A Bloomin’ Mole!

A really long time ago (weeks and weeks!) when Gypsy of Gypsy’s Midnight Club was still on the grid regularly and I was a regular there (both as customer and dancer), there was one of those Second Life Accidents, and much of the club (including most of the walls and ceiling and floors and some of the artwork and accessories) got returned to the inventory of the original builder, who as far as we know never comes into SL anymore. Gypsy was (understandably) upset by this, and I jumped in and rebuilt the place more or less sort of approximately like it used to look in time for the events that night (and no one seemed to hardly notice the changes at all!).

One of the things I rebuilt was the platform outside the main door to the club, that you walk across to get to the adjoining mall; I was in a hurry and just threw down a couple of megaprims, not noticing that they slightly overlapped the protected land road right-of-way that ran past the club, since there was nothing there anyway.

Then the other day I got an IM from Bloomin Mole, asking if I could come and move those prims so they didn’t jut into the right-of-way anymore. I TPd over to Gypsy’s, and discovered to my pleasant surprise that there’s now a very nice road running through the right-of-way, complete with signage, and a cute little mole was working on landscaping the roadside.

Bloomin Mole

I talked to the mole a bit, adjusted the megaprims so they stayed on the Gypsy’s parcel as they should have in the first place, and then thinking how nice it was to have a road going past I fiddled with things so that there are ramps connecting the road-level to the club and the mall, just in case anyone drives by. (I should really put a sign of some kind down there, too, but we’re really short on prims, especially with this cast-off 28-prim collar that someone left lying around; maybe Gypsy will peek inworld sometime long enough to get rid of the primlitter.)

So but anyway. That was fun. :)

What does your SL look like?

Contributing to a meme I first saw on HeadBurro Antfarm’s weblog, here’s a screenshot of what my SL (at least sometimes) looks like:

What my SL looks like

(Also availlable in larger size.)

Answering the questions that seem to go with the meme:

1. Name: I always have display of nametags and grouptags turned on. Mostly because I always want to be able to see who’s who and what amusing tag they’re wearing (it’s a great icebreaker), but also just because I seldom remember that it can be turned off, or how.

2. Group tags: I usually have some group tag or other showing, and this only leads to embarrassment once in awhile.

3. Chat bubbles: I never turn on chat bubbles, I even tend to forget they exist. Do other people use them? Are they useful?

4. Mini map: On when exploring, or even just moving around, off otherwise. Used extensively for dot-chasing.

5. Camera/Movement Controls: Never have either of these on; I am pretty good with the mouse-based camera and the arrow keys for moving around. And for really tricky navigational situations I can sit on my hoverdisc and use “teleport to camera position”. :)

6. HUDs: I hardly ever wear any HUDs at all. The only exceptions are my swimmer (which hasn’t worked since the latest Havoc update and I really need to upgrade) and Girl Dale’s special elegant-lady AO (which I use only at really grand affairs). Oh, and the occasional trick-skating controller or something. My equivalent of MystiTool / MultiGadget’s AV radar (a HUD thing that shows you who is around) is my magic bracelet’s radar, which is a command-line thing (i.e. I say something in chat on a particular channel, and it answers me via chat-to-owner).

7. Text colours: Pretty much the defaults, although I’m unhappy enough with the current default of “unreadably dark blue” for stuff that I say in chat that I might actually change it.

8. Selection Beam: On, and either the default color or whatever I last whimsically changed it to. :)

9. Hovertips: Always on, on all objects. (But not on land, for some reason.)

10. UI windows: I have the IM window open at the top most of the time, because I seem to be in four or five (or seven or ten) personal or group IMs most of the time. I will occasionally close it, but not usually for long. I have the Local Chat window open on the lower left if there’s local chat going on that I might want to scroll back in. And I have inventory open in the lower right if I’m, um, doing things with inventory. Other stuff gets opened temporarily more or less in the middle. Ah, and the edit box replaces the local chat window when I’m building or inspecting.

11. Search area: What search area?.

12. UI Size: 1.0, I think? And running in a window. I don’t even really know what the “UI Size” control does.

13. Bandwidth and Cache: Bandwidth at 500, I think, and cache at 500MB.

14. Graphics: These vary around alot; I sometimes turn them way down to (try to) reduce lag, or way up to see things pretty. I used to turn off Avatar Imposters, but now I’ve gotten used to the little paperdolls. At friend Bamika’s suggestion I’ve turned Video Memory down to like half of what it was, and that SEEMS (touch wood) to have reduced my really horrible sub-one-fps problems in crowded scenes (yay!).

15. Web links: open in the internal browser, just ’cause why not. I don’t click on web links much anyways.

16. Logging: all chat and IM, and new chats start up with previous log tail showing. The more information the better!

17. Camera constraints: disabled, always.

18. Away: pretty useless, as one always pops out instantly anyway.

19. Busy: I never use it, as (a) I don’t know quite what it does, and (b) I believe that one thing it does is if someone tries to give you something, you don’t get the thing. Hello??

20: Look at recent chatting person: wow, I always forget we have that! That would be a useful feature to use. :)

So in the screen shot, the windows on the sides (local chat and inventory) would often be closed in practice, as would the minimap sometimes, but that’s where they show up when they’re up. And the fact that my camera is somewhere off to the side of the default view is typical; I’m always camming around here and there and around and through.

What does your SL look like?

The Expedition comes upon a Floating Island of Ice

This is actually a “how much fun I had on my second Rezday and how wonderful ppl in Second Life are” posting, but the title goes so nicely with the picture that I couldn’t resist.

The Expedition comes upon a Floating Island of Ice

My Rezday itself (last Saturday) was great fun. I spent most of it party-hopping (no, not Rezday parties for me, just random parties that the fates had decreed should happen on my rezday), starting out with the Giant Snail Races in the morning (sitting on the “Yay Amber!” bench), and later on the Night Flower opening (which was wonderful fun, all sorts of great SL people, Plurkers and otherwise), and sometime after that the Triumvirate opening (a lovely dark erotic gallery show by Sysperia and Calli and someone I don’t know, all of whom do amazing work), and finally (I think it was finally) a Hollywood themed party in Amicitia, featuring the best and brightest and most wisecracking of that sparkling community.

Along the way, one wonderful friend gave me one of Carrah Rossini’s amazing airships (the Steampunk Dreamliner pictured first in that NPIRL post, in fact) for my Rezday, Shenlei of Shengri La gave me one of her amazing frocks (which I haven’t yet been a girl long enough to try on!), and at the Triumvirate opening one of the artists said “which of these do you like the best?” and gave me one of the (limited edition!) copies of a really striking artwork.

The Dreamliner is a really incredible device / craft / artwork / living space; I am completely in love with it (I think I can even put the rezday artwork into the picture mode of its built-in TV screen if I do it right). On Saturday I’d left an IM for the creator just saying “You’re a genius”. On Sunday she IM’d me back and we had a nice conversation about building and creativity and inspiration and RP standards and stuff, and when I mentioned in passing that the Dreamliner had been a Rezday present she gave me a copy of the Phoebe as a gift.

People in Second Life are so generous!

Also on Saturday, as another lovely rezday gift, another friend invited me to the Black and White Ball at the Crown and Pearl on Sunday; it was a marvelous opportunity to dance and be silly in a crowd of smart witty silly other people, and to wear (at least the black and white parts of) my fancy Rfyre suit. Later in the day I took the friend that had given me the Dreamliner up for a ride in the Phoebe to show it off :) and while we were jetting around Shengri La an artist friend that I had dropped a script on earlier in the day sent me a mysterious something, saying only “be sure you have lots of space when you rez it”. Since we were like 300m above Shengri La at the time there was lots of room, so… see picture above. :)

The mysterious something turned out to be a lovely ice-pavillion (with sculptie icicles), so we tethered the Phoebe and explored it for awhile before heading back down to land.

All in all a marvelous Rezday weekend; I continue to be in awe of the kindness and generosity of both my Second Life friends and for that matter of Second Life total strangers. Oh, and thanks also to all the folks who sent good wishes in IM and on Plurk; and anyone else that I forgot to thank here! Some of the festivities were late at night, and I don’t always retain those memories very well. :)

I don’t really know why I bother…

but hereafter find my scathing comment (first post!) to another clueless ‘ten reasons WoW is better than Second Life’ sort of post by someone who can’t have spent more than an hour in SL.

May I speculate that you are an ex-WoW player, and a “never tried it but have read about it in the news” SL user?

1 (the subscriber base is bigger) is probably right as to numbers; there are more regular WoW players than SL users. But as to who they are…

2 (IT workers are more likely to play WoW) The people I run into on WoW are (with some exceptions) preteen boys with the interests and manners and tendency to yell “DeathDeelar is gay!!” that you’d expect of preteen boys. The people I run into in SL are (with some exceptions) interesting and intelligent adults, many with jobs in IT, or the arts, or other creative fields.

3 (“It’s fun”) If you don’t think Second Life can be just as addictive (and fun and compelling) as WoW, you *really* haven’t been doing your research.

4 (“There’s a point to it”) It’s true there’s a built-in set of goals in WoW, whereas in SL you have to make your own reasons. But what’s really more interesting: finally killing the second boss in Kharazan, or building an art gallery (or jet-ski, or space station) with someone from Brazil, because you both thought of it?

5 (WoW has communities, SL doesn’t) Again you must never have used Second Life. It is all *about* community, and not just for “a bit of online chat”. There are groups that host live music, that create art, that build buildings that go shopping together, that play roleplaying games (sort of like WoW!), and that just hang out intensely together. If you don’t know that SL has communities what *do* you think the 70,000 people logged in at any time are doing?

6 (“Reliability”) You’re right on this one. :) But to be fair, Linden Labs has a much harder problem to solve, given that Second Life is user-created, and all the content is dynamic. Also they don’t shard.

7 (“It’s unlikely, if ever, that you’ll be in the Second Life world with a fellow user on a computer beside you.”) Where did you get that first sentence? Do you have any evidence at all? I’ve talked to just as many people in SL as in WoW (i.e. a few) who were inworld from adjacent computers. I remember one undead couple in WoW doing RFC together, I remember one couple talking to friends and dancing at a party in Second Life; both couples were together in real life, at computers next to each other. Why do you think it’s any rarer in SL?

8 (WoW “continues to grow”, SL doesn’t) Completly backwards. WoW grows only when Blizzard makes new content and releases a patch. Second Life grows every time a resident makes something new in the world, which is probably at least once a second.

9 (“WoW makes a lot of money”) As a player or a user, the only reason I care how much the company that owns the world makes is that I want them, and therefore the world, to grow and prosper. As far as I know, both Blizzard and Linden Lab are doing fine. Why would I care a about more than that, unless I was looking for a stock investment rather than a world to play in?

10 (WoW users love it) And your evidence that Second Life users don’t love Second Life with a passion is…?

Really, when comparing X and Y, it’s good to know *something* about Y other than what you’ve read on fishwrap…

Just five more minutes…

Five More Minutes?

One of the lovely things about SL is that you can always spend five more minutes in bed in the morning. (Not to mention that you cal sleep in your pearls without getting all tangled, or the strand breaking.)

So what am I thinking about this morning? I’m trying not to think too much about the flamewar I let myself get drawn into yesterday; it was fun in a way, and I felt like I couldn’t let the original insult go unchallenged, but these things always leave me feeling karmically dirty. (Where do I go to add “karmically” to the wordpress spellchecker?) Lying in bed half-awake, I fantasize that maybe Prokofy Neva is really somebody reasonable (I don’t know; Crap, Ordinal, Nika, Desmond, Dale?) who just needs a place to completely let go sometimes, and unload whatever irrational spiteful lunatic bile has accumulated in their system since last time. It would explain alot (including why the ideas behind the incredible hostility are sometimes actually plausible). But other evidence is against it.

I’m thinking about the next few thousand words of the November novel. (Someone said on Plurk that they wanted to read it, so here’s a snapshot that I’ll with any luck remember to update as I go along.) I’m thinking maybe a Wikipedia entry for DomWatch, the weblog that keeps track of the alien or aliens that has taken over some number of villages in rural south Asia, where the people seem to worship it (them) as a god or something.

I’m vaguely trying to get myself to think about work, or at least trying to get myself to feel guilty that I’m not thinking about it. My RL self reports that the work email client is all upset again, and I’m unable to send mail, and someone wants a copy of something urgently in the next hour and a half or so. But that’s ninety minutes, so spending just five more minutes in bed here (listening to the surf outside the propped-open windows, breathing the sea air) won’t hurt anything, surely.

I’m being all amused and proud of myself again for my great public service in producing an accurate transcript of Crap Mariner’s marvelous The Death of Vinnie Linden (you must go listen to it if you haven’t yet; I know I’m generally anti-audio and anti-video, preferring the lucidity of text, but in this case…) for Vint Falken’s weblog. Not sure exactly why I did that, but it doesn’t lose its appeal on repeated listening.

I’m thinking about World of Warcraft, where I’ve been spending entirely too much time playing my brand-new Death Knight in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Someone asked on Plurk the other day why WoW is so addictive, and got various somewhat useful answers. I play WoW when I need (or want) mindless entertainment, when I don’t want to be social, when I want there to be nice clean doable goals (always another quest to do, another level to conquer, another kind of bandage to learn to make), where I want to be pretty sure that a modest amount of effort will lead to clear and measurable success.

I used to be a programmer in RL. Programming is like WoW in general: you know that a modest (or sometimes an immodest) amount of effort will lead to clear and measurable success. Where there didn’t used to be a program, there is now, and you wrote it, and when it runs it does what it was supposed to. That’s why I like scripting in SL also. I’m not so much a programmer in RL anymore though, now I’m more into strategy and technology outlooks and things; predicting and shaping the future. And there the effort and the rewards are all much less well defined. I make some PowerPoint, or write a whitepaper; big whoop. They don’t do anything. Maybe what I say is presented to people who make important decisions, maybe it influences those decisions. Or maybe they would have made the same decisions anyway. Maybe the decisions are good, maybe not so good, but you can’t actually tell. The results can be bad (or good) due to bad (or good) luck, even if the decision was good (or bad). So it’s all very tenuous.

Gosh, this must be boring for you. :) Apologies. But it’s my five minutes, and that’s the sort of places my head is spinning right now.

Oh, and yesterday I meant to download and try out the Imprudence viewer, but I didn’t get around to it. Maybe tonight. If I get up to at least thirty thousand words (preferably 30,500) first.

Aw well, stretch yawn, better get up and get the stupid email fixed. Coffee?

Happy Birthday Extropia Party!

So Michele mentioned the other day (I don’t know, some previous day in the not-too-distant past) that there was going to be a birthday party for Extropia that night, and for a wonder I remembered and actually went inworld for it (a good excuse for NaNoWriMo procrastination), and I IMd Rebel about it because she was on and I hadn’t talked to her in ages, and she brought Snowflake, who I hadn’t talked to in even more ages, and it was great and I took some pictures. I didn’t get any pictures of the Founders of the Feast due to a bit of cloudiness an’ lag, but here’s some that I did get:

Dolly Michele -- rowr!

Dolly Michele -- rowr!

Deebrane and Zada

Deebrane an' Zada

Rebel and Snowflake

Rebel an' Snowflake



Peer is tickled!

Peer is tickled!

Typical nice friendly SL party; highbrow discussion, lots of silly jokes, and an anthropomorphic pink bunny strapped to a tickle-torture machine. A good time was had by all. :)


(That’s “User-generated content for the win!”, or “it’s good to let people make stuff”.)

flickr picture with lots of user-generated SL content that it's hard to imagine the world owners ever getting around to making themselves

This is another in a series of posts in which I take some stuff that I wrote sometime in the past as a comment to someone else’s weblog or something, and post it here, so as to expose it to more of my readers, and to get easy content for the weblog and add to my worldwide fame without doing much additional work.

The following little rant was originally posted as a comment to this digado posting, which started out as a discussion of whether browser-based virtual worlds were going to take over, was dragged (by me) into the issue of whether “browser based” is actually a property of virtual worlds at all, and eventually ended up on the question of whether it’s important (for the success of the world) that a virtual world allow ordinary users to make stuff. I strongly believe that it is, but in the course of the discussion (and of a very similar discussion that took place around the same time inside my company’s firewall) I realized that my favorite reason for believing that (the first one given below) is in practice not early as important as another reason (the second one below).

Discussion and comment and the general spreading of my worldwide fame is most welcome. And now, the actual content.

I think that user-generated content is very important for a successful virtual world that wants to be a general-purpose virtual world rather than just a MMORPG like WoW or whatever. And it’s important for two reasons:

First and I admit somewhat idealistically, I think that everyone wants to create, and will create if we make it easy enough and foster a culture that encourages creation, and that everyone will be richer and happier as a result. It doesn’t have to be the creation of the shapes of virtual objects (”3D phtotoshopping”); it can be that, but it can also be textures, or music, or design specifications for an object that someone else will actually build, or room layouts in a building, or text and writing or all kinds, or sound effects, or the mechanism of a quest game, or a set of jokes, or a new way to organize a committee, or a script to power a funny hat, or… But in any case empowering people to be creative in these ways in the VWs means providing User Generated Content.

Second, and much more practically, user generated content is important because without it the owners of the platform are a bottleneck for every single stupid thing that anyone needs built. Someone wants to open a store to sell either real or virtual goods, and they want the store to have a distinctive look rather than being just Generic Store #3, they have to file a petition with the platform owners and hope someone gets to it. There’s a craze in RL Korea for skirts with huge flower-shaped ribbons, by the time the VW owners notice (unless they’re in Korea themselves) and provide the corresponding virtual content, the craze will have been over for a week. A corporation wants a conference room structured around the basic principles of their new Seven-Sigma Continuous Improvement Business Innovation for Stakeholder Success Philosophy, they aren’t going to want to queue up behind the people who are badgering the platform owners for custom houses done the Dark Elvish style.

UGC frees the economy. We know that the way an economy produces the right goods and services is by way of a price system and a free market (modulo market failures, externalities, rights violations, and so on). We know that central planning of the means of production doesn’t work in the real world. Why should we expect it to work in the virtual worlds? Why would Linden Lab be any better at predicting what ought to be designed and created for its residents than the Supreme Soviet turned out to be for theirs? UGC puts the decision-making power out in the user community, where imho it belongs.

And note that this isn’t just about the people who want to create stuff. Even if my idealistic idea is wrong, and some people really are born to be passive consumers who only want to buy, never create, UGC is still the right way to make sure that the stuff that they want to buy is available. A vibrant economy will do a pretty good job of making that happen; a bunch of people sitting in a room at Linden Lab trying to decide what objects to add to the world next will do a very bad job of it.

End rant. For now. :)

End of actual content. Oh, and props to Ahuva, who was I think the one who most clearly brought out the “it’s good for non-builders, too, ’cause they can tell their builder friends what they want” idea in the internal discussion.