Wednesday, November 30, 2011

out of the wreckage that I do

We start with this:
Sxxxx Hxxxxx: I got tossed out running from rolling restarts and came back wearing an egg and standing in a flower planter
And this:
Axxxx Zxxxxxxxxx: Yep, they broke the code today and are rolling back on it. Apparently they found an issue that can cause sims to crash. Not sure why that's such an issue now when it wasn't 6 weeks ago....
No clue. But this is from the status update:
[POSTED] Rolling Restarts BlueSteel, LeTigre, and Magnum RC servers

Posted by Status Desk on November 29th, 2011 at 04:35 pm PST
[Posted 4:30PM PST, 29 November 2011]
Rolling restarts on the BlueSteel, LeTigre, and Magnum RC server channels will be starting at approximately 5:00AM Wednesday morning. Please refrain from rezzing no copy objects, making inworld L$ transactions and please save all builds. We will also be introducing a new channel named Second Life RC KT which is a temporary channel that will be used to test an upgrade expected to roll out to all of our servers over the next 30 days. This will not impact region functionality
and later:
[POSTED] Rolling Restarts Main Server

Posted by Status Desk on November 29th, 2011 at 04:52 pm PST
[POSTED 4:15PM PST, 29 November 2011]
Rolling restarts for regions on the main Second Life Server channel will commence shortly. Please save all builds and refrain from making purchases during this time.
Now, I won't lie, for the past week I've been severely disenchanted with SL. I think I've been in exactly twice since Thanksgiving, flat out. I'm not employed on the grid anymore, I'm not particularly loyal to anyone, I'm not dating, and we don't currently have excess funds to spend on Lindens so I can't shop. Until another project hits me, that I actually want to build, or a hunt comes along that I want to participate in, I think I'm feeling some understandable disconnection from things.

But this still bothers me. What did they break today, that required such an extreme rollback of the entire grid, that was different from the sims crashing randomly last week? What was so vital that it required kicking more people off the grid, that they didn't manage to fix during the last mass rollback and restart?

Finally, a way to get darker colors in the oversaturated, vibrant landscape of Diablo 3. It's about damned time. But the truly sad thing, for me, in watching that video? Is that Blizzard could have done that themselves, at any time. Come on, people. Is it really that hard to listen to the people who will buy the game and maybe not paint everything vibrant teal and gold?

Moving on. You've seen the horses. You've seen the sidekicks. You may have seen the auto-deathing, or the strangely animated cart. You might also know that hopping can save warriors from giant attacks.

But did you realize bears cannot attack you when you're spinning through the neck of your horse? (It's a unique riding position, I believe only found in certain sections of Skyrim.)

In other bear news, freezing bears in Skyrim is still a really bad idea.

Finally, you will notice a pop-up that's activating (should be only once per unique viewer, tell me if that glitches) with a little widget to help American citizens call their Senators to stop the passage of PIPA through the Senate. If you're not American, it's not for you; just close it, and it shouldn't pop up again.

If you are American, however, please consider filling out the form. The site does not share your personal info, and tells you up-front what will happen--a staffer will take your information, call you to discuss talking points, then transfer you to your local Senator. It's about as painless a process as it gets, and believe me, this is really important. Please help if you can.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I scrape my knees, I scrape my hands until they bleed

You may notice a small censorship logo to the left of this entry. I've read enough on SOPA to be really, really terrified at the implications. Just concerning this blog alone, there would be major changes. To wit:
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not criticize the Lindens, or Second Life, or use Second Life as a phrase without official permission (plus, face felony jail time);
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not link back to content anywhere else that I did not originate (plus, face felony jail time);
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not use graphics containing content that I did not originate, but instead, only manipulated (in artistic or photorealistic ways) (plus, face felony jail time);
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not mention musical bands, artists, songs, lyrics (including the blog titles) or descriptions that could be matched to existing bands, artists, songs, or lyrics (plus, face felony jail time);
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not quote literary sources, literary quotes, or writers in small ways or large (plus, face felony jail time);
  • If ANYONE entered a complaint, I could not display ads, or pictures from Amazon, or graphics linked to other blogs, or text links to YouTube (plus, face felony jail time);
  • And all of this could be completely pointless anyway, because if ANYONE complained about copyright violation to my website provider, for ANY reason, this blog could disappear entirely (And I might still be sent to jail with felony charges).
It's a very, VERY badly written law. If you're reading this, and live in the States, please consider joining the fight in any way you can.

In the meantime, while we live in fairly uncensored (ish) lands, have part one, part two and part three of MightyGodKing's Literal Titles series. Some of them are really, really accurate; some of them are really, really funny as well.

While I have ethical issues with the parenting evidenced in this Skyrim video, I will also say that if both parents are gamers, that it's going to be part of her environment growing up anyway, and her father, at least, seems determined to integrate that--and her choices as a budding gamer--into parenting education. So it's not all bad. Still, I agree with many respondents after the article--"People don't want to be sword" is really good advice any way you take it.

New World Notes mentions the departure of Kim Salzer, former VP of Marketing, from Linden Lab. Based on information read there, and information I've tracked down from other sources, I'm thinking she's responsible for three things I really, really loathed hearing about in connection with the Lab:
1. She tried to co-brand virtual animals (especially Ozimal bunnies) with Linden Lab, which was both a slashing mark of nepotistic favoritism, AND encouraging the wrong thing for customer retention;
2. She regimented communication between departments, so whereas before, anyone could talk to anyone, now the people behind Concierge support can't get answers on anything without three emails and a priority-courier envelope sent across the hall;
3. She was responsible (though perhaps not solely) for the proliferation of "Be a sparkly vampire just like those characters you've read about!" campaigns that are now seen EVERYWHERE (and hey, she might have ALSO been responsible for the insanity of the "Be a Na'vi in Second Life!" ads).
Based on the above, I'm thinking I'm happy she's gone, but on the other hand, I'm a cynic and mistrustful, so there you go.

To bring up another reference for "Navi", have Meekakitty's take on Link's little fluttery helper from Zelda: Link to the Past. It's a plaintive, sweet, and oddly sincere tribute to what's essentially the most annoying thing in the game.

Did I mention the new Saint's Row Zombie option? I'm not entirely sure what it means by doing the sounds yourself, but maybe that's exactly what it says--you get an option for "Zombie" to record you grunting, moaning and asking for braiiiins...

In the meantime, back to Skyrim, there's now a downloadable mod to remove all spiders from the game. I haven't played Skyrim, I don't know how annoying the spiders are; what I do know is that both Miss Kamenev and my WoW-playing friend are utterly, utterly scared of things with eight legs, so for them? This mod makes Skyrim playable!

Well. As playable as self-impaling followers, floating wagons and circus performers in armor can be.

The Key of Awesome returns with some questions on the missing plot points in Dark Knight, which...yeah, I'm kind of behind. Unlike some of my friends, I liked the film, but there are some glaring plot holes that refuse comprehension.

For those of you who play Minecraft, there's now a sound mod, along with an assortment of sound packs people have created. If you're like a lot of us, and really, really hate the new sounds, this is an option to deal with that...that doesn't feature waiting for Notch to fix things, if he ever will.

And just in time for the holiday season, you can get Vat19's 26-pound gummi Party Bear! It's not a prop, it's fully edible, but it doesn't go cheap. Still, it pretty much is a party sensation, guaranteed.

Finally, to wrap this up, have a taste of the Extra Credits team taking on Deus Ex: Human Revolution as an exercise in transhumanism and wealth disparity. Those are pretty hefty weights to hang on a video game, but watch the video and you'll see why the game not only shoulders them bravely, but does it in style. Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

wash your face, dry your eyes, you've been waiting a long long time

Still deeply in love with Muppet Doctor Who, and at that same link, a Fairey-inspired Darkwing Duck print. (Both are available for sale, I think, elsewhere on the site.)

Is it just me? The Lindens are starting to sound pretty damned desperate for cash.

"I don't know why the world's leading designers on social media user experience would have made something as creepy feeling as the way this new seamless sharing was instituted, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's because behind the scenes Facebook is built by arrogant young people living charmed lives and sure they know what's best for the rest of us." While that link's specifically concerning Facebook, I wonder what the average median Linden age is these days?

If you've ever wanted a really good example of how physics work, to explain to students or children? This would work quite nicely.

They're terming the new Avengers posters "sleek" at First Showing, and I tend to agree--I especially adore the subtlety of portraying Bruce Banner, with just that mere hint of green light over his face. Very nicely done.

This--and everything else in that particular stream--are all photographs. They're a phenomenal collection of still lives, and every single one of them looks like the old masters to me, with oil and gouache and age crackling the paint. But they're all photographs. Seriously impressive.

In the meantime, a devoted World of Warcraft player sent me a stunning link with inside information on the Activision merger, and it's all sorts of jaw-dropping. If you have the time, I recommend you read the whole post on Team Liquid, but I did want to capture some highlights for posterity.

All of these are quotes from Activision CEO, Robert Kotick.

"On the Blizzard side, [we need to] really be figuring out things like the StarCraft business model for the future, with in-game advertising and sponsorship, [which have] really not been something that has moved the dial for anybody in the videogame industry, but that we think presents tremendous opportunity for the future." (as quoted by Shock News.)

"With respect to the franchises that don’t have the potential to be exploited every year across every platform, with clear sequel potential that can meet our objectives of, over time, becoming $100 million-plus franchises, that’s a strategy that has worked very well for us." (as quoted by Gamasutra.)

"Now that we have the weight of being the largest payer of royalties to the first-parties of any third-party company, I definitely see us as starting to influence hardware design, and they're thinking about the evolution of the next generation of hardware." (as quoted by Play.TM.)

"I'm getting concerned about Sony; the PlayStation 3 is losing a bit of momentum and they don't make it easy for me to support the platform...They have to cut the price, because if they don't, the attach rates are likely to slow...If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony." (as quoted by Gamasutra.)

"[Y]ou know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further." (as quoted on the Destructoid blog.)

"In the last cycle of videogames you spent $50 on a game, played it and took it back to the shop for credit. Today, we'll (charge) $100 for a guitar. You might add a microphone or drums; you might buy two or three expansions packs, different types of music. Over the life of your ownership you'll probably buy around 25 additional song packs in digital downloads. So, what used to be a $50 sale is a $500 sale today." (as quoted by MMO Champion.)

"We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games." (as quoted by NeoSeeker.)

"We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression." (as quoted in the same source.)

"Our significant accomplishments in 2009 are the result of the expertise and skills of our employees around the world. Their hard work and commitment to excellence made us stronger even during difficult times." (as quoted by Kotaku, and this after firing over 180 employees scattered through five different smaller studios that had sourced work for Blizzard or Activision, three of which were closed outright.)

So if you've been getting the feeling that Blizzartd's now all about the pocket change--namely yours--becoming theirs? This is why.

Of course, World of Warcraft just lost 800,000 subscribers. Maybe Kotick is too busy counting the millions earned from Call of Duty to care, but then again...

Finally, there's a lot of catcalling between Notch and the Yogscast fans over what happened at Minecon, and the scary part is Notch is the guy who sounds like the insane crazed fan, here. Simon and Lewis, the folks behind the Yogscast, issued a simple statement when all of this broke, saying they needed to get to the plane, off the plane, and back home to England (from Las Vegas) before they could properly respond. But they're the ones being accused of everything but lighting a goat on fire in the convention hall, and trying to sacrifice babies on an altar made of con guests.

Me, I'm not keen on the controversy coming up, especially where it involves Minecraftchick (because, dear gods, is she hateable--she's got raccoon eyes, she's insane, and she has at least one video up on her channel which is pretty much the Festival of Deathing); for me, easy targets don't make it easier to be outraged, it means we're spending our time kicking the puppy.

And the puppy has candyfloss-pink hair. That's not a good strong target, that's more of a pathetic, squishy target.

So mostly, I'm waiting until I get a statement from Simon or Lewis, as to what exactly happened, because honestly, what I think happened? Notch heard it second-hand, inflated by someone (which might even have been his Director of Fun, who organized and hosted all of Minecon; frankly, we just don't know), and then LOST HIS MIND on Twitter.

That's one of the problems with the internet; it's so easy to rant with zero validity to what we're ranting on. Trust me, I know this. Hells, I live this.

But either way, more later, when I hear things. I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

southbound buses, Peter Pan, they left it up to us again

So, this week is my nigh-compulsory urging of family members, friends, and random strangers to tune in to the Loading Ready Run crew and their ongoing charity donation drive, Desert Bus for Hope. It's been going for five years now, raising money for Child's Play, which is a marvelous charity well worth supporting.

"We play the worst game ever made until people stop giving us money."
~ Graham Stark

If you don't know, Child's Play is a charity established in 2003, to directly support children in hospitals (long-term and short-term). Their figuring, specifically, was to support kids who aren't coming out of the hospital. The founders thought that they might as well talk to their gaming industry contacts, at the least, and see if they could get some videogames and a playable system donated to their local hospital, and from there it became an official charity.

At this point Child's Play is international, supports donations both to local hospitals directly and to the organization generally, and also takes stuff over money--in fact, as much as they want to keep the donations coming in, they've said if you have a pile of coloring books and crayons you want to give to a hospital, by all means, go do that.

In the meantime, here's a little more information on Desert Bus from Shamus Young--it's not really in-depth, but it has TONS of great links with more information on why the LRR cast plays Desert Bus, who made it, and what they're supporting that I haven't already mentioned.

Go. Give them money. Challenge them to wear strange hats. We move on.

I heard this morning that part of the confusion behind JIRA issues, and the whole vote/watch debate, is that concierge support staffers are telling people to vote over watching. I cannot adequately convey just how many brain cells screamed and died, hearing that. I am shocked to the depths of the person next to me, that's how baffled I am.

People. Lindens. Linden people. You CANNOT continue to tell people to do one thing, when YOU CHANGED YOUR OWN RULES so that doing that thing no longer matters. There are so many problems with this, but I just want to toss a few questions for my readers at large:

1. Concierge staffers: who's the one telling you to tell people to vote, not watch, for JIRA issues?
2. Lindens above the concierge support level: who's the one telling you to tell them to vote, not watch, for JIRA issues?
3. Any passing Lindens: how do we get you to STOP telling people to vote, not watch, for JIRA issues? Is there someone I can call? Can I hassle people? Should I respond to Linden tweets?
I'm dead serious, this has to change, guys. This is ridiculous and stupid, people. You're making the gaming industry look bad, stop it.

Random things to round this out 'cos I want to go back to pondering what to donate and when:

Artificial meat has been invented! Yes, it may look like pallid strips of scallops, but they're working on that. The scientific minds behind the process are pretty sure they can get it shelf-ready in a year.

Friend of mine tossed me pictures of the train cemetary in Bolivia. Apparently, the town that hosts this enigmatic thing is best known for vast salt flats, but it's also a major transport hub for the region, hence, the train cemetary, of the trains that came in and never left again. (I'm especially fond of Rebecca, but they're all cool.)

A new study has surfaced on 'hereafter' syndrome, which is the joke that when we enter a new room, we forget what we're "here after". Apparently, it's actually a thing. That thing being, passages into new rooms act in our brains like boundary events. So short-term memory closes off, and new buffer space is emptied, to allow for recognition of, and responses to, new information. In other words, walking through doorways really does make you forget things.

And finally, a new lighter-than-air metal alloy has been invented. There were already lighter-than-air constructed substances--they're called "aerogels"--but their composition makes for random configuration. Because of this lack of internal structure, aerogels are not very strong. This new substrate (a collection of hollow nickel-phosphorus tubes arranged into an organized lattice, with each tube being between 100 and 500 nanometers thick) not only compresses well, and bounces back to its original shape without damage, but is very, very strong.

I see space flight in this material's future. And they can bring along artificial meat! Yay!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

up and down my spine go shock waves now, tumbling heels over head

Monday, November 14, 2011

While most of the issues contained in our Known Issues list (http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showthread.php?t=271603) are scheduled to be fixed with the build going live on Tuesday, November 15, we wanted to make you aware of one that may be affecting you if you have a supergroup or villaingroup base.

Please note that base defense items will be attacking you whether you have a supergroup or a villaingroup base equipped with any defense item. The issue affecting their behavior has not yet been resolved and now affects either type of base. As a temporary work-around, you can remove defense items until this issue has been addressed.

We appreciate your patience in this matter and thank you for your continued support!

The City of Heroes Freedom team

Gah! Are they kidding?!?

So, basically, since I'm IN two supergroups, but don't actually own either one, I can't disable any base defenses. So I just have to not go to my own bases. Argh.

Samsung recently acquired a new technology, and they're going to be putting out flexible computer devices in a very short time. (There's an actual prototype picture attached to that separate article, since the first article's photo is broken.)

Pondering things to eat in Skyrim? Gus Mastrapa's done the dirty work for you. Apparently, the answer is everything.

More Skyrim news: in addition to people wearing baskets, gyroscopically frozen polar bears, and dragon-riding horses, there are now detective chickens.

And that's leaving out all mention of the horses that defy all known laws of physics and the many amusing ways to die.

(For anyone who's interested, the How to Die in Skyrim series is likely going to be a long one, so in addition to part two, above, there's also part one, three, four, five and six.)

In other news, who remembers ATLUS' giant crane game, back when they had their own sim? Now there's a way to duplicate that...sort of. Gizmodo's set up their own giant crane game, in their gallery, but there's a catch--people near it can't play it, just people online.

If you choose to play, and you actually win a prize, it will be dropped down the chute of the physical game, and whomever's closest gets to grab it. If you win a specially-marked ball, the prize will both be dropped down the chute, and sent to your home. Try it if you want, but remember, there are long wait lines, so be as patient as you can.)

And if you're one of the Minecraft players reading along, you will understand the pain of this player. (Of course, me, I'm wondering why she was wandering around with all those diamonds in the first place...but I'm known to build chests on the fly and drop things in them walking through forests.)

More randomly, some owls like to be petted. Who knew?

And Blizzard reports that their flagship MMO, World of Warcraft, has lost 800,000 subscribers, and they're blaming that loss on the players. Yeah, great way to win people back, Blizzard. Are you sure you didn't hire any former Lindens to write that press release?

And I'll end this with an elegantly hostile teapot. That definitely would add an intriguing tension to the question, "More tea?"

Monday, November 14, 2011

out pops the cracker, smacks you in the head; knifes you in the neck, kicks you in the teeth

(from the Train Wreck Love Life album; image courtesy Historic LOLs.)

Though to be fair, the love life, these days, is fairly free of wreckage. I am, of course, still wary of this, and waiting for bad things to happen is just part of what I do. Still, I did have to link this, for obvious reasons.

All right, in other news.

The resizeable mesh project seems to be zipping along; apparently the Lindens are working with him to actually implement the coding changes he's working on, so I tend to agree--this is far from the worst thing that could happen.

Why are there banana Dachshunds? Does anyone have an answer? (There's also apple owls, scallion cats, and carrot bunnies, among others, but the banana pups confuse me most.)

May I present to you the Origami Apartment! It folds, it pleats, it maneuvers to entertain. (Which made a friend remember the Hong Kong transforming apartment, and yeah--different execution, same basic concept.)

"I'm appalled that Linden Lab is so completely disreputable and its employees apparently so completely incapable of identifying ethical behaviour or even understanding just how badly this reflects on them, that they have taken absolutely no action to protect their rapidly diminishing reputation."

That was from a blog post made back in August (not mine), so the bulk of it is dealing with issues that have already been resolved (the great Buy an Ozimal bunny, it'll help Second Life promotion springs to mind), or issues that plainly won't ever be resolved, no matter what amount of wrongdoing comes to light (JLU and the Dragonfish data leak). Still, there's valid information there, which leads me to the entry posted yesterday.

This came in the mail this afternoon:

From: "Second Life" {secondlife@e.secondlife.com}
To: emilly.orr@gmail.com
Date: Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 3:31 PM
Subject: Please disregard earlier Second Life Renewal Reminder message


I could just stop there, but hey, I'll carry this out entire.

Dear Emilly

Our sincere apologies. You recently received an email from no-reply@secondlife.com in error. The message subject was "Second Life Renewal Reminder," and it stated that your account would be charged for the cost of a renewal of a Premium Membership, and on a date that is in the past. Please disregard that email. We will not be charging your account for the stated fees.

Again, please disregard our previous message and accept our apologies for any confusion. If you have additional questions, please contact support.

Best Wishes,

Linden Lab and the Second Life Team


Now, there are a few interesting things here. First, the Lindens have moved from "Dear Emilly Orr" to "Dear Emilly". I'm a neo-Victorian online, not (so much) RL, so while I note the added 'familiarity', it doesn't offend me.

Secondly, it's an apology letter. The Lindens actually apologized. They don't do that. In the half-decade I've been involved with SL, they've never done that to my recollection (at least, without temporizing it heavily to make the apology sound like something they're doing for the courtesy of it, but it 'shouldn't count'). So...how many residents received this letter? And how many complaints, notecards, IMs and phone calls did they get?

Third, yeah, let's talk about the mention of calling support with additional concerns. First, it would have been nice if they'd provided an actual support number, but I also know that if I dig long enough on the site, the phone number turns up.

Here's the problem with that, though--while I, personally, have had good luck the few times I've needed to call (and only twice as a Premium account holder; the other times I've been Basic), by and large the average report is that if one is not a Premium member, one does not call support. Period. Because there's no help on their help lines, for non-Premium members.

So...they're stating they sent the email in error; they're apologizing (and profusely, for them, which is even more stunning); and they're asking people to call support if they need any other help.

You know, those tentative urges towards resubscribing as a Premium member? (Not so much for the Lindenhomes, because they're fairly useless for me, and not so much for the "gifts" designed for Premium members, because I have more than enough virtual things, but mainly for the member-only sandbox options.) They've been fairly effectively quashed by this. I think it's going to be at least six months if not longer before I think it might, possibly, be a good idea again.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

this town is crazy; nobody cares

From: no-reply@secondlife.com
To: emilly.orr@gmail.com

Dear Emilly Orr,

We hope you're enjoying your Second Life.


Well, off and on. This week it's mostly been off.

This is a reminder that your Second Life Premium Quarterly Plan will be renewed on February 22, 2009, at which time you'll be charged $22.50(USD).

Wait, what?

You don't need to do anything; renewal and billing are automatic.

Let's go back to the fact that I don't have a premium account. Oh, and that it's 2011. What?

As a Premium Quarterly Plan participant,

--which I'm not--

you're eligible to extend your Membership to an Premium Annual Plan at a special rate of just $6.00 per month or $72 billed annually.

That's awfully nice of you. Why is this just coming to my inbox now? Because let me tell you, 2009? Two whole years ago.

To review or modify your account details, or to change or cancel your
Membership Plan, visit https://secondlife.com/account.


Right, which I check off and on, have checked off and on since 2009. By the way, you've never mentioned you're billing me for anything, since I stopped being a Premium acccount-holder. So I'm back to "Wait, what?"

If you've forgotten your password, you can go to https://secondlife.com/account/request.php to start the password recovery process. As part of the process, an email with a time sensitive link will be sent to the email address you registered with.

Right, knew that...still confused.

Best Wishes,

And to you as well, and my best hopes that you'll go into rehab soon,

Linden Lab and the Second Life Team
http://www.secondlife.com

Linden Research, Inc.
945 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
USA


What the hell is going on??

Sunday, November 6, 2011

twine your vines around me, drop your branches in my path

CoolVL is finally taking its first baby steps towards independent branding, as described here. It's actually a much easier install, now; both the mesh and non-mesh branches are now stable releases; and I just went in and wandered about a bit, and it doesn't seem like there are any major visual changes. It's just easier to use and easier to download. Not too bad, Mr. Beauchamp.

In tech news, there's now a process in the process of being patented that could permanently change eye color. Right now the process only works--and only for a select few cases--for changing brown eyes to blue--or, more precisely, burning out all melanin to result in a pale blue iris.

The process itself doesn't worry me, though I admit to being slightly unnerved about lasers burning anything out of my eye--but what does worry me is I can't shake the feeling that this was an invention without a direct need, until Lashisse--oh, excuse me, Latisse--came along. With so many women using Latisse and having their eyes turn brown...this was bound to happen, right?

In the meantime, office supplies porn. (Sadly, some of the best ones are no longer available.) I bring you:
  • the wooden block memoblock (no longer available)
  • the balding memo pad (from Pantogar, a Chinese hair-restoring company, available only as a giveaway through Hong Kong and Taiwan)
  • the memo spa (note: that's the case price; the individual price is supposedly lower, but the company website isn't coming up at present)
  • gingko and leaf-shaped "Leaf-It" memo notes (they're also priced on the high side, and based on the note at the bottom, dated 2010, may no longer be available)
  • and floppy disc shaped memo pads (now available in colors!)
In gaming news, I can't imagine why anyone would want to actually play Saints' Row, but at least one fellow of my acquaintance has it on pre-order and is eagerly awaiting the delivery date. (And we both agree, Stiv really needs a game in which a "dildo bat" is an actual weapon.)

Both those links, btw? Not safe for work. NOOOOT safe for work. Just so you know.

Continuing (sorta) in the NSFW vein, an article on Kotaku takes on just how hard it is to overcome scandal in Japan. Far harder than in the west (unless you're Britney Spears), any hint of scandal seems to taint nigh irrevocably voice actresses--who aren't, overwhelmingly, known for their faces or bodies in the first place! Still, it's not a tale without something of a happy ending--one of the biggest scandals nearly took Yuko Miyamura down, yet she's still working in the voice acting industry, and even showed up in at least one live-action film. (In the end, she triumphed...sort of...but she's still not at the level she was, and she'll never be there again. In Japan, apparently, scandal never fully leaves.)

Meanwhile, one of Sweden's largest game conventions, Gamex, tried to get the Piratpartiet to attend for a few months before the convention...then, mysteriously, a week before Gamex was scheduled to start, they were told they weren't welcome and to not attend.

For anyone who doesn't know, Piratpartiet--the "Pirate Party"--is a political organization based in Sweden but working in both Sweden and the European Union at large; their goals are primarily reform of copyright law and abolishing the patent system. I don't agree with their goals, but they seem earnest and definitely not advocates of violence or severe political unrest. How'ver, I am with the article's author, when he asked why they'd been invited to Gamex in the first place--and even listed as a sponsor on the banner?

In the graphic novel, From Hell, written by Alan Moore, he posits that the "true" Jack the Ripper was in actuality Sir William Gull. This is one theory in a morass of theories that abound as to who, actually, committed the murders, and for what reason.

Now another contender has stepped forward, with an interesting piece of evidence--the great-great-great-great nephew of Sir John Williams (known to his family at the time as "Uncle Jack") discovered a black-handled surgeon's knife that he believes to be the murder weapon of Jack the Ripper. He's now published a book with his conclusions.

And Simon Pegg may be moving soon. That is all.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

like the spider spins its rings between the trees

And back to the last names JIRA, mentioned earlier.
If LL's goal was to somehow attract new users by eradicating last names and introducing display names, they miscalculated ... once again. Instead Linden Lab created a two tier class system where veteran users look down on the 'Residents' and avoid interaction with them. Good job, LL!
Pretty much what I've been saying all along.
I feel sorry for the people stuck with one of the "Resident" names. They are hard to refer to, hard to remember, hard to feel as a real others in human relationships. So many long term SL residents love and identify with the names we have chosen for ourselves.
That's a great way of putting it...hard to refer to, hard to remember, hard to feel as a real [other] in relationships...Yeah. Isn't the whole point of a "second life" in the first place to feel as if we have more opportunities, not more restrictions?
3) Oldbies need to start paying attention to Display Names. When a person sets a DN, that's the name they want to go by, and it's kind of rude to ignore it unless you are unable to see it. And along those lines, TPVs need to accommodate Display Names.
This one's from a list that someone else posted of their suggestions on how to get around this, and I have to say, this one just baffles me. Maybe it's me and where I go, but the whole "that's my chosen name" vibe here? How does that work, exactly? I mean, sure, if someone's named "Becky1984 Resident", and her display name says "Beckiah", or hells, even "Becky" without the numbers...okay, yeah, that's fair, we have a clue. We have a way to refer to her that she seems to prefer. But if that selfsame person is named "Becky1984 Resident", and her display name says "ƤŏρˠƇąŦ ĴƐĽĹȳ"...first off, how am I supposed to take that seriously, "oldbie" or not, and second, that's only assuming a) I can tell it's a name, and b), I can even see the Unicode characters chosen! What if it's something like "rapemeallnightlong" (which I've seen) or "Justy's lil whoregirl" (which I've also seen). There is no way, in any version of life, I'm going to talk to anyone and call them "whoregirl" for the whole conversation. Screw that.
I must comment on #3 about display names. If the person with the DN uses unreadable characters or flips the name backwards or upside down they I ignore them. That was cute for awhile now its just silly.
Obviously, I wasn't the only person with a problem with #3. There was also this one:
I don't think it's any more rude to ignore display names than it is to put up a display name that is unreadable, which too many do. After several frustrating weeks, I turned them off. And I'm not about to go hunting ASCII characters whenever I want to talk to someone. Now that the majority of new account names are just as hard to read, it's rather a lose-lose situation.
They're not wrong.
With regards to everyone who is supporting this JIRA because they dislike the last name "Resident": That's not visible in any v2 viewer.
That's not true. I've seen it both in CoolVL (a TPV with Viewer 2 integration) and under the actual Second Life Viewer 2 (which I use until it eats my brain and I have to flee again). I never know what makes Resident show up in both my chosen TPV and Viewer 2; I do know it doesn't do it all the time. But it does still show "Resident" as a last name, with some people, under Viewer 2.
I need to make mention of this "placeholder" thing in v2. The "Resident" last name IS visible in v2 if (a) whoever is looking has "usernames" turned on under Preferences > General, and (b) whenever any object is scripted to output an avatar's username instead of it's display name.
A-ha! And that could be why I've seen it.
As it stands, every user name made from here on IS unique, no two people can have the same name. At least with a last name to differentiate, two or more people can have the same first name eg. Sara Pickering, Sara Modine, etc... otherwise anyone else wanting to use Sara either has to try a different spelling eg. Sarah, Sarra, Sarrah, or be forced to add other letters or numbers eg. SaraJane, SaraLee, Sara1987, etc. I do not think it is fair to be forced to make a name in this fashion. No one in RL has to add numbers to their name, and while I realise this is not RL, new residents should not have to become numbers, unless they really want and so willingly choose.
Precisely.
I always saw the surname concept as a cradle for pseudonymity. Obviously the new and fast throw-away name concept has no significant impact in usage, so LL should encourage the use of proper pseudonyms, against the social network hype. It's fun to get use of it, establish an identity and maybe use it for everything else on the web. I think that's a powerful approach to make us get attached with the grid and even a way of subtle viral marketing.
The Lindens never really got viral marketing, I doubt they'll learn at this point.

About this time folks began mentioning other JIRAs that--while they do not directly relate--do contribute to the general problem. Like the new sign-up process, which no longer explains that the chosen log-in name will BE the user's name. That's on the huge side.

Along with that, this:
If LL wants more (dedicated) users, the burden of finding a good available name should not be on the newcomers.
Providing a choice of last names lessens that burden, if explained properly.
which is also a damned good point.
At the time display names were announced there were hundreds of well-reasoned responses by residents expressing concerns over the way this new "feature" was being implemented. LL chose to ignore most of those concerns and plowed ahead. After living with the "feature" for nearly a year we see that those concerns were indeed justified.
Absolutely.
Bring back last names, keep the display names if they really serve a purpose, and leave display names out of search since people change them every day.
Short and to the point.
Don't you also have to "watch" a Jira in order to be taken into account? I thought so.
YES. Remember, WATCH, don't VOTE. I simply can't say that enough.
InWorldz allows you to choose whichever first and last name you wish.
Halfway through the comment chain, and someone finally brings up InWorldz. I'm surprised it took so long.
WE @$%&@% HATE THE RESIDENT LAST NAMES! You've had MONTHS to hear from us about it, before, and after, it was shoved into place!

You've turned what was something classy, into just another second-rate site like all the others. The "Resident" situation, creates nothing but ill will, and it simply has to stop.
Aggressively stated, but also brings up two good points--first, that the removal of last names only causes unnecessary division, and secondly, that the Lindens just don't listen to even constructive criticism. I was on the Ursula/Zindra front lines, too, with blog posts, at office hours, and speaking with Lindens via notecard and IM: and in the end, they listened to none of us, even those of us who were solid paying residents who owned multiple sims.

In a sense, the Lindens haven't changed...they still don't learn, they still don't listen. Sad.
The lower casing of existing names is stupid and is just cover code, seeing as LSL still returns the proper capitalization, even if the person signed up with RanDomnAme Lastname, thus making useless code and creating a social rift.
Yes.
It is just lazy programming for sure. They could have implemented all of the name changing code for their internal purposes and interoperability with other systems, without changing a single thing in the way we see and use the names in game, with no controversy, and little notice by the rest of us.

But, they didn't... they made a big public fiasco out of it, all because the programmers chose to take the shoddy approach, and inconvenience all of us, instead of writing a little bit more code on their end to accommodate their interoperability plan.
Yes as well.
I don't like the two 'classes' of users this change is creating inworld.
I don't either.
While "Resident" is not and has never been a last name (it's placeholder for backwards compatibility with clients and scripts that do not understand single-name-usernames), I have to agree with the community aspects people are talking about. It used to be cool to bump into somebody with the same last name as you, now... not so cool. If you want people to join Second Life and stick around, they have to feel like they're part of something greater than themselves. You don't get an e-mail address to be part of a community, but you do get a Second Life account for that reason.
Also accurate.
In a year of frequent and rather dumb initiatives the introduction of user names rises to the very top of the charts. Many others have expressed why they have to go. Bring back second names please.
Also yes. And then this to tie this one up:
I often have felt second class. There's and automatic "noob" stigma attached to me, but I'm far from a noob. I decided to start over, and even though I'm a well-rounded, experienced SL citizen, I get treated otherwise because of the Resident name.

It even drives me crazy when greeter bots and other scripts in SL identify me in open chat with my Resident name. Let's just broadcast it to the whole world shall we?
This is something that's been puzzling me for a bit--we used to have to sign in to the JIRA using our first and last name. That's no longer the case? Save that when I sign into the JIRA, I still have to use my first and last name.

So what name do no-name "Residents" use? And isn't that also part of the problem?

I know I can't take one more step towards you, 'cos all that's waiting is regret

Welcome to the Steam Emporium (and a tip of the hat to Miss Terry Lightfoot for finding it). Among my favorites: their strange and wonderful bookends collection, and their steam walking sticks collection. Most of these items are for sale, but keep in mind that they are one-of-a-kind collectibles of their type, so prices are high.

Towards more American-centric creations, Dippin' Dots has filed for bankruptcy. Obscurely, they also assert that they will remain in business. I guess futuristic ice cream isn't as profitable as they thought it would be, all those years ago.

More news from the world beyond the screen--today is Bank Transfer Day. To that end, here's a list of seven banks that are actually amazing at customer service and fairly high-yield checking and savings accounts.

In other news, I'm introducing Surviving the World on the sidebar. Dante Shepherd is a research scientist working out of Maryland in a fairly prestigious thinktank, and this is what he does in his spare time. Lucky us, because he's funny, smart, and well worth reading. I've been following him for a while and I've finally decided he needs to be a daily read.

And for some unknown reason, the FBI is suspicious of Second Life. Yeah, I have no clue why either.

And finally, over on Laughing Squid, there's mention of the new Kina Grannis video: using 288,000 jelly beans--provided by Jelly Belly, of course--and taking over two years to complete, start to finish. Even better? It's not a bad little song. Kudos to her, and kudos to Jelly Belly for donating the beans.

The best part? Joining her mailing list gets you a free download of the acoustic version of the song. A great stop-motion vid and a free song just for getting news about the artist? I'm there.

Back to the last names JIRA, last seen here:
Strange that just a seemingly minor change like this could cause Second Life to lose so much of it's charm. Regardless of intentions, it's a comlpete mess as it is and really ought to be fixed.
Spelling not corrected, and partially, that's because it did make Second Life different from other MMOs, and even other social networks (because let's be fair, SL is both, and neither).
On Blue Mars the log in is unknown to the public and the display name is all that is shown. It was great (sarcasm) to have someone take my name, throw numbers and ascii into it and walk off laughing. Last names mean individuality, an individuality which was taken away. Resident was not the way to go.
Again the charge (and the not at all inaccurate charge) of impersonation of existing names and avatars, which is a real problem. (And yet another problem that the Lindens seem to care nothing about.)
I believe removing this option only makes it easier for people to make alts that grief. I'm not saying that people with the last name resident are griefers/smappers/bots etc, but it certainly looks like it immediately.
The "Resident" surname, or even worse, now, the lack of any surname at all (which is seen now and again in the comments in that very JIRA), makes this sort of knee-jerk rushing to judgement not only easier, but encouraged. It's a very bad trend that the Lindens should step in and stop.
SL without proper last names, be then LL provided or not, makes it feel like IMVU.
Speaking of which, IMVU has for many months now, deliberately been treading on the toes of Second Life. To wit:
(from the miscellaneous album)

This has been running for at least six months. Another variant that often pops up is a referral site they've set up called "2ndlife.com", for Google searchers who can't spell, one would imagine. I'm also curious how many people sign up for IMVU thinking it's Second Life from these paid ads.

So making Second Life appear more like IMVU? Not in anyone's best interest unless the Lindens are actually angling to sell the property to IMVU.
I wholeheartedly agree. SL names are a part of the culture of SL. SL is not Facebook. SL is not Google+. They are them and we are us.
But it is interesting that both Facebook and Google+ seem so insistent on real names, to the point that the Lindens briefly flirted with the concept of real names only...with "display names" being the solution to the "problem".

Yeah. Like that ever would have gone over. That lead balloon never left the ground for one single second, nor should it have.
Last names actually contributed to the creativity of residents. The first thing you got to do in SL was to choose a last name, and then, with that as a parameter, create a first name. The last name encouraged people to take care with their first name, think about it, because they were creating a NAME, an identity, not just an account label. Now residents are just creating an account label.
This is an excellent point, too. I'm thinking of other games I've played, like Runes of Magic--I chose one account-level name, with every character created tied to that account name, but not dependent on it. City of Heroes does it slightly differently--you have one global name (which is known if you friend anyone or they friend you), and then all your heroes and villians (or Praetorians), that are sub-categories off that global name.

In City of Heroes, at least, you can change your global name...once. (After that it's kind of a pain and involves paying the company for a formal name transfer token.) But before you change it, your name is your first character.

Of course, this wouldn't work in Second Life, because so many people want their alts to remain alts, with zero connection to their main accounts--and believe me, I understand why. And trust me on this, it's not always for prurient kinky sex options--for instance, say you're a major estate owner (waves at Des). You have alts and, though most of them are known, not all of them are. And sometimes, you might want to just get out and wander the grid, without having to worry about anyone contacting you for support, sim help, estate issues, rent questions...whatever.

I'd imagine the same thing would go for major store owners, but even getting away from rental issues or store support, there are valid reasons why people would want that sense of separation.

Instead, what we have now is a group of people who use main accounts and alts, who use titlers for specific roleplay or store-group identification, who have last names...and another group of people who may be intelligent, charming, witty, wonderful people, who are nigh instantly dismissed for being Not of the Tribe, stupid, unintelligent, children. Yeah. That worked, Lindens, what's your next plan? Set your server room on fire?

Friday, November 4, 2011

it's part of the noise when winter comes, it reverberates in my lungs

Meet Catrin Arno. She's a German graphic designer and digital artist currently living in Malaysia, and she's turning out these impressively detailed fantasy works, featuring women with impossible hair, impossible attire, and impossible bodies. She takes on everything from motherhood to melancholy, reading to dreaming, and she does it in a style that speaks to both the present and the past. (She also sells prints through RedBubble, but the point is not commerce, it's simply introduction.)

Speaking of reading--or at least, accessories for writing, if not writing and reading--meet Simone, who lives in Italy and runs Anticovalore on Etsy. Not only does she make and sell homemade blank journals, but she also makes tiny journal earrings and tiny journal magnets. She's also made a tribute to the Doctor's Tardis journal; so far it's seen in necklace and ring form.

Back to the last names JIRA, last seen here.
I too jumped through hoops, like Nathan Adored, to choose from available surnames and then get the name of my choice. It was part of the fun and when I was done it MEANT something to me and still does. I thought having accounts with first name + surname was creative and classy and ahead of the curve. Eliminating surnames seemed a deliberate attempt to cheapen down something that was unique and wonderful about SL. And I agree that it has created a division that does not serve the community, that separates new residents in a way that would not encourage them to stick around.
Again, reinforcing what's been said before, that the introduction of Resident as a last name, and the Linden insistence that the last name system has been eliminated, when patently it's only been crippled.
Of course, the thing about display names is, someone can easily change their display name multiple times, at their whim, to something completely different, so if you remember them only by their display name, and don't have them friended, you lose track of them. And if you do have them friended, and they've changed their display name again for the umpteenth time, you might see the new name in your friends list and no longer know what their relationship is to you because you've lost track of what their display name was when you friended them.
This is an additional complication, and I've run into this myself--before I had a 2.x structured viewer I saw the avatar names as they originally registered into the system. Post-2.x, I see some "given" names, and some display names, and this also occurs in chat.

(Case in point: while sure, yes, "Your Friendly Internet Troll" is a good description for Jakkar Carlos, if I didn't know it was him in chats that he pops up in, I'd have no clue who he was, because his display name is no longer a name at all. I find it hard to believe that the Lindens never conceived of this use of display names as alternate titlers, or as Unicode support displays, but then, if they truly had I doubt we'd have been given the option of display names.)

That entire comment post is worth reading through, but I want to pull one additional quote from it:
I've also heard it said that some of the thinking of some at LL was that people would then stick their real name as their display name, and that that would help to better tie them into their Facebook accounts, this being back when LL were trying to forge a big connection between SL and FB, which turned out to be an epic fail for a number of reasons that should have been obvious up front. But, LL were so salivating over the idea that their forging a connection to Facebook would bring in millions of new users from there that otherwise wouldn't likely have come... and since Facebook REQUIRES real name be attached to the account, OF COURSE then setting things up so someone COULD (theoretically) have their displayname be their real name would placate the powers that be at Facebook... this may well have strongly motivated them to implement this change over to making the account name less important and bolt this dumb display name thing in on top of it. The fact that no one really ever wound up using display name for that purpose pretty much shot that one down.
Yeah. And frankly, if the Lindens cared to listen at all to the people who live in their world and pay their salaries, almost any of us could have told them what an utter disaster this was going to be. FacebookLife was destined to fail from the moment it was proposed, and only the Lindens involved in the slim thread of access-grabbing failed to realize it.
Point to [N] - after all 'Resident' is still there as a placeholder. Believe thats been stated by the Lab. Placeholder in DB terms == reserved space for data.
Which is still reserved for that data, because the coding for it has only been disabled, not removed.
Thanks LL, for fixing things that don't need to be fixed.
It's what the Lindens do best, after all.
It doesn't feel like a person to me if they use the name resident.
And here's the end stop on the line of thinking--first, "Resident" seen as Other; next, "Resident" seen as threat; finally, "Resident" seen as not even a real person. In a philosophical sense at least, depersonalization is the ultimate harm that can be done, because one one human being convinces themselves that another human being is not, in fact, real at all...then (at least in the non-digital world), they can directly harm that being, willfully injure that being, even murder that being. It's part of what distinguishes serial killers from the rest of us; that they no longer see people as people, capable of being hurt, capable of being afraid...but instead, see them as cardboard cutouts, people that only look like people, but aren't really, or even worse--simply as things to be utilized, then disposed of when that particular predator is finished with them.

So take that to the grid, what do we have as a result? With this line of thinking comes dismissiveness: it doesn't matter how we talk to Residents, it's not like they're real. With this line of thinking also comes denial: because they're not real, it doesn't matter if we lie to them; if we mistreat them; if we emotionally or psychologically hurt them. With this line of thinking, dealing with Residents not only becomes a chore to be eliminated as soon as possible, but abuse-reporting Residents also becomes mainstream: after all, they're a Resident, they've probably done something wrong anyway, right?
In a world like Second Life, persistent identity is highly important. Avatars are supposed to be expressions of ourselves, of our identities. Having a last name establishes us as real people with thoughts and feelings.
See above discusson on depersonalization.
If guild wars can let me create a first and a last name of my own, and it does, why can't SL.
It's a fair point. Why can't the Lindens do this? It's not like it would be in the least difficult, because the coding's already there, nearly complete. All that would be needed would be an Other option on the last names, with an added fill-in field.
I don't like the separate classes of "people with last names" and "Resident".
I'm not sure anyone does.
With the advent of display names, you can have any name you want already. First, middle, and last if that is what makes you happy. Those who refuse to embrace the use of display names are stuck in the past.
Another rare dissenting opinion, and in this case, a wrong one, because here's the thing--when I use CoolVL, I see a mix of people: some have one name, some have many names, some have descriptives--and those are all display names showing. But underneath that? It will show things that read "bob1947.resident" or "xoxluciexlx.resident". "Resident" may still be a placeholder, but even when using Second Life's official Viewer 2, I'm still occasionally seeing the firstname.lastname format--under the display name.
Display names, while a nice novelty, was really unneeded and a wasteful use of time and resources to implement when anyone could give themselves any name or title simply by creating and editing a group title. Trying to find someone by what they happen to be calling themselves THIS week is a nightmare, as is trying to read the outrageous "names" that use numbers, symbols, Ascii, and UPSIDE DOWN letters. Its impossible to type these display names and it seems they have been grossly misused. Further, not everyone's computer has the right language fonts to actually see the display names correctly.
This is another excellent point. Second Life to this day is not auto-enabled to translate Unicode characters properly for all systems. Until they have proper Unicode support, or even better, ban the use of Unicode characters from display names, display names will continue to be a bad joke that's long since worn out its welcome.
Btw, while I was all for display names from the moment I heard about them, I was as taken by surprise as anyone when they changed the account names as well. I don't recall even hearing that mentioned when the display name debate was going on. It's like they just slipped it in while everyone was busy elsewhere.
Yeah, and I think that's the general conclusion. Display names were hotly debated and practically begged from the Lindens; what no one seemed to expect was the utter removal of system-generated names. And it just hasn't worked. It was a bad idea, and it needs to be abandoned and last names returned.
The use of Resident for all last names happened suddenly with no rationale offered. It smells of simple laziness on the part of someone who didn't want to be bothered thinking up the next list of 200 last names.
And I still don't understand why it's a burden. Most of the names of the past--those that weren't sheerly invented whole-cloth--were taken from various fandoms, geeky concepts, internet memes, and scientists and thinkers that were admired by the Lindens. As concepts keep being invented, and names are kept for some time before rotating out, I would think it wouldn't be at all difficult to keep tossing in potential names for the field. Maybe I'm wrong, and it was an arduous part of the job, but seriously--between grid instability, and integrating mesh into all systems, and keeping voice running without system corruption, thinking up "new" last names seems like the easy part of the job.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

was it nothing but anecdote that you can tell now and then?

There are some very sharp points made in Extra Credits' latest video on working conditions in the videogame industry, and I think a lot of them gain added depth when we're thinking of Linden Lab and Second Life.

There's also some very pointed reasoning behind Shamus Young's diatribe against Netflix, and all of them I wholly agree with.

And there is now evidence that early humans lived as far back as 400,000 years ago. (And yes, that's a fossilized molar at the top of the article).

Here's Tor Books' list of the ten greatest, smallest moments in Doctor Who (nearly exclusively, barring very narrow references, dealing with the newest members of the show). It's an impressive list of gut-wrenching, gloriously precise, small moments where the world turned on a word...or a look...or an embrace. Why we're fans, after all: because we get the pathos involved. (Also, this reblogged from the Tumblr of one of my favorite artists for great truth.)

I also want to touch on briefly what's happening at DC Universe Online today. This from one of their producers (ironically named "DeadMeat"):
"As folks have seen we have had some major issues today keeping our US Servers up and running. We are working very hard to correct the problem and we will be keeping the servers down until we can deploy new software to help us fix the issues. The response to our new Free to Play model has been overwhelming (literally) and we are very excited about all the new players in the game. We are working hard to make sure DC Universe Online is the best experience possible."
He updated that half an hour ago with this:
"Update from DCUO Exec. Producer: 'We will be reopening the server soon. Although we do not have a fix yet for this problem we have added additional code to try and catch and diagnose the problem. I apologize in advance if we crash again, but know that the information we get will help to make sure we solve this problem as quickly as possible.'"
So let me get this straight. After a few months of nigh-insane hype, so many people signed up to try out the new Free-to-Play model on the block that they crashed the servers, and DCUO doesn't have a clue how to fix it so far.

I'm wondering how many coders for Champions and City of Heroes laughed themselves ill at this development. Possibly even sent condolences and bouquets. Mayhap even cards: Thank you for that huge sigh of relief, knowing you won't be a threat to our games. Get well soon.

Back to the last names JIRA, covered earlier. We stopped a bit before here:
The current choice of "resident" is not merely confusing, but no doubt unintentionaly demeaning.
Spelling not corrected, and yes.
I really feel like it does create a "them" and "us" kind of feeling between newer residents and the older ones. I recall the video where Torley talks about being able to use display names to fix the "oops" of making an initial account name like Xbobwuzhere67372X, and now with all the first names being used up, they are creating the same scenario where [users] HAVE to make those kinds of names now even if they just simply wanted to be Bob. At least with the last names, you could have 10 Bob's running around but all with different last names.

And frankly, let's be honest, no one seems to take a "resident" seriously. Are they an alt? Are they really new? I hear a lot of comments like "Oh.. its a Resident... never-mind".
Spelling corrected for one word; as originally written, it was "uses", not "users". But again, this is exactly what I've been saying.
Either bring back the list of surnames to choose from, or let us insert a last name of our choice, or maybe do both. I.e. the new user creating an account would get a choice to select from a list of premade surnames, OR to type in a surname he likes.

Either way, bring back surnames.
This also seems to be the prevalent opinion.
Being stuck with the surname "Resident" is just naff. Not to mention the issues with scripting and information management that were expounded when the idea was first floated, but duly ignored.
There's a lot of scripting out there that requires firstname.lastname constructions, which is why people on viewer 2-structured clients don't see "Resident" as a last name, and people not on the viewer 2 structure do. Even Linden-level scripting still requires firstname.lastname. (And, as previously stated, it always will until and unless the Lindens recode the Legacy system entirely.)
Display names are not last names. I hate display names because they leave people open to take another resident's name. "Resident" is not a last name, and all this leads to is people calling themselves Joe8375 and such nonsense because they can't have the first name they would like.
The issue of theft of identity also seems to be a concern with many residents. And there's nothing that stops anyone from doing precisely that with display names save the Lindens themselves; and by their example, they're proving the code is in place for them to repress certain names on a grid-wide level.

Unfortunately, so far they've only done that to prevent people terming themselves as "Suzy Linden", say, in a display name...so once again, the Lindens benefit from a restriction that is denied to everyone else.
LL claims that the Firstname Lastname convention was an obstacle for first-time users to sign up.

I think it's easy to show this can't be true: In 2006-2007 there was a huge surge in new users.
The naming convention wasn't an obstacle back then, why would it be an obstacle now?

I would say the Username Resident convention is a bigger obstacle, not being able to find a decent available username.
It is a bigger obstacle now, and it wasn't a major obstacle then; it just required a bit of finesse to find the "right" name--or at least, the name one could cope with when making up that first avatar.
Give folks the option to create a name, first and last, for their AV. LL, you have, inadvertantly, one hopes, created an SL class distinction by tagging every new member as Resident. Stop it! Options are a wonderful thing.
and
The new system without surnames makes it harder for new people to make accounts with unique usernames that aren't taken already. Instead of seeing avatars with names like "John Smith", "John Hammer", or "John Black", we have names like "John85673", "John85674" and "John85675" which makes it more challenging to differentiate one John from another.

No one should have to live with the stigma of looking like an AOL handle.
and
it difficult distinguishing avatars from one another when you see susie1592 and susie1952
all pretty much say the same thing.
I have to agree with the other posts here. The removal of the menu of last names, replacing it with "Resident" cuts part of the creative process of Second Life away. Being able to create a first name to go with a last name you found you liked was a big step in creating who you become in world. Cutting that step out of the creation process makes all names appear generic and dare I say, cheap. We may as well be honest, this digital world is anything but cheap, and even our name choices should reflect that. Let us have back the rights to being creative with our names as much as we are our images.
Ah, but remember, with the arrival of mesh, if we want to fit the rigged avatars, we have to conform our shapes to standard shapes. So--unless that option gets fixed--soon we'll all be clones anyway.

I guess then it won't matter if everyone's got a number over their heads, will it? It's not like you'll be able to tell who anyone is when we all look exactly the same.
People end up with these dumb names like Amber897 just because you want the first name Amber. It is really to the point you can just about type any first name in the world and the response is that that name is already taken, It has taken a lot of the fun out of making an avatar.
I grant you, avatar creation was never exactly thrill-a-minute, but it wasn't soul-crushing. Now, it seems to be. That seems like a pretty major shift in perception. I'm also thinking about how many people are coming into SL, hitting the 'Resident' barricade, and asking around for people who have alts they're not using to sell them one. Forget the selling angle: profit isn't the point here. But considering that very action is against the Lindens' stated Terms of Service, anyone who feels that's the better option is sacrificing a potential future ban against the altar of not feeling that wave of mistrust and dismissal when first entering the game. Being permanently banned for using an avatar that someone else made is less repellent than walking in under the Resident name for people.

The Lindens should really think about that one, long and hard.

And this comment really deserves to be read in its entirety. That is exactly what I'm talking about on this issue.
This is one of those cases where saying "Linden Lab has more important things to focus on" makes sense.
This is one of those rare dissenting opinions so far, and while I also agree with what they're saying, I also know, beyond any shadow of any doubt, that the Lindens WON'T focus on those things without the servers actually, physically, catching fire. This is precisely the level of nonsense they will spend time on--ESPECIALLY if they think it gives Second Life a bad name.

And it does, Lindens. It so does. It adds discrimination and social rejection to a game that had those things already, but only for minority groups. (Note: I'm not saying that popular rejection of furs, robots, constructs, or supernatural creatures is a good thing, either. But at this point, the avatar walking into the welcome area can be tanned, blonde, long-legged, and dressed in the most current, stylish outfit imaginable, in the current top-of-the-line skin, and people will still see the "Resident" over the name and back away. While it never made sense to me, at least there was that sense of difference between the bronzed beach bunny with the tousled Truth hair and the actual bunny on the beach with paws. It's still discrimination, and it's still wrong, but at least there was something OTHER THAN A NAME one could point to. Now? It doesn't matter what they look like. It doesn't matter how well they behave. It doesn't even matter how well they type--they are marked, they are Residents, and large sections of the grid shun them for that alone.)
I would like last names back because I feel it is part of what makes SL such a great community. Plus it is hard to contact people who feel that their display name should be their username, and will fill it out on forms, making it difficult to find them in search.
And this one's HUGE. I can't count the number of times when working in customer support that I had to search seven or eight different ways, check actual land purchases, and pore over each of thirty sims with a fine-toothed comb before finding some nitwit who'd filled in her display name instead of her given, SL, Resident-based name. Personally, I have no issue if someone wants to be Princess Melodrama the 92nd, if your name is Sissily7509, then write that down. Search is hard enough without you making it harder.

More later.

there was fire, there was death, there was lying on your breath

Ever think the Cheezburger sites are getting too specific?

More from the last names JIRA, which I started covering in the last entry. First off, NWN also covered the topic (and is also urging people to vote...please, please stop until the Lindens decide they're going to look at votes again)...At any rate, they have what they consider a "definite maybe" from Yet Another Linden I've Never Heard Of (likely TM).

We'll get to that. In the meantime, we're still near the beginning.
Please bring back last names. They were a mark of individuality, and gave scope for many witty and creative names. They were our identity in the new world of Second Life.
And rightly or wrongly, having the last name of Resident just gives that avatar less credibility in many people's eyes.
This seems to be the overwhelming sentiment expressed.

There's also an article linked in the comments that makes multiple excellent points, but I want to pull one in particular out to address:
"I know that the system is already in place, but could you and your team consider setting up a new add on system that rewarded Residents that want to become one with the community that is Second Life. Maybe after they have been here a certain amount of time, say three months, they could choose a permanent name?"
While I admire what she's trying to get across--even going so far as suggesting the Lindens could charge for this!--I think her misconception is that the firstname.lastname system has been disabled, and that's far from the truth. In fact, it's still permanently in place, and that's not likely to change until the Legacy coding is completely removed (which I said in the last entry is not likely to be gutted out any time soon).

So what stops xxName3611xx Resident from being xxNamexx Invertebrate? The Lindens. Only the Lindens. They could add last name options in at any time because the code is still there. The only reason later viewers only show a first name is due to display coding alone; all viewers still track residents as firstname.lastname still.

I can't say for sure it would be an easy fix. But I know for a fact it's far from impossible.
Do something like deal with server issues or customer service or hey maybe when someone files a ticket you deal with that issue.... but last names are vital and part of the experience of SL.
I will freely admit I was cynical enough to laugh out loud when I read this. As long as there is new bright and shiny to deal with, the Lindens will never voluntarily choose to work on grid stability. Hells, in a time when the grid was crashing completely every four days and the Wednesday update was still happening, they decided to implement voice. Which made more of the grid lag terribly, sent more sims offline on a weekly basis, and entrenched the split in thinking between owners of sims who refused to allow voice for anyone, and residents on the grid who wanted to use voice for everything, even business transactions (like, oh, say, virtual real estate), regardless of how cumbersome it was.
Last names made Second Life feel more like a community. I agree that if bringing real "SL" last names into the mix isn't possible, that I'd like to at least see the ability to have spaces in the names users sign up with.
Yeah, totally. Because if I see one more BetsyJohnson Resident...it looks wholly inadequate, and frankly, on the ridiculous side, and again, all that would take is offering that space...but see, therein does like a problem. Remember that firstname.lastname thing I mentioned? Yeah. Giving that hypothetical someone the ability to call herself Betsy Johnson is one thing; but if she had the space in between the first names, then we're talking firstname.middlename.lastname...and trust me, the coding doesn't exist for that.
Personally, I've noticed a distinct seperation between the "Residents" and those of us with a real last name. There's a class issue developing and I don't like it one bit!
No one does, but note her phrasing? The "distinct separation" between "Residents" and avatars with "real" last names. Even she's putting that divide in there, and saying, if only subconsciously, that anyone walking around with "Resident" as their last name isn't real.

Frankly, that kind of thinking is appalling--and note I'm not saying she's appalling for this line of thinking, I'm blaming the Lindens again for this one. They instituted the class division. They allowed Unicode abuse in display names. With two coding strokes, they not only created a forever orphaned class of folks that will only fit in through dint of extreme hard work, but also created options for people to use display names for things other than naming. With no restrictions on display names, paired with the perception of anonymous, easily discarded Resident accounts, they have fostered unrest and suspicion in the grid as a whole.
In a world of our own contrivance, I feel that history and continuity are important components in adding depth and richness to our chosen virtual existence. Amazing sims come and go constantly, but with luck, we avatars have a longer lifespan. The ability to choose a fitting surname means a lot. I also like the legacy system in which names were retired after a span of time.
Admittedly, many didn't like the fact that Legacy names were phased out after a certain length of time, but personally, I felt it added character, and as she noted, that sense of history. I don't run into a lot of Orrs, currently; I'm sure they're out there, but it was never one of the more popular names, and at at least one point in 2007, all the Orrs I knew were a) female and b) strippers or escorts (yes, including me). It sort of gave that odd cachet to the name, that--whether I knew these other women or not--we were all struggling, all striving together in an odd sense to both find our footing on the grid, and bring pleasure to the masses. (Yes, I know, prostitution can have dire consequences, even in virtual spaces, but I always treated it closer to Firefly's Companions than street sluts for hire. Of course, that's also why I'm not in the game anymore...Most guys don't want Companions.)

My point being that names "aging" as time passed allowed people to capture certain eras, be part of a moment in time, and--in a subdued sense--be part of virtual evolution. I mean, sure, it's a leap from "Therian" to "GossipGirl" but it's still progression, even sidewise. With everyone named "Resident" and no chance of anything else, there's no evolution, no sense of progression, no sense of fixed moments in time at all.
I do not at all feel that the display names are a good substitute for the last names. As several others have said, they've always added to community. I love beeing able to see a last name and tell by that approximatly how old the avatar is. Now, the "Residents" almost end up in a perma-noob state in a lot of people minds.
Echoing what I've been saying.
Please bring back last names for all those poor new avatars who have to tack on numbers to their desired names.
and
So much of SL is about identity formation, too. [...] Bring back options for last names, and you bring back a key part of identity formation.
Absolutely. But the struggle for comprehension continues:
Voted. Bring them back please!
WATCH, do not VOTE...WAAAAATCH.
Yes bring them back please and also a option for the resident avatars to switch to a normal name like the older residents in game
Again, note the terminology: "normal name". "Real name". More avatars in SL than the Lindens might think separate "real" people, aka, people with last names from the Legacy system, from the unreal, aka, those with the last name of Resident. Residents aren't "real", in the same sense, to a lot of SL. Again, fostering this kind of separation--essentially, creating one set of described avatars that are discriminated against from their first moments in the world--is a bad idea. Wasn't that actually part of what Second Life was founded to prevent? To give everyone an equal playing field--regardless of their skin color, religion, personal beliefs, relationship status, ability or disability, or weight?

Now we have a class of people we treat very prejudiciously, people we discriminate against, and we're not even once thinking about why. They are Other by their very existence: not to be dealt with, spoken with, instructed, purchased from...Resident last names are people who are treated with suspicion, dislike, resignation, repugnance, and on occasion, fear, hatred and loathing. Is this what the founders of Second Life wanted to happen?

And keep in mind, this is an easy fix, because the code never left. They could revert back to Legacy names AT ANY TIME.
I have to admit that I do feel separate from new people with 'just' Resident as a last name. I hate to be a snob but we ARE different. I have a real first & last name. I am a person with a life on the grid; not a player with a list of letters & numbers attached to a cartoon that I made.
Again, note the use of "real" in her words. "Real" versus fake; "real person" versus someone with Resident for a last name. This is telling, in how often this phrasing turns up.
I think perhaps people might've taken more readily to Display Names had they not been wrapped up in that bitter pill which is V2.
And, while this post is not about the difficulties of SL 2.0, I agree whole-heartedly with this statement as well.
Please PLEASE return the old naming system. I can't imagine how disheartening it would be if you saw this fantastical world you wanted to enter, saw the blogs/machinima/art created by long term SLers and then tried to join them... only to be turned back by the fact that the first 57 names you attempt to join with have all been taken. No one wants to be Anakin26655897V.
And while I agree, again, why, if you're choosing a name for a virtual world, are you going to name yourself Anakin (or Akira or BritneySpears or InuYasha or Shinji...I mean, really, don't you have a personality of your own?) at all?

(Of course, I'm saying this knowing many, many people who chose fictional characters to represent, on and off the grid, and knowing my most well-known handle before Emilly was entirely lifted from a book I favored some years back. Pot, meet kettle. How's the wife and kids?)
The issue is the loss of having a real firstname/last name identity, just as we do in RL, thus creating a second class of citizens in SL that are looked down upon through lack of a last name. And the ensuing difficulties in even creating a new name without sounding like some griefer newb.
Again--though this is implied, not directly stated--the association of "Resident" last names with griefers. Again, that distinct linguistic separation of the classes.
Please make this change and many of the others that users are asking for. Also remember that a large number of SLer's don't pay the premium because they can't see what good it does.
This also brings up an interesting point. While I abandoned my premium account-holder status over the complete cack-handed catastrophe that was the homestead/openspace sim issue--and told the Lindens that in my final "Why are you leaving?" essay question the Lindens provided on downgrading at that time--I've still only seen one good reason to go back to premium: the sandboxen reserved for premium members. Lindenhomes never interested me; offerings of gifts never interested me; and access to Concierge service I generally don't need as I'm not renting an entire sim (or owning one).

But that's another good point. How many new premium members would the Lindens gain by returning to last name options? Granted, with people like me, who were originally premium members when the weekly stipend was higher, my monthly fee would still be canceled out by the stipend payments...but with new people? New people who were never bound by the stipend system? Wouldn't that strictly be money in the coffers, directly, that would benefit the Lindens?

More later, when I have the time.