Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Jurin Juran

Jurin J Juran.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Great Evils, Part the First

Second Life is not all fun and games. In the vast space of Second Life, thousands of myriad dreams play out the whims and desires of thousands.

But some of those dreams are nightmares.

Today, I am going to introduce you to one of those nightmares. Please, do not stand back in horror at the sight of it. It is all for your own good to witness:

Figure.1: A female ageplayer (Avatarius kinderlocus)

This great and most horrid evil of the land is called the "Ageplayer". They are easily spotted by their hideously small frame, resembling a child in appearance. Also note the choice of clothing: Disney overalls with sky blue sneakers, again, mimicking a human child.

In behaviour they also mimic human children, for reasons I shall divulge soon. They can be seen of the company of 'parents', or 'playing' with other ageplayers in a herd commonly called 'A bunch of snot nosed brats'. They have the ability to craft and utilize crude objects they call 'toys'.

Now, one may be asking themselves why the Ageplayer is so infamous and evil. The answer is many fold. The first is that Ageplayers eat other avatars. They lure them in by imitating kids, so when the hapless avatar goes to help the 'poor lost confused child', they are eaten alive attachments and all. Here is a rare photo of an ageplayer entrapping its prey:

Figure.2: Ageplayer stalking its prey, an Avatar (Avatarius Sapiens)

Another great evil the Ageplayer purposefully creates is that of confusing the innocent ... pixelers. What are pixelers? The people in Second Life who... pixel... each other. With their pixels. Into the other's pixel.

And it's hard enough on Pixelers these days, with the Lindens cracking down on depictions of child porn in SL and the Lindens' unceasing efforts to destroy... pixeling... scripts, without adding in kinder-lookalikes to the mix. After all, suppose someone walked in on a Pixeler, and saw he/she/it was pixeling an ageplayer, which looks like a sweet innocent child. Imagine how that would play out in the SLustice system.

To all Pixelers out there, be forewarned! Before you engage your pixel to theirs in pixeling, make sure you are pixeling another avatar, and not an ageplayer!

We shall end with some methods of dispelling an ageplayer. This depends highly upon the strength of the ageplayer involved. For most, a simple shout of "Pedophile!" or "AR'd!!!" will cause them to flee and occasionally spontaneously combust in fright. Remember these two words, and you shall avoid the bulk of the lot.

For much stronger ageplayers, we advise that you do not attempt to handle it yourself. Retreat if you can, avoid confrontation at all costs. If you must fight the Ageplayer, attempt to garner multiple friends and unleash ARs upon said ageplayer. If all else fails, pray to the Almighty Lindens to spare your lives in the face of such an evil.

If you encounter a pack of ageplayers, no matter how weak they are, you must run! Only a Great Linden wields the necessary power to overcome such heinous villains.

Please stay tuned for a lecture on another Great Evil, "The Nude Newbie", coming soon. We will also test your understanding of the Ageplayer at that time.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The War on Shoes

Today is going to be full of Second Life jargon, to warn those few who may be reading and not active players in Second Life. The only advice I can give is to not read this post as is, but to mentally listen to it, as a story.

I have declared a Holy War upon shoes. Yes, before you ask, there is a very good and not insane reason.

There have been lots and lots of griefers, pouring into Second Life and treating it in ways that would make Atilla the Hun blush. It is a sad and terrible thing. Many have closed up shop for greener pastures, where one will not be bombarded with a hail of freenises. One of the four horsemen before the SLocalypse.

However! I have noticed a correlation, one that may solve all of our problems! It is a most brillant observation!

For you see, if you notice, most Griefers wear shoes. Any kind of footwear.

I have no idea why they wear footwear when griefing. Maybe it gives them traction when they launch sim crashing nukes. Or maybe it adds style to griefing. Whatever the reason, they wear shoes. All of them. Wear shoes.

Most people in SL wear shoes, I will submit. But not all. Some go barefoot, since in a virtual world you can't get blisters unless you're RPing.

So, the course of action is clear to me.

Eliminate all shoes. Then we will have eliminated all griefers. Griefers always wear shoes, and innocents do not always wear shoes, therefore if we destroy all footwear we will destroy all griefers who will be unable to grief without shoes.

I estimate that this plan would lead to a glorious grief-free Second Life if followed properly.

It's not as if my logical conclusion are faulty, after all.

The End

Sitting and watching the Second Life sun set into the horizon,
Comtemplating the uncertain future.

Second Life has been around since 2003. It is now 2007. Do the math!

As with any elderly 'game', ever since 2004 people have been predicting the end of Second Life as we know. The SLocalypse, if you will. Some say it'll be a violent and sudden death, others claim it will come slowly, after many agonizing years of torment and decay.

It's always after a major addition to it, too. The allowance of completely free and unverified accounts (previously you needed to at least enter a credit card to join) was a sign to some that the end was not far off. Others cite the ridiculous rise in the rate of griefing as the final death knell to it. With the dawning of voice chat into Second Life and major corporations (AOL, IBM, lots and lots of Universities), a small but vocal group advances their theory that Second Life will end within the year, turning into a grey goo version of itself, a ghost, a phantom littered with the scattered corpses of a thousand abandoned plots of land and islands, each with aging and rustic builds and objects left like a Greek ruin during the Dark Ages.

And me?

I know this is going to sound extremely old hat and full of cheese, but I think Second Life will never die.

This is how I see it: Take your very real Real life. Now, think back about three years ago. I'll bet you dollars to cheesesteaks that it was different, to varying degrees, depending upon whoever is reading this. The main point is that it's been awhile and today is certainly different than yesterday, and tomorrow is certain to be different still.

Flux. The constant state of change. A form of entrophy, where change and order are constantly clashing.

Now, let's pull this metaphor of sorts into Second Life. Second Life in 2004 would be unrecognizable to Second Lifers today. Hell, even 2006 was a marked change from the version today. And I'll willing to risk investing in the hope that, though it may metamorphize for better or for worse, Second Life will be around.

The key is to roll with the changes. Again, let's turn to our previous metaphor.

You didn't yell, kick, or scream when your life was changing (exceptions including death and serious illness/injury, among others), most changes you probably didn't notice. So why complain so much when this strikes Second Life? Easily, because of the perceived time dilation. A few months in Second Life can feel similar to a year, and spending a year playing can feel like eons. Updates, being software, are not gradual and not subtle. They are sudden, jarring experiences that requires a tremendously open mind.

And people are notorious for resisting sudden change. We loathe it. When we see such changes, we see it as the end of our lifestyle, our way of life. To those who hate these updates, it truly and honestly seems like the end of the world. Which it is, if you are a literalist and consider each version of Second Life a 'world'.

But I, I prefer to view it as an evolution, similar to our real life ever-changing world.

Perhaps Second life could be instructional in that regard, helping us to cope with changes we seemingly can't control. One example off the top of my skull is global warming. It's happening, whether it's our fault or just nature's course, it is real and it is causing change. And lo and behold, people are complaining, and people are acting as if the world will massively implode if it warms by a degree or two Celsius.

Change happens. You have a choice. Deal with it and work and mold it, or sit around and whine incessantly.

I know what I'm going to do.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Freaky Faces

One of the more interesting aspects of Second Life is that you can customize your avatar into any shape, form, or contortion that you can imagine and then some. The sheer variety you can spot if you keep your eyes open is amazing.

The best places to check out all this out is at an infohub. Infohubs are unusual creatures, because I've never met one that gave out any useful info. They either spam links at you or have 'freebies' (if by free you mean you have to pay a small amount in) available. They're really only used nowadays as a holding pen of sorts for newbies, or a general haunt for regulars. It would be better perhaps if the infohubs were somewhat pretty, but most are not. Most are just a square block of concrete with benches lining the rim, and a teleport spot in the center.

One infohub I happen to prefer is the Bear Dream Lodge Infohub, in the Bear Sim. It's one of the nicer infohubs, and it has a small lodge of sorts with an camp area behind that. And that's where I captured some of these unique avatars. So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

The one above was not taken at Bear infohub, but hey, where else are you going to see a giant robot tango with a jelly?

The one above is another non-Infohub pic.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A True Introduction

So, hapless searcher, you have wandered here and decided to click this link and see what this blog is all about!

The rather vague mission statement of this blog is to write about Second Life.

It might be some hot topic in game, it might have to do with Linden Lab (company that created SL), it might be some musing of mine about SL, it might be a simple photo montage of a journey or series of builds I like. For the most part, I will revolve about Second Life here. There will be the occasional off topic post, but those are going to be few and far between.

Some general points about here:

1) My research on a given subject is very very light. I am a busy person in real life and often I will take a quick look over relevant matter, infuse my opinion, and post it off. And hey, that's ok because this is my blog! Having said that, let's then say:

a) please don't accuse me of not doing enough research. I know this.
b) If you think I overlooked something, post a comment about it. That's what they're for.
c) Don't expect me to change it. More on this later.

2) I write about people. A lot. Because people make a good part of anything. You can't go anywhere without running into people, it seems. And sometimes, I'll write something that offends people. Or hurts them. Or makes them laugh. Whatever. But if you hate it and want it gone, I have a few simple rules as follows:

First, you have to write out a notecard or IM me or post a comment. The acceptable reasons:

a) Mention of your name will cause you provable financial damage, or damage on a significant level. For example: If Jen Nobody is going to be ejected from a group, I might consider erasing her name to save her the trouble.
b) That's it.

By the way, chances are I'll just remove your name. I have to date removed exactly ONE post which I have regretted ever since, because otherwise it was hilarious.

3) I curse, on occasion. There may be other things of varying degrees of acceptability. I assume the audience is over the age of 16 and can handle such things. If you can't, the old joke is to provide a link to the Disney channel, but you know what? Fuck it. When I do curse, it's because there's probably a good fucking reason. Perhaps to prove a fucking point.

4) If you're going to call me out, please say why. Don't post something like this:

"Anna, you fucking suck at writing." "That's totally fucking wrong, and you are a shithead." etc, etc.

Please, explain why. Not just for me, but for others who might be reading. Collaboration, blah blah blah.

Here's a method I use when writing a comment on someone's blog. I write something out, then I read it a good three or four times. I try to ask myself if I'm adding anything important ("first comment" is not important, for instance), and if I am coming across clearly. If I don't, I rewrite it or just delete it and don't comment. Hope that helps.

5) Looking back at Point 1, there is probably going to be someone who runs and says, "You don't matter for nothing! This is all just your opinion!" Gee, really? You think it's important to point out that my written opinion is indeed my own opinion and not plagiarized from someone else?

All seriousness, though, I am well aware of this. And I make no claims to the contrary. I write it at the bottom of the freaking main page. This is all just my opinion. I gather as many facts (if I bother gathering any), look at what I have, and then write what I see. That is usually how everything short of perhaps mathematics and history is formed. And I'm pretty sure you can open up historical interpretations and the like if you try.

The key take home from this is that I try to make my opinion something beyond "I heard so-and-so, and here's what I think". I try to look some things up, with varying degrees of success. And if you don't like that, hey! Add a comment! And I and all the rest of the 19 people who read this blog can do our own research and adjust opinions based on what you found. Ah, the beauty of a digital forum.

6) Comments:
a) Comments are always completely open, no registration required.

b) Comments will not be moderated. I am assuming we're all adults. The exception is spam. If you flood my comments with "LOL" pasted 1,000,000 times, it will be removed. Otherwise, I won't bother it.

c) Unlike posts, I can't modify comments (at least that I know of). And they're not my words. So if you find something offensive or libelous in my comments, I can't help you there. I'm not about to rip someone's words out of their mouths. Take it up with the commenter.

7) I am no one's alt. I am not a Linden alt, I am not an alt of Prokofy's, I am not an alt of Jurin, nor anyone else you are thinking of. I am a unique human being. So stop it.

I will add more points as I encounter a need for them.

About Me:
My SL name is Anna Junebug Tsiolkovsky. I started on November 5th, 2006 (my 'rezzday'). My 'homeland' is the Bear Infohub, where I first entered the Second Life world.

I don't have a job in Second Life. I build some things, I'm a poor scripter, and I write when the urge strikes. Most of the time I spend time with friends and wander the world of Second Life. I'm almost always free in Second Life and never busy, so feel free to IM me! I'll definitely get back to you.

What are my views? Well, I take the general stance that Linden Lab should stay the hell out of the general affairs of Second Life. I think they need to add more value to premium accounts. I think free accounts should suffer some more restrictions (despite being a freebie myself). I hate the general attitude of Linden Lab, which is usually happy-go-lucky lah lah ignore the problems. I think Linden Lab could really do something about lag and that they don't annoys me. I think too many people in Second Life don't take enough time to relax a little (looking at you, Jurin). I think mentors focus too much on regurgitating facts than welcoming and engaging new people.

I live in Philadelphia in real life. So if there's something local I reference and you get confused, that's a good place to start looking it up.

Second Life lingo (in no particular order):

SL : contraction for Second Life

LL : contraction for Linden Lab

rezz : construct something or pull something out

rezzday : the date which you joined and started playing Second Life. Recorded on your profile so you can't really forget it.

sim : a general 'area' , something like a 'county' designation in the United States. They are gigantic squares. They come in two flavors, mainland and islands. When people talk of land, they mean sims (and how they are divided up).

mainland : Linden Lab created sims. They are patched together into a continuous landmass.

Islands : separate privately owned sims. Usually in groups of two to four. These come in many flavors as well, which for the sake of general definitions doesn't matter

prim : a basic object in Second Life. A simple cube or pyramid or tube are all prims.

build : a VERY vague term for almost all objects built within Second Life. A build can be something as small as a flower to as large as an entire city, subway and all.

RL : contraction for real life. Be warned as some don't like you getting too pushy asking about it.

tp or TP: teleport. Usually used as a verb, for example: "Can you tp me over there?"

IM: Instant message. A private message between you or a group of friends.

avatar or resident : a person playing second life. We're all residents. If I recall, it's due to a thought process that 'user' and 'player' weren't good enough for Second Life's style of gameplay.

griefer : general term for asshole. A griefer may 'crash' the sim or annoy you with spam, loud effects, etc. You can report them to the Lindens and get them banned.

AR : contraction for abuse report. If you right click a person or object, you'll see a 'report' option. This sends a message to the Lindens about someone violating the rules.

ad farms : A clump of towers with advertisements plastered on them. Usually on the tiniest little strips of land, and set to high prices so if you try to get rid of them through buying the parcel you really feel it in the wallet. Can also be reported.

GOM'd : slang term for Linden Lab buying or co-opting a resident run business in Second Life.

lag : can be of multiple causes but the end result is always the same: there's a delay between when you do something and when it actually gets done.

neko : cat person. To be specific, usually someone with cat ears and a tail, and maybe cat eyes. Anything more detailed tends to drift into furry territory

Furry : a person with an animal avatar.

age player : a person with an avatar that appears under the age of 18. Can be as young as newborn to 16.

script : the coding that can be implanted into an object. Coders are called scripters.

builders : people who build objects. It is sometimes implied that a builder is also a scripter, although some people and businesses split the two into separate categories.

lm : contraction for landmark. Landmarks are little postcards that allow you to teleport to the destination listed.

Newbie : slang for a new person. Be kind to the newbies!

mentor : a helper. There can be official Linden Lab approved mentors, third party non-Linden-Lab mentors, and freelance mentors. They usually give out information concerning how to do something or other.

infohub : a general drop-off and welcome area for new people, usually the first place you arrive after completing orientation island.

OI : Orientation Island. The island where you will first appear and be put through the paces of such things as walking, touching, etc.

Voice : voice chat. If you have a microphone and the patience, you can set up second life so you can verbally communicate instead of typing.

tier : Similar to a land tax. You pay Linden Lab a certain amount of tier, which allows you to own a certain amount of land in return (you still have to buy the land). Only premium accounts can own land as far as I know. Tier is measured in terms of m^2.

land : usually means the part of the sim that you own, and usually measured in terms of m^2 (that's meters squared for you Americans). It is usually priced according to its size in m^2.

L$ : the 'linden'. The currency that is used in Second Life. You can exchange your US$ (or whatever) for L$ via the Lindex and vice versa.

Linden : The administrators of Second Life. They're the only admins in SL, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sandbox : land that is free for anyone to build in, a literal sandbox. As a rule, the owner deletes everything in the Sandbox at a certain time to prevent build up of crap.

prim limit : how many prims can be placed out on a piece of land. It is about linear with the size of the land, so a 512 m^2 parcel holds fewer prims than a 1024 m^2 parcel.

attachment : objects that are placed on your avatar. A typical example is a wig or a pair of glasses. Usually spices up your avatar and makes it unique!

hair : a wig made of prims. Used as a noun in itself. An example: "I have to get new hairs, my styles are all old."

particle : hard to explain, really. Something of a point in space with an image stuck onto it. They do not count as prims and will disappear over time, but having a bunch of them coming in and out and attempting to rezz can lag your computer.

Crash : when Second Life decides it has had enough and quits of its own accord. Akin to an epileptic seizure. Usually preceded by lots of lag. Sometimes, Second Life will not completely crash out but deliver a message about how you've disconnected and can still 'view IMs'. That is still counted as a crash. A crash can also apply to a sim, which is due to problems on Linden Lab's end.

Viewer / Client : both terms for the downloadable part of Second Life that you play Second Life through on your computer. Can be found via third parties as well.

Server : close synonym for 'sim'. Usually when someone talks about the 'servers' they are recognizes the machines that store the 'sim' itself in real life. There are more differences relevant, but that's the basic gist of it.

Copybot : a non-player controlled character which steals things through some complicated mechanism I'm too tired at the moment to go through. Just get the idea that most people don't like it because it steals copyrighted items and such.

Bot : Any avatar not controlled by a person. Bots come in all types. Camp bots stand around, land bots buy land, talk bots are chat machines.

Camp : sitting at a specified spot where the land owner will pay you money to sit around for some stretch of time. This is usually used to make the sim appear to be more full than it actually is.

Traffic : measure of the number of people who have visited that particular piece of land, sim, or island.

AFK : away from keyboard and means exactly what it says

busy : a type of status one can set where IMs and chat are blocked but you yourself can still play Second Life. Used by Lindens, builders, and scripters when they want to work in Second Life without being bothered.

mute/ muted : turning off the ability to hear another person. If I mute you, then no matter what you say I cannot hear you. Useful when someone is screaming in your ear with spam.

Gor : a sub-sect of Second Life who follow a specific style of guidelines, mostly centered around master/slave relationships and such. There's more to it, but in general if someone mentions Gor they are talking about this kind of community.

RP : roleplay. means exactly what it sounds like. Used most often when someone is acting out another role.

alt : an alternative account. A separate account created by you. An alt can serve many purposes, from managing groups to holding cash to being a way of meeting new people.

main : your main account. Usually the first one you create or the one you use most often. For example, my main would be Anna Tsiolkovsky.

chatlog : a log of the recent lines of chat. Can be obtained many ways, the easiest is copying and pasting directly from the chat box.

temp : a prim that has been set to temporary. It will only last for some amount of time. I forget the exact amount.

sqm : contraction for 'square meters'. The standard unit of measuring land size. Also seen as m2 or m^2.

More terms as I encounter them...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Prelude to Insanity

For lack of a better introduction, I am going to bluntly lay down who I am, where I am, what I am trying to do, and other things that might be useful to reading and, more importantly, comprehending this blog.

You are probably thinking this is about drugs and acid trips. If you came expecting that, leave now. The title is an inside joke. I will explain in due time, but I have to clear out readers who are expecting astronomy lessons, LCD trips, interstellar sojourns, and sci fi.

Now, to begin.

My name is Anna Tsiolkovsky, and I live in Second Life. Well, Anna does. Anna is my avatar. In Second Life. I'm technically Anna, but I'm not Anna in real life, that is to say, my name in real life is not Anna (but it's close, to be honest with you), but you can call me Anna for the sake that I am writing about Second Life, not real life.

Oh dear, I think I've confused the reader. Okay, let's start over.

There is this game called Second Life. Linden Labs runs it. It's not a game in the traditional sense, it's more Internet Chat Room meets 3-D Photoshop meets Myspace meets Wikipedia. There's no set goal, no quests, no nothin'. You start an account, install the software, run through Orientation Island (which no one, in my experience, ever actually uses as such), and then you're in the game.

Rezzed, in Second Life parlance. Being Rezzed is when you first appear in Second Life. It's your Rez Day. Woohoo! You're in Second Life!

Now what?

Well, here comes the beauty of Second Life: It is what you make it. Remember "Joe Dirt"? When he goes to Louisana and the Cajun says "'Ome es wat 'ou ma' it"? That's Second Life in a nutshell. It's whatever you think it is. You want to socialize? Then, there's groups to join, and infohubs and clubs crawling with other socialites. Want to build a liquid sodium nuclear pellet reactor? Start up the embedded building and scripting tools. Want to wage war? There's shooting zones. Want to play NASCAR (now the most popular sport in the world, ahead of soccer)? Take out a free car and drive.

So, we've established you can do anything you want. If you want to be a lazy bum begging change, you can! Ah, the glory of semi-freedom.

Now, I believe, is a suitable time as any for my mission statement here. I am going to write about Second Life, simply enough. Anything and everything I happen to feel like discussing at the moment. If I feel like discussing my eternal quest for the Holy Pelvis of Nunchuck, I will. If I want to debate the pros and cons of voice chat in Second Life, then I will. If I decide to photo montage, like the previous and very old post, then you better have a high speed connection on hand to render my giant 9 MB bitmaps. Just kidding. They're 3 MB.

This is going to be more Ernest Hemingway than Ernie Pyle. If you want to stay on top of the most current and basic second life news, then The Insider or the SL Herald are more your venues.

If you're interested in some nobody's take on Second Life, and journeys and travels and incoherent ramblings and occasional drunken rampages, then sit a spell, stranger. Have I got a story to tell you.