Friday, September 30, 2011

my mixed up mind's a blur

Because I think this is vaguely important, covering a bit of breaking Microsoft news today:
Microsoft now claims that about 3000 users were impacted when their Security Essentials antivirus package went berserk and incorrectly flagged as a virus -- and in many cases deleted -- Google's Chrome Web browser from users' systems today.

Jokes aside about Microsoft deploying a new weapon to boost its own Internet Explorer in the "browser wars," this event could have been much worse, should never have been this bad, and is a clear warning not just to Microsoft, but to the entire computing industry.
Now, while I do run Security Essentials, and do also run Chrome, I was not one of the three thousand. Still, this is frightening.
Where were the sanity checks? Why weren't Microsoft personnel alerted to a nonsensical virus hit before Security Essentials was permitted to run wild deleting Chrome from trusting Microsoft customers?
More than that, there are those who already suffer from trust issues where Microsoft is concerned; if their browser of choice is Chrome (because IE is, well, IE, and sometimes the alternatives to either are worse), and it's auto-deleted because it showed up as a potential virus, how quick are they going to return to trusting Microsoft? Even more daunting, what other Google products are going to show up on the viral list, and why?
[16:05] Axxxxxxx Wxxxxxx: Mesh would be of very limited use to me. I've always designed my stuff on the assumption that I want the customer to see it, even if they don't have an up-to-date computer.
This tends to be my official position, as well, frankly. At least for the next few months, I'm not really interested in making, owning, or viewing mesh--if it's not the standard, I purely cannot be bothered at present.

All right. The big story for me--beyond getting initial pictures of the virtual Burn, at least--for the past few days has been the disappearance (from Second Life) of Stroker Serpentine. I've been trying to figure out ways to find out more about the story, but things are disappearing at a rapid rate.

His blog has been wiped, the official SexGen site is for sale, and the only thing on his land (which is wiped down to the base texture) is his SexGen Ultra v5.

Full perms.

Including the engine. And even that may not be there for long.

So...what happened? That, I still don't know. But there are disturbing mentions on Twitter (you can see them here, here and here; I would have screencapped them, but I'm honestly not sure if they're going to disappear, too, and...as I honestly can't believe anything Jumpman Lane says, I'm just linking for now), and not much more in the way of solid information.

And two days ago, he sent out this as part of a final notice to his in-world group:
"It's true I am leaving Second Life. I have made many friends here and I hope that we'll all be together in the Third Life. I am placing the SexGen base full perm to any who would like to use it in their builds. I'll be closing the groups and returning my sim soon, so come and get it quick. Feel free to share it. It's been a grand adventure and I wish you all the naughty fun you can have with it. Until then, be good to each other."
So...I'm whelmed by this, for all that I only met him twice (honestly, I dealt with Corsi Mousehold more often, and even that was back in 2009). It's not like I've kept up with the SexGen advances; hells, at this point my escorting days are a distant memory to me and even my cuddle furniture is gathering dust and cobwebs in deep storage. So why is it so affecting?

I think part of it is the assumption--as with the Avarian sims, and the Gardens of Apollo--that SexGen would just always be there. Whether or not Stroker was making sales; whether or not there were dark allegations; whether or not he was embroiled in legal battles with the Lindens. I think that was the mental state I had...up until I found out he was leaving.

More than that, even though Amsterdam itself disappeared long ago, I and many others remember that garishly pink-on-pink club at the heart of the Amsterdam sim as being one of the first places we ever went--to socialize, to meet new people, to dance-camp for a bit to rake in some newbish cash. It's one of those memory touchstones.

Even so, would I feel the same thing if, say, Ameshin Yossarian were to up and leave the grid, and abandon the Curious Kitties sims? No, I don't think so; as delightful as Miss Yossarian is, and as much as that's another memory touchstone for me (I bought my very first flexi hair from Curious Kitties, back when Helyanwe Vindaloo still designed hair for sale there), I think that would be a brief sigh-and-get-back-to-work moment, over that pang of loss.

I can't claim, and won't, that Stroker was a friend. But something in me is going to miss SexGen being on the grid, and Serpentine too. It will be a poorer grid without him.

and I see you with dead leaves in your hands

A brief tale of two snakes, which I shall now present to you in its entirety.

(from the random album; picture courtesy of Sphynx Soliel)

The most vicious and most seriously aggressive Brigadoon Bush Viper. (So named by me, because when photographed by Mm. Soliel, it was viciously attacking a bush.) Seen in Brigadoon Village, Caledon, Second Life.

(from the random album; photo taken from a reblog on Tumblr)

The casually non-aggressive but intensely decorative Architectural Teal Snake (no, that's not what it's actually called; it's likely some off-variety of garter); photograph of unknown derivation but quite likely US in origin.

Now my question: which one looks more real? Feel free to think about it and get back to me.

don't hide the treasures you've found in a hole in the ground

(continued from part I!)

More from Burn2, soon to open to the public.

(from the Burn2 album)

Next, I went off to Yman Juran's build, Cosmic Circusality, of which the artist says:
Cosmic Circusality is the relationship between an idea and its implementation into action, just as your decision to share light, life and love with your fellow beings to help mankind and its creator forward on the path to beauty, goodness and truth.
Wau. That's a lot to lay on your average avatar.

(from the Burn2 album)

I popped in next to a floating orb of spinning fire, directly beneath a spinning trapeze ring. At the top of that build, though, I noticed a collection of fluttering, tattered black flags Mm. paramparamm Papp had installed. Distractability, thy name is me, so off I went to investigate.

(from the Burn2 album)

Alas, that's the only picture I got, because the security orb prohibiting entry on that parcel was lethal. Decidedly unfriendly; verging on hostile, even, I thought, plus it bopped me into the corner of the entire sim, and with only five minutes of press time remaining, I didn't even know where I was.

(from the Burn2 album)

I wasn't offended so much as confused, but it did bring me walking past Nik Gandt's Matrix skull on my way to figure out my bearings. I stood and watched it for a bit, the skull's pupils dilating to pinpoints and expanding again as the code strands rippled over the surface.

(from the Burn2 album)

Just past that, I I briefly happened across the skeleton mermaids created to float above a tangle of striped tentacles, surmounted by calavera skull heads.

(from the Burn2 album)

And I was just as briefly waylaid by indecision, past the calavera mers.

(from the Burn2 album)

Two minutes until the press tour closed. I picked a direction at random--a shadowed box containing dimly seen blue figures. Once inside, everything changed.

(from the Burn2 album)

Ultraviolet Alter's sculpture series on the Playa is ethereal, luminous, and transcendental. Ultraviolet paints her women out of light, and they are both frozen and mobile, active and passive at once.

(from the Burn2 album)

She paints them impassioned, in pain, pondering significant thoughts, reaching out, pulling back. I was absolutely enthralled, I must admit, and completely swept away by the interplay of color and shadow in the space.

(from the Burn2 album)

With that, though, it was eight, and the end of the press tour. I sighed and began to drift slowly away, circling the sculptures one last time as I went.

(from the Burn2 album)

As stated, Burn2 opens officially on the 1st of October, and goes through, I believe, the 9th of October.

(from the Burn2 album)

Do try to make room for it in your schedule; it's well worth the trip. I am definitely going back and taking more pictures!

Also opening on the first is Octoberville. They have a Facebook page now, which I'm not going to link, because please, it's Facebook. (Oh, all right, if you must know, it's here. Happy now?) And they're very excited to be opening again, this year on schedule.

Last year, between the organizers not thinking they'd be able to open, and personal stress in my life away from the grid, the decision was made--and, surprisingly, held to--not to hunt at Octoberville. I missed it, keenly, not the least of it because I would not move up my ranking by one level more. (Currently, I'm rated at Epic, which means I've completed at least two verified hunts; I've actually done more, but the first one was not recorded, alas. My next level--hopefully to be achieved this year!--will indicate that I've completed three verified hunts, start to finish.)

This year, I am hoping to achieve the rank of Octoberville Master (or Mistress, in my case, though it's the same title regardless of avatar gender). Getting three completed hunts under my belt will feel good, especially since Octoberville's arcane locations for the items leaves the Twisted hunt in the dust.

Things to remember for both Octoberville, and Burn2: dress as minimally as you can, and by that, I don't mean attractively placed bandages and corks, people, I mean low-prim. Figure out how much your hair is at, make sure it, your skirt, your shoes, and anything else have no scripting involved. Leave complicated HUDs at home. Take off anything that generates particles, and unclick any likely gesture culprits, especially if they come with sound files. There will already be plenty of scripting, particle action, and sounds flying around in either locale; you don't need to add to it.

Even with that, though, that doesn't mean you have to walk around like a putty-colored noob either--there are alternatives, from hairbase tattoo layers for a close-cropped look, all the way down to simply sculpted shoes that clock in under twenty prims for the entire pair. It can be done...it just takes a bit of effort. And that effort will be rewarded by objects you can actually rez in, things you can interact with without crashing (My hair was pretty good at 54 prims total, but I was wearing 36 flexi prims on each leg for the fluttery drawstring pants), and it won't take hours to move. That, also, is well worth the time it takes to pare down.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

and realized I loved you in the fall

Look what I got handed today!

(from the Burn2 album)

Still, by the time I got home today, I was barely in time to use my shiny press pass to see the Burn. But I did promise pictures, so I started out with a parcel at random (which happened to be Trill Zapatero's build, called "Grailquest").

(from the Burn2 album)

The Grail in question is a rather monolithic goblet, attached to a rustic wooden ladder, which you click to climb (you can also right-click it, and choose your climbing speed).

(from the Burn2 album)

There are instructions. The instructions are basically "click things". Click things.

(from the Burn2 album)

Some are poses, some are sits, or climbs, some active, some passive, like the mirror trick depicted here. But don't be afraid to click anything you see. Fun things will happen.

(from the Burn2 album)

At the top of the grail, I was presented with several doors. Lagging a bit from the fire dancers, I ended up at the red door. Feeling this was the virtual hand of destiny, I touched the red door, and crashed. This did not bode well for my first Burn2 press outing.

(from the Burn2 album)

By the time I returned to the Playa, night had fallen. I had a scant amount of time to get any of the pics I wanted to get. But again, at the top of the grail I am faced with many doors. While I rezzed things in, I considered them.

(from the Burn2 album)

Red door. Blue door. Purple door. And a small garden gate. I chose the garden, which seemed safest, but it was full of old books on the grass, their pages wildly fluttering. And just inside another curtained hanging, I found a small image of the Buddha affixed to a hanging rope. Out of curiosity, I clicked it.
[19:45] Buddha: "Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity."
Indeed. I must remember to return and explore this work in more depth.

(continued in part II!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I just feel this sense of mission

Alice Cooper's released a new album! Just in time for the coming Hallows season, the long-awaited sequel to "Welcome To My Nightmare" hits stores now. (And the first single? I'll Bite Your Face Off. Hee!)

In more local news...



Burn2 opens to the press (this year, that includes me) tomorrow! I'll do my best to snap a ton of pictures and post them; it opens to the public October 1st.

Last year's Bad Sex Award was handed to Rowan Somerville for writing what may be the worst sex scene in a decade of the Literary Review giving out the award. If your stomach's strong enough, you can read an excerpt of why he won.

We're still waiting for the 2011 winner, but don't get your hopes up--it will likely be easier to read than Mr. Somerville's contribution. Nocturnal sniffing nipples, indeed.

The Real Tuesday Weld has some new songs and remixes they're offering to the public. Or, you could skip directly to the chase and buy an album.

Why not to put socks on cats. (Seriously--that feline is now PLOTTING YOUR DOOM.)

Rather than continue the JLU analysis (though I'm sure she'll get back to it when more solid information surfaces), Axi Kurmin is now taking on mesh and the tyranny of size. Why "tyranny"? Well, it's a good word, insofar as the mesh clothing item in question won't fit, if your shape doesn't match the designer's. If the Lindens ever wanted a cookie-cutter world, they're going to get it with mesh, if with no other advancement on the grid.

But there's worse in store--I highly recommend reading the article, but I want to pull out this quote in particular:
"But since the userbase is strongly divided on who can see them at all, some sim owners are choosing to ban mesh from their sims, rather than run the risk of people seeing things improperly. In some cases this is not really so far fetched, as with mesh clothing, a deformed mesh can lead to an avatar looking as though they are wearing no clothes at all, risking sanctions depending on the rating of the region."
Remember that huge fight that raged on blogs, on forums, on the grid, and with the Lindens during office hours when Ursula was proposed, right up through the renaming to Zindra, and the popping of the new, all-Adult continent? Part of that was the Lindens "firming up" their language on what constituted ratings, as far as SL goes. The breakdown of that...well, it's still pretty broken, but here's the short version.
  • General (formerly PG): No sexually explicit content. No violent content. No nudity of any kind (including skin and shape shops). No sexually-oriented equipment, poseballs, animations or gestures are allowed to be rezzed out anywhere, at any elevation (aka, even at 3000 meters you're not safe on your sex bed if a Linden wanders by), or sold in any shop (again, no matter whether that shop is on ground level, or 2000 meters up). No cursing. No Adult/sexually-oriented/threatening/abusive gestures. No Adult group tags, either. [Note: where PG previously was interpreted as the movie rating, that is, some Adult concepts are allowed, the General rating restrains that concept level to none.]
  • Moderate (formerly Mature): Dance clubs are allowed, as well as dancers (burlesque with non-revealing lingerie on, not full stripping), though "theme nights" cannot include nudity or Adult-designated concepts. Stores, malls, galleries (without nudity), music venues, beaches, amusement parks, essentially nearly everything in SL is allowed under Moderate, with a few codicils: no Adult search tags must be used in advertisements for the businesses, no publically promoted Adult activities can be hosted, no Adult group tags can be seen. No escorting. [When Mature was the rating, the general understanding of the native population was that that included everything that PG didn't. This is not the case.]
  • Adult (no former designation as it didn't exist in the former ratings structure): I'll lift from the Maturity Ratings page for this one: "The Adult designation applies to Second Life regions that host, conduct, or display content that is sexually explicit, intensely violent, or depicts illicit drug use." So places like Hard Alley, the Crack Den, or the Horror Rape Asylum? All Adult. (And yes, all real places.) Essentially, if there's anything on the sim (and note, Adult is the only designation that requires the sim-wide rating) that hosts, promotes, or uses search terms for the sim or business that depicts "death, torture, dismemberment or other severe bodily harm, whether or not photo-realistic", or "sexually themed content, spaces or activities, whether or not photo-realistic" (oh, and the on-the-ground definition of what does and does not qualify, while generally clear, can change depending on the Linden viewing said content), or photorealistic nudity (and yes, this does mean skin and shape shops are, by default, Adult by this designation, even though so many skin shops complained that the Lindens relented on that for some regions). In addition,
    "Groups, event listings and classified ads that reference these themes or content must also be designated Adult. Linden Lab will enforce these rules but cannot monitor all ephemeral content and conduct within Second Life. Therefore:
    Regions, groups, and event or classified ad listings that employ search tags plainly suggestive of adult behavior or content require the Adult designation, and will [be] viewable only by Residents who have verified that they are at least 18 years old."
    Oh, and any sim designated Adult must be either on Zindra, or on a private estate that is rated Adult by the sim owner. This means what you think it does, no mainland spaces are allowed to be Adult-rated.
The point of quoting all this is simple. Where mesh is concerned, if you can't see it, it's not like a sculpt that just doesn't rez in and remains some grey covering shape. Since mesh has so many different ways to make it, and save it, some will show up as splinters, some will show up as translucent triangles or prisms, some will show up as knifelike darts in the air--but for all of it, if the sim owner can't guarantee that people will be walking into their sim fully clothed, they're opting not to take the risk.

Why? Because anyone can AR someone for being nude in a General sim. Anyone. For any reason, which includes, now, "not being on a mesh viewer so not seeing what mesh-enabled viewers can see". For them, they could be walking in on someone actually naked. And yeah, some people flip out that easily.

Then the Lindens get involved. And if there's too many ARs for one business/sim, the Lindens generally choose to kill first, ask questions later. Poof, there goes the sim. Poof, there goes the account. And fighting to get the sim, or the access, back is a lot harder than it looks, and believe me, it's never looked easy.

So some sim owners are choosing not to take the risk. This further hampers mesh adoption by the rest of the grid.

Another quote I want to pull out for specific comment:
"The thing about mesh when it comes to things you wear, or things you attach to your avatar, is that it is not like a traditional attachment. You cannot alter its position. You cannot resize it. You cannot recolor it. You cannot do anything at all with it other than wear it. In SL, where anyone can take on any shape or size they wish (often changing it at a whim) this lack of flexibility is problematic."
"Problematic" is a word for it, yeah. I've actually demonstrated this personally, after hearing about this on multiple blogs (most notably Dame Ordinal's commentary on the topic). Essentially, what it comes down to is rigging--the act, in making the mesh file, of specifically mapping it to defined skeletal points, so that a set of pants will move with the waist, hips, knees and ankles, and a top will move with the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and torso.

Now, on the plus side, this creates items that move with the avatar, instead of clipping through arms and legs like flexi prims or sculpts can do. And that's a good thing, that's a very good thing--there's a steadily growing business in slinky mesh gowns, and the beauty of mesh is, with even a halfway decent texturing job, the items look nearly effortlessly good.

If you have the right body type. And if you can see mesh at all.

Admittedly, people are just taking their first baby steps with mesh constructions, and as time goes on, it will get more popular (that happens with everything, generally). The big problem goes back to the viewer issue for me (though for Miss Kurmin, I think she's right on target with the creeping tide of "sizism" that mesh also represents). If your viewer does not see sculpts, you're out of luck, and that used to be where it stopped.

But now, if your viewer cannot see mesh, you cannot see mesh clothes properly, which is an AR waiting to happen if you're highly excitable. And if you wear mesh clothing, or a mesh avatar, and someone else cannot see you--well, you're now an AR waiting to happen. As sim owners are discovering, who needs the hassle? And right now, with as many different viewers as are in use, many of them not mesh-enabled, this is a very big problem indeed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

how 'bout the tree back your house where the owls go

It's always on the unnerving side when something we expect to forever be a market on the landscape leaves. Back in August, there was an announcement that Grendel's was closing two of their sims: in particular, the two I've enjoyed wandering the most. Somehow, I missed it, and yet, now, at this point, it's striking me as still relevant--both personally, and for the grid as a whole.

Recently, Ayesha Lytton, the owner of Solace Beach Estates, suffered a financial setback. In addition to selling off some of her properties, she also made the decision to downsize in terms of staff--I and many others were discharged from our duties. I'm also contrasting this with recent notices of closure, or sim "reassignments", in Caledon and other places, and I'm thinking it's going to be very difficult to be a land baron on Second Life over the next couple years.

But while much of the setbacks involve personal finances, and tenants moving on, I tend to agree with what I've heard of the Grendel's situation; that if the Labs had anything resembling consistent customer service, paired with understandable policies, they'd be keeping more people--and more sims--than they are now.

Bottom line, I don't know the exact details; no one who's not on the ground and part of them will likely ever know them. But I know that 99% of the companies out there, when facing a client paying them over fourteen thousand dollars per year (or more, in the case of larger sim chains) planning on ceasing those payments due to a customer service issue? Or an inability to contact customer service at all?

I, for one, would not be staying out of contact; I'd be doing everything I could to ensure that those clients felt that their needs were being met, or, in situations where I couldn't do that, I would at least ensure that they had the sense that I was hearing what they were saying, and doing my best to help them, within my corporate structure.

Instead, it sounds like yet another case of the Great Linden Stone Wall never being breached. When the last thing a client wants to do, when there's a problem, is talk to the company...or when the client perceives that talking to the company will serve no purpose...that company is in the downward spiral.

And the biggest problem in all of this? The Lindens have been there for more than a year now, with zero corrections to their fall. Eventually, they're going to run out of airspace and hit ground. Everyone does.

I no longer have such deep dread about the coming Dark Shadows remake; CERN researchers may have discovered faster-than-light particles; the Toyota Prius is so quiet, they actually had to add in sound for people; and if you wanted to hear Freddie Mercury sing again, well...you sort of can.

From Creator Allen:

I love when people ask if I have a LM to my shop.
"[4:38:46 AM] Fawkes Allen: No, every time I want to go to my shop I go to a secret locale on the mainland and trek my way across the wilderness. An elaborate set of clutes and cryptic messages guide me as I travel across mountins and under ancient ruins long abandoned. Eventually when I reach the shore of the Mainland I set out on a boat across the uncharted seas following a compass that doesn't point north to find my way to the fabled Island of Solace Beach. There I rez a skyship that I use to travel the skies using specific currents to eventually lead me to my Lab above my store."
Insert sound of cackling laughter.

And there's a huge bug of staggering proportions in the upcoming 1.9 Adventure Update of Minecraft--namely, in 1.8 Notch changed the frequency of animals spawning, so if I go out and kill two pigs, three chickens and a cow for food, they won't respawn in that area for at least three days--and that's not gameplay ten-minute days, that's three REAL days.

Instead, in 1.9, Notch planned to have people offer a sheaf of wheat to two animals near to each other, to 'force spawn' new animal mobs in an area.

The glitch? It, err, works better than advertised. In short: once the animals start "mating"...they don't stop. That could be very bad...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

and in a dimly lit room where you've got nothing to hide, say your goodbyes

There's a rather ruthless level of arrogance in the latest Phoenix viewer post. Let me distill down the main points:
  • V1 viewers cannot support mesh.
  • Henri Beauchamp made it work for CoolVL, damn him.
  • People are switching from Phoenix to CoolVL. We purely can't have that.
  • I never wanted Phoenix to have mesh. We're DONE with Phoenix. It's OVER, people.
  • But one of our coders whined, and built up a database of patches anyway...so, fine, I caved--AGAINST my better judgement, mind you--and now Phoenix will have mesh.
  • It will be buggy, it will crash, it will do other weird things, because I don't care what Henri says, mesh just doesn't WORK with v1.
  • Even though we said we'll never update Phoenix again, now we're going to, though as I said, I'm profoundly against it.
  • Also, you idiots should upgrade your machines. I mean, my god, some of you can't even run SSE2-enabled viewers. What are you, five? Grow up and upgrade, damn it!
  • We've also installed RLV coding into Phoenix, even though I was also against that, because really, you people need to get better hobbies than deviant sex.
  • But get this through your thick heads, people--we won't update Phoenix again. This is it. This is all you get, and you should be goddamn thankful that anyone bothered with a stupid v1 viewer structure in the first place.
That sums up the major points pretty well, I think. I'm sure Miss Lyon could have been more dismissive if she tried, but she's not far from utter contempt now. It's darkly amusing coming from the former champion of V1 over everything else, this "get v2 or get out" attitude. Wonder what happened in the background to force her hand like this?

You know, other than Henri getting mesh to work in a V2 structure that has a V1 interface. Which she of course said couldn't be done.

[Insert from the Editrix: Henri's responded to the allegations in a calm, unruffled, and rational manner, pretty much striking down Lyon's raving point by point. It's a refreshing breath of logical air. Also, tip of the hat to friend Alex, for finding me the link.]

In a move that will surprise no one following the Google debacle, Google has now "streamlined" their appeals process--to make it even more likely to catch innocents and "guilty" (note, Google's definitions of guilt, there) alike:
"Apparently there's no limitation on the number of times Google might decide to take a disliking to your name, even if Google previously approved it, and you showed it government ID with that name on it."
Miss Tateru Nino said that, and she's absolutely right--Google has moved from evil with a side of baffling into supervillain status with this. And there's been no further resolution on how these "inappropriate" names are found; the amount of like or dislike generated in any particular Google employee seems fairly random. That hasn't really altered since July; they've just gotten a lot more harsh on things.

Another quote (from the second linked article):
We don't support pseudonymous use in Google+: we support the use of whatever name you use in your life.
On paper, at least, Google is maintaining a contradictory stance to begin with, because take cases like me. I use my real name with my bank and with government offices. Everyone else--and I mean that, just about everyone else, including family, close friends, the theatre we mainly go to, occasional acquaintances, catalogs, online purchases through Amazon and other entities, my insurance company, the clinics and hospitals I've attended, and most of my blogs--gets Emilly Orr.

In point of fact, not a few people closest to me, call me by that name and no other. Or they switch fluidly back and forth between Emilly and my "real" name. So "whatever name I use in my life"? That's Emilly, for the most part.

Yet that's the name Google doesn't want. I'm more than past glad I severed my Google+ profile when I did; my only fear now is that somehow, at some point, Google's going to make use of it mandatory for everyone.

And then...there's the ongoing JLU scandal. Now, I did say I was going to stop going through the SLUniverse threads and pulling out quotable bits, and I'm holding to that. But more has surfaced in the meantime, and Axi Kurmin is hot on the trail of the new revelations. She's even got the second part of the series up, and one of the first things she does is challenges everyone involved in the debate--on any side--to be clear on the terminology they're using. I quote:
"Defining your terms is important. It allows everyone to speak about a thing and actually be communicating the same ideas. When you don't define them, you wind up arguing over what they mean.

"I have also found that people like to change what things mean to suit themselves, particularly when they feel like calling someone nasty names. Whilst watching this story unfold, many people (self included) have noticed that the JLU (and their supporters) apparently aren't quite sure what the word 'griefer' means, because they keep stretching its boundaries farther and farther, even to include anyone who doesn't support them and says so in a public forum, and nothing more. Let us review:

"A griefer is a player in a multiplayer video game that deliberately irritates and harasses other players."
I took all of that, because I think all of that is important. Throughout everything on SLUniverse, and through both entries so far--and in the comments--on Search Engine Watch, she's remained clear, concise, and level-headed. She's not sinking to anyone's level; she's holding her own, and asking--nay, on occasion demanding--that we do the same. Civil discourse demands no less.

The problem is, as I've stated before, neither side seems interested in that. The few members who've come forward to support the JLU have either dissolved into hysterics, insisted that they're trustworthy simply because they are (recursive logic at its best), or flounced off under the "I just can't talk with you people" banner.

And the folks who stand against the JLU, most often, are descending into rabid over-emotionalism itself, because it's pretty difficult to remain calm and steadfast in the face of "we don't have to show you that" and "you can't HANDLE the truth!" proclamations.

At any rate, it will be an interesting series to watch.

In other news, this is just gorgeous, read all about decision fatigue, and afterwards, read about six fashion trends that actually killed people--including the crinoline skirt, and the corset. Fun!

And to wrap this up for you, I have four words: blood orange chocolate bat. That is all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

performing on a stool, we've a sight to make you drool: seven virgins and a mule

[18:13] Unseelie Fairy whispers: :░ ᔑ┢┦┢┦┢┦! A TѠiىtҽd нυηtҽr iى coϻiηg! :░
[18:13] Unseelie Fairy whispers: :░ ᔑ┢┦┢┦┢┦! A TѠiىtҽd нυηtҽr iى coϻiηg! :░
[18:13] Unseelie Fairy whispers: ✰'*•.¸Hυϻ... IŤ doҽى ηot look clҽvҽr...¸.•*'✰
[18:13] Unseelie Fairy whispers: ✶♥✶Lҽtى нҽlρ IŤ!✶♥✶
[18:13] Ghost Host : Ѡelςoϻe ţo ℒaŦaץeur! ^;..;^ Ŧinɖ soϻe ƒreakץ ƒreeЪies aţ ţhe enţraηςe oƒ ţhe sɦop!
[18:14] Unseelie Fairy sings: :♩♪♫♬ Ѽђaţ yoυ arҽ lòókίng ƒor ίs noţ ίn ţђίs Яooϻ ♩♪♫♬


Here's a hint, people--if you actually want folks to come by your store--whether or not they're on the Twisted Hunt--do not throw annoying Unicode garbage at us. Because we get cranky and we feel like turning right around and walking out.

Also, if it's 6:21 on a Wednesday--and you're announced as being part of the Woeful Wednesday sale--and you don't have your item out? Yeah, you've completely failed on all counts.

Past the abuse of Unicode characters, this is the second big reason why display names are a bad idea:
[16:47] [Zxxxxxxxxxxxx] Resident: [Pxxxxxxx Axxxxxxx] good day
[16:48] Tiny Cocked Sissy Whore [Pxxxxxxx Axxxxxxx]: and a good day to you also
Now, I grant you, the store I was in wasn't in a PG sim. Nor is the group PG, and this individual is a member of the group (not that I've ever heard them say anything).

But even so, when walking around shopping? I don't think avatars not on Zindra expect to be greeted with anyone proclaiming they have miniature equipment.

[18:12] ~WC~ Trailer Trash Ladies Tummy: Unless you are the one who put this baby in here or the one who will take it out, you are not allowed to touch my belly.

I have two questions.
1. First, I give them points, that's pretty sassy for a tummy talker, but do that many avatars in SL wander around clicking rounded bellies for the hell of it?
2. Since this one stipulates that it's the "Ladies Tummy" version...is there a "Gentlemens' Tummy" version? Because there's trailer trash and then there's outright mutation, which would be terrifying.

Of course, this is SL; terrifying goes hand-in-hand with the mundane, most days.

Apparently, with Champions already being free, and City of Heroes going free (this month, hopefully!), DC Heroes Online decided they would too. So...I guess if you're into tights and crime-fighting--or crime-causing--you have choices now?

Jumping to other impacts on the life--virtual or otherwise--I want to talk a bit about Netflix. First came the official announcement from Netflix, which many of us were irked by. Then came the Escapist's take on it, followed by both Chainsaw Lawsuit and the Oatmeal taking it on. Then a friend found the video version for me, which was galling in every detail. Alexandra Petri gave another version of what their apology letter said to mull over, and the Above the Crowd blog talked about what might really be going on.

All that aside, though, what it comes down to for Netflix subscribers--and I am one--is that we don't want to have to go through this all again. But--just as with Second Life--what's our alternative? Redbox is annoying, Blockbusters still censors their films (though not even six hours after the announcement, Blockbusters was already offering a 30-day free trial of their service to Netflix customers), and

In the meantime, at least according to CNet, one of the big mainstays of Netflix's streaming service, the Starz back catalog, is evaporating in February of 2012. So again, my question is--what's in it for us if we stay? Is this going to happen again where we'll be forced to make choices we aren't happy with to retain service that no longer thrills us?

Yeah, this is sounding like Second Life more and more. Were any of the fired Lindens hired on by Netflix, do we know?

In the meantime, Amazon Prime is gearing up to make a bid for the market--in addition to a service which offers unlimited free shipping on all items, no minimum order size, and same-day shipping for as little as $3.99 per item, they're also adding on unlimited instant streaming of their personal catalog of movies and TV shows.

How'ver, the down side there is huge--they don't have the comprehensive catalog Netflix does (only 2,208 films and 702 TV shows), and they bill yearly. While it works out to a little over $6.50 per month, that's still billed as $79 per year.

To end this on a relatively popular note, Minecraft 1.9 has been "leaked" early, and some of the features that will be coming have been confirmed. Chiefly: snow, which stopped appearing in snow biomes in 1.8, has been fixed.

Which is a good thing, because craftable snowmen--excuse me, "snow golems"--are coming. By all reports they will be friendly, and gleefully throw snowballs at anything hostile in reach. Including creepers. Save...snowballs don't do any damage. So they essentially will suicidally annoy all the monsters that come near them...but not kill them.

So...yay, home defense system, but don't build them too close to your house?

Monday, September 19, 2011

I've been burning in water and drowning in flame

Nyan Cat comes to Unreal! My favorite bit? The "product warnings" at the end:
Cannot guarantee happiness
Possibility of insanity
Do not use in the shower
Not for use in reality
Destroy ALL the things
Not for consumption
May result in seizure
Allie Brosh, you have become an internet catchphrase. (Wait, is that a good life goal, or a bad life goal?)

SL Marketplace is suffering new woes, which tragically compound the existing woes already in place due to faulty coding and slipshod application. There's a ton of comments on this one, some of them displaying a chill and cutting accuracy which is beautiful to behold.

While it has little to do with what's actually going wrong, Mr. Thor wrote my favorite comment:
"The fact that Brooke and company purposely rely on their own customers to test their code is a sad and strong aspect of why Rodvik needs to stop Fiddling on [...] the sidelines as the SL Commerce / MP is being torched by his own staff."
Pretty damned much.

And yes, there's (at least) two JIRAs on the issue:

https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-4138
https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-2920

And I can't end this section of this entry without pointing out Axi Kurmin's brilliant reply:
Brooke,
Regarding splits:
What's happened this week is you've made what was already an almost useless notificiation system fully useless. Let me explain. Let's say you have two businesses. One is your own-you get all the money from that. The other is split, between you and your friend Bob. Up until this week, you'd get a notification like this:

Source: Marketplace Linden
MKT2 Item Sale Dist
Description: Order #9459290528, Item #592958929 (Bob Partner) 
Now, this is *almost* useless. You have no idea what sold unless Bob tells you, but you at least know that something sold from your shared store.
As of this week, you now get this information:
MKT2 Item Purchase
Description: Order #5820958287 (Some Stranger) 
This information is *completely* useless. You have an order number you can't check. You still have no idea what sold, and now, you're given the name of the actual customer. Glorious, except since you get *NO* email notification of the sale. You have no idea who this person is, and you have no way of knowing if a) they bought something from your shared store b) they bought something from YOUR store, and you have no notification of it anywhere.
Before you tell me that "if you didn't get an email it wasn't from your store" I would think about how many times the notification system has failed, or been extremely slow.
This is now completely useless, and it wasn't much more than useless before.
What is actually needed is *email notification on split sales*, and *what sold* in the transaction history.
She's not wrong. Plus, as Miss Serpente pointed out earlier in the comments, even people who own their own business, and split profits with no one else run into issues after the latest whatever-the-Lindens-screwed-up-now.

How is #40 at all steampunk? Please tell me. Those are chain silks. Just because something has gears does not make it steampunk, people!

Apparently Nicolas Cage is immortal. I...really don't have much to say after that; that's sort of stunning my higher brain function.

The Technorati State of the Blogosphere Survey is live once more. As I think every reader of this blog knows, I loathe them with a fiery vengeance, and that's likely not going to change--at least, until they stop inviting me to participate in their blog-of-all-blogs aggregate colony, then turn me down for spurious reasons. But, if you blog, and you don't want Technorati to die on fire--well, link's there, have at.

Also, punctuation is important. You're welcome.

And that taste of ashes in your mouth, if you're a fan of Linda Hamilton or Ron Perlman? That's the dread and fear drifting through the ether about the CW developing a reboot of Beauty and the Beast. Gods help us all.

Friday, September 16, 2011

welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends

While I've been off in my beyond-the-screen world, being the sort of hermetic purist what does not own a cell phone, I've missed a recent cellphone development: whales.

Totally not kidding, here. It almost tempts me to procure one of the vile and evil things.

Another thing that is seriously tempting? (Which is odd, because I don't have a car, either!) The Park4U mobile phone app. You can now park your car, without being in it, just by the touchscreen on your smartphone.

Felicia Day's been spotted in the Dragon Age II expansion; suspended animation is heading to clinical trials (partially funded by the military); and here, watch some Daleks chasing a turtle.

There's some interesting historical recollection on Wonder Woman's fetish roots, and the question it brings to mind is--if a set of manacles made by a man, and secured by a man, stripped her of her strength in the old days, what did a set of manacles made by a woman, and secured by a woman do?

This is not to invite any Diana Prince/Xena crossovers, THANK you; I'm just curious.

Same-sex relationship options are coming to Star Wars, or at least, BioWare's version of the mythos.

Meanswhile, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are working together again! And Burton seems to be diligently working to turn Johnny Depp into the Invisible Man on the Dark Shadows set. Oh gods, I have deep, deep fear.

So, a few days back, City of Heroes: Freedom opened officially (for members in good standing), they had so many server problems that it took all of the first day just to patch, then to wait while all the problems were fixed.

But I've finally had enough free time to at least go in and poke about the new system (I decided to create a new character on a server I don't normally play on, to test out the new creator). And now I understand why they had so many problems getting Freedom up to speed for the release. This isn't just adding in free-to-play options to the existing game structure. The City of Heroes development team rewrote everything.

I'm not kidding--from the first (at least, if you're me and see VIP options), you have the choice of choosing character basics from the main City of Heroes pack (Hero or Villain), or the Going Rogue pack (Praetorians). You can pick any of the three basic types. There will be differences for folks who come in on the 23rd, who are restricted only to the basic archetypes, and not Masterminds, for example, but for the most part, we're good to go.

Picking out costuming was fun--I realized their Paragon Market was now working, so I picked a special diadem (the Barbarian Celtic tiara) and a special skirt (Barbarian fur, with tied sides, not buckled). I also picked out a specialty aura that ordinarily, I'd have to wait until level 30 to get. All of that cost me 220 of my 1600 granted Paragon Points in the Market. (That number is variable--longer players will get more points to start with, newer players will get less; everyone from then on gets 400 points per month of active service to spend.)

Okay, so on occasion, it's good to be a VIP. Of note: While these are boons that everyone can get, keep in mind that they are sold through the Market on a per-character basis. You will not buy a special diadem or sword or costume piece and have that for use, over and over, for all your characters. (There are inclusive costume packs that feature all the costume items of the Barbarian, for example; those clock in between 400 and 800 points, and I admit to being seriously tempted to pick up the Barbarian options entirely.)

The initial game introduction has changed, too. Before Freedom, if you were a villain, you got the villain intro; if you were a hero, you got the hero intro; and if you started as a Praetorian, there was a separate intro for that. I don't know if the Praetorian intro's changed (though I suspect it has), but for the first playable mission, you get a few pages of an online comic (not too shabbily illustrated, though the artists behind Sister Psyche clearly have been spending too much time looking at fetish shots), followed by a quick little walkthrough of the game's motifs--the go-find-this-guy mission start, the get-a-new-contact start, the group event (which, on the server I was on, turned out to be fifteen minutes of me hitting a giant monster for miniscule amounts of damage, followed by running away; on most servers, there will likely be more people to gang up on the big bad), and the alignment mission.

Personally, I think that's one of the coolest things--whether or not you pull up a pure hero or a pure villain, from that moment you can set yourself on another path, or the path of Rogue or Vigilante. I like that a lot.

And then, you're in the game. Story-wise, the initial experience is more streamlined while still introducing major story elements, and acquainting you with the game's mechanics and goals. They've made some of the kill-X-things missions feel more story-oriented, and less like grinding, and you'll be paced step by step through the first city, while you go up in levels. Leveling up to five is pretty easily done, too--I did it within two hours, and I wasn't on a search-and-destroy parameter, killing anything that breathed near me. People who are more devoted to destroying every bad guy in sight may level even faster.

My only complication: I didn't even check the map settings, because on my other characters, they're set and locked for the things I need and want to be able to find quickly. New characters don't have those settings, so, after leveling four times and not finding a trainer, I gave up and went to Cap au Diablo from Mercy Island--whereupon I had to dig out my jumpjet, because everything there could have killed my new villainess just by looking at her! When I complained about this to Miss Neome, she checked my map settings--and sure enough, nothing was set right.

Oops.

The next time I leveled, I sheepishly opened my map and found the trainer in Mercy, and everything went fine.

All in all, I give it four out of five stars: for me, the experience is too Champions-like when people start talking to me for no reason; that's a little jarring. And not having a soundtrack, moving from place to place, that irked me some, too. (Neome says that's a bug, and they're working on it. I sincerely hope so.)

But beyond that, they've managed to clean up initial missions amazingly well, installed the new code over the old nearly seamlessly, and I think new players are going to like it a great deal. All in all: they did good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

and you won't make a sound, or be nervous around

First came the announcement. Then the going to stare at the sign.

Followed by the moment of falling down in hysterics.

Then the moment of wearing them.

Followed by more falling down in hysterics.

Trust me, if you can see mesh at all, you owe it to yourselves to grab a pair and walk around for a while in them. That's comedy.

Also, I may have to see Arang again. Getting a comment on that post reminded me how much I liked that film, even with its flaws.

Extra Credits has just released a tasty new episode on cut scenes. I wholly agree with them, especially since I just sat through a video walk-through of Metal Gear Solid 4 (though admittedly, Chip and Ironicus are pretty good to listen to between the cut scenes) and am currently slogging through Uncharted 2 (same guys, they're good). (And while we're on the topic, I think the Uncharted team should just give up and make a CGI movie already--or hells, a real one! They can even cast Claudia Black in the same role, come on!)

(As long as you're there, if you're looking for comedy, check out 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. For horror, I highly recommend the walkthrough for Condemned.)

So, just trying to test understanding here...Linden Lab had an attorney...then fired their attorney...then hired a crooked attorney? I mean, okay, backdating stock options isn't premeditated murder, but it's still a crime. What the hell, Lindens?

This is why translation is occasionally amusing.

From the fields of technology, first a very techno-lusty device (it comes with its own easel!), and second, the development of polymer gel means we can potentially have thinner, more easily shaped batteries for electronic devices in time. (That is a very, very good thing.)

Things not to do as an artist? We've got a list for that. I particularly favor #3.

I really, really love the detail involved in the SL lingerie blog, but they haven't posted since July. What happened? And gods, I wish I'd known about them sooner!

And I'm not gonna lie, I cackled like an idiot reading this. Go Grant Morrison!

I think that's all on this one I've got for now; I think it's been a slow week, post-JLU. Other than, start to finish (now that I've finally seen it) I really, really enjoyed Torchwood: Miracle Day. Don't get me wrong, there were flaws--and sometimes big ones--and there are still people I miss who were in the original show. But for what it was--and for America's usual ham-handed reinvisioning attempts with other shows--it was very, very well done.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

everything is eclipsed by the shape of destiny

I've been meaning to get to this, and I just got way too wrapped up in silly distractions. So I'm a little behind on the official announcement:

RITES OF PASSAGE
BURN2
October 1-9
Theme: Rites of Passage
http://burn2.org/2011_dates
http://www.burningman.com/art_of_burningman/bm11_theme.html
http://www.burn2.org/2011%20Theme

Former Burning Life is now Burn2. The first year of the Burn 2 was a blazing success. We are expecting this coming burn to explode with new and exciting art, fun and performances.

Volunteers:

In the spirit of the 10 principles of Burning Man - Radical Inclusion, Radical Self Reliance, Unmediated Interaction - WE MAKE THE BURN! Please help us Fuel the Burn in any way you can. We invite all sl residents to participate in one way or another. This is your Burn!

Volunteers are important year round! There are many areas you can volunteer and help out within whatever time you have available to commit. Your skills are needed or we will help you learn so that you can contribute. Please think about volunteering and be truly part of the Burn! You will not have to commit a lot of time. Take a look at the opportunities.

Touch the kiosk at the LM below to get to the website or go directly to: http://www.burn2.org/volunteer-signup
Burn2 plot information & sales


A bit of history. Burn2, formerly Burning Life, has been around before Second Life was around, weirdly--in that the history of the virtual celebration of the Burn started in 2003, when Second Life was still in pre-development. It was one of the guideposts Philip Linden put in place, because part of what he'd experienced, when he first went to the Burn RL (in 1999), was that feeling of community, sharing, artistry, and interchange. He wanted that on Second Life.

Now in 2011, I think everyone can tell that Second Life has changed, and changed drastically, but at the time, what he wanted was a virtualized, idealized space of sharing, joy, and artistic exploration, with a passionate exchange of ideas for social change and world peace, shared dreams, goals, aspirations, and above all else, interconnectedness.

This, in large part, is what Burn2 still strives to be. Much more free than the sanitized SL Birthday celebrations, the Burn in SL is a festival of art and expression, controversy, community, understanding and sharing that draws participants who've both been on the Playa, and never touched foot in Black Rock in their lives.

Sadly, I got distracted by trivia, and missed posting today's land grab, but there may still be time--contact the team if you really want to build something for the Burn, there may still be plots open. Be creative, be open, embrace the universe. The Burn's part of our history on SL--both on and off the playa.

something I found out in this exercise is you are alone

Brace yourselves, people: tomorrow's going to be a bumpy ride.

Quote from a group chat:
[18:58] [Sparkle Vengeance]: happy 10 YEARS OF WAR usa
[18:58] Txxx Kxxx: HEY
[18:59] Emilly Orr: Come now, Miss [Vengeance], is that truly necessary?
[18:59] Nxxx Dxxxxx: That's not nice
[18:59] Vxxxx Rxxxxxxx: Please do not use this channel for nonrag dollz related business. This is your only warning.
[18:59] Txxxxxx Txxxxx: We have been in and out of war for a hellalot longer than 10 years
It's very true. But more, beyond how you feel about the politics involved, on a day where many Americans are going to feel a little tender, regardless of personal stances, to say that in any group was more than a bit insensitive.
[19:00] [SheOftheReallyLongName White]: way to alienate customer base
[19:00] Kxxx Wxxxxxxxxxx: tacky
[19:01] Dxxxxxxx Qxxxxxx: Woo, trolling; my favorite. -_-;;
[19:01] Sxxx Exxxxxx: That is what I call pretty low
[19:01] Txxxxx Rxxxxx: just an instigator for attention
And that's likely true, too.

What followed was close to twenty minutes of How Not to Let a Topic Drop, including more diatribes posted from Miss Sparkle, declaiming warmongering Americans and their thuggish military (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the intent, I'm sure).

And then this:
[19:01] [SheOftheReallyLongName White]: guess i wont be shopping at Ragdollz anymore
Seriously? Seriously you're going to give up on the group--give up on the store--because some idiot with a yap attack decided to declare that group her personal stomping ground for...for...I have no idea what she was even on about, to be honest.

And I don't care.

My point is, if you're in a shop group, and someone comes on and says something bafflingly inappropriate and uneducated, blaming the designer behind the group is not the way to go. EVER.
[19:02] Sxxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: i just looked at her profile, she looks like she doesn't know any better.. :)
I hate to say it, but the fact that Miss Sparkle belongs to eight Meeroo groups does not give me confidence in her mental acuity.

And, as much as part of my spirit is crying out to leave this name unchanged...
[19:03] Rxxxxx Zxxxxxxx: Hope your country never needs help :)
[19:03] Rxxxxx Zxxxxxxx: If you ever need help, don't call the USA
[19:04] Emilly Orr sighs. Miss Zxxxxxxx, really? This is much too nice a group to give in to low blows.
I hope I'm simply misinterpreting this one, but as it stands, and as I'm taking it, it makes me ashamed to know you, Miss Z.

And lest we all forget the significance of the day...
[19:05] [Exalted Cornflower]: As someone who lost a family member in the attack, I'm begging you all to change the subject.
Whatever your political leanings on September 11th, whatever your particular culture, whatever your particular country...being unable to stand aside when another human being is in pain, when another human being has lost someone close to them, for whatever petty political 'gain' you may have gotten...

I'd be surprised if the designer of the group doesn't bounce you out of there on a shiny copper rail, Miss Sparkle. As it should be. And shame on all of us for indulging in typical internet backbiting, rather than simply ignoring her and getting back to whatever we were doing in the first place.

the rain won't wash away the ashes underneath your nails

(Continued from part X.)

First, a note relevant to today.

Next, we're going back to the Information Privacy Principles (of California, at least). We'd covered 1 to 4; here's the next one.

5. Right to Know Principle
Individuals have the right to know what types of personal information we gather and use.
  • We will tell you what types of personal information we gather and how we use the information.
  • We will tell you what types of personal information we share with other organizations and the authority for sharing the information.
  • We routinely inform the public about our information privacy policies and practices.
  • We provide, upon request, information about our privacy policies and practices, including the names of staff responsible for overseeing our compliance.
What does this one mean?

Again, bad things for the JLU. They would need to be proactive about determining what information they need, and why they need it. They would need to have a policy announcement in place outlining the kinds of information they're keeping, how long they're keeping it, and where they're getting it. They would need to provide upon any request information about their information privacy policies, practices, up to and including naming names about who's on the team securing that personal information. Above all, they would have to be open and honest, two things I don't see them changing any time soon.

6. Right to Inspect & Correct Principle
Individuals have the right to inspect the personal information we maintain about them and to request that we correct errors.
  • We have an accessible and simple inspection and correction process.
  • We respond to your request within a reasonable time and at minimal or no cost to the individual.
  • We correct the personal information when more accurate or complete facts are established.
What does this one mean?

For the JLU, it would mean keeping large sections of their wiki open to the public, even in unchangeable form. However, if they prevented changes to their information by the public, they would still have to set up and maintain policies by which individuals named in their documents could challenge that information. They would not charge for changing the information, and the information once changed should not be reverted.

7. Right to be Heard Principle
You have a right to be heard if you believe we failed to adhere to our Information Privacy Principles for Individuals.
  • We have an accessible and simple complaint process.
  • We investigate all complaints and respond promptly.
  • We take corrective measures when appropriate.
What does this one mean?

As with the above, it would involve the JLU setting up an accessible and easy way for people to register complaint, or challenge both conclusions drawn and information posted. They would need to develop a secondary investigation team beyond that, to run down these complaints or requests for corrections, in order to insure that their information is fair, truthful, and accurate. This team would also have the power to make corrections to documents retained, in order to bring them more up to date with the shifts of personal information. Likely also, this team would be responsible for deletion of private materials when the time for their use had expired.

8. Commitment Principle
We periodically have outside privacy experts review our practices to ensure that we follow our Information Privacy Principles for Individuals.
What does this one mean? I think this would be the hardest of all for the JLU to follow. Allowing outsiders access to anything that isn't tightly controlled by their group seems to give them hives. But more importantly, it's a vital part of the process, a process that should have already been in place.

But, okay, those are the eight principles that California law considers official and binding. Why were there eleven principles mentioned in the comment thread? Well, there actually isn't anything that's glaringly out of place with the eleven mentioned in the thread; I'm thinking the list I found (specific to California law, not international) simply compacts things a bit.

What was the JLU's response to this list of principles? None that I can tell, or at least, none that made it through onto SLUniverse. But then, none of them strike me as being particularly devoted to transparency.

So here's my thinking, from this point forward.

Covering this controversy has eaten up eleven entries. That's not exactly huge, these days; the Escapist controversy had more entries, and covering the Zindra debacle took months. Still, it's a chunk of time, a chunk neither my readers nor I will get back.

So from here, any additional reading I do on the topic won't be posted on the blog. It's not going to be relevant, from this point; nothing I read will change any of the conclusions I've drawn.

For the JLU, if any of you wish to contact me, feel free; you can comment on any of the JLU-centric entries, you can drop me a notecard in world; hells, if you really feel compelled, scroll down on the sidebar; there's a way to contact me by email. Just don't expect me to chase any of you down. First, I already tried that (and failed) with Kalel; second, I really don't care. I'm not on your side.

What I would say, though, to wrap things up, is that if anyone in the JLU truly believes they are an honorable person, with personal integrity and clarity of vision, and you can believe that while still doing everything you can to break open private medical and therapeutic records, and do such a slipshod job of it that those you consider in the wrong are able to waltz in and grab things to flip up out of your control...well, you are invested in a great amount of personal delusion, because you are not honorable, you have no integrity, and you are in the wrong here. No one should have to worry that some random comment on a forum thread will be pulled out and lovingly slotted into a wiki as proof of some 'illegal' act. No one should have their place of work contacted, their college contacted, or their family and friends contacted and told to cut all ties as a matter of personal safety. That is cyberstalking at best; misdemeanor to a felony at worst.

And you should be ashamed for ever considering this was a heroic action to do. You're not heroes. Heroes would know better.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I got a place where all my dreams are dead

(Continued from part IX.)

Before we get back to the JLU controversy, City of Heroes launches Issue 21, which brings a whole new zone and an entire new power set (along with two new servers, one specifically for VIP players, and one specifically for free-to-players, among other new content) this Tuesday for VIPs in good standing. (It will be released later for everyone else.)

Interestingly enough, there will also be a game-wide war going on starting Thursday the 15th through Friday the 23rd. For those who don't already have your Defender of Primal Earth badge, line up your server and participate in the madness. This is what the City of Heroes dev team calls "product testing"--pulling their biggest, baddest war machines into contact with everyone on the server. And they do highly encourage everyone who's ever played the game (at least, everyone whose account is current) to log in during each of the peak war times. They want to know if the new additions in the background are going to break the game. They want to know if their servers can handle it.

Trust me, I went through the last Defense of Primal Earth, and it was insane, surreal, effects-laden, hard to survive (in fact, on many characters, I didn't)--and ultimately, a ton of fun to do. I highly recommend it if you have an account.

Now then. We start off with the Official Shang Stamp of Disapproval (this is not one handed out that often):
"I must say, I'm *very* disappointed with this whole matter.

"It's time to stop harvesting, databasing and redistributing information like this about people without their consent. Even if they seem to be 'the bad guys.'

"This may seem like a little detail, maybe even fair play for the 'good guys' but... it's not. At all. Full stop.

"Even if anyone disagrees with me, it's still important for them to know the true color of their own hat.

"Sincerely,

"Desmond Shang, Guvnah
Independent State of Caledon"
See, I'm in whole, utter agreement about that. Was it wrong for their wiki page to be hacked, or their internal server to be hacked, however it happened? Yes. Absolutely.

Was it wrong for them to keep that information in the first place? YES. ABSOLUTELY.

So, there was a transcript posted in the original SLU thread about something that went down in the GreenZone users group that ended up accusing a Linden of malfeasance. This, granted, is only hearsay, but even so, that's pretty big. As the incident is related:
  1. a sim got griefed
  2. the account that griefed the sim had apparently been hacked, as the sim is accessible only by group members
  3. Soft Linden contacted the sim owner to inform her that spy probes had been found on the sim, and that the account of this particular avatar had been accessed maliciously.
And that's where everyone's collective jaw dropped. Here's the thing: no one has a problem with point one. That's likely true; a lot of sims get griefed, griefers are in it for the stupid drama quotient, sometimes we don't even know why they're bothering us, they're just bothering us. Fine. Fair enough. It's a sim, there's a griefer, for whatever lunkhead reason, they go together.

Point two changes the game slightly, in that, if true, it had to be a hacked account, or someone who went turncoat on the organization, because this particular sim is locked to members of that group only. And I have no problem with the lockdown, either, some corporate sims are like that, all military sims are like that, and yeah--the only way to get onto that sim is to be a group member, so I can see why someone stole the information necessary to log in.

It's point three that's the stunner. There are several problems with point three, any way you look at it. Namely:
  1. either Soft Linden, against the rules and regulations of the Lab, gave a sim owner information about an account she did not directly manage (which was highly unlikely); or
  2. the person told this information misunderstood it; or
  3. the person telling this person lied; or
  4. the person lied for reasons unknown. (Which, even given my difficulties with this person, I find very difficult to believe.)
Again, I find it easiest to believe point three, over point one or two.
"[17:13] Misty Harley: well considering LL generally will not talk to anyone re: other peoples accounts, suspensions, hacks, etc...it DOES seem odd that a sim owner was notified that a JLU members account was hacked based on the idea that they griefed a sim while the hacking occurred."
Pretty much. Still, that's pretty worrying; even if it's an entire fabrication, start to finish, that means that someone's walking around Second Life tarnishing Soft Linden's reputation, which just causes further erosion of the resident/Linden relationship, which is thin enough as it is at times. And at least to me, Soft's one of the good ones; the concept that he'd slip around his own company's standards and practices to give a sim owner, any sim owner, personal information about another avatar's account altogether...It rings false. But it's damaging nonetheless, and worrying as well.

And by the way, if that strikes anyone else as odd coming from me, it should. On these electronic pages, I've outright called Lindens stupid for some of their decisions. I've rejoiced when some of them left the company. I've publically suggested that there may, in fact, be a drug influence at work in San Francisco.

I don't think, in over five years, I've ever suggested that a single Linden (any Linden, even the Lindens I don't like) is capable, nay willing to blithely ignore company policy and reveal personal information about any resident to any other resident. Unless specifically following a formally filed DMCA order, by virtue of their safe harbor status, they can't. Not to mention their own company's internal rulings.

Yet this particular member of the JLU is willingly, one might even say enthusiastically, suggesting this very thing. Something that Soft might well be fired outright for, were it discovered to be true.

So why is this being said? At all?

Relating to this, let's talk about the Information Privacy Principles. (That's California's version, which likely applies to the Lindens, but the principle's essentially the same nation-wide.) I recommend you read this comment in full, but I'm summarizing just in case.

1. Information Gathering and Use Principle
We gather personal information only if it is relevant and necessary for us to accomplish our mission.
  • We use personal information in a responsible and lawful manner.
  • We gather personal information only after we determine we have an appropriate use for it.
  • We strive to use only information that is accurate, complete, and current.
  • If we use personal information for other than the original intended purpose, we first determine that the new use is appropriate.
What does this one mean?

The JLU needs to either erase all information that was irresponsibly and illegally gathered, and start fresh, OR go through all information gathered and verify that it is
  • accurate
  • complete
  • current
  • legal
  • appropriate
2. Information Sharing Principle
We share personal information only when we have legal authority to do so.
We do not share personal information with others unless:
  • (a) you have given us the authority to share the information, or
  • (b) the other party has legal authority to receive the information.
We educate others with whom we share personal information on the requirement to protect privacy.
What does this one mean?

The JLU needs to realize that unless they are authorized by the Lindens to investigate disputes, that they have NO LEGAL AUTHORITY to collect the personal information they are collecting. They need to seek consent to collect and/or share the information, or ensure that everyone who reads the JLU wiki page has legal authority to view personal information thus granted to the archive.

3. Information Retention Principle
We retain personal information only as long as necessary to fulfill established business needs for that information.
  • We periodically review our business needs to retain personal information.
  • We destroy the personal information we no longer need.
What does this one mean? Bad things for the JLU. They would have to completely revamp how they operate, from the ground up. To satisfy provision 3, they would need to decide on expiration dates for personal information, and draft signatory notecards accordingly. On top of that, once the information expired, they would have to destroy all of it, every single electronic record that makes use of those bits of information. (While this IS possible in the electronic age, it's also made more difficult by people who store information backups, or whose security systems are lax enough to allow easy invasion by outsiders.)

4. Information Security Principle

We have reasonable safeguards to ensure the security and confidentiality of personal information.
  • We educate our employees on the importance of protecting the privacy of personal information.
  • We protect personal information against loss or theft, as well as unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, use, or modification.
  • We provide personal information only to employees who have a business need and only when appropriate safeguards are in place.
  • We tailor our safeguards based on the type of information we maintain.
  • We periodically review our practices to ensure we have adequate safeguards.
What does provision 4 mean for the JLU? Again, bad things. To wit:
  • They have not demonstrated they possess adequate safeguards to ensure confidentiality.
  • They have not demonstrated they have instructed their group members in the importance of protecting personal information.
  • They have not demonstrated they have sufficient security to guard against unauthorized access by those outside the JLU.
  • They have not demonstrated that those group members granted access to such personal information have a genuine and legitimate need for that information.
  • They have not demonstrated any ability to ensure that their practices work, that their security is sound, and that they are willing to review these guidelines in order to properly secure personal information.
That's kind of a ton, right there.

And, as this is becoming long and involved (again), stopping it here, and I'll put up the rest of the principles in a later entry. Oh, and for anyone skimming along who may be wondering why I'm still continuing with this: yes, I did listen to you, and, in my own way, I am heeding you. Whereas before, I was covering this with moral indignation and over-emotional hurt intact, you were right. I was far too invested with something that, by and large, doesn't impact my life. And it's not up to me to drag the JLU down. Frankly, it doesn't have to be up to anyone--they'll do it on their own, because they're making some really dumb mistakes.

Including the sidewise accusation that Soft Linden is acting on an account holder's interest before the Lab's interest. That's a huge mistake if it ever hits the Lindens. And it well might, because Linden eyes are watching the drama as it unfolds on SLUniverse.