Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a casket built for two

This hit the inbox this morning:
Group Notice From: :: Lokii's Apostates ::, Lokii Violet

After numerous angry IMs and notecards last night and this morning over a glitch in the redelivery script, I will not be updating the main MM until such time people realize that it's a [privilege] to get something, not a demanding right to throw a shit fit over something free they receive.

I will still keep the group Mini running and will be updating it as soon as I can with new items, but until further notice the main MM is kaput.
Now, I admit, I am in the 'far too much crap' area of Second Life, so while I still do hit Midnight Mania boards, at this point they fall nearly exclusively into three specific areas:

1. Can I build something with it? (Texture boards, sculpts, full-perm items that can go into things I texture, sculpt and build)

2. Can I buy it outright? (A lot of times certain makers on my list will put an item into their Midnight Manias or Lucky Boards that cannot be gotten otherwise. Or, in the case of some, they can be had, but only after a week or so of that item being in the MM)

3. Is it a product from a niche market? (In other words, fantasy, gothic, anime, horror...something I'm not going to run across casually)

If it's not one of those, I generally don't bother.

But I have bothered with the MM at Malfean Visions before. First, because she makes great shoes, hands down--seriously, the shoes I wear most these days are Show Me On the Doll's pony boots first, Lokii's Strapped or Admiral line second, and Adam & Eve's Beatrix line third--and second, because a lot of the time she'll toss previews of new things in to the MM, advertise it, see if it locks, and that, I'm pretty sure, tells her whether or not to put out two or three variations on a shoe, or nineteen.

She also tosses in dresses and other ephemera from time to time (though generally doll keys and other specialty items, like limited editions she doesn't release to the public, go in the RiotVend).

More importantly, of all the store groups I've been in, the Apostates group remains one of the more rational and level-headed, and--dare I put it this way--fun. So what the hell happened? It can't be a group thing, I'm thinking--only the Mini Mania is locked to group--so were these just random idiots who came in and tapped and the script glitched afterwards?

But then why send out a notice to her group? Because that's the lynchpin issue, here. You only send out a notice to people who are affected by the issue. So, if it was just randomness, she would have put a sign up next to, or over, the MM.

She sent the notice out to the group. Which means people in her store group shredded her over an issue she has zero control for, and that...just irritates the hell out of me, frankly.

Because she's right. Anything we get off an MM, off a Lucky Board, a Mini Mania, Lucky/Unlucky chair, or any variant thereof (be it fishing, guessing games, raffles, or straight clicks-to-a-goal) is not making money for the merchant. I'm not saying people who drop in for a chance to win something don't buy things--I do, and I'm not alone in that. But I am saying that by and large, a resident can visit thirty stores, click the MMs in each one, and port out again before even the MM item rezzes in. It's not, in itself, a money-making plan.

So yeah, I'm extremely disappointed in people again. Shame on all of you who sent her dunning IMs and notecards. It wasn't her fault. It's never the merchant's fault when a script glitches--it's usually an issue of lag in the sim, or SL just being SL. And it's never the customer's responsibility to be rude in return. Ever.

More importantly, and this goes for all the merchants out there--all designers who are willing to cut us a deal--be that a freebie in their store, a Midnight Mania board, a Lucky Chair, or one of the now-ubiquitous themed sale discounts on the grid--don't have to do this. What's in it for them only becomes of value when a lot of people buy that item, when word-of-mouth goes wideband. Otherwise, it's just another loss leader. It's a courtesy to us that they do it at all.

Don't like an item? Toss it and move on. Didn't get the item? If you feel you have to, be goddamned polite about it. Otherwise, move on to the next thing. It's not worth your time, and it's definitely not worth the designer's, to throw a tantrum like a three-year-old.

^&^

Update from the designer:
[03:46 PM] Freakkitteh [Lokii Violet]: Just to clarify on it - it was a mob of people not from this group that complained about it. People that've never set foot in the store before until last night. That's the only reason I got irritated at the audacity of it.
[03:46 PM] Freakkitteh [Lokii Violet]: No one from here, hell I don't care if you guys call it but when it's random Joblow rhoidrage they can kindly get fucked.
[03:46 PM] :‧ Şђα ‧: [Shari Cortes]: hey Lokiii don't worry is just us mobvending you
[03:46 PM] :‧ Şђα ‧: [Shari Cortes]: waves madly
[03:46 PM] Bite me [lavita Galicia]: what did i miss? complained about what?
[03:47 PM] Freakkitteh [Lokii Violet]: Just the MM redelivery scripting wigged out and redelivered the previous gift instead of the Revenent.
There you go, then. Wasn't anyone in the Apostates group. So we're clear.

It's the rest of you idiots that need to grow the hell up.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

the mirror squeaked, away I ran

This is how I spent part of my morning:

[7:42 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: Hi!

This is a personal pet peeve of mine, one that no one seems to be able to move past. I don't care if it's your entire problem in one lengthy convulsing paragraph, just say anything more than just "Hi!" (Or 'hey' or 'hello' or any variant thereof).

Unfortunately, I can't just snap at people like I dearly wish to, because I am now representing an estate, and I don't want that estate tarnished by my actions, if I can prevent those actions. So I have to play nice with people I want to slap until they stop whimpering or fall down unconscious.

[09:11 AM] Emilly Orr: Hi! How can I help you?
[9:12 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: Hi just a moment please! :)
[09:14 AM] Emilly Orr: No worries.
[09:18 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: i'm here
[09:18 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: sorry
[09:18 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: :)
[09:18 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: I would like speak with you about business.. :)
[09:19 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: it's possible?


Okay, a land question. I can do this. This is what I do.

[09:19 AM] Emilly Orr: Business of what kind?
[09:20 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: so... I explain to you our idea.. :)


Now I have dread.

[09:20 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: we are founding a service company for events and create avatars that improvement will be structured on a land

I don't understand.

[09:20 AM] Emilly Orr: Okay
[09:20 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: we want to create something totally NEW...
[09:21 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: many people feel uncomfortable and we help them with little money to improve themselves and understand the tricks to fix the look and not only, we also teach them how to use various viwer
[09:21 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: In addition, for those interested, we have the possibility to organize small events and large events engaging large and small figures from the entertainment world sl and if we succeed, even rl
[09:21 AM] Emilly Orr: With you so far.


So...something totally "new" like the PPC, that brought the grid 300, Transformers and Die Hard 4? Paired with a makeover service.

Yeah.

That's new.

[09:21 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: and not only my partner works for an international film festival the "[film festival that's no longer linked]" ... she is the creative part of the show.. Maybe you have heard about it I think .. :)
[09:22 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: ..
[09:23 AM] Emilly Orr: I have, yes.
[09:23 AM] Emilly Orr: Still waiting for how I can help you.


Seriously. Twelve minutes of conversation and I still don't know what the woman wants. I think it's that she's doing the same thing I did yesterday, and translating her reasonable [language of origin] into unreasonable English through the Google filter. Ack.

[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: in [unlisted country of origin] it can be seen on TV summer and the festival organizers are interested in SL as a communication platform
[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: Me and my partner we deal with starting a small path which we hope to expand with time and with the trademark "[film festival that's no longer linked]"
[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: for now we offer only our professionalism and our creativity waiting to grow
[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: we start from the first step to get more top ^^


Don't ask me, I have no idea what 'getting more top' means. I think starting small and becoming big and famous? Maybe?

[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: obviously the project is international and not limited only to [unlisted country of origin] ^^
[09:24 AM] Emilly Orr: Right.
[09:24 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: but above all we will start with the [unlisted country of origin] and American peoples
[09:25 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: it would be a place for newbies to experts (to create events) but also for those who simply want to improve himself
[09:25 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: obviously what we ask in return is always based on who we have in front cause we can not ask for an avatar of one week 10% or 20%
[09:26 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: would have multiple benefits for you ... more publicity, more revenue and, above all, absolute visibility
[09:26 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: Furthermore, we and the staff who will sponsor you with anyone who needs of land
[09:26 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: and the staff will recommend to you for rent or buy


I think what she's getting at here is, they're offering to make over avatars who have zero style, and possibly, recommending land purchases to them, as well as hosting events on their land. Or our land. It's unclear.

[09:26 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: and you will also advertise on blogs, facebook and possibly on a website dedicated to our society if things go the right way

Yeah, bite me, fangirl, I'll bite off fingers before I join Facebook again voluntarily.

[09:27 AM] Emilly Orr: Okay, getting confused again. Are you interested in renting land from Solace Beach?
[09:27 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: xwe wish also to help understand the world of work and newbie giving them the opportunity to find work, based on proposals that are inworld ^^
[09:27 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: we looking for a sponsor for this projec
[09:27 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: In short, our society would be a temporary, events and style ^^
[09:27 AM] Emilly Orr: And you want me to talk to Ayesha?
[09:27 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: jayesha?
[09:27 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: ayesha?
[09:28 AM] Emilly Orr: Okay, let's back up. Why are you talking to me?


Because at this point, I had no idea why we were having this conversation. If they didn't want me to talk to Ayesha about donating ad space on Solace or land for their project, then what did they want me to help them with?

[09:28 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: because this is our project and we looking for sponsor for create it...
>[09:28 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: if you are interested we are looking for a badget to begin
[09:28 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: obviously the choice is up to you if you think that the idea is valid


Oh dear gods. They want me to FINANCE this lemming run. What part of my profile said "I'm independently wealthy and looking to invest in quirky start-ups"?

[09:29 AM] Emilly Orr: First off, that's not my place. Second off, I'm not in a financial position to sponsor anyone.
[09:30 AM] Emilly Orr: Third, if you're looking to hire me to be involved, my current rate is L$750 per hour, and I can only devote the time that's not taken by RL concerns or my work as a Solace Beach estate manager.
[09:30 AM] Emilly Orr: Are you thinking of buying a sim, or do you have one already, or...?


Because seriously, I still had few clues as to why she'd written me in the first place.

[09:30 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: I looking for a sponsor not for hiring.. so I understand that the thing don't interest you
[09:31 AM] Emilly Orr: I'm not saying it's not a good idea. I'm saying I can't afford to sponsor it personally. Most of what I earn in Lindens goes to rent, or landscaping items to decorate Solace Beach parcels.
[09:32 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: I've already a land for free by a sponsor and for other land I'm interest only a more bigger land of this that I've already.. there is no need to be rude


And that was a jaw-dropping moment. I actually scrolled back up and read the entire conversation again. When was I rude? Seriously, when was I rude? Here, sure, but in talking to her in IM? The hell?

[09:32 AM] Emilly Orr: I'm not being rude.
[09:32 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: so maybe I was wrong but I thought it was
[09:32 AM] Emilly Orr: I apologize if what I'm typing is coming across as curt or disdainful. This isn't my intent.
[09:33 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: ok.. and sorry to I have misunderstood
[09:33 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: :)
[09:34 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: this is our idea... if you are interesting to partecipate as sponsor we can speak about that.. otherwise the disturbance sorry and thanks for the time you have granted me
[09:34 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: :)
[09:35 AM] Emilly Orr: It's okay. I'm just not sure how I can help you, and you seem to be saying you want my help to fund things, which I can't do. And that's not rude, that's just fact. Unfortunately, I make very very little RL, so I rarely even buy Lindens. What I make in world, tends to stay in world, just not in my hands.
[09:35 AM] Emilly Orr: But I wish you well on the endeavor.


And I do. I don't think they're evil scammers, I think the [film festival that's no longer linked], if they really are tied to it, is vibrant and fresh, and if the Festival staff is seriously thinking of investing in SL to help spark education and interest, that's not the worst thing for Second Life as a platform, either.

[09:36 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: I completely understand .. So pardon me if I disturbed you, and if one day you will want to participate in the project you will know where to find me
[09:37 AM] [Dilapidated Insect]: thank you! :D
[09:37 AM] Emilly Orr smiles. You're welcome!


And that seemed to be that.

A quick check confirmed there's only one group with "[film festival that's no longer linked]" in the title, and that seems to be music-oriented; what's more, neither [Miss Insect]'s name nor the partner's name showed up in the visible members portion of that group. (They may be invisible members, which I could see if I joined, but I didn't feel like joining a group just to leave it again.) Still, that doesn't mean they're scam artists. That just means they haven't set up a "[film festival that's no longer linked]" group...yet.

So, I guess...see when they do pop with a group, see what the group says? Or check Miss [Insect]'s profile now and again to see if there's ever a link to the Giffoni project sim. Or...whatever.

I'm still not entirely sure what we talked about, to be honest. Maybe I'm up too early for full comprehension.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

German wine, turpentine, Gertrude Stein

First thing: I want to point out the new shiny on the sidebar. My first official sponsored ad!

Now, granted, it's a lousy deal, all things considered--if someone clicks through, and if they watch the video, and if they end up pre-ordering the game--in the UK--then I get 22 cents on the transaction.

Yeah. Not kidding.

But I'm just thrilled to have it on the page. Look! Portal 2! It's coming out! (Yes, I am excited about it, even though I, erm, haven't finished the first game yet...What? I'm slow with physics puzzles! I have no time! Grr!)

And I figure I will toss my obligatory seasonal shout-out to the Amazon link. I have stuph. Stuph you might be interested in. And if you buy through that, I get yet another negligible sum, which Amazon won't pay me unless it gets pretty high. (Not kidding about that, either. I got a grand total of $4.63 from holiday shopping. That sum's been erased from my Associates account, because if it's not up to $10, they don't even bother sending out a gift card.)

So why am I bothering? Okay, first, the Portal 2 ad is cool. It gets in on cool points alone. Hells, if the advert rep had written me asking to put it up for nothing, I admit, I might have done that.

Second, I keep the Amazon link around because it's become a secondary wishlist--I can point folks who might want to buy things for me to the blog, and they can ponder the oddity of some of my choices, but they get a pretty good idea of likes and dislike, and, moreover, things I don't have. I'm not huge on having things, but I'm not averse to them either.

Anyway. Enough of that. Next up, Google Translate doesn't go far enough.

This is not news to anyone, least of all me. But I almost wish I hadn't used their new service to view alternate translations.

This is what I was planning to send to a client who's behind on his tier:
[M],

Du hast auf Sendung #[his parcel] abgelaufen. Wenn Sie immer noch interessiert an der Anmietung von uns bist, dann schreiben Sie von der Tier-Station, die hier zu finden:

[landmark to his sim's tier station]

und zahlen mindestens eine Woche von Tier (auch wenn man mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie möchten). Und vielen Dank für die Wahl Solace Beach!

sanfte Brise,

Emilly Orr
Trost Strand Gutsverwalter
Which was supposedly a word-for-word translation of this:
[M],

You've expired on parcel #[his parcel]. If you're still interested in renting from us, please drop by the tier station, which is located here:

[landmark to his sim's tier station]

and pay at least one week of tier (though you can pay more if you like). And thanks for choosing Solace Beach!

Fair winds,

Emilly Orr
Solace Beach Estate Manager
Then I started breaking it down. First off, this passage:
Wenn Sie immer noch interessiert an der Anmietung von uns bist, dann schreiben Sie von der Tier-Station, die hier zu finden:
on a retranslation, actually says this:
If you're still interested in hiring us, please write about the animal station, which can be found here:
Huh? Hiring us? Animal station? But it doesn't stop there. The next bit of text is even more confusing. This:
and pay at least one week of tier (though you can pay more if you like). And thanks for choosing Solace Beach!
becomes this:
and pay at least a week of animal (even if you pay more if you want). And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
So my first question is...what animal is a "tier", exactly? Come to find out, "tier" is a very general German word. It simply means that--animal. Any animal. All animals.

Okay, so that passage has to go. What about:
You have run out of time on your lot. If you are still interested in renting from us, please drop by your rental box, which you can find here:
When translated (and translated back) that becomes:
You have run the time on your lot. If you are still interested in hiring us, please write about your rental box, which can be found here:
Still not crazy about the 'hiring us' part. Okay, what about:
You have no more time on your lot. If you are still interested in staying with us, please drop by your rental box, which you can find here:
That becomes:
Sie haben keine Zeit mehr auf Ihrem Grundstück. Wenn Sie noch Interesse an einem Aufenthalt bei uns sind, dann schreiben Sie von Ihrem Charme Box, die Sie hier finden können:
which in turn becomes:
You have no time to more your property. If you are interested in staying with us yet, then post your charm box that you can find here:
*facepalms*

When did it become "charm box"? Okay, try three:
You have no time on your lot. If you are still interested in staying with us, please drop by your payment place, which you can find here:
Which becomes
Do not have time on your property. If you are interested in staying with us yet, just look at your payment place that you can find here:
Okay! Better!

Stilted as hell, but better! I think we can move to the next passage.

So let's try this:
und zahlen mindestens eine Woche mieten (wenn man mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie möchten). Und ich danke Ihnen für die Wahl Solace Beach!
which becomes:
and pay at least a week rent (if you pay more if you want). And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Cumbersome. Okay, how about:
and pay at least one week of rent. One week will do, but you can always pay advance rent if you want to do that And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
That gives us this:
and pay rent at least a week. A week will do, but you can always pay advance rent, if you do want to thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Oh, the hell, that's nearly word salad.

Think think think. How about:
and pay at least one week of rent. Pay more if you want. And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
That becomes:
und zahlen mindestens eine Woche mieten. Mehr bezahlen, wenn Sie wollen. Und ich danke Ihnen für die Wahl Solace Beach!
which in turn becomes:
and pay rent at least a week. Pay more if you want. And thank you for choosing Solace Beach!
Okay. That's terse, but okay.

Somehow "Fair winds", which is my typical sign-off, becomes closer to "gentle breeze", which isn't per se bad, just...odd. But I can live with it. At least until I come up with a new sign-off. And "Solace Beach" becomes "Trost Strand", which is something to do with land and consolation, which...isn't actually that far off.

But dear gods, if this was what I was sending German people, the Russian people must have been really, really flummoxed! To say nothing of the Portuguese, the Turkish, the Spanish, the French, the Japanese...I mean, we are an international grid, and if I don't know the language personally (I only know a few words in a smattering of languages, I am woefully undereducated where language is concerned), I have to turn to machine translation. We all do.

But I think I'm going to start taking more time on each card. Because the eyes on the other end deserve to not bug out in grand confusion. Though at least the giggle factor is high...

roll off the grass and let the insects breathe

A few days ago, a column from Shamus Young's Twenty-Sided Tales blog was linked to me that I found extremely relevant, in the wake of the RedZone debate. I highly recommend that everyone reading this, go read that, but I'm doing something I don't normally do and quoting large bits of the original.

First understand that what made Shamus write that column was an unrelated comment to another column entirely, from a reader called Blurr:
"I am very much against Facebook integration on other websites. I know I can't be the only one. I tried a while ago to figure out how to block Facebook when I'm not on the main Facebook website, but couldn't find anything.

"My concern is that because this 'like' link appears on blogs all over the place, Facebook can get a pretty good idea of my browsing habits. I am against this on principle."
Now, I'd heard this before. And even having read the column, the first reaction my brain has to his words is Wau, he's a loony. But then I read on:
"If a page has a Facebook button on it, then Facebook knows you were on that page. We don't know what they do with that info, but we know they have it."
The hell.

From the embedded link originally in that quote:
"But data about the user is sent to Facebook regardless of whether the Like button is actually activated.
Which is all quite scary - but not too surprising, given Facebook's reputation for snooping on its registered users.

What becomes really scary is realising how Facebook can track your movements even if you haven't signed up to its fake-friend collection service for lonely teens and sad divorcees.

Even if you don't have a Facebook account, you are far from immune from prying eyes, as Roosendaal explains:

"When a user does not have a Facebook account, there is no cookie and no user ID available. In this case, an HTTP GET request for the 'Like' button doesn't issue a cookie.

"However, when a site is visited which includes Facebook Connect, this application issues a cookie. From that moment on, visits to other websites which display the 'Like' button result in a request for the Like button from the Facebook server including the cookie."

Which means Facebook has swiped another batch of valuable data without asking for permission."
And that article goes on to mention that, if we aren't assiduous in clearing our cookies, Facebook's cookies have a two year expiration date.

And every time you hit a page that has the Facebook "Like" button as an embed, does that add on another two years to the life of the cookie? Or does it just create a 'later expiration date' for the so-called "new" cookie--which uses the same data/user ID as the previous one? That, I don't know.

From that same link:
We'll assume that, as you're reading this rather than laughing at Lolcats, you know a thing or two about cookies. They are helpful to users and of immense value to marketeers, allowing them to bombard you with targeted advertising based on your browsing history.

But with an increasing proportion of sites turning to the likes of Facebook in order to increase traffic and revenue - and let's face it, 500 million people is a pretty attractive audience for anyone - isn't it time we started putting our collective foot down about the way in which our every move is monitored?
What's really ironic in all of that? That column has a 'Like' button.

Okay, so that's all kinds of unnerving and creepifying, but I should point out again--Google does this, too. They track where they've been to figure out what ads we may be most interested in. And they do it without consent or requiring permission, just like Facebook. So why do we not have just as many personal privacy issues with Google?

First, because they haven't gotten a lot wrong, while Facebook has. Second, the Google CEO has never come right out and called users of Google's services stupid for using the service. That's pretty damning, even if it's from Zuckerberg's immensely younger, Harvard-attending, spoiled self.

But I digress. Back to Young's original column:
"The problem is with web cookies. A cookie is a small text file created by your web browser. It stores 'name / value pairs', which is fancy programmer talk for stuff like this:

username=PresidentSkroob
password=12345
last_visit=March 24, 2011
mobile_user=no"
And before anyone sneers at the password? What we learned from the whole Gawker debacle is that people pick some pretty dumb passwords. The top three on the analyzed list, after all, are "123456", "654321", and "password". Yeah.
"It lets websites store information on your computer. These files are keyed to the domain name. So, Facebook can only read cookies created by your visit to Facebook.com and The Escapist can only see inside of cookies created by your visit to escapistmagazine.com. The information contained in a cookie is sent when you visit a site. So, if I previously visited Facebook on this computer, it will send my Facebook cookie, which will let Facebook have my name and (if I so choose) password. That way I don't have to log in every time I visit the site, and it can know ahead of time if I want the lightweight mobile version of the page or the all-singing, all-dancing, graphic-heavy full version. If I go to another computer, it won't have a Facebook cookie on it, and so I'll have to type in my name & password to log in."
Which, frankly, is as it should be, in my book. But we are creatures of habit. We don't want inconvenience, we want comfort (occasionally, and usually, to our detriment). People (and I am one of these people), when given the prompt to save a username/password combo, will generally choose to do so. (Were I on a shared computer, I might not be so blithe about this, but I'm on my own computer. I have this feeling, false and intangible as it might be, that because it's my home computer, that I'm the only user who will see these saved password prompts. (Which is as may be, depending, but some people forget and hit the save option on shared computers, simply out of habit. But again, I digress.)
"Even if I tell FB not to save my password, it still saves my username. That username gets sent when I load the page, even if I'm not logged in. See, that little button at the bottom of this page is actually a little sub-webpage. It's a little window with a Facebook page inside of it. (Same goes for the ads on the right. That's a sub-window with a Google page inside of it.) When you visited this page, your Facebook.com cookie (assuming you have one) was sent to Facebook. Facebook sees your username, and because of how HTTP headers work, it also sees that you visited from shamusyoung.com. Ergo, Facebook knows you were here. Of course, this only applies to webpages with Facebook features. Facebook has no way of seeing where else you might go."
Except...yeah, they kind of do. Why? Well, assume I went from shamusyoung.com to that UK link...which also has a 'Like' button. Say I went from there to a link a friend sent me, and rather than spawn a new page, I just popped in the URL and went from there. If that one also had a 'Like' button, while in the main three different cookies were created to send back to Facebook, in the specific if anyone's looking at the aggregate data at some point, they will see that my chain went, unbroken, from site 1 to site 2 to site 3.

As long as I am traveling from sites with 'Like' buttons to OTHER sites with 'Like' buttons, Facebook knows everywhere I've been.

And remember, I'm not even sure how my cookies are showing up to Facebook, because you can't kill a Facebook account once opened. (And I opened one for the purpose of getting what is now an incredibly worthless piece in an armor set for Runes of Magic, got creeped out within a scant few hours, waited out my eight days until the I had documented delivery of the piece of armor code, and then got out. And while I've never been back, and have no intention of going back...any cookies generated at sites with the 'Like' button may just track back to my former Facebook account, and not as 'future user' placeholders.

(Which is creepy enough just on its own.)
"It's important to point out that this is not some nefarious new thing Facebook is doing. Everyone uses cookies. This site remembers the name you use in the comments because that stuff is stored in a shamusyoung.com cookie on your computer. Google uses them. Battle.net uses them. Blogger.com. My Space. Youtube. The Escapist. Google. Yahoo. Blogspot. Wikipedia. Twitter. Anywhere that you log in knows at least your username and the last time you visited."
As I said with the Google example, yeah--a lot of places does this. In fact, secondlife.com does this, because I've set it up to remember my username and password. Just like the Second Life forums (or at least the old ones--I haven't sent in a comment on the new system, and...I'm not sure I'm going to). Just like a lot of places I go to...and most of which, to be honest, have Facebook 'Like' buttons.
"The reason people get worked up about Facebook is because it's so ubiquitous. (And because the founder of Facebook is reportedly a complete douche.) Nobody cares about Yahoo cookies because Yahoo isn't lurking in the corner of every page on the web. The problem isn't that Facebook is more hostile to privacy than other sites, it's that Facebook naturally has access to data that other sites don't, because they're less popular."
I hate to have this come down to some sort of popularity contest, but he's right--Facebook goes farther because Facebook has a lot of users. It's akin to CBS getting the highest-rated show on the airwaves in a certain time slot--they can then take those numbers to the advertisers, and say "See? If you buy ad time for this program, more eyes will see your ad."

That's actually kind of the point in marketing and advertising--to get those numbers, so you'll be funded--through advertising, through direct contributions, through users signing up for subscriptions, whatever. In this breakdown, it doesn't matter a whit whether you're secondlife.com, yahoo.com, or chillygirls.com--your job is to get eyes on your work, the best ways you can. (And yeah, before anyone hunts it down? That last one's real. And really NSFW.)
"If you're really concerned about this, there are things you can do. You can set your cookies to be deleted every time you close your web browser. It will make it impossible for Facebook to see where you are, even when visiting sites like this one."
And he's right, we can, save...this is that comfort vs. security thing again. We can set our browsers to delete all cookies saved every time we close our browsers down. (And some people go farther.) But for most of us, we want that comfort and convenience--so we allow the cookies, we allow push messages on our mobile devices, we allow sites to remember our usernames and passwords--because it's just so much bother if we don't, right?
"For a blog like mine, word of mouth is life. You need a stream of new users just to replace the ones that wander off. Some people get mad and leave. Or lose interest when I change focus to something outside of their sphere of interest. Sometimes they just get tired of me. It happens."
Absolutely. Case in point: I adore Girl Genius. I adore Looking for Group. (Hells, I even have a Richard doll sitting in my bookcase.) But have I read either of those strips the last month? No, I have not. Will I get back to them? Absolutely, because I like both strips. But my attention wandered, I got busy, I lost the time for casual webcomics reading...it happens. To everyone.
"There is nothing I can do to directly draw in new readers, short of forum spam and link-begging on more popular sites – which is one of the most labor-intensive ways of wasting one's time. No, I need word of mouth, and the Facebook Like button is the perfect tool for the job. It's governed entirely by readers. People press it when I do something they like. That action will appear on their Facebook page and attract their friends, who probably share a lot of common tastes and interests. It takes my best material and promotes it to people who are most likely to enjoy it. Even if I was willing to pay money for an advertising campaign, I wouldn’t be able to find something as effective as that little button."
Which is Shamus Young's very polite way of saying, That Facebook 'Like' button isn't going away, people. Deal with it.

You can't please everyone all the time, and the truth of the matter is, this is the internet--so you're going to have people you purely can't please, because for whatever reason, their greatest thrills in life are contrarian ones--arguing dubious points, protesting change in any form, and demeaning anyone who doesn't agree with them. (And, save for the last, I fall into that camp, sad to say--because I protest a lot of things that aren't necessarily going to change--for me or for anyone else--and I do love a good argument.) And even counting those people, you're going to make decisions--as individuals, as companies, as corporate entities--that are designed to lose you people, sometimes. (Do I even need to say Dragon Age 2 at this point?)

So for a lot of bloggers, columnists, newspapers, companies, corporations and even world powers--getting those extra eyes in makes all the difference. And one of the best ways for people to get those eyes in? That 'Like' button.

Which is depressing, but I think Shamus Young is also speaking for Second Life by saying that 'Like' button is going to stick around. It's our choice how to deal with it on our end.

I want to mention one more thing before I close this entry, which is Rock Paper Shotgun's "No Oceans" campaign. I don't know if it will go anywhere, but I think it's a worthwhile goal--getting everyone, internationally, on the same page for game releases would cut down a lot of torrenting of games, and, more to the point, get everyone accustomed to playing together, and being able to play together--which would diminish some game piracy (not all, but even a little will help), and hey, while we're at it, maybe foster some stronger international friendships, what the hell. Spread the word.

(And yeah, on that column? There's a 'Like' button.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

we go front, back, and side to side

An astute reader found this, though as a promoted item, it could have been anyone on the grid, shopping through the Marketplace, to find it:

From the Bizarre album

The description on this thing, btw, is almost worth clicking the product page (linked below). It includes such gems as:
DO NOT:
(you guys) use it to harass sexy AVs on fashion events, parties. Especially NOT on famous celebrity AVs making special appearances on SL. Especially, Especially NOT - I repeat - NOT take pictures or videos of you molesting these famous celebrities and post them on YouTube.
DO NOT:
(you ladies) use this product to harass and humiliate AVs who look and dress better than you.
DO NOT:
(you all) use it to prey on unsuspecting newbies on orientation / help islands.
DO NOT:
(you Sociopaths) Organize Mass Molestation operations/campaigns...
And while I'm sure these are great CYA statements, they seem specifically targeted to the sorts of activity one could do with a HUD like this--specifically because it doesn't need to ask permission, it's rigged to work if you just stand next to another avatar. You could be standing next to a tree for all the HUD cares.

Listen, I'm all for consensual games of most kinds, and yeah, I realize, in RL women (and the occasional male) get fondled without direct consent all the time. How'ver, that doesn't necessarily mean that's a good thing. More to the point, it shouldn't be the promoter's job to suggest "fun" activities one might do on the grid to harass an ex, say, or break up a news conference/product launch "for the lulz"--you know?

Plus, there's a video, which is likely to enrage some and amuse others.

The comments are actually worse. My favorite is from "HEN Streeter":
hehe awomse work lool i like it and i do think sl need some motivation not like hey can i touch u here and there- did some reason on some posets and ehe awomse feature dosent need to ask perms i ilike the idea a lot i hope u will make more huds i boght 3 and am happy also wonderufl custumer servise XD thank u very much

hehe about this hud -wonderful idead! xd cools anims hehe wonderful job m8 keep up ythe good work
That is as is, folks, the total thing, no corrections, no editing. It's that badly misspelled on a published review.

How'ver, there's two caveats to detail on this product. Point the first: if it came up as listed under 'General' or 'Moderate', then yeah, that's a glitch, because I couldn't get the product to come up until I was on General/Moderate/Adult--which is where I should be set to view things like this.

Point the second may be even more important: this device has been kicking around SL since 2007. This isn't new in any way.

But here's the thing that made me shake my head--take a look at that picture again. More specifically, this item:
From the Bizarre album

Now, this is SL, so I would recommend that folks ignore the heavy makeup on said child, because finding skins without makeup is really, REALLY difficult. And I do realize that a lot of folks choose to promote a lot of items, and what comes up in any given session is pretty much the luck of the draw--they aren't targeted, they aren't organized, they're just thrown up on the main page because folks paid a lot for them to rotate through the main page. I get that, believe me.

But having a child AO come up right next to the sleaze of the "MOLEST HUD"...yeah, that made me ask what the Lindens were thinking, for just a moment.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

don't you think I know you're only trying to save yourself?

[19:43] Old enough to have a surname (ladyheart.sweetwater): i want to say sorry to anybody in the sand box for 1: crashing the sim and 2: smacking you in the head with a elevatory floor

Okay, then.

[19:55] Nazarr: mi internet conexion sucs
[19:56] Nazarr: im sorry 4 that
[19:56] Nazarr: suxs


The fact that he had to correct the spelling on "sucs" kills me...considering he got the word wrong both times.
"They've been had. Totally. Completely. The closer you were to this guy and the more you believed and trusted him, the more he ripped you off. He isn't your buddy, he isn't your friend, and he doesn't care about you--and he never did."
Axi Kurmin nails it again, and for anyone who still thinks xFire Xue was a good guy, just maligned by "the system"? Read that.

And this, from a founder of IMVU:
"When your customers become your allies, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish together.

There’s only one catch. You can’t stop listening.
That's nothing more than basic, unvarnished truth, and if ever anyone with any connections to the Lindens might be reading this, pass them that link. To this day IMVU still has image problems, big ones, because of that mistake. The Lindens have gone overboard with mistakes in community management, I don't think anyone denies that--but it could all be reversed if they would take the time to listen, instead of further fostering the impression that they don't--or don't want to hear what we want to say. Because that just leads to the impression that the Lindens do not care in the least about what we have to say--which is where we are now.

(And a tip o'the hat to Mr. Headburro Antfarm, who brought the link, and the blog, to my attention.)

About a week ago at this point, news filtered down that Elvina Ewing had lost her mind--again. She set her Ambrosia gowns on the Marketplace for sale on a 40% discount. (As of this writing, they're still at a 40% discount.) Why? Because--according to her--Evangeline Miles of Evie's Closet copied her dress.

No, really. That's what she's saying. So of course, I had to look into it.

From the Comparisons album

This is Caverna Obscura's "Ambrosia" gown, shade Orange. And I have to be honest with anyone reading along, this gown is gorgeous. The leaves on the upper skirt are all sculpted, but some plant leaves don't move a lot anyway, so it doesn't feel unnatural in the least. And the little drops of dew--which are also reproduced in smaller form along the flower-cap sleeves--very nearly iridesce in person. And for the gown I chose, this is absolutely a deep, rich, California-poppy orange. I admit to a definite partiality for California poppies, and Miss Ewing selling this particular shade didn't hurt in the least.

From the Comparisons album

Granted, the hair I picked to showcase this pretty much effectively hides the back detailing, though the lower back cut-out work can just barely be seen. This shot was mostly to show you that there are parts of the flower-sleeves that do move, and wonderfully.

From the Comparisons album

This gown comes with several attachments for whatever effect the wearer wants; this picture shows off the two back leaves that curl up like a structured corset along either side of the spine (they're both pectoral attachments, which is frankly genius).

From the Comparisons album

So far, all the shots have been of the maxi skirt length. This is the best shot I was able to get of the midi skirt. The midi length is less ballgown, and more tattered-petals, and it moves wonderfully.

From the Comparisons album

Finally, this is the mini skirt length, which is a blend of flexi panels and curving sculpted petals. The outfit doesn't come with stockings, so I didn't wear any for the shots. All three skirt lengths carry that hint of 'tattered petals', and while there may be some alpha flicker, I personally didn't notice any--and while I was on Tol, I did a lot of walking, running, flying, swimming, falling--so while it might be there, to be honest, I noticed more alpha issues on the hair I chose for these shots.

From the Comparisons album

There's also an included necklace of vines and petals, and coming this close to take the shot also shows the detailed shading on the corset top. I grant you, the shading on both skirt leaves and corset cup leaves are more reminiscent of rose leaves, but really--you won't care.

From the Comparisons album

Finally--and yes, I moved indoors for this one--there are both bloomer and glitch-pant layers included with the gown, and a separate sleeve style. This shot shows the bloomers and the secondary sleeves. I feel positive that the bloomers could be worn without the skirt as a little 'romper' style outfit, or with a silk-style skirt (one that's flexible panels on a chain belt, say) from another outfit entirely.

Being entirely sculpt pieces, the separate sleeves don't move, but again, they're charming enough you won't care.

This is a gorgeous piece, start to finish. It requires very little fitting out of the box--in fact, the only thing I did for these shots is move the necklace down. It's attractive, very well-made, and I am definitely thinking I need it in more shades.

So, you have Ambrosia's style firmly in mind at this point. Now, what Miss Ewing says is a blatant copy:

From the Comparisons album

This is Evangeline Miles' 'Eden' babydoll-styled dress, in Marigold. Just let that sink in for a while.

From the Comparisons album

It comes with wings, shoes, a vine-and-flowers crown (not shown), and stockings--all things the Ambrosia gown does not have. It also has a pair of separate-shoulder attachment wings (also not shown), and both a right- and left-oriented vine/petal 'brooch' (not shown, because one attaches to the spine, and the other attaches to the chest--the same place the skirt attaches to. So I had to scramble to get back in the skirt after that!).

From the Comparisons album

What does it have? This one skirt. Just this one. Which, in all fairness to Miss Miles, is lovely, but is also in the babydoll style that makes most of my AO poses look like I'm pregnant. While it can be edited (and I may make a copy, and see if I can't play with the length), this is also the only skirt, as I said.

From the Comparisons album

The shoes are adorable crossed-strap flats in a complementary shade, and there is the suggestion of leaves just under the breasts, though that's the only suggestion of petal-dress, really. (And I don't mind that, I'm just making the point.) The shading on the not-petals themselves, is subtle, with multiple slightly-sheer layers making up the skirt (130 prims in all) that tend to flow through each other, so now one has a hint of fluid lines, now one has sparkle, now one has a glimpse of smocking...Very, very effective.

This shot, in addition, shows the stocking toppers--sadly, none of the shots I took from the back really shows them off well.

From the Comparisons album

Baghera--he's the black panther off to the right of the shot--really didn't like me being in his territory, so most of these shots were taken while he and his mate, Miel, were snarling at me, pushing me aside, or toppling me into the daisies. Still, I think there are a few definite good things about this outfit, from the included shoes, to the stockings, to the fact that I think part of my pulling back from the babydoll skirt is form-based: on my normal (okay, five-foot-very-little, but still) form, it doesn't hit me right, but on my four-foot pixie? Especially if she's in flutter mode? This would be very nearly perfect.

From the Comparisons album

So, end results. Of the two gowns, I definitely prefer Caverna Obscura's, and I think with all the options, I'll definitely get more use out of it. This is not to say that Evie's Closet 'Eden' gown isn't a lot of fun--but I'll likely stick to gowns from her store that start off with longer skirts from now on.

The 'Eden' shoes are beyond cute, the stockings are wonderfully shaded and drawn, but
the only thing that's even a hint at any sort of copying is that it's also a petal dress. And there's only so many ways a designer can make a petal dress, after all, if one is being faithful to the concept of flowers in the least.

For all shots, I was wearing Nomine's "Calliope" skin from her Clown line, hair from Analog Dog (Maddy, Bleached, but tinted poppy-orange), and old Pixeldolls "Starry-Eyed" eyes in bright hazel--no longer available.

Evie's will set you back L$395, and depending on how the skirt edit goes, I may get the Wisteria shade as well. The "Ambrosia" gown (since it's on sale) is L$350 on the Marketplace (still), and I am beyond tempted to pick up the Lilac, the Pink and the Red (though I'd like it if it were a brighter, "rose" red). Another plus is that her Dream Thief line of outfits are (save for the Dark variant) done in the same shades as the Ambrosia gown, for ease in mixing and matching.

(While we're here, I'd love to know who the "other designers" were that she's forebearing to mention. Maybe she's so fixated on Evangeline Miles, every other designer of floral gowns pales in comparison...)

Go to Caverna Obscura if you like the thought of multi-petal gowns, that are excellently shaded (though in world, they're not on sale; they're at their normal price of $550). Go to Evie's Closet if you like the idea of a simpler pixie gown, that also comes with shoes, leaf wings and stem "crown".

Other than the price being similar, there's nothing that links these two dresses other than both being floral gowns, and I hate to break it to you, Elvina, but they've been around for a while. (And yes, that was five image links, all of them dating back at least a century, if not longer.)

(And while I'm at it, did I mention Miss Elvina's abusing Wizards of the Coast/Dungeons & Dragons copyright by having an outfit named after Mialee, a trademarked character in the D&D books? And her latest release is, by her own admission, adapted from a Guild Wars ranger armor. But noooo, she's the one whose outfits are being stolen...)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

all the cameras watch the accidents and stars you hate, they only care if you can bleed

Tossed up two new links on the sidebar. There are scores of people asking for donations in world for Japan relief, and I'm not trying to compete with that--but if you're here, and you feel the urge to flip a few bucks their way, Direct Relief International comes highly trusted for Japan. And above that, Haiti Relief is still on the ground in Haiti, helping the country rebuild. (With all major buildings still under construction, a recent virulent outbreak of cholera, and more than 300,000 dead...yeah, it's going to take a while.)

As long as we're talking virtual donations, Gaia Online apparently forced the fundraising cap up on the site's donation efforts. They had originally pegged a high mark of $10,000--that's US dollars--but the donations came in so fast in such numbers that they hit $50,000 before they knew it. Sales of special fundraising items are still ongoing.

Meanwhile, AltDetector Resident--one of the minds behind QuickWare's AltDetector Pro--has been summarily banned from SL along with the objects, scripts, and the like--which are probably also going to be globally stripped from the asset server, along with any remaining RedZone bits.

Anyone else? I think, based on Soft Linden's actions, alt detection is No Longer Cool. (Not that it ever was.)

So, now that it absolutely doesn't matter in the least, where were we in the RedZone Thread of Doooom?

Boy Lane:
"Sorry Zidonuke Ghost, you overstepped a number of times.

"You close relevant issues that are not in your responsibility.
"You call people you don't like names.
"You pretend/hack into, to be a Linden who can assign roles to Jira tickets (Soft Linden) and you try to scare people in taking appropriate action "If you reopen this here, your Jira privileges will be revoked."

"Unless you are a Linden hiding behind some fake account, this is a slap into the face of everyone concerned here, including Linden Lab and Oz."
I quoted pretty much the whole of this comment because it's so apt. And following that was this bombshell:

Psyke Phaeton:
You can learn all about Zidonuke here:
https://twitter.com/#!/Zidonuke
including things like:
"@ZaphaelXaron I operate in a very narrow grey area that appears to keep getting me in trouble. But I will not stop my security research."
"All 200 Alts just got banned."
"Filed 75 Support Tickets for my most important alt accounts. Filing another 50 tickets for the vaporeanbots."
And this was another entire passage from the comment. I mention that because I'm reading through his stream now. How about trying some of these comments on for size:

@Zidonuke:
I'm going back into security exploit finding in SL. I just learned of some amazing things from people. Also the fact that I earned money.

@Zidonuke:
I have discovered a new way on how to trap copybotters based on a pretty neat method. Visiting a copybot related website = ban on my system.

@Zidonuke:
SL Bigbrother is coming once again. Deploying zidobots across the grid to track and record agent keys, region location, and local position.

@Zidonuke:
And so, Linden Lab shall burn. Goodbye Joe Miller. Now... Only if @soft will quit LL. If he leaves, I lose all faith in that company.


Yeah. Sounds like a definite asset to keep around in SL... :/

There was a lot more back-and-forth bickering at that point, but then guess who showed up again?

Soft Linden:
"Zidonuke, stop monkeying with this issue.

"'No one at LL can remove RedZone because the policy to make it illegal doesn't exist in their eyes.'

"While it's true that it relates to policy and that this often makes response slower, nobody at LL has said anything like the above. You asked and I gave you the same answer I've given anyone else who wrote a security ticket: I've made sure several key people understand how it works and what privacy issues are involved. Until they have approved a response, no Linden could or would make any statement about the company's position."
Way to step up and tell Zidonuke he's wrong. Woot!

And I may or may not return to this, but this feels like a great place to stop:

Argent Stonecutter:
"Regardless of whether it's legal or not, it's creepy as hell, and it's far more of an invasion of privacy than cameras in malls since those don't tie into a government issued RFID tag shared by friends and family. It utterly astounds me that anyone can defend it."
Pretty damned much.

We live in a universe where companies sell our ages, our habits, our locations, our dating profiles, our surfing history, what we buy and what stores we buy in, where we choose to eat, our insurance information, our medical information, and our credit scores. All of this is up for grabs to the highest bidder. For the most part, we know about it--or at least we should.

But in Second Life? Maybe it's part and parcel of an entire population that has no clue, but people just don't expect to be hacked inside a game. And it scares a lot of us when we find out we have been. We feel a distinct loss of control, and we suffer a definite loss of faith in the people who run the game.

Frankly, the Labs don't have that much ground left to lose before there's nothing underneath them but air. Here's to Soft Linden changing that perception, in a big way. He's already made a great start.

though loathsome hideous squid-headed blasphemies rise up from the deep, I don't pay heed--it doesn't matter to me

Welcome to Shadow Cities. The first I'd ever played with location-based apps was the Inception app for the iPhone and similar platforms. (The one that frustrates us ALL with the Africa dream.) Shadow Cities takes it farther--the world is the battleground, and anyone who downloads the game (apparently, it will be offered for free download) can choose to play.

Talk about large- and small-scale MMOs--the scale is huge, but the gaming platform is small--literally hand-held. And there aren't a lot of flashy graphics to get in the way--again, the battleground is the real world.

I'm definitely interested in seeing where this goes.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Excalibur Longstaff, who maintains the Steamlander forums, has come up with a fairly innovative work-around for the problems of group chat being so horrendously broken--with no end in sight.

The problem with his solution? It requires Facebook use. At first I found myself actually angry over this...then depression set in...then I thought it through, and realized it doesn't actually impact me any more than any other decision on or off the grid. I don't use Facebook. The Steamlander forum chat does. Therefore, I never need to consider the Steamlander forum chat. Problem solved.

Talk about your fine ethical lines. For my part in this, I'm somewhat on the fence about revealing someone else's personal information in the course of standing against them solely for reasons of privacy concerns. That being said...the information contained therein is, as summarized by Miss Poindexter, decidedly of the "bombshell" variety. And--if everyone's right on the math--this thing may go to court, and speedily, because there may well be a violation of parole on zFire's part. If that is true...forget zFire's product being pulled from the grid; the man behind zFire could go back to jail.

Now, I don't have a ton of experience with the legal sector--my main ethos in life, after all, is not to do anything that would send me off to jail--but we did have a friend once, who was arrested for doing Bad Things (yes, I'm just going to leave that there, for purposes of the example no one needs to know specifics). And he was assigned three years' probation. Probation, in terms of how it's usually applied, is such an onerous and invasive state of being that most criminals, whether or not they "reformed" whilst behind bars, decide quickly that it's not worth the hassle of jumping through the state's myriad annoying hoops.

How'ver, our friend struggled mightily down to six months remaining on probation, and that's when the bench warrant was discovered. For an old parking ticket in another state, no less. But even though the offense was negligible when paired to what he'd actually been convicted of, it was enough to throw the entire system into chaos--and muck up his personal life in insane and damaging ways. To wit: in response to the notification of the bench warrant, his parole officer:

* went to his residence, moved everything out into two storage lockers, and informed his landlady that he wouldn't be returning;
* paid six months on those storage lockers, and kept the keys;
* went to his place of business, informed his boss that he would be taking an unpaid leave of absence, and his boss was welcome to fire him;
* removed him from his workplace in handcuffs;
* took him back to the jail to be registered formally as a prisoner, with all the attending paperwork, search humiliations, and changes of attire that entailed;
* reclaimed him after that process, and took him to a holding cell one town over;
* removed him from that holding cell the next morning, put him on a plane--still in handcuffs!--and flew him to the state where the bench warrant had been issued;
* dropped him off in yet another holding cell;
* reclaimed him the next morning to appear before the judge who'd entered the bench warrant, who took in the prisoner's state of distress, his orange prison uniform, and the stern set of the parole officer's visage (plus the two armed prison guards who'd accompanied him from the prison to the plane), and said "Y'all realize this is for a parking ticket, not homicide...right?"

Keep in mind, this wasn't even for a federal-level crime. I understand they have full rights to treat prisoners with even more strictures should they step out of line. So that being said...why would zFire risk breaking probation for...okay, the rough equivalent of $30,000 or so, but still...

At any rate, with nothing better to do, I will return to picking through the JIRA That Will Not Die.

From the RedZone album
Chopstick Oxygen:
"It seems that Linden Lab is unwilling to stop the abuse of their own customers."
Actually, as of this writing this seems no longer true.

Vee Chun:
"you guys need to get a life
RedZone does not provide the IP address!!! the only information that the RedZone provides is alts & your profile information!!!!!

[..."T]his Miss Smoothkitty must be a copybot or a drama queen that got banned!"
Which leads directly into...

Mocksoup Graves:
"Vee Chun, you are EXACTLY the kind of person we want to protect ourselves from. YOU just accused the creator of this JIRA of being a copybot because you disagree with her stance on privacy.

"This is nothing more than an exploit creating a vigilante style witch hunt."
On both sides, at this point. And it's managed to take over several blogs, not the least of which mine.

Cole Cybertar:
The Jira is for Server bug issues & the way your viewer decodes & reads the info. this place is not a complaint Department.
Sadly, many, many people haven't realized this yet.

Innula Zenovka:
"To my mind, LL could solve the problem in pretty short order by letting sims have unlimited ban lists and by giving landowners the option to ban by ISP from their land in the same way LL bans by ISP from the grid – it would achieve the same result as does RedZone without revealing people's alts to any stalker or griefer with L$4000 to spend."
The only problem I see with that is increase on the system used currently to check incoming names (like calling cards, which are apparently disabled in v.2x viewers but not in 1.x viewer modes). But something else to keep in mind is--four thousand Lindens currently costs sixteen dollars, US. Sixteen is two lunches out at a cheap place. Sixteen is one ticket to a 3D movie with a child-size popcorn. Sixteen is local zoo admission, if your city has a local zoo. That is not that much, in the grand scheme of things.

Rosemarie Hathaway:
"There is a compromise to this that seems more likely, LL give landowners the ability to ban a person and alts, without telling the landowners who the alts are. So when you ban a person, you have the option to ban with alts as well, but it wont tell you who those alts are."
Why? Okay, fine, you don't want Zena on your land, but as far as you know, Ziria and Zelayna are different people. Sure, if this system goes through, and all three of them stop coming to your store, you might twig that things are hinky somewhere, but seriously--if you got into an argument with Zena, does that automatically mean you're going to argue with Zira and Zelayna? Maybe you don't even know them. Maybe they've never even been to your sim.

That just seems insanely arbitrary, frankly.

Zidonuke Ghost:
"No one at LL can remove RedZone because the policy to make it illegal doesn't exist in their eyes. It's such a problematic issue to tackle that they will need definitive policy in place before they can take action of systems that reveal alts."
You know, I'm really starting to resent this idiot. Whether or not anyone non-Linden-based cares about all the screaming, it's not any non-Linden's place to close JIRA files. Flat. Out.

Boy Lane in response:
"'No one at LL can remove RedZone because the policy to make it illegal doesn't exist in their eyes. It's such a problematic issue to tackle that they will need definitive policy in place before they can take action of systems that reveal alts.'

"No, it is clearly covered under ToS 8.3."
And Zidonuke punts it back:

Zidonuke:
"If it was CLEARLY covered as being against the ToS... They would of taken action against it already. The fact of the matter that as far as LL cares, its legal until they make it illegal, which is exactly what they are working on right now."
Yeah...and Boy Lane says:

Boy Lane:
"It is absolutely clear to me. Perhaps you should read the ToS.

'You agree that you will not post or transmit Content or code that may ... invade other users' privacy.'
Which is the short-form version of that ToS provision.

Qie Niangao:
(Jeez. This is not the place to have this discussion.) Legal won't be changing the ToS; rather, they'll put some policy language around how they interpret such devices to be in violation of the existing ToS. My concern is that in the meantime, folks who are mislead into thinking such devices have any impact on the copybot threat will innocently enough fork over L$4K, and end up with a brick.
And that's exactly what is going to be happening--with zFire's ban, and the deactivation (goddamn slow deactivation, but deactivation) of all the scripts responsible for running RedZone over the grid...the buyers of RedZone will slowly find themselves in possession of a brick.

Unscripted.

That cost sixteen bucks.

in spite of a warning voice that comes in the night

Oops--didn't mean to publish yet, meant to place-hold--but hey, we'll just leave this here until I can edit it later. zFire Xue is gone.

More when I get word.

Monday, March 14, 2011

it was a black winter night as she stumbled on, and with every step grew closer to the ground

"Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear plant meltdowns -- as if the people of Japan didn't have enough to cope with, a volcano began erupting Sunday."

Great. That's all Japan needs...

Flynn lives. Go to the website for more information.

Minecraft now has faeries. They're a neutral mob, and more to the point, they're a complete mod of the existing code, start to finish--but they are interesting in both the benefits and the danger of having them around. I'm halfway tempted...

Pursuant to the last entry, a couple people worth mentioning (Lady Diamanda Gustafson and Miss Samantha Poindexter) let me know that Desmond had put out a confirming RedZone entry to all Caledonians in notices. But, because it didn't come with a notecard attached, I missed it last week. This is the text of that notice:
1) I've been asked about devices like 'Red Zone' that 'out' alts ~ these are against covenant in Caledon. We have a right to anonymity here. If seen, such devices will be returned, per our Avatar Rights.

2) Land ~ the market seems to be doing better these days, please folks, I've had some *very* painful decisions to make lately ~ if you skip tier, you may well lose a parcel. I only wish I had 8000 USD a month to give away, but sadly there are direct, immediate consequences with regard to tier.

Des
So, the Independent States of Caledon officially do not allow the use of RedZone or alt-detecting imitators, specifically because of the "Avatar Rights' provision of the covenant of Caledon. From the Steampunk Wiki, a brief explanation:
The Caledon Forums and Caledon Wiki are by virtue of flying its flag, a part of the community of the Independent State of Caledon, and as such are obligated to try to honor that community's covenant and its protection of "avatar" (individual) rights. One of the most important among the avatar rights, is the right to individual privacy. No character may be included here over the objection of the person playing that character, and reasonable effort will be made to remove references to a character if they request it. These sites are created to enhance the enjoyment of role play, not to restrict the ability of a character to change their role or withdraw from some aspect of play. Today's Victorian Wildcat might be tomorrow's Steampunk Cowboy and we will try to respect such change of heart even where it might seem trivial or silly to others."
Considering that the only thing that RedZone seems to do well, so far, is connect random similarly-IP'ed individuals under the "alts" heading of titular main accounts--who may or may not even have met, let alone be connected--of course this would be against Desmond's declaration of Avatar Rights.

So...who else will feel the need to declare one way or the other, on RedZone? It's garnered a lot of attention, nearly every speck of it bad.

Here's been my question, always: what's the big need to discover alt accounts in the first place? People have said that alts hide copyright infringers--which is certainly not all alts, nor are all infringers maintained alt accounts--some are throwaways, with obvious throwaway names.

So if that's not a good reason, what about griefing? People have said that if RedZone and other systems are banned, people will not be able to prevent griefers from entering their land. Which...is kind of silly, when I think about it, because all anyone has to do with a griefer is ban them from that parcel, and if that account really gets on your nerves, talk to the estate manager for your sim, or the sim owner, and sometimes, that name will be placed on the sim ban list. Done.

Okay, so if it's not about griefing or copyright infringement, what's left? To my mind, two things: stalking, and harassment. And I'm not even going to go out on that limb and say if you own a RedZone system, then you're the stalker. I just want to focus for a bit on the urge to protect ourselves, our virtual spaces, and our peace of mind.

Say you're someone who's been stalked. (And if you never have been, take my word for it--it's unnerving and upsetting. I've been stalked online, I've been stalked in person, and in any realm, it just makes your skin crawl. Never knowing when they're going to contact you--call you--show up on your doorstep--it shatters your confidence, it makes you fear the world. And when they start sending their friends to 'check up' on you...you start fearing other people. Any other people.) You want that fearful wariness to ebb, but you also want to be protected, you want to feel safe again. How safe are we, after all, with no safe spaces?

So you hear of a product on the market that will protect your land from those you--and others--have deemed harmful. It's a hefty chunk of change, but what price peace of mind? You buy it. You install it. And then the trouble starts.

Protesters. Complaint notecards. The whole GreenZone issue. Then a mobile version of the HUD, resulting in people--maybe even people you know--offering their services as wandering alt "detectors", and always for a fee. Maybe that makes you nervous.

Then it gets pulled from the market. Then it gets pulled from in-world. Maybe that's when you get nervous.

Then it turns out zFire Xue has been hacking accounts of people who bought his system--people like you--and who knows how long that's been going on?

When does it cross the line between wanting to protect yourself, and going too far? When is it too much?

More from the Jira That Will Not Die:

Angelica Pickles: "But silly as we are, we trust LL, and we like to listen and dance. In any way, LL TOS has made it sure that L isn't to blame for victimised residents who just weren't nerd enough to know that your privates are exposed to anyone rich enough to buy a sim and put a IP scanner.The developer of redzone knew that, and for that reason he could sell lots of copies of his griefing tool to many sim and parcel owners. In the mean time, LL kept thinking it wasn't their issue, because it's something outside of SL. But no, the people affected are SL residents, and they leave SL by the dozen because of not feeling safe and protected. Time passes, and more IP scan tools are developed of course, and without restrictions, scriptors after the big money spend hours daily developing scripts on demand. Where that ends? nobody knows, but what I know is that residents are feeling very much unprotected, and although LL encourages the use of alts as enhancing ones SL experience, people start thinking that having an alt is a criminal offense."

That's pretty much where we are.

Then Darren Scorpio mentioned this: "I think we all missed this from the latest LL Blog:

'It's also important to note that we are going to remove the 'voting' feature in JIRA in one month. Today, we do not use voting to triage or to make product decisions and the last thing that we want to do is set false expectations. So, when you are interested in what action we will take on a particular JIRA, use the JIRA 'Watch' feature so that you will be immediately updated in email when there are new comments on that particular JIRA issue. We will continue to use the number of Watchers as an indication of the level of interest.'

Note 'We will continue to use the number of Watchers as an indication of the level of interest.'

So if you have voted make sure you are still watching this Jira, also let everyone whom may have voted and is NOT watching to watch it, because apparently LL only cares about the number of watchers not voters."


And that was about when the bottom dropped out of my email account. Because I'm currently watching five or six issues, including the Jira That Will Not Die. This means, on average, I get between ten and thirty emails related to JIRA issues a day, and it's insane. I do not want this kind of hit to my email account; it makes it ridiculously difficult to track tenant issues, for one, and to weed through for blog replies, for two.

So--replace a system which lowered comments, and retained customer interest, but which the brass stopped caring about, for a system that will infuriate anyone trying to play by the rules, which will contribute to people spouting off on the JIRA--because why the hell shouldn't they? They're already getting every goddamned thing emailed to their accounts--and only lead to people becoming disenchanted with the whole damned thing and giving up on it as any kind of useful system to get issues--genuine issues, technical issues--taken care of, because--and is everyone with me? The Lindens do not care.

Except maybe for Soft. And possibly Yoz.

And the annoying thing? Largely, the Lindens have contributed to this bad reputation. Why are we here? Because there are no other forms of contact but the JIRA and abuse reports. How long are we going to maintain getting every single comment mailed to us on issues we care about? Not as long as the Lindens think.

And maybe that's their point.

Val Bellflower:
I hate content theft and copybots as well, but I do not see how IP tracking, exposing a person's legitimate alts and compromising the privacy and security of private individuals solves the issue.
I don't either.

Rosemarie Hathaway:
Sites like Red Zone, and all this profit off of one thing
Fear.
True.

Annamaria Button:
RedZone is ILLEGAL according to European protection data laws and regulations. No personal data may be collected in Europe without a prior privacy notice and especially without consent from data subject. I know laws and regulations may be different in the United States. But Linden Lab, being to keen to amend its regulations whenever it is discovered any of them breaks U.S. laws, having many European customers should also be keen on respecting OUR laws, and avoid to expose us to illegal activities.
International residents should know better by now, that's not how the US works. We don't respect other laws, we whine until you respect ours!

(But I'm not bitter.)

Serjourn Daxter:
Yes, please, please, please listen to Annamaria: She says what has been said over and over again on this Jira: REDZONE IS ILLEGAL.It not only gathers data without consent, it also [correlates], processes and [punishes] individuals based on these data. It does not matter if Linden Labs is a US company: When the data gathered is entered in Europe and concerning EU Citizens, EU law applies!

It does not matter that LL can gather the same data, because in signing up for Secondlife, you gave CONSENT to LL to do that. The same consent is not a blanket consent that also covers RedZone. RedZone must get the same CONSENT from EACH USER. Furthermore the consent must be given "before the data gathering, informed and [voluntary]".
But Daxter has a point, too--one which was proved earlier in Germany, when Germany threatened extreme sanctions against Linden Labs directly for actions of users in Second Life. EU rules do apply for EU citizens, which the Labs would be foolish to ignore. In fact, I'm surprised I haven't heard of court actions already having been filed against xFire and the Labs for the actions of RedZone.

Stacy Braveheart:
I think [RedZone] is a good thing... too many liars in sl now as it is using people for their own agenda.
And wau, did Stacy pick the wrong last name...THIS, right here, right HERE, is why RedZone has made so many sales. Because as far as alt detection goes, it's all based on fear, insecurity and jealousy. And it's completely, irrefutably, STUPID.

Seriously: you're dating someone in SL. Maybe he or she is your partner. Maybe you share land together, a business, a life...a Second Life. Past SL and the life you built there, and barring the choices you both make to be partners in real life:

* What business is it of yours where they live, unless they choose to tell you?
* Or how old they are?
* Or what gender they are, if you've never spoken with them?
* Or who else they're seeing, if they're being respectful and discreet?
* How is it you being threatened if they have a wife, a husband, a daughter, a son, apart from the time you spend together on the grid?

I'm not saying anyone should withhold all questions. I know I've asked some questions of people with whom I've been involved that have been very daunting for them. And I may be wrong in this, but I like to think that I have never made it a condition of continuing to date someone that they answer me. And if they tell me a thing, and I have made the decision to trust them, I have never removed that trust by disbelieving what they say.

Maybe it's just me, because I admit, I'm polyamorous on the grid and off. I make no bones about the fact that I have a wife, and a girlfriend, offline. I make no apologies for the fact that I have loves online. While those I love may not know details, they do know.

There is no room for fear if there is honesty, even if it's honesty only in generalities. Jealousy thrives in an atmosphere of fear, so there is no jealousy. And insecurity? Hey, that comes and goes, but that's just worry, and it can be pared down. Everything is possible for the lovers who choose communication over controversy, friendship over fear, and understanding over alt identification.

Only the fearful and the jealous don't understand that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

sorry you, sorry me, sorry every in between

There's an insane amount of things to announce today. So this is going to be a potentially long and meandering post. Bear with me.

First off, Winterfell has banned RedZone from its sims. This surprises me not at all. Honestly, I'm surprised Caledon hasn't banned it outright, but to be fair, RedZone--and its endless imitators--market to fear. There's not much an estate owner can do to combat that fear, because it comes directly from ignorance about how Second Life works, as well as how computers and similar technologies work.

Next, there's a new post from Axi Kurmin about the uphill battle Soft Linden's having getting RedZone--and its endless imitators--yanked like the toxic weeds they are. It mentions a YouTube video leaked by several sources that seems to be on how easy it is to use the RedZone system to get access to potential passwords of RedZone users. The best comment on the link I used first:
"Seems to me that if RZ and Xue goes downhe's trying his best to [take] SL down with the wreck."
Yeah, it really does.

(Just for verification, match the fuzzy-vision blue blur of hair shape and face shape, as well as vocal tone in the supposedly "fake" video, with this one, which is a full-face authentically-voiced zFire talking about jumping out of an airplane. This is the same guy. Does he think we're that stupid?)

InWorldz, as of this writing, has also banned RedZone and RedZone-like devices.

So the question becomes, why hasn't the Labs? Soft Linden is doing all he can, but he really seems to be the one guy on the job. Is he receiving any support from superiors? Does he have a team? Or is it just him fighting his uphill battle while the upper management tell him it's no big deal?

According to the Alphaville Herald--not noted for their journalistic integrity--the hackers have been hacked, but apparently the blackhats went down to whitehats, or at least greyhats (it's hard to friggin' tell who's who). They "wont" release the database, but they recommend zFire remove the password tracking capabilities of RedZone.

Yeah, like that's going to happen.

One of the comments to that entry is notable. This from Scylla Rhiadra:
Linden Lab needs to act NOW to re-establish the confidence of its customers in the system. This is no longer just about RedZone: it's about the security vulnerabilities in SL itself that have made this kind of disaster possible.
I agree with her, but here's the main thing:

* Premium account-holders' confidence staggered when the openspace/homestead debacle went down the way it did.

* Merchant confidence plummeted when Zindra popped as a continent and all the Adult businesses were forced to relocate.

* Now a large majority of people are freaking out on some level, from "ZOMG this man I don't know has my home address/SL password/alt names!" to "ZOMG LL has been haxx0red!" (which, as we know, has happened at least twice in the past, so it's a reasonable concern under the hysteria).

And from another RedZone thread on Tateru Nino's blog comes this stunner (to me, at least):
"IBM were right after all to abandon corporate activity in Second Life. This sort of compromise was what they feared.

Hence their active work using Opensimulator and their 'walled gardens'."
Breen Whitman said that, and I'd love to find confirmation for it...anyone? Because IBM has been one of the strongest supporters of Second Life; if that's changes, SL as a concept has serious, serious problems.

Miss Nino, later on, tackles zFire Xue's statement directly:
"For me, the primary take-away is "Do not challenge people to try to break into your site if that is not what you want them to do.'"
Yeah, didn't we all learn not to do that when Gawker got hacked? Come on, people!

So let's go back to the Jira That Will Never Die, not that it so much matters anymore.

Emerald Seaside: "Sigh. Seems that the Linden's don't know what each other of them is talking about Soft Linden says it does belong in a JIRA and Oz Linden says it doesn't."

It would be nice if Lindens could agree on what's official policy, yes.

Unya Tigerfish: "This is a clear breach not only of ToS, but of US privacy laws. US law states that the criminal act of 'invasion of privacy' takes place when there is (for example):

* Public disclosure of private facts (my alts are my private matter, and only mine)

or

* False light: the publication of facts which place a person in a false light, even though the facts themselves may not be defamatory. And being labelled alt of someone is a false light, as the IP gathering is less than perfect.

Maybe we could find a US resident willing to sue?"


I'm actually hoping this doesn't end up in court, because there'll be bad precedent either way.

Arkady Arkright: "I see Oz Linden's comments as a deliberate attempt to sweep the whole issue under the carpet - 'Mention it again and I'll ban you" - a disgraceful example of a company ignoring its user's wishes by invoking a technicality."

Please. This is how the Labs do business, people. Obfuscation; confusion; misdirection. Oh, and of course layoffs.

Masami Kuramoto: "Oz, how many more votes on this issue does it take for you to realize that personalized media playback without user confirmation is a design flaw? More than 300 residents can see the problem. Why can't you?"

I'd adore an answer to that.

zFire Xue shows up: "Dare I challenge Linden Labs to investigate the viewers, inventory, and chat logs between GothGirl Demonia and myself.

"RedZone cooperates with Linden Lab, all they need to do is ask.

"[...] RedZone has full support in working with people."


Right. I have several questions on this.

1. Does he mean "I dare to challenge the Labs", or does he mean "Dare, I challenge"? In the latter case, does he mean Dare Munro specifically, or another Dare?

2. RedZone cooperates with Linden Labs? Really? When Soft comes out and returns his vendors, and he puts them right back out? When Soft delists his listings on the Marketplace, and he puts them up for sale again? That's cooperating with the Lindens?

3. Full support in working with people? Password-skimming of his own userbase equates "full support"?

Micaela Darkwatch: "I would seriously like to recommend Linden Lab employees check out the Redzone forums.

"By most accounts, this product is worshipped for it's alt account detection ability. When the HUD came out people were excited about going to other sims and being able to 'click' on other avatars to find out if they were in the database or to build onto the database. Some Redzone users want the ability to ban the HUD users on their sims, because they don't want to be scanned. Because it's an invasion of their privacy.

"Seriously Lab, this isn't a joke any longer. This isn't paranoia. You have my information. You can tell that I'm not a griefer, copybotter etc. I am a premium member. I contribute to the community just as much as these people.

"Close the media hole."


I thought quoting her whole comment was worthwhile, because this is indicative of the level of complaints--it's not just 'free accounts', it's premium members, some of whom have been members of SL for several years. Merchants, estate owners. Major players. When will the Labs listen?

Some small bit of levity before I tie this up until next time. This from one of the many, many hunt groups proliferating across the web:

[20:38] Raindrop Lowbeam: Hey Couch Pototatos! How's the hunting?
[20:39] Thane Woodford: Been making things lol
[20:39] Raindrop Lowbeam: big things! laughs
[20:39] Anya Flux: a little more difficult than i expect, but i can solve it
[20:40] Vesper Wildrose: I am a french fry.
[20:43] Thane Woodford wonders what is a french fry about
[20:44] Beautiful Shamen: 3 inches?


I know, I know, really bad joke. But I thought it was funny.