Saturday, March 31, 2012

you ruin everything, oh, you better go home

So today, roughly two and a half hours ago from the writing of this post, CommerceTeam Linden sent out an official response to the Marketplace snafu (what I've been calling in my head "the final nail in SL's coffin"). Some of the highlights:
  • according to the Lindens, only a limited number of users are affected
  • most of the problem is due to delivery issues, and they're forcing those deliveries, so really, that's not a problem
  • if you're using a third party viewer, that seems to be your problem
  • they've come up with an involved, and mostly uselessly unworkable, "solution" for people using Mac and Linux computers to get Direct Delivery to work
  • once you delete something, it's gone from your Marketplace inventory, so yay, no problems there [pfffff]
  • if you delete remapped product listings one by one, and don't bulk delete listings, you'll have no more problems [PFFFF]
  • no one has to migrate their Magic Boxes to Direct Delivery until the first of June (which gives people two more whole weeks to get with the program
Or, in the words of a friend:

[7:07:29 PM] Hxxx Rxxxxx: Translation: "We've screwed this pooch, pretty damn badly, so uh, whups. We're going to need a couple of months to make it sturdy enough to not piss off more than 50% of our user base."
[7:09:46 PM] Emilly Orr: Yeah.


I've figured out why this entire thing is bugging me so badly. It's sort of a fifty-fifty issue; one side is clearly "last straw" oriented--there have been so many failures and so much outright bungling on the part of the Lindens to be effective at all--in a virtual world they own--that there's simply nothing left in me that wants to extend the benefit of the doubt.

But the other half is pure, undiluted outrage of the "How dare they?!?" variety. And that comes from personal experience. I know so many people in SL who are disabled, for whom Second Life is their income, because they literally can't do anything else. And it's akin to swallowing acid when I learn about anything that could potentially destroy the chances for survival of a sector of humanity that may already be living on that thin narrow edge as it is.

Because let's face it--if someone's disabled, and receiving roughly half of the average minimum wage fee anyway (and that's monthly, not weekly to start with), and they've actually discovered an ability they can turn into supplemental income...anything that mucks with that (the arrival of Zindra, the changes in official policy, the Marketplace...EVERYTHING) means sending them one more step towards serious consequences. For some of these people, it's not just "Damn, I can't afford that new Xbox" but "Oh hell, I can't pay my rent! Where am I going to live now?"

What they make on SL could be the difference between eating fresh produce and good protein, or eating Ramen noodles. Or it could mean the difference between eating, and not being able to afford food to eat.

What they make on SL could be the difference between getting that monthly bus pass, or being unable to leave the house for a month.

What they make in SL could be the difference between keeping a roof over their heads, and being homeless.

And right now, right now, that growing by leaps and bounds "limited number of users" is realizing that the months of erratic Marketplace behavior, the listings disappearing, the listings being unable to be changed, the listings being unable to be tracked in any meaningful way...now has pretty much imploded into nuclear-level uselessness. Loss of sales, complaints, delivery errors, the wrong makers being paid, the wrong customers being given the products, the products being delivered in multiple batches instead of one client/one product delivery...all the way down to the Lindens being deliberately vague on when things are going to be fixed, after a year of being vague about when things are going to be fixed...

...And some of these people are realizing there's no more that they can cut back and still make ends meet. Some of these people are scrambling to find the next thing to do that will allow them to pay rent, pay utilities, pay for medical insurance, pay for groceries. Because Second Life clearly is no longer that option.

I've ranted a great deal on this blog, about a great many things. In some sense, this is because this is venting space in my mind--though I have readers, I'm still primarily writing about what I want to write about, venting emotionally where I wish, without much regard for hurt feelings along the way.

But this. This strikes a deep, emotional chord in me. I'm finding I'm writing one of these entries, then literally going off to play Minecraft and kill monsters because I am so livid about what's going on. If I were physically standing in front of a Linden--any Linden--the first thing that would come to mind would be to slap them until my arms get tired.

Because this is amateur hour behavior. No big business that wants to remain a big business pulls this crap. There's a fair bit of "Just who do the Lindens think they are, anyway?" fuming, too, because my gods, have they learned nothing over the past two years?

Apparently not. And I still come back to the fact that even the rise of Zindra didn't piss me off to this degree. I keep having to pause to literally calm down because I want to scream and throw things. It's unconscionable to me that this is going on, at all, for any reason.

And I'm absolutely convinced we're not going to see a solution until well after June. (But oh, how I wish I'm wrong on that.)

everybody at the back of the line, it's midnight at the lost and found

Once more into the breach, dear friends, and it's a serious breach indeed--of ethics, of commerce, of trust, of understanding. We'll lead off with stephanie Leclerc, who's now so upset she's losing command of the English language:
Marketplace still open ?
With this bug, we can see some PORN product, on the PG Pages.
CommerceTeam Linden isn't a serious team at all.....
Second point, the merchant aren't informed on the Merchant Home.....
All THING THEY CARE it's this stupid Direct Delivery.
4 Days with this bug, it's really annoying.....
So they cause many damages, and like usually, they will take 1 Year to fix that.
And if the Lindens seriously do fail to fix this before 2013? People are going to have long since scrambled to find other means of support. And again, it's a domino effect--if a merchant leaves for other work, they'll leave behind their business, their sim, and their premium account. So no Linden payments for ads, no Linden tier fees, no Linden monthly premium account fees...If enough people do this there will be a serious dent in the company's financials.

Sera Lok again:
Just attached image (UNAVAILABLEseralok.jpg) of an item (https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Dean-Razorback-Electric-Guitar-18/1405954) that has a messed up listing. That's the other merchant's link, but it shows my image. I tracked down the item in my store inventory and saw that it was marked as "Unavailable," so I don't even know why it's been showing in my listings.(??)

Since it was already unavailable, I decided to delete it to see if it would remove the listing from my store. No, the listing is STILL there, and now I have NO access whatsoever to the listing because on my end, it is supposed to no longer exist. So apart from having an unavailable and now deleted item showing on my store page, it also shows the incorrect creator, price, etc.

I am also hearing of reports that some merchants think their product images are being "stolen," and shoppers who doubt the reliability of a seller because of the incorrect and strange information.

I'm absolutely and completely disappointed that the Commerce Team allows this craziness to continue without any informational updates (besides, thanks, we're working on it) and continuing to leave the Marketplace open in its current state and leaving the merchants open to be vilified, DMCA'd, and our integrity questioned because of YOUR mistake and unwillingness to take the problem seriously.

Why haven't you shut the Marketplace down already?
It's such a good question. Maybe they've finally decided this is the best way to kill user content once and for all. After all, if the Marketplace is unusable, they don't need to worry about people complying with the rules. Or owning sims. Or paying them money at any point.

Finally, the last (for now) comment on this JIRA, from Holgi Fall:
OK Lindenlab you dont close the store whyever but i will, i have now disabled all my items if i ever enable it again i dont know.. Good bye i can not make business with such a bad company who dont care about his users and the persons who bring YOU the money and pay your jobs
I doubt they are the first to leave, and I know they won't be the last. There have been several mini-exodus movements from the grid; I've covered some but not all. But this one? This one has the potential to be much, much larger.

I'd like to wind this one up with some quotes from recent blog posts:
"It is again in situations like this where Linden Lab do themselves no favours, something I've recently touched upon. There are times when silence simply doesn't work – yet all too frequently, silence is the main tool the Lab uses in dealing with a situation. It’s also an approach that reinforces the negative attitude many people feel towards the Lab, justified or otherwise.

"Linden Lab has channels of communication open to it – and where e-mail is concerned, it’s not as if they’ve not used that channel to reach out to merchants in the past. Given the fact that even now, three days after the initial problem was first noticed, some people are still only just finding out about the problem – and in some cases leaping to the wrong conclusion – an advisory posted to the blog and / or e-mailed to merchants would seem to be a practical step to take, particularly as we are now facing the weekend with absolutely no indication as to whether the matter will be resolved sooner rather than later."
That entire entry is worth reading, and yes, the Lindens have an amazing array of communication options open. They can use the Grid Status page to report changes (they've done that before, with embedded links to more imformation). They can send emails to all their business clients (they've done that before, too). They can send forth another sacrificial Linden to comment on code debugging on the official blog. They can link a "find out more!" info post as everyone logs in and sees the (rotating, but still) Message of the Day. Finally, they can use their own community forums, the SL Universe forums, or simply send out notecards in-world about upcoming office hours or "Town Hall" style meetings.

Instead...none of this is happening. And it's the silence paired with the intense confusion that is making everyone extraordinarily frustrated.

Something weirder in the works:
"Well this latest change I am NOT pleased with at all, why? Simple I got told by one of the Lindens themselves that the only way to work around the issue in my own case is to create a NEW account and start over from scratch if I wish to continue selling my items on Marketplace. Yes you read right, “start over” as in create a NEW account and transfer over all my product lines to the new avatar and using that new account publish everything from scratch back onto Marketplace."
This is the first I've heard of this; can anyone else confirm that the Lindens are saying this? Create an entirely new account just for merchanting on the Marketplace? What?

And will that fix the errors, or will it simply compound them?
"I've asked Linden Lab for an update to these issues, and will post their reply, when and if I get one."
And my instincts still tell me, if a former Linden doesn't have ways to break through the wall of silence, what chance do the rest of us have?

Finally, I'd like to point everyone to Darrius Gothly's take on the topic, which includes this paragraph:
"The one thing that sticks in my craw the most about this situation is the Commerce Dev Team’s belief that the Merchants ought to be fixing up these errors. I’m sorry but that is not our responsibility. I will grant you that finding and fixing the real cause of the error is probably going to be tough. But this was not an error caused by the Merchants, and as has been shown by several others, it’s not even possible for the Merchants to fix all the errors. However it IS possible for Linden Lab and the Commerce Dev Team to fix them, or at least fix most of them."
And yes, exactly. That's what they need to do.

And it's the one thing they seem extraordinarily unwilling to do, so...the question keeps occurring, why? Why aren't they fixing this? Why aren't they putting a halt on editing, at least, if they can't just shut Marketplace down until it's fixed? Why do they seem to be insisting that it's not their problem?

Because as long as they insist that it's not their problem--via keeping silent on the issue, or outright turning blame--the more faith will be lost with the world, with the company, and with the individual Lindens themselves.

(Is it any wonder I keep flashing back to that Search Engine Watch post about Linden Lab mucking with their business customers in Second Life? This just seems a vast and unnecessary continuance of the issues presented there.)

don't let the wolves in, pretty girls

If you ever really wanted to be a space marine...but found yourself just a wee too feline and girly for the big huge testosterone-ridden Space Marine Corps...now there's hope.

If you can call that hope.

(And also found in poking about the Marketplace--if you ever, for whatever crack-headed reason, want a
badly misspelled tattoo--I've found one. You can thank me later.)

And in other tattoo-related news, scanning through the broken stuph on the Marketplace also led me to Blood Ink, and the fact that they have Nazi tattoos. In fact, because of the seeming prevalence of their swastika work, I went through their store. They list two hundred and eighty-six items on the Marketplace. Of those, over one hundred of them are patent copyright violations, and five are directly related to Nazi or SS symbology.

Do I even have to bring up the fact that neither of those are supposed to exist on SL according to the Linden rules? But then, I forget. The Lindens are currently ignoring their own rules and griefing the Marketplace on their own. Fun times.

WE MOVE ON.

[Oxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx]: this is a twisted service announcement: be careful when unboxing. Contents may be fluffy. It is important to keep the clawed end away from you at all times when unboxing. Thank you and happy hunting!

And back into the JIRA chaos, this time with brief breaks for tea and kittens.

We lead off with Angus Mesmer:
When I check an online shop, as I type this:
-Some listing have wrong names and creators, while the image is that of the product that is supposed to be sold in the shop.
>>1) clicking the Image and Name will send me back to the Marketplace homepage. Clicking the name of the creator sends me to what might be their actual shop, but is empty/does not contain the item whose name appears on the erroneous listing.
>>2) Clicking the Image and Name will send me to the listing, the image is that of the proper item, but the description corresponds to the item whose name appears on the listing. The "Visit Shop" link sends you to the shop owned by the person making the item whose name appears on the listing.

In those cases, the price is that of the wrong items.

The broken listings do not respect the General/Moderate/Adult ratings at all. Which I consider very bad. I am probably not the only person in this case. One of the wrong names was for a sex sofa. While using a General browsing rating.
Which I thought was one of the things the ratings system, and the fruitlessly arcane and ever-changing banned words list, was supposed to prevent.

Emmas Twin is the first to report the now-constant stream of complaint notecards from customers:
I have the same issue, I logged into game today only to receive a rather nasty im from someone accusing me of stealing her pictures with malicious intent and a threat to report me. After which I checked my listings and found this problem not only on this account but on my other account too and have had to remove all my listings. So annoyed, more for the fact I am receiving ims from irate merchants claiming I'm stealing their products.
As I mentioned earlier, those residents who don't read the forums, keep an eye on the status update, or are members of SL Universe aren't going to know what's going on, and their first instinct is likely going to be as Miss Twin mentioned: threaten first, figure it out later. This is going to cause a needless amount of stress--in fact, it already has--which could have easily been avoided with more testing, better coding, and taking the time to full integrate something before rushing on to the next shiny toy.

Because keep in mind, the Marketplace has been functionally broken for months, and instead of fixing those problems, the Lindens decided they wanted all new ones. Why? Still think I'm on target with the Lindens trying to drive us all away, so they can sell a mostly empty world to some bigger (or vastly smaller and clueless) firm, so that the problems of SL won't matter to the Lindens anymore. Because they'll have their money, and be long gone.

The d'awww of Scottish folding.

Moriko Inshan again:
I have again, for the third day in a row, checked every single of my MP listings. All appear fine, but as we have learned, that does not mean that my images, or products do not appear in a fellow merchant's store. I have not migrated to DD, and do not intend to do so until these very serious issues are resolved. The cut off date for Magic Boxes needs to be moved out from the May deadline by a few months are the very least. Personally, I do not feel it is safe to do any changes to any of my Marketplace listings while everything is in such a mess.
And if the Lindens won't shut down the Marketplace, you can always choose to employ Ms. Inshan's option, which is also making the rounds--telling your personal group not to shop on Marketplace, and telling your subscription customers the same. Which will, slowly but effectively, filter out until Marketplace will be viewed with dread and mistrust for simply existing.

This is also nothing the Lindens want. So why aren't they stepping in and being proactive about this, instead of standing around with the blinds drawn, and pretending everything's just peachy?

jouet Jestyr:
This matter is being handled very poorly by LL. If a commerce site like Amazon had this issue, they'd take the site offline until it was fixed.

The advice given by the commerce team doesnt work.

Close it down and fix it, please.
There's not a thing wrong with her comment. Any of the bigger services, who would stand to lose far more money, would close down their database in a heartbeat if something like this happened to them. The Lindens? Give out worthless advice to premium customers (thereby angering them further), refuse to do anything but tell us "We're on it" like a useless parrot nailed to his cage bar, and still never fixed the problems that people were screaming about before this, thereby breaking Marketplace in just about every way possible, save for a malformed internet address.

And I'm sure they're working on that, too.

The Chesterfield Hotel afternoon tea service.


hoohaa Anaconda:
I have spent the past few hours searching deep into the marketplace and what I am finding is beyond belief I have come across a few stores that have around 90+ products where not just 1 or 2 items are affected but every single item is affected there are literally 90 different creators listed in one store. Follow the Store links that aren’t supposed to be there and you will find an almost spider web effect of complete destruction. This has got to be fixed ASAP
But it won't be. I think we all understand this at this point.

customesculpties Leider:
This is the biggest mess ive seen in sl history
I think I can say the same, and that counts the OpenSpace debacle, the entirety of Ursula/Zindra, the ageplay explosion, and I'll even throw in replicating griefing objects and the "grey goo" attacks of 2006.

CouldBe Yue chimes in:
yay me, I only have one listing that has been screwed.

https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Satiated-Desires-Bondage-Pleasure/1419569 [The original item--Editrix] and this https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/P3-Let-It-Snow-Gold-PROMO-Priced/1411527 [The remapped picture over the text and title of a General-rated holiday dress in gold]

I'm sure the owner of the second listing is thrilled to pieces to have the item now rated adult and I'm not particularly happy that my adult item is now rated general.

You wouldn't think that LL would have ignored this for so long but apparently they're made of sterner stuff. I'm laying bets that everyone working on the marketplace has gone home for the weekend, stroking themselves over a job well done.

[edit to add more information] I tried to update my listing by replacing the picture, updating the maturity rating and unpacking info (the only things that I could see had changed.. well apart from all the relevance details - grrrr). When I submitted, I got this error

1 error prohibited this Product from being saved

There were problems with the following fields:

The Xstreet product ID '1325134' already exists. Please provide a unique Xstreet product ID.

Which you may remember from the XSL migration.

It did however replace the picture but hasn't updated the rest of the details (ie, it's still stuck in the general maturity rating, with the wrong unpacking details, maturity rating and relevance details).
Oh, indeed, lots of fun there.

Kitten and bunny!

Maxx Farella:
Before direct delivery became active my partner noticed in her top selling products screen that she had other merchants items in there. But her actual store listings were all correct at that time. As direct delivery became active I converted my items about 8 at a time and the process seemed to go very smoothly for me (to my surprise lol). I checked my listings after doing so and all seemed to be good so I now have removed all my magic boxes from in world. It was only a few days later as I checked through my store that I noticed the listings getting mixed up with other merchants items.
I am unable to edit or fix some of these items as they appear to be broken. I have replaced some of the wrong textures on my product so they are not showing some one else picture but I'm reluctant to mess too much with it as I am unsure what Linden labs are doing to resolve this issue.
It doesn't appear that they are treating this problem with much urgency unfortunately. The only fix I see they did do in the last maintenance was to fix the review count/ratings.
And I'm hearing this more and more often, now--that this isn't a new problem, it just wasn't affecting everyone yet. Now it is.

Gael Streeter:
We can not fix all the errors manually! This is technically impossible because some are not manually correctable!
And to reinforce why this is so shockingly bad, that's because this is what the commerce team is telling people to do, which means not only are they giving out wrong advice, but they're not even bothering on callbacks to change their tune. No one on Concierge that I've heard of has bothered to learn anything else about this issue.

The Duck & Bunny traditional tea service. (The entire post is worth reading, though.)

Sen Pixie:
I updated to DD, checked all my listings (which had all imported correctly), removed the MB items from the website, and promptly deleted my box. I followed the steps to the letter from the LL produced Youtube video. I then rechecked all my listings and all were fine.
Three days later, out of my 70 listings, I ended up with 20 that had incorrect images, 5 became unlisted, and 2 had items associated from other makers, placing those items in their store as well.
About 12 of those products with incorrect images were old enough that I only had *.bmp files on my HDD, adding another couple hours of work to an already time consuming "fix."
LL, I'm a programmer, I know things go wrong. However, to leave the MP up and running while such an egregious problem goes on is not only irresponsible, but opens you up to possible liability issues as you may be knowingly allowing IP rights violations to continue after you were the original cause.
Let's talk about that again, since it really does seem that the Lindens are wholly blind to this point.

Who knows who's actually coding, but let's just make a name up for the fun of it--say "Bukkit Linden" is the chief of Marketplace programming. He and his team have been working tirelessly to break Marketplace in every way possible, in between practicing their evil laughs in large, echoing underground chambers (before walking outside for a brisk stroll to find puppies to kick and babies to light on fire). One of their most inspired hacks to their own software resulted in copiable items being delivered multiple times.

Sleepy kitten.

Ph3ARMeeImmaHackzorz Resident went to the Marketplace, and ordered one item, a dress with custom shading and textures, as a gift for the girlfriend he hopes to get by showing her a picture of his bedroom and the large tub of pudding on the nightstand. It delivers to him. Then delivers again. Then delivers again. Then delivers again.

The next morning, he now has twenty-five copies of this dress. They're all transferable, even though the merchant's listing said no-transfer. Being stupid and evil-minded (a bad mix, to be sure), he coordinates with some of his hacker friends, and they tell him to join twenty-five freebie groups, and pass the dress out.

The dress proceeds to go the rounds. This wasn't someone acquiring this dress in an underhanded fashion. The Lindens gave out the dress. The Marketplace kept giving out the dress, resulting in multiple copies. And all it takes is one dishonest person...

Suddenly, SweetLilOne Shenandoah is seeing her dress everywhere. She tracks it down in groups. She tracks it down in freebie zones. Someone she's never even met is sitting in a welcome area just giving the dress out to everyone that walks within range.

Mismatched vintage china for an afternoon tea service (and all in truly excellent condition, besides).

How, at this point, does Ms. Shenandoah stop the copyright infringement? She can't get the dress back; it was a legal sale. She can't go after the hacker, because--even though he largely contributed to both the loss of her sales and her ensuing panic--he paid for one item, he got that one item, and it should have come with her originally set permissions intact.

But it didn't. Why didn't it? Because Bukkit and his team did everything wrong.

So who's she going to complain to? The Lindens? Like they care. The Linden legal department? Please, they laid off their law team. So who? Who is going to listen to her entirely valid concern, here?

My answer? No one. Not a single Linden. They're not even concerned.

Happy kitten!

I hope that helped as the ranting continued. More later. Have a nice day.

can't seem to make any sense of anything

Picking up where I left off last post, more tiptoeing through the JIRA ranting.

Between 1:36 pm and 1:58 pm on the 28th, CommerceTeam Linden changed the priority of the JIRA in question. (When you hit Watch you also get all edits and updates to status as well as comments.) At 1:58 pm, Sassy Romano changed it back, and left this comment:
No really, this IS a showstopper.
There is no workaround, it misrepresents products (go shopping in the supermarket, pick up a tin with a picture of baked beans on it, get home and open it to find inside is catfood. Happy?).
It has financial consequences because it's selling misleading items and damaging reputations.
It moves ADULT listings to GENERAL and the word filter doesn't have any effect.
TOTAL SCREW UP.

(An issue that could (or did) cause disastrous consequences. For example critical loss of data, critical loss of system availability, critical loss of security). I feel that this falls into the "disastrous consequences", "loss of data" if merchants start to fiddle since we don't know what the problem actually is. We can't sell stuff effectively and customers can't buy effectively so that's loss of availability.
She's not wrong, on any count. The tragedy is the Lindens don't agree.

Sera Lok, ten minutes later:
Agreed... unknowable amount of listings affected, listings that become messed up upon editing to create new problems (how many new borked listings have been created today?)... no way to fix or to unlist items because you CANNOT edit them... customers do not know if it is a merchant messup or system messup...

Customers will simply lose confidence in the system altogether and not come back and then merchant no money, LL no commission.

People are already losing due to Unicode and hanging deliveries...

Money lost over a few days is much less than money lost over a long period because merchants/shoppers have no confidence in this system left running as it is.
Selina Antra agreed:
This is absolutely bad. The marketplace needs to be closed down until this is fixed...I have looked in several stores and am leary of buying anything because it may not be what I am buying. Plus I do not know if I am getting any sales that are actually going to me.

Fix this ASAP, Please LL....Shut the site down until it is fixed so we can limit the amount of damage.
Unfortunately, the Lindens--by willful ignorance or direct intent--don't care about preserving their reputation, their customers' business sales, or patching the bad code they launched because there was zero quality control on the Direct Delivery project. (I'd also suspect zero testing ON the Direct Delivery project. I have no proof, but if anyone wants to confirm, my Gmail address is listed at the end of the left-hand sidebar.)

Shadowblade Prathivi:
Many of my products also have the mix up issue and I agree that Marketplace should absolutely be shut down until this is resolved. There is no point in leaving it up for our customers to get the wrong item that we have to fix when the customer complains to us about the issue that LL caused in the first place.
Unfortunately, LL isn't listening.

Sugar Bumblefoot:
I agree, they really just need to close it for the moment. I'm not touching my store or doing anything with it for fear it will mess things up further.
Xstreet worked pretty perfectly, once LL took over its been one problem after another. I get they want to improve things but why fix something that wasnt broken.
They seriously need to test things better before putting them out there.
The mix up with adult and general listings should be enough alone to shut it down for the time being.
Let me repeat that, because it sounds vaguely important:
The mix up with adult and general listings should be enough alone to shut it down for the time being.
Now, let me quote from something else:
Zindra arises, everyone gets booted to the Adult continent: six months later there are STILL massive problems in search with PG-only searches finding tons of Adult content; there are STILL massive issues on the mainland, both with merchants who never left (because the Lindens didn't think they were Adult enough, apparently) and with merchants who came back.
I wrote that back in 2009, and it still holds true today.

From the same entry:
No Adult content on non-Adult land (but just travel the mainland, anywhere, you'll find something that doesn't belong there within the first half hour, depending on where you go). No Mature content on PG land (but you see that everywhere too).
Remember when the Adult content restrictions came out on the official Linden wiki, LL set out very specific passages that confirmed maturity ratings and what they meant:
General

A region designated General is not allowed to advertise or make available content or activity that is sexually explicit, violent, or depicts nudity. Sexually-oriented objects such as "sex beds" or poseballs may not be located or sold in General regions.
General regions are areas where you should feel free to say and do things that you would be comfortable saying and doing in front of your grandmother or a grade school class. Institutions such as universities, conference organizers, and real world businesses may wish to designate their regions as General. Likewise their users (and others) may wish to employ Second Life's General search setting to focus and filter search results appropriately.
Some landowners and Residents desire a Second Life experience distinct from the activity that occurs in Moderate and Adult regions. Region owners who wish to host this sort of Second Life experience can (but need not) designate their regions as General.
If you are a region owner and you feel there is some ambiguity as to whether your content and activities are allowed in General regions, it's probably best to designate your region as Moderate.
Adult

The Adult designation applies to Second Life regions that host, conduct, or display content that is sexually explicit, intensely violent, or depicts illicit drug use. A region must be designated Adult if it hosts, advertises, or publicly promotes:
  • Representations of intensely violent acts, for example depicting death, torture, dismemberment or other severe bodily harm, whether or not photo-realistic (meaning that images either are or cannot be distinguished from a photograph).
  • Photo-realistic nudity.
  • Expressly sexually themed content, spaces or activities, whether or not photo-realistic. We broadly define what is "sexually themed" to include any sexually oriented activities and conduct.
Groups, event listings and classified ads that reference these themes or content must also be designated Adult. Linden Lab will enforce these rules but cannot monitor all ephemeral content and conduct within Second Life. Therefore:
  • Regions, groups, and event or classified ad listings that employ search tags plainly suggestive of adult behavior or content require the Adult designation, and will viewable only by Residents who have verified that they are at least 18 years old.
  • Linden Lab will conduct proactive monitoring and rely on abuse reports that identify adult content or conduct that is promoted or advertised publicly. Where adult content or conduct on a region is publicly advertised or promoted, that region must be designated as Adult (or such content must be removed). We will re-designate such regions if adult content is not removed.
  • Linden Lab may take into account whether apparent or reported adult content or conduct in a particular region serves only an extremely limited or passive function, or an important educational or cultural function, and therefore would be appropriate for all Second Life audiences.
  • As with all reported activity in violation of our policies, we will actively review all reports of adult conduct and provide Residents with a channel for rebuttal.
Parcels that host adult activities or contain adult content must be on:
  • The adult mainland continent, Zindra.
  • A private region that has been designated by its owner as Adult.
Region owners are responsible for designating a region's maturity level. Occupants of regions will be expected to locate in a region suitable to each occupant's content and conduct.
Yet now, today, this hour, this moment, the Marketplace--still a wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Labs--is violating every single one of these provisions where Adult and General content is concerned. Were the Lindens residents, they could be banned for this. Hells, the Lindens have sent letters to residents for less that did ban them--at least temporarily, if not permanently. And this is a much larger violation.

So what's their end explanation going to be? "Oops" really isn't going to cut it. (Though they could be honest and just send out a blog entry saying "Of course our rules don't apply to us, chuckleheads, we make the damn rules, and screw you anyway"...but that might be viewed as a tad bit hostile.

At this point, CommerceTeam Linden chimed in again:
We have identified that this issue was occurring before the Direct Delivery launch and continue work to address the issue. In the meantime, Merchants may address the problem in the following ways:
  1. Delete any images that do not belong to the listing.
  2. Upload any image(s) you’d like to associate with the listing.
  3. Remove any Related Items that should not be associated with the listing.
Thanks for your patience.
Argus Collingwood in response:
The listings are in the wrong stores and may not be edited.
Yep.
So I ask you--and more importantly, I ask the Lindens: how is a maker of X item supposed to edit the listing for Y item if it's not even showing up in their store? And how is the maker of Z item supposed to edit the other maker's items of X and Y if they're not listed under the right name? Can't you only edit things you're directly responsible for making?

Sassy Romano added:
@CTL, how does that stop someone else's listings appear on the merchants "shop" when someone does a search by merchant?
How does it prevent it happening again? What's the timeframe for the fix? Should merchants just wait? What's the cause of it? Will it happen again if someone goes through 100 pages of listings and corrects them all?
Still don't think there's been an answer from the Lindens to any of these questions.

And then FreeSpirit Simemring added a whole new glitch to the existing problem:
To further add to the MP mess - if you buy something from MP that is DD - you get the item delivered numerous times. I have one item I bought yesterday I am up to 24 of the same item. Lucky for the vendor it is copy - but it is happening with no copy items too. Bought yesterday and still getting the same thing delivered today. LL sort this shit out.. for vendors selling no copy/limited number items this is a disaster
Oh, dear gods, SERIOUSLY?!? So there you go--now the Lindens have implemented code that makes every single post they've ever made on why copyright infringement is such a terrible thing absolutely invalid, because hey, guess what? The largest copyright infringer on the grid is now Linden Labs! Because of this catastrophe, they're now stealing from EVERYONE!

Way to go, idiots.

More later.

Friday, March 30, 2012

easy for you to say: your heart has never been broken, your pride has never been stolen

So, I've identified part of the problem with the whole conversion to Direct Delivery thing on the Marketplace. This, from the Lab's own posted directions:
To convert your Magic Box listings to Direct Delivery:
  1. Copy all items from your Magic Box into your inventory.
  2. Open the MERCHANT OUTBOX by choosing Me > Merchant Outbox...
    (You may optionally un-box your items before the next step.)
  3. Drag all Marketplace items from your inventory to the MERCHANT OUTBOX and click the Send to Marketplace button.
Um...there's only one problem. Cool-VL doesn't have a "Send to Marketplace" button. Here's what else I'm wondering--what viewers do? Is this a process that can only be initiated/confirmed using the official viewer? Is that a large part of the problem, that people are doing this (somehow) using TPVs?

Even worse? I dig out SL's official viewer, dust it off, update it while cursing its existence and the intransigence of Lindens who equate cost with usability, and set it to logging me in. Whereupon I discover there is no "Received Items" folder, there is no "Merchant Outbox" folder, so the entire exercise is rendered moot!

How the hell do I update my (scant and few, but still) items to Direct Delivery if Cool-VL doesn't have the option, and SL V3 doesn't even have the folders?!? No wonder people are losing their minds!

To that end, let's look through the JIRA as it completely explodes into chaos.

Darrius Gothly:
This issue definitely is a major Showstopper. Running slow is fine but showing, linking and sending payment to the wrong Merchant is NOT the least bit cool.

Yo! Commerce Dev Team .. WTH happened?!?
I think that's everyones' question currently.

Kittycat Ninetails in response:
oh you mean you can actually OPEN the "manage my listings" page? I followed the directions I was given and tried to upload my entire inventory at once..BIG mistake...cause every item that links thru your 'direct inventory' link means it becomes 'unnassociated' with the magic box one..so you wind up with a ton of unlisted items..so..then it won't upload any more cause you got more than a hundred items unassociated. Also if you make the mistake of uploading a box twice, it decides its two items instead of one with a duplicate.
Yeah, that's definitely a huge problem.

Czari Zenovka:
I am still using the Magic Box as well and am having similar listing issues on The Marketplace: wrong prices, wrong names, my item having another merchant's info and one XXX-rate description on my G product.
So, everyone who's using SL Marketplace runs the risk of having mangled images, descriptions, makers, and--let's not forget--payments. Also, hit her comment to find three pics uploaded of what's going on with her store. And let's not forget the second issue she mentioned--Adult listings are crossing over with General listings, and vice versa--remember the pedolicious picture of the two little girls mapped over the "ripped shorties" Adult item I mentioned yesterday? Yeah. Wasn't the establishment of Adult as a rating, and the entire popping of Zindra as a continent, supposed to prevent things like this?

Mandrakke Dagger:
I have [the] same issues, and I did switch to DD. I checked yesterday at about 10pm SLT and the listings were still correct, I did not check all of them, just the more popular items and also I just checked my sales history on marketplace and the correct items were being delivered and I was paid the correct amount also until about 1am SLT March 28,2012. That is no longer true.
So, to reinforce: even stores that initially seem fine can corrupt later. This is sounding less and less like a simple coding bug, and more like malicious mangling, you know? That, or the Lindens have become experts at slashing and burning their own infrastructure.

CommerceTeam Linden:
We are aware of this issue and are working on addressing it as a top priority. Thanks to all those who have let us know about the issue.
Two days ago. Still not fixed.

Sera Lok:
When I edited a set of 4 listings where only 1 item was affected by this bug, after editing them I now have 2 items that are affected, but in different ways (one has my picture and related items and other merchant's url/description/price... the other has other merchant's picture and my url/description/price - and when I went to edit that 2nd one... the other's merchant's picture is showing in my edit screen.)
And while Sera's not the hardest hit, it's still a nightmare for her and for everyone else.

stephanie Leclerc:
My store is affected too....I'm really upset.
I have put all items offline, and removed the magic box
Still to have a long list of products messed. Prices, pictures, creators names and stuff....
And stephanie is one of the hardest hit, but still, the severity of the mangling isn't really the issue; the widespread nature of it's more important.

Moriko Inshan:
I just ran across your store Stephanie, several of my friends stuff is in your store listing, mixed in with your product pics. This is a terrible mess, that will totally cause a loss of trust in both merchants, as well as customers. Personally, I am sending notes on my store groups, advising people not to use the Marketplace today, or at least be prepared for messes.
People--merchants not following the forums or the notices--area already threatening legal action and/or filing DMCA cease-and-desist letters against other makers they believe are "stealing" their product images, their descriptions, or even showing up as the makers of items in their stores. There are a lot of angry notecards flying around.

Kokoro Fasching:
As a consumer only, I want to say thank you to LL, in that my shopping is so much more fun now. I have no clue as to what I will actually get delivered to me, or how much it will cost. It is now the biggest Gacha around!
And is this really the kind of attitude the Lindens want brought to the bargaining table? We can't trust the Marketplace. We can't shop on the Marketplace. How soon until that becomes We can't trust the Lindens...if it's not already?

Kianta Silverfall:
It's really annoying this marketplace to suck all times, and Linden Lab don't care of the mess, they treat us like beta testers... I'm really mad and sick.
I have almost 50 products messed, and I can't imagine, to work and fix something, with this SLOW website.
Marketplace isn't a website..... nah, is just a beta stuff.
Pretty damn much.

More later.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

you're gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul

Continuing from yesterday's drama...this seems to be an issue affecting both those who've converted to the new Direct Delivery system (which, at this point, I can safely say should never have been launched in its current broken condition), and those who still run with Magic Boxes.

So that means it affects, on average...EVERYONE. And yet, the Lindens are still screwing around with whether it's a "showstopper" on the JIRA or just a "Major" issue. Get your crap together, kids--this is not the time to play amateur hour with party hats. These are now officially peoples' lives you're fucking with, to be blunt.

Here's what I have yet to figure out (mainly, because I'm afraid to have anything that costs any amount of Lindens shipped to me from the Marketplace):

(from the shopping album)

If I order this item (which I won't, but if), will I get the brown Argyle sweater that I can't see, the micro-fox avatar which is pictured, or something else entirely? And will I be paying L$10, L$700, or some other figure entirely?

(from the shopping album)

Maybe it's just me, but the longer this drags on and the more businesses are hit, and hit hard, the more this seems like a metaphor for Second Life as a whole--Don't waste your time and money buying things, just keep paying us your tier fees, because we're just going to set the world on fire until everything's ash and we've sold the company off to some other sucker. See ya!

In unrelated news, is there a way to tell who owns a sim if one cannot travel there and just pull up land info? For some reason, I am a) in a subscribe-o-matic I don't want to be in at a freebie hair store, but b) find myself unable to go there, because apparently, I'm banned from the Sea Magic sim. And I don't even know why!

There's starting to be mounting replies on the main JIRA for all this nonsense; so over the next few days, why yes, I'm going to be crawling through and editing the choicest bits into entries. You're welcome.

In the meantime, blogs are starting to pick up on the fact that the Marketplace has gone haywire. Miss Twine's blog mentions the problems, SL Universe lists it as an unmitigated disaster, the Wastelands blog goes into an entire history of "half-assed features" (wonderful term), as well as mentioning a little squib on Tateru Nino's blog that barely and briefly skims over the surface of the developing controversy, and Ciaran Laval weighs in on how LL seems, at present, to be so staunchly behind the catastrophic clusterfuck that is the Marketplace at present, that they're now outright refusing to offer any customer support on the Magic Boxes.

Yes, really.

And Crap Mariner hosts an entire entry full of Second Life oddity, including the creepy zeppelin sex moment on Penny Arcade, and, obscurely, yesterday's post from me. Woo?

The upshot, of course--as with most of these issues--boils down to drama-drama-drama-Second Life sucks-drama-drama-the Lindens are evil-drama-drama-drama-we're all going to die...

...but, see, while that's hyperbole, in a very real sense it's also accurate. I don't think it's entirely an unfounded reaction, either. Think this through. More than one person I know is using income gained from Second Life sales to pay rent. To buy food. To afford to clothe their children. To keep them in Mountain Dew for long late nights with PhotoShop on the beta grid.

Every single day, every hour the Marketplace is in such a shambling, viral, diseased condition is one more day, one more hour where these people will start to wonder--Is SL worth it? Should I get a real job? If this fails, what do I do next?

And every day, every hour, every minute where all we're hearing from the Lindens is be patient, this will be fixed soon, we promise...we grow a little more embittered, a little more angry, a little more panicked, a little more contemptuous. If they can't figure out--after months, literally, of Marketplace issues before now--how to fix this soon, then why have that business in Second Life? And if there's no business, then why have that sim?

And if there's no sim, then why log in? A follows B follows C, and if the Lindens don't see it, then really, they've all gone blind with hubris and are hemorrhaging intelligence points from all orifices, flat out.

I have never been more grateful to no longer have a financial stake in Second Life than I am, right now. And I haven't been this disgusted with the Lindens since the whole Zindra meltdown, frankly. And unless I've been right all along--that they really are trying to drive users who create content off their grid, to prepare for a sale to another tech firm--I can't see any reason why they're launching services that are so profoundly flawed, that they're only going to have to go in and overhaul later. It. Makes. No. Sense. To me. At all.

Anyone feel like explaining, I'm willing to listen--that includes Lindens, should any happen by--but I can't see a good reason why they're being this cack-handed with their coding.

[Insert from the Editrix: Discovered this from a friend--seems the three JIRA issues I found are only the three that the Lindens are bothering to keep track of. Between Sera Lok and Sassy Romano, there's at least a dozen, maybe more--and we're still in the early stages.

[The overwhelming majority view so far is that Marketplace needs to be shut down, rewritten, then relaunched--any takers on whether the Lindens will think this is a sound idea and implement it as a fix?

[Yeah, I didn't think so.]

you can't mend a bird with a broken wing, no matter how hard you want it to sing

So...this came up from a couple of different directions. And this one's huge--I know I stress over a lot of the little details, but this really is a game-changer, and people are experiencing a lot of emotional swing over this.

First, the problem: merchants who've converted to Direct Delivery are having their listings mangle. Wrong pictures, wrong descriptions, and in some cases, wrong avatar listed as the maker. Big? Big. WAY big, as this image shows.

(And it's worse than I thought--Sera Lok's comment below tells me that this is happening even when Direct Delivery wasn't employed, so...Yeah. This just upgraded from "big" to "showstopper".)

Now, Ms. Vollmar's store apparently is all better now (likely because she was the first to complain), but check out Edie Bouvier's store:

(from the shopping album; linked slightly larger for clarity.)

So, in this image alone, I count one wrong name, one wrong maker, and--if you click that item--an entirely wrong description. That seems to be the only wrong item left, but still, that's pretty dire.

(And yes, I am very neatly sidestepping Ms. Bouvier's copyright infringement; that's a whole other can of virtual worms.)

I checked out another commenter's store. From Lok's Low Prim Furniture comes this:

(from the shopping album, shown slightly larger for clarity again.)

Yep. Even better, when "babett Bailey"'s item is clicked, it goes directly to the front page. Does "babett Bailey" even exist?!

(Apparently yes, but that's not the point--the point is that this is happening at all.)

Let's take another example from the forums, Angelwing. Now, I'm not a member of their group (currently), but I really like Ms. Susanti's stuph. I've literally dodged buying outfits because they clock in at 300 prims, but she does great details, she does beautiful work in silks and fantasy attire, and she's really given her shop space serious thought. I can't fault that.

But apparently the Lindens can:

(from the shopping album)

Yeah. Check out the description on the "Coin" silks and tell me the Lindens aren't maliciously lighting their business on fire, with intent and purpose.

In case that lost some impact, let me show you the entire pic with the description that comes up when you click one of those items:

(from the shopping album)

Yeah. Let that sink in. I really, truly think the last thing any maker of upscale silks and fantasy attire wants is for people to think she's interested even for three seconds in selling a gesture--a male-voiced gesture, at that--that will let her customers tell the world at large that they, too, suck balls.

The hell, Lindens. WTF is wrong with your code?!?

Ms. Vollmar set up a JIRA report on this issue, as she should have; which the Lab is saying relates and/or is trumped by this JIRA, and may in fact relate to this now closed JIRA. My advice? I know, I know, it's more email in the inbox, because Linden Lab sucks at customer accountability, but seriously--this needs to be fixed stat, so I'd just vote for both 4587 and 4588, in the hopes that something will get through their dense as dwarf star matter skulls and they'll actually fix something that's desperately broken instead of, oh, I don't know, inventing a way to play Second Life with their minds, or something.

Because all the gods know, the Lindens are devoted to the next shiny toy--at the expense of all their existing architecture.

But the worst example found tonight is stephanie Leclerc's. I don't even know what her store name is, because the banner on her Marketplace store reads "Better Living by De Adamczyk"! And here's a screen capture of the very first page:

(from the shopping album)

I deliberately set the listings on her store to "list", over large product images. Most of the product images are wrong, true, but in her case, there's not one name on that storefront that's hers. NOT. ONE.

Even worse? When I deliberately search for her name, free of actual storefront addy, I pop up items by Aftershok Ziplon, Lico Bravin, asia Biscuit, octagons Yazimoto, Nyx Bayn, Sixx McMahon, Christopher Meredith, Rogvu Farina, Brandi Streusel, Chatte Ocello, MasterChains Adored--oh, and THAT listing needs to be seen to be appreciated:

(from the shopping album)

The HELL, Lindens. Toss up a big fuss over ageplay being pedophilia, and then you list something like THIS NONSENSE.

And that doesn't even go into the names that aren't hers on the other ten pages of listings that remain.

Just to reassure myself how big this was, I traipsed over to the grouped listings for Dare Designs, Girl Not Included, and The Fooding--among others. Between Dare Munro and Axi Kurmin--and their multiple business operations in Second Life--they've listed literally thousands of items.

And what did I find? Very first page, wrong listings:

(from the shopping album)

Yep. I count Dare Munro, Axi Kurmin, VNP Ninetails, RyanConway Serenity, alexto Rau, Roxanne Hynes, followmeimthe Piedpiper, Rosalynne Writer, Gwen Carillon, and Cristina Sugita on the first three pages alone. What's worse? There's two hundred and thirty-nine pages I didn't check.

This needs to be fixed. This needs to be fixed now. And even more important, Linden Lab will lose customers over this.

I swear to God, they're trying to torpedo their own game. Do they even care at all anymore?!?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I can't be trusted to wait on hard times

Cxxxxxx Pxxxxxxxxxxxx: Linden Lab has some very poor business strategy. Oskar Linden, head of quality assurance, publicly stated that he's not allowed to do his job. All he can do is advise. He has no power to stop or delay a release, due to quality issues.

So...listen, I know jobs are hard to find and all, but I have a couple questions that spring urgently to mind:

1. Why work for a company who devalues your efforts like this? And
2. Why hire someone and then refuse to let him do his job for you?

Also, I'd love to know where he said this. A search on (my assumption of) common terms on Google turned up no public statements to this effect, but, to be fair, there's a lot of office hours transcripts I didn't read.

My first reaction to this next one: "Hey, guess who's back?"

(from the Games album)

But I was wrong. This is not an Evony ad. This is...an ad for the new Godfather MMO? Seriously?

Yeah, seriously. Clicked the ad and everything. I would have sworn this was the latest iteration on Evony. And I was thinking even as I clicked it--to prove that it was from the Evony lot--"My gods, guys, why don't you just give up and start a porn company?"

So now I'm trying to figure out how the waiflet figures into the Five Families game. Is she someone's daughter who went astray? Is she a standard-issue gun moll waiting for her 1920s update? Did the Godfather production team get together with the Evony ad people, and this is what they came up with?

Because let me tell you, while I clicked the ad, I clicked it knowing I wouldn't play a game whose main initial goal seems to be getting girls undressed as quickly as possible. Not that that can't be fun now and again, but seriously, day in and day out that's kind of wearing on the player.

This is the weirdest thing I've seen this week (and yeah, that counts the trailer for Cabin in the Woods, but on reflection does not include watching The Oregonian--and if you think that's a recommendation for The Oregonian, you'd be wrong). Apparently this is a coming series? If so...and I'm wary of saying this, but...when?! Because this is the women of DC on fast forward through the spin cycle. I have to know what comes next.

And I found a new music blog. Titled The Right Side of a Good Thing, it weighs in heavy on alt-country (as well as traditional country), but there's enough good early pop and early rock (think late 1950s to mid 1870s, overall) to make the doses of twangy mournful country tolerable.

Finally, there's been some discussion of the fast and superfast where superheroes are concerned. The fellow behind Nodwick, of course, puts it in the most amusing light. But he's got a serious point--when we're already being told that someone locked into a human frame can travel twice the speed of light with no signs of injury, why even both factoring in how normal human frames would react, realistically? It blurs so deeply into the realm of the impossible that we generally choose to shrug it off and go on, because we all have bigger things to worry about.

and I burned a hole in the state of Michigan

So, as usual, I've fallen behind in a lot of ways, on a lot of blogs, because frankly...several days attacked me at once, and writing took a back seat to just getting through it.

But I wanted to get to a post on World Goth Day events before too much more time passed.

First, I want to point your attention to an excellent entry on the SL Freebie Hunters blog on the topic. That's well worth reading on its own, and Axi Kurmin's clarification of some of the rules is also well worth reading through if you're a merchant (goth or not) and want to apply to either hunt she's helping to organize. (And this post tells you how to apply if you think you will fit the qualifications. There are spaces open still, I believe, for both hunts.)

But I think these posts (and the one on SL Universe, which says the same thing) stand fast on their own. It's a month of gothy goodness, two hunts, several events, most of it officially sanctioned by the World Goth Day group and with at least some, if not all of the proceeds going to charity.

That's what I want to talk about here, though: the charity aspects.

If you go to the World Goth Day page and read through things, it is--and this isn't a bad thing, mind--a celebration in midsummer of the goth lifestyle. For many reasons, summer is traditionally a bad time to be a goth. We stand out more, we're wearing sunscreen (much of which can clash with our makeup, should we wear any), black is not the best color for light and heat--and we're sometimes left with cumbersome accessories to the order of parasols, heavy veils, et cetera (I've been tempted once or twice to invest in a black silk burka, and no, totally not kidding about that).

So why the midsummer gothic celebration? This takes a bit of backstory.

(from the Charity efforts album)

This was Sophie Lancaster. She was an art student in Lancashire, planning to continue on to get a formal degree in English.

(from the Charity efforts album)

At the time of her death, she was dating Robert Maltby, a fellow art student--and fellow goth. These were not people who ran around shooting others or heaping insults on them. By all reports, they were quiet, studious, and intelligent, but they received grief over how they looked. When Sophie died, she was only twenty years old.

Worldwide, anyone who's different is attacked by members of the dominant culture. Blacks, gays, pagans, Asians, lesbians, Jews, First Nation peoples...the list goes on ad nauseum. Hells, in my social group, several of my friends use "dirty hippie" as a common, garden-variety insult, so even people still following in the footsteps of the peace and love generation get grief. It's part of human nature. One of the more annoying parts, to be sure, but there nonetheless.

Still, it takes a special level of monster to kill someone just because they're different. And that happened to Sophie.

(from the Charity efforts album)

On the night--actually, just past midnight--of August 11th, 2007, Sophie and Robert were walking home through the Stubbylee skate park in Bacup, Lancashire, England. Going in through the front gate, they noticed a large group of teenagers, who immediately took a dislike to them and began following them. Still, nothing too overt was said, and I believe they weren't worried about a threat of physical harm (just emotional).

Then the teens attacked. They attacked Robert first, quickly knocking him to the ground and kicking him unconscious. Sophie, thinking only to protect the man she loved, fell to her knees, gathering him up in her arms and protecting his head and chest with her own body.

These monsters, because I can conceive of no better word, continued their attack, kicking Sophie's back, arms and head, and, when she had fallen to the side (Robert still cradled in her arms), they stomped on her head until police arrived.

(from the Charity efforts album)

She died, in hospital, thirteen days later. Robert, whose initial injuries seemed far worse, recovered, though he will be haunted by Sophie's loss for the rest of his days, in addition to sustaining ongoing neurological damage. And why? Why did this happen? Because Sophie and Robert looked different.

These idiots even bragged about it to their friends, later, telling them to go to the park to see the two "moshers" they'd left "nearly dead".

We may never know just how many participated in the attack on Robert and Sophie. Eyewitnesses say it could have been upwards of fifteen, maybe more. What we do know is that of the five directly arrested for the attack, two were sentenced to life imprisonment, and the other three were given sentences of at least four years in duration, if not longer.
"This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself."
Judge Anthony Russell said that at the trial, and I wholly agree with him. This was abhorrent, shocking, and completely unnecessary.

You can find more information--and how the Sophie Lancaster Foundation works--at their site. Sylvia Lancaster--who also took the last picture I'm showing on this entry--has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of subculture violence, and does all she can, every day, to ensure subculture acceptance. It's not just about the gothic community...but in very many ways, Sophie's one of our poster children for why it's important that we exist, and keep our heads held high.

And this is why World Goth Day exists. The founders behind it were absolutely appalled at the level of violence shown to Sophie and Robert. And they vowed to change the world however they could. A year after Sophie's death, they celebrated the first Goth Day in England. By the next year celebrations were being held beyond England. A year or so past that they went worldwide.

If you're a maker of gothic goods, consider going to the clocktower and grabbing an application for one or both hunts. If you're not a maker of gothic goods, there are several ways to either get involved, or to donate. Consider it.

And remember: anyone who's in any subculture, and goes out unafraid, carries a little of Sophie's spirit with them. And I think she'd like that. I think she'd be honored that so many remember her, and her bravery and sacrifice. The last thing anyone should want is for something like this to happen again--and that's why both charities, and World Goth Day as a celebration, are so important.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

drunk and I am seeing stars

There are a lot of big changes from Minecraft 1.2.3 to 1.2.4. Chief among them: various trees now give various colors of wood. I'm still not sure what the jungle trees are called: based on the spreading upper-canopy leaves, I've been saying baobabs; the people behind the Painterly Pack say mangrove; a friend of mine calls the wooden planks derived from jungle trees mahogany (though truthfully, if we're trying to match wood types to oak, pine, and birch, the existing trees, and it's jungle biome-based, it should be teak); and the folks behind the Minecraft wiki just cheat and call them jungle trees.

So the up side of having four different colors of wood: We can now make patterned-wood floors, walls and ceilings, and build with the tone of wood we most prefer. The down side? Four different colors/types of wood means that wood planks derived from them will no longer stack. Well, hell.

There's also apparently four colors of sand/sandstone, now. The "traditional" sand, which is a single block that can be dug out of deserts, and is affected by physics; crafted sandstone, which takes four cubes of regular sand to make; "smooth" sandstone, which is made from four cubes of 'regular' sandstone; and "hieroglyphic" sandstone (which is anything but, being a sand block with dots and dashes on it and a creeper face), which takes the crafting of two sand slabs, then piling those slabs one on top of the other in a crafting table, to make. Complete and utter fail, for me, but then I run under the Painterly textures, where I've had a crafted hieroglyphic sandstone block for over three years--with actual recognizeable heiroglyphics, thank you.

From the "Little Vampires" web comic, comes another handy information placard on things that should never be vampires. And it's true, chicken teeth are rare enough as it is, we don't need them pointed.

(There's a whole bunch of them on that site, if you just keep hitting previous. Prepare to be baffled, and/or giggle, a great deal.)

There's now a free universal adapter kit for construction toys--plans for 3D printers are available on their main site, which includes a definition of all parts used that can be manufactured commercially, or printed out on something like the MakerBot, f'rinstance. Ten different styles of connectors means you'll never face half a Legos set and half a TinkerToys set with a sense of abject failure again.

Nokia, meanwhile, has applied for a patent for a ferromagnetic fluid that can be injected like tattoo ink through the first few layers of human skin. It will then be able to pick up cellphone signals after being programmed (in some as-yet-unnamed fashion), so people will be able to feel the tattoo vibrating when calls or text messages come in.

So far, the universal reaction from my friends and family has been that this will be the worst tattoo advancement since the introduction of iron oxide inks in the first place--and any MRI given to someone who has one will likely pull it right out of their skin. Fairly sure they're not wrong, which is on the scary side. (Not that they're right; that pretty much you can have the Nokia tattoo, OR an MRI: but you can only pick one.)

And I'm still sorting through tons of pictures, so the next few posts may be simple picspam entries. Warning everyone now.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

they sentenced me to twenty years of boredom for trying to change the system from within

I will not offer refunds for accidental unenroiling

First off, I love that word. I have no idea what it means, but I love that word. (And yes, I know Ms. Graves meant "unenrolling", there, but...still. Unenroiling. Fun.)

I will also not make the group free if you accidentally leave for you to rejoin. It's not fair for anyone else.

Now, keep in mind, this is coming from the M.O.C.K. Cosmetics group. While I didn't pay to get in the group, if I left--for any reason--and wanted to rejoin, I would, happily, and I would not complain a single thin complaint about the L$250 join fee.

Why not? Because--while I have bought lipstick layers, eyeshadows, and full makeover sets from her over the course of the last year--the bulk of my makeup collection is group gifts she just tosses out. She's working on a concept, and she doesn't know where it's going--she'll do it up in grape or turquoise, copper or violet, and see how it looks when it's vibrant. Then she turns back to the worktable, and does it over again for smokey eyes, muted lips, neutral makeovers.

Not everything she makes is sedate; but for the most part, what her store actually carries for sale are makeup and tattoo layers that enhance subtly, or tone down the makeup your skin might actually have, or just adds another stripe of color to your existing stripe, across the eye, the lips, the cheeks.

Everything else? Whatever occurs to her in the fever of creation, and most of it she tosses to us gratis. So that L$250 fee to get in is a bargain at twice the price, no doubt in the least.

Two years after the fact, I finally get an explanation on the great Valkyrie/Dreamscape bridge debacle I covered back then (scroll down to the last two comments). How'ver, reading over my original post before the answer, I still stand behind what I said back then: it doesn't matter how personally attacked/vilified/stolen from any maker feels emotionally, imitating someone else's work to that specific extent is an act of ridiculous folly. Because it makes the maker in question look like an idiot, essentially. Rather than the injured party, noble even when wounded and bereft; because it, itself, feels like the personal attack.

I'm not wholly without blame (in the general sense) myself, in this: several years ago I put together a pack of tin ceilings. This was before I started making texture sets by hand, and ensuring that any elements I pulled from various websites were legal and in the public domain, and royalty-free. At the time I saw no problem in hitting two large makers of tin ceilings, and resizing their product images to fit the standards of Second Life.

The reason I don't sell that pack now is that--even though my digital reselling of that pack never directly lowered the profit margin of those makers of actual, RL tin ceilings--I didn't get permission to reuse the images. To me, that was something that became startlingly clear after I began to investigate digital copyright.

But here's the thing--even if I was still selling that pack of images, if someone lifted those images from the same sources I did, paid to upload them all into SL, and then made a house with them--I would never, not in a century of SL days and nights, do my best to copy that mansion down to the last detail, then use my own tin ceiling textures to provide that final, malicious retort.

Because I'm not showing the world that I had the textures first in that example. I'm showing the world what a spiteful, vindictive, petty tyrant I can be when crossed, and frankly (especially as I already have a reputation in many places for being mouthy, bitchy, and/or relationship poison anyway), that doesn't advance my cause any. That just makes me look like an easily offended loon who'd rather copy someone's else's work out of peevish resentment.

Seriously, people...if you're going to take a vocal stand against copyright infringement, the last thing you should ever consider doing is engage in any blatant copyright violation. Whether it proves a point or not, it's never going to be the right move.