only have nine items listed--one is for L$50, one is for L$75, none are over L$300--which would hit me with a L$13 per month fee to carry each one, which is, I grant you, considerably LESS but still damaging.

Bits and pieces from some of the office hours held on the freebies/cheapies topic:

[9:18] Ciaran Laval: Can we just get Meta to throw out some sexy stats, I'm a big fan of stats
[9:18] Ann Otoole: LL is not congress and any attempts to make law will be fought in DC
[9:18] Colossus Linden: Yoshi, how many freebies do you have and how many do you feel you actually need for marketing?
[9:19] Pink Linden: Ann, points are noted. Please stay on topic.
[9:19] Colossus Linden: That is the biggest use I've heard of - using freebies as a marketing tool to drive shoppers to your other items
[9:19] Yoshi Zhangsun: i think ive got about 5 up at the moment and yeah they definitely bring faces onto my sim
[9:19] Ann Otoole: it is on topic pink. go get your lawyer in here
[9:19] Yoshi Zhangsun: to be honest ive always seen slx as marketing over a sales space, althoug i make sales most customers i find from slx have tp'd in from the advert
[9:19] Suella Ember: personally i have 5 dollarbies and one freebie - i think that is enough to highlighy my style and items. Then again - if every merchant has that many its an awful lot!
[9:19] Yoshi Zhangsun: perhaps because i sell a lot of furniture and thy want to see in the prims but i dont know
[9:20] Rachel Darling: nods at Suella and yoshi's comments and numbers, noting that hers are comparable
[9:20]TriloByte Zanzibar: yeah, i'd like to see some stats as well. Specifically, what's the cost (in lindens) per item to actually process a transaction and deliver an item in-world. Secondly, what are total freebie admin/overhead costs compared with XSL's commission revenue?
[9:20] Ann Otoole: let's be specific. boot sellers are mad about people selling all colors boots for L$10. well that is all they are worth.
[9:21] Ann Otoole: takes 30 minutes to make the script. boom done. there is no inherent value in them anymore
[9:21] Pink Linden: TriloByte, we don't release specifics on that...but I will say that a disproportionate amount of costs are being caused by items that do not provide offsetting revenue.

So they won't release statistics to prove any of this, but when pressed, Pink did admit the goal--they haven't been able to charge, under the old structure, any percentage of the profit on XStreet items costing one Linden or less. This is about profit loss. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say, since Linden Labs bought out the company that used to be SLX, they have suffered a total loss of profits across the board--but because freebies pop up under most searches, they're being noticed more often, so are penalized soonest.

[9:22] Pink Linden: we can no longer afford to support these items.

[9:22] JB Hancroft: So, Pink... it's a LL problem, not a merchant or consumer problem? Just trying to understand what population has the hurt.
[9:23] Pink Linden: JB, it's both an LL problem and an merchant problem
[9:23] Colossus Linden: It is both. Frankly, any merchant problem is an LL problem

Now, I am editing here and there to make points, obviously--you can grab the Commerce office hours link above to read the whole thing in unedited form--but the main point being made is:

1. The Labs aren't making enough money.
2. There are too many freebies in the XStreetSL Marketplace.
3. There is rampant copyright infringement in XStreet.
4. Charging for freebies will make this stop, and give the Labs money.

I can see why they're going there, believe me; but in SL, I don't think A plus B is going to equal C, here...in the least.

[9:26] Colossus Linden: As a number of you have said, you use it for marketing. It attracts different types of shoppers
[9:26] TriloByte Zanzibar: agreed, i think xstreet is an invaluable tool for sellers
[9:26] Colossus Linden: So, Xstreet does not have to mimic or support everything that in-world shopping and selling supports
[9:27] Colossus Linden: So, the biggest thing that I've heard is that freebies and cheapies have value, but the market has become a bit flooded with them
[9:27] Colossus Linden: Some of you would support a minimum price, but many of you oppose the idea of "price fixing"

Yes, but I think the same folks who will shy off at a "fixed price" minimum are the same folks who will shy off at a fixed price minimum of L$99 per month to list a dollarbie! How can the Lindens not see that?!?

[9:30] Colossus Linden: Okay, let me go into some of the ideas we've had. I have some responses to the questions you have all asked, but I am doing my best not to drive you to 1 solution before you have some time to think
[9:30] Colossus Linden: Okay, options:
[9:30] Colossus Linden: 1. Limit to free listings or listings under price L$X
[9:31] Colossus Linden: - Hard limit of 3 per merchant. Perhaps a monthly fee to list those 3 or to have a higher limit
[9:31] Colossus Linden: 2. Time Limit - add an incentive to remove cheap items. No item under L$X can remain listed for more than a month
[9:31] Ann Otoole: charge me for freebies and they just move in world and go out in groups
[9:32] Ann Otoole: LL cannot beat this [unless] LL bans all sales and transfers in world
[9:32] TriloByte Zanzibar: a time limit would be a problem for me, we only make/offer a few freebie items per year
[9:32] Colossus Linden: 3. Marketing Enhancement. - Freebies and cheapies are used as a marketing tool. Just like listing enhancements they should be priced by the month. Make a monthly fee of L$99-L$2899 to list a freebie (just like listing enhancements)
[9:33] Colossus Linden: 4. Freebie Marketplace - Separate freebies into a separate shopping experience which is designed to better advertise the items which are not free. - create a new advertising opportunity
[9:33] Colossus Linden: 5. Removal - ban all freebies and all items below L$X

Thankfully--I guess thankfully--they didn't decide, when they decided earlier today, to stick with #2 and #5, and the latter part of #1. I suppose we should be grateful for small favors.

[9:36] Ann Otoole: basically look at everyone doing well and destroy their business and the rest will be pleased

Ann is very, very cynical, but I can't say I disagree. This just seems more cost fostering than anything else--forcing people (many of whom already pay the Lindens at minimum premium account fees, if not the equivalent of, or more than, each month) to pay more, to sell lesser-priced items. That seems insanely unfair, and unbalanced.

[9:41] Colossus Linden: Additionally, if you really want to distribute a freebie when the rest of the merchant and shopper base foots the expenses, why does that merchant not want to do it when they are asked to cover the expense of distribution of those freebies?
[9:41] Ann Otoole: what is the expense of distributing a freebie [Colossus]?
[9:42] Ann Otoole: excactly what does LL pay?

More to the point--for me, at least--I don't think it's about sharing the cost of the expenses. I think there comes a point where spending over L$100 to list one dollarbie item just isn't worth it. If I'm passionately committed to some religious, socially conscious, or empowering bit of frippery that I want to put up and keep up--well, likely that might fall under their educational category anyway, and the costs might well be defrayed. But textures? Outfits? Ornaments?

Oh, hell no. I'll sell them in world--if I sell them at all.

[9:42] Colossus Linden: Ann, I can't share hard costs, but for any item on Xstreet there are data storage, data transfer, listing review, item delivery, etc. costs.
[9:43] Ann Otoole: and if those messages are that expensive why isn't LL charging for every object message in and out of SL?

Which is a damned good point--if they're going to get all finicky about things now, is this a sign of things to come? Are they soon going to charge per IM? Are they going to charge people out of their own game entirely??

More and more, I'm thinking, this is their incredibly arcane way of not just kicking everyone out of the pool at once, but suffering the slow death of user attrition as a net loss, before sealing the entire playground and paving it over with office complexes. Because it's really starting to sound like the Lindens don't want residents in world anymore.

[9:52] Colossus Linden: Yoshi, sounds like I should reach out to Arcadia Asylum. But, I will warn that they may not be best served by Xstreet.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Your world, your imagination? Only if you can afford the fees.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

we're on the move again, join in or step aside

There are several useful tips on how to make blog posts more accessible in a Bitch Magazine article; I'm not doing quite a few of them. I'll work on that but the first one, right up, is light-colored text against a dark background--and in my case, a patterned dark background. This is not likely to ever change.

And Dragonfish signs a contract for international payment processing with Linden Labs. For the life of me, I can't decide if that's a good thing, or a bad thing.

In other news, Peter Strindberg says most SL relationships, on average, last about nine months. But that's not what I wanted to bring up.

Pointed my way by Ciaran Laval, Peter Strindberg actually has a very interesting post on inventory and IMs. Namely, delivery failure due to IMs capping...and what, in world, constitutes an IM.

Some things I never expected are on that list. For instance:

* Port requests. We're actually IMing the sim, asking for a transfer; the port is the sim's answer of that call.

* Force teleports--those click-and-go devices mostly used in roleplay sims and scavenger hunts? Those are IMs.

* IMs from objects. Things like, "Lady Disdain Welcome Sign gave xXladygagaXx Nacht a notecard" (not a real name) and "Cyro Ripper called Brokencyde Moonwall yelled the AVkey of Zion Zemenis" (actual names).

* Friend requests. Every time someone asks to be my friend; every time I turn down a friend request or accept it; those are all IMs, on the system side.

* Inventory offers. Any time a designer sends you a notecard; a group gift; a landmark; those all count as individual IMs.

I'd hazard a guess that group invites also count; I know subscribe-o-matic sends count.

Here's something I didn't know; while no one is quite sure of the number, the number is vanishingly low for our IMs capping.

"There is a limit to how many IM's an avatar can receive while being offline," Strindberg says. "I did not find an official statement as to how many IM's it takes to cap, several discussions on forums and the JIRA suggest that the cap will happen after 15 IMs. While you still get offline-IM's that you received something, what you actually find in your inventory is different."

That is insanely low. That is frighteningly low. What do they expect folks to do, log in every two hours for ten minutes and clear any backlog?

In my mind, the whole Subscribe-o-Matic system only exists because the Lindens refuse to up the amount of groups each avatar can be in. If there's not a rational, technical reason why they refuse to do this (and by 'rational' and 'technical' I mean, "If we do this the grid will fail and here's why"), then they have no excuse.

"In the recent survey, Pink Linden asked whether merchants would welcome a system that guarantees delivery. Yes, of course we would, but not at a 15% premium. Inventory transfer is a basic functionality of SL, and to say it bluntly - it is broken! Fix it! Asking a premium for guaranteed delivery strikes me as - well - unethical. I think it is Linden Lab's obligation to fix the functionality that is there, and not ask money for a workaround."

It strikes me as very unethical, which now puts the little mutant Linden-bunny in two distinct camps. Either she is:

* Completely clueless (in which case she has no power in the Linden substructure, and why is she talking to us? It wastes our time, and hers, and gives no one benefits. Also, if she's the bunny in charge of XStreet, when is the blatant and, by the way, constant copybotting going to cease over there? It wasn't good before LL bought it out; but ever since they have, it's gotten worse in spades)

or

* Deliberately malicious (in which case, she needs to stop and snap out of it, and again is wasting our time with the survey of stupidity, because she's only going to do what she and the Lindens want to do anyway, and it doesn't matter what anyone says. Reference the entire Zindra catastrophe, and how fast Blue Linden went from 'helpful forum guide' to 'evil mind-controlled Renfield'. How long did that take, again--four weeks? Three?)

In short, it seems to be we have very few options, all of them grim:

* Ditch objects that IM us. There are workarounds, we need to find them. Most of what we have IM us is not necessary. This may involve a ton of work, how'ver, and for some of us, investing in new scripts to replace the old scripts we didn't write, and can't modify, so we get one that stops announcing every time a script event happens.

* Unsubscribe from high-traffic/high-notice groups. But even that is going to be tricky, because some of the high-notice groups we're in could be land groups, or our own shop groups, or groups we really want to remain in.

* Unsubscribe from Subscribe-o-Matic based groups. (And having done that, I am here to tell you that is INSANELY difficult, because we have to remember which group IMed us, track down their main store, track down their Subscribe-o board, and unsubscribe. Napalm-rinse-repeat.)

In short...it seems we take the road of cumbersome difficulty, and pare it down to the base essentials, and risk getting capped again anyway from the groups we can't ditch, or insist that the Lindens fix the broken aspects, and that's never going to happen, so we really just have the first option.

Y'know, just once, I'd love to have a day where someone saw a problem with functionality, and some Linden noticed that, and FIXED. IT. That would be great, really.