Monday, November 17, 2008

Berlin Wall Display in Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Veterans Day/Rememberance Day, I heard about a replica of part of the Berlin Wall set up here in Second Life. IMing the man I heard built it, Christo Larsen, we chatted for a couple minutes, then he invited me to his sim Ciel. So I went over.

“A lot of foreign people don’t know much about about the Berlin Wall,” Christo, whom is German, told me, “even th e younger ones. He explained that the New Berlin area also had a replica of the Wall, “It’s very good, sophisticated, but they don’t have any information, ... no displays.”

Christo explained he was aware of the Berlin Wall as a kid, but he lived far away from it, “This whole business didn’t touch me, no connection. I never went to it while it was up. ... But still, I remember the day (when it came down). ... friends and family who couldn’t see each other ... “ His thoughts turned again to how people forgot, “You know how people ... all the things have been better, they don’t understand. ... inside, they didn’t let yo u meet them ... they arrested, they even shot. ... It’s been nineteen years now. Of course people born under a united Germany they don’t know what it was like.”

“I’ve even have someone ask when Hitler built it,” Christo remarked of how little some people knew about it, “I don’t see them as stupid. For instance, North American History, the Civil War, I don’t know what it was about. ... Second Life ... we have plenty of malls and clubs ... we need more educational areas ... debates ... it’s one thing to read a %bout it, but if you see a movie or docudrama ... “ Second Life was in turn a better media, he told, “gives you a chance to walk along it.”

The exhibit itself consisted of the Wall with bare dirt, wire fence, sections of old brick wall (presumably buildings caught in the path of the Wall) and tank barriers on the eastern side. With the western side marked by graffiti, the eastern has information signs and pictures for visitors. In the middle of the Wall Section was a replica of the American Checkpoint - Checkpoint Charlie, “The most famous one, being in the movies.” He mentioned as the entire Berlin Wall was constructed on East German territory, the American soldiers at the checkpoint were technically on the other side of the border, “but no one shot for that.” 

On the East German side were & a couple cars, East German Trabbi, “symbol of the inferiority of the East German economy. ... plastic, not steel, body was a hard plastic shell.” An East German worker often had to wait ten to fifteen years to get one of the “stinky and noisy” vehicles, “But people still love them,” Christo saying they were now a rare collectors item.

We walked along the displays to those of escape attempts across the Wall. One was a picture of the East German soldier who made a break for it, and safely made it without being fired at from either side. Another picture was of a woman who dropped from a high window in a building straddling the Wall zone to reach freedom, later dying from her injuries. Christo talked about what he felt was the most famous death at the Wall, a teenager trying to make a break for it , getting through no-mans-land, and getting shot just before he could get up the West side of the Wall. He bled to death in front of everyone, Christo saying the soldiers on both sides were afraid of starting a fight. 

Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall, “The border all around was armed, but Berlin was the symbol ... divided streets ... finally people were able to sit on the Wall. No one knew about the soldiers, who still were under orders to secure the border. But none of them fired ... we were very lucky. In 1953, East Germans protested ... Soviets sent troops in, smashed the uprising down violently.” Christo felt the Perestroika movement under Soviet leader Gorbachev helped pave the way for the fall of the Wall, but that it would not have been possible without the lessening tensions between Russia and the West.

Pictures showed the wall coming down, Christo giving Dec 22 as the date. He also put up comparison pictures of how bare places looked just after the wall was torn down, and years later when they were covered with buildings, “Look how it is fifteen years later, it’s amazing. ... Wounds can heal, but scars never go away.”

At the end was a streaming video, pictures related to the wall, with Pink Floyd music, and Regan’s famous phrase, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Christo says the Berlin Wall will not be permanent, but will be keeping it up for a week or two, depending on how many people visit, “Sometimes you get tired of all the shopping. I’m not saying one should go to a vitural museum every day, but once in a while.”

The Berlin Wall exhibit is at Ciel (60. 50, 24).

“Thank you so much.”

*  *  *  *  *

Addition: The Berlin Wall exhibit (I later found out the Communists called it the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart") would go up one more time the following year in 2009. When I went to the location in 2010, it wasn't there. Sad as it was a fitting reminder of the most visible location where Europe was split in two by the Iron Curtain, The Wall dividing not just a city, but people, friends and family whom felt they would never see one another again.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jack responds - and shifts the blame!

In the post Jack Linden tells us that he is listening and reading all the feedback - which is good news, but then he goes on to explain something we all apparently missed (including the Lindens themselves):

Update regarding the Openspaces announcement:
I wanted to clarify one issue. As mentioned in the post, Openspaces were intended for space, empty areas of ocean or forest. Take a look at the Knowledgebase article description here. By that criteria, the large majority of Openspaces have more going on than was the original intent. We are not suggesting this is a bad thing, and of course we’re delighted that people have found them to be so useful. And we’re not saying that everyone is abusing resources. We are saying that the use has changed, and continues to do so as people find more creative ways to use them. So the revised pricing is about recognising that change of use and the additional costs and value associated with it.

I would like to ask Jack if he has visited the Nautilus sims? or some of the other well know openspaces owned by Linden Lab as showcases of what they can look like and what use they can be put to. Residents look to Linden Lab for guidelines and examples - Look to yourselves Jack and we will follow - set us Limits we will (in general; there are always some that will push) keep within them - give us prims and land to use as we wish and we will do exactly that.
Why raise the prim limit if you don't want people to live or build on these openspaces?

In this post Jack has basically said the price rise is due to the 'change of use' although in the previous post it was put down to more technical issues - either way Residents are hurt, angry and disillusioned and those not already packing up are planning on selling what land they do have before the price rises take effect, many will lose hundreds of USD with no way to recoup their losses. Already the demonstrations far outstrip the ones that happened due to the gambling ban as this hurts even the little people.
In an already failing SL economy - can it survive this latest blow? Only time will tell.
One thing that has been made obvious is that sign up rates for Openlife Grid are up to a phenomenal rate - residents are looking for alternatives. Without a quick reasonable solution to this issue we could be looking at the death of Secondlife as we know it. After all who wants to be in a world of newbies when everyone else has gone elsewhere to live their dream.
but then he goes on to explain something we all apparently missed (including the Lindens themselves):

Dana Vanmoer

Protests heat up the grid

Several places today crashed on the grid as protests continue against the tyranny of Linden Lab.
Office hours were quickly over run with protesters, but also with those looking to help solve the problems without hitting those that have supported LL throughout all the previous changes like the recent land price drop.
Unless Linden Lab finds a solution that does NOT involve a price rise then I am very much afraid for the future of Secondlife.
Lots of Residents - not just the big land barons - but the little people who saved for months, some for years to be able to afford their own paradise are being engulfed in this mess. How would you feel if you bought a house and a month later your mortgage company told you 'sorry but its now going to cost you 66.6666% more a month'?
Linden Lab listen to your Residents - just for once - in this there are alternatives many solutions have been presented at office hours and on the JIRA - open your ears and listen to your Residents the people that have made this secondlife what it is today. The amazing content creators, designers and builders, the sim designers, landscapers and dreamers that have made the grid (minus the mainland) a beautiful place to be, a place that you show off to the world, a place you are proud of - now you want to rip it all away! YOU made a mistake - YOU messed up - YOU mismanaged the openspaces - WHY do we have to pay for your mistakes?
Find a way Linden Lab - Find a way!

A very sad
Dana Vanmoer

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How do you spell incompetence? (2)

The small controversy surrounding Openspace sims makes me think of an easy comparison in the telecommunications industry at home, in Canada.

By selling a product, not limiting its use and cracking down on its customers, the giant company called Bell Canada alienated many people. Bell offered unlimited Internet access to its mobile phone users but put arbitrary restriction clauses in the contracts. In fact, this made people pay for unlimited use without granting them actual limitless service. Once some mobile phone customers started to use their wireless connection as an unlimited one, they were told that they were not expected to do so.

In a way, Linden Labs' decision to unilaterally upgrade Openspace sims to Class 5 by telling people that they were overusing them is comparable. It offered something that was too good to be true. It made estate ownership easy but did not put limits that would prevent people from adding textures, scripts and objects once there was enough to eat up the sim's performance.

It would have made sense to cap the use of a sim's resources instead of slapping everyone with a forced upgrade. This is yet again an example of lack of foresight from the Lindens.

Here is some of that foresight they badly need: Bell Canada is one of the most despised brands in Canada because it has historically treated its customers in such a way. As soon as competition started offering a credible alternative for home phone services, customers left in droves. On a national level. They took their Internet and television services to the competition's attractive bundles and are now enjoying better customer service.

I ask this for a second time: How do you spell incompetence?

I suggest this answer: an L, an I, an N, a D, an E and another N

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Protests start on nautilus sims

Many are angry upset and confused over the Linden turnabout on the open sims - it seems LL have grossly under-estimated the market for them and now are backtracking fast and those with openspaces are the ones who will have to pay for their mismanagement - click the image to join the protests.
There is also a JIRA - as yet unassigned where you can vote if you disagree with these proposed changes. You can also follow the argument in the FORUMSOne protested stated his reasons:

[13:36] ****: they do pay attention[13:37] dana Vanmoer: apart from raising publicity - which obviously all eyes are on this subject - what do you think this will achieve?
[13:37] ****: there are lindens watching us at this very moment I know this for a fact

Feeling of trust are almost completely gone in Linden Lab and many are whispering conspiracy this coming just a couple of weeks after Linden Lab open the new region for residents.
At the same time came the news that Infinity Lindens office hour was over run with protesters also and those estate owners looking for answers:
Some were actually forthcoming in that Infinity did admit LL is looking into grandfathering.
Simone Stern has the full transcript from Jacks emergency office hours this morning and rather than make another copy THIS LINK will take you there.
In both Jacks and Infinitys office hours there has been a lot of two way conversation going on - that LL are to blame for this mess is undeniable BUT I would like to point out that the price increases are a way off and there is time for LL to find a better solution.
Dana Vanmoer

Linden labs slams its paying customers again!

Yes linden labs have messed up and their paying customers will be the ones who have to PAY for it:

Openspace Pricing and Policy Changes
Openspace prices and fees change on the 1st January with no grandfathering.
Class 4 Openspaces will be upgraded to class 5 in January.
Educator discount is no longer available for Openspaces.
No Owner switching for Openspaces unless it’s a full transfer of Payor.
More proactive education by support staff to prevent unfair resource use by Openspace regions.

What happened?
According to Jack Linden usage of the openspace sims has surprised them and the load needed to support them is too much. They gave us 3750 prims to use on these beautiful private islands and apparently didn't expect us to use them!

So Openspaces have been incredibly popular as a perk for estate owners, but sadly there is a twist. Unfortunately most of the Openspaces are being used for much more than light use. Based on analysis performed in August and September, Openspaces are being used about twice as much as we expected, in other words being loaded with double the content/avatar load than we’d expect for a region that is supposed to be light use.

That there are unscrupulous users of the openspaces is not in doubt and now it seems, rather than deal with the offenders, everyone on openspaces will have to pay.
At an emergency office hours Jack showed a willingness to listen to idea's that residents presented suggesting a possibility these changes are not set in stone yet - but from past experience Resident suggestions are generally ignored. Linden Lab have showed yet again absolutely no knowledge of the inworld economy.
Jack Linden: okay so here is a question; do you think us pinning prim counts down to say 1500, and limiting script count to 250, would be acceptable if the price stayed as it now? I'm not suggesting this is possible, but I'm interested in your opinionsSome great ideas were forthcoming on ways to combat the problem but the point is that Linden Lab did not foresee this issue showing gross mismanagement and incompetence.
Jack was listening though and this can only be a good thing:
[5:37] Jack Linden: okay, so lets summarise a little: I hear you on OS limits, and I hear you on the other options like free conversions. I won't obviously be making any promises in this discussion which is an ad-hoc one because I wanted to get as much feedback as I could.. but I will take all of this away and discuss it within the Lab. *if* there are outcomes or changes, then we should make those clear sooner rather than later
[5:39] Jack Linden: Lets keep talking. I will reply more in the forums, and I will try to do more sessions like this over the next few days.

Beginning 1st January 2009We will increase the monthly maintenance fee from USD$75 to USD$125 per month. This price increase will apply to all owners of Openspaces on January 1st as well as new purchases after that date. There will be no grandfathering of Openspace maintenance pricing.
This shows a 50% increase in upfront fees and a 66% increase in tier fees!

I spoke with Intlibber Brautigan of BNT holdings and this is what he had to say;
IntLibber BnT: if anything is costing them money its the fact that they offer 195 tier on the mainland that we subsidize with our high sim tier
IntLibber BnT: I'm all for ending the grandfathered rates, puts everybody on a level playing field
IntLibber BnT: ending grandfathering and equalizing tier between mainland and estates will bring in enough revenue for LL that they can cover added expenses.

This is a situation that we will monitor closely. You can follow the discussions in the FORUM and we will try to keep you updated on anything pertinent.
Thank you to Gemma Cleanslate for the chat logs and Intlibber for taking the time to talk to me.

Dana Vanmoer
Source: Secondlife Blog

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why take Torley Linden off the blog?

There are some public relations decisions that sometimes leave us scratching our heads. When you have credible faces in your organization, you want them to be as visible as possible.

Yet, Linden Lab has just done the opposite. By putting recently an end to Torley Linden's video posts on its blog, it removed one of the personalities that brought Second Life a large, friendly contribution from the most natural places where someone can find it.

Currently, the video tutorials page, barely visible in various sections of, buries new videos in a single link. Its RSS feed is not even that visible. Anyone who has grown as a Second Life user by finding Torley's tutorials will remember that those casual blog visits were more worthwhile than they will be in the future.

Unless you do extensive research or commit much time to it, Second Life is an insider's world that is hard to grasp. Torley's videos make the learning curve easier to attack, vastly enhancing new user experience. It also added a much needed friendly and human touch to the LL blog.

Now, a complex virtual world that most new users do not understand requires facilitating methods instead of tightening methods. But hey, who am I to know?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Rape Crisis and Counselling centre opens

Many have read what Penance has to say in our Redlight section, she has strong opinions and a lot of experience but what many do not know is that Penny along with other volunteers run the Rape and Counselling centre in secondlife. I asked Penny to tell me about it:

dana Vanmoer: So tell me about the rape center and how it came about in SL
Penance Sautereau: Well, one day my wife was asleep and I was feeling triggery.
This was about last august, early, No one in my list was on and I needed someone to talk to. So I searched for counselling or peer support for rape survivors figuring SL surely had something. I found all of three counsellors All of whom charged $1500L an hour. And over 60 rape fetish groups
Penance Sautereau: And I was horrified.
Penance Sautereau: So I built the original rape crisis and counselling centre in kot to put free counselling on SL, and to exist as a reminder that Rape is NOT sexy when it's real, and what these fetishists make a fantasy of is a horrific thing when it happens to you for real.
dana Vanmoer: How did you find people willing to help?
Penance Sautereau: Well, my first volunteer came after finding our classified ad and volunteered. One of my SL wives was the second, everyone else volunteered after finding the place, wanting to contribute to what they thought was an idea sl sorely needed
dana Vanmoer: What has the response been like?
Penance Sautereau: Well generally positive, no griefers. We've thankfully only had a few people come needing us. It's the sort of vocation where you're happier to NOT be needed.
dana Vanmoer: Does that make you feel it is not needed here in SL? Or do you feel its because its not known that the help is there?
Penance Sautereau: Well I suppose more advertising could help, but we're the only result in search if you type in "Rape Counselling" so we're not hard to find
dana Vanmoer: I guess its a matter of if you are looking for it you will find it
dana Vanmoer: Are you or any of the volunteers trained to be counsellors?
Penance Sautereau: I'm not, but we specify that up front. Three of my volunteers are actually rl trained and certified though
dana Vanmoer: Do you give those that come for advice information for real life help?
Penance Sautereau: Always. Virtual counselling seems a good start for many because it's less personal, not being truly face to face, but we always recommend towards rl counselling when they're ready
dana Vanmoer: anything else you would like to tell people?
Penance Sautereau: Don't bottle it up, it'll eat at you. If you have these issues you have to talk them out, work through them. Burying them only hurts you. And we're here to listen, and help if we can. And to all you men, remember NO really does mean NO.
What this shows is that the help is out there if you need it. As Penny said RL help is the best eventual solution, but Secondlife allows those that would like to remain completely untraceable the opportunity to get help that they may not do in RL through fear of discovery.
Thank you to Penance for letting us talk openly about a painful subject.
Chatlog colourised with the help of Gwyn’s Colouriser Script

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jack Linden 'Clarifies' the new Ad farming policy:

In a blog post on the official Linden blog Jack Linden says: 
"In this follow-up blog post on Ad Farming, I will be talking about the new rules. As with my previous post, I’d like to then move the discussion into this thread on the forums so that as many of you as possible can give us your opinion over the next few days.
A number of you have raised concerns over going the formal license route, and we too have come to the conclusion that this isn’t the best option. So instead we are going to cover ad farming activities (and the operating of network advertising businesses) under our Terms of Service, specifically as Harassment under clause 4.1. By Networked Advertising, we are specifically talking about the use of multiple parcels, on multiple regions, for the primary purpose of advertising, usually on behalf of other inworld or real world businesses.
What does this mean? if you operate any such networked advertising business on the Linden Mainland, that breaks any one of the following rules or restrictions, we will consider it to be a Terms of Service violation leading to disciplinary action that can include account suspension and loss of land."

Seen by many as Linden Lab backtracking on the previous policy and again giving in to the large Ad networks on the mainland the new policy raises a lot more questions than it answers as can be seen from the Forum discussion.
Many are disappointed and confused by the lack of a clear cut policy, although this would probably be impossible to achieve or enforce anyway. Not defining an exact policy allows LL as always the option to take action without having to stipulate the 'why'.
It is to be hoped that this will wipe out the ugly sights on the Linden mainland but it is now looking less and less likely:

"We will allow no more than 50 advertising locations owned by a single individual, whether personally owned or via groups in which you are a member, unless you have written permission from Linden Lab to exceed this limit.Use of Alt accounts/groups to circumvent this restriction will be considered a violation.
In addition to the cap, we will allow no more than 1 advertising placement by an individual in any single region."

50 ads spread over 50 regions - with Linden Lab unable to trace alts this seems easily circumvented.
The policy also does not address the land extortion that has been going on for a very long time it is to be hoped that eventually Linden Lab will do something about this too.
The fact of the policy being created at all gives hope - but when up against some of the biggest offenders I can see no way for LL to deal effectively with them. They as always will find ways around it.
Be sure to share your opinions in the Forum, its the only way we really have of getting questions answered when a Linden condescends to join the discussion - but at least there seems to be some ears open since the last forum on this subject.

Dana Vanmoer

Cartoon of the day

By Bixyl Shuftan
Click for full size

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Emilin Nakamori’s Physical Machines

I was in Second Life Friday night when I got an IM from someone, an Emilin Nakamori, “Good evening :) I believe I may have a story that your newspaper may be interested in.” She told me she had made a machine in Second Life that moved without the need for scripts, “specifically, a weight-driven pendulum clock escapement (an escapement keeps the pendulum swinging).” Curious, I chatted with her for a few minutes via IM before heading to where she told me she was, in the sandbox in the Whitmyre sim.

What she told me sounded familiar, and it was. I had met her at her exhibit during SL5B at her exhibit just across the path from the newspaper’s (Events June 27). Meeting her again, I came across a dark-haired lady wearing a Victorian dress with a necktie and Steampunk-style glasses on her head. We greeted one another, her having added a laptop with a Victorian look to her typing animation. Bringing up our last encounter, she told me, ”Oh, the gear demonstrator I had at the SL5B was driven by a script; the excapement is entirely mechanical. I had to set up a pendulum and time its movement to find the proper length here. I apparently got it wrong nonetheless; Sidewinder Linden said I probably didn't make allowances for time dilation :P ... It’s performance is unfortunately erratic; Sidewinder Linden could not offer a possible reason, but, as the saying goes, ‘The wonder of a dancing bear is not how gracefully it dances, but that it dances at all.’ ;) “

She then rezzed the pendulum machine, which slowly went in motion, “Theoretically, that pendulum should have a period of 6 seconds; the mechanism pushes it into a faster period, however.” She had been working on it since late June, and still had to have it assisted by a script. She rezzed another machine, “That is the mechanical clock movement I have worked up; I need to find a constant supply of power to mate the escapement to the movement to have a complete mechanical clock.” She had heard of sailboat races driven by simulated wind in the sims, and wondered it that could be a possible power source, “if the SL ‘wind’ can move a sailboat, why not a windmill?”

Emilin went on, “I have been considering a ‘waterwheel’, which uses temporary physical prims as weights on one side of a wheel. I have a proof-of-concept...” She then rezzed a wheel and ball-dropper that dropped metallic balls on the wheel’s cups, spinning it, “As you can see, there is inertia, but it dies out very quickly.”

I asked Emilin, “Has the changing of the Second Life viewer altered the performance of your machines, as it does some AOs?” She told me, “Not that I know of. I believe Havoc 4 was a much greater factor; several people told me at the SL5B that they had tried working with gears, but they were too unstable to hold together long enough to function.”

She then mentioned another physical machine that had been well received by others, and rezzed what she called a Physical Chain Demonstrator Base, “You click on the rotating arm to start or stop its rotation. If you change the orientation of the base, the script malfunctions.” Commenting at one point, “Unfortunately, I am no scriptor; that is why I got into physical machines ... Perhaps I should have gotten fascinated by something that isn't too ephemeral to sell ;) ... Sooner (usually, alas) or later all of these machines break, even if not left running. The important thing, to me, about these machines is that they interact with the SL environment AS AN ENVIRONMENT, not as a computer program, as a script does.”

Going on, “Designing these machines is a constant juggling of a need for precision and having to allow enough space for collision avoidance, with a bit more thrown in to allow for lag. These machines use server physics time; put a few of the chain demonstrators in a sim and start them up all at once and it would probably crash the sim ;) The first version of the clock movement used 10.1ms physics time; I reduced the gear count and it fell to 5.6ms.” The then noticed one of the machines had stopped, “Foo. The clock's already broken :/ “

Emilin then mentioned, “Desmond Shang, founder of Caledon, decided he wanted me to build him a steam engine, so I made him one.” She then rezzed a piston steam engine about 25 - 30 ft high with the name “Desmond’s Folly,” “He liked the name, anyway; he decided it was too small... “ “So he wanted a more massive engine?” I asked. “Yes.” She then brought out a giant of a machine that must’ve been over a hundred feet tall, “He told me to throw it back and bring me its pappy.” “Whoah! Or the Mother of All SLengines.” I commented. Emilin grinned, “Oh, this is probably one of the largest objects ever made in SL that consists of linked parts.” I saw one of it’s two cylinders fly off, taken off my Emilin, “It DOES work better as a single-cylinder, although once it ran for about 45 minutes :)” “Well, the biggest engine like this that I've seen .... yes, I saw the second one coming apart.” “I ran into the limits of how distant parts can be and still be linked.”

At this point a Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia walked up, “Still working on it, Emilin, or just showing it off?” “Showing this one off. Its successor is too large to move; I am going to try Rez-Foo. It has a 55m diameter piston...” “Wow! That's crazy! Where did you put it?” “3km over Saint Kitt Islands ... It's not open to the public as yet.” She then rezzed a picture of another engine, a single piston one. But the one clue to it’s *massive* size was standing on it’s wheel, “See the little black speck on the flywheel? It is I ;) ” She told is it was, “Somewhere around 100m tall; its base is 100m square. It would JUST BARELY fit into this sandbox ... Actually, it would have to be taller than 100m; the trapezoidal supports are 60m tall, on a base that is 8m thick. So it must be over 150m tall. A small skyscraper.”

Bubblesort asked if a train could be made. Emilin answered, “That is what Desmond Shang wants to do, eventually; he has someone working on scripted physical ‘steam molecules’ that would expand and contract at a set rhythm in the cylinders to push against the piston; it would have to be a multicylinder engine, though, as a flywheel is essential to keep a one-cylinder engine going past dead center, and with inertia as damped as it is in SL, a flywheel is really just a decoration.” “Could it be done without making steam like that?” “Oh, certainly; these engines here are spun by a rotation script, with the pistons and tie rods moving strictly by physics.”

Bubblesort soon left, and Emilin turned back to me, “The big engine is still going, as a single cylinder. ;) Half an hour, now.” She then told, “The main reason I would like your paper to feature this is so others can find out about it and hopefully work on it themselves; I started a group, Virtual Mechanics, for interested people. I am hoping there are people out there who will take the idea and hit the ground running with it ;) Well, the really big one is under development (basically, it doesn't work, and may never do so), but the one here has been shown to the public. ;) “

“But really,” she looked back at the first machine, “I think the escapement is the important thing, as it does not use scripts at all, yet functions.”

I thanked her, then noticed she had changed the title over her name to “Madgirl.” Being a reader of online comics, I asked her if she was a reader of “Girl Genius” by Phil Foglio. She smiled, and after talking a little about the comic, she gave me a replica of the Heterodyne trilobite emblem.

It was then that the two of us parted ways, presumably the maker of these physical machines, part science and part work of art, going back to business.

Bixyl Shuftan

*  *  *  *  *

This remains a favorite article of mine of my SL Newspaper days as I hadn't seen anything like Emilin's monster machines before, or since. She was clearly one who sought to see how far she could push the limits.  I never did come across her again, but did hear she was the Winner of the June 2011 UWA 3D Art Challenge. Whereever she is now, no doubt she's staying busy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The “Crazy Tinies” - Loco Poco Avatars

The subject for this week's avatar article is a new brand of tiny av: Loco Pocos. Created by Damien Fate, these tinies were first available earlier this summer. Considering the uber-cutness of the avatar and the variety of facial expressions and emotes, the Loco Poco can only be called first-class, possibly *the* best tiny avatar in Second Life.

Tiny avatars I’ve seen are designed for a cute-factor in mind. Loco Pocos excel at it. The avatars are also designed to be easily customizable, the avatar able to change it’s coat and eye color, as well as able to wear wings and other attachments.

But what sets them apart from others is the ease of use of their animations, coming right with the avatar. The HUD unit allows the player to express a number of facial expressions and full body emotes. The facial features are not static, but change to reflect emotions. Plus they often make sound when emoting. With a press of the button, the avatar can look angry and “grrr,” to laying on the floor and snoring, to crying a shower of tears, to throwing a kiss with a “mwaah,” to a hearty belly laugh, and more.

The name Loco Poco translates to “crazy tiny” in Spanish, appropriately enough. The instructions are also in several languages. It’s also noteworthy that Torley Linden was among the beta testers of these tinies. The store is just in front of the main porting entrance. Avatars are sold in the center, accessories on the edge to the right of the door when entering. Their avatars cost 350L each, most of the accessories 100L. They also advertise an Avatar Rendering Cost (how much computer power it takes to make your avie appear) of 640.

After some thought, I decided to try out the Loco Poco fox. Showing it around to my freinds, they were amused by the versatile tiny, going “Awww” at the sight of it’s emotes. One told me he was thinking of getting one.

Besides Loco Pocos Island, you can also get the avatars at SLExchange.

Loco Poco also has an adventure-filled island, made with these avatars in mind. One that can provide hours of fun. Look for a detailed article of the island in the near future.

A charming little avatar.

Bixyl Shuftan

Dana Vanmoer: September 8, 2008 at 3:30 PM
such a cute avatar even when crying

Monday, August 4, 2008

Michi Lumin: New Luskwood Avatars In Development

Dropping by Luskwood the other day, I found a couple of changes to the place. One was that the rest poseball rug at one side of the platform had been replaced by a few beanbags and a couple couches. Next to them was a vertical chess game. On another side, a small bar had been set up, with two inside acting as bartenders.

After a while, Michi Lumin, one of the four Luskwood founders, showed up. She was not in her Lusk purple dragon avatar, but a skunkgirl avie in a top hat and a dark tomboyish outfit, "... not sure if I want to show anyone ... but, I also want to let people know that 'we're not dead, only resting.' " Michi then rezzed a picture of two avatar heads: hyenas.

Although Luskwood has made some avatars this year, they have been all of the "Bunkies" line. The older "Luskwood Creatures" company's last products were the fruit and vampire bats. Michi commented the "peanut gallery" was saying Luskwood had stopped making avatars, "we're not intending to comply with it. ... This av, the hyena, is also not the only one we're working on."

Of claims by some that the crowd at Lusk could be a little dead, Michi answered there were some upcoming changes that should help the social scene at the Luskwood tree.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 4, 2008

SL5B Further Journeys

Going back onto the Second Life Fifth Birthday exhibits, I had heard about the Rezzable Greenies exhibit, so I went over to check it out. Teleporting over, I found myself next to a barbecue area of one of the little green men roasting something over a fire. Nearby is a stand with a robot next to it, where one can pick up a free robot of his or her own. From the campfire some stones lead to a huge birthday cake, which a Greenie UFO crashed it, the same cake featured on the “We’re Turning Five” celebration picture on their website. Not far from that is a large Greenies statue in front of a small public gathering area. According to the website, it’s a “Church of Greenies,” the site of some celebrations during the first week of the two week event.

Just across the road was a Tiny exhibit by Raglan Shire. Inviting visitors to “take a walk on the tiny side,” a few free tiny avatars and items for them were available. Further exhibits showed scenes of Winterfest, the “Tiny Olympics” (July 12 2008), a Tiny Science-Fiction area, and other places. Nearby was also a Tiny airport with free airplanes. The Japanese tinies had their own exhibit next door with some free items.

Not far away to the west was the “Furry Pride” exhibit, presumably from Northstar as when I clicked on a replica of the 50 foot huskygirl macro avie, which sported a short-skirted schoolgirl dress, I got a notecard with some information about them and a landmark to Northstar Islands. Behind the macro is a “Megastompolis City” game in which two players act like movie monsters on a city block, seeing who can smash the most buildings. In front of the macro is a building with a bulletin board one can post pictures on.

I heard about a place called “Down the Rabbit Hole,” so I went over there. It was little more than a hole and a sign. Going down, I was confronted with scenes from out of “Alice in Wonderland.” Clicking on “Drink Me” teleported me to one room, and in there “Eat Me” sent me into a normal looking bar, of which the door led back outside.

I also checked out the Caledon exhibit. The place featured a town in Victorian style architecture, next to a small woodland. Flying overhead was a steampunk zeppelin, pouring out smoke. Going inside the buildings, there were a few humorous pictures, and a free cottage.

These are just a few of the exhibits in SL5B, so go over and see them for yourself.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, June 30, 2008

Going through the SL5B Exhibits

It's not every day SL has a birthday celebration, so I thought looking around at the exhibits might be nice. And where to start? My newspaper's own was as good a place as any. Modeled after our red newspaper box, it stood out from the others. Inside, one could see on the media screen what was on the front page, which on Monday was my cartoon for the day. Heh. The following day, it was even taller, with the nameplates of various reporters along up the winding path.

But there was much more than our own. Just across the sidewalk was a series of gears, a "gear train." The lady there, Emilin Nakamoi, explained this was a mechanical engine that turned not by scripts, but by the motion of the gear on one end, "This machine works with the SL environment as an environment, instead of as a computer program as scripts do." The problem was, in places with a number of people and lag, it often had trouble.

Walking along, I found others by various sponsors, Alcoholics Anonymous was here as was another group for autism. I found a Florida exhibit that looked nice, with the various critters around. The Red Mesa exhibit also stood out with it's rocky hills and Native American object designs.

As I was going on, I got in contact with my friend Kanashi, and hearing where I was she asked for a teleport. I wondered what was up when it was taking a while to rez, then I saw her appear, as a fifty foot macro. We walked for a while longer, then she spotted an exhibit that was also a dance area for an elven group, Elf Circle. Walking over, her huge stature made our winged friends look more elven than ever, indirectly adding to the element of the place. Her size made her unable to dance with that low ceiling, so she just sat down as the elvenfolk greeted her, or tickled her outstretched feet. It was clearly a friendly meeting.

"Come back again. We elves are notorious dancers."

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SL5B opens with speeches from Phillip Linden and M

Philip Linden opened the birthday celebrations with a speech that reflected on his amazement at how much secondlife has grown:

"I feel I have lived a lifetime in that 5 years, it feels almost like 50 years"

He also surprisingly addressed the problems surrounding the celebration itself:
"I know there has been tension, protest and stress around this event and I think its great, its emblematic of what secondlife is all about and why it's special. To attempt to make a celebration of what secondlife is about is bound to fail"

I wonder if those excluded think its 'great'?

He goes on to talk about the progress that has been made on the grid itself and notes that Linden Lab are 'working hard on stability' thats it is a 'big focus' for LL to work towards.

M(ark) Linden also touched on a tender subject that of IP rights:

"One of the fundamental elements is on IP rights. Its really really important that people who create great content are able to enjoy it and protect it, its one of the things philip put in place and which has underpinned the economy today."

But although he did mention the topic and admit that creative content is the backbone of the economy there were no answers as to how this was to be achieved or even if Linden Lab were doing anything about content theft.
There was a lot of corporate bolstering and obviously the speeches were tailored to boost that image but on the whole I felt the speeches were aimed at the residents without actually solving any of the present resident concerns, both speeches taken together did acknowledge those issues exist and let everyone know that Lindenn Lab have been listening and they are aware of the problems facing ordinary residents.
I can't say there was any reassurance that these issues would be fixed, just that the Lab is aware. To me that was a reassurance in itself an acknowledgement of the work they still need to do.
The speeches felt to me like a placification for those that have issues and concentrated on the creative content to be seen over the 20 sim exhibition.
There is some incredible content to be seen over there and I urge everyone to take the time to 'wade through the honey', as the lag has been labled, and have a look at what is now possible in Secondlife.
I hope there are some hair displays around too as M pointed out to Philip 'its been 4 years since his avatar was updated and although his hair is the best in SL it is also the oldest' showing perhaps the human side of the Lab. I wonder if some of the hair creators out there could send him some prim hair based on the newbie style he is wont to use.
M Linden himself has obviously been shopping and looks a good deal better than his newbie CEO pictures :)
Happy Birthday Secondlife

If you want to watch the entire speech see the blog HERE

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eye on the blog - Lindens admit mistake over DMCA:

Responding to Questions about the DMCA Process

Linden Lab inadvertently disabled some inworld content this past weekend.
The problem should be fixed now, and we apologize for the inconvenience it caused. If you believe your content was inadvertently disabled, please try re-rezzing it.
If that doesn’t work, please contact Support at

Linden Lab has not changed its DMCA policy. For privacy reasons, we don’t discuss the specifics of DMCA notifications with third parties. However, when we receive a valid DMCA notification, we send affected Residents email notice so they aren’t surprised when we remove content from their inventory and inworld locations.
The email notice explains how to submit a DMCA counter-notification to seek restoration of the removed content. Be sure to keep your email address current and make an exception in your spam filter so you receive notices from Linden Lab.

We’ve received questions about removing infringing items from Residents’ inventory when an inworld location (a region name and coordinates) can’t be provided.
Inventory items may be subject to DMCA claims when the items are sufficiently identified. For example, if you can’t provide an inworld location, provide the names of the allegedly infringing items and avatars.

Linden Lab will conduct a reasonable search for the identified items.

Also be aware that persons who materially misrepresent copyright infringement in DMCA claims may be liable for damages, including attorneys’ fees and costs.
In one case, a company that sought removal of content protected by the fair use doctrine paid over $100,000 USD.
For more on this, see here.
If you’re unsure whether certain content infringes your copyright, we suggest speaking to an attorney before submitting a DMCA claim.
More information about Linden Lab’s DMCA process can be found on our DMCA policy page and in our recent blog post on Protecting Your Copyrighted Content.

Linden Lab’s DMCA policy has not changed, and this information is up-to-date.


Cartoon of the Day

Click for full size
Photo by JamesT Juno

Text from Chat Logs

Monday, June 16, 2008

Griefing at Woodbury

'The particle spam you see is from objects owned by Furnation owner Corsi Mousehold
she has been attacking these sims for the past three days
crashing them
lagging them up with particle spam
Harry Linden, head of the g-team has been ignoring abuse reports filed against her'
So our informant told us as we TP'd in to the loudest noise you ever wish to hear honestly I had to remove my headset!
We asked about to try to find out what was happening :
[14:39] zomg Babii: its a mario moshpit, a old PN particle spammer [14:40] JamesT Juno: who - why - what
[14:40] zomg Babii: corsi mousehold, i spoke with her 2 days ago and he threatened the sim
then i found this stash of modules
[14:40] JamesT Juno: and what was going on
[14:41] zomg Babii: it seems that a troll attacked the ark a few days ago, this appears to be a retaliation, pointed in the wrong direction, yes you can quote me
[14:42] zomg Babii: a number of furnation members and furries have also been caught griefing the woodbury sims
[14:42] JamesT Juno: okay - anything you want to add to this ?
[14:43] zomg Babii: the animosity between our two groups is unwanted by woodbury univeristy, as said by our leader
[14:43] zomg Babii: but it seems the furries wish to start fights
[14:44] JamesT Juno: thankyou
[14:34] **** (anonymous): Harry Linden of the g-team wants a grid war and the furries miss the attention
[14:44] JamesT Juno: proof ?
[14:44] ****: Harry Linden and Plexus linden falsely accused me of copybotting a megaprim owned by michael linden
[14:44] ****: michael has never used a megaprim in his life, is opposed to them, harry has been banning the accounts of reformed former griefers trying to harass them into rejoining the PN
Harry needs to impress the new CEO of LL showing his dept needs resources with griefing dying out, his job is less necessary he may have to do real work for a change
[14:46] Madelena Rossini: Basically the first I heard of all this was when I got back from dinner in San Francisco on Saturday to be told that the sims had been attacked and that the folks from Furnation were responsible.
Never being one to jump to conclusions I contacted the leader of Furnation, Corsi Mousehold to try and peacefully resolve it.
What I got in response was a torrent of abuse and a promise that our sims would be taken down permanently. He also made death threats against others. I have just come online now to this, so am not fully in the loop.
Madelena Rossini: He also told me to kill myself
Not long after this Corsi Mousehold showed up and and deleted the spamming objects (a huge relief to my ears)
Unfortunately she refused to answer any questions directed towards her and seemed surprised the objects had her name on them as owner :
Corsi Mousehold: I'll be damned. It is listing me as the owner.
[2008/06/16 15:11] Corsi Mousehold: Scout ... Madelena ... I will speak with you alone. Everyone else in this area is now muted.

I just recieved this in my IM:
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: I Did not build thoise. I did not rez them.
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: I have been shit on all weekend from Woodbury.
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: My stress level is through the roof and my blood pressure is likely to put me in the F****** HOSPITAL at this point.
[15:36] Corsi Mousehold: Woodbury is known .. WELLL known to harbor the B-tards ... Where the Patriotic Nigras got their founding in Second Life.
[15:37] Corsi Mousehold: All a Patriotic Nigra is, is a B-Tard that wants to take shit personally.
[15:38] Corsi Mousehold: Did you get all that?[15:38] Corsi Mousehold:
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: I Did not build thoise. I did not rez them.
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: I have been shit on all weekend from Woodbury.
[15:35] Corsi Mousehold: My stress level is through the roof and my blood pressure is likely to put me in the FUCKING HOSPITAL at this point.
[15:36] Corsi Mousehold: Woodbury is known .. WELLL known to harbor the B-tards ... Where the Patriotic Nigras got their founding in Second Life.
[15:37] Corsi Mousehold: All a Patriotic Nigra is, is a B-Tard that wants to take shit personally.
[15:38] Corsi Mousehold: Repost just in case.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan
Click for full-sized image

Heaven's Sky Garden Village

All cottages have been placed with care and attention, none are within the 20 meter chatting distance to ensure privacy and all cottages have been picked based on their look and design ensuring beautiful homes for every renter. Prices vary on the size of the houses and prims allowed. After all it is *your* home and should look and feel warm and relaxing. The Village consists of various different styles of cottages and for one lucky person a gorgeous treehouse with its own pool.

 There is also different social areas, the main one being the waterfall area for residents to enjoy.

No premium account is needed for here as We pay LL ourselves and you pay us ensuring everyone in second life gets a home (providing you can afford it of course)

To rent here, check the sign in front of each cottage, the fantasy picture with the house number. This is the rental box too. If it is available, it will say so above it and if it is already been rented the tenant's name will be shown instead. Simply pay the sign to begin your rental and IM either Fortunas Sands, AngelKitten Dreamscape or Schism Kappler to be added to the Heaven's Sky group. Without this any objects you place will return you need your group tag on for things to place down properly and also to set your home position here. Rent can be paid from either one week up to a month.

We are a community  for all whether you be furry, human  or whatever , this place is friendly and open to all, no harassment to anyone because of beliefs/looks will be tolerated in any way.

Heavens Sky, Devoted, (131, 247, 21)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mars Landing Broadcasted in Imzadi Sim

The Mars Phoenix Lander, the latest of NASAs craft to explore the red planet, was confirmed to have made a successful landing on the northern ice cap at 4:54 SL time. Besides at the ISM sim, the landing was also broadcast at the Star Trek themed sim Imzadi.

At the Star Trek Museum Drydock at Imzadi (133, 125, 609), a screen broadcasted footage of NASA TV. Some computer images simulating the lander were shown, but most of the broadcasts were of the control room and it's personnel. At 4:46 PM, the craft began its entry into the Martian atmosphere, and the controllers (and the audience in Imzadi) anxiously waited, knowing that more than half of all landing attempts end in failure. Seven minutes later, the craft activated it's retrorockets, and touched down in a smooth landing, much to the relief of the controllers who burst into applause. So did the audience watching from the Trek sim.

Wabisabi Matahari, the Curator of the Star Trek Museum, as well as her real-life mother, were among the audience. So was Wabisabi's "helper" Edconnect Gulfer, who explained a few facts about the lander.

The Phoenix Lander is considered the best effort to find evidence of life on Mars, designed to examine the soil for life-supporting conditions. It traveled 422 miles over nine months to get to the planet. The craft cost 420 million dollars, not counting an additional 37 million spent by Canada. It was originally scheduled to launch several years ago, but was delayed by budget cuts. The landing site is at 68 degrees north latitude, 233 degrees east longitude in Vastitas Borealis, the Martian arctic. Temperatures will vary from -73 C to -33 C (-100 F to -28F) in the course of the 90 day primary mission.

Bixyl Shuftan