Thursday, December 31, 2009

smash the radio, no outside voices here

2010 arrives tonight, and with it, predictions abound--Dusan Writer sent out a list riffing from Gwyneth Llewelyn's predictions. So far, I'm willing to let them lead with predictions on either side, but I do think Miss Llewelyn is wrong on one, completely--that RL info will be tied, more deeply than ever, to SL info in 2010.

I don't think that will happen; more to the point, I think we'll lose more people if the Labs somehow push for this to happen. I think it reflects a deep disconnect with the world the Labs created, if somehow, Facebook-style "privacy" catches on.

I do think many people were willing to compromise--after a year of protesting--in making sure we retained the Adult access we started with, by giving out some RL information. Some of us more than others, and based on the fact that Integrity still doesn't check anything, there are a whole lot of Elvis Aaron Presleys running around, validated completely. But even with that, pushing for more tie-ins hobbles the entire process, and SL will--not may, but will--lose users based on it.

Metaverse Journal did a list of predictions for all virtual worlds, and again, I'm mostly willing to let that stand save for some worries, not complications, with certain of the predictions--Australia's mandatory IP filter/blacklist system is in development, and I, as others, are fairly sure SL (by reputation if not personal observation) will be blacklisted in Australia. I'm really hoping--likely naively--that the bleating of those in power fades away. But even I think that's just not going to happen.

And I'm also not keen about SL integrating with Facebook, mostly because, of all the social media platforms out there, Facebook is the one I want lit on fire, the ashes salted, and launched into space. To say I really, really, really don't like them doesn't go nearly far enough. To say on darker days I contemplate involuntary lobotomies given to Facebook inventors brings it closer to how I feel about the app in general.

The thought of SL redesigning to look more like Facebook cripples my desire to continue on in SL. To be blunt.

Moving on, I'd also like to mention Miss Dio's year-end round-up (of sorts). I'm even going to toss her a li'l help, here (in addition to highly recommending John Carter McKnight's essay on why virtual worlds haven't gone mainstream yet), not that she needs it, really. To wit:

To get to Lora Chadbourne's Mayflower, go to the Southern Cross sim; you can't really miss it.

Devoted readers of the blog should recognize Miss Chadbourne's name, but if you don't, I'll give this one to you--in addition to amazing ship-building skills, she's the one who puts up Haunted Saddlemead each year--in the Southern Cross sim. So there you go, a double recommendation to go see it in her sim.

Next mentioned: Miss Astolat Dufaux of Montaigne Noir. She does excellent menswear, ladies' wear, and mourning gowns from at least four major historical periods. She has her main store in Caledon Oxbridge Village, and one in the Victorian Village in Fatima's Desire; she also has two satellite stores, one in Antiquity Township and the other in Deadwood. I'd say go to any of the others over Deadwood; it's not that the Deadwood one isn't good (it is). But if you really want to see the shop in Deadwood, you might want to drop Miss Dio a line first; technically people not in the Deadwood group aren't allowed in the sim. But they do make concessions now and again, and as I've said before, the sim of Deadwood is amazingly historically accurate.

As mentioned in the article, Miss Dufaux and Mr. Caed Aldwych are currently plotting out a line of late-1800s military uniforms--you can check out other offerings in his shop in the Deadwood Market (which is freely accessible if you're not in the Deadwood group, and has many Victorian/Western merchants to boot), if you're of a mind to, or just drop Miss Dufaux or Mr. Aldwych a line asking how the uniforms are coming.

The NOAA sim Miss Dio mentioned is still running--not that it would have evaporated in the couple days she's put that out--and I agree with the clunky look of it. Still, it's interesting, and at the very least, more seas to swim in? Never a bad thing!

So you're welcome, Miss Dio, hope that helps. I am more than happy to SLUrl with abandon, when the need requires.

Excellent article from the i09 blog on known takeover tropes--in other words, not-of-your-race-but-I-shall-lead, I-am-child-or-insane-yet-you-will-revere-me tales. With the popularity of Avatar currently, this ties right in with a retrospective of current and past sf that's dealt with this, and dealt with it well. They cover nearly everything--movies, television, and books--that's dealt with the topic in any depth.

MMORPG reviews the decade in gaming. The last ten years in gaming were more than phenomenal, they were foundational--in that, without the work going on in pioneering games between 1999-2002, we wouldn't have World of Warcraft, a burgeoning class of free-to-play games, or likely Second Life.

And Sony, in another staggeringly bad decision from corporate, has chosen not to support Moon, Few in the US even know what that means, but any reader from shores beyond might--and to help US sympathy, watch the trailer. Many have said before this month that it may well be Sam Rockwell's finest work to date. And it would be a tragedy indeed were it not considered for an Oscar.

There's a petition at the first link; please sign it if you can.

Last, why junior G-men shouldn't be trusted with the big assignments. Or shouldn't take breaks on the job with the big assignments. Not sure which. Maybe don't eat on the clock. Or something.

It's about pigeons, just click it.

And I have to give William Shatner props for being on the ball, as this missive from his website details. Love him or hate him, there's been a lot of Shatner-bashing about the Chicago appearance, and he's being forthright and standing up that it was not his fault, he was ready and able to appear.

Even if the statement came from a production company that uses WAAAAAY too many emphatic capitals--Because They Think That Makes Them Sound Smarter--it's still out there. What have we heard from Prestige lately? Not that much, and the CEO's comments in that article do make me wonder, because I've seen both sf authors, and sf actors, appear in town on speaking engagements, and by the afternoon of the morning I've heard about it, they've sold out the entire venue (and/or booked additional days in town).

This includes Shatner, so the only thing I can conclude at a distance is either Prestige didn't advertise the event well enough (and with them insisting "small intimate venue", they may not have wanted to advertise it widely, or the bulk of the Chicago fen were at Dragon*Con that weekend.

It's an odd story either way, though one additional thing does strike me--if only one ticket was sent back--after having been redeemed--requesting a refund on the event, why does he mention being $3800 in the hole after the event? Something doesn't add up.

The Pixel Group blog mentions an open-source script resource on the grid; in fact, it goes beyond that, offering objects, scripts, and textures to play with, most of it available with no cost to the builder or merchant, so yay for that! You can go directly to the Morels sim hosting this, if you just want to get there now and not read the entry on it.

Finally, Edelweiss has recently redesigned their store; it looked like a small French boutique in the back of an abandoned island fort, before it shifted to dark woods and pools of amber light, post-boulangerie; now, it looks like one of those large 'label shops' in a major city.

For anyone who doesn't know Edelweiss by name, they started by making faithful recreations of Japanese maid costume outfits, complete with accessories and shoes. They moved to Loli-fied Alice dresses (as in, Alice in Wonderland), and now they're branching out into Japanese school fashions.

They're still in Mont St. Michel, if you want to take a look. (That SLUrl, btw, leads you directly to my current object of fabric lust, the Edelweiss holiday coat (scroll down from the top entry, you'll see them). Oh, for Lindens. I'm currently contemplating how best to gain more, because I have no idea when the holiday coats are leaving!

(And keep in mind most of Miss Kohime's blog is in Japanese, being as she's Japanese...but the pictures tell the story in any language.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

but a smile never grins without tears to begin, for each kiss is a cry we all lost

What's signal and what's noise?

Massively reviews the happenings in SL in 2009...and concludes that, overall, it was a "relatively quiet year". The hell? Trauma, drama, content loss, personal and official, the subsequent acquisition and restructuring of XStreet, paired with half the known Lindens who worked well with people fired or forced to step down? And Miss Nino calls that quiet?!?

Meanwhile, Step Up! is at it again, now involving a mobile 'university' of sorts to train people on how to recognize "stolen content".

Words cannot describe my loathing of this term, but I'm going to try to be fair.

1. They're not bad people. They're trying to do the responsible thing, here.
2. You can't always control the idiots in charge of your logo design. Sometimes you just have to take it and accept such things, and hope for a better redesign later.
3. They're not 100% responsible for the concept of "content theft". They don't correct their thinking when it's pointed out, but it was a term bandied about on the grid, and it's a term people think they understand, so Step Up! is trying to stick with things people get. It's not actively malicious on their part, just misguided.
4. Teaching people how to recognize copyright infringement, what to do when they think they've found it, how to report it, how to urge content creators to report on their own...these aren't bad things, either.

However:

1. Continuing to call it "content theft" or "stolen content" muddies the waters considerably. It is stupid, and stubborn, for them not to use the proper terms. It's not content theft; it's NOT stolen content. It is copyright infringement, and infringing content. Stolen content and infringing content are not the same thing.
2. Developing an RL component to match Step Up!'s SL efforts is not bad, per se, but they need to realize that the decision needs to be made now on whether or not to include just Second Life, or all virtual worlds. And if they decide to integrate all virtual worlds, they're going to need a dedicated team of 50-250 avatars whose sole job in the organization is checking out everything that comes into any OpenSim. Because importation of SL content into OpenSim regions is rampant at this point.

The worst design for a VeggieTales tie-in ever.

In the meantime, Spider and Jeanne Robinson are asking their fans to help. This one should go beyond the fans, though. This one, everyone should try to help. Not only will it go to pay medical bills incurred by Jeanne Robinson's cancer, but it will help two writers of some wonderful sf out. And don't forget, without Spider, there would be no Callahan's. No #callahans on IRC. And no Callahan's on the grid. Donate if you can, buy a book, or at the least get the word out.

Because sometimes...there isn't enough time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

and you move my mind from behind the wheel when I lose control

Wandering, of a morning, gathering Twitter links, perusing them, sending out blog entries into the wilds. Coffee, keys, dawning understanding. This is my average morning, slow and oddly-paced, but I'm comfortable within its structure.

Then I came across Sapphire Weatherwax's blog. And her mention of the Virtual Hallucinations project.

"The Project warns that it is not a good idea to go through it if you’ve experienced psychosis, however, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s currently very depressed or battling intrusive negative thoughts of any kind", she says, and I have no doubt she means it. But me being me, I had to know.

UC Davis put this together, and when I arrived on site, I was standing on a hillside outside the building proper. I had to wait some time for everything to rez in, but I'm fairly sure that was either a) my system, or b) Second Life's special new inflated-lag system. Or both.

Once everything seemed to be rezzed in, I went in for a look.

There are two yellow pillars by the entrance. One gives you a notecard about the experience:

The virtual hallucinations project seeks to educate people about the mental illness schizophrenia. About 1% of the population will develop schizophrenia during their lifetimes. It usually strikes in the late teens or early twenties, and is very debilitating.

People with schizophrenia have "disordered thought" or difficulty maintaining thought processes. They develop delusions, like the belief that the police are after them. They also experience auditory hallucinations, typically one or more voices speaking to or about them. About 25% of people with schizophrenia also experience visual hallucinations, typically distortions of the environment around them.

This clinic building is based on the hallucinations of two specific people with schizophrenia. They were interviewed in detail and gave feedback on early designs for the hallucinations. While the hallucinations are not glamorous, they fairly accurately reproduce these patients' experiences. You should get a sense of just how intrusive the voices of schizophrenia really are.


Fine, so far.

The virtual hallucinations environment is best experienced in mouselook. One person should go through at a time.

I loathe mouselook. So don't take my experience as the best; I didn't want to deal with the mouselook limitations, so I didn't go in in mouselook, that simple.

Another lass happened by the project while I was reading the first notecard, so I let her go through while I looked at the second:

Some people find the virtual hallucinations experience disturbing, particularly the voices. If you find it bothersome, just walk to the end of the clinic and click the "Stop Voices" button.

If you have a history of mental illness, particularly a psychotic disorder, you should not tour this facility.

The virtual hallucinations environment has been experienced without difficulty by a few people with well-controlled schizophrenia. They found it interesting and educational. However, I don't know if experiencing a version of someone else's hallucinations is helpful or harmful. While I doubt it could induce hallucinations, I don't know for sure.

So please be careful. Remember that you can quit at any time.


Yeah, so...this is not exactly a well-kept secret on the grid? But I'm not precisely stable. I have two consistent, and one intermittent, hallucinations. None of them tell me to hurt other people, and none of them tell me to hurt myself. But it's indicative of damage.

I accept this; while it has worried certain psychiatrists in the past, I know what I'm seeing and hearing is not real, and apart from gaining the one occasional this year, I've had the basic two for eight to ten years with nothing further impacting my life. I figured, though, I might be just the type of person who might not be completely okay with this, so I told Fawkes that I was going through.

[17:36] Fawkes Allen: This does not sound like a terribly smart idea honestly. And I do wonder how that is supposed to work.
[17:36] Emilly Orr: Yeah....it's likely not. And they give you a HUD with voices, I know that much, and there are also visual distortions, I believe.
[17:37] Emilly Orr: HUD-based, maybe?

mental illness,Second Life,events

It is, actually, in the form of a VERY large, intrusive yellow circle I'm told to wear. It cannot be modified; I get why, in terms of what they want it to do, but...man, that sucker's HUGE.

Someone else came in while I fiddled with the badge, and, sighing, I waited until she was at least out of my view, before walking on. I don't mind that the project has visitors; I'd rather it did, most people just don't understand mental illness as a whole. But being instructed to go through it alone...when people are constantly porting in....yeah. That was difficult.

mental illness,Second Life,events

The soundtrack isn't that upsetting to me personally; I've done combat with my personal set of 'voices' (my favorite trick to date: any severe teardown thoughts you have? Give them Disney voices. It's really, really hard to take seriously Donald Duck telling you you're worthless). But walking into the reception area got me: I took a picture, but what you don't see in it is what's so odd: all the laptops were moving, almost 'clapping', discordantly. Always.

mental illness,Second Life,events

I was a bit confused by the instructions to look at the "red poster" to see an example of schizophrenic visual distortions. Am I missing something? The printing was blurred, and there was at least one puzzle section on fire, but--considering some ads and videos* I've seen? That's nothing.

(*Just FYI--I was thinking of linking Aphex Twin for the video, but the Dir en Grey is worse. I have a hard time watching "Obscure", and I like other Dir en Grey songs. That one--visuals to sound--gets under my skin and lays eggs. It is profoundly disturbing.)

What made this odd for me, personally, were the SL conventions in the midst of everything--look out a window, see deep ocean in one direction; look out the window and see a Japanese temple on an island, in the other. I don't think these were intended to add to the experience, but they did.

mental illness,Second Life,events

Miss Weatherwax reported extreme disturbance, to the point of tears. It may or may not unsettle my readers to find that the things that most disturbed me? Were the things they didn't cover.

Like walls that breathe. Or bleed. Like radio static that never stops, that one can't turn off, because it appears to be coming from potted plants, or the milk in the fridge, or fingernails. Like scratching at insects burrowing under the skin until the skin bleeds. Like being convinced that something has been implanted under the skin, to the extend of 'digging it out' with a scalpel one afternoon.

And--apart from the walls breathing, because that's one of mine--I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about people I've known personally. The random screaming. The speaking in tongues. The sharp twitching whenever people they don't know approach them from behind. The fact that sometimes, I'd have to disarm people before I introduced them to others, and still knew they had at least two weapons I hadn't found, so just hoped for the best.

And that, for the most part, all of us--these friends and I combined--think schizophrenics are worse.

This? This was mild. This was a cakewalk compared to walking around a lockdown ward. This was...nothing.

Huh. Why was I worried?

Figuring I was already on a roll, though, I went over to the gallery the Survivors of Suicide website has set up. I was initially mildly freaked out, because the official prim greeter was headless. Then his head rezzed in, and I relaxed. It was just a prim issue.

The SLUrl drops you off in the ampitheatre, which is actually above the gallery. But it's a quick walk down, which gives things time to rez in. There's a sign on the gallery door:

mental illness,Second Life,events,art

Warning! This part of the Survivors of Suicide may be disturbing.

In this case? They're not kidding.

[18:22] Alone: A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States. An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.

It's not an easy gallery to walk through. Blood, images of blood, a whole bathtub of blood--the theme is prevalent.

[18:22] Curling up inside: Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.

Just about everything can be touched for more information. Some objects spit out green info text; some hand you notecards.

[18:23] head-depression: If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

Being watched? Annoying as hell. Living through being watched? Infinitely better.

[18:23] Moving Picture: If you're unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can't make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving the individual the opportunity to express his or her feelings may prevent a suicide attempt. The person may even be relieved that you brought up the issue.

They're right, here. If someone is already suicidal, asking them won't change their mind. If someone is not, asking them won't make them suddenly leap up, grin like a maniac, and dash off for the knives.

In other words, you cannot influence their mental state negatively just by asking. So for the love of all gods, if you're worried--ask.

[18:24] eyeball : If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? Even worse, what if you plant the idea in your friend or family member’s head? In such situations, it's natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

mental illness,Second Life,events,art

Some of the objects didn't seem to make a lot of sense--the potted plant that handed out suicide and depression tips, for instance. But the curtains flowing in the wind from the floating windows--oh, yeah, those I got. The bathtub full of blood--which, oddly, is not scripted to hand out anything--and the pictures, yeah, I got those too.

[18:24] Sharp objects: People with AIDS have a suicide risk up to 20 times that of the general population.

This? Does not surprise me in the least.

[18:25] Casket: There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.

This, weirdly, did.

[18:26] Headstone: •Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide; but, women report attempting suicide during their lifetime about three times as often as men.

And this. "Successful" suicides are higher among men than women. Okay, fine. (Well, not fine, but okay, I get that, I understand that.) But suicide attempts are higher among women? Not suicide completions. Just attempts.

One wonders why, really. They're found easier? Their behavior when suicidally depressed is more obvious? They don't really want to die, just to end the unendurable pain? What is it?

[18:27] Fern: About 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.

This, also, was a statistic that held no surprise for me.

To 'get out' of the main gallery, you touch the mirror. For me, my avatar then disappeared, and I had to cam to find out where I'd gone. Turned out I'd gone...

mental illness,Second Life,events,art

here.

The colors were brighter, and there was an entire wall of resources, but...beyond that, to be honest, the other side was more interesting. Still, I lit a remembrance candle, made a donation, and went back home to think.

A potentially coming Twilight MMO? Shoot me now. Nineteen times. Gah.

And I tracked down the code of ethics for professional journalists. (Mind, I don't consider myself a professional journalist; first, I'm not paid for it, and second, if I'm anything, I'm a muckraker.)

Gary Arther Douglas II takes on freebies on the grid--and weirdly, not in a way I approve. I am all for freebies, dollarbies, and cheapies, because let's face it, the SL economy still sucks. But this fellow seems to be encouraging two things I'm profoundly against:

1. Listing on XStreet; and
2. Releasing everything for free.

No. Just no. Possibly even, never.

All in all, though, I won't lie that there are unsettling spots for me in both places--things that move on their own have always unnerved me, and I know why, but the laptops clapping shut and open made me twitch. And then walking around a gallery where all the art featured the dead or the dying, while everything 'spoke' to me on suicide statistics...not exactly comforting.

Still, the worst part of the two hours I just spent on SL? Waiting for things to rez in. And having to relog twice to clear enough cache so I could finally load in enough of my inventory to change out of Christmas hair. Proving once and for all, the biggest, most disturbing thing on SL? Is SL itself.

Monday, December 28, 2009

but may these shadows rise to walk again, with lessons truly learnt

Sense of things unraveling pulls me from my rest, and I sit a moment on the edge of the high bed, kicking my feet, as if I were much smaller, much younger, watching the leaves that aren't on the trees drift in the wind that's not there.

Why Linden Lab isn't daft. I don't entirely agree with all of her points, but on the other hand, she's dead-on accurate about one thing: we don't have the information the Labs have about why they're doing what they're doing.

Slowly I move to the kitchen, pouring cold coffee into cobalt glass, pinch of brown sugar and spice, stirred before the cream widdershins, as always. As always. And I wonder if I am good enough for those who love me.

Shauna Skye did a lovely little entry on how to be boring--or at least, her top five ways to completely bore anyone on the grid. Tip four for me, rings exceptionally strongly: partially due to my work as a host for so long, partially because you never know how interesting other people are until you ask--I have a huge problem with people talking and not even saying hello to those standing near them.

What price ignorance? What price distraction? Just an hour, just a handful of hours, just a day, just a week...soon it's a month, and more than a month, and more still, and--where is the line drawn? Is this another way of pushing against restriction?

To be completely fair, talking with my friends and saying, "Hello, X" and then not continuing the talk if they don't answer? Is completely separate to not acknowledging them at all. Or talking with their friends and insulting the avatar's shape/hair/outfit, yet still not directly communicating (which I've observed more than once).

I am loved and I love, I am held in warm arms in two worlds, and isn't that enough? That's more than most people see in one lifetime, let alone all the lives that I remember. As always, as always, it's enough and not quite enough, and I lean against the counter, butter fruited bread from the cool spaces, and contemplate time's loss once more.

The Two Year effect has been confirmed? Maybe. Map it out with the owner of Metaverse Business, and see if you agree.

That's not why I got up.

One of the best reviews of The Path comes from Shamus Young of Twenty-Sided Tale. (He also takes on the game's rape controversy (and it ranges from deep to shrill).) Personally, I don't see it as a game where six little girls get raped and murdered. I do see it as a game where six little girls potentially die, but there's only one clear-cut case of rape in the game, and frankly, it's with a seventeen-year-old who looks like a seventeen-year-old.

Why I got up is still in the darkness, but I see it now. It's down there, rising, rising, slow like honeyed poison. Still sweet on the back of the tongue but bitter to soon follow, bitter as oak gall, drifting slow, down there. It hasn't reached the subconscious ways yet, but it will. Given time. There is time. Isn't that what we always say? There is time enough...all things in time...there will be time later.

I realize that seventeen is not street-legal, either, but it's a lot closer than eleven. And for the eleven-year-old? I think honestly, truthfully, she was torn apart--in the claw-and-rend sense, not the penetrative sense--by actual wolves, not men in wolves' clothing. One of the girls could have easily been a drug allegory. One of the girls could very well have lost her mind.

Later. After. When I'm done. Just one more hour. One more day. The latest project, the latest entry, the latest game. Whatever it is that takes my attention so far away from the ones who love me.

Yes, I will agree, the girls--whatever experience they have--emerge the worst for it. And if they don't actually, physically die in any sense, they are broken afterwards. But are they all beaten and raped? No. I don't agree with that.

And in the darkness, uncoiling, rising, and that's still not why I got up.

Remember my mentioning I hadn't been approved yet for Second Life's affiliate payment program?

I sit, fingers tracing bits of lettered plastic, tapping in arcane rhythms in the dark, and wonder, once again, if I'm simply over-thinking things. That there is time, that there will be time, that there is patience, on all the sides that need to take sides, on all sides of me. I listen to the changing song singing in my ears, the low crooned hum of constancy of an evening, and try to make sense of the universal voice behind the music.

"Congratulations! Secondlife.com has approved you into their
affiliate program!"

The triangle has four sides.

"To begin participating in the program, simply place one or more of the links below into your Web site. Make sure you visit the create links section to use our Flash banners or Flex links. These have superior image quality."

And perhaps that's why I got up, to write this out, to read it, to reassure myself that I am not lost yet, or if I am, I'm close to the place where I need to go to be found. To reassure myself, by truth or falsehood, that I am not injuring as much as I'm affecting. To tell myself that I can love, without damage, or if I can't, that my damage can always be healed, with love, with care, with time...with the other's consent, and acquiescence.

*points to shiny new link under the Amazon slideshow*

And maybe, knowing that, I can sleep again, curled up in the high bed. Wrapped in memories and tatters, listening to the breathing of people who have chosen to be in my life, thorns, and shattered shards, and all. Feeling the embrace of strong arms, protecting me, from the far distance. I am not alone. And even when I pull back, even when my attention is not fixed on any one thing but the spangled, starry mist, I am not alone.

So. Let's see how it goes from here. I am now offering folks a chance to go into Second Life, via my link for them--which will pay me a token sum (I don't expect this ever to happen, btw, I'm not ardently counting on enough clicks to pay rent even in SL, let alone the world beyond)--but if they do, they go in knowing the kind of ridiculous inanity that goes on, on the grid. If they've read the blog at all, they know I'm not a Linden apologist, and barely a Linden fan; they'll also go in with their eyes open, at least a bit, as to some of the world's hazards, as well as joys.

It's enough to sleep on, for one more night. Let the remaining nights take care of themselves. Let the darkness rising from the deeps be, for now. For now, things may be fragile, but they're fine. Things may be uneven, but they're static. The center holds.

Now remember: my prediction for how long I last on the affiliate program? Was one month. Chime in with your predictions. We'll see who comes closest.

The center holds. And I sleep.

look down upon a world that glitters glibly, and mountainsides put arms around the unsuspecting city

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
O Sorrow, cruel fellowship,
O Priestess in the vaults of Death,
O sweet and bitter in a breath,
What whispers from thy lying lip?
We invent new games when the old ones pale. We play old games when we remember them. We are always engaged in hunts for the rules, the tricks, the traps, the ways to enforce and contravene. On some level, everything's a game.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.
From birth, we are taught that there are rules to our lives. Be good is foremost among them. We hear stories, we watch people on our screens talk of dangers, hazards, known and unknown. In the back of our minds it is made plain: these bad things happened to these people because they were bad. They were not good. They did not obey.

They did not stay on the path.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
The path is easy, we are told. We soak this up with milk and first bread. The path is lit, the path is good. Staying on the path is good. We are told this, we know this, we engrave it on our growing minds, with the first stuttering investigations of language.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand
But...off the path. Off the path is bad, yes, we are told this, yes, but--off the path. Off where the shadows live, where the trees grow together, where the must of the forest becomes deep, hushing our steps. There are dangers here. Perhaps hurting dangers, perhaps killing dangers. But even that is part of the attraction.

Off the path.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
The chalice of the grapes of God
'Nature, red in tooth and claw', the saying goes, and so it remains, so it has always been. And we, weak frail creatures, we must dare the world to beat us: the elements, the environment, the rage, the hunger--other humans. And it does beat us, in singlet actions, in groups, in droves; it hurts, maims, wounds, rapes, brutalizes, offends...It is a miracle of insane proportions that any of us reach adulthood at all.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold
Be good, we are told. Be good. Stay on the path. Stay away from the Wolf. Keep family close. None of these are bad rules, in themselves, but what if the path doesn't go where we need to go? And what if the Wolf is living with us? What if going off the path is the only way we have to escape death, to escape brutality?

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
And I should tell him all my pain,
And how my life had droop’d of late,
And he should sorrow o’er my state
And marvel what possess’d my brain;
No one talks about the families that aren't good, unless they are used to make a point. Poor victims, those poor girls, those sad boys...if only, we are told. If only they were born into a different family. If only it hadn't happened. If only.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Do we indeed desire the dead
Should still be near us at our side?
Is there no baseness we would hide?
No inner vileness that we dread?
With the codicil that such happenings are rare. That such things take place so occasionally, that even the thought of 'bad families' is a shocking one. The real shock is how common bad families are. The real shock is how rare good families are created, nurturing spaces to sprout and to grow strong.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Who broke our fair companionship,
And spread his mantle dark and cold,
And wrapt thee formless in the fold,
And dull’d the murmur on thy lip
Children, after all, are so easily broken. They are enterprising, and intuitive, adaptive, and stronger than they look. But they trust willingly, until they're taught not to trust. So much of our protective behavior comes from what we're taught. Born new in the world, we trust those around us to keep us safe, we trust we will grow to strength before we die, we trust that we will not die.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
I wander, often falling lame,
And looking back to whence I came,
Or on to where the pathway leads;
So much trust, so small an envelope for it. Until the world proves we need less of it to survive.

Somehow, some children make it to adulthood unscathed. Usually, their fall is coming, and they fall farther for having known nothing but kindness before. For some children, though, more than a few, always more than we think, childhood brings scars that do not easily fade away. Internal, external, body and mind, soul and envelope, we develop but roughly, in error, in failure, our steps halting, our thoughts unsure.

The Path,computer games,media,horror,fairy tales
O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.
To reach such a place, of wary unworthiness, of doubtful understanding, so young--pain sinks deep within, to be tapped later, drop by drop of distilled agony, aged and concentrated.

But if we do not fail, we do not understand success. If we do not brave the terrors off the path, we never appreciate what we have in the light of day. And if we do not face our Wolf young, we cannot properly defend ourselves as adults from predation.

(Images taken from The Path by Tale of Tales; poem excerpts from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.)

Dusan Writer mentions the Lindens' new affiliate program, and I have to admit, I signed up for it. Not because I think I'll make money at it--I won't--but because I really doubt, once actual eyes from Linkshare wander over my posts, I'll be kicked out of the program so fast it will make my neighbors' heads spin.

I'm taking bets on how long it will take. My starting point: one month. (Though it may be far shorter than that, because I just today figured out how to get to the SL affiliate's program page. So they haven't even approved me yet; beneath the Amazon slideshow? Is the Linkshare placeholder.)

And from Miss Muse Carmona comes this intriguing bit on consent, as well as refusal. Very well put (though as she said, on a slightly NSFW site), and applicable to many more situations than the writer describes.

This is something I struggle with, on a daily basis. Not so much the saying no and meaning it, but the saying yes, as well. I know what I want (or, at least I do most of the time), but getting what I want across to other people...ah, there's the trick.

No one's paying me now (at least, until I find another job!), so in a sense, for the first time I'm a free agent on the grid. And, as I have determined while I will likelygo back to dancing, I will likely not return to escorting, the choice of saying yes or no remains mine.

The important thing then becomes, when to say it. And to whom. And of course and always, why I am choosing to say no...or yes.

Relationship Communications 401, I do like that. It sums things up excellently. Communication between partners, when BDSM is involved, when we submit or command...this goes so far beyond the basics, the words to describe the forms of conversation likely fly over the heads of most. They go deeply into issues of trust and understanding, of letting people move in, very close to where we perceive ourselves to live alone; it is, perhaps, a form of closeness reserved only for the long-married, or the telepathic, in this sense. Where the soil is spread so very thin over raw and tender muscle, a single scuff in the wrong place can open a wound...we have to be very skilled indeed to move without causing damage.

I am not skilled in moving without causing damage, in myself or others. So I have greater challenges to face. But I am determined to face them. After all...I may have found my Wolf, but he hasn't killed me yet. Perhaps I can strike a balance.

Bargaining, you see, is also part of the skills learned. Off the path.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

sometimes in the morning, I am petrified and can't move

Viral artists face a legal reprimand from Facebook. Honestly, all things considered? I'm hoping Facebook loses this legal challenge. They deserve to.

Linden Labs gets it wrong again--this time with graphs showing users on the platform!

Behold, the White City of Minas Tirith--under seige from the tastiest army in Middle Earth! Make sure to check out the video that accompanies the stellar construction shots.

And from this blog, I made a comment I wanted to preserve:

I am interested in the many “You’re so WRONG!” comments you’ve gotten. Myself, I’ve been in SL nearly four years now, and I’ve noticed articles on it do broadly tend to break down into two camps: one side thinks SL is a flash in the pan, the other thinks it’s the new age of communication and interaction.

Where’s the middle ground? People using the platform.

People log in to SL to make money; to advertise; to interact; to socialize; to network; to adventure; to date; to inform. They dance, swim, fly, fence, fire weapons, roleplay, run, sit, make love, eat (though eating and drinking in SL? Still mostly passes me by) and make merry.

The only real problem I see SL has? Linden Labs, who, under their current leadership, seem REALLY intent on monetizing the entire game and making sure no one takes a step without paying SOMEbody. This is not the game many of us signed up for, and we’re losing people in droves.

The people that stay are generally shopping addicts, casual players who log in an hour or so a night, if that, and the hardcore recreationists. I suppose I qualify as the latter, though I don’t spend nearly as much time in Caledon (a virtual neo-Victorian set of sims) as I used to; but it doesn’t stop just at the Victorian/steampunk border. There are people inventing alien worlds, undersea worlds, living fantasies (in the literary, as well as sensual meaning), creating wonder, horror and everything in between.

Is Second Life an easy platform to learn to use? No. Are there ways to make it better? Sure, but the Labs haven’t figured out how yet. Does the sense of anonymity poison on occasion, making everyday citizens a newcomer COULD turn to, often sneer and pass judgement on the ‘newbie’? Absolutely.

If people bother to get PAST all that, there’s a wide, diverse world in store. But I’m with you, it’s a lot to deal with, setting up, and it’s not easy, and a great deal of the time, the people who’ve been using the platform longest are the ones least likely to help new faces on the grid.

Still, are there reasons to log in of a night? Sure, or I wouldn’t be there. But will it catch on and become the latest MyFaceTwitterbook? No. Will it overtake World of Warcraft? Of course not. And I don’t think it ever will.

That being said, though, I don’t think that’s a bad thing…a functional space, with people paying for the server space, and interacting with users from around the world…this is not a bad place to be. It’s just never going to be HUGE.

I still think that's the right answer. It's never going to be Facebook, SL. Never, no matter how many changes they put it through. But it could easily be enough for its users, and for those whose livelihood depends on it.

IF they stop screwing around with the basics, AND get the platform more stable.

Without that...they won't even keep the business clients they have. Let alone get the new ones they want.

and loneliness is all around

Cylindrian Rutabaga needs your help. Now, it goes without saying (and frequently does on this blog) that there's an RL to match the SL, so Cylindrian in-world? Likely just fine. But we are tied to our typists, our fates intertwine, and Cylindrian's typist had her van--the only transport for her family--repossessed. She needs it back.

Like her voice and her music, or not, no one can discount the impact she's had on the grid. I personally love her voice and her style, but even if you don't, she's done more to keep SL music visible and vital for all of us than you may know. For that alone, if you can chip in for a CD, or even toss a few Lindens her way, it would be a boon to the community, and a help to her.

In the meantime, much of my time away from SL has been eaten by gaming. Oh, the usual, yes--Runes of Magic, and I finally g9t around to reinstalling Diablo, so now I romp around in that little world, but Hank and Alex Rucker decided, this year, to gift me with more games.

Because, y'know, I just didn't have enough ways to fritter away time.

One of them, something called The Path, is what I've been playing this morning.

Scarlet,The Path,computers,games

There's another site where trailers, images, and story bits are captured, but the most important thing to remember about The Path is...there's no 'win' involved.

Like Second Life--only much, much darker--your objective is...missing. The game opens on six girls that live in an apartment. One by one, their mother sends them to go to Grandmother's house, deep in the forest. Sometimes, they get there. (We learn quick, if we walk the girls straight to Grandmother's house...we lose.) Sometimes...they wander.

Each time, you're given thirteen secret items to find. You don't know what they are. You just have to walk the forest--generally off the path--and locate them. There are mini-games within the game as a whole--picking flowers, figuring out certain key elements as you go--but for the most part, it's just you. And your chosen girl. And the forest.

And breathless screaming. And the clinking of chains. And the snarling of the wolf.

It's not a game for everyone. It gets under your skin, in no small part due to the soundtrack, co-written by Kris Force (formerly, and perhaps currently, part of Amber Asylum) and Jarboe (formerly half of the Swans). They recorded something close to either six or eight hours of music, in small samples, that is then meshed together depending on how close each girl is to the path, and to major game events. Sound effects are then seamlessly overlaid, but it all comes together sounding extraordinarily designed, in terms of pacing. Even the moments where the music breaks off seem by design, the hush of the dark woods momentarily overwhelming even the soundtrack.

I haven't ventured that far into the game yet, though I have ventured far off the path. Two of my girls have died, in rather horrific ways. Two lived through to meet with Grandmother, though in both cases, I was unsettled by Grandmother's room in the dim and dark house. The two that lived came back to the apartment, when time came for Mother to send someone else off to the woods.

But after I lost two girls in a row, I came back, and...those two girls? Were missing. So there is some scattered memory function at work in the game.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Mother needs to choose another girl to stay on the path. Let's hope she chooses wisely.

Right now, I'm fascinated. This is not a game to shake off easily. I'm still seeing dark feathers float through the trees to the ground.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

time for parties and celebrations, people dancing all night long

There's a very bad Santa at Ova Hauled this year. In the space of ten minutes, I saw a spanking, a stripping, and Santa serving "special egg nog" to a lady on her knees in front of him. Do I need to go on? Go if you wish, but keep in mind, he's looking for folks on his naughty list!

[15:07] CaliLilly Quintessa: santa is sure getting his jollies on
[15:07] Rayvn Hynes: omg!
[15:08] Rayvn Hynes: he stripped me naked and gave me coal!

Did you think I was kidding?

D&V Creations: you're doing it wrong:

hunts,shopping,Second Life,holiday

Seriously. If you have to have a whole wall to display your grid-wide hunt signs? You have a grid-wide hunt addiction. You need therapy, not more hunt gifts.

How'ver, Pasarella in Palamos is doing it so very well:

hunts,shopping,Second Life,holiday

They've put out all their recent hunt gifts as ornaments on their in-store tree. This is amazing. Over twenty-five gifts to peruse, and if you like their style, come back and drop them some Lindens on an outfit. Such ingenuity deserves to be rewarded.

Kenn Nilsson takes on what Second Life should be, and he makes a lot of points. It's worth reading.

In the meantime, Bare Rose is having a seasonal hunt:

hunts,shopping,Second Life,holiday

From the notecard:

------------------------------
A G i f t F r o m B E L L
------------------------------
Bare Rose Christmas Mini Tresure Hunt

------------------------------------------------------
W a l k t h r o u g h
------------------------------------------------------

1. Please read the Prologue and Chapter 1. Chapter 1 is at the bottom of this notecard. There is also a landmark to Chapter 1 as well.
2. Please read and then continue to Chapter 1 using the LM. The story will provide a hint to the target/object you are to purchase, to continue onward.
3. If the target/object is correct, a 'Buy' window will open. Buy it for 0 linden. You will get the items and also a notecard with a hint and LM for the next Chapter. There are 4 Chapters, so please try all of them.

Notice: Sometimes the buy option does not open if you are too far from the target and using the camera zoom. Please try to move closer when this happens.

Additional Hunt:
If you think it was easy to finish the hunt, we have a more difficult one for you. You can find the extra information in the last notecard, in the last item's folder. Enjoy!

------------------------------------------------------
P r o l o g u e
------------------------------------------------------

There are people who don’t believe in God, but if a miracle or a dream comes true, sometimes they believe in him. Such miracles are done by an angel assigned to the person in question. However, miracles don't happen too often because angels are busy most of the time, like in today's story. An angel that was in charge of a certain person received a special mission from an Archangel... For this time, you’re going to be an angel and help a dog by request.

------------------------------------------------------
C h a p t e r 1 : T h e M e e t i n g P l a c e o f T h e A n g e l s !
------------------------------------------------------

Please go to Chapter 1 (BELL Chapter 1)

On a holiday night, the Archangel called his angels to go to the Meeting Place.
The Archangel came and said: "Thank you all for coming. Let me explain about an important mission!"

The angels rounded a monitor at the center of the place, which projected a white dog.

"His name is BELL. He is the poorest dog this night. His destiny says he is going to die 3 times tonight. So we need to cast 3 miracles on him. We don't have much time left. Please go to the place. Good luck to all of you!"

Let us get ready to go to the land. Before you go there, you should wear formal wear. Angels look like spheres of light, but they can change their form to whatever they want. Also, humans think angels have wings, so let’s get wings first - just in case people may find you. You can find the wings in one of the 'Crystals'.

(Please left click the crystals around you to find the wings!)


And off you go. Port by port, notecard by notecard, find the dog or find the item mentioned, and gain bits of the holiday outfit. There are some intriguing little builds to see, and you'll end up with wings, a halo, and a blue and gold holiday robe (for men) and skirt (for women). If you participate in the additional hunt, you'll get a pair of prim blue sandals that match the dress. Well worth your time.

Even if you have to put up with June Dion's odd ideas about Christmas, and her grasp of English. (Though to be fair, her grasp of English gets better every year!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

and everyone is singing, I hear those sleigh bells ringing

Not much to say, more notes of passing, in passing.

It turns out Metaplace didn't gain the ground it wanted this past year--it's closing in January.

Virtual training is the future, according to Auckland medical colleges.

Copyright enforcement for ebooks is pondered on the Go to Hellman blog; the bigger questions are, will copyright protection help or hurt the burgeoning industry?

It may just be a me thing, but as we're in passing, I was terribly amused by this bit from Jacintia Odisark's profile:

If you have a princess for a slave or FC, and they get all pissed off if you check me out or, god forbid, touch me, then keep moving. Dont even rp me, and stay out of my Ims. If your unable to RP me in the capacity of a Master to a slave, other than berating and pointlessly beating, then keep steppin. I havent the time for it and it turns my stomach.

I Am sick of crazy free women and slave's developing a problem with me as a person, because their man grabbed a tit. Grow up. If you cant do this, then you may as well leave Gor, and let these crazy bitches run you elsewhere...

Jesus


Hee. She sounds fun. More power to you, then. Keep 'em guessing.

SL Arts Parks covers SL Assisi; and Kelham means something, but damned if I can remember what it was, because dental surgery takes a bit of concentration from me. Flinging it up here to see if checking it out will reveal things. Or not. (Upon further reflection, I think the Kelham link relates to Sabine Stonebender and Zero Point, which ceases to exist January 25th. One more art sim gone.)

NPG is leaving Second Life; seems they think virtual conferencing is moving to the back burner, now that more efficient forms of live long-distance conferencing are available, and more stable than they once were. This won't be the last exit we'll see, I'm sure.

Microsoft is putting patent paperwork together for a new avatar generator; what I want to know is, in the virtual we don't need to look like ourselves, we don't need to have our external limits. So why do companies keep building around the physical bodies of the end user? Do enough of us really want to experience the virtual world, through the eyes, form and shape we already use?

And I hate when RL crosses into SL, but I hate sucking blood out of my face more, so I'm taking myself off to bed. I have more than adequately seen the sun in, huzzah for the dark of the year! Now we move towards light and renewal, from dormancy and decay. (And as I said on Twitter, this year my body apparently took that very literally.)

G'night. Whatever you celebrate for holidays, hope they were, are, and will be good ones.

I want your leather-studded kiss in the scene

Miss Kay Noble had a question about a previous entry. She asked:

Currently, you are the first one who did not get the tools, or should I say, did not find the button "get tools" on the sell page. Maybe it is not clear, which may be possible.
I am curious, can you put the pictures you get in your blog when you click the link thereafter (the one in the bold text)


Sure.

Cariama,shopping,second life

The login page of Cariama (remember: click each cropped image for the full-size image. When I make references to anything, I'm generally making reference to the full-size image). I'm assuming one can do at least a bit of this without being logged in, but at some point, not being a logged-in user might work against one.

(Also, yes, I know, I function with a great many windows open most of the time. Generally Gmail, Twitter, one or two Blogger pages, whatever I've come across on YouTube, lyrics sheets, whatever else has caught my attention of an evening--nine isn't bad, some days I've had fourteen.)

Cariama,shopping,second life

This is mostly here because it makes me twitch. It's not a big coding glitch, and if one works mostly alone, it's not a big deal, but I and other net denizens tend to get slightly wary when the password field is unmasked.

Cariama,shopping,second life

The welcome page for Cariama; I'm assuming it's also standard, and what everyone else sees. But here is where it starts to go odd.

Note something I didn't notice the first time out: Firefox has prevented this page from opening a pop-up window. I wondered if that had anything to do with it. I enabled popups from Cariama.

Cariama,shopping,second life

From here, as I did earlier this morning, I clicked the "how to" tab at the top of the screen. This is exactly what I saw: a list of "How to" topics, starting with how to get the tools package, containing the CBox and CViewer.

I clicked the top link on the "How to" page.

Cariama,shopping,second life

And this is what I saw. A mostly white page containing these words:

You need to place and link inworld a CBox first before going further. Please get the tools from the right menu, thank you. More information can be found in How to.

And that's it. Maybe it's a translation error? I can't go beyond this point. I click the How to page again, go to the direct link--I get the all-white page again:

Cariama,shopping,second life

And so it goes, around and around.

Now, one thing did change--when I went back in just a few minutes ago, to verify the "How to" page link, I got a little popup window that asked me to verify whether I was above, or below, eighteen. I verified that I was above, it closed, and set my session to Mature. Go figure.

But that's all that's changed. And your guess is good as mine, as to where on Cariama one can find their vendor packages. Because they're hidden far too well for me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

but if you would turn your face away from me--

goto: Cariama.com.
goto: My account.
goto: CBoxes, subset: how to get one. Read page: You need to place and link inworld a CBox first before going further. More information can be found in How To.
goto: How To.
goto: How to get the tools package. You will get the Tools Package at the page account->sell (direct link here), select the "get tools" button on the right menu.
goto: Tools page. Search Tools page. See nothing remotely resembling a CServer or a CBoxes selling package. Go back to How To page. Read entire page. You can also get the Tools Package inworlds at the different CTerminals (a list of CTerminals is given here.
goto: Terminals page. Select one at random.


Lady Disdain,shopping,stress,Cariama

goto: Terminal. Click several times. Note two buttons that appear, "Information" and "Website". Click "Information". Read short blurb about Cariama. Sigh and click Terminal. Click "Website". Watch as browser launches website from SL.
goto: Marketplace. Scan side list.
goto: Business. Scan both items. Sigh and go back to Marketplace. Scan side list. Realize there's no precise category for CBoxes or CServers.
goto: How To tab. Again.
goto: How to get the tools package. Again.
goto: direct sell link listed on that page. Read information given. You need to place and link inworld a CBox first before going further. Please get the tools package on the right menu, thank you. More information can be found in How To.
goto: the right side of the page. Realize there's no right side of the page, with any listings, whatsoever. Contemplate tearing out hair.
goto: Terminal. Again. Click on everything. Read through much chat spam on how to get more information. Begin clicking terminals. Realize now, they seem to recognize user status, and read the chat spam they spit out: [17:28] Alpha Centauri C whispers: For the moment, you can get the Tools Package only via Cariama website at the sell page, please visit www.cariama.com for more information.


Giving. The hell. Up. Nothing is worth this. Selling dresses for ten times the price, guaranteed, would not be worth this hell. There is NO. WAY. To acquire the sales box. There is NO. WAY. To acquire the vendor box.

So for now, I am not selling through Cariama, and I'm not likely to go back to repeat this mass waste of time (as of now, it's been over ninety minutes trying to figure out how to get a server and a vendor box. Just those two things. ALONE). Commensurate with that decision, listing things on Metaverse Exchange is just too great a hassle, so I've killed my server box for them, as well.

As of today, then, your shopping options off the grid are:

Slapt.me. Not my favorite. Hard to navigate, hard to figure out how to set things up properly, hard to draw money out if I do make a sale. But I'm up there with a few holiday items.

meta-LIFE. Also not my favorite, but slightly better than Slapt.me. Difficult to list things, but big advantage in that anywhere there's a meta-LIFE vendor, there's an option to sell my products. It may not work out that way, and to be honest, I don't foresee tons of sales, but I'm up there.

Apez. This site makes it nearly impossible to list things, and you nearly need a degree in organizational substructuring to figure out how to get from A to B, let alone from blank to listed, but once I did figure out how to list things, it became easy to list things again. This is very important. Plus, everywhere there's an unspecified (not tied down to specific brand) vendor, there's a chance for my products to be seen. Plus, there's an Apez vendor in the Black Sands Beach store.

On the plus side, Adam & Eve have holiday outfits out. I never found the male version--I was too busy contemplating yelling at the Cariama programmers--but the women's gown can be seen here, on sachi Vixen's Flickr, and it's just surpassingly gorgeous.

And Miss Allegory Malaprop has a quirky holiday freebie, a carryable stocking packed with gifts, just for going to the Elephant in Starlust. (She also has a tricolor set of striped stockings for L$175 that I am dying to get the funds together to buy! But that's not holiday, that's just for fun.)

And Miss Draconic Lioncourt released three 'spirits of the season' for L$400 each: the all-white "Ghost of Christmas Past", the green and gold "Ghost of Christmas Present", and the grimly lovely "Ghost of Christmas Future", with ornate lace details. They're at Draconic Kiss in Koreshan, and they're only there until the 1st of January, 2010.

Finally, Mr. Nix Sands released "Mrs. Claws", a boot and hat combination at XCentricity in Penzance. (You can also pick up the holiday Dragonfly Pumps, "Ice Queen", there as well.)

In the meantime, the four holiday dresses I've put out I now have pictures of (having done the box art). They are:

Glimmermenthe

Lady Disdain,holiday,Christmas,Yule,Second Life,dress,frock,design,fashion

Glimmering, shimmering gold with snowflake accents; three interchangeable corsets, two flexi skirt options, a multitude of mix-and-match holiday looks. L$100.

Peppermenthe

Lady Disdain,holiday,Christmas,Yule,Second Life,dress,frock,design,fashion

Muted candy-cane stripes in red and white complement three interchangeable corsets and two flexi skirt options with star belt. L$100.

Spearmenthe

Lady Disdain,holiday,Christmas,Yule,Second Life,dress,frock,design,fashion

Muted spearmint stripes in green and white on simple satin, with multiple options of skirt, corset, and self-stockings and gloves. L$100.

Wintermenthe

Lady Disdain,holiday,Christmas,Yule,Second Life,dress,frock,design,fashion

Muted candy stripes in blue, silver and grey on shining satin for the holidays; comes with three interchangeable corsets, multiple layers, and two flexi skirt lengths to choose from. L$100.

Each dress comes with a notecard detailing where to get the items I didn't make, and landmarks to both stores. And that's all the news I have for now. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 18, 2009

they hear the phantom drummers and the nonexistent pipes

I've been suffering a lot of oddity with Emerald of late.

Second Life,oddity,graphics

Usually it's much less visually stunning. Though this is rather impressive. More, it's been a steady stream of log in/crash/log in/nothing loads/quit/log in again. Over. And over. And over.

I'd accuse Emerald of having another bad patch, but...the same thing happens with Snowglobe. I think we've hit another bad-grid moment.

Blue Mars announces city price packages, according to Massively. They're competitive with Second Life in terms of cost; but they completely overpower SL for the amount of concurrent avatars allowed per region. SL not only won't match those figures, they technologically can't.

The down side of Blue Mars is still the technology of the end user required to get in. So that's still a drawback for most.

Concurrently, there's an entry on Dusan Writer's blog that decodes the Blue Mars terms of service. It all seems to boil down to no avatar "Bill of Rights", but the ability to identify who's made DMCA claims against you, if you get on that approved list of content creators in the game. Seems like two steps forward, one step back, so there's some gain at least.

MMORPG has released their holiday gift-giving guide for gamers (say that three times fast). It's a bit late for some celebrations, sort-of on time for others, but it'll all work out.

Tipped by Mr. Allen, who adores all things Disney, these images of an abandoned attraction. I don't know why these photographs haunt me so...maybe it's because Disney still retains that patch of land, but hasn't bothered to do anything with it, instead choosing to deliberately let it fall into ruin and disrepair.

The Artofblog fellow has challenged everyone to use his tips and take their blogs from zero to profitable in one week. And I considered it, I did, for three and a half seconds. And then I thought...no.

If anything's going to make me money via blogging, it's going to be taking the tips and tricks I've learned on writing to deadline, and writing constantly, and apply them back to fiction writing. Which I've been not doing since the move, and which I really should get back to, as in rightdamnnow.

After Yule, I'm going back to writing for at least one hour a day. Mandatory.

(We'll see how long that lasts.)

The Pixels and Policy blog covered several reasons behind business and Second Life just not quite meshing as a functional unit. One of the examples they used was IBM; they even have a picture, whose caption reads IBM's ambitious island: Now a ghost town.

Apparently they ignored the IBM-only landscape on the grid: the places where virtual meetings are held, the sandboxen where IBM employees try out virtual versions of their products, the companies that deal exclusively with high-level IBM corporate officers to design avatars for virtual boardrooms. They completely ignored the co-developed venture between IBM and Second Life that allows employees of IBM to train for RL jobs in SL.

Yeah. Some ghost town. What a tragic tale of failure...save for it's not. IBM still owns several sims, is involved deeply with the Lindens to ensure they understand what everything means, and encourages their employees to use the IBM-only SL spaces to converse, ask questions, meet, form focus groups, answer R&D difficulties, and stay in touch. How is this a failure? More to the point, if several islands--and it is several islands--are still held, bought and paid for, by IBM--where's the 'ghost town' aspect?

I guess you never see how active IBM is...unless you work for IBM. So much for researching their stories.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

pirouette down palsied paths with pennies for the vendor

Internet archeologists discover amazing social network site, previously thought lost to the sands of time.

Encouraging words from the Linden side of things, according to Ciaran Laval. Here's hoping Babbage is speaking truth: it would be a very good thing if it works out the way this entry seems to imply.

Also relating to Babbage Linden, Mo Hax reveals two new scripting functions that should make a lot of people--especially prim hair makers--very happy.

Finally, Dusan Writer brings us some solid information on the new "Home" experience from LL, including the styles of "homes" available (plus pictures of three of the four styles), the fact (revealed in comments) that this is not a 'perk' available to premium account holders who already own land, but would charge additional fees to them for participation, and--my favorite--lacking any reference to the fact that new "Home" owners can't terraform their parcel, or change out for a new style of house later.

Still think it's more a dog and pony show than anything--with very, very small dogs indeed.

Somewhat pursuant to that, I'm not the only pessimist on the block:

"I have waited for this day, and now that this day has come, my eyes view only destruction."

For the record, for anyone official who might be listening? I'm hoping we're wrong. It's very bleak where we are, right now. It's charmless and disheartening and depressing as hell. Do something right in the new year, Lindens--improve your world before it becomes just another has-been.

Back on copyright issues for a bit--I came across this highly shrill blog entry, featuring the fight against Blac Quartz. Now, I realize, copyright infringement is a huge issue right now; I'm finding more and more stores with the despotic Step Up! grin as I travel around, I've helped texture makers track down the folks infringing their work, and it's easy to let our emotions hold sway.

After all, I got fired over it, in a sense. (And defending a friend. I guess it all boils down to having personal integrity, in the end. I have it; so I'm an outcast.)

But this is where my rational side steps in and shakes her head. Is it the responsibility of a landowner to kick infringing renters out? It's the responsibility of the Labs, very true. And the sim owners in question retain the right to end any renter's lease time, according to provisions laid out in their individual covenants. Is it our responsibility, when we find infringing content, to contact the owner of the sim, though?

I don't think it is. I think it's absolutely right--and necessary--to take down notes, pictures if you can, UUIDs if you get the chance, and send all of that to the copyright holders. I think urging them to contact the Labs and file a cease-and-desist order is essential. But contacting the sim owner?

No. It's not their job. Just as the Lindens aren't 100% aware of every single action undertaken by a resident on the grid, sim owners can't be held accountable for whatever their renters choose to do. If it is within the covenant, that's where the sim owner's responsibility ends.

As I said, once infringement is discovered, can the sim owner choose not to renew a lease? Absolutely. Can a sim owner choose to validate claims against a tenant for future reference? Sure. Can they contact the original content owners and relay to them the types of infringing content involved? Of course.

But expecting each and every sim owner to get outraged and boot people out right and left--just one someone's unvalidated accusation--that's ludicrous. That's mental.

I know, people get emotional about this. There's a lot of anger, a lot of hurt, a lot of fear. I get that, believe me. But expecting sim owners to act as some sort of overriding moral compass for the grid? No. That's unwarranted. She's wrong for asking.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

forgotten freedom burns

This is mostly going to be a clip entry, because there have been so many blog posts this week that made good points.

The slow demise of SL in Australia? I hope not, but things are looking grim.

Facebook now suggests people lie if they want to protect their privacy. The hell, Facebook?

The FTC suggests the biggest online threats to children are...other children. And there's really no way developed that's going to stop that...

Caledon establishes a new Crown Colony--on Blue Mars. And speaking of space travel, NASA is developing its own space MMO. Neat.

Botgirl tackles copybot issues, copyright infringement and inventory control--and gets it all wrong.

And the single scariest piece of legislation ever proposed, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, is being fought in pitched battle in New Zealand. Here's hoping NZed wins.

Miss Dio refers to on of my entries in her latest on the topic of copyright infringement--and she also says something very thought-provoking: "One thing we do know for sure about the grid is that it is a festival of unintended consequences." Now there's a statement.

"But this time, they are actually trying to do something.

"Yeah, it may blow up in the their faces, it may do bizarre things we’ll all regret. But it’s something. It suggests to us that, hey, maybe there is someone on the other side of the equation that actually cares enough to try."

Here's to that. As much as I bash the Lindens and Linden corporatethought on this blog, I'm all for them trying to understand who we are and what we do. Maybe it will help, in the long run. I'm pessimistic, but then, that's just me.

Dusan Writer also takes on music in SL a bit--some of the drawbacks, some of the advantages, and I agree with the points made--and the comments following, while most of them I don't agree with, are at least intelligent, articulate and thought-provoking.

And I'll hold with what I say there--if the end goal of any performance is to get more listeners to hear what you do--on the off chance that some of those people will enjoy it enough to help finance your endeavor--then more ears is always better, and SL just can't provide those ears consistently. Micropayments through tips can help, yes, pay rent, advertise, all of that--but by and large, for merchants and musicians, it just won't pay the rent.

Speaking of music, Vimeo is currently being sued for copyright infringement. Why? Because a bunch of their employees created a fun video using Harvey Danger's Flagpole Sitta.

That link, by the way, is from Jonathan Coulton and Heather Gold. Why? Because, due to a copyright claim by Warner Music Group, I can't find the video of Harvey Danger singing it anywhere. They've even removed the song from his own music page on Last.fm!

This is actually one case where Warner Music Group is doing damage to their artist in pursuit of their cut of the profits; to wit, Harvey Danger himself, whose music is now nearly impossible to find. Just on a personal note, I myself, know fifteen people who have heard "Flagpole Sitta", fell in love with it, and bought albums. Bought, not lifted. Bought, not borrowed. Because they wanted to hear more of Harvey.

Now it's going to be impossible for people to do that. Why? It's not Danger getting in the way. It's Warner, throwing their weight around. It's Warner costing Harvey Danger new fans.

In this light, it's Warner responsible for "theft of content", in a sense, because they are forcing online sites to remove recorded--and in at least one case, fully authorized--content while the dispute rages on. Way to go.

Tying things up. I'll toss one more mention towards the Amazon bar to your left--mainly because I crawled through the warehouses and dragged in to the slideshow every single Munchkin game and expansion I could find, plus more books, some other card games, and candy for the hell of it--because Amazon has informed me that, until December 17th (US time), shipping is free (at least, domestically; I don't know on international shipping rates) over a certain figure--I think it's $25--and, on top of that, if you order by December 17th, you're insured delivery by the holidays.

Neat.

I'll also add that at Kouse's Sanctum, all the Advent gowns and gems are still available. You can stop in anytime and pick up what you haven't gotten to date. Prices range from L$30 at the most, to L$1 at the least, and all of it's lovely. Red, green, white and gold--lovely, lovely shaded fabrics, some outfits complete with shoes! What more can you ask for?

And that's all for now; off to ponder argyle dresses.