Much Better!

I just did my daily check of the link that the Blue Mars folks sent me on the 5th, to see if the very restrictive Beta agreement was still there, and Lo and Behold, it wasn’t!

Instead it led to a much friendlier registration process, containing a ToS that (while still real real long) didn’t have any of that nasty Confidential Information stuff in it, or threats of ex parte injunctions; just the usual “you can’t under any circumstances sue us for anything no matter what we do” legalese.

Cool!

Maybe I will try it when I get home.

(I did notice one clause in the ToS that seems to forbid ever logging off, but that’s just humorous, not worrying. :) )

Update: So I downloaded all 1.2GB of the installer, started it up, let it churn for quite awhile, and then was presented with a screen asking me to agree to a long legal agreement before I could continue. And guess what! It was the old restrictive NDA-containing one! I think I will go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I will convince myself that the two short postings on the Blue Mars Twitter feed saying that the beta NDA has been lifted are enough to render clicking “I agree” on this thing legally and morally null. Not tonight, though.

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Thinking about gender

Not me thinking about gender :) but some other smart persons doing it. Not that I’ve actually finished reading them all. (Do I ever finish reading anything?) Mostly on the whole Autogynephilia thing. (Which I still think I’d rather spell “Autogynophilia”.) The word (and the concept) has some baggage attached to it in various contexts, but baggage can be interesting.

Autogynephilia on a Napkin: Part 1, Part 2.

Men who want to have a woman’s body (Autogynephilia for Dummies)

Found, I think, from a John Carter tweet while browsing around about Blue Mars.

And sort of on the other side of the coin, a Plurk from Dusty Artaud led me to The CTO Wore Drag, in which the author expresses dismay that some people are different genders in RL and in virtual worlds, even in business contexts.

The tone of the article really annoyed me (as is probably obvious from my comments, heh heh). The author refers to cross-gender AVs as “gender-inappropriate avatars” (owch!), and opines that she doesn’t want various of her employees to be “creative at all”. So very very very XXth century thinking.

I had a dream a long long time ago, before SL, about a world in while people could switch genders at will (although it was a somewhat inconvenient process). I do look forward to us learning to make less of a Big Deal about this stuff; so much pain could be avoided…

Now that’s odd…

Blue Mars Online logoQuick followup to the last post: I decided that since I wasn’t going to be in the beta due to the rather extreme agreement, I’d look around and see what there was to read on the Web in the way of second-hand Blue Mars stuff.

Well, from the Blue Mars Online Twitter feed, I got to the Twitter feed of one John Carter (how could one resist reading John Carter’s thoughts on Mars after all?), and from there to this weblog entry in which he writes in part:

Still waiting for my beta key for Blue Mars, but I finally got into the forums, on about my 20th try at entering the captcha.

Which raised my eyebrows slightly, since it suggested that the forums might be more or less open to random people. Two seconds in Google found the forums in question, and it turns out that in fact anyone in the world can sign up for them by filling in a minimal web form, passing a rather challenging captcha, and agreeing that if you start trolling they can terminate your account.

So… since anything on the Blue Mars Beta forums can be seen by anyone in the world, isn’t every Blue Mars Beta tester who posts anything there about the Beta (beyond the fact that it exists and they are taking part in it), violating the Confidentiality sections of the Beta agreement?

I wonder if maybe that agreement page is left over from the early, NDA-bearing, closed beta, and someone just forgot to update it?

Maybe if I check back now and then, they’ll eventually change it to something that I can agree to. :)

And if not, at least I can read the forums in the meantime…

Why I’m not in the Blue Mars beta-test

BLUE MARS™ BETA TEST AGREEMENT

PLEASE READ THIS BETA TEST AGREEMENT (THE “AGREEMENT”) CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING THE “ACCEPT” BUTTON BELOW OR BY PARTICIPATING IN THE CLOSED PRE-RELEASE BETA TEST (THE “BETA TEST”) FOR BLUE MARS™ (“BLUE MARS”), YOU (“YOU”) AGREE THAT THIS AGREEMENT IS ENFORCEABLE LIKE ANY WRITTEN CONTRACT SIGNED BY YOU. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ALL OF THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT, CLICK ON THE BUTTON THAT INDICATES THAT YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ACCEPT THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, AND DO NOT COMPLETE INSTALLATION OF THE SOFTWARE.

  I. Beta Test Restrictions. Avatar Reality™ (“Avatar Reality”) has designed and developed and is the publisher of Blue Mars. Avatar Reality is conducting the Beta Test to allow a limited number of people to give feedback and comments to Avatar Reality regarding Blue Mars as well as to test the features, capabilities and performance of software (“Beta Software”) and other informational materials (“Beta Materials”) as may be provided by Avatar Reality as part of this Beta Test.
  In order to participate in the Beta Test, you must be:
A. Eighteen (18) years of age or older.
B. Not a principal, employee, agent, independent contractor, consultant, officer or director of a developer or publisher of video or computer games or virtual worlds, other than Avatar Reality.
  II. Compensation. you represent and warrant that you are entering into this Agreement on a completely voluntary basis with no expectation of any form of compensation whatsoever other than what is expressly provided for in this Agreement. you agree that the role you will play in helping Avatar Reality develop better software does not constitute a critical or vital role in the development of Blue Mars or the Beta Software such as to entitle you to claims of ownership or rights to receive any other compensation or acknowledgement of any kind for your participation. you agree that Avatar Reality may terminate your participation in the Beta Test at any time without any compensation. you agree that your participation in the Beta Test does not constitute an employment agreement or offer of such an agreement between you and Avatar Reality and that your participation in the program is strictly voluntary and done solely for your personal enjoyment and that Avatar Reality expects you only to use your leisure time to participate in this program, and does not expect you to forego other activities, including gainful employment, during the time you spend participating in this program. you may stop being a volunteer tester of Blue Mars at any time that you wish.
  III. Termination of Beta Test. Avatar Reality may, in its sole discretion, terminate the Beta Test at any time.
  IV. Testing and Evaluation Obligations. you hereby agree to test, evaluate and analyze Blue Mars and specific aspects of it as identified by Avatar Reality to you and to provide feedback, analysis, suggestions and comments to Avatar Reality (including, but not limited to, bug reports and test results) as reasonably requested by Avatar Reality, or as otherwise voluntarily provided by you (collectively, “Feedback”). you agree that as part of your participation in the Beta Test, it is your responsibility to report all bugs, exploits, or other defects and problems (collectively “Bugs”) related to Blue Mars and the Beta Software to Avatar Reality as soon as you find them. If you know about a Bug or have heard about a Bug and fail to report the Bug to Avatar Reality, Avatar Reality may terminate your participation in the Beta Test and may disallow your future participation in Blue Mars.
  V. Personally Identifiable Information, Privacy Issues. you may be required to provide Avatar Reality certain personally identifiable information (“Personal Information”). Retention and use of Personal Information is subject to the Avatar Reality privacy policy as set forth at http://www.bluemarsonline.com/legal/privacy.html. you acknowledge and agree that your communications with other users or with Avatar Reality via chats, conferences, bulletin boards, and any other avenues of communication within Blue Mars, the Beta Software and/or this Beta Test are public and not private communications, and that you have no expectation of privacy concerning your use of Blue Mars and/or the Beta Software. you agree that Avatar Reality may monitor and record any such communications.
  VI. Term of the Agreement. Your participation in the Beta Test may be terminated by Avatar Reality at any time, for any reason or for no reason, by providing written or emailed notice to you. you may, at any time, for any reason or for no reason, terminate your participation in the Beta Test by providing written or emailed notice to Avatar Reality. Upon termination of the Beta Test or your participation in it, any and all license rights granted to you under the Terms of Service shall terminate immediately. you agree that you will return to Avatar Reality any and all copies of the Beta Software delivered to you for review at the request of Avatar Reality. The return of the material and termination of your participation in the Beta Test will not affect your confidentiality obligations as set forth in Sections VII through IX.
  VII. Confidential Information. “Confidential Information” includes any and all information relating to, contained in or relayed through the Beta Software, Blue Mars, and the Beta Test, including but not limited to information relating to the performance, capabilities and features of Blue Mars, the performance, capabilities and features of the Beta Software, the contents and features of the Beta Materials, your Feedback, any other Beta Test participant’s Feedback, and any Avatar Reality employee’s Feedback. By way of clarifying examples and not as a limitation, Confidential Information includes comments regarding the stability of Blue Mars and/or the Beta Software, comments regarding the appearance, features, or functionality of Blue Mars and/or the Beta Software, general comments about Blue Mars’s overall development, contact/private information for Avatar Reality personnel that is provided to you, any information that would allow people who are not part of the Beta Test to access any private areas for use in connection with the Beta Test, including but not limited to, Blue Mars, the Beta Software, chat, email and message boards, postings from the private boards or forum for the Beta Test, screen captures, pictures, videos, podcasts, audio files, or any other representations in any form of media, known or unknown, of any content in Blue Mars, the Beta Software, or the Beta Materials.
  VIII. CONFIDENTIALITY OBLIGATION. YOU MAY DISCLOSE THAT THE BETA TEST EXISTS AND THAT YOU ARE PARTICIPATING IN IT, HOWEVER, YOU AGREE THAT YOU WILL NOT PUBLISH, DISCLOSE, DISTRIBUTE, TRANSMIT, POST OR OTHERWISE MAKE AVAILABLE, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ANY CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION DEFINED IN SECTION VII PUBLICLY OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY, EXCEPT AS REQUIRED BY A JUDICIAL OR GOVERNMENTAL ORDER AS SET FORTH BELOW, UNTIL AND UNLESS AVATAR REALITY AUTHORIZES YOU TO DO SO IN WRITING. you may disclose Confidential Information in accordance with a judicial or governmental order; provided that (a) you give Avatar Reality prompt written notice of such order so Avatar Reality has opportunity to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy to such order, prior to disclosure and shall comply with any applicable protective order or equivalent, (b) you provide Avatar Reality with all reasonable assistance in opposing such required disclosure or seeking a protective order or confidential treatment for all or part of such Confidential Information, and (c) you disclose only such portion of the Confidential Information as is either permitted by Avatar Reality or required by the court, tribunal, governmental agency or other authority, subject to any protective order or confidential treatment obtained by Avatar Reality.
  IX. Injunctive Relief. you acknowledge and agree that a breach or threatened breach of your Confidentiality Obligation as set forth in Sections VII and VIII of this Agreement will cause irreparable injury, that money damages alone would be an inadequate remedy and that Avatar Reality shall be entitled to ex parte injunctive relief, without bond, to restrain you from such breach or threatened breach.
  X. Warranty and Disclaimer.
  A. Warranty Disclaimer. THE BETA SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED TO YOU “AS IS” AND AVATAR REALITY MAKES NO WARRANTY, CONDITION OR REPRESENTATION (EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, WHETHER BY STATUTE, COMMON LAW, CUSTOM, USAGE OR OTHERWISE) AS TO ANY MATTER INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, NONINFRINGEMENT OF THIRD PARTY RIGHTS, MERCHANTABILITY, INTEGRATION, OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. YOU ASSUME ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR SELECTING THE BETA SOFTWARE TO ACHIEVE YOUR INTENDED RESULTS, AND FOR THE INSTALLATION OF, USE OF, AND RESULTS OBTAINED FROM THE BETA SOFTWARE. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, AVATAR REALITY MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT THE BETA SOFTWARE WILL BE ERROR-FREE, THAT BLUE MARS WILL BE FREE FROM INTERRUPTIONS OR OTHER FAILURES, OR THAT THE BETA SOFTWARE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS.
  B. Limitation of Liability. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES AND UNDER NO LEGAL THEORY, WHETHER IN TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), CONTRACT, OR OTHERWISE, SHALL AVATAR REALITY BE LIABLE TO YOU OR TO ANY OTHER PERSON FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, LOSS OF GOODWILL, OR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, OR DAMAGES FOR GROSS NEGLIGENCE OF ANY CHARACTER INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR WORK STOPPAGE, COMPUTER FAILURE OR MALFUNCTION, OR FOR ANY OTHER DAMAGE OR LOSS. IN NO EVENT SHALL AVATAR REALITY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES IN EXCESS OF ANY AMOUNT YOU HAVE PAID AVATAR REALITY FOR THE BETA SOFTWARE, IF ANY, EVEN IF AVATAR REALITY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
  XI. Test Environment. you acknowledge that Blue Mars and the Beta Software will run in a test environment, and that avatars, avatar data, Blue Mars currency balances, virtual items, and any other value or status indicators that you accumulate as part of the Beta Test may be erased or modified by Avatar Reality at any time. you agree that unless you are specifically told otherwise in writing by Avatar Reality, such data will not be exported into Blue Mars once Blue Mars is commercially released.
  XII. Terms of Service and End User License Agreement. you agree that your participation in the Beta Test and use of the Beta Software are governed by the Terms of Service Agreement, available at http://www.bluemarsonline.com/legal/tos.html.
  XIII. Survival. you agree that the provisions of Sections II, IV, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, and XVI will continue in full force and effect even after the Beta Test has been terminated or completed and/or your participation in the Beta Test has been terminated.
  XIV. Entire Agreement. This Agreement (including any amendments you subsequently agree to, the Terms of Service Agreement, and the Privacy Policy, which are incorporated herein by reference) represents the complete agreement between you and Avatar Reality concerning the subject matter of the Agreement, and supersedes any prior agreements and representations between you and Avatar Reality.
  XV. Reform and Severability. If any provision of this Agreement is held to be unenforceable for any reason, such provision shall be reformed to the extent necessary to make it enforceable to the maximum extent permissible so as to affect the intent of the parties, and the remainder of this Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.
  XVI. Applicable Law And Venue. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed under the laws of the state of California without reference to its conflict of law principles. Each party agrees to submit to the exclusive and personal jurisdiction of the courts located in San Francisco County, California. The United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act shall not apply to this Agreement.
  XVII. Avatar Reality Customer Contact. If you have any questions concerning these terms and conditions, or if you would like to contact Avatar Reality for any other reason, please contact Avatar Reality support at info@avatar-reality.com.

Sheesh.

Update: this was fixed a few days later. :)

Virtual Ability presents “Fashions for Everyone”

Insight Virtual CollegeI want to share an intriguing class announcement that went out over “Hey Girlfriend!” (my shopping and general girltalk and silliness group) group IM. It’s a class at Insight Virtual College (a place I now want to find out more about!), given by Virtual Ability (one of the winners of the first Linden Prize for goodness), about making one’s fashion-related things accessible by and friendly to SL residents with various forms of disability.

Fashion aspects aside (we all know how fashionable I am!), this seems likely to be a really interesting session. Virtual worlds are clearly wonderfully accessible for people with some disabilities (regardless of your RL status, there’s no reason to be in a wheelchair in SL unless you want to!), and extremely problematic for others (here I will plug some very interesting work in enabling SL for the blind).

Anyway! Here’s the announcement:

** PRESS RELEASE **
For immediate release

Virtual Ability presents “Fashions for Everyone” at Insight Virtual College. This one and a half hour long class will cover the following topics with plenty of time for discussion and demonstration:

  • Background about disabilities in SL
  • Relating to people with disabilities in general
  • Issues related to clothing
  • Store design for inclusion
  • Issues related to salespeople

Did you know that 20% of SL residents have some kind of disability? Are you reaching this market with the fashions you create and your store layout? The audience for this class includes SL fashion designers as well as store owners in SL of any type.

Join Gentle Heron and Eme Capalini from Virtual Ability for an informative session that will challenge and enlighten fashion designers and store owners. Both are experts in SL disability issues.

Insight Virtual College (232,81,36)
Stargazer Planetarium
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Insight%20Virtual%20College/197/11/54

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. SLT
Repeated on Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. SLT

Comments are welcome, as always, as well as trip reports from anyone who attends the class. If I manage to remember to go :) I will post a followup.

Who you callin’ goo?

We start this morning’s entry in the Thingmaker Weblog :) with a picture of five more things that the Thingmaker made yesterday:

Five things all in the same picture!

(See also bigger.)

I like the upper-left one because of the weird flickering pseudo-texturing that it has, due to almost-overlapping prims. That’s something that I would normally never think to do when building by hand; the flickering-texture effect that you get when two prims have coincident surfaces is generally a bad thing. But Thingmaker doesn’t know that, so it plays around with the effect freely, and in this case with a neat result.

And I like the lower-right one for its total flatness of color. I’m not sure how it did that! Obviously it has shiny turned off, but usually that wouldn’t do it this thoroughly. I’d say that it might have fullbright on, but I’m pretty sure that I haven’t taught it about fullbright yet! I love it when my thing-creator things create things that puzzle me. :)

I didn’t make nearly as many things as I otherwise would have last night, because for some reason the Thingmaker kept getting shut off by the Grey Goo Fence, a feature of the SL laws of physics designed to prevent some kinds of griefing attacks.

I was (and am) very puzzled to find the relatively slow and not-numerous rezzes that the Thingmaker does hitting the fence, especially since it was if anything even slower than it was the two days before, when it didn’t hit the fence once. Maybe they’ve been changing the fence rules: they do that periodically, and they don’t document exactly what the fence rules are, for the pretty good reason that they don’t want griefers to optimize their griefing tools to come right up to the edge of the fence and stop.

It occurred to me that it was sort of odd to have the fence tripping on me on my own land, anyway (I was in the Hughes Rise park); I don’t really need to be defended against griefing myself! :) So I opened a JIRA suggesting that fence rules be relaxed when the object doing the rezzing is on its owner’s property. I’m not sure it makes complete sense, but it’s at least worth considering.

Amusingly enough, while I was looking to see if such a JIRA already existed, I came across another JIRA, complaining that the fence wasn’t strict enough, and was letting griefers rapidly rez thousands of objects. So I stuck a comment in there also.

Hard things to contain, these replicators!

(Oh, and while we’re on the subject, here’s an important JIRA that all SL users should read.)

More things!

Failing to resist the urge to post more and more and more pictures of things made by the Thingmaker, I enthusiastically present more pictures of things! Note that one of them involves prims that are not ovoids! Technology marches on!

Another thing made by the Thingmaker
Another thing made by the Thingmaker
Another thing made by the Thingmaker
Another thing made by the Thingmaker
Another thing made by the Thingmaker