Thursday, January 27, 2011

there's nothing left to sell me, I'm broke

On a historical note, Cracked.com put together a list of the eight most awkward sexual moments in comic book history. They're sooooo not kidding. And sadly, most of these seem to have occurred in the 'Golden Age' of comics, when life was generally understood to be more "morally upstanding". Or something.

So, I had other entries I've been working on in the background. One on the Zindra Art Maze, which I really want to get back to wandering; one on doll stores with a slight emphasis on BDSM, because I was asked a question on the topic in world, and the answer's turning into a tale on its own. Plus, I'm not in world as much as I even want to be this week; I'm still resting the leg, in between doctor appointments that test me in new annoying ways.

But this made me push those aside, for the most part.

Now, a few days have passed since I was able to really sit down and write on this topic. There was a lot of heat around this article a few days ago, starting on Twitter with people questioning the validity of the figures. For the most part that's died down, but the article's writer, Axi Kurmin, actually got threatened by her boss, because he received some irate emails on the topic.

So let's go point by point down the thing, because I think it's vaguely important.

First off, she says that less than one third of all active users use 2.x viewers. I have no idea where on the SL webpage one would get that type of overview, but a) I trust her and b) it sounds accurate, based on what I'm seeing in world. There's a few people holding to various versions of Phoenix, some--like me--on Imprudence, and maybe one avatar out of every thirty on viewer 2 (any variant).

There are still people trumpeting the ease and efficiency of viewer 2.x structuring, and saying we're all afraid of change, and we just need to get over it and move on. And the Labs have every intent to make us move on (more on that later) in various ways, but in the meantime, even forcing new residents to use viewer 2.x exclusively isn't driving those figures up. People, in general, do not like viewer 2. This is not news. People, when presented with any other opportunity--be that downloading a 1.x-structured viewer with 2.x bits (like Imprudence), a 1.x viewer run by members of the same design team behind the Emerald debacle (like Phoenix), or simply choosing in ever-increasing numbers to play WoW, CoX, Champions, or log onto one of the OpenGrids--are choosing those alternatives over downloading and using the official viewer.

People hate this thing. This is not news. People won't use it. This is also not news--save maybe to the Lindens blind enough not to notice

So the next big point made is that Linden Labs plans to disable search in the next few months in 1.x-structured clients. Apart from being true, this is almost laughable, because search barely works now, no matter what client architecture is being used. In fact, it's almost easier to hop into SL Marketplace and search there, and then drag back specific store or resident names, than it has been to actually use search like...well...a search database, because the Lindens managed to totally bork their own code beyond all reason...and then ignored it for months.

Gun. Foot. Reload. The Lab keeps doing this. I'm still waiting for them to up the ante and start in on the real fun--where it becomes 'Gun. Temple. Reload (if needed)'.

Now, they do have a good reason, even if they themselves put themselves into this horrific position by coding such an abysmal backbirth of a viewer: the vast numbers of residents on 1.x structured viewers means that Second Life must maintain in the hinterland of failing legacy systems, and cannot move forward.

Since anyone in a virtual world is, by extension, supposed to be a technophile, let me say that again, so everyone can pay full attention:

The Labs cannot support the older features of Second Life, once the newer features are in place.

Not will not; cannot. The problem with this? The Labs honestly (if stupidly) expected everyone who uses the system to think Oh, goodness, Second Life viewer 2.x is fast, fun and easy, and improves my life ever so much! I shall never look back at 1.x viewers again! And that would have meant a lot of these major coding changes could have been done and over with last year.

Instead? They got complaining. We hate the sidebar (oh, my GODS, do we hate the sidebar). We hate how hard it is to build. We hate how labyrinthine they made the simple things, like rezzing a prim, changing clothes, IMing people, participating in group chat. We hate the chiclets. We hate the toasts. We hate the fact that in group chat, it's the name on one line, followed by the line of text, which makes roleplay insane, conversation difficult at best, and doubles the amount of visual tracking issues, trying to read along. We hate how hard it is to access and update user profiles (though they've got another way planned to take care of those complaints [which, amusingly enough, have now generated their own complaint stream]).

(I add to that the fact that all previous versions of the viewer have had levels of transparency, so when I leave chat or inventory windows open, I don't lose visual 'real estate', and that one of the single biggest problems adapting for me has been that the 2.x windows do not have that transparency, and are thus big, ugly blocks that get in my way and occlude walking, turning, finding vendors, building things, flying anywhere, turning corners, sitting down, swimming, and anything else I might do in world that actually requires SEEING THE GODDAMNED SCREEN.)

More than any other single feature, in the update from 1.x legacy viewers to 2.x compartmented viewers, we hate, loathe and despise how it seems inescapable that the team that coded up viewer 2.x just plainly doesn't understand why we're complaining...because they never go onto the grid for which they're coding.

I still believe that last is true, btw--and I'd love to know if there's ever been a study done on how much time any individual Linden spends sequestered away either off the grid entirely, or on Linden preserves, versus actually interacting on the main grid. I think the answer to that would stagger both the Labs, and the average resident in SL.

Kara Spengler asked on the SLUniverse thread, "Would LL *really* risk giving a large user base yet another reason to move to a different virtual world?" And yes, yes, I think the Labs would, because the Labs just don't seem to get, for whatever reason, that there are alternatives now to Second Life itself. None of them are great, mind (playing in OpenGrid sims; playing in WoW, Champions, City of Heroes/City of Villains, or [Insert MMO Name Here]...even waiting until Blue Mars launches for mobile phones later this year (or next).

Axi Kurmin said in the article: "There is no way that the platform can successfully move forward unless the viewer does." She's right. That's exactly what the Labs are thinking. But, as usual, they're going about it in the most cack-handed way possible. In fact, this is shades of the Zindra nightmare all over again.

Hey kids! Guess what? We're going to help everyone get up to speed and start using viewer 2, which is faster, easier, and far more fun than those old fuddy-duddy first-generation viewers! Remember, if you don't use viewer 2, you can't see mesh imports, alpha-blocked layers, use search or log in, once we figure out how to do that--I mean, once we block access to 1.x viewers! Because we really don't want them around, do we?

Is it just me who's hearing a vague pimp echo in that? Aww, c'mon baby, I never hit you that hard, and you know you deserve it, right? You can't blame me if you make me hit you, girl.

Yeah, Lindens. Yeah, actually, we can.

I'll come back to this later, I think. There's more that needs to be said.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

get off the ledge and drop the knife, not a victim of a victim's life

Around and about the grid this week, following two very different hunts.

Seen at the Secret Shelf: Mr. Giles' Apprentice.

Photobucket

Guh. L$129, comes in both colors shown (view the larger image for the racier skirt): this black, and the pale brown (or buff), which is on the larger view.

Right next to it? A set of aged rag stockings, with prim garters in several different colors. L$59. Whee!

Seen at the Think Kink Warehaus: Norby Willis, the first rubber fox I've ever seen. With a rubber fox gasmask, no less. In shiny, shiny pink.

From Blogger Pictures

I had to be fairly careful with the angle, he had...bits. Shiny shiny pink, rubber-covered bits, to be sure, but...bits.

Seen at Xtreme Restrained Life Toys: something only known as SAW.

From Blogger Pictures

HARD LIMIT. Oh HELL no.

Seen at Brickwerkz:

From Blogger Pictures

I know it's technically from a copyrighted work, but if image =/= copyright, there are no direct character names involved. Plus, it makes a great logo. And the flag moves, so it's even better.

Also at Brickwerkz:

From Blogger Pictures

*snickers* On a billboard, no less.

Seen at Coca & Wolf:

Photobucket

Wau. That's a ton of options for rougher play (and click the small pic for the larger image, which shows the female layers). And looks like front and back, everything from scrapes and scratches to...well...removal of bits, in a couple places at least. Still. For the darker-themed roleplayer, this would be ideal, and they only want L$75 for it.

Seen at Devil's Trade:

From Blogger Pictures

the "Steamy Victorian" mouse. (Amusingly, the maker of the mouse? Miss Reghan Straaf. I'd contact her if you want your own.)

Seen at the place with the ice cream bunnies:

From Blogger Pictures

Damn straight.

More as I travel about.

In sadder news, I am going to be removing the Runes of Magic link on the sidebar. A multitude of complicating reasons are behind this move, but the overriding concern is safety: a hacker is currently holding some older data "hostage", with the intent to release the more than three million data points if his demands aren't met. While what he's asking for isn't precisely unreasonable, even so, I don't feel like I can casually stroll back into the game.

This does pain me on a few levels, the most practical of which is: I have diamonds I can't transfer off to other players, and at least one special winter pack I likely won't log in to ever see. I still think it's a beautiful world, and I was happy to be a part of it both in beta, and in full release.

Monday, January 24, 2011

we're never leaving this place alive

When one is trying to track down the maker of a tattered, moving set of animated curtains, and one clicks the "Halloween Decorations" link in the maker's profile...one never expects to see THIS:

Photobucket

I have now been slain by particle hearts and an o'erabundance of pink. Vile, vile poofing trees. Please send flowers to the store in Twilight Tears. I will miss you all.

(If you care to lose sanity points, you may view it for yourself here. That is all.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

'cause you're my quasi-icthyian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen

Engadget has a short but zippy review of Sony's NGP handheld. I'm not a big handheld gamer--though I do love my iPod--but the handheld gaming addict in our house is thinking seriously of upgrading, depending on price; there are so many new features she's thinking it would be a great upgrade on what she already has (the PSP a generation back). Which we'll likely know soon, because they're planning on releasing it in December of 2011.

Defining what a user experience designer is can be difficult...but this little video does so in a charming, witty, and absurdly retro way. It's well worth watching.

From Jaden Davi's bio:
NOTE: ALL CHATS ARE LOGGED AND FILED..PROTECTED BY TOS AND POLICIES OF SL AND USED AS NEEDED
Okay, people, let me go over this once again for the kids that didn't catch it the first time around: THIS MEANS NOTHING. There is not a single solitary provision in Second Life, or in the Linden Labs Terms of Service, that gives anyone any "right" to log chat or "right" to not be logged. It's a feature; that's all.

Oh, and for the nth time, let me state this outright again, too, because I keep getting complaints: while I try to comply with peoples' wishes--that's MY choice, mind--there is no legal clause or paragraph in the Terms of Service that makes it illegal for me to log chat in world, and post it out of world. Posting it in world, especially to uninvolved parties, yeah, that's always been against ToS. But grabbing it in one place, and posting it on a blog? I'm absolutely, utterly clear.

The passage you'd be looking for on this one? Is this one: "Remotely monitoring conversations, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without consent are all prohibited in Second Life and on the Second Life Forums."

Now, if you ask, and I agree with you, I can--and have, mind--taken chat segments down. But if you yell at me or threaten legal action, I don't have to do a damned thing, and you know it--or should. In fact, your lawyer, should you even have one, will know that too.

How'ver, as far as the folks posting those ridiculous "By virtue of the ToS" statements in their profiles, feel free to track down a "point and laugh" animation if you see them in world. Because maybe that will finally snap this rumor's spine at long last.

Seen at Del's Odd Shop:

From Blogger Pictures

And I'm not showing what's in the next booth over. You want to go see, and you have a strong stomach, the SLUrl's right there. Otherwise, I don't recommend it.

More on the "Bloody Circus" dress.

First I went to Weird Designs. Miss Benelli has retired a lot of old designs, though, along with a pretty fab new store build, so no luck there.

Along my way I hit Raven's Hollow, which is apparently an RP sim now, but has a shopping area. The shopping area didn't pan out for the dress, or even for "doll stuff" in general (someone's dim recollection of a maybe to toss on the list). But the sim itself had amusing rules.
This is a privately owned sim you may visit here and shop here but if you break the rules you will be sent away.
No Nudity all bits must be covered, see through doesn't count, no private bits to show. No begging or asking for money you will be ejected and banned if you do so. Second life has lots of ways to earn money so no need to beg. NO NOT EVER ARE SEX PARTS TO SHOW. Also if you have an ao that animates you to wear you look like your hummpin the air the floor ect or such please turn it off while in sim we really do not want to see that ok thanks
No attacks on others,no shooting no caging no pushing or saying rude things to others Harassment of any kind will lead to ejecting and banning and reports to linden labs. goreans are welcome but no sexual poses can be used, no punishing while here, no sexual talk in open chat.
all tinies,furries,neko, vamps(vamps we love ya but no biting ok thanks) kid,and teen avis are welcome here,furries please wear clothes over bits as well. NO gambling, No sexual acts by anyone go to your own land for that . Any and all violations of linden labs TOS is an eject and ban offense and will be reported. land owner has final say in all banning. If you wish to rent a store please read the notecard in the rental boxes.
There is an RPG here to rp here you must be in the rp, no one may rp here if not a member of the rpg. members of the role players may not annoy shoppers or shop renters do so and you will be sent packing.
The only people who work here are the sim owner and her officers in the group nevermore. If anyone else says they work here or can rent you land here or a store here they are lying. If you have any questions about the sim please read the attached note
Fair enough, though positively riddled with run-on sentences. They're not bad rules, per se--don't let me give you that impression--and they're pretty clear about what they do and don't want on the sim. It was more the lack of ANY pauses, and the occasional forgetting about the fact that sentences do, in fact, END, that made me giggle.

Nothing else panned out, though--as Serenity pointed out--the Circus of the Damned outfits--the "Bloody Bigtop" tutu and long skirt, f'rinstance--are similar. Are they exact? No, not as far as I know. But they are similar, and maybe that's what struck the frontal lobes with Hmm, I think I've seen this before... musings.

Seen at Kinky-O's:

From Blogger Pictures

A rocking horse! Well, rocking ponygirl...furnishing...bondage-y...something. Also...rocking horses can be milked?

There is a sim called SkyBeam Morning Wood. I can't make that up, go see.

And check out Winterbells if you have some free time. It's a free flash game; I don't know if there's a downloadable version for any mobile device. Your job: hop on the bells. Bonus points: hop on wandering birds. You can change the arc of your jump by moving the mouse, otherwise it's mostly chance and aiming your bunny in the right direction. But the music is lovely and the animation is sublime and very simple in the best sense.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ancient in one long, incidental month

The fans of Red Dwarf just won't let the series go...which is okay with Craig Charles, who's announced that the show's coming back, with--as near as I can figure--the original cast.

Me, I'm deeply tickled by this, because many of the actors involved have gone on to minor celebrity notes in other things, but...I'm also a fan of Red Dwarf. And these are people who keep meeting up every few years anyway, in various and sundry, professionally or personally, because they have fun together. There are worse concepts for a comeback than that the show was fun and the actors are friends.

Meanwhile, Rodvik Linden, the new CEO of Linden Labs, announced what he's been doing on his first official post on the Second Life blog. I am extremely chary of this, but...I am feeling a small, guttering flame of hope about this.

It sounds so dramatic, but Linden Labs hired a CEO whose first few weeks were spent outside Linden land. He walked the grid. He looked at the seasons. He built a house, a raft, he scripted a mailbox. Simple projects, sure, but this means he's trying to learn.

In all seriousness, this, more than anything else, is what Linden Labs and Second Life has desperately needed. We need less management from the ivory tower and more people who understand, even if in small, personal ways, what the grid is like for those of us who reside within it.

At least, if he makes unpopular decisions, I have this tentative feeling that he will be doing it knowing what Second Life is. Isn't that...a good thing?

04:38 PM] Vasha Martinek: A friend phoned me today. He's a technician for some very specific types of factory equipment, so his job often involves traveling, sometimes to some surprisingly small towns. He is one such town today, which is so small that they only have open court once every two weeks, and they hear every case that doesn't involve minors on that day. (Minors are a different day.) The judge, who also owns the local bait shop, doesn't sort his docket - so if you get brought in for speeding (like my friend), you may find your case heard between the guy who brought the booze into the dry county, [and] the guy being charged with statutory rape (who, apparently, can get out of the charge by marrying the girl, according to her father's lawyer).
[04:38 PM] Melangel Thespian: O.O
[04:38 PM] Vasha Martinek: But that's not the best part.
[04:39 PM] Akasha26 Resident: umm.....ok then
[04:39 PM] Nataiu Wildcat: lol
[04:39 PM] Nataiu Wildcat: Oh my.. I want to live there lol
[04:39 PM] Maxie Claveau: geez
[04:39 PM] Inferno Blackadder: nice
[04:39 PM] Honni Clip: Was the name of the town Mayberry???
[04:39 PM] Trinity Allegiere: ...wow. o_O
[04:39 PM] Feanor Ishelwood: wow
[04:40 PM] Pandora Edwyn: i think i do live there
[04:40 PM] Elyri Winterwolf: this sounds a little like some of the counties adjacent to mine =/
[04:40 PM] Vasha Martinek: The BEST part... is that while he was waiting for his case to be heard... one of the local farmers went up under the charge of animal abuse — because apparently he's been buggering his sheep. And with a straight face, his lawyer said he was willing to enter a plea of guilty IF they would amend the record to show that it was only his female sheep he had interacted with as such, because he wanted it known that he was not a homosexual.
[04:41 PM] Elyri Winterwolf: LOL
[04:41 PM] Inferno Blackadder: LMFAO
[04:41 PM] Akasha26 Resident: lmao
[04:41 PM] Trinity Allegiere: .................she's still a sheep.


This is how the DV8 store group opened today, when I logged in after the crash. As one member put it, So it's okay if the town knows about the bestiality, as long as they don't think you're gay. Yeah, because really, a man has his reputation to protect.

*snickers*

[04:44 PM] Vasha Martinek: I have been laughing about this on and off for about 3 hours
[04:44 PM] Feanor Ishelwood: where was this? Wyoming?
[04:45 PM] Synoa Fallen: rofl
[04:45 PM] Vasha Martinek: No, Kansas
[04:45 PM] Trinity Allegiere: Ooookay then.xD


So, there you go, your daily dose of reality surreality

And for your daily dost of Second Life stupidity...caught this while I was searching through options for a potential tenant.

From Blogger Pictures


(Insert from the Editrix: I should have known better than to upload such 'questionable' images to the easily horrified Photobucket. I'll endeavor to track down the original and upload it somewhere less...decent...in a few hours.)

Skyler Baguier was in the penile av; Lyric Lerintzo was on the pink pony. Cyndyrella Jennings was in the hotpants, and Conrad Pedalo was in the white t-shirt, looking on. Gad, I hope they're just hanging out on empty parcel and aren't Solace residents.

From Blogger Pictures


Then they ported in two more people, and everyone died. I left; first, because they were insanely annoying with the gesturespamming, and their gesturespamming could be heard sim-wide. (I know, because I was in the far corner.) Second, because mass deathing from being in proximity to a shiny pink pony is just never my idea of a good time.

Photobucket

This outfit looks so familiar...it's currently on sale for L$10 upstairs at Crayon, and I know a lot of us tend to do the tattered circus/bloody Loli look off and on. But I could swear I've seen something like this before.

I'll see if I can hunt it down.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

and the world is like an apple whirling silently in space

Champions Online, in their continuing quest to kill off all income streams to their company, is reactivating their lifetime account sale from January 25th to February 4th. Granted, even once the game goes free-to-play, lifetime account holders still get some killer perks, but that's not the main point.

The 'standard' MMO subscription fee hovers around $15; some are more, some are less, but that's on average. (Of morbid amusement: that's the baseline set by World of WarCraft, which is why that's the industry average.) Since that's also Champion's subscription cost, what lifetime users get for their $239.99 (remember the 20% discount for this 'special' sale; the "average" cost for their lifetime membership level is $300) is support and updates for the life of the game, plus the perks, a sidekick, a couple costume variations (mentioned below), some titles, and eight character slots. Which...is the same amount of character slots regular monthly subscribers get.

Don't get me wrong, for the consumer who has this kind of green to burn at will, this isn't the worst thing--on the consumer end of things. For that, they throw together some cool gear, fancy colors for a forum title when you post how much you hate the game going free-to-play, a couple Art Deco-style costumes (which seem to be largely retreads in two different color variations using the helmet design from The Rocketeer) which are only available to lifetime subscribers, some special accessories only available to people who pay in general, and a few other toys and trinkets. (In fact, based on what I've been reading putting this entry together, it's even a possibility that this offer includes eight additional costume slots instead of simply 'eight slots, just like the monthly subscribers'; the language is inconclusive.)

But overall? The one-time (and now even discounted!) rate means that for the price of fifteen months of game time, the consumer now gets all of the game for "free"--past that hefty start-up fee, of course. No monthly subscription fees, and the updates keep on coming until you get tired of Champions--or until Star Trek: Online gets fully funded and Cryptic puts away the knights-in-tights for space rangers on the starry seas. (Which, admittedly, is the other major reason they could be doing this now, with the advent of DC Universe Online: sell a ton of 'lifetime' subscriptions for quick funding cash, then keep the game free-to-play until Star Trek gets off the ground...obviously, as a full-subscription service...whereupon Champion folds like a cheap table. Because in all seriousness: when your superhero MMO comes in fourth in a three-game list? It's time to step up their game or get out of it, and I don't think they have the wit to step it up.)

On to other things. I am sure I cemented many peoples' dislike of me with the previous Fabfree fracas, but I am beyond pleased to note that both the bloggers in question brought their A game this week--Stolan with a delightfully devilish entry, and Khalania with a beautiful entry on a (granted, FAR from free) group that has some lovely skins as a joining gift. Negative or not, I think they're both off on better footing.

I don't hate the blog, I never did. But that's an argument for another blog entry...if it ever needs one.

Christopher Nolan and the gang behind 'Dark Knight Rising', or whatever it's called this week, have finally announced their choices for Catwoman and Bane, two pivotal characters in Batman's story arc. And I like both actors in question, it's not that, but...okay, here's the thing.

I'm trying to make the mental switch from this to this in my head, and...it's just not working. Hells, this, even. Or this version of Selina Kyle. Or screw it, even Julie Newmar to dig up the retro vibe. I mean, I like Anne Hathaway--she's cute, she's funny, and she's developing into an actress to watch.

But in that outfit? I don't think she can pull it off. (Or, well, even put it on.)

And Tom Hardy? Tom Hardy as Bane. This is BANE we're talking about here. Massive steroid-enhanced luchador from hell, quite possibly stronger than God while amped up on Venom, his addiction of choice. And sure, yeah, a lot can be done with creative costuming and CGI, but...I just don't think he can pull it off, either.

Which brings us to what Marvel's doing in the next X-Men feature, X-Men: First Class. And...Emma Frost. And January Jones.

In 1980, writers Chris Claremont and John Byrne wanted to do a clever take on some English history and the traditional good-vs.-evil trope. What they came up with was a trippy little homage to the dark side of telepathic ability. What if someone could talk to you, mind to mind, and they didn't have your best interests at heart? What if they wanted to corrupt you? What if they were good at it? And what if they managed to convince you, dream by dream, that those dreams weren't just inventions of your subconscious but slices of a remembered past life?

This was the fertile ground that Emma Frost, White Queen of the Hellions and co-conspirator (along with Mastermind) to pervert Jean Gray into the Black Queen (a superior, contemptuous, sneeringly evil telepath in matching black corset and stockings, naturally, to match Emma's own revealing attire), purported leader of the reborn Hellfire Club, was dropped into.

Don't get me wrong. It was the eighties. That set of issues was known for some really bizarre art, cheesecake over pointed storytelling, and it was a clear dodge around the whole modern-day superhero motifs that The Uncanny X-Men were known for. It was Claremont's and Byrne's way to get to tell a horror story--that just happened to feature the X-Men. Win-win all around, because as the story unfolded, it turned out the fans loved Emma Frost. And she's been a subject of action figures, posters, fan art and comics storylines ever since.

I won't go into much of her past history here--she's been retconned so often she needs flash cards to remember her origin story from story arc to story arc--but the general gist when I was reading the comics was that she had joined Magneto's League of Evil Mutants to preserve the rights of mutantkind, and of course, to try and take over the world. She was foundational in raising both Mystique (who later raised Rogue) and raised a pointed strike force on her own to divert power from the X-Men by getting to young mutants first. She had the ability to switch minds with victims, as well as being a powerful projecting telepath, and--at least in some stories--she was frighteningly intelligent, making plans that often didn't see fruit until tens of issues later.

Unfortunately, in one particularly vicious attack during the run of The New Mutants, she was severely injured and all of her trainees were killed, as I recall. This caused her to switch sides when Xavier helped her to heal from the trauma afterwards. Whereupon she set up training academy after training academy to teach and mold young mutant minds (doing essentially the same job, but For Good as opposed to For Evil, I guess).

Okay, so in one sense, yes, Emma Frost is a great set of boobs in a tight corset. Granted. But she is far more than that, and while some of the writers who've been handed her have done her more than glancing disservice, for the most part she has remained a fighting spirit, strong, flexible and smart. And her core is Mutants First; a vast difference from Xavier's (and through him, the X-Men's) diffident committment to protect humankind from disaster.

So, why am I upset that Emma Gray will finally be getting more screen time (as she already appeared in the Wolverine film, if I recall)? Well, part of it really comes down to who's been chosen to play her in the upcoming film. Here's a side by side comparison of January Jones with a model of Emma, and guess what? THE MODEL HAS MORE DEPTH OF CHARACTER.

I don't care how good you look in a corset, girl. Emma Frost is, without even overstating, one of the fivemost intelligent women in comics, ever. And she's still one of the five most compelling characters in X-Men history, hands down. She's been a powerful force for good, for evil, and for muddying of morals throughout her entire run, every book she's been in.

She needs two things: an actress who is smart, funny, sarcastic, cynical, and can at least be made to resemble the Aryan poster child/Ice Goddess that Emma Frost embodies; and an actress that looks really great in lingerie and spandex.

So what's wrong with picking a lingerie and fashion model as the next on-screen embodiment of the White Queen? Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. She's vapid when she slaps the mother in the store; she's vapid when she's supposed to be in a highly aroused state in not one, but two scenes; she's vapid when she's shooting pigeons on the lawn. I have this deep, sick dread of going to the theatre and watching an Emma Frost mobile Barbie doll deliver stilted, quasi-emotional lines with various head tilts to emphasize deep emotion. She's not strong enough for the character. She's not deep enough for the character. And I don't think she's a good enough actress for the character.

Two different movies, two different companies, two different comics book publishers...the very same woefully mismatched actor-to-role assignments. At this rate, who are they picking for the rest of the cast

Oh, wait. We already know. And yep. Deep dread. Deep, deep dread.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

and now this could be the last of all the rides we take

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised anymore, when these things happen...

[07:22 PM] Bianca Namori: I'm going to make an alt, and whore her out to help with sim cost.
[07:22 PM] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Sultana!
[07:22 PM] SteelCobra Calamari: Magistrate!
[07:23 PM] Erehwon Yoshikawa: Miss Bianca!
[07:23 PM] Annechen Lowey facepalms.


The problem with this particular exchange? Isn't even that it's tacky as hell, though it is. It's that this is the leader of the new ally-state, Cala Mondrago.

But then, this is part of why I've detached from Caledon so much of late. Caledon is now the place of once-was. Once, social niceties mattered. Once, there was something resembling polite society. Once, Caledon was something to aspire to, the pearl of great price, a virtual pinnacle of life on the grid.

Maybe I make too much of a deal on it. Or I'm too set in my ways and too steeped in nostalgia--still. The current powers-that-hang-out seem to have no problem with the things that make my head spin, and it's certainly not prudishness that guides my actions. I don't mind flirtatiousness, innuendo, sly asides, the covert play of words and meanings; fencing using phrases, not rapiers, for enjoyment and the thrill of the interchange itself.

I suppose I simply see a difference between gentle flirtation, even wicked innuendo, on the one hand, and...such blunt and raw-edged attempts at..humor? Mayhap? Especially the concept of 'whoring' anything...on the other. Caledon has finally outpaced me in terms of culture; I am too staid for that environment.

To be fair, that means the problem is with me, not Caledon as a whole. It's more than a little depressing, and indicates a deep unwillingness to change that is still frustrating me on other issues in my life. And at this point I can't even say that Caledon as it is doesn't work--it had some moments of stagger, early in the transition from peered société to...this...but there is music, there is community, there is support and genuine caring in Caledon. I see it; I hear it. In my own way, distantly, I rejoice that it is there.

I just can't embrace the changes. Not yet. Maybe not ever. To me, all of this could have been reversed with a little care and a little attention, by those that matter. Unfortunately, I didn't think I was one of those who mattered, so I..and so many others...just watched it happen.

And again, I can't even say the current residents are wrong, because the current residents are happy. How can I argue with happiness? Why should I, why should anyone?

Over on the Rock Paper Shotgun blog, there's a bit of explanation behind the meteoric rise and subsequent fall in flames of "World of Starcraft"--or, at least, the trailers posted on YouTube. What leaves me curious is, while Blizzard/Activision have every right to kill the trailers for this, as they could possibly infringe on World of Warcraft copyright, they've left the actual development site for the mod alone. Why wouldn't they attempt a take-down on the site and the forums, as well? That may relate to why they released modkits for StarCraft in the first place...

FInally, this is the single worst suggestion for an MMO feature I have ever, ever heard. Ever. Hands down. I pray--hourly--that this is all a joke.

But if I see an MMO emerge with bathroom physics? It will be the end of gaming as we know it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

we're young, the world stopped breathing

Minecraft released a new update. So not only do we now have new objects and animals (including Charcoal, Sugar which is from Sugar Cane [formerly Reeds/Bamboo], Cake, Dispensers, Note Blocks, and Sheep [that can now come in multiple color variations]), but new dyes. Specifically, Light Blue dye, Rose Red dye, Pink dye, Orange dye, Ink (which can be combined with bone meal to make Grey dye and Light Grey dye, which can be harvested from the new creature type, Squid), Cyan dye, and Lapis Lazuli dye (which is also a mined ore and a block for building).

Whew. That's a lot of new stuph. And I'm not even sure I've covered everything!

Plus, Spiders can now climb, Creepers are sneakier, and there are Pine trees and Birch trees along with generic Tree trees--which I believe are now called Oak. Oof. Biomes seem to work better and, miracle of miracles, when you cut a tree trunk down, the leaves die off. Not all at once, but that's still okay; that feels more 'natural', anyway (assuming the land of cubes is representational of nature), and it means you won't have leaf cubes you can't reach for a few days hovering in mid-air, taunting your futile lack of sand. Or whatever.

In sadder news, for those who don't know, an artist and sculptor of some note has passed on. In Second Life his name was Theo Republic, and, though I was far from a close friend, I shall miss him and his work on the grid.

I am very thankful to the 25LT crew for giving me the opportunity to know him at all. The first night I went to his shop, he was trying to get everything out for sale for that Tuesday's discount, and was up very late (Australian time) trying to do it. He apologized for not having the item out, decided to take the vendor back and start over--and the walls of his store disappeared.

He'd taken back his store by accident.

I couldn't help it; I giggled at the irony, then stayed to make sure it was adjusted properly--not that he couldn't have done it without my help, but he was overtired, and, as he later said, he appreciated the second pair of eyes. I related the tale of how I'd finally had a landlord put out his copy of the same treehouse I had, just so I couldn't accidentally return it while walking across the floor!

That started my at least weekly trip to Theo's sculpt shop. If I needed a specific project, I'd check his shop first, just in case. While I was never a close friend, I was friendly, and I looked forward to his IMs going on on one sculpt or another--what worked, what didn't, what occasionally needed to be replaced because again, he'd been up too late and had forgotten all the proper permissions. He was a little scattered, but he had wonderful, rustic ideas for low-prim medieval/Gorean furnishing and decor.

Theo was someone who managed, inexplicably, to touch people he'd never even met--for just one example, this blog entry on SLDiscovery.com.

For his sculpts, for his sense of humor, for his warm heart, he will be missed deeply. My sincere condolences to his family, and to his friends.

(Edited to add a paragraph I discovered tonight when I logged in, from the 25LT weekly list:
SPECIAL NOTE:
We are deeply saddened to share that a member of our 25LT Merchant Family has passed away. Our condolences go all of Theo Republic's friends and family. A memorial has been established where his store was located. Please join us in extending a note of appreciation and visiting the memorial. We will miss you, Theo.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

you only hear the music when your heart begins to break

U-NAS is released!

There are Tiny transparent panda avatars now. (Of course, there are also displacer beasts with raping tentacles, but hey. It's a big world.)

And now (not that the above has any relevance on this), Stolan.

This is a larger chunk of the same conversation I quoted a bit of yesterday. I'd like to quote less, but I think it covers a lot of ground that I want to bring up:
[06:36 PM] Emilly Orr: I am not the type of person who is all sunshine and unicorns. I'm just not. It's not in me. I had a problem with how Stolan blogged, and what he chose to blog about, because I think he picked several terrifying outfits in a row and said "Look! These are great!" And they weren't.
[06:36 PM] Emilly Orr: Whatever I am going through is separate from what I blog about (for the most part).
[06:38 PM] Renee Lowenhart: so instead you went to your blog which he showed me since he was emailed the link back and used it to harm him
[06:38 PM] Emilly Orr: Renee, these are things I would have said to his face. In fact, I said some of them to him as comments on the blog entry.
[06:39 PM] Renee Lowenhart: Then you should have IMed him and had an open discussion. That would have been more constructive, dont you think?
[06:39 PM] Renee Lowenhart: Public humiliation is a [horrible] thing
[06:39 PM] Renee Lowenhart: No one deserves that.
So, starting from here. I have to say, again, that she's right. Public humiliation generally never serves the intended purpose--and it wasn't the point of that blog entry, anyway--and she's right again, that I should have IMed Stolan, or sent a notecard to him. Either way, this likely should have started off private, and then gone public (if it ever needed to; it might have been completely resolved without a single blog post being made).

So why didn't I? It's certainly not because I hate or even dislike FabFree as a blog, or any of the bloggers there as writers. I've heard that accusation more than once; it has no basis in fact. So why didn't I simply contact Stolan privately, and speak to him one on one?

Everything I've been pondering points to two sources. First, that those I've contacted in the past have had a variety of reactions, all of them negative. Those have ranged from immediate descents into epithets clear up to legal threats and, in a couple memorable cases of designers with extreme attitudes, IMing me every few minutes just to make my day tank that much more--once for five days running. I wasn't geared to thinking that writing anyone, even someone new to the game (and perhaps especially someone new to the game, considering my battles with the Resident family over the past few weeks) would be receptive in any way.

Okay, so part of that I have to own. I didn't think of it, because I'd had bad experiences in the past, which is letting my past control my current actions. While we are all creatures of our pasts, the point is not to be crippled by our histories, but be informed and enhanced by them. Good or bad, they should exist to tell us what happened; not to tell us what not to do, ever.

How does the saying go, though? Kick a dog enough times, he learns to bite? I'm not a dog, but I'm getting mightily tired of the rumor mill, and that started two years ago.

Which brings me to my second point. I think several parts of me, two years ago, just...stopped. Was it the best reaction? No, not in any way. But there was, and is, a large part of my personality that, even having been warned in advance, just can't cope with radical changes in perspective. Going from lavish praise to acid spite spins my head, and not in good ways. That it's happened three times now should be telling me something, and clearly.

I think that also fed into what happened with the post about Stolan's outfit choices (and, for anyone who seems to have forgotten that small point? It was about Stolan's outfit choices and spelling, not his appearance, and not, specifically, him). I'd already largely disconnected from the grid, slotting it entirely neatly into the position of the three who threw me away....and oh, hello, that's relevant too. Losing a brother over ideological differences (he was a gay conscientious objector who--suddenly and without warning--became a fervent Bush supporter who told me that because he disagreed with me I wasn't his sister anymore...and two years later, Katrina swept over his home and I lost him entirely.)

Okay. I have a known problem with being a discard, I get that. And due to it, I'd rather write on the blog (or play offline in other games) than connect in-world. Based on prior history of, even when polite, generally getting tirades back...this is actually a fairly textbook reaction. A + B does, in fact, equal C in this case...but there are a few additional things I'd like to bring up.
"Of course, this new condition in fashion may strike you as messy, shallow, dependent on borrowed ideas and visually boring, but don’t worry: like nausea, this feeling will pass."
This was from a review from the New York Times.
"I know you have four kids, but I don't want to see where they came from...A uterus is not a hotel. Stop it!"
Granted, this is two statements, on two outfits, taken from a longer Joan Rivers special, but I think the point's made.
"The actor has admitted he's not big on bathing, and he most certainly prefers rather ratty, mismatched clothes. Pattinson even manages to make the smartest of suits look disheveled. If we could give Mr. Pattinson two pieces of advice on how to transition from tween heartthrob to legitimate actor and public figure it would be these: tuck in the shirt and wash that hair."
This one's from Esquire Magazine. And believe me, I could have found tons more if I wanted to descend to sheer insult and mud-slinging.

There are people out there getting paid, making their livings, with all that that entails, tearing other people to shreds. In some cases, they're even encouraged, celebrated, given bigger and better shows or magazines from when they started. From small bloggers to corporations, it's nothing new in fashion--nor even the world at large, any version of the world.

I didn't shred anyone; I wasn't vicious or underhanded; and upon consideration, I don't think I was even that cruel. I said Stolan does a wonderful job on his own blog and a bad job on (and yes, his first) entry on FabFree. So he can only improve from there, right? Renee Lowenhart herself said her first posts make her blush to look back on now; I think nearly every blogger can agree with that. Style--and by this, I mean the style of writing, not fashion--takes time to develop fully, for anyone.

So I will offer this as an apology in kind: Stolan, I didn't consider someone who ran their own blog as new to the fashion or freebie review business; I am sorry, I should have taken that into consideration. I do take into consideration that English is not your first language, and that you will likely improve there, too, as time goes by. I don't think you should stop blogging; on the contrary, we have far too few male fashion voices on the grid.

And both Renee and I agree that the quality of items offered for men, specifically, are not as numerous as items for women, and where free or cheap items are concerned, that figure drops abysmally low. Perhaps I should have said it was a miracle that Stolan found anything at all to review. Kudos on the continued quest.

Finally, this is a short but targeted article on negative blogging, or, as some of us would prefer, honest blogging. I will do my best to put more thought into what I post, but if I think something is unnattractive, I'm not going to give it raves just to make points. That's not in me, either. Or, put another way, from Alicia Chenaux's blog, an entry written clear back in 2009:
"What if I blogged everything I was given, even if I didn't like it? And what if I SAID I didn't like it? What if I pointed out all the bad seams, over-pixelated hems, bad prim work, messed up sculpties? What if I said that the choice of colors is just blindingly ugly? What if I said that something was just a recolor of a template and then linked to the actual template on XStreet? What if I said something was just too overpriced and if I hadn't received it as a review copy, I'd never buy it?"
I don't blog fashion often, though I do cover it a fair amount of the time. I do try to cover, when I can, things that I'm given; far in the main are things I go out and buy, because I have never made a habit of asking for review items, ever.

But generally, when I'm given something that doesn't work? I've said so. And I've done that more than once. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Maybe the best approach is not to "take on" any particular blogger--and then watch the ensuing dramasplosion, as if on cue--but to seek out those same items and see if they do work. On me, or on anyone--or if they're just not well-made and that's why they're freebies.

We'll see how that goes, but after full consideration: I think the new kids at FabFree need to take this in stride and learn how to cope. Khalania is not ugly but she's forcing the mesh to do things it's not designed to do. If she thinks that looks good, more power to her. Stolan obviously needs more time on the grid, more time on the hunt, and maybe, in the long run, that will be good for him too--because he has his own style sense already, and even at under thirty days on the grid, he's managed to put together a few fascinating looks--if only on his own blog.

Okay? As far as I'm concerned, we're done here. But feel free to leave your comments in the comments section. Have at. Me, I'm moving on to other things.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

so hold on tight and don't look back

"Second Life is a world; it is not a web page."

Prokovy said that, in one of the latest rant-answers on the SL blog. This attitude--that Second Life is not part and parcel of the internet--seems strangely prevalent on the grid these days.

Is Second Life a discrete world, a space, a singular environment? Absolutely. But it's also part of the net, formed of the net; witness the fact that when the internet is out, Second Life also can't be accessed. Unlike games like Minecraft, SL can't be played offline; the client is buffered by the web, by the net, the social connections only possible when the electronic ones are going, too.

Second Life is not a webpage; it's far more than that. But does Second Life exist without the web? No. It doesn't. And I'd go one farther and say that it can't--both in terms of code and culture. This myopic thinking that Second Life and the web are not linked...it really needs to die a well-deserved death, already.

In other news, massive flooding covered three-quarters of southern Queensland, Australia, in December 2010, and is still going on today.

Photobucket

Over 200,000 people have been affected, in an area that's larger than Germany and France combined.

Photobucket

Crops are drowning on the vine. Nine people are confirmed dead; more than seventy are missing, and Australian officials expect the death toll to double--at least.

Photobucket

The biggest problem beyond just getting people and animals out is that so much of Queensland is flooded, including the airports. People can't fly out--airplanes packed with temporary shelter materials, food and medical supplies can't get in. Some of the work is being done with helicopters, but it's far from enough.

The Extend a Helping Hand charity, set up to fund recovery efforts by Sanura Sakai, now has a market in Second Life. For the next few days (until the 31st), you'll be able to get all sorts of items that will all go to helping flooded Queensland dry out. Vocal's one of the offerings; a cute bodysuit/shoes combo that comes in six colors for only L$100. Many of the offerings are between L$25 and L$100, because these merchants would rather more people support the cause than charge what they (reasonably) can in their stores.

Go to the event market to see Vocal, and to see all the other work on display. Miamai's turned out savagely pink and glittery silver party frocks; Rose River Saloon's made both party pumps and comfy boots, and the Rumor blog offers up a whole list of who's doing what. Go look.

The sheer scale of this is terrifying. This is Hurricane Katrina in spades. Queensland will be years recovering from this, if not decades. And considering Queensland's main industries are mining (which can't be done through waterlogged or flooded shafts), agriculture (the crops are dying, the cattle are floating away) and tourism (oh, yeah, let's go take a trip to the flood zone), they're going to be spending money they don't have just to keep their people alive.

All proceeds from Extend a Helping Hand events will go to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal. If you don't want to shop and help, please consider making a direct donation.

(All rights reserved to the Brisbane Times for images used in this entry. Copyright is to the photographers and the paper.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

I don't make the rules, dear

Shamus Young strikes again: this time with his strange and surreal tale of that famed superhero, Star on Chest. Follow his fledgling adventures through Champions Online (which, in a few short weeks, will go free-to-play).

In other news, Blue Mars is going under...sort of. While the PC version of the software will remain active--at least for now--the main focus of the company is shifting radically to mobile devices, over platforms and PCs.
"The focus for the first version of Blue Mars Mobile is avatar style and rankings. The initial versions will allow people to share their Blue Mars avatars through a native iOS application. In the next few months, an app store for clothing, Facebook Connect integration, avatar snapshots, account registration, and character customization will be added. The items you have created or own will already work with the mobile version as will the Blue Mars item creation tools."
Translation: it sounds like they're going to combine Rate My Avatar with IMVU subfunctions to generate an iPhone/iPad version of playing dress-up, and screw the virtual world part entirely.

I realize it's likely a huge blind spot, but I don't like Facebook. I think it's creepy, I abhor their insistence on real names, and I don't feel safe there, which is why I'm not there. With so many games and programs trying to access those sleeping millions with Facebook accounts, to the point of becoming mini-Facebook clones themselves, originality and diversity are falling by the wayside.

Read GoSpeed's blog from a 2009 Blue Mars visit and contrast that hopefulness with the current announcement. Not only that, but again--the land options in Blue Mars are phenomenal (and will be ignored with the shift to mobile), and the avatars suck beyond the telling of it (and will become the focus of the shift to mobile). Who said this was a good idea?

Oh, right, the Blue Mars developers.

Sanya Weathers sent out a bare-bones 'think before you post' adviso, and I'm taking it perhaps more to heart than I should. Partially because of a conversation earlier this week held with Renee Lowenhart.
[06:10 PM] Renee Lowenhart: What you do is just mean. I feel bad for you Emilly. I know from experience in my RL career that people that push this much negativity on others usually have a lot going on in their personal lives. If you need to talk to someone I will listen. But I do encourage you to talk to friends.
First off, I want to state for the record that it takes a great amount of courage to reach out to someone you perceive as hostile, and attacking you, and make the offer to listen, or to befriend (which she offered later). That takes a hell of a lot of willpower and personal strength.

I give her full points for that, but I admit, the rest of the conversation had me thinking for several days.
[06:06 PM] Renee Lowenhart: (Saved Tue Jan 11 17:55:13 2011) You are very cruel for making comments like that. Have you ever considered what it can do to a person emotionally? Khala is under 5 feet has a tiny waist but extremely curvy. I know this because her picture is on skype and just saw it.
So, now I'm having to face a few things.

First, do I think I'm a bully? By my definition, no. Bullies, to me, are people fighting for the status quo; for some form of societal 'purity'; and people who get that sense of personal empowerment when others are brought low. Maybe I'm working from the wrong definition, but that's not the reason why I do anything I do on this blog.

Second, am I lashing out because I have personal problems? That one, the jury's still out on. I have to say, and say clearly, that regardless of what's going on in my personal life, my blog's pretty much always been like this. But has it gotten worse as problems surface in the background? Honestly, I don't know. I may literally be too close to it to get an adequate grasp of things.

But Renee said I hurt Khalania by 1) not deleting what another avatar said in comments to the Fabfree entry (which I won't do), and 2) agreeing with said avatar and identifying her by name (which the initial commenter didn't do).

Okay. That was wrong, and I'll even agree, mean of me to do. And I offer Khalania full and sincere apologies for that.

How'ver, as I pointed out to Renee, it wasn't about her shape being her shape, SL or RL. It was about her shape distorting the mesh.

Let me see if I can explain. In RL, when you look at your hand, you'll see lots of different shapes forming several moving cell types for skin--octagons, rounded squares, rounded rectangles, triangles, diamonds, stretched and/or curving lines. It depends largely on where the skin is, how it stretches, the amount of sun exposure it's gotten. Generally speaking, though, our skin allows for curves easily because it is highly complex.

In SL? The mesh isn't that complex. Our "skin" is different. In this case, it's not the skin we wear (which, as far as the programming is concerned, is pretty much just a layer of paint over the "skin") but the shape underneath. And this "skin", the mesh, is comprised of triangles, squares, and the occasional polygon. All of them are pretty much set in place. They don't move, they don't shift. This is a drawing of what that looks like on the face and upper body. See what I mean?

Because of this, it's really easy to go past the limits of what the mesh contains when one is making an underlying shape for skins and distort it to the point of peaks, not rounded curves.

Several things to keep in mind: if you are an Ishtar-shaped woman (and they're out there, one of my best friends has this body type) and you want that body shape on the grid, what you need to keep in mind are the sliders for Saddle Bags and Hip Width--don't necessarily just go to 100 on one slider and call it good. Ease it up slowly, make frequent additions to the numbers on Saddle and Hip Width, make sure that your shape still has the roundness you want, and it works out.

If you just max out your Butt Size, and don't touch any other slider? You get angular distortion on the mesh, every single time. It doesn't have anything to do with being "fat" (here or in RL); it doesn't have anything to do with being "unattractive" (here or in RL); and note, in the original post, and here, I'm not saying Khalania is either of those things. I'm simply saying she's got a bad case of mesh distortion and she needs to fix it. What you're after in any basic shape alteration is smooth curves, not angles (unless that's really what you want). People don't have butt angles in RL (unless they're really, really thin and they've got visible pelvic-bone protrusions), and there's no reason they need butt angles here if a little care is applied to working with the underlying mesh.

If that's still me being mean, then fine, I'm being mean.

More when I think over more of the conversation.

There is a new blog post on the Autogenic blog! No, it doesn't announce new product; it lays the groundwork for an entirely new product line. (Including some items that will likely be offered under a different, potentially more mature, heading.)

(Also: Crie Style's home port in Little is really, really pretty. Clockworks, ruins, water--some of the visual expanses are just breathtaking. And Mr. Allen did a phenomenal job on the pictures he and I took. Most of what you see on that blog post, in fact? Come from his raw images, not mine.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow

[07:24 PM] Ami Tamura: I hate to be a killjoy. but it looks like we shouldn't be adding groups pass 25 yet. "Apparently LL has enabled 40 groups on the servers. I would HIGHLY suggest you do NOT join more than 25 groups until LL announces this officially. I HIGHLY suspect they are just testing, and when they disable the 40 groups, you may lose all your groups or some of your groups... or maybe just explode. Please wait for word from LL!!!! Really! And please spread this around!
Jessica Lyon"
[07:25 PM] Ami Tamura: Jessica Lyon is from the Phoenix viewer team.


I don't particularly care, I've dealt with Jessica Lyon before, but think this through for a minute. Suddenly, you're able to add more than 25 groups! You can barely see for the confetti and glitter filling the air. But the Lindens haven't announced this as a feature yet.

Which means...

* This could just be a test run.
* This could be pulled at any time.
* They could be live-testing for bugs in the code (it's happened before).
* There could be bugs in the code needing a rollback (it's happened before).
* Those bugs could glitch the system and end up, at least temporarily, glitching your groups in sundry and diverse ways (it's ALSO happened before).

So...hold your horses. I know, enthusiasm is high, I too want to see if I can max out that forty in a week, but...play it safe. Don't let the possibility overwhelm your common sense. Wait until the announcement's official and the Labs have fixed (most of) the bugs.

(Amusingly, while I was writing this, the Lindens formally announced the raise. So, there you go. Just remember--if you're in 1.x viewers, you won't see the new limit; only if you use 2.x structuring will the new group limit show up.)

Tossed another radio station on the station list, and I'm seriously considering making that its own entry, and not hobbling it with nostalgia and a fashion review beforehand.

[18:13] MystiTool HUD 1.3.1: Entering chat range: ooOooOoo Resident (17m)

And they wonder why we don't take them seriously.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

we'll find you when the sun goes black

The Elf Clan blog ponders whether Linden Labs is deliberately trying to force PG sims to close. What's the odd point for me--whether that's a blatant conspiracy theory or not--is that the Labs have done just about everything they could (from massive port failures, event listings that don't, all the way to breaking Search seemingly irreparably) to ensure that most Adult businesses are also failing.

Which defaults me back to maybe the Labs at heart really don't want anyone on their grid. At all.

Pursuant to that, according to this JIRA entry, the 'new' web-based profile system? Supposedly breaks a ton of existing content, and I'm not just talking the bells and whistles, like profile picks (again). No, this one, by report, manages to break security orbs and some group discount vendors (among a TON of other things).

So, I was thinking that the Lindens have lost their collective minds, AGAIN, but then I started thinking. And talking to friends. Some comments pulled from that conversation:

me: Also: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-3509
them: Why the Jiras?
me: So, I had dismissed the new web profile thing as no big deal
turns out there are two big deals
1. That's the future format; in-world profiles will be phased out, increasing lag and decreasing the amount of accessible info;
and
2. the implementation of web-based profiles, because they rely on an entirely different standard of access, have broken security orbs and most security levels in SL

them: Lies, and lies.
me: How so?
them: I've heard nothing about in-world profiles being removed and have no reason to believe they will be. These are simply the new version of the external version of the profiles we've always had.
So unless you can show some sort of proof that in-world profiles are being removed, I'll have to respectfully call that a lie, or at best an unsubstantiated rumor.


Okay, considering I'm just going by what Cummere Mayo is saying, it may well be an unsubstantiated rumor--so far. I'm planning on seeing if there's validity to at least the security orb claim once I get in world next.

them: Second, they scripted it wrong.
There's no reason why a security orb should be accessing your profile. It's not needed. Unless the Orb is specifically searching Groups and Picks and banning you for having one.
If it is?
It's scripted wrong.
All a Security orb needs is your UUID, which it gets by detecting you, and really that's it.

Which, as far as I know, is true. A security orb--really, any security system--shouldn't be accessing anything other than your avatar ID.

How'ver, some of the other problems--like group discounts going buggy, group-only land not recognizing members of the group, profile picks (yet again): sure, some of those will default to coding issues, but where else is the programming designed to look for group membership but the profile? How else are groups listed?

them: Does it break some content, yes, it happens. It sucks, but it does. You should look on the web sometime at all the old code that never got updated but was broke years ago by some change to C++ or the like.
You either hope to God the person who made it is still updating, or, if they aren't, realize you bought into a dead company and move on.


Save for I don't think any of us want to summarily name Second Life a dead land and Linden Labs a dead company.

me: I know, I know, and this goes back to the whole 'but SL is not the intarwebs!' talk we were having yesterday

The day before we'd been discussing the odd tendency, among SL residents, to disconnect Second Life (as a game/experience/life experiment/social experiment/whatever) from the internet at large. SL is part and parcel of the internet; while you can get into SL without accessing the web, you still need a connection to the net in order to log in in the first place.

them: But this is beyond that.
Just recently, in that Real Life thing, which I believe most people in SL are aware of...
We had this thing where Old TV's that used bunny ears? Wouldn't work anymore.
It was a needed freeing of those waves for an outdated and outmoded protocol.
It happens.
SL does its level best to keep backwards compatibility, sometimes to the detriment of actual progress. See "Resident".

Which is all true. We evolve, we grow, we change; our technologies also evolve, grow and change. I can't slide a ten-inch disc into my computer anymore and expect it to run; the tech has moved beyond that. Hells, my computer doesn't even have a functional 3.5 inch floppy drive!

them: But this time they didn't, likely because it was them changing an external thing.
This would be like complining if Twitter suddenly changed their Authorization method and broke a lot of programs
Oh wait.
They did.

me: this is true
them: Programs updated, or they didn't.
The people you need to be pissed at are the people you bought it from.

me: I don't have a security orb
them: I know
Really, Linden lab deserves a lot, but people just jump on them for everything. I can only imagine this is how Crystalshard Foo feels when people poke her about the house they bought, or Winter [Ventura] gets complaints about that awful megaprim thing.
Linden labs really can't do much but look at them and say, "Talk to the maker. We didn't break any LSL or In-World features."


Well, technically, they did--profile picks are broken (again), group gift delivery seems to be at least partially broken, group discounts seem to be broken, and then there's the previously mentioned security orb issue...which still needs to be verified, but that's on the list.

When one purchases Galtier's bodybuilder avatar, does one just get the...um...man boobs, with the prim nipples? Or the underlying shape as well? Obviously not the skin, as it's clearly pointed out that is not included in the offering.

Of course, all that goes to why one would want that...unless one is a bodybuilder RL, and wants to match the physique? Maybe?

[2011/01/13 04:26] Cloud Lemton: Well...I'm not going to be fighting you anytime soon.
[2011/01/13 04:27] Cloud Lemton: it's hard not to godmod with this character and I can't just switch because the character is me
[2011/01/13 04:27] Cloud Lemton: it's my 'sona


First problem: "persona" is too short a word to really need to be abbreviated.

Second problem: It's hard not to godmod with that character, because that character is him?

Third problem, codicil of the second: He godmods in real life? The hell? How does that work?

Monday, January 10, 2011

it ain't about all the friends you've made, but the graffiti they write on your grave

Tateru Nino wonders why the Labs have set up a secret JIRA category with over four hundred issues marked "Social". I wonder this, too--security exploits being secret I get. But social? Cultural/community/social networking issues have no need to be kept secret from residents...do they?

Meanwhile, there's more shady things happening in world. The CreARTivity blog asks us to work for them. And if we do, they'll pay us pennies on the pennies on the Linden (maximum L$120 per day) for telling our friends and our followers what they do.

...So, what is it they do for this minimal largesse? I really couldn't tell you. I've read through the blog for the past ten entries and I still have no clue what they do.

Cummere Mayo wants the new my.secondilfe.com profiles to be abolished; and while I get that the layout sucks, I don't understand all the screaming about RL info being on the web. People, your SL profile has been on the web and accessible on the Second Life website for at least five years that I know of; more to the point, it's your own lookout if you put down real, valid, RL information on your RL blog.

By that, I don't mean everything in your RL bio should, or even needs to be, false; but it's not at all false to say you're a 24-year-old female German biology student living in New York, over saying you're Gretchen Sinplot living on 224 14th Avenue in New York, with your phone number and your zip code and your email address. Because the first is accurate, and really, all that people in (or out) of SL need to know; the second is just flat out stupid, and shouldn't be done, ever. It's called internet safety for a reason, and if you're foolish enough to put all that information out in your bio, anyway, don't scream that the Lindens have made it easier to access your mistake in the first place.

(Insert from the Editrix: This is a direct quote from Yoz Linden on the JIRA page in question:
No private account info is available through the web profiles as designed, and much care has been taken to ensure that. Any bugs that demonstrate otherwise should be reported in the SEC project, where they'll only be visible to staff and will (if verified) be treated as critical.
So no, full RL details are not released on the web, just whatever people put in their RL bios, already.)

Here's the big thing I'm wondering, though. There's a 'tweet this' button; okay, fine. Not really necessary, but whatever. There's also a 'share on Facebook' button, and, even pushing aside my intense and vitriolic loathing for Facebook, is that similar to the 'Digg this' buttons that pop up, or does it mean something else?

I mean, look, I'm not interested in testing it out, but when that button's clicked, does it take you directly to Facebook with a request to log in or register? Or does it take you to that person's page on Facebook? Because I no longer have a page on Facebook...unless this means the Labs have kindly given me one.

Now, that possibility? Really would be frightening.

bad dreams really do come true

As mentioned on New World Notes, Second Life now has a new feature. Everyone automatically gets their own web page, which can be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

I...guess this is a good thing? Technically, we've had this--barring the sharing feature--for a long while now, but to be honest, it's much easier to use this time around, and the layout is both cleaner and larger (print-wise). Before, it was nearly the equivalent of a computer text file, with line after line of teensy type.

How'ver, the question must be asked--since the Labs recoded the profiles the first time, and broke all picks prize givers, and all group verifications for a while...have they managed to do it a second time? I haven't heard anything, but then, I haven't been in world yet.

Either way, it's yet another puzzling development from the Labs. Fixing Search, fixing group chat, fixing stability and asset server issues: these things are still not priorities. But obviously, everyone was just crying out with the intense burning lack of resident profiles shareable on social networks.

Glad to know that yet again, the Labs go for the least significant fixes first, before tackling the big stuph. (Which is, of course, assuming they ever will.)

To that end, I wanted to briefly mention for new readers: yes, I misspell certain words deliberately. Why? I really couldn't tell you. But I started doing it in high school, and I haven't ditched the habit yet.

For the most part, these are fixed misspellings in my mind. They are:

Stuph. For "stuff", obviously. In a highly indirect and circuitous route, this was inspired by a tale of Harlan Ellison's days in New York (which may be completely apocryphal in the first place). He'd gone to a party, gotten a bit tipsy, had a bit of an argument with the woman staying in said apartment--where he'd also been invited to spend a few weekends. In a fit of pique, he went outside, stamping in the dirty midwinter slush, and came back in, going to the apartment's den. It had a white Flokati rug, and he carefully, with intent, stamped out letters before leaving.

Those letters? P-H-U-Q-U-E. Sound it out. And thus, 'stuph' was born.

Septus. Another dating to high school, and Latin class. At the time, I thought it looked more...Latin-y? So to speak.

Aprille. Why Aprille? We'd been reading Canterbury Tales, and if that's not a variant spelling in there, it was in some literature of the time (we were also going through early English poets). It stuck.

How'ver. This is less a misspelling than it is a contraction, and it's not even that, really, because it's very nearly the same number of syllables sounded out (at least to me). But this was another high school glitch in the programming, that stuck around. (It doesn't even save time typing, because it's the same number of characters. Go figure I'd pick a contraction that isn't, that contains the same number of characters as the original word. That says something about my personality, I think. And it's not necessarily a good thing.)

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Click for the larger version. From some unknown manipulator on Worth 1000, and I am now pondering riveted pears. Does the grid have a need for them? More to the point, do they need to be clockwork, or can they simply be metallic? Would they add or detract to a grove of more natural trees?

And would they attract clockwork bees?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Ideally, anyone motivated should click over to the blog entry in question, and take the time to read through the comments, because the comments are really the reason to read that entry in the first place.

But I did want to step forward and air a few things for the counter-argument.

I do believe the grid is oversaturated with ways to get things cheaply. Four years ago it was difficult to get quality free items; now, a stroll through everyone's inventory library is good enough to get acceptable, decent things, let alone crawling the grid for free items from actual stores. There's been a lot of water under the bridge from SLBoutique (which worked) to SL Marketplace (which doesn't), but it's gradually getting easier to search, and as of now I see no difference in the free policy stated a year ago--and never implemented--and the free policy implemented currently.

I also believe there are too many special sale days. I agree--when you have a standard week and every single day, practically, has a dedicated blog, and sale group, and a double handful of makers striving to be noticed on that day...it's gotten out of hand. It used to be every three months there would be a big grid-wide hunt. Now there's six launching every week, thirty each month, hundreds each year.

But what's the big thing you're hearing me say in these few paragraphs? "Used to be". Why, the time was, you could walk around in a freebie skin and a t-shirt and no one cared, because everyone looked the same...

Yeah. Four years ago. Four years ago the grid was a lot different. Four years ago we never had more than 35,000 people on the grid. Now that means the grid's having trouble and there's rarely ever a day goes by without more than 50,000 logging in.

So let me speak to this on both a consumer's, and a maker's, level. Because some of us, we're both, so we see both sides.

1. Saturation.

The grid is saturated right now. Everyone walks in a new store and looks for freebies on the floor, on the counter, on the wall near the entrance. The initial scan--far beyond Is there anything good here? is Lemme see the freebies.

Why is this a good thing? First, separate out what's good and bad about it. Yes, you know people will return to your shop if you put out new free items every week, but forget that. Change them when you want to. Really proud of one outfit? Put it out in a specific color. Really proud of one outfit and don't want to make one free? Put out a set of stockings, gloves, shoes, or a hat; hells, even a hair flower, whatever, to go with that item. Some folks will come for the item; some will come for the item, and pick up the outfit. You control the access, not your customers.

Not only that, but some folks put out entirely unrelated things--like the bath and shower place I ran across one year that had a free blue chair. It was their first sculpt, and they were proud of it; but their entire work to date involved water: in-ground pools, hot tubs, showers, bathtubs. It was a departure, and, as far as I know, something they never continued with. But it was still a cool freebie.

Don't be afraid to make things that reflect things your store doesn't normally make. You may be interested in pushing the business that way. We may be interested, as customers, in seeing what else you can do.

2. The dreaded hunt.

Yes, grid-wides really are the bane of the grid right now, and far too many stores are getting involved with nineteen hunts every month, hoping that this will encourage folks to buy their products. Quick tip: it won't. No hunt in the universe will make a sale unless someone's really curious about what you do.

So how can they help? Tailor the hunts you pick to your business. Pick up hunts where the majority of your store's goods fit the hunt theme perfectly; that suits you two-fold, both making it easier to make hunt prizes, and letting people look around and see what you have while they're already thinking of the hunt theme.

Listen, we're hunters, we're scavengers, we'll go on hunts that interest us-with an even twenty to thirty hunts starting every single month, now, we can pick and choose. And most of us, with that many, want to know in advance that what we're hunting for isn't going to be something we'll just turn around and throw out.

So you want in on this mobile, omnivorous horde. Fine. But if your business is flowers and wedding displays, don't join the Twisted hunt. If all you make is demonic toys, don't join a hunt where the other ninety-nine businesses are kid-safe. Some things just don't make sense.

Still, hunts can be good things, even with the glut of them on the grid. If you match your business to the hunt, and place new items next to the hunt sign, or to the hunt item, this can breathe life and currency into your business like little else.

But we're likely just going to ignore you if you have sixteen hunt signs, every single week. *coughs* Like Michigan's Shack *coughs again*

3. Discount days.

I understand that deliberately devaluing your goods just encourages people to be cheap. Trust me, I get that. But by the same token, you don't want to be in a mindset where you know you're only getting L$25, or L$50, or L$69 for any given item, so what does it matter how well it's built?

It matters. Trust me. But here's the catch: again, you need to be in line with the concepts of the discount day. Some of them--like the Sixty-Linden Weekends, f'rinstance--can be anything. There are no quality or quantity standards. It's just a weekend of lowered-cost items, and that's fine. But groups like 25LT, they've got to be Gorean items, or items that can be easily adapted to Gorean play. I will say I am proudly on the 25LT subscription list, and not because I'm only going to pay so much for things. That's not it at all. I have found a ton of stores I really, really like--and go back and buy things full-price from--and I wouldn't have found them if I hadn't been on that list.

Treasured Cove Sculpties, for instance. I never would have known they existed had it not been for 25LT. Last October I ran a scavenger hunt through my haunted house and all the pumpkins I made--both for hunt objects and decor--came from Treasured Cove, from sculpts to final textures.

Or take the case of people new to the Gor lands, who maybe don't have a ton of Lindens--having smart camisks, smart bondwench outfits, for cheap doesn't hurt the makers of more expensive outfits--because women will save for beauty, at any price.

It's only harmful if it's treated as the norm. Right now, it's not. Right now, it's still a handful of stores, and most of them are doing one or two of these--the occasional hunt, the chosen day. But keep in mind, right now, the grid is a highly competitive place. And, as with any economy, the market will bear what the consumers will, not what the designers will. If a designer can survive asking L$600 or more per outfit--and some do--then do they really need specials and sales? By the same extent, if a merchant is involved in every discount day there is and nineteen hunts on the side, that's the mark of a bad merchant, not a bad system.

In the meantime, a new lingerie store has opened. It's called Voluptia, and they make rather nice after-hours numbers. I had a goal--I heard tales of new seamed stockings--so that's all I went in for, but...well, look:

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See why I walked out with a sacrificed group slot? They're just stockings, but they're wonderfully well-done. There's a bit of pattern unevenness on the very top, but I'm starting to think that's really a flaw of the template and mesh, not the maker, because just about everyone has done this at certain lengths. Beyond that, they're flawless, give a great impression of being sheer black silk, and the curving flower/vine "seam" is executed brilliantly.

(Plus, handy tip--I would have joined anyway, but after I joined, I discovered that if you join before Friday, January 14th, LadyVanir Dragovar will send you a gift voucher on the 15th in appreciation. I am more than willing to be so appreciated.)