Friday, June 28, 2013

on the seventh day I rest for a minute or two

(The below photographs all come from the "Passage of Time" exhibit at SL10B in Pizzazz. Part one and part two, for your reading pleasure.)

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

With 2009 came new challenges; namely, a system of 'rewarding' new premium accounts that I still hear complaints about to this day. Oh, granted, the occasional furniture or adornment gift that wanders towards premium accounts, the ability to buy and sell virtual land, and the premium-only sandboxen; these are all fun things, and--at least where the sandboxen are concerned--potentially invaluable to premium builders.

No, where the hitch seems to be is with the Lindenhomes. In essence, what the Lab has done is remade their "first land" proviso with a shocking difference, by giving each new premium account holder the ability to pick a "neighborhood", and subsequently receive--"free of charge"--a 512 parcel of land, complete with home and furnishings. Home and furnishings, I might add, that that premium account-holder cannot modify, retexture, or reconfigure in any way. It is theirs and not-theirs, in the same instance. It exists as a possession and it is never given away. Paradox? Yes, with each house that is offered.

I suppose, if the Lindens' intent is to quickly shunt new premium accounts towards tier fees and land ownership, simply because the Lindenhomes is question are so bland and utilitarian, then I suppose they work? So...yay for that?

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I admit, I stood in front of this placard for a very long time. "Then in August, the Emerald viewer was in trouble..." This makes it sound as if it was purely a software issue, and not a deliberate violation of trust. I'm not going to turn this into another Emerald diatribe, but really, even within a commemorative event array, that single toss-off line does not sit well with me...nor, I would suspect, with any of the former users of Emerald who felt profoundly victimized by the developers' bad behavior.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

This was another difficult placard to cover. I'm still not entirely comfortable with mesh, if only because I like to be seen as clothed when I go shopping. But the other issues that this particular sign mentions were both extraordinarily problematic at the time. As it turns out, looking back on these events, web profiles have turned out to be minimally non-invasive, though they still have features I'm not fond of using.

But the closing of the Teen Grid was a profound violation for many of us. First, because Claudia Linden, when asked, said it would never happen, but also because it's still such an appallingly bad idea. Intellectually, I realize there's no difference between someone I don't know who's thirty behind the screens, and someone I don't know who's seventeen; but emotionally, I stopped dating at all past the closure of Teen Grid. I do not want to play in mature ways with people I can't trust to be at least eighteen. It may be a minimal standard, but it's mine and I'm by damn clinging to it.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

And here's another controversy that's still raging. There are many separate groups in SL, on many levels; at any given time, there's always someone new to embrace or disdain, but even within these cliques and sub-structures, there's a fluidity that comes from all playing in the same space, with the same tools.

The "Resident" last name--which, to be honest, doesn't even exist; it's a holdover to provide two distinct names under Legacy viewers--was the first brutal social distinction in SL. Within days of the announcement, anyone who didn't have a last name was almost universally dealt supercilious scorn or lip-curling disgust, and all for no reason, essentially--or perhaps for the very worst of reasons: "I was here first".

At this point, there are Resident-bearing sim owners, Resident-bearing business owners, and overall, as a defined class, they add more than they take away. But it's been a harder struggle for new residents than it ever should have been, simply by virtue of the Lindens removing their choice of a last name. It set the cultural bar excruciatingly low; too low for many at first even to make the attempt to struggle under. And it's a great shame to all of us, that so many of us couldn't see past that unfortunate distinction.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I'm still waiting for evidence that Project Shining will be worth the hype.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

At the time I snapped this picture, the latest settlement involving the Lindens hadn't been announced. Looking back on it from the perspective of time, however, Rosedale's statement seems flawed and disingenuous. What we have in Second Life is real, and is ours? Hardly--as that settlement proves once again, what we have in SL is theirs, and it's as ephemeral as this exhibit will be, in a few more hours.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

coffee laced intoxicating on her lips

I have had a very busy week behind the screen, most of which is not germane to these writings. However, some interesting links have cropped up that I think are worth sharing.

First up: apparently there are genetic sequencing hobbyists. Now, while that story is fascinating, and I fully acknowledge that the father, in that case, started out being a clinical geneticist, there's still a great wonder for me in that we have advanced medical technology so far that individuals can make these kinds of leaps. To be sure, he collaborated with other geneticists, and did a substantial amount of work in genetic labs; nevertheless, we have mapped out enough of the human genome that we can now identify separate mutations within familial structures.

Similar research in Australia--though done by more official researchers and labs--discovered an ability to rewire the HIV virus. If this technique proves viable, then doctors could, in theory, cure AIDS and other immunodeficiencies; perhaps so far as curing cancer. It's a long way to go from this discovery to official human trials, but the initial work looks very promising indeed.

Viruses are not the only interesting research going on in the HIV research circles, though. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have come up with an alternately creepy, and cool, way to "vaccinate" against HIV...by using modified bee venom. Now, me personally, the first thing that comes to mind is the number of people who have bee venom allergies. But barring that, the theories they're operating from seem logical. The nanoparticulate melittin is the protein being isolated. While it seems to me to be a spyrochete, and would thus be almost infinitely able to drill through cells of the proper size, it may simply be a small protein able to infiltrate other cells through the corkscrew method, which also creates holes in those cells. Either way, it has potential to cure many diseases, from HIV infection all the way over to Lyme disease. I'm very intrigued with where this research will go.

Another class action lawsuit has been settled against the Lindens. But--at least as far as I'm able to ascertain--it looks like they didn't lose that much, and it seems like the settlement was reached out of court, so did not result in binding decisions on the rights of virtual landholders. Which is rather sad--with so many virtual spaces like Second Life, and in larger MMO games (I'm thinking primarily of gold farmers in WoW, and of gains and losses in EVE Online), there is a fair amount of real money that's being tossed around. I'd really like a solid legal understanding of what that buys for individuals, and how binding those purchases are.

Another bit from NWN interested me, and led me from Iris Ophelia's rant (which really wasn't, based on Botgirl Questi's entry (which still wasn't a rant) on a new (at least to me) artistic endeavor called Single Frame Stories.

In short, the blog lists a theme. It is then our job to take one single photograph that we feel best applies to the theme. From their "About" page:
Each Saturday we'll offer a new word or phrase for a prompt. Participants will each create a Single Frame Story based on the prompt of the week, consisting of a single image with up to 140 optional characters of text. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting. The text can be integrated into the image or used as a caption or title.
We don't have to include text in the image; if we're more called to use text (AKA typography)over words, we can do that too--with a 140-character limit. Personally, having been on Twitter as long as I have been now, I'm comfortable with the 140-character limitation, but even if you're not, it's still a structure to put in place to outline your thoughts.

There is an odd freedom in working within set limitations--as NaNoWriMo shows us year after year, it can be quite the creative spur to our energies to work within external limits. It forces us not only to think outside our internal self-limitations, but can as well inspire us to redefine what that theme means to us when examined from all sides.

At the Kennedy Space Center, Atlantis, the last Space Shuttle to fly before the shuttles were retired, is now open for public view, where it will remain as a tribute to this chapter of our space program. Things have been so stagnant for space exploration in the last few decades, so I am hoping the slow-rising enthusiasm I see among my friends is also carried outside our social groups. Space travel brings with it many scientific, educational, and inspirational benefits, and we need to find more ways to get out there. The dream of life in space is not just a search for aliens that may or may not exist; it is the sure knowledge that when we look up from this small planet, we know there are beings working, beyond the horizon, and that they are part of us.

And I can't help feeling very sad at this NWN story about ex-Lindens gathering at SL10B. I truly think the Lab did all of their ex-Lindens a great disservice when the cuts came down. They went from a company many of us wanted to interact with. with Lindens we felt listened to us and heeded our concerns, to a company who was actively resentful of customer interaction, who rarely if ever bothered to listen to customer concerns. This was not a good shift, regardless of how much in resources they saved at the time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

open atmosphere, take me anywhere

(The below photographs all come from the "Passage of Time" exhibit at SL10B in Pizzazz. Part one is here.)

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I was on the grid in September of 2006. I was working at the Enigma still--my first, and, in some ways, best job on the grid--when the hacks began. Between "grey goo" infestations, rezzed-out pose items spontaneously ceasing to work, and griefing objects in a dizzying and disorienting array, we also had the first major hacking strike to the SL servers themselves. It would not be the last.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I have heard distant (and unfounded) rumors that gambling may be making a comeback. I'm not putting any faith in them right now, but I do agree that when gambling services and virtual banks left the grid, the grid economy never really recovered. Granted, there were large (and occasionally, scarily corporatized) interests behind the gambling industry, but on the ground, all we saw was commerce easily flowing, rent being fairly effortless to pay, and a naïve sort of financial exuberance (with an accompanying naïveté as to exactly what was happening).

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

The launching of Windlight I remember most vividly by how jarringly unhappy my graphics card was with the system. At this point, three entire engines later, changing Windlight settings is as effortless as thought...but at the time, it was a terrifying, unnatural thing for me.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

It's still hard to believe that five celebrations ago, the controversial "no nipples" policy of SL5B was enacted by fiat. Of course, soon after Ursula-then-Zindra rose as the new Adult continent, and we all discovered we had bigger things to worry about.

From the transcript of Mitch Kapor's closing keynote remarks from SL5B:
So the first is, in the earliest wave of pioneers in any new disruptive platform, the marginal and the dispossessed are over represented, not the sole constituents by any means but people who feel they don't fit, who have nothing left to lose or who were impelled by some kind of dream, who may be outsiders to whatever mainstream they are coming from, all come and arrive early in disproportionate numbers.

It was the way the west in the U.S. was settled. It is the way Second Life has been settled. And in fact those early pioneers find a very arduous environment. In the early days, you really have to want to be here because life in certain ways is very very difficult, in fact too difficult for most people. It is unavoidable in some sense that there will be a very high attrition rate in the early years while a platform is being built out. It doesn't stay that way of course, it can't, but the difficulties of conditions cause those who stay to really bond together, have something in common.

And that sort of arduous frontier conditions really give these environments their charm and their character, but also their challenges [...] I think the larger prospect is bringing the value of Second Life and virtual worlds to the world at large. And to do so, it has to be opened up, it has to be made easier to use [...]

So the first thing is a much more realistic looking avatar and particularly for business meetings and meetings between people who know each other, the ability to look more like yourself when you want to, would be a positively good thing. And there are some technologies that have been developed that will create an extraordinarily realistic avatar out of a single digital photograph and a lot of algorithmic magic. These are not Second Life avatars yet, but they could be at some point.
I still find it baffling, and more than a little irritating, this insistence--from Kapor and others--that all anyone wants to do in Second Life is to log in painlessly, shop in permitted areas, and wander around looking as much like their RL selves as possible.

Don't mistake me--for those people who want to resemble their RL selves, I say more power to them. I have a friend who's done everything he can to match his RL self to his SL avatar, down to changing his in-world glasses and hair when they change. How'ver, far more of us want the creativity in SL to attach to our virtual selves as well.

Perceive it this way: I communicate one message when my RL self is in front of someone. Partially, that message is out of my control, because it rests within the viewer's internal perceptions of me or people like me. I only have my personality, my words, my body language, to communicate on my side of this interchange. Everything else rests on the perceptions of that viewer.



In SL, I can substantially increase the amount of communication on my side. Because it is my choice of presentation, my choice of avatar. Good or bad in the eyes of the viewer, these are choices I can and do make on a daily basis. As odd as many of my avatars have been (and still are), I have gone to scathingly few events where my choice of virtual appearance was wholly out of my control. In SL, what I think, what I feel, what I believe can become part of my avatar identity because of how I choose to appear on the grid--from footwear to ears and everything in between. It takes "Your World, Your Imagination" and makes it "My avatar, my identity".

While there is still perceptions on the part of any viewer that I do not control, it's far less haphazard than in RL, where I cannot as easily change hairstyle, eye color, skin color, and outfit. Which doesn't even factor in entire species shifts, or as Miss Neome is frequently seen in, avatars that are less "avatar" and far more "idealization of the perceived interior".

This is not a long-winded way of deriding people who choose to match their RL selves and their SL selves; it's a valid strategy, and for many people, it helps them adapt to virtual landscapes. But just as studies have shown that imagining a thing paves the way for that thing to happen (think studies that have proven a concrete link between disabled people visualizing walking, and subsequent physical muscle changes that would help them with the right equipment walk again), so it is with avatars. What we see ourselves as being, becomes part of our mental and emotional landscape beyond the grid; something Mitch Kapor denies at his peril.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

for every questioned hour, for every second devoured

(The below photographs all come from the "Passage of Time" exhibit at SL10B in Pizzazz.)

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I will admit to being somewhat bemused as I wandered Pizzazz; I always thought it was spelled with only three Z's. Of course, at this point, maybe there's already a sim named Pizazz; who knows?

At any rate, this was a huge box on the sim, patterned with gears, with timekeeping mechanisms on all sides. I admit, it drew me in. What could be inside such a structure?

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

The simplest answer: history. But not just history; a timeline of sorts, from the very first neophyte explorations of the grid, to so-called "modern" day.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

As many problems as I have with Second Life, and how the Lindens handle Second Life, on this blog and in in-world conversation, the actual core concept I still think is fascinating. The core concept still fills me anew with wonder, even nearly seven years later.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

While there had been virtual worlds before, from text-based BBS rooms to the early MUDs, onward to the present day, Second Life was the first ostensible "game" that created a space for residents to live and work within. As it w as explained to me at the point I got involved, "It's not really a game." Whereupon my ultimate question became "So what do you do in Second Life?"

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

I've spent many years in exploration of that goal; some years better, some worse, but I think my answer still veers towards "anything"...within certain limitations. Those limitations being how far we, ourselves, are willing to expand and change to learn from our virtual environment.

(from the events album; the "Passage of Time" exhibit in Pizzazz)

When I joined Second Life, telehubs still played a large part in residential transport around the grid. It wouldn't be fully abolished (and even now, many sims still have telehubs in spite of point-to-point transference) until...what, 2008? I think? Telehubs persisted in Caledon and Winterfell longer than the rest of the grid, too.

From events

Still culling through other pictures of this exhibit, because I thought it was important enough to capture as fully as I can. But do go check it out if you have time. It's worth it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

only when the stars are light enough

Could Steam be gearing up to allow people to share games?

The Last of Googly Us?

Today, there was a big announcement that Wonder Woman was getting a second book title. Which, cue the cheers of--oh, it's going to be a relationship book. Okay, cue the understanding cheers of how DC is tackling the tough issues of saving the world and trying to maintain a relationshi--

Oh. It's because she's dating Superman? That's the only reason she gets a new book?

Apparently so:
In the end, of course, it’s all about sales. And apparently DC Comics has decided that feminist icon or not Wonder Woman is in the end best presented as the girlfriend of someone and both boning and flying their ways into your hearts and wallets.
....Right. I'll just be in the corner, frothing like a rabid animal and wanting to throw things at people.

And the Uncanny Valley is staring right at YOU.

For some reason, she's also a toddler. Well, you can't have everything, I suppose.

Damien Fate has one of the simplest explanation of why the new Materials ability in SL is worthwhile. Perfection. I now understand what all my previous research failed to tell me.

Meanwhile, the Rain Room is now an installation at MOMA. What makes this so beautiful is not the fact that it's a constant driving downpour, but that motion-capture cameras identify visitors, creating a person-shaped space for that visitor to walk in. In other words, it's the experience of intense, and very loud rain, but you do not get wet. It causes a perceptual dissonance that creates wonder. Excellent use of technology to aid art.

In more art news, Amy Brier has an astounding idea for many of her sculptures. It's not new, precisely--mankind has developed many ways to leave impressions, from seals pressed into wax to carved cuneiform and other languages pressed into clay--but hers have a special significance, I think, because rolling them at angles changes the image.

And Pac-Man goes 3D!

Now shoo, I'm still trying to figure out if I can cope without coffee today.

Also, happy Litha!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

on a bed of spider web I think of how to change myself

The Oculus Rift VR device got an insane influx of cash recently. So, whereas they were going to be the toy of the privileged few--if them--now they have the means to justify putting one within (fairly) easy reach of most of us, depending. Either way, that kind of money can change the face of gaming, because far more developers are going to start coding for the Oculus headset.

There's a lovely Flickr project called Blog Memes for Second Life Bloggers; what it really is, is a thoroughly ingenious set of reproduced movie posters starring SL avatars. Lovely, lovely work.

Did you know there are pop-up activity books for adults? No, I don't mean Adult adult; I mean grown-ups. Or at least people who think they are.

On the other hand, I've thrown crayon parties before where no one was under drinking age. Adult beverages in the fridge, chips and veggies on the table, butcher paper on the walls and all horizontal surfaces. Everyone gets a box of crayons when they get in.

Those were a lot of fun, as I recall. Pity our current place is so little.

There's, um...how do I put this? A Reddit user has decided to make fanart of the Mindcrackers for potential calendar use.

Pin-up calendar use. Oh, my...and is it sad that I downloaded the one for Pause Unpause?

Courtesy of Slate and Pinterest, I've found another small trove of Victorian (with a scattered few earlier) images, but yet again, it's slightly off-beat. In the case of Corsetra's Pinterest board, it's devoted to breastfeeding art and photography. Who knew the Victorians were so keen to have their pictures taken with attached baby?

But then, in a culture that allowed women to breastfeed (as opposed to one that seemingly goes into frothing hysterics when any hint of a bare breast is divulged), such images would be both common, and acceptable. I never thought of it that way before.

(Just FYI, Corsetra herself is rather a find--I would say easily half of her boards are related to Victorian/Edwardian/Regency concerns, over a wide spectrum of topics. Highly impressive.)

Ten thousand gamers cried out against oppression, and Microsoft backed off some of their plans. So...yay? But family/friend sharing is now out, it seems, along with not needing a disc in the tray to play (something the XBox 360 allowed). I guess that's mostly good...ish...

Facebook, in a landmark reversal, is going to allow mastectomy photos to be posted to their site. This has been a hard, arduous fight (though still a cakewalk compared to having a mastectomy), and many women are overjoyed for Facebook to acknowledge the empowerment that seeing these photos can give women facing breast cancer.

A random perusal of Tumblr a day back brought the String Rabbits to my attention. From there, I found this article, which led me to this article, which led me to the Zoorasian Brass Emissions Orchestra's YouTube account. I highly recommend "Bear-forest", "Ainekuittsu Show Time", and their "Railroad Fantasy" performances, but they're really talented in everything they've posted.

(Oh, and they all have nicknames. For instance, the saxophone players are colloquially known as Saxofox, the string section as String Rabbits [Tsuru-Usagi in the original], the clarinet quartet are the Claricats, etcerera. Fascinating.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

there was nothing, but I waited, I waited

There's an update on Pteron...well...sort of. It seems they're coming back to Second Life? Maybe? Sometime next year?

In perusing various corners of the web to search for Victorian-era photographs, I ran across this link from the Syracuse University Digital Library. The (potential) down side? They're all sideshow performers of the era.

Pushing in another direction, I also found an imgur album with ten horror locales in it. If you're a horror fan, some of these will be grand fun, indeed.

(from the events album)

The intertwined winged snakes above, and the four photos below, are all from the Urantia exhibit in Astonish.

(from the events album)

How to explain Urantia to those who don't know...think...Mormons without the homophobia. Or Jehovah's Witnesses, but nicer. Essentially, they exist to spread the Urantia Book, which is purported to be a chronicle of Jesus' teachings on behalf of God, the father, to His children.

(from the events album)

Did I mention the Urantia book, the book Urantia exists to promote to every person on Earth--excuse me, "Urantia"--was written by aliens?

(from the events album)

That's what they believe, anyway. Oh, and Jesus was a white guy. They believe that too.

(from the events album)

Overall, the few Urantians I've run into have seemed nice, and at least generically non-crazy. And I hand it to whomever built their exhibit--at least by night, it was stunning, beautiful, ornate, and they even have a little celestial ride-type thingy...It's not a carousel, but it does spin, and it has some fairly cool couples' poses. So overall, I think they did a great job, and it's even more impressive at night.

And their gift for SL10B is a Urantia book designed for SL--which likely just means it's a link to one of the websites, anyway. So now you can read it physically, online, via audio book, or in Second Life. Could be worse.

(from the events album)

Boudoir, home of some of the most innovative haute couture in Second Life, made a big box. Which I was fairly ruthlessly unimpressed by, until I went in. They built a butterfly tree. A butterfly tree.

(from the events album)

And finally, Cheeky Pea, surrounded by tons of bigger, statelier builds, decided less is more. So they made a gorgeously understated meadow, with pillows and a hammock to sit on, and just admire the view. It's a great view.

And...





More from SL10B later.

Monday, June 17, 2013

crushed and filled with all I found

There's a new horror game from the creators of Slender called "Where Am I"; I lasted two minutes, but I creep out easily these days.

(from the events album)

I found a copy of the first ever Welcome Area, which was first seen on the Natoma sim, in Wonderous.

(from the events album)

The "Newbie Corral" sign amused me greatly.

(from the events album)

Miss? This is PG-rated land.

(from the events album)

Ah, well. I suppose she's mostly covered.

Then Wonderous lagged into the dust, and I lost connection. More later.

following the stream up north

Meandering for a bit, taking ports as they came in from friends, I ended up on the Beguile Sim, where there's what looks like--from the outside--a quarter-dome painted black. Once inside, though, it's a fully shielded full black dome on all sides, with a rotating, reconfiguring primset floating overhead.

(from the events album)

This was the first sight that greeted me.

(from the events album)

And then...

(from the events album)

And then...

(from the events album)

And then...

(from the events album)

And then...

(from the events album)

And then...

(from the events album)

The above art configurations are all from from Solkide Auer's build in Beguile; do check it out if you have the time to just sit and watch the magnificence rez in. It's very peaceful under the dome.

(from the events album)

Loki Eliot's cel-shaded dinosaur on Wonderous. The exhibit requires a HUD and some commitment to the experience, and being as I currently live in the land of Short Attention Span Theatre, I'm hoping I'll remember to go before SL10 ends!

breakin' our backs on breakin' down stones

So...blogging kills, now?

Also, random wandering about that site turned up Taiwan's Weather Girls (article from 2011), followed by their space-suited update. I am baffled.

Why are LEGO faces getting angrier?

NASA probes manage to catch a full rotation of Mercury; finally, we know what it looks like.

On Venus, it snows metal, and there's now scale mail for guinea pigs. Some point between the two of them explains things, but I'm not sure how.

(from the events album)

Meanwhile, ventured into SL10, starting with Toroidal Human Anatomy. There's a free male and female 'torus' avatar available by buying the lower part of the block prim, but it's a pretty neat exhibit either way.

(from the events album)

Wander over to Frankx Lefavre's Chrysalis exhibit while you're in the vicinity--it's the one with the butterflies right nextdoor. Use the ramp to get up to the middle platform, and pick one of the butterfly-patterned rings to sit on. Depending on where you choose to sit, you'll get a great view of Astound, the sim it's on.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

you fight and you fuse, oh, you're a wild little bruise

Honestly, I think I just need to make a 'linkspam' category, and have done with it.

But here goes another round of wandering the net.

Photographer Jon Crispin has been taking photographs in a storage room of a former insane asylum. Why? Because in that storage room were discovered suitcases--four hundred in all. The room was discovered in 1995, and it's taken this long for Crispin to gain access to the room and its contents.

Can computer memory get faster and more stable? Two scientists--corresponding between Berkeley and Singapore--think so. And it's based on the science behind solar panels, and bismuth ferrite. Nanoferric technology seems to be finally coming into its own.

So, there's been this huge controversy brewing inside the SFWA Bulletin. I'm linking Seanan McGuire's commentary first, because she outlines the controversy very well, but I'd also recommend (as she did), reading some of Jim Hines' collected posts--none of which are anonymous, which is the main point Malzberg and Resnick seem to be fixated upon.

There's tons of really good commentary abounding--these are all authors or scriptwriters, keep in mind--but if you want another really good, really basic overview of the situation, writer Ursula Vernon tries to define the current controversy and decides if it's akin to an abusive relationship, or trying to housebreak a puppy.

(Also, see what I did there, Malzberg and Resnick? "Author" Ursula Vernon. Not "lady author" Ursula Vernon. See how easy that was?)

Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of this edition of Radish Reviews' 'Linkspam' post (one of many reasons I should just give up and adopt the term), you'll find actual pictured and scanned copies of the direct print-out to what Malzberg and Resnick said. Which is an interesting technique for later "but that's not what I said!" bleating.

Also, while this is really, really, really long, I recommend it for reading, and possibly bookmarking to read again later. It's the best essay on why real women hate fictional women, and why that leads to hating other real women, that I've ever read.

Not that anyone particularly needs it after that, but just in case you wandered off and read everything and did get mad--which is perfectly justifiable--here's a short list of calming websites. You're welcome.

I really dislike the writers (of more than this article) calling the stone carvings on the Washington National Cathedral "gargoyles". Put plainly, most of them are grotesques. What's the difference? Gargoyles are carved to carry water from the roof. Grotesques are just sculptures on the edges. But the fact that more and more stonecarvers are electing to carve representations of modern life--that, I think is pretty neat. And it will be just as baffling four hundred years from now, when those carvings likely need renovation.

Always puzzle your descendants. It keeps them on their toes.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

never tasted as sweet a poison as you have

(from the mesh album; Meshworx' amazing grand chandelier)

Seen at Warm Animations, this truly stunning chandelier. It's from Meshworx, and the entire thing is only forty-five prims (impact; physical prims, five). Impressive and finely detailed.

Beyond the many things most gamers find wrong with Ms. Sarkeesian, why does it always come back to her Kickstarter funding? I understand that objection least of all.

Talk about your train wreck tracks...

And I don't know if I'm the only one who follows happenings in the Slenderverse--I know I'm the only one among my friends, so I tend to assume that no one else does, either. How'ver, artist Expression on deviantArt has come up with a set of mini-comics laying out the major features of the various vlogs.
She's also releasing some of her art in wearable form, so here's the Spreadshirt link for the CreepyPasta shirt, the Come to the Woods shirt, and the Fetch shirt.

If anyone's desperately in need of Shakespearean insults, this is apparently where you want to go.

Meanwhile, China's having odd foam-related problems; me, I'm wondering what they're using on the roads to create foam that swells up and covers city streets.

Interested in cultivating a bonsai tree? Try virtually first. That actually seems like a good way to test out the hobby, without all the expense.

"Worming" is apparently the new Japanese craze, and I just don't get it. I've had my eyeballs licked, and it does nothing for me. (Though, to be fair, it has never happened intentionally. Still, even intentionally, I don't think it would be my thing.)

Aaron Goodwin explains Big Steppin', Ninjavitis reviews the Agent Coulson action figure from Hot Toys, and if you watch television, here's the grand master, everything-included, list of shows that were canceled and then renewed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

bleed for a sinner; I just need a few pennies more

Insidious is getting a sequel! Though I'm not sure what that means in terms of the deaths from the original...

(from the haunts album; one of the command stations on the Doomed ship's interior)

Continuing from a couple days ago, we were covering the rules for Doomed...
4. We do ask that visitors at least attempt to look in-theme so as not to detract from the experience of others. There is a free set of uniforms near the entrance teleporter. All Doomed Ship avatars are designed around realistically sized human shapes and will require editing if you prefer to use a larger shape.
(from the haunts album; the main embarkation point for the Doomed ship)

For me, this is the big one, and it's seemingly the biggest one for people missing the point, too. "Realistically sized human" means "human". Or, "alien with a believable explanation as to why they're non-human, while still appearing humanoid/human". Acceptable reasons could include:
  • escaped experiment from one of the science labs
  • interdimensional entity who means harm
  • twining lab plant which has achieved sentience
  • reanimated person/animal/mineral/specimen with an agenda
(from the haunts album; alien infestation along a lower corridor)

Choosing your own adventure is the heart of all RP, but make sure that your vision doesn't destroy or diminish the vision inherent in the surroundings. On the Doomed ship, everyone's human; the (very) few who aren't (aliens, travelers, demonic entities) are generally corrupt and evil, through and through. And it's fine to be corrupt and evil, as long as you understand the dividing line. There are no "good" demons, though there can be "bad" humans, but above all else, there are no furs without a reasonable explanation.

Let's play the matching game again.


On the one side, Isaac Clarke from Dead Space 2; on the other, a random anime babe in shiny pink with some sort of unreasonably cute alien pet. See the difference?

Or let's talk about Ulrich K's various sf/fantasy pinups. On the left, his "Alien Hunter". On the right, his "Astronaut Girl". Which one fits the Doomed ship more? Big hint: it's not the lady in the bubble-helmet.
5. Limit scripted attachments where possible. Avoid attachments that cause excessive lag.
In other words, don't wear your resize-scripted, 100% particle-spewing, realistic-movement fur coat with your 217-prim hair, your 98-prim animated tail, and your intricately designed blinged-out beltbuckle that can be seen from Mars to the Doomed ship. You'll make several people--including the owners and anyone who gets near the perfect storm of lag you'll be creating--unhappy.
6. Limit use of over-sized avatars to large, open areas of the ship. Remove if asked.
Note: "large, open areas" does not mean "mess hall" or central gathering area. It means that if you're twelve feet tall, and want to play on Doomed, you'll either have to track down an avatar that's more realistically proportioned, or confine yourself to the docking bay, period. And since there are freebie skins and uniforms available on beaming in to Doomed, there's literally no excuse for tromping around, too tall for the ship.
7. Work and residential areas outside the role-play area are not public.
And not that that one really needs more explanation, but I'll make it simple: if you have to fly up to get there, or cam in from the outside to get there, it's likely not a place you're supposed to be. Don't go there.

Now I'm curious, so I'm going to be hopping about some over the next few weeks, seeing if I can get rules lists for other RP sims, and see if their rules make as much sense as the Doomed ship rules do.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

let me spin you a yarn for a cent

Ken Lowery offered a suggestion on Twitter some few days back: "Take a real blues song title, with the world 'blues' in it, and replace 'blues' with 'feels'." What happens when you do that? This.

So, as happens some days, my attention drifts back to Doomed...I think mainly because I know people who play there, and there seems to be this nigh-constant battle between the RP the creators want, and the RP SL avatars give them.

Today, I want to go over the basic rules for the sim.

F(from the haunts album; interior corridor of the Doomed Ship)

Welcome to Doomed Ship, one of SL's largest and most immersive sci-fi/horror environments.

What is Doomed Ship? On one hand it is a role-play environment where players can immerse themselves in a space rescue/salvage mission gone horribly wrong. On the other hand, you can think of it as a haunted house in space, where visitors are free to wander the dark corridors, with friends or alone, exploring SL's most interactive environment, avoiding the dangers, and discovering the secrets of the NCS Persephone.
Now that it's been rebuilt, there are more hidden levels than ever. And you're free to wander the ship solely as an observer, just to experience the Persephone; but the owners of Doomed do ask that if you want to participate in the roleplay, that you accept the few rules that exist for the ship.

Namely...

(from the haunts album; Doomed Ship's...resident??...raver kitten)

The Rules:

1. Do NOT disrupt the role-play of others.
This, to me, would seem self-explanatory, but apparently some people miss it. For example, some people insist on showing up as petite kittens garbed in a modern logo t-shirt and a denim mini instead of, say, something that actually makes sense on the ship. Why do these people play on Doomed? No one knows.
2. There are scattered adult elements but this is not an adult sim. If you are looking for sex-focused RP I recommend Necronom VI.
Now, this is somewhat new--as in, only in the last six to eight months or so. Prior to that, the owners of the sim had Adult playtoys scattered about the sim, but the owners saw a distinct diminishing of ongoing storylines in the RP, and fewer steady players. Any RP sim wants steady players, as well as an influx of interesting new ones, but without that, sims get pretty desolate.

Play on Doomed gets dark, frequently, gets frightening frequently--it is, after all, a survival horror sim--but as the owners sat down and evaluated what they wanted the sim to be, they decided that keeping the dark and horrific aspects were fine, they'd just eliminate the sex. (And to be fair, most people weren't treating Doomed as a gang orgy sim, anyway.)

(from the haunts album; the child of darkness at play atop the dome above Doomed)

3. No child avatars in inappropriate situations as per the SL TOS.
What determines a child avatar, anyway? Because I'd as soon toss out the raver kitten as inappropriate, than this particular child, as long as she stays in non-Adult zones...but still, I'd have reservations about her attire.

Some side by side shots for comparison.

--=APPROPRIATE=----=INAPPROPRIATE=--

Seems fairly self-explanatory, right? Let me see if I can find more.


Seems to work.


See what I mean? Their point isn't that you can't RP a child on the Doomed ship, but come up with a good reason why a child would be on the Doomed ship. Like...a generation ship drifted into the Persephone's path, limping along on one engine, and the crew frantically scrambled aboard via [something scientific sounding]. Ergo, children on Doomed.

Or an entity was drawn to the distress beacon (alien origin)/an entity came through the portal (demonic origin), and proceeds to wreak havoc on the ship. Thus, children on Doomed.

Pick your poison; with a little bit of creativity, it can work in your favor, but you have to commit to the position. The position, in this case, being no happy, bouncy, lithping kids poking lollipops into the faces of the corpses in the halls; there has to be a solid reason for a child to be on Doomed, and it has to be a specific kind of child.

And you can't do anything not authorized by the Lindens; so no children in zones with Adult toys, and no children ageplaying with adults in sexual ways. Keep that in mind, and you'll be fine (and the owners of Doomed will breathe a great sigh of relief, too).

I think this one's getting long, so I'll do more with it later. Look for part II soon!