Friday, August 31, 2007
We took a further walk on Sunday; leaving your wonderful basilica in the sky and dropping back down to ground level. I wonder if it's possible to do the same trek at 300m? What different and wonderful things would we see?
We came to the coast and followed it along, passing some more large tracts of land for sale. A short way further, in Leiter, we found a build "Arts Against Wars"; some powerful stuff there about the goings on in Baghdad and Palestine. What a total waste! I did resolve to go and see the "Baghdad Streets" exhibition; haven't got round to it yet though.
The marinas of Gogol and ocean of Mathis marking the end of the continent, we started to TP our way from island to island across the ocean. We met with Felicity Chatworthy on Charmers Isle; stopped and chatted for a while before stumbling across Club Infinity; one of those deserted clubs you were referring to in your post.
After breaking there for the night, it wasn't until last night, Thursday, that we managed to get together and resume our walk. Strictly speaking, the next destinaiton should be "Employment Guide", but we decided to take the opportunity to explore Corsica before it gets overrun with gawdy "For Sale" signs and while an av has the freedom to roam the rolling hills. Almost immediately, however, we ran into this.
Ah well, at least the terrain widened out fairly quickly. We found some nice open rolling plains and had a great time enjoying the huge vistas (with draw distance set to 512, of course!) and getting rained on! We stumbled across a small set of builds; one of which was Roxelana's Madhatter Designs; where I found a nice pair of panda hats for mah sugah Alexi and her sister Sol. She's still building, but go check it out, and tell her I sent you!
Stumbling on a little further, we came across a nice little hall in which we could camp for the night (/me winks) and there we left it; resting easy for the march back to Infinity and the TP across to the next island...
Hope all is well with you,
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Senator Larry Craig had needs, one of those is the need to have sex with men. But another need seems involved the need for the power and transgression. Let me leave the homosexual element out of it, and just focus on the question why he was in a place where there had been enough complaints to have an investigation. One explanation is that he was there for whatever the investigation was for. The scenario is that word got out in the sex in the air community, where things move fast, that a particular weather had settled on that place. So that is one: he wanted the transgression and the police officer was there for the same reason.
But it had reached the point of complaints. A second scenario is that Senator Larry Craig wanted to see if he could walk out. That is with people falling like flies around him, a flash of a business card would have him striding out. He had taken kink to another level, and showed by his power and pride, that he was of the elect, the elite. The chosen.
A third scenario is that he wanted a police officer. He wanted to get the officer to have sex with him, and then let him go. I remember the ringing of text in my eyes in SL "You just gave me a freebie, slut."
Why do I ask this?
Because it is a drum beat in my small brain, how there is a collision of power and sex in our society, and no one wants to delve into it beyond rearranging their prejudices in infinite variation. How there is a vicious consumerism for prejudice in every quarter and every place of our intellectual lives, that has turned this into a carnival of partisan, party or personal interst matters little, without asking.
What story brought Larry Craig to that place, and how is it our story. Isn't the pattern of eliteness now to engage in progressively greater outrages, and expect the card of privilege to be a door out?
There is a heart of darkness to our society, not just America, but in the whole consumer world. I know, I serve the world's needs.
Unfortunately we will not find that heart of darkness, because anyone who approaches the road to it, will be howled down. It is bread and circuses that we want.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
We are going to have licenses for providing sex services and building services in SL. I will play because I have to keep doing what I do. But it means that there is going to be defections, lots of them, the first day that someone opens a VR where people can make things. Kaneva? Are you listening? Get a mac client and let me build, and I am there part time. Let me actually get compensated, through say paypal, and I am there full time.
Now consider the SL standard for running a "bank." There is none. I can set up ATMs any place I can get permission, and call it a "bank." Now this is completely illegal of course, but SL doesn't verify financial institutions in world, nor do those financial institutions have to comply with any local banking laws.
That's LL for you: require people to get a license to do what is legal, but not require anything to do what is openly illegal. I'll believe otherwise about LL when they require that financial institutions show that they have complied with local laws, and everyone can easily check what laws the bank or stock exchange is operating under, and there are flags to prevent people from using them who are not within the bank's legal sphere of operations.
Will this do anything? Not really for most people. I will bet a great deal of money, because I have examples of how things work now, that "restricted" will not be enforced, because mature isn't enforced now. I have proof of this.
What this is really about is assuring married guys that they are doing it with a girl, and don't have to let on that they are married, and protecting LL from accusations of minors seeing dirty pictures for free. Voice isn't working for the first, because, as I warned people before, plenty of women don't want their voices spattered over the internet. This system won't do anything about the second, because a minor that wants to fish through their parents drawers, wallets or purses, can get everything they need for the second. There are already escorting groups in sl, I won't mention any names, that "verify" the escorts, and then have people run several escort alts, often 5 or 6 at a time, that have been "verfied." This isn't going to actually provide any assurance to anyone, at all, over anything, unless LL starts providing stalking fodder and having your address in your profile.
What this is not about is the law.
In second life the holy triangle that produces growing and living social experience is content, provider and user.
Content people make things, like clothes. They don't spend as much time in world, because they are busy in Blender, Photoshop or Poser. They make your clothes in world, perhaps, but mostly they are in an application, and are in world long enough to test it. They often don't have much time in world. It is amazing how often I have just written to a designer and made a friend, because the designer does not meet many people.
Providers manage the world. They are in world, building malls, clubs, providing escort services and so on. Providers at the top spend less time in world because they are managing websites and staff, but they are still intimately connected with being in world and managing the social intricacies of Second Life. Some content people spend a great deal of time in world, like scripters and builders, but they are often "busy" with their work.
Users are what bring the two together. Even if a club is just run for fun, even if a designer is only working for their own amusement, there have to be users to make the work really worth while. What good is a club, if the floor is always empty.
That triangle coming together is the key to making anything in Second Life, especially money. The provider creates a location, a reason to come someplace in Second Life. Content people rent mall space or come to the conferences and and meetings. Users are drawn to the place, and they buy things there, and provide activity. The content they buy makes their social presence more valuable, by looking good and having more capabilities in world. This is the second life "triangle of fire."
There are two other triangles. One is the corporate triangle of business that wants presence, corporate provider like Millions of US. The third is "audience." This is a less powerful triangle, as the number of large, expensive, flashing, but empty builds shows. Has Playboy knocked any of the big three out of contention? No, because the build is a disaster! It is my contention that many businesses need to realize that going to a corporate website for a build is often waste of their money, because the corporate builder is a content shop, and does not have providers.
The third triangle is the one that is killing Second Life: scammer, spammer and parasite/noob. The scammer provides poor quality content, the spammer provides low quality social interaction and camping, the parasite camps, and the noob is the one fleeced. Go to the Red Light District, look at the amount of pirated content for sale their. The scammer spends his or her money on camping and creating a fake crowd, and therefore does not have the ability to charge for real content. Instead, they rely on people who, trained by the World Wide Web to look at the top few hits on Google and assume the rest are pretty much the same, to get fleeced. I've seen freebie dresses sold for 1000L, freebie cocks for 500L, 1000L clubs on 50K of land offered for sale at 200K. I am not making any of those examples up.
Ultimately, while there are many different levels how the people in the triangle of fire work, and many levels of quality and taste, the prices are actually sensible relative to each other. If you look at Vindi Vindaloo's prices, and Last Call's prices, they work out to being much the same for the relative qualities. The camping farms like "Sexy Land" charge much more for much less. To take my own example. I rent an advertisement at "Ami's Place." I get real business from it, and real clients. Ami Lang is a provider, and her space works. She works hard at making her space work. As an experiment, I rented an advertisement for over twice as much at Sexy Land. I got zero touches for my notecard for the 500L I spent. I get, regularly, about 5K to 10K of business a week from Ami's Place, or regulars I met there. 0L for 500L or 7.5K for 200L. Which makes more sense? Camping farm clubs may charge 200L for an advertisement, but they deliver no business.
This means that ultimately, real providers: whether Twisted Orchid/Bondage Sex Dungeon, Bad Girls, Paris 1900, Arsheba, Phat Cats or the small gay club in Sterling Mall I used to go to relax from work in, are all in the same position. They want to find people with a real devotion to the game. Providers hire other providers: the escorts and dancers who work a club are providers. They want users who are willing to devote real outside world money to playing, or who are successful providers in their own right. As an escort, I am a good customer of good designers.
Very successful content people don't need providers on the surface. Lost and Amby don't need anyone else's mall. But this is a mistake. The provider for much of SL isn't the club. It is land. The land earl who creates a pleasant residential space. People making their home dreams come true. Just as there are good land earls and even some good land barons, much of the business is dominated by people who don't make sims better, but worse. For every Raymond Figtree who is conscientious about how he treats mainland, there are dozens of ad farmers and spam splitters who put a freebie house on a lot, and charge double the price. Why not? It works!
Linden Labs has consistently sided with the scammer triangle, and to a lesser extent with the corporate triangle, and against the user triangle. They have had their reasons. One reason is that the scammer triangle creates pumped up numbers, and the corporate triangle creates headline articles in the business press. These have been, until recently, the two kinds of publicity that Linden Labs has depended upon: "Make money! Lots of people to reach!" The people in this triangle may say We are all in this together but I don't see that from where I live.
However, the third triangle is the real user base, the people from which the money to be made is made, and the people who tell the rest of the world about Second Life. They are also the ambassadors to Second Life, the mentors, the volunteers, the activity. It is users that people go to meet, not botcampers. And these users, while they love VR, and love their role in Second Life, are very angry and disappointed. While fleecing people for $50 or $100 and waiting for the next unshorn sheep is a good business model when people are flooding through the doors, it is less good when the user base has stabilized. The scammer kills the game, because he cashes out the whole value of a real world person, and provides nothing but a story of playdo sex and eerie quiet.
Many important businesses on Second Life are in trouble, or are producing less and less return. LL is sucking up the profits from Second Life into tier, and its recent crash of the land market has made many people who bought land not for speculation but for their work in Second Life down hundreds of dollars before they even started. LL's pursuit of voice was a product both of corporate demand, which wants voice presentations in VR space, and of camping: one fast way for people to find people is voice. The voice design only allows one voice connection per IP, which cuts out multi-camping.
Witness how little an impact voice has made on Second Life to realize how much effort was spent on a feature that the user base, and the future user base, does not really need.
Earlier this year there was an escalating "camping war," as providers, working hard to stay in the top 20 popular places, put in more and more camping. This started a dismal spiral. More camping means a nastier experience, and less room for actual users. Real users stopped coming, camping costs escalated as casinos paid higher and higher camping rates. I knew that it would stop: instead people would provide only enough camping to get to the top of their little world, because you can't compete, in the end, with people who sell 0L goods for 100L, 500L or more. They can pour everything into camping, or allow all the user space to be dominated by newbies pumping on pose balls, because they will make it back on the first noob who doesn't know that those five wedding dresses are everywhere for almost nothing.
LL has started to wake up. One reason was the Casinos were hurting them. A casino may rent a couple of sims, and may dump some money into the economy, but most of the money goes right back out again. Why wouldn't people set these up? They are vending machines in cyberspace. Come around once a week and empty the coins and dollar bills. But LL has allowed other activities, equally illegal, which pour money into LL: namely fake banks and fake stock exchanges. These pay set up costs on sims. A person who rents a sim from LL does not get the option of stopping renting it and keeping the use of the software, even if disconnected from the grid. Imagine the value of having your own sim, even if people had to log in as a new account on an open grid.
LL needs to realize that if Second Life becomes known as the Nigeria of virutal reality, it will never get the consumer base that it craves. Regular people avoid places that they have to fear for their money. While getting the money back from the collapse of Ginko isn't going to happen, the wisest course that LL can take is to look at them as no different than gambling. Sooner or later the people who run these places will cash out and run, leaving behind the wreckage of LL's loyal content, provider and user bases who know have had a year of their lives wiped out.
But the real reason is that the scammer cycle has basically peaked. LL needs to start retaining players, that is people who really want to have fun in world, because they are not getting wave after wave of people who just adopt. They are also facing IBM. IBM, just by announcing that they are working on a platform, has given corporations reason to wait. Why take a chance on very buggy software from an unknown provider, when better software from IBM is coming?
LL's last year of robbing its user base blind, and it has done so by crashing the land market and favoring scammers, has left it with a content, provider and user base that is angry and often depressed. Many people in this base have lost huge amounts of mony in the scambanks. Many of these people have set up clubs or places, in expectation of incoming people, which would overflow the current places, and found, instead, that the current big places are just barely able to hold on to their space. Great builds have risen and fallen in months, because the flow of customers didn't come.
No small part of that is how people like me, who love what we do in Second Life, talk to other people. We warn them that Second Life is like the web before google: great if you love it, but it doesn't really work yet. This "anti-word of mouth" is killing, because while people may hop into Second Life because of a television program or newspaper article, if they are to stay, they need to have friends who will help them sort through the mountains of freebie content, and get to the few dozen that matter. I have 18,000 objects in inventory. Many of these are the freebies that lie around every place. Only a few hundred are worth it.
The other reality is that the scammers are hurting second life in another way. Many of the camper bots are people who actually want to participate in second life. But the camping farms don't give them a good start. On the contrary, camping farms want you to camp, but they then sell you back the freebies for hours of camping rates. I regularly see people who have been in game for months looking like they are fresh off the island, only with the imfamous "One Linden Woodie," you know the one I mean, and a pair of non-flexy unscripted wings. Maybe they have some bought clothes. They could look better just by visiting Yedo or Free Dove in an hour. They don't realize it, but by not using their hair coupons, they have lost about 1400L worth of completely free, high quality content.
They want to be here, but they are trapped in the dismal world of slugly content.
I have finally gotten the idea that will help change things: two new continents.
One would be new mainland, but instead of a Russia-style big bang auction, the land would be for sale by invitation only. Invite all the dozens of best small providers a simple deal: new land on the new continent, in connected parcels at sim corners, in return for releasing the land they have to "Governor Linden." No more than one quarter of every sim would be "commercial." "Buy" would be disabled on the rest of the sim, and it would be offered to large residences, and high value coastal residences by invitation. So you would have a balance of processor chewing commercial and good looking residential.
The second one would be a "user super-continent." Get the large providers, the best clubs and real providers, to move all their islands into a single connected archipeligo. Offer them the move for free, and a discount on tier. Make it worth their while, but also have a bit of a stick. This user super-continent would have every good club, and every good mall on it. The advantage for LL is that these continents would be show places for the best of Second Life, and thus both a publicity draw, and a place where the information needed to really know what content costs and what it is worth, could be in one place. Let current mainland become basically residential. Disallow sales of parcels below a certain size on both continents, so no ad farms.
The deal would be compelling: trade rapidly devaluing mainland in the slugly lands, for land in a new, better, place. In return, LL gets what it really needs, a happy triangle of fire, and a growing city.
LL has tried to outsource this to people like Anshe, and Anshe's continent of Plush is a good example of what Second Life can look like. But it is tiny compared to the volume of SL, and it is very pricey compared to what people will pay. Anshe will still be making money: because an LL that grows will have an even larger market for people willing to pay a super-premium for ready to use aesthetically pleasing builds.
This Russia model has not worked. Not my description, but as soon as what happened in Russia in the 1990's was explained to me, it "clicked" as to what had happened in SL. People selling things, without actually producing anything didn't lead to a better Russia. In fact, the people who I know tell me, Russia is headed back to being a dictatorship based on oil with people living shorter, unhappier lives.
So that is my simple plan: take the cream of Second Life, put them in two places, near each other to be moved around, create a sensible zoning plan, and ban camping while ending "traffic" as the way of sorting anything in "search." By concentrating the good content, and it is possible to find it by having user ratings that really work and by using web links through SURLs, Second Life gets a "best of the metaverse." It needs it to convince people that LL's Second Life is not just one big sprawl of camping farms, scams and orgy rooms.
The triangle of fire needs it, because only if there is a closer contact of real places can real users be grabbed and maintained. There is a reason why every developed nation has zoning and planning, and that is that the incentive to make other people's lives worse for money needs to be taken away, to reward the people who make people's lives better. Even if that is a second life.
Or LL can just keep doing what it is doing, and die under a stream of complaints from users about how Second Life is just too hard to use. LL is relying on users to make content, and even fix bugs in their software. But if the ability to make a living in VR is gone, then there is no flow of content. I asked a techie friend about how open source got so much free software, when SL had proprietary almost everything. He said "D'oh, open source is driven by people who have work to do, they are paid for it, and they release their tool to the public and work with other tools. Until every company has a VR piece, filled with people doing VR as their day job, they will have to charge for their work in Second Life."
Hmmmm. That makes sense to me.
So there it is, it needs shape as a manifesto, or declaration. But it can work, it will not take that much work. For the people who want to run camp and scam places, it isn't much solace. They will have as an audience people who don't want to spend money in game, but want "irc with pictures," and whose idea of foreplay is "hop on the poseball, slut!"
Because right now, LL's time is measured in how long it takes someone to come out with a VR that people can make their own content, or get good free content, and invites them over under some generous set of terms similar to these: "here have a free sim! Just put your SL land for sale to us at 0L, and we will give you better land in a better VR! And look, more stability and better building tools!"
And Steve Swasey, a spokesman for Netflix, told me that the company would oppose any such effort. The data that people put into Netflix is "proprietary" information, he says; though each customer controls his individual ratings, every rating is used to fuel Netflix's recommendations engine, and that engine is a competitive advantage for Netflix. Trying to pull out your ratings after you've enjoyed the recommendations "is like asking for your money back from Disneyland after you've enjoyed the rides," Swasey told me. (Blockbuster also does not offer a way to export your queue and ratings to other services.)
The Second Life web page may say that this is "owned" by its residents, but that simply isn't so. I can't back up my inventory. I can't back up my builds easily, and I can't move them to another provider, the way I could with a blog.
Monday, August 27, 2007
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.
The reality is that infidelity, both virtual and headed for real, is the national passtime of second life. People may chatter about the direct sex industry of dancers, cam girls and escorts, but it is the indirect sex industry that is much larger. The world of couples doing things in private homes, or groups....
And many of these couples are not married to each other rl.
I've known many flavors of married sex on second life, the mirror what couples do in real life. From couples who have relationships that assume a wide variety of experience, to the more usual expectations of fidelity. But what is fidelity? The answer is very simple: if your partner thinks it is cheating, it probably is. The great infidelity only culminates in sex, it is the heart being unfaithful is time and attention.
I think that this lies at the heart of guilt and marriage. At a certain point, it seems that almost all marriages become about worry and disappointment. And hope, even such a hope as virtual worlds provides becomes alluring. I think any relationship dies, when the ability to get through to that soft comfort of another human being becaumse fraught with the perils of disappointment. When aman turns his gaze away, and grunts that kind of grunt that says his attention is elsewhere. You have lost him, and are no longer his precious.
For me, in my position, it isn't my part ot ask whether what you are doing with me is "cheating," that's your business, and I can't pry. I also have many people who are divorced or separating come to me, to heal the pain, and find solace.
In all of these i find that the common ingredient is simply this: that the partners have put other things in front of intimacy, and sexual intimacy in particular. They have made it a reward for good behavior, rahter than the basis for being together. Women throw dogs a bone. Men pet the cat just enough before heading back to their private obsessions. Each turns away.
And what is left behind is the lost sense that there once was.
Falling in love is as painful as fallling out, the difference is that our bodies are feeding us good drugs that send pleasure rushing to the far distant reaches of our brains, to cover over the pain of missing, longing, insecurity, jealousy and crawling need.
I think we will realize soon that the nuclear family and the pair bonding myth need to be revised. Yes human beings form deep pair bonds, often for life. But we should not build our society on the artificial expectation of absolute fidelity for ever as the precondition for any form of marriage.
But times are going to work, I think, toward pushing people together physically, while peeling them back from each other virtually. I think we will see more and more people huddled together for the need of money and stability, while feeling less and less at home with them personally. Holding on, but holding out.
It is an unhappy future we face, unless we let go of our inhibitions, nad really talk about what is, and is not, the boudnaries of a relationship. I think also we need to realize that the grinding away at the soul of America, a grinding away I see and feel all around me, must also end, because it drives peopel to despair who otherwise would not feel it.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
This key point, that there is an interactivity between users and the world, however borked the economy and software are, is what drives the possibility of VR in the future, how long did it take people to learn HTML? How many people don't know any but use the web. No compare that with the number of people who learn at least a modicum of scripting in SL.
This is what this article is missing. SL is not 3D, it is 6D. Time, scripitng and people are the other dimensions. Just like the real world, it isn't just the static space, but how it moves. It is how people use that space.
Second Life, and any vr system which gives people the ability to work through the implications of a building or idea with people using it. Not just for bricks and mortar, but for structures and systems.
This ability, to test ideas, viral code and ideas, in a world filled with people trying to get the things they need and want, is invaluable.
And that is what IBM and others who see the long term of SL are here for.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Nova and everyone associated with Sexgen were polite, helpful, and capable. The answered all my silly questions and were always patient. I can't say enough good things about them.
Maybe Sexgen should be running LL's customer service?
Friday, August 24, 2007
The problems with LL and SL are deep, and growing deeper. The present political and economic arrangements are intolerable, and we can see this because people are voting with their fingers and not logging into Second Life, and not spending Linden. LL is not a reliable service provider, and our so called leadership that has self-appointed arrogance as its power base is intolerable.
The Open Letter project, to be blunt, is counter-productive and has been halting real progress at putting real pressure on LL. It is counter-productive because it sets at each other's throats two groups of people who should be working together. Look at my profile in sl. What does it say.
That is correct, it says "payment information not on file."
Why is this? LL can't even keep track of where my prims are, how can I expect it to keep track of my financial information? I know for a fact that LL gives out that information for all sorts of reasons, as do individual Lindens. A company that cannot be trusted to keep track of its own asset servers, and which has a "We don't have to obey the law or respect your rights," as their corporate culture, is not someone that I, or anyone, should feel comfortable about giving personal information too.
The unverified are the pool of cheap labor that many content providers use to run their clubs, build, script and so on. We, the unverified, buy things from people. The problem is not we, the unverified, but the traffic system, and the camping system that grows up in the wake of it. The Open Letter project has gotten one narrow slice of people to sign it, but there is a much larger slice of people, myself included, who are not just not going to sign it, but who are completely opposed to it, and the way it is run. That's being as nice as I can be. I've held my tongue several times, because I know the people running the project don't listen on this point, and will never listen. I have private thoughts on what this means, but this is a public post. A few thousand people is a drop of water compared to the active user base, much of which is, and will remain, unverified.
Instead the solution is to abolish traffic as the search system, and replace it with inbound SURL links in web pages, weighted by their Second Life related authority. It will take programming to do this, but a great deal less than the clean up after the problems that the current system causes. Sim crashes, asset problems, lag and assorted other problems are directly rooted in traffic. Again, I am being as diplomatic about this as I can.
Then ban camping and parking. Just ban them.
Throttling is vicious, stupid and evil as an idea. It is also going to be ineffective, because all it will do, with an open source client world, is start an arms race to build more and more sophisticated ways to log in over and over and over and over again until success is achieved. There are bot ways to create Google Mail accounts, and there will be bot log ins. The camper, since he or she does not care about having access to a particular avatar at a particular time, will be able to cycle through 10, 20, 40 alts even if you block a log in for some period of time after a failure. The unverified player like myself, will have no use for them, because unreliable access to our real avatars is no access at all. Reduce the number of people who can camp, and it will just mean that the dedicated camphackers will have more to themselves. Fewer real players, more hackers and problems. Bad idea.
Again, I'm being diplomatic.
The productive solution is to end traffic and end camping. It is clear that LL has mechanisms to ban gambling and the kinds of payout patterns associated with it. Ending camping would be just as possible, since campers who are paid only at the end of some long period of time will soon learn that they will be scammed often, and paying up front for camping is not going to happen for the same reason. The micro-payment camping culture is the result of the corrupt paying the parasitic.
The camping culture becomes an arms race. Even people like me, who hate it, have to participate in it, even if it is just to the extent of getting friends to stay logged in, and staying logged in myself. Major designers pay for camping, which is absurd. Vindi shouldn't need window washers. And isn't there a better use for the CMU mocap database?
Camping farms are even worse still. They overcharge for freebies, because people coming in with money to spend go their first. They get taken for hundreds or thousands of Linden of being overcharged, and then go away from SL because they are disgusted. I've put ads in camping farms, and they overcharge for their fake traffic, and produce no results for it. They are, all the way around, useless for players of SL.
LL has an interest in camping, because it produces fake high traffic numbers, and they use this to convince people that SL has users. But many of those users aren't. LL in turn was driven to push voice, because voice is a way of getting users to find each other amidst all the bots.
But the players of SL, the people logged in and doing things, even if some of the time, don't. Even campers are not better off, because they are paying into a system that keeps prices out of reach for them. Most people who camp would much rather be able to play.
Camper culture also creates a something for nothing attitude that fed into Ginko. Many of the people dumping money into Ginko were campers. The game was to multi-camp several avatars, then dump into Ginko. 2000L a week, which many multi-campers I talked to were able to pull down by camping 6 avatars in the best places, piled up at 100% interest looked like it could lead some place. There is even a blog devoted to someone who was going to try and get a million linden by doing nothing.
The problem here isn't unverifieds, because, frankly, the same people who signed the open letter want them camping, they just want to have fewer of them, so they can get the benefits of camper culture for less. I'm again going to be diplomatic and avoid drawing rl comparisions, because they are odious. But they are there. The problem is that people are paid to do bad things, and not paid to do good things. We don't pay people for interesting conversation, that is supposed to be free. We pay people to camp and resell freebies at astronomical mark ups. Is it any wonder that good conversation is harder to find than camper farms?
But the solution must go farther than traffic and camping, and must be a cultural change as well. Techie solutions never work as well as people think they will. I have heard for months about how voice would drive men who play female escorts out, and that there would be many fewer women avatars after voice. It hasn't happened. Yes a few men have gone over to being male escorts and dancers, and there are somewhat more het-male escorts now than there were before. But in the main, men who play women on sl do so because, well, they want to walk on the wild side. Just as straight people who play bisexuals or lesbians or homosexuals on sl, do so because they want to do it. The same will be true of any technical solution to our camping problems. People will do a great deal of work to get something for nothing.
Part of the solution is going to have to be a realization that rules and regulations are often good, because they push out dishonesty. Good content providers are hurt by bad ones, just as good dance clubs are hurt by empty camping ones, and good escorts hurt by people who take money and disappear. LL is ideologically in capable of doing this, and that is going to kill SL in the end if not changed. Wikipedia was started by a hard core libertarian, it has a government now, and that government is extensive. Reality intrudes, and the reality is that both outside interests and inside conflicts require some way of mediating them.
This has to start from within SL culture itself. Yes we need to compete, and compete hard, to produce the best. However, that competition needs to be within some rules of the game, that promote the good, and get rid of the bad, rather than just reward the worst for doing their worst. I've been guilty of doing some of the worst, and I know almost everyone else has too, even if they don't admit it. In my defense I will say that the worst has also been done to me a great deal more than I have done it, which is not much of a defense in my eyes.
This is why people come together, because when one little person is where the wheel is crushing them under, they have to do whatever they have to do. But if the wheel itself is stopped, then it is much less common that people do things out of need. There will always be bad people, I know that, and am not saying that there is a happy paradise. I am saying that the work and costs of not having rules and not having structure are now much more, and much worse.
Before there were people rushing through the door to get in. I find an interesting pattern, there are lots of people who were here first in 2004, and lots of people who are within the last year, but very few people in the middle of that. We are losing people faster than we get them. Many people have bet heavily on the good times always rolling, but the daily log in numbers tell the story: the collapse of Ginko marks, even if it didn't cause, a decline in people being logged in.
One friend of mine pointed out that what has effectively happened is that camping wages have been slashed by several factors. He points out that gambling paid the highest camping, he ran a gambling place earlier this year and said he could always pay more than other people to get campers. He also points out that with businesses having less and less money coming in, they are paying for less camping. He goes on to point out that without Ginko effectively doubling camping wages with its interest rates, that, all things taken together, camping wages have been slashed at least by 75%. This has cut out, in his estimation, about 5000 camping logins. I will take his word for it, but even if his estimates are off, I think the results are visible.
I'd also add to this an observation from a major club owner that I know: that because being in the top 20 is now out of reach for almost anyone actually providing content, because to get enough camping to be in the top 20 the sim has to be almost unusably laggy for any other purpose, many people have given up on the camping wars entirely, and provide a bit of camping more as a way of getting people to come in to the club, than as a way of boosting traffic.
In short, the camping culture is killing sl, and it is dying itself as it kills the rest of us.
The time then has come to make a simple point over and over again, the "strategy," if it was one, I don't know if anyone ever sat down and thought about it, of pumping up numbers with campers, and making residents slit each others throats, is coming to an end.
So what about having people buy things in SL? I have a simple proposal. Right now, LL will only let people buy Liden who get verified. End this. Make it so that anyone who wants to buy Linden can, and do so without providing a permanent credit card. Let people buy with one use credit cards, unverified paypal accounts and so. If the barrier to buying Linden is lowered, then more people will do it. I can get iTunes credit for my bottle deposits, why not have LL do the same thing? Type in a code, the code is printed on paper, but has a PIN that was entered in at the time of getting the credit. Anonymous, open, and lets people turn pocket change into Linden. More Linden coming in will be good for the people selling content and services.
So there it is: end traffic and camping, lower barriers to buying Linden, and end the pernicious internal war between groups of users, because, ultimately, the people who want to make in world better are on the same side, merely being forced by a badly designed economy to do things to each other, whether the open letter or camping, which are bad for everyone.
I could be awful and point out that this is liberalism, capitalism and democracy, and I think I will be. What we have now isn't any of them, but feudalism, mercantilism and aristocracy. These are inherently bad ways of doing things versus more modern things, and it is time to end the experiment of seeing whether the digital world can roll the clock back to 1700 and still work. It doesn't, that world died because it was no good to the core, and we should be dancing on its grave, and not digging up its corpse and engaging in social necrophilia. I'm serious, this is perverted in ways that anything people do with virtual sex in SL doesn't begin to match.
There, I've broken my rule against writing about the big picture. I know that there are going to be big costs, because even what I have said will make me unwelcome in various places. I know that is the case, and I am willing to pay that price, because people who won't listen to reason, and there are some who won't, aren't worth talking to, and can't be friends in the long run. I won't maintain contacts at the cost of conscience. I'm a pixel prostitute, but not, quite, a whore.
I'm sorry for the hurt that that will cause, but sometimes the circumstances require telling people that friendship, as a moral obligation, has to bow before citizenship, as an ethical one. I can no longer sit silent as someone who writes, and watch Linden Labs engage in selfish corruption, camping culture engage in selfish consumption, and the so-called leadership of Second Life's residents pursue self-centered final solutions to the problems of LL, so long as they don't have to pay anything for those solutions. Instead, it is time to realize that that only by acting in the general interest that we can make this world work. I include Linden Labs, which is a for profit venture and has every reason to expect to be able to profit from the work that they do, just not dump the costs on to their user base and say "we are a service provider! We aren't responsible for the carnage we create!"
I am a citizen of Second Life, and I am here to say that it is time that citizens of second life demand their inherent right to have a say under the rules which govern their lives, and have the inherent duty to use that inherent right to do good as we understand the good. This will result, I know, in decisions I won't like. But so does the system as it is. It will result, I am sure, in a better, but far from perfect, Second World.
If that makes me a pariah in some houses, and I know it will, then it is the price that must be paid for the liberties which Second Life has given me. Liberties I hold as precious, and which others do as well.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
For me, and this is only for me and for no other, one of the concepts which is most often made a mess of, is the distinction between top and bottom, versus dom and sub. Many people treat them interchangeably. This, in my experience, particularly on sl, is not at all a good way of looking at it.
In my own private world, a dom is the person who is demanding respect, and has authority. They often control the shape of the scene and what is to be done. A Top, however, is the person who is doing the work. Tops like to do to other people, but that is not the same as making the decisions, and having the authority. A master who likes his slaves to service him may be every bit and inch a dom, but he may also prefer to lie back and let other tongues do the rowing.
Escorting, I am almost always expected to be the top, particularly when the man has his hands, well otherwise occupied. But I am very often not in control of the scene. In fact, that is what paying gets, ultimately, the power to set aside what I want, and I have my own wants, for what the client wants. It is also the expectation that I am going to have my hands firmly on the keyboard and mouse, doing things to bring pleasure to my partner.
Many people get uncomfortable with the idea that they are a bottom, particularly men who place a great deal of their identity in being masters. The "top" is merely yet another way of thinking of themselves in powerful doing terms. In distancing themselves from anything they see as related to being gay or feminine. At the same time, some subs seem to be uncomfortable with the idea that they are tops, in that they like to do to someone else, actively and continually. They just don't like to have to make decisions, they want their energy to be directed and unleashed.
Dominant bottoms want submissive tops, it is a natural combination, one likes to make decisions and be pleased, the other to have decisions made, and please. It is not uncommon for men to be willing to trade dominance for the ability to unleash the power of their sex on a woman's body, to actively have her, and to lavish their physical attention on her, and on those parts of her body which attract them most.
Dominant tops come in two types. One kind, as you would expect, likes submissive bottoms, a lush target for their energies, a canvas for their sexual art. However, another set of dominant tops, likes the submissive top. The idea being to have a collision of activity and desire, a ball of need that roars over the other, and a storm of doing.
Many people are fluid in being top or bottom, just as people are often fluid in wanting to control or be controlled. This fluidity of role again, is often interrupted by how someone thinks of the label.
Which is why labels are more useful in inner vocabulary, as guides to experience, because as soon as they become spoken, the associations of the words scatters outward, into the anxieties of the ears, and away from hard won wisdom.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Wish You Were Here? #1
Well, a few days ago, mah sugah, Alexi, went off on a walk. She's PST and I'm GMT, so it's hard to get together for that sort of thing; we tend to spend our limited time together either hanging out or listening to music. So, with some Swedish friends, Gordon and Yrsa, I decided it would be kinda fun to do a walk as well.
The ground rules: we can't TP over obstacles unless there is no other way around. We can't run or use vehicles (except to cross water). We can leave the walk and resume; but we must take a LM from the spot we leave and go back there to continue.
The most essential part of any trip is to be well prepared, so we went out and bought some good hiking boots, a robust backpack and some comfortable clothes, brought up the map and zoomed out. We picked a sim about as far as we could find at such a low magnification (private islands don't show up very well, and wouldn't be much fun for a walk anyway!). We landed on Egill, in the far northeast corner of the sim.
The first evening's walk was hard going. The sims around here are hard going; lots of little islands or open stretches of water, lots of ban lines and too much lag, but we made it about halfway across the continent and did make a few friends at a seedy dive called the Riff Rock Club http://slurl.com/secondlife/triplefin/22/226/38/
We stayed at the club for about half an hour chatting to the locals and moved on; our feet starting to itch yet again.
The rest of the evening's walk was a nightmare of lag and getting stuck in walls; so we gave up and turned in for the night, having already crossed about half the continent.
The following day, we restarted; firstly exploring a ski ramp that we hadn't noticed previously (sadly, no skis!) before continuing on, having a short chat with a nice lady who then, weirdly, started to follow us. She remained at a discreet distance - 60-90m, but she was there for most of the evening.
We came across some houses. Being hungry, and with the door locked and no-one in, we *gasp* broke in. We raided the fridge, bounced on the bed and looked at the interesting list chalked up on a board on the wall. Feeling slightly guilty about our criminality, we left a present for the residents and smashed another window to get out.
We wandered into a small sex shop; the usual fare here and after a brief pause to look around and tut disapprovingly (hehee) we moved on across a forest of spinning "For Sale" signs. Now, I don't know about you, but one thing that's guaranteed to put me off buying land is a jungle of spinning signs. Especially on a series of 32m plots! So, after sitting and chatting for a while about buying land, ban lines and stealing from fridges, we moved on up the hill.
We arrived at the water's edge, but not wanting to leave for the next continent quite yet, we decided to swing down the coast a little. After a short while walking past the usual modern beachouses and tiki huts we bumped into this strange, beautiful figure, resplendent in a flowing gown, stood alone in the midst of a great hall of marble. She seemed to be AFK, but then after waving a hand in front of her face, she came to life. That, dear Lillian, was you. You invited these three strangers in, gave them a tour of your wonderful home and provided us with the most wonderful opportunity; the chance to share our journey with you and your readers.
Unfortunately, that's where the walk had to end for the evening. One of my friends back home, Kasha, IMed me to tell me something was wrong with O'Toole's Pub (an Irish-themed pub I built on Happy Clam Island). So, being a bit of a retentive about such things, I just had to TP back to sort out the problem. Not much; I'd accidentally rezzed a few parts of another building there earlier in the day and hadn't noticed! Oops! A quick round of deletions and off to bed.
So, we'll be continuing our journey tonight and we hope to see many more wonderful things before we finally arrive home. Oh, and on your advice, I've set up a Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11926975@N06/
I'll write again soon and let you know how we progress
Have fun, wherever your travels take you,
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I rezed it in my skybox, and the whole simulator went down about 10 minutes later. When I logged back on, was gone, and was no where in inventory. I did the inventory dance. I went to the website to try and find a form for lost inventory, but searching the website brought up an error.
So now I am going to document my journey to get back what is rightful mine: a very expensive, relative to the size of the sl economy, sex bed. Think about it, I am paid 750L :15 of sex. The bed is then, about 1/2 of a week's earnings at escorting, and that is gross earnings. Take out the tier I pay to the owner of the land, and it is about two weeks of profits. How would you like two weeks of your part time job, before taxes, taken away from you?
I'm told by some people that it won't come back, by others that it will reappear, I don't know, I haven't had anything lost like this before. I've had things accidentally drop into an object, only to be found in the object's contents folder later... But not "rez and sim crashes"....
Sigh. This is my property, I paid for a license to use software, that's really all I want back: the license to use software that I paid a great deal for relative to the size of my income here.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Even though the clock, it has no hands.
The alarm is ringing, singing, singing
Even though the clock, it has no face.
Oh how I would sing in screams as that alarm,
please let me twitch and struggle,
as those hands once chased long and short,
for centuries wrought round.
Into the hallowed darkness you come,
and touched me softly be willing hands,
demurly, I curled my legs and sat
on edge of eager bed.
There were rivers of smooth words,
and I crystal eyes,
brightly gazed at your gorgeous flesh
until the words were only a murmured mist,
that rose up out of cataract of passion's flood.
And then this sweet ceremony of ettiquette done,
my whole self folded into the ocean that is your mind,
one urge swelled to join that inner sea with tat infinite plane of ideas,
that in your thoughts bring future to storming present.
You twisted my face to yours without prelude,
my lips the queen of cups became for you to drink from,
the whole of I was chalice for the thirst of you.
And yet this still position locked by your strength,
was freedom two degrees too much.
The ties that bind must bind,
and they must be tied.
In slow loops they came,
one over another wonder winding wound.
My succelent orbs were yanked exposed
my skirts ripped and to the air exposed
the shaking of my raptured flesh.
The air it danced upon my secrets,
rippled with desire and then with fear.
I bled sweet liquid with passions wound.
And then thrust to bed and lurched
to taut arabesque,
sprung to steel position,
so ready for your use.
My hands are tied,
the ligature writ on my slender wrists,
my face is buried deep in pillow's dark
the fabric is my air.
I have no hands, I have no face,
and yet I am the measure of what is time.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
It is not the build, which is cluttered. Nor is it particularly the quality of the dancing, which is slightly better than average. Instead it is the steady accumulation of people who have found other people they like, and the generally intelligent and lively conversation and friendliess. In a Second Life that has many dank and dismal BDSM places, and many sex places which are loaded with crudity, profanity and newbie cocks, the House of V features people with well done avatars, good manners, and a commitment to staying in character in the setting. It is generally well equiped in its private areas, though suffers from the usual, though not more than usual, ball sprawl...
One important aspect of the House of V is the "anything goes" "Member Days" Tuesdays and Fridays, where members are given license to do anything to anyone else, guest or employee. This one day "Hard ALley" situation means different things to different people. SOme people avoid the place on that day, others don't miss it.
Every TUESDAY and FRIDAY is Member’s Free For All. Any paid up House of V member can have the free use of anybody they find at House of V on these days (Midnight to Midnight SLT). This includes escorts, dancers, staff and non-member visitors. They will be warned! It can include other members if they say yes. Only personal hard limits apply
This easy going style also stands in sharp contrast to the more high gothic and high drama stance of Twisted Orchid. There is clearly room in Sl for both kinds of approach.
In short, relaxed, normal people who are friendly , well mannered, speak well, but none the less, in the lifestyle, at least in sl, and welcoming to new people...
Friday, August 17, 2007
The longer your e-mail signature, the lower down the food chain you are.
Some people put a whole novel in their sig:
Their full name, including "Jr." or "Sr."
Job title, which generally includes both the words "deputy" and assistant.
Streetmail address with mail stop.
Business phone number, with different versions for people dialing from the internal corporate PBX vs. people dialing from outside.
E-mail address. 'Cuz it's not like it's in the "From:" line of every e-mail or anything.
And finish it off with an inspirational quote from Battlestar Galactica.
If that's a description of your signature, then you're a flunky. Time for a Starbucks run, Commander Starbuck.
Some people include signoffs like "Cheers!" and "Thanks!" and "Best!"; others don't bother.
I never gave that one any thought until the New York Times analyzed signoffs and determined that a brisk signoff is tantamount to a brushoff.
This is something else for me to feel self-conscious about. Thanks, New York Times.
Some people's signatures are way too long.
One of my colleagues - actually one of my favorite people in this company, so I'll avoid naming him here - has a twenty-one line e-mail signature, which includes:
Three instant message IDs
URLs for two sites he edits
Second Life avatar name
Name of the location of his office in Second Life
And the office's Second Life co-ordinates, or "SLURL."
Contrary to my earlier observation, this person is actually not a flunky; he has an important position. Wish somebody could get him to slim down his 800-pound e-mail signature.
What should people put in their e-mail signatures? What do you have in yours? Let us know.
For those who are blinking at today's top 20, it is no mistake, Bad Girls is again below the top 20 line. But you also would be wondering why PhatCats is missing. The parcel description has changed to "." but the club and mall are still there and doing their normal traffic.
Ami's place has announced it is dropping camping, and is going to try and make a go of it strictly on escorts and customers. I have been dancing there for the last two weeks, and have watched with interest the changes in the club from a camper driven add space to a big box escort club with a growing number of regulars. Can anyone make a go of it without a mall? Or does Ami Lang have shops in mind for the future?
The Galaxy is a new club that is making a direct run at being a Big Three type club, camper pod driving traffic to an event and strip pole centered dance floor with djs and event hosts trying to convince people that this is the place to hang out. While not the best dancing in SL, they are making a go at raising the quality and providing an experience comparable to Elements.
Xavier's Playmates at Lucia Bay has been empty the times I have been there, except once when the alts of some well known SLers were there swapping stories about shopping. If these individuals are thinking of making Xavier's a regular hang out, it could be a very interesting place.
One of the hidden powers of SL escorting is the pair of properties that comprise Bondage Sex Dungeon and Twisted Orchid, the combine traffic makes them as large as any of the big three, and with lower amounts of camping. I have a profitable ad at BSD and used to work at TO.
I need to write on some of the major boutique clubs in SL of the rpesent time: House of V, Dream Girls Ilsand Empress club Club XTC, dirty Dungeon, Brandy's Dollhouse, Club Pandore and Black House of Music & Mall.
Nuance however, is important, there she was in a pose from one of her signature activiteis, in a sports magazine which has lots and lots of pictures of people in sexualized poses of athletics. This ad cuts people off. Yes slave rowers are hunched over for the same reason that sprinters as the starting gate are, but this ad doesn't suggest coiled speed, but, well a slave ship over-lorded by a white master. Note that none of the runners are anything other than a particular shade of african dark, and are all faceless.
If you need to see how out of touch the top of society is from the bottom, realize that dozens of people had to approve this ad, and none got it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It is no exageration to say that our culture is produced the same way our poultry or our oil is. Chickens lay the eggs, but don't generally get the best of the deal. Sure a few get to star in Purdue commercials. The rest get to see most of their eggs eaten. The same is true with people who produce culture. Some make out very well. The rest get to see other people eat their creative efforts. That's the way it is.
VR is a chance to make progress on something that I believe in: having a vibrant culture that is not connected to this direction. Larry Lessig calls it free culture, and that's not exactly right. And it isn't "bottom up." Bottom up culture is "wanna fuck?" That's what the bottoms (/me giggles) demand random, no cost anything. "Here we are now," as the song goes "entertain us."
However it won't appen if we don't look at it as being an important part of what we share here. Our time here is so fragile.
I don't have big picture suggestions, nor am I going to offer up the kumbaya kind of be nice to local content. On the other hand, real steps are needed, so I'm open to suggestions, and will help as I am able.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I know at this point that I am not going to be one of them, instead, it seems that SL failure is coming soon to me. That's simply the way it is. I can't make gadgets that everyone has to have, I can't promote the shapes I do well enough, even though many of them are far better than shapes sold for much more. People over pay for bad work so that they can find it in a camper ladden search. That is what they want, and what LL wants to provide.
As failure creeps up on me, it seems useful to think about it.
The one thing I am any good at in SL, for money, is being an escort. Part pixel prostitute, part ear to lean on, part whore. There is a difference between being a prostitute and being whore, and it is important to keep in mind the difference. But to make a living at this requires going cam. I don't begrudge cam girls, in fact, because they have taken such a huge piece of their identity and fixed it in video, I hope that they do well. Having paid the price for entry into that world to the patriarchy, or whatever you choose to call a system that pays very smart women lots of money to play with their clit in front of a video camera, I hope in a desperate way that it works out for them. The alternative is so much worse.
I don't feel jealous of London, she is both a wonderful person, and has a gift for doing what people need. A gift I don't have.
Many of the people who have been sl successes are truly nasty people. They are like normal people, only much worse. More hate filled, more control oriented, more vicious. I won't name any names, because it is pointless. Their viciousness as people is part of their success, they know weakness, and they exploit it mercilessly. I can only have respect for people that build empires and work them, because that is their karma.
But I am neither a good sl cog, nor a good gadgeteer, nor a good land lady. In fact, I am much better at being a cog rl. However, it was the point to come her and not be a cog. I can be a cog elsewhere, and be paid well for it.
Failure hurts. I cry about this, dry tears and wet sobs. But it is also the result of the personna I chose and the reasons for being. Instead, I am product. Knowing interesting people like me is what Linden Labs sells. But they are going to squeeze you of all the money, since they control the bridges that you have to pay, and leave none. Since I'm not enough of a whore to be profitable, but too much of one to be invisible, it is me you buy when you pay tier or your membership to LL. And when I go away, there will be someone else to replace me.
There are still hopes for Lillie, I'm writing two novels, and I think I can sell one. There is still hope for my rl, a great deal of it I think.
No, I'm not leaving SL, far from it. This is not a good-bye post by any stretch of the imagination. But from here on in, I am not going to try and be a success, or make an institution. It seems a good time to finish building Yedo, and then see if someone else will run it, or just sell it off. Why pay alot for something I can do in a 30x30 skybox? I can rent space on some island for that, and have my play pay for itself.
I'm sorry to all the people who placed faith in me. I'm not strong enough, or some other things. It is my fault and my own choices, I know.
But that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
Or for those that prefer it in rhyme here.
OP and SL journey...
I think that people naturally have many ways of being, sometimes that means "one partner for life" in some form or another, and usually it means "many short relationships and small number of very important ones." But what is more interesting to me is the question of identity. We have always had many identities, often in relationship to work and private life, and historically, religion as well. Many subsets of our life require we take on different identities, even formally different ones: with different names and pasts.
Digital identity is another example of this, and different from the ones that came before, but not completely different. I am me in all my lives, even if the identity may differ, it is the same personality, more or less. However, being in SL makes it possible to learn how to cultivate parts of that personality that RL doesn't always give full range to, or puts pressures to abandon.
it pours through the window,
chasing dream land cobwebs from my head.
I drink it in, like nectar,
sweet beyond sweet.
The first filaments of dawn were different,
they wrapped around the edges of the sky.
Oh how I miss them already...
and like fragrant white tea leaves,
that perfect second infusion, which is touched with bitter,
but has given up the flowered scent.
That scent that draws all that lives and moves to it
and conjures with the origin of the world.
It kissed my eyes, and brushed the sand from my sight.
Light was just a breath of night then.
But now, it flows forth,
as wine from some mythic spring,
to make us drunk,
with the possibilities of the day.
By night such mirth as danced with our minds,
was chained by the illogic of a dream,
and illuminated by the drops of luminescence
that bleed from stars in the velvet sky.
I can't recall their course or shape,
I think I ran in terror from you,
or perhaps ached for your embrace.
By dreams these seem too close to one,
and all the same.
But now, bright buckets rain across my desk,
caress my hands,
and feed my sight.
And I hope our quarrel of the evening,
can, by my soft apology, come right.
These are the lowest prices since I have gotten on to SL. My land guru is talking about moving Yedo completely. Sure, he isn't the builder, and doesn't have to deal with the problems of that. But if we could find a viable 4.... I'd think about it. Realize that three weeks ago, land went for 10.1 minimum. There is a great deal of land "priced to sit" at 12 and 13.
My own feeling is that LL is trying to attract a whole new audience, or that they are going to raise tier fees by a great deal once this land sells.
But whatever happens, anyone who was expecting to get their set up fee back when they sold is going to be sadly disappointed. Kiss that money good by dears.
The best way of thinking of SL is as a corrupt monarchy around 1700. The king is a player, just like everyone else, and the "government" concerned only with the king's glory in his combat with other kings. The king has friends, they get special treatment. The rest of us, have to do what we can.
Monday, August 13, 2007
One of my fondest, more recent memories in this life is my seven day cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. In Second Life I’ve been able to match that fond memory to the S.S. Galaxy. The Galaxy is a cruise ship built by a very talented avatar by the name of Bill Stirling. She Spans 3 Sims long and is composed of more than 40,000 prims. Prims are the actual “building blocks” used to make something in Second Life i.e. a chair takes four parts to make, each Sim holds 15000 prims so if you do the math the ship almost takes up every available prim with around 5000 to spare. I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of lag all over the ship, more often worse in the stern section of the ship, in my state room I sometimes have difficulty walking, but in the stern it will lock my system up completely and even cause the game to crash. For the sake of this review and I’ve already invested a quite a bit of money into living aboard the Galaxy for a few weeks I have lowered my quality settings, and draw distance to try and prevent or retard the effects of the lag.
I’ve rented Suite #0415 which is a two story state room taking up decks four and five, they rent for $1000L a week and give you 300 prims to use for furniture, pose balls, and pictures. They also have a smaller 1 floor suites on deck three that rent for $650L a week with 200 prims, and in the Bow of the ship they have suits that take up decks three, four, and five for $3500L a week with 1000 prims to use, and there also appears to be furnished suites for the staff and crew on the fourth and fifth decks in the stern, as well as Captain suites in the Bow. During my stay I’ve noticed that the suites are 30% to 50% rented, mostly my time on board has been between Second Life Time (SLT) and 3 P.M. SLT, and I’ve noticed that the traffic is not heavy but there always seem to be people other than staff exploring the vessel. As far as residence go I have started a friendship with Tiffani who rented a room on the third deck with her Second Life boyfriend the same day I had moved in. They’re renting a room on board as they are in the process of building a Second Life dream home.
As the review begins we’ll start at the stern, Galaxy AFT sim, which is where you would teleport into if you were to search the S.S. Galaxy. You board from dock and as the doors swish open with a Star Trek effect you enter the reception lobby where they’ve literally rolled out the red carpet welcome to their guests. There’s a hospitality desk with note cards about renting information and events going on during the week, also a link to a website which informs you what suites are available for rent. The lobby can only be described as a mimic of a five star hotel, complete with the first of many bars aboard the Galaxy. The rest of the first deck stern is quite a large shopping mall which continues directly up on the second deck, and this is the area where I lag the worse and often causes the game to crash. The stern section also includes a small billiards bar on the second deck, a movie theater, which I haven’t seen anything playing at yet, on the fifth deck, a solon that sales hair and the Rainbow Café gourmet coffee shop are on the fourth deck. Then you get to the top, deck 6, and you find what makes fighting the lag in the stern worth it, the Zodiac Ballroom, a domed grand ballroom and dance floor, by the event listings I can tell most of the events aboard the Galaxy are held here. It has a very magical presence from the time when you enter the room, and in spite of the lag the room is still filled when events take place. Also, being a gun toting Texan, I appreciate the skeet shoot at the edge of the sim before you cross over to mid ship.
Venturing to Mid ship and the second sim that the Galaxy sits on, the first stop is the ship’s Constellation Lounge and
Now we have the bow/Forward sim, this area not as active as the aft of the ship, but still houses many beautiful features of the Galaxy. Starting at the top this time, deck seven holds the Starlight Lounge, which is a sitting area with a few dance poses, and on deck six you can find the bridge of the Galaxy which visitors have full access to, a large wedding chapel, and a reception/ conference hall. The large V.I.P. suites which can be rented by anyone and the Captain’s suite are on decks five through three. When you get to the first deck you can find the clothing optional work out room and spa, which has a sauna, steaming pool, a few pieces of gym equipment, tanning beds, and don’t forget your free his or hers towel. Next to the Spa is the Bamboo Garden Japanese restaurant, which has been very nicely done and would easily outdo any real world sushi bar. It has two dining areas as well as a bar, not to mention a very authentic looking Japanese landscape between the bar and the dining areas. The last place to visit on the bow of the ship is the Boiler Room Club, the décor is actually set up to look like the boiler room in the bowels of the ship, except with a dance floor, bar, and cat walk seating.
The S.S. Galaxy has lots of other features to that are very nice, from the comfortable seating and poses sprawled out across the ship, to the real working elevators or use the optional grand stair cases, but the ship is just a material item, what really makes this place wonderful are the events and crew. Granted, due to the hours I work I wasn’t able to interact with too many people, the ones I did were always pleasant, helpful and polite. Even with security issues the crew was quick to react to any complaints and from what I could tell handled each situation professionally. I was able to make one event, a live music event in the Zodiac Ballroom, Miss Carmen Roeth, a very talented lady, and it did get laggy as one might expect but it still had the grace that would be expected from such a beautiful environment. As far as the lag goes, I had mentioned it in the beginning of this review, however as time went on the lag seemed to decrease, I have been told by a few people that it tends to have a lot of lag on these three sims, but from personal experience the lag was only unbearable the first few days and that may have something to do with the voice feature just introduced into Second Life. I have enjoyed my stay aboard the Galaxy and intend on staying a bit longer, I would recommend this as a place to live for anyone who is not looking for privacy but a beautiful place to live. The lag would be something to monitor so I’d suggest trying it for a week to see how your game play is effected, and even if you’re looking for somewhere different to hang out visitors are always welcome aboard the Queen of the
S.S. Galaxy Landmark
S.S. Galaxy Room Availability
Sunday, August 12, 2007
This is a major problem, because it means that if I, the user, am not expecting it, I can be embarassed publically. It is also a privacy violation from our good friends at Loser Laboratories, since listening to a music stream or media stream exposes your IP. Force media is yet another example of how Linden Labs had no concern for user privacy, expeirince or security.
Turn off media unless you know you are going to be using it in a location that you want to listen to media, or your rl and IP address are both vulnerable.
After crashing twice in the middle of a bug report, I think the best policy is just to blog the bugs and crashes, and let the general public decide whether they want to give LL their credit card or bank information.
There is no such thing as free sex. Either you pay in money, time, quality or relationship. And while sex on sl doesn't feel like the real thing, getting dumped on sl feels exactly like the real thing. Is it really worth risking your marriage or relationship rl for some sl pornography that costs less than the price of fast food, and is a great deal better for your cardio-vascular system?
When you hire an escort, you should check her profile. Escorts who are established will belong to either club groups where they dance, to freelance escort groups where they have ads, and to other groups where they meet people and go and play with the Linden they take in, after all, that is why most of us do this, to have some play money.
If you see someone offer escort services, no matter how cheap, who doesn't have anything in her profile... what are you thinking? Escorts naturally take payment in advance all over SL, for the simple reason that once rendered, the service is gone, and men constantly tell people they have freebied the girl if she trusts them. However the reverse also happens: the scammer pretends to be an escort, and then just logs off.
Now a real escort will not do this, because she will end up kicked out of her groups, and possible kicked off of her rental land if she rents a place, and being unable to work again. Since Second Life is in a state of anarchy, with a government that will not even enforce the most basic of commercial laws, it is necessary for people to be intelligent. That means before paying an escort anything make sure that she or he has some stake in the community. Payment verified means nothing, scammers are both among the verified and unverified. After all all verified means is that you could spend money if you wanted to.
The other sign is that the escort has ads. Ads mean that she has soemthing at risk, because most ad owners will pull ads from a known scammer.
So if you see an escort with no groups, or only junk groups, it is a very good idea not to pay her.
Never hire an escort that is freelancing where it is not permitted. If she is scamming the owners, she might scam you as well. This goes in reverse, don't pressure a girl for sex if she is evasive about it, because in essence you are pressuring her to break the rules against freelancing by saying "yes Iam a professional." In short, don't take solicitations from people who should not, and don't solicit from people who aren't "on the clock."
One well known cam girl with a great reputation recently reported Carrie Babii as a scammer... I'm waiting to hear more, but the person who told me is well known in the trade, and would be risking a great deal if she were simply griefing a girl. From now I am going to report any such names I can find, and put them in a single place. There is no room in our profession for scammers, just as people who sell things legitimately hate stores that steal goods or cheat customers.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Ophelia reminds us about lighting and pictures. Even a very novice clothes maker can make a few lights that are invisible and hover a little ways away when worn.
I think I want to buy some land near Calgary, it will be beach front some day.
RL Lawsuit on Sexgen bed drives traffic to Vint. It must mean there is interst in being here. If only there weren't so many problems. Memo to LL: there are many kinks out there, but no one likes bugs crawling in their bed, and the market for sex during a crash is... hmmmm... limited to Cronenberg fans.
Novell owns UNIX copyrights. Seen as a victory for Open Source.
Joe LaSala, senior vice president and general counsel of the Waltham, Mass.-based software maker, said in a statement Friday that the ruling "vindicates the position Novell has taken since the inception of the dispute with SCO" and "eliminates SCO's threat to the Linux community, based on allegations of copyright infringement of Unix."
High fashion goes online.
Friday, August 10, 2007
As background, phatcats is the largest ballroom in sl, its founders met in sl, and were apart because of rl circumstances, and recently met, and decided to move in together and spend their real lives together. They sold phat cats to be able to pursue their real lives.
This is the text of a notice sent out, I am certain without review by the current owners, over the group, which has over 3100 subscribers:
Dilbert Dilweg and Charity Colville, the creators and founders of Phat Cat's have been banned from the sim they once owned and made flourish with their romance. They shared their love with all of us and only sold Phat's so they could bring their SL romance together in their real lives. Brianna Talbot the current manager has banned them from the sim. Phat Cat's is now being run by a management team of that cannot maintain a SL relationship and they have banned true love and romance. This is devistatin
Brianna Talbot and Alix Abruzzo are right now unavailable for comment, and I am looking for Phat Cat's management for their side of the story. Until the details come out, I have to say that it is utterly impossible to make any hasty judgments.
Alix Abruzzo confirms that they have been banned.
Her statement is as follows:
What's on the record is that Dil and Charity were banned from their former sim because they continued to harrass the staff, refused to honor the purchase agreement we made, took property that was to be conveyed during the purchase, and continue to send extremely ugly and threatening notices to both the staff and to the patrons of the establishment.
Alix states that she is trying to keep the dream alive and is trying to sort out what has happened, put past troubles behind everyone and go forward. She says that she paid for the sim in good faith, and that after the money was paid, that problems began. She offered to let Charity and Dilbert buy the sim back several times, but was refused. She said that they promised not to do or say anything to hurt "their baby." Alix emphasizes that she is a true believer in the dream of Phat Cats and was happy to pay for the sim in hopes of carrying on what has become an sl institution.
She states that she has supporting documentation for her position, and that the new managers have files several abuse reports with Linden Laboratories against Charity and Dilbert.
Phat Cat's was sold to Alix for an undisclosed amount earlier this month, though Alix would confirm that the price paid was substantially above the price for a new island.
Charity Colville has a statement in her profile:
I am the co-founder and creator of Phat Cat's along with my wonderful husband Dilbert, however, we are now BANNED FROM PHAT CAT'S. Our love story built a wonderful place that is now being destroyed by silly drama queens that have no respect for romance, true love, and the kind of genuine friendship it takes to make magic. For all of you that have loved Phat's and have been a part of us....we love you all. To our REAL friends....we are SO very grateful and we will always treasure your faith in us.
Dilbert Dilweg has a statement in his profile:
I no Longer own Phat Cats and will no longer step foot on it. i have and so has charity beeen cisrespected and run off and told we are not welcome any more by Brianna Talbot. Sadens me to see this type of power hungry activity We have been banned and terribly upset that somone could do this..
Phat Cats was created by 2 of the most peaceful people of SL and the most loving. Never would i have imagined being treated so unfairly over pesonal anguish ..
Charity disputes Alix' statements, saying that the items removed were freebies that had been given to Charity because of her relationship with the designers:
The only property that was removed from the sim were items that were not included in the sale. Our freebie area consisted of items that were donated to me specifically because of my relationship with various designers in SL. I had full permissions to their items and promised each of them that no one other that me would ever have that same access. I kept my word to each of them and their creations safe. Alix was aware of that before the sale. We were asked a few days ago not to come to Phat's anymore because the new owner wanted it VERY CLEAR that she was the owner and felt the spotlight was not being directed that way.
Charity states that she didn't have the right to sell the items in dispute, namely items in the freebies area which Charity says she had permission to use as freebies, but not permission to transfer to Alix. She states that several of her items are still on the sim, with her as owner. She disputes that the purchase agreement covered conveying these items. According to Charity, parcel return is being used to return items still under the ownership through the SL permissions system to Dilbert right now.
Ballroom Dance 1 (CV)' has been returned to your inventory lost and found folder by Alix Abruzzo from parcel '! PHAT CAT'S ROMANTIC BALLROOM & FORMAL Mall skin shapes voice' at PhatLand 202.821, 81.6341.
Ballroom dance one is a standard dance poseball from Bits and Bobs for couples dancing. Charity states that these are the club version, which is copy/no transfer, and therefore can only be "sold" by being left in place by new owners, or going to Bits and Bobs for a new base copy for the new club owners. The retail version is transfer/no copy.
She further states that she disputes the charges of harassment, that she and Dilbert have no idea why the banning occured, and that she has filed AR's against the current management team.
She further states:
We wish we had never had to sell Phat's. The only reason we did it was because we had to make room for our real life romance. We are so grateful to second life for giving us each other and what is breaking our hearts right now is that the love story we have had here that has been such an inspiration to some is now being dirtied by all of this. We will not comment at this time in regards to legal action and we still wish the new owner nothing but success.
In summary, while some very strong statements have been issued, and some unilateral actions taken, both sides seem to want Phat Cat's to survive and flourish as an institution.