Tuesday, February 28, 2012

except for the space between the mirror and me

I have to start this entry off with very bad news from Octoberville:
I hate to be the bearer of bad/sad news, but PixelTrix, due to personal issues with in the company, have decided to disband. The island(sim) is already gone and there will not be an Octoberville next fall.

To our fans, customers and friends; We have had a fantastically fun time with you over the years and we can never thank you enough for all that you have done for us. We've met wonderful friends and have forged great relationships with so many of you. Thank You.

Master Kaos
So what does this mean? Without asking the main participants, I don't know whether it was a professional falling-out, or a personal breakup. As friable and emotionally wrought as BDSM relationships can be, friends forming businesses together can be just as charged, and just as prone to failure. Unfortunately, it leaves me with a potentially dysfunctional group for a few days, because--in the time between getting that group notice (about one PM PST, on the 28rth) and now (about five PM PST, same day), all group notices have been deleted, and half the titles of players have been dumped.

Considering how hard Mm. Allen and I worked, last year, to get Octoberville Epic titles, I'm irritated, so I'm taking a few days until I'm absolutely sure it's dead in the water.

The one thing I do know: Octoberville, as a sim, is gone.

Okay, one more comment from the TPV thread on SL Universe. From Sredni Eel:
Lindens should be required to spend a certain amount of time in Second Life doing the same things normal residents do: Go clubbing, go shopping, try to build in a sandbox while a buttshelf brazilian noob tries to sex you out of the blue, and all of the other fun and exciting things we all know and love. Then maybe they'd be more inclined to make improvements to the user experience.
This should be etched in 30-foot-high letters of FIRE on the main wall of the break room/group conference room/Rodvik's office. Wherever's big enough. Because this has been the problem for years now--that maybe two Lindens out of every fifty actually interact on the grid they're supposed to code for.

They desperately need to know what the user experience actually is, to properly code for it. Or to use a ridiculous example: if you want to make donuts, then you pick up a recipe book and look up how to make them. Or you go find a bakery and watch what they do. You don't go to YouTube in the privacy of your office and watch videos about bears and cars, and make donuts based on that.

(Though to be fair, I think it's rather the reverse--we're telling the Lindens that we use their world to dance [synchronized, or, well, not], to make art, to recreate reality [in fantastic or realistic ways], hunt, and to achieve the impossible. They listen, they go off to think, and then they give us in return...well...this. Which is pretty much the Lindens putting together a product that misunderstands everything about how their userbase lives, day to day, night to night, in their world. They just don't get it.)

At least in my opinion, since 2007, at least, there's been a steadily growing, basic disconnect between what we do on their grid, and what the Lindens think we do on their grid...and it's only becoming farther and farther apart, the actual versus the virtual.

And, unfortunately, here the virtuality is all on the Linden side--because they just don't know as a group body how we work, how we play, what we want, and--perhaps most important--what we're willing to buy and keep around. Until they understand any of these things, we're always going to have these problems.

And talk about brain-breaking concepts--someone's come up with SuperWhoLock on Tumblr. The hell, people. The hell.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

calls me on the phone, tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up

Picking up on yesterday's post, more on the TPV policy revisions.

From Hitomi Tiponi on SL Universe:
My belief is that they see all this work going into TPVs and they'd rather try and persuade users to work with them on developing LL's viewer (i.e. lots of stuff being developed for them for free along the lines that they want) - after all they no longer have a viewer development team as such, just Oz to co-ordinate open source input.

This is all part of the ongoing policy to transform Second Life from being a community to being a product with customers.
I think this is entirely on target. Which is unfortunate, because this is something I would dearly love to be proven wrong on--that the current rulership of Second Life, Linden Lab, do not want an immersive, creative playspace, but instead, want Farmville with microtransactions, bought landspaces, and larger, more complicated user icons.

Latif again:
That cannot work right there. Oz Linden's only real competence is alienating the best opensource developers and making them never want to contribute to Linden Lab again. They would have to find someone with more clue than arrogance for the task Oz is doing.
And as much as I like the way Oz Linden thinks, and tend to put him in the slim and narrow section of "good Lindens"...I can't disagree with this either.

Sean Gorham:
All the development work goes into third-party viewers because very few people think LL have a clue about developing their own viewer. This policy change is the equivalent of LL taking their ball and going home. Yes, this will end well.
This, too. Sean's right; this sounds petty and ill-thought-out, but then, what decision have the Lindens made for the past twelve months that has been well thought out? Seriously, now. Introducing mesh? The big land sale, which saw mainland further abandoned, and estate owners crushed by the weight of tenants rushing for cheaper land? And those are just the first two off the top of my head. The Lindens are not thinking things through, and that's the problem.

Latif later linked to an audio recording of the viewer meeting; keep in mind that that is an .mp3 link, so either save it as you'd save a normal linked .mp3, or click on it and let Quicktime (or whatever else works for you) load it for you local. But that might have more information on what's actually intended, and not intended, with these changes.

Latif again, later on:
I read this as "no new cool stuff allowed if it didn't come from LL".
And I don't think he's wrong, but damn, what a restrictive, depressing world this is going to become.

Ilana Debevec:
Then again, would this mean that NON-MESH viewers will soon be verboten? (Affects how others see you, either properly dressed or wearing boxes/blobs)
It's a good question. With the quotes 70% adoption rate of mesh-enabled over non-mesh-enabled viewers, that's a good figure, but if the Lindens want 100%, this might be a good way to do it.

Well. Not "good". This might be one way to do it.

Anyway, back to the comments. From Andromeda Rage on the allowance of non-mesh enabled TPVs:
Nope, Oz said that's a matter of viewers simply not keeping up. I think the general gist I'm getting is that if you want to log in with an outdated viewer, that's fine, that's your choice, but be prepared to see a lot of broken stuff in the future.

Inventing brand-new inworld features without LL's approval is what this policy change is about.
Sounds plausible. Also sounds entirely possible, that people will start to lose functionality on certain things, over simply not being able to see them, as "old-style" viewers get more and more outdated. A slow, grisly end, to be sure, and not a fun one.

Samantha Poindexter:
I can see why the Lab wouldn't want to keep being forced to come up with better implementations of popular features, but from a user's perspective there's much to be said for TPVs being able to demonstrate where the demand is...
Which, to be purely logical and corporatist for a moment, is something the Lindens should be tracking, rather than restrict implementation of all new features until the Lindens are finished playing grabby grabby with the shiny things. Parcel Windlight, f'rinstance--the Lindens never even conceived of customizing Windlight settings to the point people did--that was nearly entirely from the community. By the same extension, the Lindens never conceived of custom Windlight settings per parcel, not just per sim.

Under this new revision, in fact, this very sort of 'user preference' selection is killed at the root. I'll offer an example. Say a viewer came out that allowed all shoes to make noise when they struck a surface. (Shhh; I know there are shoes that do that, I'm talking about hypothethical coding wherein all shoes would make sound.) High heels would clack, metallic gravboots would thunk, animal paws would get soft padding sounds...et cetera and so on. And this was a feature that would affect others beyond the user--anyone else within 20 feet, say, could hear the shoes--be they paws, hooves, fetish heels, spacesuit boots, whatever--and react (or not) as they chose.

This kind of development--and likely, developed just for those specific sub-groups on the grid--would not be allowed under the new policy. So what's left? Looking more and more like the official viewer, until there's really no need to have one over the other--which I suppose is the true end goal here.

And, as pointed out on SLU, SecondLie on Twitter pretty much nails the heart of all of this, quickly and succinctly. (He also has excellent comments here, here, here, here, here (one of my favorites), here (also very well put), here, here, and here. He's been on a roll.)

And did I ever link to this blog? Not so much for the content, which I've covered in this entry and yesterday's, but for the three updates listed at the bottom.

Joshua Nightshade chimes in:
Custom attachment points that only work on one viewer and make things float bizarrely for everyone else are the sort of problem they have decided to end. Custom functionality for yourself that doesn't utilise exploits? I don't think that's what the policy change is about.
I am wholly in agreement on the extra attachment points controversy. Had that exploit of the code actually worked, and worked consistently, I doubt it would be a problem worth addressing. But I'm not the only one past tired of seeing women come in with their tails sticking out of their ears, two hairs clashing badly with each other, their collar protruding from their right eye...In Emerald, and later in Phoenix, the extra attachment points could not be seen unless you also ran Emerald, and later Phoenix.

What's the good in a system that shows you perfectly to yourself, but not to others? In this regard, yes, I think it is important to restrict what a viewer can do--not just what a third-party viewer can do. Is this the right way to implement that restriction? Well, that's the point, isn't it?

Casey Pelous comments:
LL's history of rules enforcement pretty much illustrates "capricious."
And along with that capricious enforcement, I'd also add scattershot--because some offenses get a ban, while others with the same offense don't even get noticed. We never know how seriously the Lindens will take any potential action, frankly.

Penny Patton:
I'm trying to give Rodvik time to implement changes, and honestly from what I've seen he is trying it just takes a while. I've been saying for years that LL has built up so many bad decisions that even if they pull a complete 180 it will take years for them to put a dent in the mountain.
I think she's right here, too. Even the best management team is fighting the apathetic drag of former bad decisions, and a resentful population more than willing to protest any new change because most of the other changes have been bad. This is a draining, stressful situation to be in.

Joshua again:
When LL made the viewer open-source, the original point of it was that they would solicit patches and help from other people to improve the official one. For a variety of reasons, many of which being managerial incompetence and Rob Linden in particular, this did not pan out. People submitted patches, LL did nothing with them. People asked for ways to get their fixes into the viewer, LL ignored it. People got fed up and started releasing their own viewers and we are in the state we have now.
Pretty much. And if the Lindens hadn't dragged their collective feet to this degree, and instead, worked with community coders to implement the best patches--well, would we even have viewer 2.0, which was an outsourced project written with zero input from even Linden-level coders, at all? I really don't think so. This is Linden-level willful blindness; it has nothing to do with anyone who's developed a TPV.

Arkady Arkright offers an interesting perspective:
This 'shared experience' wording worries me. What it doesn't say is 'other user's experience'. I would read 'shared experience' to mean 'I have to see and hear the same as every other user in my vicinity'. Features like Phoenix's permanent derender would be disallowed, as no other viewer allows you to log-on with stuff already derended - thus making my experience different to that of a user on the official LL viewer - i.e. 'non-shared'.
Interesting. Let me test understanding on this supposition, because this seems to go larger than the new policy points themselves: would this interfere with muting people? If what they truly mean is everyone must see the same things, in exactly the same way, and affect no other resident's experiences...would muting also be disallowed? (Visual or otherwise.)

Now, I'm not saying this just to engage in rampant hyperbole--I mean, that's always fun, but think this through: A harsh, literal reading of the new revisions would mean that anything, no matter how small, that affects any other resident's user experience would potentially be disallowed. Now, even to me, obviously the Lindens don't want to do this. But if parcel Windlight settings are disallowed, if "forced" media plays are (and have been) disallowed, wouldn't muting also be disallowed? After all, if I mute someone, I am interfering with their user experience in SL.

I'm not saying x must equal y here; it's clear to me, from everything I've heard so far, that the Lindens are not interested in slash-and-burn, all-or-nothing thinking here. But I don't think the future is all "oh, we'll adjust just fine" either.

Shyotl said:
The bigger issue is that having these new features necessitates using a viewer that's a complete mess. Seems most users have decided it's not worth the tradeoff. Who's fault is that?
Ooh! Ooh! I know! *raises hand*

Actually, forget raising my hand, everyone knows the answer to this. The problem is that it doesn't matter what the majority of users think. Any program a company pays through the nose to get, they then because stubbornly attached to using, even in the face of overwhelming common sense. Is viewer 2 the best program for the job? Of course not. Is viewer 2 ever going away? Of course not; it cost too much.

Han Held commented:
More likely, the motivation is financial. It's hard to use windlight as a lure for ppl to buy estates if they are able to get the same functionality by editing the parcel description a certain way.
Which is true, but is the Lab more motivated to selling independent estates, or reclaiming mainland? They seem completely split on this issue.

Adeon Writer offers up a visual interpretation. It may or may not be accurate, but it's amusing and well worth at least a casual perusal.

eighthdwarf again:
The problem is that Ll has seen that TPV dev hobbyists are more creative and competent than their own PAID devs, and they can't have that. If they admitted it, it would mean admitting to have burned a huge amount of money for worthless or low-quality things instead of listening to the userbase.
This is not just a fault with Linden Lab; this is a fault with every large corporation on the planet. And, to a certain extent, humanity at large. We spend of our resources in one area, we become committed to supporting that area--not because it's "right", not because it's better than other areas, not because it even makes logical sense--but, simply and solely, because we spent our resources and therefore must continue to trudge this path. To turn away, at any point, would mean admitting we were wrong in the first place.

For most of us? Admitting--and accepting--we were wrong is very, very hard to do. No less so for the Lindens; in fact, it's often more so for corporations, because they can't just throw a press conference and say, "Oops, our bad, we'll fix this." For the most part, they have to change all underlying architecture that is pushing them down the wrong path; this could also take into account changing staff, changing vendors, changing their basic corporate culture.

And people get entrenched, people get comfortable. It hurts to sit on the radiator, but after a while the nerves are dead and it's fine. Besides, it's cold outside. Why would they move?

And then...Mikey:
And by alienating said bunch of devfurries they've killed the point of developing a TPV.
Wait, what?

I actually had to go back and find the original Nightshade post, because I admit, I'd just started skimming his to get back to less bitchy content later down the thread. I had to go back several pages before I found the comment in question, and even with context, I don't get it. This is the comment, with the lines before and after for reference:
It is a problem, but it's not a problem because other viewers are "better." They aren't, at least not to me, but this is an irrelevant line of reasoning in any event because it's a subjective opinion.

What is not subjective is the risk to SL if a third party viewer continues to hold a significant portion of the userbase. Thankfully, this is a problem that LL has elected to correct.

Given the fact that SL itself is more important than a bunch of devfurries coding a viewer and whining on the internet, I think it's a good move of LL to make.
So...he's just talking about the Exodus viewer team? Or what? I'm very confused, here.

At this point, someone brought up Tateru Nino's post on the subject, and she finished with a very succinct and damning line:
It’s a small change to the policy, but it makes Linden Lab’s development priorities and development timelines your own – however you still don’t know what they are.
Yes. The only real difficulty with this is we've rarely known what their real goals are, at least since Philip Linden left. (The first time.) This revision to established policy just reinforces that with a sharp and razored edge.

And this to me was worth lifting a screencap from SLU; it's in the comments of Ms. Nino's blog, but here, for reference:

(from the miscellaneous album)

So...sure, that's funny on the face of it, but think about what's really going on here:
  • Qarl: People are asking me about this new policy. What should I tell them? (Interpretation: Oz, I need an answer from you I can safely pass on.)
  • Oz: Tell them to talk to us, not you. (Interpretation: You don't rate an answer from me. Tell anyone asking you to ask us. We won't tell you any answer we have.)
That, right there? That is scathing contempt of Qarl, a former Linden. Was this what Oz actually intended? No idea. But how it comes across is damning; beyond that, it's chilling. If they'll treat a former employee like something not even worth washing off their porch after a storm...what chance do any of the rest of us have?

What's the point of trying to communicate with the Lindens at all...ever?

From Argent Stonecutter:
Other ideas that seem like they would break 2k: per-parcel muting, so you can put "block #parcelid" in your description and nobody on your parcel can see the adfarm next door; extended linden trees, using prim parameters to modify linden tree details, so you can take the gum tree and apply a different leaf texture to it.

If these things do break 2k, then that's a problem.
From Trinity Dejavu:
From the wording of 2k and what was said by Oz at the TPV meeting, they absolutely do.
And from Argent in response:
That's not just wrong, it's daft.
I agree. Unfortunately, by Tuesday or Wednesday, it won't matter.

In the time I've been trying to bring myself up to speed (let alone anyone else) on this issue, the SLU commentary has swelled from three bare pages to--at this point--ten, with more comments flying in as I type this. While there's disagreement among the denizens on SLU, for the most part the overwhelming consensus seems to be:
  • no one has any clue on the real reason this is happening
  • TPVs have more power than the official viewer at present; LL wants to take that power back
  • and this policy will, in addition to breaking TPV content, break actual Linden content
Yeah. Well. So that's not going to be fun...

Oh, and Urlai.com thinks I'm a senior citizen who's just thrilled beyond repair and wanting to spread the joy around. The hell.

Well, I suppose it's better than Google analytics, who think I'm an 18-24 year old young man who likes rock music, gaming, and outdoor activities. (At least, until I moved to the shiny loaner laptop--now, I hit the Ad Preferences Manager and see "No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far." I suppose, give it time, it'll think I'm a 40-year-old Peruvian businessman into beekeeping, or something.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

why dream a dream that's tainted with trouble, and less than it seems?

The...hell...is this? Infantwear for adult women? I don't get it. I get the babydoll look....but there comes a point, doesn't there?

Maybe there doesn't. A thousand apologies; the SL version actually looks better.

So, this new TPV policy. This one's going to be a lot of fun. First, the basics:
  • On February 24th, on the Second Life forums, in reaction (to whatever degree) to surfacing privacy and security concerns, whomever's under the Community Manager's tag posted an addendum to the Third Party Viewer policy.
  • Not much was actually changed; in fact, it seems, for the most part, the entire policy was streamlined, with only four new additions.
  • These additions are all in Section 2.
"We’ve also updated the policy to be clearer about the sorts of innovations that developers should work on for their particular Viewers (Section 2.k), and which they should work on in partnership with Linden Lab for all of Second Life. This is so that we can avoid the problems that result when a Viewer changes the way elements of Second Life are defined or how they behave, in such a way that users on other Viewers don't experience the same virtual reality."
Now, to play devil's advocate for a bit--I kind of see their thinking here. If they put up a tree, and they post pictures of a tree, and someone codes a viewer so that all trees are actually seen as neon flamingos with pumpkin hats and poodle skirts, then yeah, anyone who downloads that client is having a vastly different experience than the rank and file resident.

But...is this that bad a thing? Let's jump to SL Universe's post on the matter, and Latif Khalifa's comment:
2)k basically prohibits innovation by TPV viewers. If this was always in place stuff like bouncing boobs and parcel windlight would've never happened.

I have no idea what business advantage they see in preventing innovation.
This sums up the potential reservations for me in many ways: this will stifle creativity, inhibit innovation, and restrict people who want to help with perceived needs, but also want to stay within Linden Lab's established ruleset.

So what is provision 2.k? For that, let's jump back to the actual revised policy page. I'm quoting specifically from Section 2 now:
2. Prohibited Functionality
If you are a user or Developer of Third-Party Viewers, the following features and functionality are expressly prohibited in all Third-Party Viewers:
a. You must not circumvent our intended limitations on Second Life features. For example:
i. You must not circumvent the Second Life permissions system or any features that limit copying, transfer, or use of content within Second Life.
ii. You must not alter content metadata like the Second Life creator name or the Second Life owner name.
iii. You must not provide any feature that circumvents any privacy protection option made available through a Linden Lab viewer or any Second Life service.
b. You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to "full permissions."
c. You must not circumvent any security-related features or measures we may take to limit access to Second Life. For example:
i. You must not mask IP or MAC addresses. By “mask,” we mean disguising or concealing the IP or MAC address when including it was possible.
ii. You must not spoof the viewer identifier or the identity of a Third-Party Viewer connecting to Second Life. Each version of a Third-Party Viewer must have a unique viewer identifier and must not use the same viewer identifier as a Linden Lab viewer or another Third-Party Viewer.
d. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that deceive, defraud, or harm anyone or that violate any Linden Lab policy or the law. For example:
i. You must not transmit any virus, Trojan horse, worm, spyware, phishing or spoofing functionality, or other harmful code.
ii. You must not use the Registration Application Programming Interface ("Reg API") to create fraudulent accounts.
iii. You must not launch Denial of Service ("DoS") attacks, engage in griefing, or distribute other functionality that Linden Lab considers harmful or disruptive to Second Life or the Second Life community.
e. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that transmit Second Life usernames or passwords anywhere except to Linden Lab servers. Third-Party Viewers must not retain a user’s username or password anywhere except on the user’s own system.

f. You must not impose an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on our infrastructure or interfere with our providing the normal functionality of Second Life.
g. You must not use or distribute features or functionality that conceal information in any Second Life asset, including through encryption or steganographic techniques, with the sole exception of information that LSL scripts produce or consume.

h. For Third-Party Viewers based on our source code, Developers must not omit our viewer statistics packet, and users and Developers must not falsify or circumvent our collection of information about use of our service. We use this information to analyze and improve the quality of our service.
i. You must not display any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of any other Second Life user.

j. You must not include any information regarding the computer system, software, or network connection of the user in any messages sent to other viewers, except when explicitly elected by the user of your viewer.

k. You must not provide any feature that alters the shared experience of the virtual world in any way not provided by or accessible to users of the latest released Linden Lab viewer.
Okay, that was a wall of text, I know. Let's break it down. The biggest issue people are reacting to is provision 2.k. That no TPV can provide any feature that the Lindens haven't already installed in their main viewer. This is astoundingly vague, and a bit on the scary side; as confirmed by Simon Linden elsewhere, however, this is (at least currently) defined in two ways:
  • 1. No TPV can alter any other resident's functionality for those residents, and for the world;
  • 2. But TPVs can alter the user's own experience of other residents, and/or the world.
For example, RLV. RLV is allowed under this policy, because it's entirely under the user's control. The RLV viewer, and all TPVs that use RLV coding, have to have that coding turned on in the first place, because off is the default. But what about viewers that allow parcel-based Windlight settings? Or show specific particle effects that the main client doesn't allow? These things--or so goes the thinking--are what's disallowed.

Jessica Lyon in response to the TPV policy changes (specifically 2.a.iii):
This means viewers will not be allowed to have true online status. We will remove this feature in the next Phoenix update. LL has also indicated they intend to break scripts ability to look up a users online status except for the owner and creator of the script. No time frame has been indicated for when this will happen.
Me, personally, as an advocate of sufficient privacy, am all for this change. I don't want people to know I'm online if I'm mostly working on the net, outside SL; I also don't want people know if I'm really online if I'm set to "busy" (something I rarely do anyway). And I'm not the hugest privacy advocate. I know Ms. Lyon will have to change a great deal of code for this, but my only reaction is--good. About damned time.

Ms. Lyon on provisions 2.i and 2.j:
This means that Viewer identification tags are now a policy violation. LL has indicated that they will be breaking the viewer tagging system for ALL third party viewers between Tuesday and Wednesday with the region updates. This also breaks color tags in our viewers.
This is going to bother me, for two reasons:
  • first, knowing who's using what viewer has been a part of the SL experience for years now;
  • and second, how does knowing I'm using CoolVL, the woman next to me is using Firestorm, and the centaur next to her is using the official viewer, harm anyone's security or viewing experience? It's not changing all buildings to giggling clowns; it's a tag. This one, I don't entirely get in the first place.
And finally, Ms. Lyon's reaction to provision 2.k:
This means that third party viewers will no longer be allowed to innovate features which relate to the shared experience unless LL has the features in their viewers first. However LL has indicated an interest and preference in working with third party viewers to develop such features together.
And as I pointed out earlier, I'm not in favor of restricting innovation for any reason, but it is good to hear that the Lindens may want, now, to work with TPV developers and...hmm...innovate together? Maybe. We'll know more on Tuesday or Wednesday, when these changes go live on the grid.

More to come.

Friday, February 24, 2012

and birds circle above you waiting for the night to fall

Terry Moore gives a short talk on how to properly tie your shoes. Hint: you're likely doing it wrong.

Also from Laughing Squid, ever wanted to write a bike? These people have. Really intriguing idea.

From personalized bike frames to "ghost signs"--it's a leap, but it's one well worth taking. There's a Flickr gallery (not all of which are actual ghost signs, but well worth perusing for fans of painted signery all around), there's a Wikipedia entry, James Lilek wholly redid his online gallery from 2007 for brighter, larger, clearer images, there's a Twitter feed, another Flickr group, and a Tumblr. (And that's not even touching the private pages devoted to "ghost signs" in specific towns.)

Basically, if you don't have an interest, you might still enjoy some of these pages just for the vintage aspect of much of the work, and if you do have an interest, maybe this will tell you it goes deeper than you knew!

You don't have to follow Horse_ebooks on Twitter to be charmed by this investigative article; in point of fact, it gives Tweeted examples, so you can get the jist of why this bot account has a following. Personally, I'm neither outraged nor offended that the writer tried to find--and in some sense, succeeded in finding--the man behind the bot. For me, I think it just adds to the mystique.

So, um...this is scary. It would likely go well with yesterday's barnacle lamp.

There's a grid-wide hunt that just launched that should be celebrated, at least a little--not because it's a 1L hunt, not because it's got some good stores in it, not because there are SLUrls for all the stores, and not because people obviously put more than three seconds of thought into the prizes. Those are all good things, but no; I recommend the Penitent hunt purely and solely because the hunt site HAS PICTURES. Frankly, more hunts should do this, seriously. Pictures and SLUrls make a hunt more approachable, offer a deeper interaction, and incline current hunters towards being future clients.

And let me briefly divert to the botanical, and introduce you to Silene stenophylla, a very nearly Pleistocene-era plant. (It's not purely that old, but it was grown from very, very old stock indeed.)

Sadly, I have a very sad, very enraging close to this evening's festival of links and oddity. Namely, that the upcoming film The Lorax is now being used to sell SUVs. If you know anything about the environmental story behind the original book, you know how baffling, angering, and confusing that statement is, and I only wish I were kidding.

...No, I can't end there. That's just too depressing. Because really, irony is now officially dead. So here's Neil Patrick Harris in a toga fighting ninjas.

You're welcome.

(And if that didn't help, have some baby kittens. There you go.)

And on the next post, I'm going to try to untangle the new TPV policy.

I feel it like a wave of love, come and cover me

It's getting towards another span of time where I go through my tags and decide whether or not to delete the tags that are only tied to one entry. I haven't done this in about a year, though. It may take some time.

In the meantime, the latest snapshot (think of Minecraft snapshots as release candidates for the game; they're the quickest way to test new features) features iron golems. Iron golems are somewhat akin to snowmen--you put down two snow blocks, and a pumpkin, you get a snowman. If you put down two iron blocks, and place a pumpkin on top, you get an iron golem.

Snowmen pretty much wander around aimlessly, making the ground ice over and irritating enemy mobs around them. That's all they really do. They're fun to make--especially if you're in a snow biome--but they're not very effective.

Iron golems, on the other hand, defend villages. They also give roses to villagers they saved, so that's doubly cool. So what could possibly go wrong?

Well, there's now at least two ways that folks have discovered to farm the defenders into nonexistence. For what? Well, if you set up the traps right, a nearly endless supply of iron.

I don't actually think this was what Jens had in mind for this development, how'ver...

In more Minecraft news, THE MELON GOD DEMANDS SACRIFICES! Bring him melons! Or suffer his explosive wrath!

Also in the latest snapshot, something else that may well come to the game: oppositely-rotated staircases. Sure, we're still limited on the materials we can make staircase blocks from, but I don't care--architecturally speaking, they're going to make some really, really pretty builds.

In non-Minecraft news, Japan says they're going to have a space elevator by 2050. Whether or not it works, I am really, really excited by this. (And vaguely reminded of the "skyhook" concept in Robert Heinlein's "Friday" book.)

Also from Gizmodo, you might want to check if the FBI will shut off your internet on March 8th. Not kidding. There's a link there and it's dead easy, it's just clicking a button and seeing if the background turns red or green.

You want green. You also want to do this. Because the FBI's fairly serious about cutting off access.

And from Macworld comes an article on how many really ancient computers are still in operation around the US. The list is kind of scary. And I thought the catputer was bad for having 2006-era parts.

I am both astounded and worried at the potential involved in the new super-glue that's been developed from flesh-eating bacteria. For one, flesh-eating bacteria, that cannot be a good idea. But for two, this could become a non-invasive way to seal wounds, repair bones, reduce the need for invasive sutures...and that's just the human-based uses that come to mind.

And now all the recent prim breast posts have their own blog, and all new entries that are devoted just to that topic are going to be parked there as well. Still no real idea why--maybe I'm just that bored in SL at present--it's a continuing interest, but it is. And those gentles who raised the point with me are right--this really isn't an Adult-rated blog, for the most part, and it's not really designed to be.

Despite former jobs in the past.

So, demos, testing, outfits, if I actually get it together enough to start another business, future hunts, and anything I do involving primwork and employment (if I do)--it'll all be over there. Feel free to wander over if you feel like it, but--while I promise I'll do my best to stay clothed--one or two not-quite-clothed photos may emerge. (One, in fact, this week.)

Finally, this is one of the most baffling songs I've ever heard, this is one of the most innovative table designs I've ever seen, and a seamstress suing Facebook found out that they're not nice people. Gosh, what a shock. That sort of alarming naïveté really requires her to lay down for a few weeks, rethink her life experiences to date.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

more gently than anyone, call out my name

[Broadcast] Applebloom: {Lv24 team LFM} Hiya everypony! Ah don't suppose y'all would mind comin' along with me for a mission or few? Ah don't care how strong you are, 'long as we get to have fun!
[Broadcast] Literal Lass: Every....pony? You are prepared to be shot on sight, right?

No, no, NO--NO Bronys in City of Heroes!

Party at Jensen's! Otherwise known as, what happens if you kill fifty people, and then let ragdoll physics take over? It's almost awe-inspiring, and deeply absurd.

Speaking of deeply absurd, get prepared for the single most awesome Skyrim mod you've ever heard--and trust me, you want to hear this one--Project Pew. Pew pew pew pew. Hee.

"I present to you the most awkward encounter in the history of everything." Likely hyperbole, but funny nonetheless. In every combat game, there has to be a resident Stiv, right? This player is that man.

For more adventures of Not-Stiv, I'd like to finish with his instructive, step by step video for How to Helicopter. There you go--everything you need to know, all in one place, about how to fly badly, crash into things, and terrorize your friends. I'm sure there's at least one person who deeply needs this information.

Unless that person is Stiv. In that case, he likely already does this.

On a slightly more serious note--and pulling on crafting excellence--may I present to you the homemade Tardis phone charger. Yes, thank you, I would like that on my desk. I'll get right on making one.

The most terrifying lamp in all of existence now exists--and if you know anything about Half Life, the game, you'll know exactly why that's so terrifying. (Even if all you know about Half-Life is the Full Life Consequences version, that's still a terrifying lamp.)

Finally, proving that there is, in fact, a Tumblr for everything...let me introduce you to Hugh Murphy, who sketches T-Rex dinosaurs trying to do things with their tiny, tiny arms.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower

Axi Kurmin continues to amaze me. When she's not managing three businesses in SL, listing new pics and descriptions on the Marketplace for three more plus her three, spinning discs in SL, or posting columns on Search Engine Watch, she carves eggs, paints them, and sells them. She has a whole bunch of them. I'm fascinated, and deeply impressed.

This next bit is NSFW, or at least, some of the pictures are--Solange is back! It's been months since I heard of any new releases, and now she's back to designing, but...well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. This is the front of the "Carnal" outfit (in pink); this is the front of the "Carnal" outfit (in red). So far, so good, right? Lovely illicit design, with erotically placed cut-outs, and, as shown, the option to have full-coverage cups as well as more revealing ones. Beautiful silk velvet roses ornament the attached skirt, the gloves, and the fascinator headpiece, and it's perfect for burlesque dancing and, I would imagine, lovely for taking photographs to send to a loved one, or an admirer.

The problem? Would be "Carnal" from the back. In discussing this one with a friend, I think we both agree the front is lovely, but the back is...problematic at best. I think, visually, I expected the bustle to persist across the back. Instead what we get are...well...hip bolsters. Which are pretty from the front, but not that attractive from the rear. Strangely, it's too revealing, which I will grant is odd to say about a piece of lingerie.

Still, it's good to know Solange has returned! I'll be sure to traipse across the sim now and again, and see what's new in the shop.

And aren't Zen gardens supposed to be calming? Isn't that the point? This is something guaranteed to make at least one poor soul out there shriek in utter terror and run the other way!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

who do you work for, baby? and does it work for you, lately?

New Babbage hit the Destinations page recently, which--as some of us have figured out over the last few months--is a double-edged sword. While such designations do hold (limited) honor, and can attract new, vibrant eyes to investigate your lands...mostly it's just a pain in the ass as every troll within hearing decides to come and play.

For any residents of New Babbage, specifically the ones surrounding the direct area mentioned on the Destinations page:
  • keep build off your lands, or restrict build to group only
  • make sure the group your lands are under is a group you control, or an invite-only group
  • consider turning scripts off (obviously, if you're a merchant, you can't do this)
  • turn on auto-return (or if you don't feel right about doing that, turn on auto-return for anyone not a resident of New Babbage)
  • be polite and courteous, but don't be afraid to bounce (ban temporarily) or mute for the extraordinarily offensive
With any luck, there will be few incidents and fewer folks going to New Babbage just to hassle the dwellers there, but based on what's happened on other sims in the past, I hold little hope.

Also, I have to wonder, who does their press release work? This from the blurb under the picture:
This vast Victorian steampunk area is full of airships, clockwork devices, submersibles, and other amazing technology. It's an ideal place to explore life as it was in the 19th century.
I admire that they managed to insert both "Victorian" and "steampunk", but...an "ideal" place to explore "life as it was in the 19th century"? Seriously? None of the Victorian lands, or the steamlands for that matter, are perfectly accurate according to 19th century standards of the day. Oh, there are some architectural marvels that are recreated as perfectly as can be managed, but even then, they're surrounded by things which aren't, so...does that balance out? And while Babbage has more strict restrictions on builds, even there things go a little haywire now and again.

And trust me, as much as we all love to dream about days gone by which include airships, clockwork citizens, air kraken and "other amazing technology"...that's not how life was in the Victorian era.

But then, it is a press release, I suppose outrageous hyperbole is just standard operating procedure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

lost souls in the hunting ground

(Why yes, this entry's been moved. Find it over here.)

within the casket called myself, my soul yet moves

(There's no here, here, anymore; instead, look over on the new blog for this entry. T'would be a kindness.)

and dragon ladies now talk that talk about who loves who, who loves best

(This is another one that's just plainly missing. Find it over here. Thanks!)

he stretched me out on a mossy bank and sang to me my name

(This entry entirely left! You'll find it over here. Thanks!)

I toss and turn, I'm losing sleep

(The non-Stiv portions of this post have been moved over to the new blog.)

God still has this odd habit of popping up unexpectedly:

butts: ENERGY
butts: TIME TO
butts: P
butts: A
butts: R
butts: T
butts: Y
Emilly: Wau. I haven't gone to bed yet.
butts: Ditto, kiddo
Emilly: So, how is life treating the former god who's now working...where are you working, anyway?
butts: Fitting, I know
Emilly: But of course you are
butts is now Offline.

But of course he is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

gather up your tears, keep 'em in your pocket

(Wau, this entry's been trimmed into invisibility. But it's been moved over here, so go look for it there.)

And Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

what I never did is done

Remember a few entries back, I mentioned a radically new power source under development? Well, soon there will be liquid antenna technology on the market, that impressively boosts signal strength for just about anything. They're seeking funding for launching the product now (though of course, the military is already using it, with apparently fantastic results).

Do you enjoy making quirky electronic gadgets? Do you play roleplaying games, and get tired of carting all those dice around? You're in luck--there's a tutorial designed just for you.

And I'm not entirely sure this is a good thing, but Star Trek: the Next Generation and Doctor Who are joining forces in a comics crossover. Ooookay...

(Also, I've moved! Just this lower section, not the top bit. This blog is still active, I'm just moving the prim breast discussions off.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

put on the collar of roses, and bite upon the silver chain

Cats can fit anywhere.

(I moved to the new blog! Find me there!)

(And, just to reinforce--no, not EVERY entry is moving, just the more salacious content, and/or solely prim breast content.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I was disappearing in plain sight

This article bothers me, and on more than one level. First, it was written recently, which means this is an educational demonstration taking place in part of the virtual world long after education was primally discarded by the Lindens, and post-Teen Grid collapse. (Which I admit still irks me beyond all reason, as it was something that Philip Linden swore to us he would never do, before reversing himself and saying that it was perfectly okay to merge Teen and Adult grids, because seriously, what could go wrong?)

But the most galling thing about that article is that, two-thirds of the way through, the writer comments that fifth graders are the best age to embrace Second Life--because "who knows more" than a fifth grader? And yet the article starts by mentioning how much the writer's third grade student loves Second Life.

Granted, in the main the discussion centers on a specific, highly restricted form of SL, and I'm not even sure that actually exists, in terms of the main grid. It may be entirely separated servers, specifically designed for that museum project. But the average age of a fifth grader in the USA is ten. Ten. And the average age of a third grade student is eight.

I'm still here, I still log into SL, I don't do a lot beyond clear my IMs and clean out old inventory at the moment, but there are things I would likely enjoy doing. And maybe, someday, I'll get back to the point where I want to go to dances, or participate in events. Maybe even make things for sale again, or just play about making things for me. But I am well over the age of majority; anything I choose to do in Second Life, regardless of the type of content, is solely my responsibility.

Setting ten-year-olds--and even worse, eight-year-olds--free to roam the wilds of SL is a terrifying concept. Start to finish.

And this is why Facebook is dangerous.

Also, according to this Reddit thread, double doors in Minecraft might start working much better than they do now: with the added feature set in 1.2 of splitting door data between upper and lower sets, they'll now hinge properly and effectively when set up, as opposed to one side reading always as 'closed' and one side reading always as 'open'.

Which is just in time for the other new feature coming up in Minecraft: zombies being able to knock down doors. So good timing, Mojang. Glad you're pushing both of those out at the
same time.

And--while I don't normally get into RL politics on this blog--this hurt my brain too much not to share.

There are folks in Wales building hobbit holes. Not even kidding. The one featured at the moment is gorgeous, and very eco-friendly. Also, speaking of ecology, there's at least one purple squirrel in Pennsylvania. I really can't add anything to that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

paralyzed, no clarity

So, over the last few months the folks behind the Doomed sim have been making a concerted effort to remove all Adult poses, all sex beds, all interactive Adult props (including the lovely Sensual Stoneworks pieces that charmed more than a few players). I'm not really sure why, though I am tempted to drop a line and see what response I get to asking the question. But alongside that, they've also revised their rules.

The one revision that comes strongest to mind is rule four:
4. APPEARANCES - Visitors are asked to dress up in theme. No cel shaded avatars, My Little Ponies, cheerleaders, etcetera. Think of the films Alien or Event Horizon, or videogames such as Doom 3 or Dead Space. There is a free maintenance uniform for those lacking an appropriate outfit for their avatar.

Also, while furries are not banned and are welcome to explore we do ask, for the sake of maintaining the theme, that you adopt human/demon/creature avatars in theme with the environment if you wish to join the ongoing role-play.
Actually, they have ones tailored to gender, even--there's a male and a female version, both including skins, shape, complete outfit, animation overrides, and I think hair (and if not, hair's easy to track down). But here's what confuses me--didn't they go Adult several months back? Did that change? And also, if they're not interested in Adult-rated play, then why still offer Adult props on the Marketplace? (I'm referring specifically to the Breeding Drone, the Altar of Corruption, and the first part of the Corrupted Water System.)

Maybe they're just that tired of having My Little Pony avatars walking around trying to roleplay with dizzily blonde cheerleaders and infants. Maybe the hope is to get down to the core of what they want their group to be--and they've always been more closely centered to survival horror over sex.

For just slightly over three thousand US dollars, the USS Enterprise can be yours. Or at least a hand-carved and finished replica, coffee-table size. It's crafted from ash, poplar and cherry wood, and it took the artist, Barry Shields, a full month to create--including cutting and finishing the sweeping 1/4" thick glass tabletop that sits over the ship itself.

There's a very good reason why the Chief Operations Officer behind Facebook--and a large part of the reason why Facebook is such a huge success--should stand up for what she believes in...but as eloquent as that article is, I truly don't believe it will ever happen.

Why? Because being that close to the top of an otherwise all-male company still means she's that close to the top of an otherwise all-male company, and all Zuckerberg needs to do if she becomes problematic is fire her. As much as it would be an amazing act of gender equality for her to say "Hire more of us, or I walk"...she won't.

Meanwhile, over at MIT, scientists have developed something that may very well revolutionize power and technology. And by "power", I don't mean political, I mean electrical. From the introductory paragraph of the article:
Researchers at MIT have developed photonic crystals that, in as little as two years, could enable the use of hydrocarbon reactors in portable electronic devices, and nuclear power sources everywhere else.
They're not kidding. And while some surely will be wary of carting around mini-reactors in their back pocket, think of how many people could power their entire house with one of these in five years. What about countries that are without power now? How many people would this help to save, help to feed, help to treat?

Finally, Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza's put together a (nearly) comprehensive presentation of every product Apple's ever made. (If you want the slightly more sarcastic version, there's also a video featuring every NEXT product in 30 seconds. Of course, I'm fairly sure they left out one...) And both are worth watching for the technophiles in the audience.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

won't you take me back to oblivion?

Random vampiric conversation:

[11:02] [Hxxxxx]: Never got the attraction of sleeping in a coffin. crap, hard sides, no room to stretch role, get in odd positions
[11:02] [kxxxxxxxx]: but...its not the same freak factor as a coffin
[11:02] [kxxxxxxxx]: that in itself is like a home invasion deterrant.
[11:03] [kxxxxxxxx]: its very OMGWTF IS LIVING HERE.

Weirdly, in SL, sleeping in a coffin is simply a matter of making a doublewide coffin-space and inserting poses. In some sims that's almost the definition of normal.

Issues with the newly-launched Spring Fling in City of Heroes:
Spring Fling Known Issues
There are a few Known Issues with the Spring Fling event that we would like you to be aware of:
  • The Ski Chalet is accessible to players who get a Spring Fling mission that points them to the Ski Chalet entrance door.
  • Spring Fling Hero teams that go on missions that lead to fighting Carnival of Shadows enemies will spawn level 40 Carnival of Shadows enemies even if teams are under level 40.
  • Please note, that if there is a Villain or a Rogue on the team, the Carnival of Shadows enemies will spawn at their appropriate levels.
We apologize for any inconvenience caused by these missions, and we are working to resolve them as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience!

Paragon Studios Community Team
Argh. Basically, translated for non-players: you can't just hang in the Ski Chalet like you could during last year's Spring Fling (though admittedly, that will cut down on the level of ambient anime schoolgirl futa roleplay); and, if you're just playing hero to other heroes for other Spring Fling missions, you'll spawn level 40 Carnival of Shadows bad guys--even if it's a mission that restricts the entire team to level 15, or 20, or 25. So there were a lot of asks in Pocket D about villains or rogues to go on Spring Fling missions with heroes.

So while we're shuffling about, ensuring that we have rogues, villains and heroes on all teams, I overheard this in Pocket D--a conversation between a confused demon in a business suit, and several superheroes/supervillains:
[Local] Corporate Devil: I will not be bound!
[Local] Son of Consolation: [You don't have to.]
[Local] Spark Fighter: All right! Here we go!
[Local] Corporate Devil: You get no new conditions!
[Local] Nitrile: Oboroboroboros
[Local] Corporate Devil: I will not kill my secretary!
[Local] Nitrile: WE WANT HIGHER TAXES!
[Local] Corporate Devil: And you will never get a girlfriend!
[Local] Delligan Conagher: KILL HER DAMMIT!
[Local] Nitrile: FOUL FIEND!
[Local] Corporate Devil: His girlfriend?
[Local] Delligan Conagher: KILL HER IMMIDIATLY!
[Local] Nitrile: WHAT RADIO SAID!
Ooookay. *backs away slowly*

There's now a way to make solar panels from grass clippings and leaves. So that's neat.

Too many bars! Run!

In SL news (sort of), there's a new Dutch court ruling that makes virtual property equal to real property--so virtual property stolen, or transferred under duress, equals real property loss and can be prosecutable under the newly established law. Miss Tateru Nino originally covered this, and while I'm not sure it would hold up in non-Dutch courts, it still creates intriguing precedent.

I'm also asking the same question as the Rock Paper Shotgun blog--does the space core showing up in Skyrim mean that Elder Scrolls and Aperture Science are set in the same universe?

And obviously, I have no idea where this image came from, but taking it purely as the advertising for skin, makeup or eyes...I think it fails. Why? Because that image is using not only Windlight programming, advanced shadows, and depth-of-field photography techniques, but a soft-focus slight blurring either achieved through PhotoShop or through a tinted/glowed filter over the photographic field itself.

No one is going to look that good on Second Life, ever, who's not standing in a photography studio being retouched on the fly. Products being advertised should reflect slightly more reality than that, people, even virtual ones.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

slowly spin beneath the day

In wandering through the spam filter, I'd deleted this next one, but I did take the precaution of copying it out beforehand, just in case. I suppose this is that 'just in case', case:
From: "jannet watson" [email redacted]

Magical spells really work!! I never thought there were still honest, genuine, trustworthy and very powerful spell casters until i met the spiritual helper, MERUJA OWO.
That link, by the way, in case anyone has a passing interest, doesn't lead to Meruja's site--it leads to a Google search snapshot of just how many random blogs between June 2011 and Febrary 2012 this twink has hit with this same exact comment.
last week he did a love spell for me

"Love spell". Jannet, I'm a practicing pagan and I have difficulty accepting that statement.

But just for the giggle factor, I also did a Google search for that, and what came up was eminently hysterical:
  • Love Knot Spell (note the instructions to buy your yarn "at Walmart")
  • Easy Love Spell (which says that the more you "feel sexy", the better this one's going to work)
  • Email Love Spell (I have no words for this one. I'm laughing too hard)
and it worked effectively and now he just casted
Seriously, she actually typed "just casted"? The hell.
another healing spell for my friend who has fibroid and family problem
One assumes the "fibroid problem" and the "family problem" are not related...
and now she is totally free and she is presently the happiest person on earth, she keeps thanking me all day...
Um...good? No, wait, this "Meruja" cast a healing spell and her fibroid "problem" just...what, vanished into thin air? Also, apparently fibroids cause depression? I mean, switching from whatever "family problem" it was that made her "the happiest person on earth"...
I just thought it would be good to tell the whole world
The whole world doesn't read my blog, lady.
about his good work and how genuine he is,
I won't even bother justifying a claim to be "genuine" from someone with a throwaway email address who's hit six hundred blogs with this same message...
i wasn't thinking i could get any help because of my past experiences with other fake casters who could not bring my husband back to me
Err, your husband is still alive, right? You mean ex-husband, not ex-person?
and they all promised heaven and earth and all they are able to do is ask for more money all the time until i met with this man. he does all spells, Love spells, money spells, lottery spells e.t.c
Wau. Amazing diversity of talent, there. I am especially intrigued by the "e.t.c" spells.
i wish i can save every one who is in those casters trap right now because i went though hell thinking and hoping they could help me. i recommend MERUJA OWO for any kind of help you want.

his email address is: [nevergoingtobeonmyblog.com]
if you want to ask me anything my e-mail is: [don't really care, not linking you either--save to note she lists her last name as "madeson", not "watson"]

Kind Regards,
Back atcha,
So, is it a good sign or a bad sign that my spam rates are picking up? Personally, if they're all as entertaining as this I won't mind overmuch, but seriously--does that mean I'm getting traffic from more places? And, ultimately, does it matter since I'm not going to directly publish anything from spammers at this point anyway, so it's kind of a waste of the time they took to spam the blog comments.

Tough luck, "jannet". Better luck next time. But do feel free to return and leave a comment if you actually have anything to say about any entry I send out.

Oh, wait. That would require that you read things. And clearly, you don't even have time to correct your own typos in this mass-spammed 'reply'. More fool you.

Monday, February 6, 2012

my head's a blur, the picture fades; my eyes, they keep on shutting down

There is definitely a reason to go on the Tainted Love hunt. At least, to hit Miasnow, if nothing else. (Of course, I also want the full version, which is slightly cheaper on the grid than on the Marketplace, but can be acquired in either location.)

And wau, I'm so not keeping up--Miasnow has an print shop now, too! (She can also be found on Miasnowworld, but for some reason, that page takes forever to load for me.)

Meanwhile, over at Malfean Visions:
Spring makes for silly moments and confusion time, and I've hit the creative roadblock. So I'm turning to you guys, my favorite freaks.

Yes I'm putting myself to the mercy of hundreds of you to slap the creative muse around with a small set of questions. Totally anonymous if you want it to be too.

I figure, more voices won't necessarily hurt, because she's not just selling to those of us in her group.

(And if you haven't seen the Avengers Superbowl ad, here's your chance.)

There's a second Mona Lisa now, the Prado Mona Lisa. From just a strict art outlook, I think this gives us a much deeper perspective on what La Lisa actually looked like, as well as the second artist's particular take on her face--which is different as each artist's painting would be, but also confirms they were working from the same model--or the apprentice gave his take on the final, commissioned work.

Finally, there's a new semi-cheapie themed event in Second Life, and it's called Flux. This month being February, every contributor has done their take on Mardi Gras. So, from SN@TCH's latex fleur-de-lys tops to katat0nik's jester babydolls, from gleefully oversized glitter dresses to skin, makeup, outfits and furnishings...It's run by Ghost Mannequin, who at one point in the far distant past was Putrid Gloom. All for supporting her, but damn, nothing designed by her in this? And will we ever see Show Me on the Doll open again?

You can find Flux in Glitter. Prices run between L$800 (for a full reproduction N'Awlins-style shotgun cottage) to free (masks and beads, I think). It's worth the wander.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

gripped in the arms of delirium

It started here, on a blog I'd never read before: an enigmatic series of portraits that showed up on a texture search for antique lace I was doing for a separate project. Along with these haunting words:
"I tried to forget
but you grew roots round my ribcage
and sprouted flowers
just below my collar bones.
All day I pick their petals
but I have not yet ascertained
whether you love me
or not"
And thereupon began the search for the rest of that quote.

I found this, which is a tutorial that just begs me to track down items for it and make it for one of my own walls; I found this, which contains a great many fascinating quotes; and then, I found this. But no last name was given, so I went to the "about" section of that blog. And I found another:
i have known the ticking of the clock
and i stumbled down the concrete sidewalk
broken where the weeds pushed through
there are too many stars tonight
i can not count them all

the music sounds different now
stolen by the fleeting hours
and the broken watch
no longer keeping steady time
there is nothing so loud as memory
So now I have two enigmatic snippets of prose, and only one name: "anna".

And then I found her blog.

So, is the author of these fragments Anna Peters? Budding photographer, writer, potentially poet and seeker? It is, as evidenced by this, which is a fascinating offer I'm now going to save up to get.

Because the prose piece that started this, reposted here from an earlier, unsaved post, can be had for twenty dollars from her print service (where you can also buy prints of her photographic work, on the main site). For those twenty bills, she will type your favorite selection out (assuming it's not marked "personal") on cardstock, put it in a vintage frame, and sign it and date it.

A bargain, I muse, at thrice the price.
here is the truth about december:

and the world splits into inside and outside,
softened by the silence of frozen impressions collecting in drifts.
groundfrost and stiff joints, blood dulled to lukewarm;
small pleasures like small lights clinging to skeleton trees,
no two the same.
In my current struggles between embattled sleep and fatigued waking, her words are perhaps speaking stronger to me than they would otherwise. But I can practically taste them on my tongue, soft as mist and sharp as sugar, leaden with old melancholy worn into nostalgia.
Here is the small truth
hidden between the drops of dancing rain:
it was always everything
and will ever be nothing at all.

I would kiss the clouds if I could,
leaden with water as they are,
for the taste of perpetuity.
I deplore that I first found her words (and in a real sense, found them nearly everywhere, the same day) with no attribution, but I am very glad I found them, in the end.
she thinks she might be turning into something nocturnal
it has to do with the street lamps
and how they purr into the glazed night
a bed cowering in the wrong corner
and the eternal hurricane whose eye rests
just behind her temples
and she wonders sometimes
what kind of dust she would find
in the corners of her skeleton
if she ever took the time to let it settle
Anna Peters. I am very pleased you exist in this world. Very pleased, indeed.

drag him out your window, dragging out your dead

Near the beginning of the comments on the throttling JIRA from February 2nd came this:
I'm importing this issue; we will investigate to see whether the throttle can be adjusted without risking grid stability.
~~Maestro Linden
Okay, so whatever the issue is, it's still affecting total grid stability as a whole; it wasn't just a temporary exploit. Still, without knowing what that issue was, I can only assume that the cure is worse than the original sickness, at least where merchants, gallery owners, event organizers, and the like are concerned.

This is unfortunately the problem with griefing as a whole--without telling us what the issue was, we're left with the scant information we have to try to figure out what went wrong. But if the Lindens tell us exactly what form the griefing took, that so impacted their systems, they're also revealing to any present griefers what the problem was. Which means griefers will, sooner rather than later, start attempting to fix the fix--and get into the systems again.
Could I suggest something to solve this fiasco? Add a object owner check that cross checks if the object owner is also the sim owner OR an estate manager. If it is the sim owner operating the device, do an exception on the throttle. Voila. Problem solved. Sim owners that operates SoM like system won't be throttled and endure the side effects of it like vendors getting blocked, and it still solves the griefing problem. Unless I missed something about the issue.
~~CodeBastard Redgrave, maker of machinima, photographer, and designer of poses and scripted HUDs designed for fellow photographers, among many other things she's done in SL
While I'd normally agree with that, it's not just sim owners that need a workaround for this. And as some others point out, it establishes a clear caste system in LSL as a coding language. Not good. (We already have a clear caste system in SL, that only varies depending on which dominant group runs any particular sim/collection of sims. We don't need more fuel on that fire.)

Creepers are terrified by cats. It's true. (There's a longer version, like a bit over twenty minutes longer, by the same fellow, but that's the short and punchy version.)

Do you value online piracy? According to the FBI, that means you're a terrorist. I am not liking this development. It seems we're not so much creeping towards dystopian government-versus-the-internet cyberpunk futures as sprinting on fire at this point. Not good.

In the meantime, there is still fan rage over the concept of prequeling the Watchmen comics. I truly think the best thing I've read so far comes from Sean Witzke: it is cogent, incisive, and pulls no punches. But it's also a reactionary piece, to an original commentary from Josh Flanagan. And while I recommend fervently that you read Witzke's article, I'm going to spend more time breaking down Flanagan's. We're starting with a paragraph near the beginnning:
Well, yes of course they have the rights. When they signed a deal with the creators, the deal stated that the rights will revert back to the creators when the book goes out of print. At the time, it wasn't a big deal, but the book kept selling, so they kept reprinting it. Rights never reverted back to the creators, because it didn't happen.
Here's the basic problem with this perception. Throughout the history of publishing, there have been contracted works. Each of those contracts were presented to the author, the artist, the scripter, whatever--and while there were good and bad contracts (there always have been), they generally always get to a clause about how long rights will last before reversion.

This is not new. I think what might be new, however, is Flanagan trumpeting that the dodgy language in the Watchmen contract to Moore and Gibbons simply means Moore (especially Moore, since Gibbons is later stated as being "all for it. He’s a team player") wasn't as legally savvy, and signed whatever was put in front of him, poor dupe that he was.

Whether you favor Moore, or dislike him (and there are oh, so many reasons to dislike Moore on principle), in the end, it's not so much about him, is it? (Though it might very well be about the things he's done as a comic writer, in the end.) It's about the medium, and who's currently in charge of the medium. And about what they're willing to do to deny the rights of the creators, not specifically because they're trying to deny creators' rights, but because they seem to believe creativity is just something people do. That anyone can do, really, it's something interchangeable between one artist and another artist, one writer and another writer. Between the poet and the screenwriter, it's all one thing--a commodity, to be fully regulated and exploited like electricity, or any other mindless, exploitable force.

Now let's go back to a sentence in the first paragraph of Flanagan's article:
They want and need to replicate the immense success from the launch of the New 52, and keep their momentum going, and show the parent company that even though their revenues are sort of miniscule in comparison to other divisions of Time Warner, they’re still valuable.
Now, let that fully sink in a moment. What are they saying here, exactly? Point by point:
  • the "New 52" launch of DC titles was incredibly successful from both a marketing and a sales standpoint (Big tip: that's not true)
  • DC Comics has a vested interest in pushing that "success" forward (which they do, but that success wasn't there to begin with)
  • DC Comics needs to parlay that "success" into a reason to continue existing, so that Time/Warner won't sell them off to a competitor, or piecemeal to the highest bidder
And it's that last one that's so telling.
It could go badly, but that line wide relaunch got a lot of similar reactions too, and look how that turned out. Huge success. For a time.
Not huge success, is the problem. But yes, even that minimal success was better during the first month of the relaunch than during the second, or any month thereafter. (At least until you hit January of 2012, wherein DC rebounds with ten solid titles in the top ten...though Marvel still picks up the overall top share in everything sold, not just individual books.)

Flanagan on Alan Moore:
His best stuff (which he regularly decries) does not belong to him. That's not a great thing, but it's also important to remember that he exists on a timeline of evolving stances on [creators'] rights and work-for-hire practices. The deal Moore got was better than the deal almost anyone before him got.
And that's depressing indeed if true.

Here's the point I'm aiming at, what all this boils down to for me, because while I am a fan of the Watchmen books, I largely do not admire Moore as the mini-god people seem to cast him as, again and again. What is becoming inescapably clear with this article, and countless others over the years, is that someone--and likely, a whole boardroom of someones--at Time Warner really equates art with any other commodity that can be bought and sold. In one sense, why shouldn't they? Traditionally, comics artists, pencillers, inkers, and writers have been very nearly phobic about unionizing, or even protesting and standing up for better working conditions. Even the companies that form from artists and writers who've gotten sick of life with the Big Two are scared to take any negative stance--and sadly, I understand that as well, because their artists and writers might get hired by one of the bigs to take on a new comic, which could make money, and end up giving them a little more to survive on at the end of the day.

It's like watching trickle-down economics in action, and trust me, it's not pretty when you're standing under the stream.
Was it a bad deal? Maybe. Rumor says the creators get something around 2% of the profits on Watchmen. But at the time, there was no precedent. Moore and Gibbons would get the rights back after DC stopped using the characters or printing the book for a year. It never happened. It broke one way no one expected, and as happens, the house won.
And that, right there, is the problem. At the time there was precedent, established, literary precedent--only DC Comics didn't want to continue literary contract history.

Because comics aren't literature, right? They're just for kids. They're momentary, discardable, meaningless. And I guess artists and writers are, too.

The problem we should be having with the Watchmen prequels isn't particularly about the creators of comics, however, or any other artistic medium. It's about corporations treating the creators of comics, or writers, or artists in general like something infinitely replaceable. This mode of thought leads to buildings with windows that don't open, or social groups that band together to kill music programs in schools. And that's the real issue.

Create the book, don't create the book--DC has the rights to it. It's not the worst thing they've done; really, it's not the worst thing they've done in the past two years, even. But they need to abandon the disposable-artist mentality. They need to start fostering creativity, not grinding it for the sellable by-product. They need to ensure that their writers and artists don't starve; get medical care; have decent places to live.

Do that, and there'll be no stopping them as a comics company. Because those stories and pictures they so desperately want to validate their existences to Time Warner will emerge, and shine, and glow, and radiate, with the same life and health and joy that their artists and writers know.

Unfortunately, this won't ever happen. The greed for the best product for the least amount of coin is too entrenched at this point. And that's the problem with comics at DC.