Thing Envy

So… This is going to be sort of a boring, but maybe a useful (to me, heh heh) posting. Feel free to blip over it entirely if discussions of computer hardware put you to sleep (as they usually do me). I’ll try to keep it short. :)

I use SL from an aging Lenovo laptop with not enough disk space, not enough memory, and a relatively obsolete chipset. It’s been long enough since the OS was installed that it’s suffered from considerable bitrot, and random parts of it don’t quite work right (it only looks for wireless networks automatically about half the time, it hangs if I plug it in while the lid is closed, etc, etc), and for that matter the near-right corner of the case is sort of held on with transparent tape. I use WoW from an aging desktop that also has not enough disk space and not enough memory, and lags horribly in crowded areas. I don’t use The Sims 2 at all anymore, and won’t be able to use The Sims 3 on that machine, because the hard drive is utterly full.

Also I have a big birthday coming up. :)

So I’m thinking of buying a gaming laptop. One with enough disk space to hold SL and WoW and TS2 and even TS3, and enough memory to be able to run them without thrashing, and fast enough CPU and video to run them smooth and lovelyly, and enough extra muscle that I won’t want to replace it for a good long time.

Alienware M17x laptopI’m tempted by the AlienWare M17x. I can design a pretty muscular one that would cost less than (gulp) US$2000. It’s also really cool, having little alien design elements all over it and stuff, and as far as I can tell with some comparison shopping I’m not paying a ridiculous premium for the cool design.

On the other hand (speaking of muscular) the thing is enormous, and really heavy. I’d like to use this for work as well as play, and that means lugging it back and forth every day. And I’d also like to be able to use it while lounging in bed without being crushed.

Alienware M15x laptopSo I’m also tempted by the M15x. It’s smaller and lighter, and a fifteen-inch screen seems plenty large.

The weird thing is that it’s also considerable more expensive! I have to choose a slightly slower CPU and smaller hard drive than with the 17x to get it into a price range that I can even fantasize about. I guess that’s because it’s newer and they have to do cleverer and more expensive stuff to get it all to fit into the smaller case? I dunno.

Sager NP8662And thirdly :) after some Googling around I’m looking at a Sager NP8662 from Factor Gaming, neither of which I had heard of before today, but which seem to be well thought of, and perhaps have the same kinda components as the Alienware ones, but at lower prices (at least a little lower, sigh) due to not having big ad budgets and internationally-marketed brands and stuff. At least that’s the feeling that their website gives me, but it could be Subtle Psychological Manipulation.

And then of course I could be more realistic and look at a more ordinary machine, not designed for total gaming geeks! SL and WoW and TS2 are all pretty lightweight programs compared to the hardcore games that these Alienwares and Sagers are really targetted at. People have told me that a random off-the-shelf laptop that I could get for half the price of these would run SL and WoW just fine, and I don’t imagine even TS3 is all that challenging.

But I have a big birthday coming up (I whine)! And in the long run if I buy something overpowered now, it’ll be that much longer before I feel that I really must replace it. So it’s actually prudent to spend the extra money now. Haha maybe.

Opinions and recommendations most welcome. Do you play SL and/or WoW or TS2 or TS3 on a laptop? How is it? What do you think? Have you bought one lately? Shopped for one? Have random opinions? Comment away! Here, or in the forum thread that I started (which has gone off into a tangent about WoW haha).

The next seven

Having had some very validatin’ feedback on my two previous Calling Card posts, here’s the third. I’m finding riffling through the oldest cards to be great fun, in terms of memory and perspective; I recommend it to all.

Calling cards seem to come in bunches; after Veronica Quackenbush, there are four people that I don’t really recall, although according to my notes I met one of them at a weapon shop, and one came to a rather risible “skybox security seminar” that I held once, the most notable feature of which was a replicating grid attack that happened during it (providing a good excuse for hardly anyone showing up). The other two, I have no idea.

Then there are three people that I definitely do remember.

The second Seminal Event of my newbiehood, following the art opening I talked about last time, happened when I was flying randomly around the mainland, and seeing a single dot on the minimap went over to see who it was. It turned out to be a woman in a Playboy-style bunny suit, building some barstools and spiral staircases for a club. Her name was LadyLutha Harlow, and she was helpful and friendly; she told me that my AV (I was pretty much always a boy at the time, still) was really too short for most SL things (I think I was about 5′ 9″ as a boy then). She showed me some cutting and twisting tricks involved in making one-prim bar stools (this was long before we had sculpties!), and spiral staircases. She showed me (purely Platonically, mind you) my very first Paradise Blanket, which completely blew my mind.

(If you’ve never seen a Paradise Blanket, you should. It looks like a nice picnic blanket, complete with basket, that you and a friend sit on. But then you get a menu, and on command the blanket will transport you high in the sky and rez an entire room or landscape around you, chosen from a potentially quite enormous list. You can then get up and walk around and stuff, and when you’re done picnicing you sit again, choose from the menu again, and the surroundings vanish and you return to the ground. It’s quite astonishing! Especially if you’re like a week-old newborn.)

I think that serendipitous visit with LadyLutha was also the first time I had a sim go down around me. We got the “this region will be shutting down in five minutes” messages, and laughed and decided to stay around and watch the world end. I think she was also the first person that I gave one of my little sparkling fairy companions to (I really ought to revisit that script sometime and fix it up in light of actually knowing what I’m doing now!), because she admired it when I brought it out to show off.

LadyLutha also gave me a landmark to the club that she was building, and that leads to the next Calling Card in the list: Sugga. That’s her in the picture there. :)

Sugga was an aspiring dancer at the club, and I met her (and two or three others that I think are going to appear in the list a little later) when I followed LadyLutha’s LM. The club wasn’t actually open yet, but people were moving around setting things up, and dancers were auditioning and figuring out the dancing devices and tipjars and stuff, and people were dancing and having fun.

Sugga was one of the shyer dancers as I recall, and it’s funny that she’s the one that shows up first in my Calling Cards. But we talked alot and went exploring a bit together. I went back to the club several times, and it became my second-favorite hangout after Gypsy’s. I remember partying there as a girl, with rave-sticks and particle storms and stuff, and everyone being amused by and approving of my gender ambiguity. I’ve been so lucky in my SL career! :)

We were all newborns then (the oldbies were a sort of mythical race of deities, occasionally glimpsed from afar). Sugga pretty much always wore the skin pictured here. I forget the name of it, but it’s apparently now (whether it was then, I don’t know) a popular freebie, maybe even full-perm, and whenever I see it on someone with even vaguely the same face I’m reminded of Sugga.

At about the same time that I vanished from SL for a week (have I ever told that story here?) Sugga also went off into RL, not to return. We’ve exchanged a few emails since, but she is mostly just a fond friendly memory.

And the last Calling Card for this entry, right after Sugga’s, is one of my very bestest friends ever, Zha. Zha and I go ‘way back; our typists shared an office back in the Triassic when we were both summer students or something, and both Zha and her typist (along with other people that we haven’t gotten to yet) were wonderfully supportive during and after the eventful week that I vaguely alluded to above. And way back when, we were SL newbies together (can’t find a picture of her in that freebie pointy-hat hair, darn!).

She’s technically sharp, solidly realistic, and much much better at avoiding the temptations of SL and Internet drama than (for example) I am. It has also been said that she has more of a fashion sense. :) And the lucky thing even has a day job that to some extent involves SL. (Although it was hard work, not luck, that got her there.)

So those are some more of my Calling Cards, and my friends, and my history. Aren’t they great? :)

Why I tend to wander off…

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t tend to go to big Linden-run events, or to other huge events like the Hair Fair. Part of it is my impatience with lag, and the feeble video on this aging laptop. But another part of the problem is that somehow I often just don’t Get It.

I stopped briefly by the Land Expo, landed at the landing points, waited (and waited and waited and waited) for things to rez, read a few signs which were breathlessly enthusiastic about… things related to land, I guess, wandered about a bit, and then left. I guess really one was supposed to attend Scheduled Events, but I’m never organized enough to make it to many of those.

I pretty much ignored the SL Fifth Birthday stuff, but a couple of friends have builds in the Sixth one (SL6B!), that I’ve been helping with some scripts and beta testing, so I’ve been wandering around there a bit. This morning I TPd over at random, took a random teleport from the arrival area, and found myself at the Second Life Time Capsule. Sounds cool!

So there’s this sign about how in June of 2003 various Residents put their most treasured possessions and journal entries into this capsule for future Residents to see, and how now the capsule has arrived here for us all to enjoy. Great stuff! So I walk over and there’s this capsule, and it’s sitting there, and it’s a capsule and… it doesn’t do anything at all. I go into Edit on it, and see that it has all sorts of interesting stuff in its contents, but it doesn’t respond to touch…

Cool!  Now what?

… or to being sat on, or otherwise offer me any access to any of the stuff it holds.

So I have no idea and I wander off. Later on I happen to run into Phaylen Fairchild, who is big in SL6B, and I ask her about it, and she says oh yeah all those things in Contents are going to be on display tomorrow afternoon.

Okayyyyyy… :)

They might have mentioned that somewhere. Maybe they did and I missed it. Or maybe everyone but me just intuits better.

I ran into Phaylen, btw, at an intense live guitar performance at the Synchronicity Auditorium on the SL6B grounds.

Johnny99 Gumshoe and his flamin' guitar

Now this, I understand…


Posting a weblog entry for no particular reason (well, and I’m waiting for someone to answer a piece of email at work).

Boy Dale in Stereo:
Boy Dale in Stereo

Inspired by Lillie, but mine doesn’t seem to have worked as well. Which maybe isn’t surprising considering that I did it all by hand and pretty haphazardly. :) But perhaps my poor effort will inspire others. And maybe I’ll try again sometime!

(Original (larger) size may work better for some people. Or worse. :) )

Drop me a line or leave a comment or something (or don’t!), if you make one of these yourself. Or if you want me to explain the dead-simple method I used to create this one.

My very own posting at Second Thoughts!

Explaining what a [expletive] I am, not to mention an [expletive] [expletive]. I haven’t been putting much in here about the ongoing Prokofy Neva drama, ’cause I feel y’all might not be all that fascinated. But Prokofy is like the one person in SL (in the world?) that I know of who really dislikes me, and it’s really hard for me not to try to fix that. The fact that I have no idea how it might be fixed apparently does not deter me!

The Rogue Nation of Enormous Frogs!

Followed a link to NationStates while catching up on the rest of Second Thoughts, and created my very own country! So far it’s a libertarian loony-bin. I should create a socialist loony-bin also; are you allowed to have two countries? (I note with some fright that in the ten minutes that my Rogue State has existed, I’ve gotten three (make that four) different “telegrams” from “regions” asking me to join them. I suppose I ought to find out what a “region” is, and what it means to “join” one. In my copious free time haha.)

And now Jennifer Government is on my Amazon wishlist…

More gold

Yesterday’s post was such fun to write, in terms of personal reminiscence an’ nostalgia an’ all, that I think I’ll continue riffling forward in time in my Calling Cards folder, and see what comes up.

The next Card after tree Sprawl’s belongs to Gwenhwyfar. (I’m giving last names or not in these postings pretty much on whim, with no particular rhyme or reason to it.) Gwen was at the time a dancer at a club that I newbied into more or less at random, and she friended me I suspect because I was a little more articulate than the average newborn. Or maybe she just friended everyone who walked in, I dunno! I’ve heard from her a few times since, mostly mass-announcements to her friends list about places that she was dancing or DJing or similar.

It occurs to me that the number of dancers mentioned in this posting might give you a certain impression of my early days in SL. I assure you that that impression would be really quite accurate. :)

Poison!After Gwen there are four random folks with mostly blank profiles whose names I don’t particularly recognize, and then comes one of the high points of this part of the Calling Card folder: Cyanide Seelowe!

Cyanide is the founder of the Virtual Artists’ Alliance, which does various shows and the Photohunt and the Haiku Speedbuilds and related, and all sorts of other cool stuff. She’s also a really fun and cool person (and not at all stuck up). And while she isn’t a dancer per se, there was that one time she TP’d me over for a naked dance-a-thon at a beach club… :)

We became friends on 3 December 2006, which was probably that very crucial day in my SL life when (and I’m sure I’ve told this story somewhere before but can’t find it right now) I tried to go to an SL fashion show but the sim was full, so I went to an art opening instead, and met both a bunch of artists (including Rez Kokorin and Cyanide), and joined the VAA, and also (at that same art opening) met Lynn, a dancer from Gypsy’s who we haven’t gotten to yet, who invited me to look the place over sometime; and both the VAA and Gypsy’s (of which more shortly) have had enormous (good) effects on the way my Second Life in general has gone.

After Cy there are three more random folks that I don’t remember, and then there are Tusk and Sherri and therefore Gypsy’s. Tusk was a dancer at Gypsy’s Midnight Club, a nice little dive in Specter (not Spectre), which I went to explore shortly after Lynn gave me the landmark at Rez’s art opening. Sherri was also a dancer, I think, or at least a regular who would get up on a dance pole now and then. (Gypsy’s is very informal that way; one of the things I loved, and love, about it.)

I’ve never been all that attracted by the idea of strip joints in RL; I guess a really classy one might be fun, but they have all these connotations of exploitation and sleaze and performers who don’t actually like the customers. On the other hand in SL, or at least at Gypsy’s, the dancers were there ’cause it was fun, and they liked the customers (at least the regulars; the occasional jerk was of course still a jerk). And they were very friendly and helpful to a penniless newborn. :) I think Tusk and Sherri have both pretty much left SL, but Tammy (who we haven’t gotten to yet either) still holds the occasional event at Gypsy’s, and even though they’re pretty late at night my time I try to get there sometimes. (I should really do a whole entry about Gypsy’s sometime.)

Speaking of being helpful to penniless newborns, after one more random person that I don’t remember, we get to Adrianna. I met Adrianna when I threw a “Tentacles!” event, mostly just to try out the Event system. I found a piece of special Linden land (’cause you could only schedule Events on special Linden land or land that you own, and I didn’t own any) where it was possible to rez stuff, and I put up an Event via the Events web page with the title “Tentacles!”, and some nonsense description that in some way involved tentacles (in a clean sort of way). I of course had these tentacles in mind.

So like three or four people actually showed up, mostly fellow newborns as I recall, and we talked and laughed and did random things. Someone (less newborn) showed up in a fancy flying car and showed it off for awhile. And then these two other people showed up, and one of them was a disembodied head in a jar. I hadn’t until that moment realized that you could be a disembodied head in a jar, and I was fascinated.

As well as being unusual, the head in the jar was friendly and helpful, and we even became friends. (I forget who offered, but I assume it was her, since I’ve always been very very shy about offering friendship, and hardly ever do it, on the assumption that I Am Not Worthy.) And that was Adrianna. I’ve seen her a few times since, and she’s still friendly and helpful and funny, and likes to play with odd objects (like things that cause you to be a head in a jar).

VThe next person on the list really deserves her own weblog entry, and maybe I’ll eventually write one. Veronica Quackenbush, or more properly Veronica Elizabeth Roxanne Iris Taryn Almaaz Samantha Quackenbush, was also a dancer at Gypsy’s, and also one of the dancers in charge of hiring new dancers, and a big part of the reason that Gypsy’s was such a great place (and why so many of the dancers were either PhDs or PhD candidates).

Veronica loves vehicles, and back in the day she would sometimes invite any of the dancers and regulars who were still awake enough when the club closed, up in one of her rocket-sleds or whatever for exploring and/or nude skydiving. She also knows a huge amount about the history and geography of the Grid, and would entertain everyone with stories about the names of the continents and roads and landmasses, when a particular bridge was built, whether the railroads were running. She taught me that it’s good to know where you are, and where you are relative to other places, even if you can instantly TP from place to place without knowing those things.

She’s still into transport and vehicles, even if I haven’t seen her at Gypsy’s in ages; she’s one of the founders of the Okema, Nakiska, & Southern Railway. Look it up in Groups, check out the railway, join, contribute money and/or right of way and/or train skillz. Trains are great! :)

And wow this has gotten pretty long, hasn’t it, and there are probably about 275 or so calling cards to go. That should be worth at least two or three more posts!

One is silver and the other gold.

For today’s obligatory posting, I’m going to dip into the Calling Cards section of my inventory. Which is roughly like dipping into the Friends list, except that you can have Calling Cards for people that aren’t on your Friends list, either because they’ve just given you a copy of their Card (using the extremely obscure “Give Card” choice on the AV pie menu that no one ever uses), or because you were once friends but aren’t anymore. Or perhaps for other mysterious reasons. And also a Calling Card has some useful information on it, most notably the date that you acquired it (i.e. typically, the date you became friends with the person). See?

Calling Card Properties Sheet

As a structuring trick and a way to reminisce, I looked at the very bottom of my Calling Card folder, sorted by date. Some interesting dusty stuff down there! Including ol’ Royal Coronet, above; we’ll get to him in a minute.

The very last item in my most-recent-first Calling Card folder is for Dun Lubezli. It’s an odd Card, in that its acquisition date is “Unknown”, and the description field says “A friend you invited to Second Life”. I don’t remember ever knowing anyone named Dun Lubezli, and Dun’s profile is completely blank. My best guess here is that it’s someone that I know in RL that I told about SL, and that when they signed up they gave my name as the name of the Resident that referred them to SL or something (is there a field like that when you sign up?), and that generated this Card. Too bad I don’t get a cool mount or anything as a result. :)

The next item (up) in the folder is my very first actual Friend in SL, Thi Flossberg. We became friends on 23 November 2006, the day after I first rezzed. Unfortunately I have no memory whatever of Thi, and Thi’s profile is completely blank. This was also before I knew about writing stuff on the Notes page in profiles, so that’s completely blank too.

Thi, if you’re reading this, give me a buzz. We’ll do lunch!

My second actual Friend, made the next day, is someone I actually remember: Royal Coronet. That’s the person in the Properties box above, there. We met in the Help Island sandbox, where he was walking around wearing the “partycules” freebie thing, and so was surrounded by this like ten-meter-diameter sphere of glowing dancing red, yellow and green particles. I thought it was the most amazing thing ever (hey, I was still new), and so did the three or four nubile newborns following him around admiringly. (It’s a great name, too: “Royal Coronet”!)

He gave me a copy of Partycules and we talked a little and apparently became friends. I don’t recall having any interaction with him since, but his Calling Card definitely has sentimental value.

(And I still use variously-recolored versions of Partycules for various holiday celebrations and similar occasions to this day.)

Then there’s a bunch more people that I don’t remember and didn’t take any notes on and who mostly have blank profiles. There’s also Steve and Kleber, who I remember better, if not vastly better. I hung around Warmouth Infohub alot back then; it wasn’t my first stop after Help Island (that was some crowded and hard to navigate infohub whose location I don’t actually recall), but I made it my home pretty early, ’cause you could rez there, and it had some interesting neighbors.

I ran into Steve and Kleber at Warmouth, I’m pretty sure. We were all newborns together, trying to figure out what was going on. You could rez at Warmouth in those days (last time I visited that had been turned off) and it was quite the chaotic place, full of HippyPay vendors and BananaPhones and people wearing full-sized battleships on their heads and all. Great fun! For some time Steve and/or Kleber would IM me semi-comprehensibly, or send blind TPs. Steve had a little store at once point, where he was like selling slightly hollowed spheres with freebie textures on them for 5L or whatever. Haven’t seen either of them in quite awhile, either, although Steve’s profile today says that he’s an Event Manager, so he may have graduated beyond spheres (as I suppose I have, if only just heh heh).

Skipping over a few more folks that I’ve pretty much forgotten, we come to the first actual friend-Friend in the collection, Eleanor Fanwood. Hi, Eleanor! Although her RL’s been very busy lately and I haven’t seen her for a bit, she’s still in SL and still definitely a friend. Of course I’ve known her forever in RL also, so she has an unfair advantage. :) There are a few pictures of her in the ol’ flickr stream, spanning quite a span of time. How far we’ve come!

Eleanor’s Card is the twelfth one in the folder. Lucky thirteen is tree Sprawl (another great name), who I also haven’t seen for ages, but who I also have fond and grateful memories of. Her profile suggests that she is primarily a Tringo player, but I remember her because when I was snooping around the Grid completely at random, thinking about maybe I would get some of that “First Land” (back in December 2006, when there was still First Land), I for some reason stumbled onto a little park she had on the mainland, where she was dancing by herself among some stone arches, and she said Hi and we talked, and she showed me her little 512m2 plot of First Land that she’d started with, and she also introduced my to her boyfriend, and bought me a pair of skates, and showed me how to ice-skate.

She said she enjoyed helping newborns, and I certainly enjoyed being helped! I’ve benefited over the aeons from lots of devoted newbie-helpers (and probably not done enough to fully pay it forward, but I try now and then). I could keep going through the Calling Cards folder and we’d find quite a few more, but I think I’ll stop here for now. Don’t want you to get bored. :)

What I Would Do With My Sim

Well, it’s still Wednesday somewhere! :)

Yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) BBBC suggested topic was:

You’ve been given a sim of your very own to use for free for one year. However, there are 3 rules. It cannot be residential, it cannot be commercial, and it has to be open to the public. What do you do with it?

And I kind of like that, so even thought it’s Wednesday or perhaps Thursday I’ll use it.


I think I’d spend the first month just playing around with all those prims, and with a sim that I could disrupt and lag and crash without bothering anyone, having a good time and making replicators and self-rezzing objects and so on. Maybe the first two months. :) Using it as a personal sandbox, that is, although of course open to the public (that being the terms of the lease). They can come and watch me do weird things.

Then I think I’d divide it into nine sections (three by three), reserve the middle one for myself, and find eight creative friends (who maybe don’t have sims of their own) and offer them the chance to do whatever they want for the rest of the year on their part of my sim. I’d make them the owner, and give them full rights to do stuff (never having owned an estate I’m not sure exactly what this means, but I would figure it out and do it).

And then I’d hang around fiddling with my own 1/9 region, watching what my friends were doing on theirs, maybe calling for informal parties, having fireworks shows, and so on, for the next happy nine or ten or eleven months.

It would be great!

What would you do with yours?

Loving what’s bad

Last night I was half a second away from leaving SL to sleep (at a reasonable hour for once!), when I remembered the recent Welcome to Zindra posting on the official weblog, and that I’d meant to zip over and have a look, so I did that. Just going over to look. For a second. Honest!

Zindra, for the 0.73 of you who don’t know, is the new “Adult” mainland continent that the Lab is putting together, so that all of the “Adult” content (or at least all of the publicly-evident Adult content) on the existing mainland can be moved there. Which still seems like about as bad an idea as it did when I first posted about it here.

So I went over to Zindra and looked around. The land seems fine (although many of the people who are looking to figure out where to move their existing Adult stuff to when they maybe get a free land-swap to Zindra are complaining thta it’s not divided up very sensibly and it makes them nervous about what they’ll actually get). The “Kama City” area has some pretty extensive builds, which look pretty (you can see pictures at Prokofy’s place, and Honour’s, and Emilly’s, and lots of other places), but have a “huge useless memorial park” sort of feel to them, rather than seemingly like anything anyone would want to live in or otherwise use for anything but impressing an investor. (And whoever decided to place roads so that the dreaded Sim Boundaries run right down the yellow stripe in the middle was either clueless or a real prankster; I’m hoping the latter.)

So I visited an area that I would rather didn’t exist, that has ordinary land and some useless-eyecandy builds. And I loved pretty much every second of it. :)

Because, as will be obvious in retrospect, there were lots of people there. And they were to a large extent people who pay attention (because they knew that the land had just opened for inspection) and who have an interest in freedom of expression and action, in how the world is governed, and/or in culture and sexuality (because they were there, interested in Zindra). And it was fabulous. I had the best “going out and pretending to be an extrovert” sort of night I’ve had in a long time.

Jack Linden and resies, last night in Zindra

That’s Jack Linden, chief bottle-washer for the Mainland, who stopped by briefly and bantered with the assembled crowds, talking to a cute and intelligent kitty; in the background is a woman riding a horse and wearing… eyeglasses. :) There were people in normal day-clothes, people in tight latex and collars, people with tentacles instead of legs, one tall guy wearing nothing but shoes and wanting to be admired for being the first naked guy in Zindra (he got alot of good-natured teasing for that), people in sexy stuff and normal stuff and crazy stuff. We made silly jokes, we talked about the Adult content stuff, we talked about how sterile and odd the builds were, we discussed the state of the world and the possibilities for the future.

I got out my hoverdisc and hovered around instead of walking or flying, because it was pretty laggy with that many people, and being nonphysical the hoverdisc behaves much more predictably in lag.

I investigated a yellow dot on the minimap and found a friend that I haven’t talked to in weeks, and we said hi and chatted and picked up our conversation as though it had been only five or ten minutes. After a bit there was a rumor that Jack Linden was having a meeting at a nearby beach; I told my friend I would hoverdisc over and check it out. Turns out it was just Jack passing through and saying Hi to some people, and he was already gone when I got there, but there were nine or ten folks standing in a circle playing with bouncy-balls and talking, and I joined in, and my friend came over. I met the founder of the First Church of Rosedale, and although it was the first time either of us could recall having met, we also started talking as though we were mid-way into a conversation that had been only briefly interrupted. (She later remembered that we’d spoken very briefly a few weeks ago at a place where she was fencing and I was listening to the DJ.)

I was in love. Not with anyone in particular :) but with the whole scene. New and open land (albeit with some weird stuff on it), a sense of uncertainty, of potential, sexy and strange and whip-smart people who somehow feel like family the instant you set eyes on them. Just like SL is supposed to be!

I eventually realized that the clock really meant what it was saying, and reluctantly logged out and went to sleep. But during lunch today I went briefly back in, just to see what was up.

This morning in Zindra

There were still people there, almost an entirely different set of people. They were, still / again, really interesting-looking, but unfortunately they were using Voice (ewww), and as well as eating lunch I was also listening to a teleconference so I couldn’t hook in to that.

But for awhile they were talking in text-chat, and it turned out that one of them was (or said he was, and I have no reason to disbelieve him) a former member of the Linden Department of Public Works, and in fact one of the team that had worked on the build that we were standing in. People were asking him various questions about the Zindra builds, and he said two very interesting things:

  • First, that the people doing the Zindra builds didn’t know that they were building for the Adult continent! He said that they found out about it at the same time we did. Have to wonder just what the LDPW builders were told. “Build some cool-looking stuff; we don’t really care what, as long as it’s cool”, maybe? No idea. But in any case at least as far as the builders knew the odd builds that were puzzling everyone were not specifically done with the Adult continent in mind.
  • And second, that he and various of his colleagues were now ex-members of the LDPW, because of some Lab policy change about where they’re allowed to hire from. He didn’t say much more than that, and I have no idea what it means, but y’all investigative journalists out there are invited to nose into it. Or point me at the place where it’s already common knowledge. :)

Last night, standing around with those sexy crazy smart people and having a good time, we decided that it must be one of those Cunning Schemes of the Lab, to get all of us pervs together in one place, knowing that we’d have a great time talking, and therefore not feel as bad about the whole Adult Content debacle.

It was sort of a joke, and I doubt that the Lab had anything like that in mind, but to some extent it worked. I think even the bizarre eyecandy builds had a sort of back-handed positive effect: sure the builds are weird and we had fun complaining about them and stuff, but they were there, the Lab had put in some effort. The place wasn’t just one big rectangular empty continent with some default texture on the ground. Some thought had been put into it, and if it was sort of the typical wtf “roads running right along Sim boundaries” kind of thought, well we’re Resies and we’re used to that. It feels nice and familiar, in a way.

And I doubt the Lab did that on purpose either. :)

So hm what else what I going to say? Jack Linden (the only Official that I noticed while I was there) said a couple of interesting things. First, there was this:

Dale Innis: So your plan to lure all us pervs here where we would naturally have a good time is working pretty well, I have to say.
Jack Linden: hehe Dale

See that? I said something funny, and a Linden said “hehe Dale”! Swoon! :)

And a bit more on-topic:

Crissy Draper: The continent isn’t as big as I thought it would be
Jack Linden: crissy, we’ve only put a small part of the continent up so far
Crissy Draper: Oh I see :)
Dale Innis: I hope you’re prepared for it to be really really big.
Jack Linden: it can grow a lot if it needs to
Dale Innis: oh good :)

(And, in the interests of full disclosure, we then had

Minx Eisenhart: thats wha all men say Jack

which was just the kind of humor we had all night. And although Minx had huge kazongas and was wearing a latex body-suit and dancing constantly and running lots of silly gestures, she was also witty and articulate when she wanted to be, and not actually annoying at all.)

The reason I said “oh good” when Jack said that they can grow the Adult continent (continents?) alot if they need to, is that I currently have this somewhat starry-eyed theory, shared with some others commenting in the various weblogs and stuff, that before too long there will be lots of Adult land in the Grid, both mainland and private estates, and that in fact most of the interesting personal and creative and recreational stuff in SL will happen in Adult areas, and we can sort of forget that this whole silly thing happened (except for the non-verified folks, who won’t be able to get to it all, and that’s a worry). This has put me at odds with people who, for whatever reason, are convinced that Zindra will be just a small ghetto of wall-to-wall porn and sex shops, that no one with any taste would actually want to visit.

These different visions of the future have immediate practical consequences. For instance if I’m right it would be a bad idea to ban all child AVs from Zindra, because there will be lots of perfectly kid-AV-friendly stuff going on there, because people will have their ordinary houses and art galleries and parks and stuff there, and the only things that you’d want to ban kid AVs from are the relatively small subset of things that are blatantly sexual or otherwise extreme enough that having even an apparent child there would be just too icky. On the other hand if the “wall to wall sex” people are right, it’s hard to make a very strong case against such a ban.

I generally believe in erring on the side of liberty, and I find the connection between adults in child AVs and actual danger to real children tenuous enough that I don’t think we really need to panic at the thought of someone in a child AV walking past a sex club. But I respect the opinions of those who feel otherwise. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

Now hm, I’d intended to keep some of that for another posting. :) But I guess I’m a motormouth (motorfingers?) tonight. Back to RL for a bit (does posting to an SL weblog count as being inworld?), then maybe I’ll see you later, around the grid…

How long, and how rich?

A picture of my weblog, for my weblog
So the first question in the Big Bad Blogger Challenge is: “How long have you been a blogger? How has it enriched your life?”.

For some reason I shudder at the words “blog” and “blogger”. :) But I’ve been writing a weblog since October 1999 (woot!), or perhaps since August 1999 (depending on how you count the rather weblog-like “news” page on my personal domain). On September 17th, 1999, I presciently wrote:

I think everyone in the world should be forced to write a paragraph a day of thoughts, events, rants, or whatever, and to put it up on the Web for everyone to read. Of course that would imply universal literacy and computer access, but that’s OK! Anyone who refused to post their daily paragraph could like have their livers eaten by eagles or something.

thus personally kicking off the entire Personal Publishing Revolution single-handed.

On the other hand, I started weblogging here on June 20th, 2008.

Hey, so I’m coming up on my tenth year of weblogging in general, and my first year of SL weblogging. What fun!

How has it enriched my life?

I’ve always loved writing, loved speaking in the textual voice; and similarly (I freely admit) loved reading my own words, listening to my own voice. In general I don’t speak in voice-voice nearly as much or as comfortably; I’m not that fond of the sound of my voice, and I speak kinda fast (not to mention I say weird things) so people often don’t hear and/or don’t understand what I’ve just said in voice. In print, they will at least see the right words, and they can reread them a few times if they seemed too nonsensical the first time. Not that that always helped. :)

Writing stuff in general has wildly enriched my life, I’d say, in ways and reasons that I can’t lay out in obvious milestones or promotions or new family members or titles of nobility. I’ve made friends, of that mysterious delicious textual sort of friend that one makes through letters, through words, through text. I’ve recorded bits of my life and later gone back and read them again, to great advantage in memory and placidity and general happiness. I’ve had nice validating comments from various people (you read what I wrote! you considered it significant enough to react to! maybe you even liked it!). And in general I think writing to the world, and hearing back from interesting parts of the world (I have the best readers) has kept me sane (more or less) and enriched my life marvelously.

Also I get to post pictures of myself! :)

A whole week of postings? Gasp!

Chestnut points to Alicia Chenaux’s Big Bad Blogger Challenge, which dares the world to post something to their weblog (“blog”, wince) every day for a whole week.

Oooooh! :)

‘way ‘way back in the day that would have been no challenge at all; I used to post regularly to my RL weblog every single day, always, with just the occasional off-day that I would apologize to my readers for. That was a long time ago! Before Second Life, before World of Warcraft, before a bunch of things. And also before WordPress; my RL weblog was (and is) hand-edited HTML (heavly copy-and-pasted from week to week of course), uploaded via scp. Old Skool!

Nowadays I post to the RL weblog maybe two or four times a month, and I post here utterly sporadically, as you know. But given this challenge, maybe I’ll try doing a whole week and see what happens.

‘course I’m already a day behind; maybe I’ll do two today to catch up…

What a tangled web we weave…

Just sayin'...

So those of you who have read my profile’s “1st Life” tab, which says that I am a male sort of person, and maybe some others of you also, probably think that when I am being Girl Dale I am being a boy pretending to be a girl.

But I feel that I must here reveal that that is pretense, and actually I am a girl; that is, I am a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl.

Ha ha ha, no wait, wait! I was just kidding. Just pulling your leg for a moment. Just pretending.

Because that way, for that one brief shining moment, I was a boy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl.

And how many times in life do you get a chance to be something that complicated?


(Also it is late at night.)

Dale visits Metaplace, becomes teeny!

Dale visits Metaplace

Here’s Dale exploring Yet Another Virtual World; this time it’s Metaplace, a Flash-based in-browser isometric-projection sort of world, or collection of worlds really, about which I will now say some things based on just a couple of hours of hanging around. Metaplace fans annoyed by the superficial and clueless presentation are urged to give us the Real Story in the comments. :)

Metaplace: Being teeny

So the first thing that struck me, coming into Metaplace from SL, is that I was really teensy. That picture above, of me lounging on a chair in Metaplace Central, is actual size, and (at least in that particular world) there is no way to zoom in.

I say “at least in that particular world” because another feature of Metaplace is that it’s actually a whole bunch of (quite small) separate worlds, connected by teleport gates and web pages, each of which can have quite different rules. Some worlds are isometric, some are overhead views. Some (most?) worlds let you chat with other people who are there, others don’t. If you can chat, the distance away that people can hear you can vary at the world creator’s whim (which is imho more confusing than useful). Some worlds ignore your set avatar and show you as whatever they think you should look like.

For instance in one popular world, called something like “Plain Old Chat”, there are no avatars or objects at all, just a pretty background image and a text chat box that everyone currently “in” the world can type into and see. And here I am in a world which is a “High Seas” game, being a teeny little ship of some kind:

Metaplace: I'm a ship!

Which brings up another interesting aspect of Metaplace: the underlying infrastructure and narrative is very much about building worlds which are games. When you look at a world, one of the fields of the description is “How to Play”; if the world isn’t actually a game, people just stick more descriptive text, or “Be Nice” or whatever, in there.

Also game-related is the fact that users have “levels” (note the little “8” by my name in the pictures there; experienced users seem to have levels up above 50 or so). As in vside (VSide? V-Side?) as you do various things in the world(s), like exploring, leaving comments on people’s worlds, building, and so on, you get points, and go up levels. You also get coins (I’m not clear on the relationship between levels and coins) that you can spend on things like putting your name on a Metaplace Central street sign for a day (“DaleInnis Street”!), buying non-free objects, and so on. (I don’t know if you can give coins to other players, or convert between coins and RL money, or like that.)

Having levels is a nice way to give a new user little jolts of validation now and then and keep up the visceral interest. I’m not sure what impact, if any, it has on longer-term use; that would be an interesting study.

I tried a few of the “Featured” or “Most Popular” games, and they were (and I apologize for the cruelty) pretty lame. The “High Seas” game above is Featured, in that there is a portal to it directly from Metaplace Central; I found it completely unplayable, in that the ship moved so slowly and responded to commands so slowly that my patience ran out long before I figured out what I was actually supposed to be doing.

This may be a point-in-time statement, as they say: Metaplace is pretty young, and still in Beta (well, aren’t we all?), and most likely the user-created games will improve as there are more of them and more work is put into them.

And this brings up another point: not only are the avatars teeny, but so is the user population, and the company running the thing. I logged in this morning, went to the main hangout, Metaplace Central, and there was one other person there (and he was AFK). I ran around a little, taking pictures and gathering medallions for the Medallion Game (which is utterly simple but really kind of fun, and encourages running around), and the population of the place varied between two and five. There’s a list at the bottom of the screen of the current highest-population worlds, and a population of 10 is clearly a rare and impressive event.

There also seem to be a smallish handful of Metaplace people running the joint, and already they sound tired. :) I actually laughed out loud when one of the Metaplace people said in global chat in response to a question about whether some issue was being worked on “there are so many of you and so few of us”. Just wait until you’ve got 70,000 concurrent users, rather than 70!

The tininess of the world is also clear from the “Metaplace” global chat tab. This is a text-chat channel that, as far as I can tell, everyone in any Metaplace world can type in, and everyone in every Metaplace world will see. I used it to ask some questions, and got some pretty good and helpful answers. But obviously this doesn’t scale At All; try to imagine a single universal chat channel in SL or WoW! The WoW trade channel is bad enough, and that’s just everyone in any capital city in your current shard. It’ll be interesting to see, if and as Metaplace grows, what they do with the global chat channel.

Having one’s default (or only) client run in the browser is probably a big advantage in terms of getting people to take a look; it’s trivially easy to try out Metaplace. (At least one person I talked to a bit in Metaplace Central said “I don’t want to dl a special program”.)

On the other hand you can do only so much with Flash if you want to run at acceptable speeds (pending exciting Flash 3D stuff that I gather is Coming). While most worlds seem to run at the same zoom level as Metaplace Central pictured above, the creator of a world can specify a different zoom level, or even let the user control their own zoom level (ooh!) with the mousewheel (not sure what corresponds to the mousewheel on this laptop here).

The reason most people leave the zoom level at “1” becomes clear if we zoom up to level “2”:

Metaplace: why you don't want to zoom in

Heh heh, yeah.

The low-rez grey blob next to the low-rez me is a Puppy that I found in the object library and installed in my world while doing the tutorial. Yes, I have my own Metaplace world! Everyone does; you get one for free when you sign up, and it’s automatically your home location. It’s small, and you can’t make it larger unless you become a “VIP” member and pay money.

But even as a non-paying member you can terraform and texture your world, and create objects and stuff. There’s also a scripting language called Metascript, which I haven’t really looked at at all, but is lua-based (probably a better idea than LSL’s “dreamed up out of whole cloth on too little sleep” heritage), and given that it’s designed to enable complex games probably enables all sorts of interesting stuff. I’m not sure if non-paying members can create Metascript-dirven objects of their own, but nothing that I saw suggests that they can’t.

Having small worlds, Flash clients, and a comparatively tiny concurrency does not mean that Metaplace is rock-solid. My first night I went to my (still pretty much empty) Home World to find that I didn’t exist there; my avatar didn’t appear, and there was no chatbox. I went to Metaplace Central and asked the people gathered at the cafe there if this was a Common Problem. Apparently it wasn’t, and someone suggested I ask in global chat; so I did that, and one of the Metaplace people said she would “restart” my world (I’m not sure exactly what that means) and see if that helped. I went to my world after she did that, and it was all working again, and she was there, and we said “yay”, and she went away.

A little while later in the global chat she or another of the Metaplace people said that a bunch of the developers had just dashed down the hall, and it looked like there was an “issue”. Shortly after that, a message went out that all of Metaplace would be restarting in a minute, and everyone should save their work.

So it’s not just SL. :)

(For that matter I’ve been having more lag and crashing problems in WoW than I have in SL lately. I’m reluctant to go anywhere near Dalaran, even though I can do the Fishing Dailies now. It’s a pain!)

Anyway so okay, what else did I want to say about Metaplace? I customized my own world a bit, adding some plants and putting a wall and concrete path around the teleporter that leads to Metaplace Central. I also added the puppy (during the tutorial) and a bird emitter, so now I have birds. Then I put a lamp-post in the middle that you can turn on and off (a free item from the Marketplace), and edited it so that it glows when you put the cursor over it (making it more obvious that you can interact with it).

Haven’t done any serious building or looked into the scripting language, and I’m not sure that I’m going to. Metaplace is kind of cute, but it’s hard to imagine really immersing in it the way I do so easily in Second Life. Being teensy, having very limited avatar customization options, and having such a small number of people to interact with, are all big disadvantages compared to SL, and the only advantage seems to be the in-browser client. That’s nice, but I doubt that it’s enough to really keep me coming back. And if I want cute little flash games, there are already Zillions of those all over the web.

So I dunno. Time will tell. :)