Thursday, November 29, 2007

Roll, Roll, Roll Your Sims

Another day, another rolling restart completed. I think this month has seen one too many rolling restarts.

Or maybe it just feels that way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Oh my Nunchuck. Someone snapzilla'd a photo of Concinna and the railway that was built up around there.

He comments (it was taken about 3 months ago) on how it appears to be merely a museum, and how all the trains are broken.

Oh Daedalus Young, you should have seen it not a few months before you visited. The trains ran on time, they weren't broken. Concinna was a railway station, it was the terminal where they were rerezzed if they ever got lost or badly broken. They were old style locomotives, with smokestacks and coal bunkers. I used to ride them up and down the Linden Railways.

Within a few months, a station and rail line become a ruin, an exhibit of what once was. If Daedalus ever met me, I could tell him all about the somewhat strange times we had on those trains, between Jurin the dinosaur avatar towering over the engines to careening off the track when a sim crossing went bad. Holy hell, I knew the guy who built and got the trains running!

I feel so old.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Book of Nunchuck V

"What troubles thee, my child, that I find you upon this cove forlorn?

"Who are you, that you come before me and inquire upon my fate?" for Ruth was startled, and ages had passed from the tales and legends of the days of old. Such is the resignation of the past in time.

"I have been raised by He Most Holy, and sent as servant and overseer of the land so that it may follow the one true path. I have found much sadness and tragedy, and fire and terror. I have witnessed the dimming of the stars from the smoke of war and the clouding of the water with blood and tears. I have found that the way is lost, and I fear it may never be found. Thus, I have taken to help where I may, limited though my capacity is. No longer am I the God of ages past who created and ruled the world, but only as powerful as the lowliest akelhian. Still I serve in the purpose I have been created for."

Ruth cried for joy. Her journey may find its end, and so she asked of Philip: "Where is the Femur, so that we may end this terrible conflict and restore order to our shattered world?"

Philip smiled gently, for the news was to be grim.

"My child of the forsaken people risen to the heights, your quest has been in vain. For the object of power that you seek has been where you can never enter, a place of despair that I suspect you know very well. For it was lost in the labyrinths of the palace of Sipte, in Kissling, where the Ony hold sway."

"Quick, we must go now, for if you have been sent then knowledge still lingers in this world of the femur, and knowledge of such is dangerous given the times."

With that, Philip took Ruth upon his back, and flew fast, faster than the stars twirl in the skies and the tides roll with the seas. He went with such haste and speed, they flew off the surface of the sims, and into the sky itself. And Ruth did witness, the roundness of her world, the poorly made cloud particles suspended from the sky, and around this great ball did they twirl in a waltz with the planet, and then, she saw the fields of her home which she had left so long ago in her hapless journey.

When the Fi-Suu saw that Ruth had returned, without the femur in tow, he cursed the heavens and the stars and all that he saw for he knew the battle was lost, and that they were all doomed, Qeosi and his minions would create their god and none but for the Grace of Nunchuck that Nhe may come down and see their plight would save them. And both the people and the akelhians ran from their cities and their towns, desperate to flee from the impending disaster.

"Behold, I have come among you, Philip the First and the Slain, Delivered by Nunchuck so that you may see and believe."

Fi-Suu scoffed at this, declaring, "Need we not of bygone losers and stories of ages past, for our need is great and our want of stories is small. Go home unless you know of the Femur and our salvation, lest you be swallowed by the ever growing Ony that I have so graciously held back for you."

"I am deeply saddened by your faith, for it is misplaced. I say to you all, those who hear and believe in Nhim, shall be saved by Nher Graces, but those who deny what is on their noses shall be burned in the fires of justice. For Nhe stands before you, and you deny Nhim. For this, I am saddened that you will face Nhis great Fury for such dismissals."

At this, Fi-Suu shoved him aside, and gathered the few akelhians left, and declared to all, "I intend to defeat Qeosi this day, and if I come back in tatters then at least our judgement shall be at hand and we need not listen to such imposters and scum." And with those words, they flew upon their magnificent wings off to Kissling and the Halls of Sipte and their almost certain doom.

And at this, Philip was saddened and deeply disturbed, for he spoke the faith but none save Ruth believed.

Meanwhile, in the halls of ruin that had once held the grand parties and balls of Sipte and his ministers and princes, Qeosi sat upon the throne of gold, not willing to slaughter but not satisfied with his people's lot in their world. He did not wish for destruction, but it was all he had ever known, and all he could ever know, creation was not his capacity.

"We should end this world, make it as black as our souls will be for eternity and stain it with the blasphemy of our creation. Is this not what their Nunchuck must want, for Nhe has allowed our very creation? Is this not Nher will?" spoke his advisers, and Qeosi saw wisdom in their advice, but he held no heart for a world like his people, for it was this world that he desired but could not have. He had bought his people time to search for the femur with his ruse, but even now he foresaw the coming of the akelhians, doing their earnest duty of protecting their flock.

And with this, he conceived of another plan to buy time. He went and found his fastest messenger, and he gave to him a map. Upon this map was an inscription, asking his forces to the south to hold the femur until the akelhians had advanced upon them. And Qeosi told his messenger to go past the akelhian hordes, and to not give up the map under any circumstances, and that if he had to he should eat it before it be captured. And he made the messenger swear upon his life that he would do so.

With the messenger off, he then went to his quartermaster, and told him to ready enough supplies for an army for three weeks, and that he should deliver these supplies as far south past the akelhians as he could and go past their lines. "But my Lord, whatever for? We have no one there!" he protested, but Qeosi made him pledge he would do so.

Finally, he took one of his brightest generals who had yet to see battle, and told him to take command of the southern army. "But my Lord, whatever for? We have no one there!" He exclaimed, but Qeosi made him promise to do so, and so he went to take charge of an army that did not exist. To all three, he told them not to mention a word to anyone of the enemy they should meet, not even under death.

So the messenger came first upon the akelhians, and they captured him and demanded to know his purpose. "I shall never tell you, rather I would die than disgrace my Lord!" He tried to eat the map, but Fi-Suu was too quick and too clever to allow that, and he looked upon the map and saw the preparations and plans by his enemy. "What is this, that he will flank us?" he declared, and so he strengthened the flanks of his advance, but he did not believe that any serious threat would come of it.

Then they encountered the quartermaster, and captured him as well, and they demanded to know his purpose. "I shall never speak a word of our plan, for I would rather be impaled by your blade than betray my Lord!" But they saw he had provisions for an army of thousands for many weeks, and Fi-Suu, with his wisdom, began to suspect that he might be able to seize an Ony army by surprise and thus cripple Qeosi, since he had just captured this army's plans and provisions.

Then they encountered the general, and captured him and demanded to know his purpose. Now, this general though intelligent had not the courage for the fate that awaited him. So he blurted out, "My master has ordered me to command an army to the south, I know not of its existence but he did order me and I did obey. I harbor doubts that such an army exists for I have never seen it, nor heard of it in My Lord's meetings with his advisers. Please spare me, and beware!" Upon this words, Fi-Suu was certain that there was a large Ony force to his south, for why would Qeosi send provisions, and plans, and a general to no place at all? Further, this general was obviously a good actor in his mind, and so Fi-Suu declared, "I shall surprise this Ony force, that I may defeat them without their battle plans, provisions, and command!" And so his armies turned south, that they would destroy a sizable part of Qeosi's army before meeting his city of death.

And so Qeosi, at the cost of a few supplies and an untrustworthy general, bought his people valuable time. But little did he know of Philip and Ruth, who continued to travel to his Hall in Kissling.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


As I've mentioned before (I can't find the post), the path to retention lies in connecting, communicating, and talking with the new people. It doesn't always work, but it at least helps the bleed-off from the one day wonders.

I know this from personal experience.

For there is an infohub that lies in the Bear sim, unimaginatively named "Bear Dream Lodge Infohub". It was in this place that I was born into SL (Orientation Island can be considered prenatal). Thus, Bear holds a place near and dear to my heart. They say your first impression is the most lasting one, that it molds your opinion of a place or person for as long as you know them. An impression that is hard to break, it's said.

My SL birth was literally a baptism in fire and cages. When I arrived, I was caged and surrounded by fire particles. Houses were rezzed on top of me. It was not a fun place to be, in short words. I was pushed around often by machine guns and RPGs. It is very likely that I would have stopped with SL right then and there, except that a few people helpfully suggested that I sit upon a wall on the main brick deck of the Bear Lodge. This brick wall, as we shall soon see, came to be the defining symbol of Bear. So much so that if you go there (at least, in my day, anyway) and inquire about what's the best thing to do at Bear, sitting on the wall will be among the top three.

Having planted on this wall, I took to conversing with the fellow survivors. They were a mixed bunch. Some were griefers themselves, some were obviously underage and sneaking into SL, some were like me and curious about what SL was all about. The one thing that united us was our mutual hatred of the griefing parade that regularly visited Bear in those days. We used to talk about griefing like one would discuss the weather, casual and only of mild interest after a week or so. The key is that the griefing united us, and also forced us to sit and listen to the others sitting around.

And you always had to sit. Standing, you would get caged and orbited. It was almost certain crashing. So you'd always see a row of people, squatting upon this brick wall from end to end, chatting about the latest movie release, or discussing whether they would put their brains in a robot body. Upon further reflection, I guess you could compare it to something of a city in the industrial revolution: everything is dirty and grungy from the factories, and everyone is a wage slave, and you're all united in general scorn for the foremen and owners and in your spare time you make conversation at the pub or the corner store. And because everyone was cramped into rowhomes that were and still are at most fifteen feet wide, you had to deal with jerk neighbors. And over time, you came to understand that they weren't inherently mean, they were just as scared and ticked off at the conditions as you were.

So I came into contact with a lot of folks. Even the biggest jerks soften up over time. You got to know the regulars, and you added to them. You'd engage some newb and talk about the weather, or perhaps you'd help them with something and you fall into a chat about the lag. Something always gives. And the regs came back, and the newbs became regs. It was familiar and comforting, and when someone was out everyone was on edge. Was it bad news? Good news? Had they quit? We became a family. And we'd always sit on the brick wall, the griefers were still running rampant. Soon our family grew and we got used to rezzing sofas and sitting on those, or sitting on the lamps nearby, or occasionally on the decorative fountain. Because the griefers would maul you if you stood, you always sat on something, usually whatever was closest. To not do so was to crash out of SL.

It was a running gag that one could always tell someone from the Bear Infohub, because at the slightest sign of trouble they'd sit on something. We all stayed not because we took advantage of the wide and wonderful possibilities of SL, but because we were friends, sisters, brothers, and sometimes married.

And this group, they came to be rooted in Bear. Now, as time went on, people here and there spun off and went their separate ways. Some bought land and moved on, some just quit, and some just went elsewhere. For them, Bear just didn't have the hold it did on others. This kind of worked against those who remained, as it made them tighter than normal. The end result of this is that at Bear infohub today, we have a core group of regulars, 'old'bies, who crowd out both the newbies entering SL at Bear and the people nearby who own land there.

This is really the point of the matter. Because recently someone has taken to starting a campaign against the regs at Bear. They don't understand why people would congregate at an infohub for nigh on a year now. They look at other infohubs, which remain relatively empty. And they just don't understand it.

This is why. Bear has spun out of control, and is turning into more than just a newbie gathering hotspot, it's mutating into a community in and of itself. With the regular show-ups of familiar faces, it's practically a small town. There is no stopping it. You won't be able to dislodge them without destroying the infohub or banning all thirty or so avatars who frequent there. It is just not going to happen. There is even a Bear co-op center, which can be considered an 'expansion' of the infohub, created by these regulars.

This is an extreme case where communication and community have knit together people tightly and keep them in SL. This is the story of Bear in a snapshot, and isn't comprehensive, nor needs to be. With regards to the fate of the 'regs', it will depend upon the Linden definition of the purpose of an infohub, and whether the regs can pass themselves off as mentors. With regards to my theory that other people, rather than owning land or building/scripting junk, hold people, I think it provides an interesting point.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Actually, no, not really.

In this blog post, you can glimpse other SL blogs, sounding off about how horrible this week has been, and oh isn't it just terrible! And it was so nice a month ago!

Shove it.

It wasn't nice a year ago, it wasn't nice last month, it hasn't been nice this past week, it won't be pleasant next week, and it won't be nice a year from now. Where do people get these ideas? When was SL ever stable? When did it ever not lag? Point out one instance of time between November 5th, 2006, and today where the SL grid for once settled down and didn't have issues. You can't! It's always had issues!

The day I started, SL lagged. And it still does today. It still has horrible and weird issues. A year ago, it was copy bots and failed teleports and grey goo and being stuck in place after a failed teleport and clothes not rendering properly or on the correct mesh. And everyone wailed that oh this horrible horrible grid!

Today, we have issues with missing textures, and crashing in mouselook, and windlight not working properly and the prims drift and inventory isn't loading and griefers are spamming whole sims miles away. And everyone is still wailing oh this horrible horrible grid!


We all know how horrible and how bad and how annoying the grid is. Just like we all know how big bad and evil Bush is, and how global warming is going to kill us all and high density cholesterol wraps around your heart.

But for the love of Nunchuck, enjoy your Second Life. Laugh a little. Don't sit like a bump on a prim, go out and enjoy it. Laugh when it crashes! Laugh at the people running around and trying to crash it! For the love of all that's holy, enjoy it because if you can't make SL enjoyable, whether you treat it as a video game or another chance at life, make sure you get out and have fun. If you can't have fun, make it.

But don't miss what you have by bitching about it nonstop.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Into the Eric Sea

It was smooth sailing and pleasant weather, having exited the confluence of the Tethys River. I had landed up in the North Tethys, a river much less rapid and intense. It was a prime opportunity to relax and let the river carry me down, all while the scenery comes into focus.

Repairs still had to be made, while the going was good. And so, I docked at the first pier I found, which was connected to some kind of stadium made of granite and etched stone.

The owner was a purple skinned blue haired human. I wanted to ask her for permission, and inquire about any docking fees, but alas she seemed away from her keyboard, and did not respond. She just stood there, in front of her 'under construction' banner, staring soulless at some point beyond me and along a wall fifty meters away. Which was a good thing, because her velvet blue eyes were just a tad eerie.

It was hard scavenging parts nearby. For one, Ms. Purple had cleared much of the land for her massive club space. The best place for parts is abandoned lots, plots where the owner is eternally AFK and autoreturn is on, so junk collects in it. You'd be surprised how you can strip an engine from a freebie hoverbike and retrofit it to an inverse retrograde quanto-capacitor, sometimes upwards of 60 GF you can pull from those. I was going to have to really stretch on this one.

It took three hours, but I managed to bring the Nunchuck to a state somewhat suitable, as well as any vessel was going to be after the recent triathlon. I shoved off, and continued along the North Tethys, eyeing some of the more unusual builds. Like this one. A gigantic hot tub with a water slide. The hot spring dribbled off into the river, which caused me no fewer headaches, as the rising temperatures did not mix well with the just thawed metal. It was a relief however to finally not shiver during daylight. The spring itself was wonderfully and masterfully down, almost like the architect planned each and every molecule of water to fall precisely where he or she wanted it to. The water slide was disappointingly childish and simple. Both were simple loops, and I apologize but a two loop water slide is just not going to cut it in today's water slide markets.

Cruising farther down, I saw the most intricate, prim heavy, and beautiful builds all in one. Hard to pull off, but this bridge managed it. It was intended to carry rail traffic, for a railroad that never made it off the ground, instead, limited to this 400 yards of track, going nowhere. A majestic arch suspended two hundred feet from the river, and now completely and utterly useless. No one wants a bridge without a rail line.

Not a few feet downriver lay a bridge of a different colour, this particular bridge was a simple log. Someone had knocked down what must have been a gargantuan tree, hollowed it out, and used it for foot traffic. It dwarfed the previous bridge. This tree, when alive, must have been on a scale unimaginable, which of course means that I can imagine how large it must have been. This log bridge could accommodate two eighteen wheelers going in opposite directions with room for a bike path.

And then, there were simpler, smaller, more conservative designs.

Cruising down lazily, it seemed like there was no end to the parade of bridges. This was proven false by a small waterfall. Bored and a tad reckless, I decided it much more prudent to 'hop' the falls. The Nunchuck flew off the edge and belly flopped down. Bolts, pins, and plates popped and flew everywhere, punishing me. Another hour spent patching together the poor Nunchuck.

At this point, the North Tethys river empties into the Eric Sea, an average sea and one of the older bodies of water in SL. At the mouth of this river, stood an old and ancient fort of sorts, topped by a lighthouse so ridiculously over sized as to be worthless. The actual lighthouse portion stood so tall over the water that airplanes would find it more useful than ship traffic. It appeared to be more a monument and testimony, one voice in SL saying "I was here".

The town that settled at the base of this was small, and composed of the usual mix of small shop rentals. What was far more interesting was what lie under the waves, for at this point lay an interesting geological feature, one which piques the interest of those interested in theories of how SL's continents drifted, collided, and mingled. At this point, you can observe a direct mash of three distinctive SL rock layers, between snow, rock, and sand. The delineations are distinct and sharp, indicating that collisions between these three continents into the current one must have occurred fairly recently.

Further along, much farther into the sea itself, isolated far far from the coast and 60 meters under, lay a lone avatar in the icy depths, standing idly. She was bald (or perhaps her hair had not rezzed?), and silent. Repeated greetings and inquiries met only the cold silences of the sea. It was eeiry, and perhaps all a dream. For one stands silly under the ocean, doing nothing but watching the currents flow?

With this, I leave off this second part of the NSS Nunchuck. And perhaps the final part, as well, for not soon after this I hit some banlines, and the Nunchuck, under the repeated beatings and stresses of the long voyage, finally fell to pieces. I couldn't manage the numerous leaks and I ran out of duct tape, and in the Sutherland straits the Nunchuck settled on the muddy bottom, a curiosity to river divers for generations to come.

But for nomads, there is no time for nostalgia and the path calls on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There is something to be said for saying something, and it is another matter altogether that the audience knows what you are talking about.

For example, I could write volumes and volumes and volumes about the relevance of the Letter Z to the planet Neptune, and you'd read and take it all in, and say "Great.... so what?" I might think it's the most vital subject at the moment, and yet you will brush it aside with the morning dew.

For me, that isn't the most pressing of concerns. Frankly, half of the time I have no idea why I wrote when I wrote it. And I am not covering pressing or relevant topics. If at the end of the day, you take something home from this, then I suppose I am glad. And if you don't, then it's really no harm no foul to both parties.

The problem occurs when we discuss fields that require comprehension. Subjects that perhaps shouldn't be glossed over. Like this paper discussing Quantum Gravity. Go ahead, give it a read. I'll wait.

Back? Wasn't it fascinating? I know the first read through I was a little dazed. Here is the kicker though: This paper got published, it got through a few communities, and people really began adjusting their fields and praised it for its forward thinking. Cool, huh?

There is a slight and small problem. Depending on your point of view, it could actually be more of a big problem. Here is the slight problem: The article is full of shit. The author wrote it on a lark, and flavored it with lots of fancy language and small puns and satires, and he was testing to see whether an article would make it into mainstream if it just sounded good.

Unfortunately, it was the sad sad truth. Really, who didn't see this coming? Don't we all tend to agree with things we like the sound of, or already agree with? The thing is, that you would think that someone somewhere would have examined it, and raised a small objection.

I wonder if I can pull the same thing off. If I wrote utter nonsense (I can hear the snide remarks: "Wait, this isn't supposed to be nonsense??" :) ), would you take me at face value, nod your head, and carry that with you?

I have a feeling it really depends on the method of delivery. Running around screaming the sky is purple is obviously not going to work. No, rather, you have to be subtle, and start with individuals. Then you scatter them, and start with a new group. Over time, your 'idea' becomes commonly accepted fact, with no one questioning it. In fact, it'd spread twice as fast if you stood around in glasses and a white lab coat with a clipboard.

Appeal to authority? Surely, you jest!

Excerpts From My SL Diary

Dear Diary,

Today, I found a most interesting person while walking down L-95 today. Traffic was light (high lag kept most people off the road, although a few jams at sim seams occurred with the flyers), so I drove.

I found him standing in the center of the road, and he seemed to be looking for something. He had the look of a newbie, so I decided to pull over and check it out.

"Hey there," I said, "whatcha doin?" He seemed puzzled. At first I thought he didn't understand English, or that he didn't know where to put in text to chat. I was all ready to leave when he responded with "im triyn to pick up my stufff".

Now this was interesting, don't you think so? Because there was nothing on the road there, 'cept my bike, me, and him. What stuffs was he looking for? Did SL eat his stuffs? Were they somewhere else? Was he delusional?

While I pondered the answers to these questions, I suddenly realized that my motorcycle and him were gone. Apparently, he was looking for my 'stufffs'. The SL insurance company doesn't believe me, either. They told me to tell it to someone who believes in fairies who live in Cloud KuuKuu Land. They then kicked me out when I tried to offer them proof of the KuuKuu fairies.

So I'm out a bike and insurance. ;_;

Dear Diary,

Today I bought a new car. I figured a car would be harder to steal than a bike, since I can lock the doors when I leave it to check something out.

So I head down L-95, and I see that new guy coming down the strip, riding MY motorcycle? Like, seriously, what the hell? You steal it and then ride it RIGHT IN MY FACE??

I was so angry that I lost concentration on the road, and I crashed into a casino. The mafia running it thought I was a griefer, and they blew me and my car up.

So Now I am out a car. ;_;

Dear Diary,

Today, I bought a boat! It is a small rowboat, but it is very fun to row about! And I don't have to see that jerk noob who took my bike and wrecked my car!

Rowing down a stream (LOL!) today, I passed under a bridge, when I saw him again! Riding my bike! With my license plates! He pretended he didn't see me, but I yelled and screamed at him! He stopped, and peered down at me in my little rowboat, yelling like a crazed person.

I got so angry that I didn't notice what he was really looking at, and that is when I hit some banlines which destroyed my boat and crashed out my SL client.

It hurt a lot. ;_;

Dear Diary,

Today I decided to stay home. I spent the day building a voodoo doll of that stupid stupid newbie. He is so stupid and dumb and evil! I wish he would get orbited so badly that his CPU melts and sets his pants on fire, and then his house, and then his dog, and then his face. And they'd call him Stupid Melty face.

But as I was crafting his stupid ugly right ear lobe, I saw him drive by through my window! Running my bike through mud! He was getting mud on the engine! It wasn't going to be shiny and new, but muddy and dowdy! How dare he!

SO I ran out and threw rocks at him. One missed and hit my neighbor in the head. When she got up, she AR'd me to the Lindens and now I'm banned for a week. A whole nunchuckdamn week! It was only a rock!

Next time I'll launch prim babies. ;_;

Dear Diary,

Today, I set up spike strips and land mines along L-95 so when he rides over it it'll pop his tires and he'll get in a horrible accident. haha serves him right!

My lawyer says that in retrospect I should have known it also would have caused a nine car pileup and medical emergencies from the pedestrians who stepped on it.

It might be a while before I write again. ;_;

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

At A Crossroads

I can see very clearly three paths laid out before me. I can see the lay of the road, the obstacles, the impending weather conditions, and the Emerald City at each terminal. I am at a crossroads, I think.

There's always a crossroads, even a straight path has a branch or a concrete tunnel a maintenance hatch. But some are minor, and don't affect any outcome. Do I get rocky road or vanilla ice cream? It doesn't matter in the long run, a detail lost to the winds in murky memories. But these three, these three are definitely choices that will have consequences. Take one route, and there will be a major impact. And likely, there will be no going back and this is it.

I honestly believe this will make or break my Second Life.

I am in a unique situation, or perhaps not so unique. You see, I have vectored into this very crossroads that offers three unique possibilities.

Actually, there is a fourth choice. But it is an unacceptable one, a route of failure before failing. I think you might have an inkling as to what I am referring.

So I have these three choices. And I can see each in detail. I think I understand how a chess player feels when they postulate seven moves ahead. I see the risk, investment required, and outcome of each and to be honest all three sound good on grey matter. The key is that once I choose one, I can't even attempt the other two. Why? Because each requires time and concentration that I simply don't have available unless I cut into real life responsibilities and I have a solemn oath that above all things Second Life, real life takes precedence. And each one would hog all of my attention. And therein lies the game.

Which one do I pick? Take too much time and I fall into the fourth and most unacceptable choice. Be hasty and I might regret not considering the other two. What do I want? What would make me happy? What would wear me down? What will I do? Could I keep this up?

All valid questions, yes? But we can't ask too many questions. Then we fall into information paralysis. This strikes many people in math and science, where the sheer volume of information overwhelms a person to the point where they just freeze, and nothing gets done. The volume of information is the high beam, and we're deer. The trick of the game is to be able to sort the relevant from the irrelevant and the necessary from the trash. Deer wearing sunglasses. And part of it is a learned skill, and part is luck, and part is talent. Like all things in life, really.

So what is relevant and what is extraneous? Identify the wheat and the chafe. And at this point, you might think I have succumbed to info paralysis, and that I should just get to the point. But that is the problem with decisions like this. At what point do we divide relevant and irrelevant? What separates the trivial from the important?

I keep coming back to this, you see? It seems to be the crux of the matter. My parents used to call it 'cutting through the crap'. And I have just served a hefty plate of crap just now. Perhaps I should just straighten my thoughts into a singularity. Arrange it out in the simplest possible terms. And there is no rush. But it is a decision that should really be resolved sooner rather than later. That's always for the best.

I guess I have a fear. A fear of choosing wrong. Or perhaps a fear of moving on. The now is fine, but it won't stay that way.

That's about it.

Also, I really need to have a talk with Blogger, and the way it triple (and sometimes quadruple) spaces my posts. It is getting just slightly annoying.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Typical Blog Entry

Today I did things. And now you're reading about it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Journey of the NSS Nunchuck

Being a nomad, one wanders the SLandscape. And being a nomad, one of the perquisites is a good grasp of vehicles, how they work, and what they can do. Sure, you could fly, but it's much more of a entrance to climb out of a space shuttle you crashed into an infohub. But there's always obstacles, impediments. When you're walking, it's some griefer who orbits you. When you're flying it's ban lines and poor sim seams. When you're boating, it's ban lines and junk people love to extend over the water. Boats don't tend to cross over rocks well, I've noticed.

But, most marine impediments, they only go so far under. People pave over the river, but to save prims they don't extend the walls all the way down. You can see the direction I'm going with this. For this means that if one has a submersible the sea is literally at your command. One other constraint is that it was to be small and narrow enough, for reasons I will explain later.

In this spirit, I commissioned the Nunchuck Submersible Ship Nunchuck. I rezzed it and launched it from Heaton Village, and after a few minutes of sea trials I deemed her fit enough to endure the waterways the Lindens so thoughtfully provided.

The Heaton River is a rather narrow channel, but the bottom is relatively smooth, so it's easy running and hardly any worries of obstacles. For a while, it was quiet. Mainland is always quiet and empty, but the seas even more so. It's a side effect of being a snow sim, that people instinctively think "jeez, that river must be freezing". Unfortunately, they were dead right. The instruments kept freezing, and I found it rather difficult to maintain depth. It wasn't such a big deal at this point, because there was no need, the Heaton river was clear and smooth sailing all the way.

The Heaton river connects into the Anzere lake, which isn't really a lake so much as a reservoir between the Heaton and Tethys rivers. There's a small island in the middle. This entire area, in fact, was once a bustling metropolis. What happened to it, was lost to the progression of ages. All that is known is that in this area, meters of wasteland extend as far as the eye can see, and the only monuments left to attest to this bygone age was an isolated infohub and a Linden road snaking through the snow.
I almost collided with a purple sphere set on the bottom seen above. It had been placed by Torley, under the group 'Maintenance'. It contained no scripts. What is the purpose of these spheres, I do not know. They do provide a useful navigation tool, as they usually are placed in long lines leading to and from rivers and across the oceans. But that cannot be their intended purpose. Perhaps, like the waste, their original intent was lost to time, and now serve only in this ancillary function, of which few know. Except for the fact that I just told you.

The Tethys river, unlike the Heaton, is treacherous, like a SL Scylla and Charybdis. There are no whirlpools and disgruntled nymphs here, however. Just extremely narrow and deep channels. For this purpose the sub must be narrow, for otherwise it would lodge in the crevice and this would be a short journey. Many of my best submarines met this fate, and but for the grace of Nunchuck I survived to try one more time, each time.
The cliffs here are impossibly high to describe, and these photos can never do justice to them. Unlike the lower lying areas of SL, roads here hug the higher elevations like a child to its mother, after all, all the builds are on top of these plateaus, and a road by the shore would be useless to them. As a result of this, numerous bridges span the gorge, both of Linden and resident design.

This was one of the more impressive bridges I saw pass overhead. It is simple and elegant, and shows mastery of detailed craftsmanship while maintaining low usage of prims. Truly, this deserves to be featured as among the greater builds of SL. I suppose it is not as exciting as a Starax, but such creations are in my opinion one of the beautiful 'background' art of SL. Without builds like these, our world would be much the poorer.
Some of the bridges were in poor condition, having owners who neglected them and left them to their own. In a world where crossing the sims is a luxury to the few with the hardware to try it, the brave, and the foolhardy, most opt not to travel. And so these background arts sit silently, serving no purpose other than as landmarks along the river. Some have collapsed, others sit on the verge. It is a shame that we all rush to witness the CSI sims or the latest Light Waves creation while abandoning others to obscurity.
At a certain point, the Tethys opens up, and the temperatures rise much to my chagrin. Pipes moan as the water in them warms and melts. I had to surface for repairs. The snow sims wreck hell upon the Nunchuck, and here is where understanding how to fix prims and scripts of a damaged vehicle come into play. Most amateurs would flounder here, and abandon the journey. Not I! I trudged on. Then I hit the actual source of the Tethys river: The tethys sim itself.
I had drifted in while distracted with the troublesome turbine coolant. Tethys is a true challenge for even the most skilled of nomads and sailors. Many ships lie wrecked on the floor of the river from hapless newbies unaware of where they were sailing. Plane wreckage litters between them, as the Tethys river's infamous cliffs suddenly climb after relaxing just a while back. I hurry and throw everything together, because in this sim time is of the essence. I dive and pray that everything holds until I reach the next sim.
For the first leg, I dive and hug the sea floor. This is the easy part of the challenge.
Above us lies the first obstacle: A misplaced dock. Once used as a jumping point for rafters and kayaks, now it lies to deter the foolish who dare think they can attempt to cross the river at this point. It has a flight of stairs that lead the wary, the defeated, and those who know where their strengths lie up the half a kilometer cliff, where a Linden road passes by and guides them to other points beyond. Theirs is a journey I do not take, for the sub slides underneath silently and effortlessly. I can hear the water start to rush by through the hull, and that is when I reverse the engines and prepare for the next.

For this many came to raft and raid through the canyon. The sharp and jagged rocks and boulders, honed into sharp daggers by the fast moving waters, wait eagerly for those who do not know their strengths. Here is where many crash and wreck. Some survive and live to learn. Others do not. It's SL, and it's not easy, and it eats newbies alive who aren't careful.

These death rocks lodge into the narrow river, and one can glide underneath them for rarely do they reach to the very bottom. And it is this that enables me to pass them intact, for the Nunchuck passes by under the water far from the treachery that lies above.

This is the final test. I must plunge into this narrow and inconsistent subterranean cavern in order to make it past and into the warmer sims below. I have never sailed in these parts, I have no idea what awaits me in these caverns where the shadows hold sway and the water is both friend and enemy. I am sure I can make it, but the sail may catch, and in the rapidly moving water with the rapid changes of temperatures between the snow and grass sims, the sonar and mystiHud are unreliable. And there is the possibility that the builder of this placed traps and jagged rocks specifically to ensnare the subs who dare pass through it. This is truly the final test.

One may be asking why I do not surface and sail over this cavern. This is why:

This waterfall is the reason that I must travel deep. To attempt to jump the waterfall would lead to death on the rocks below. If the rocks didn't kill me, the impact of the sub with the water certainly would. Faced with certain death, the cavern is the much more logical choice. If I can make it past this, I am finally out of Tethys and I will have made the voyage through it for the first time after numerous failed attempts.

If there were windows on my sub, I would see nothing. It is pitch black in the cavern. The readings from sonar come back jumbled but in this cave it is the only hope of navigating. It is eerily silent, the rocks insulate me from the roar of the falls above. Nothing lives here, and maybe nothing can live here.

Time passes. It's cliche to say that it felt like eons passes, but it's cliche precisely because it is true. Time slows down in the adrenaline rush of struggling to maintain and trim depth, or adjust it for what appears to be a stalactite in the way, or cursing the sluggish rudder. I am going as slow as I can, but I wish I could go faster. That's a trap some fall into, attempting to rush through passages like this. It's not a smart idea. Fast is a quick way to meet Nunchuck.

And then, the sound of the falls returns. The sonar stabilizes and starts returning contacts I can rely on. And then, I see one more test. Can I make it past the turbulent waters at the foot of the falls?

Yes, yes indeed I can.

I survive to make the next part of my journey, out amongst the more pleasant grassland sims of the Old Continent, closer to the core where SL began.

But that is a story for another day.


TV shopping. About Second Life. L$10,000 for the initial buy-in, and L$2,000 per month the ad continues to run.

The only issue I can see is if that cost is beneficial in the long run. How many watch SLCN? How many, upon watching the ads, will bother to buy anything? How long can the commercial run before the L$2,000 a month begins to hurt business with hardly any return?

Sometimes I watch SLCN. The only issue I've ever had was the hurt it put on my computer to download and watch the videos, and Quicktime which would occasionally pitch fits about conflicts and whatnot. Not hard to fix, but some days I don't feel like bothering with it.

In any case, it will certainly be a great source of income for them. If it turns out that it's a bust and people stop buying ads, they're still ahead. And if it works and people notice a marked increase of sales, then this can only mean good things for SLCN.

The Fixing Of The Bugs

The new wave of bug fixes is in.

First, the good news is that prims will no longer rotate at random. This is something that has occasionally plagued builders across SL. Guns would contort at just an odd angle so as to make it seem the mercenary av is aiming for midgets. Or clock towers would seem surrealist. Floors would tilt enough that pinball machines would freak. It was rare, but when it occurred much stress was placed upon the builder to either replace the part and delink the whole mess, or assess whether the degree of the angle was large enough to be noticed. Something on the order of 0.002 or 179.8 degrees usually wasn't large enough to be noticed, except on small figurines or exceptionally large builds.

Rezzing an object from the trash no longer deletes it entirely from memory. Not a problem I've ever had a problem with, as usually when I delete something I don't intend to ever bring it out again. That's just my ethic, though, and for others, perhaps the trash is the new archive.

SVC-583 confuses me a bit. Did they reduce the five minute wait while logging out for avs with lots of scripted objects, or what? Personally, I've had long log out times even when I have only hair attached. In fact, in my whole SL experience, I usually hit a three minute wait for log out regardless of what I had attached. Another thing that was fixed but never really bothered me in the first place. More power to them, though, if it eased the stress on someone who grit their teeth on this one.

Once again, we're allowed to set For Sale while objects are in inventory. This one used to drive me insane, I always had to rez something to change the for sale property, and occasionally it would reset and I'd have to set it back. I'm glad they fixed it, I no longer have to find the nearest sandbox or build enabled land to rez it out, set For Sale, take it back in, and ... you know what? I never had this problem because whenever I set something out for sale, I usually used a vendor! In fact, if you're rezzing it out for sale, why can't you change it right then and there? The worst case scenario is that you have an object that is nothing more than a display for maybe a few minutes, or you have someone quickly buy it in the few seconds it takes to set the price after checking off For Sale. I guess this is something of a non-issue, for me, and probably for most other vendors, as rarely do I see something for sale outside of a scripted vendor.

Now, the kicker this time around is SVC-912, which at first glance appears to be rather singular in nature. "Sky Eclipse’s avatar crashes regions EVERY TIME she logs in, regardless of where she logs in ". Sounds like a simple job for some Linden to straighten out, not a major bug itching to be fixed. One commenter chimed in with "Sweet. Although I am a little surprised at the very specific problem subject of SVC-912. I’ll have to go read that one."

Upon reading SVC-912 on JIRA, we find it is "Sky Eclipse's (and now JoeTheCatboy Freelunch's) avatars crash regions EVERY TIME they login, regardless of where they log". Ah, two avatars with issues! The grit of it is a rolling restart borked the mystihud for two people, and caused them to crash the sim upon login. Live Help cheerfully exclaimed how broken their avatars were, and told to open a support ticket. It was marked as "Showstopper" priority.

This relates to SVC-800, marked as "Critical", which involves LLScriptDetectedEntry. Apparently, this affects HUD attachments, and causes something similar to a deep think, SL just keeps rooting around in circles trying to ... detect something. And this affects the entire sim. And everyone on the sim.

My question is, is this critical? Things break all the time in SL, and from the sound of the comments on JIRA, the Lindens just reset the accounts, taking off the offending attachments, I suppose. Is this really a showstopper, as it's labeled? A showstopper is defined in JIRA as the most severe bug, which greatly impacts the residents; the example given is a lot of people being unable to log in at all. My question is, is this bug a showstopper?

The real answer is, we can never know. So many people, upon encountering this, will either make a new account or leave SL entirely. Only two or three people have made a coherent JIRA report, the rest are too vague to determine whether it is the same issue or not. Two avatars complain, but perhaps hundreds encounter this and never raise awareness. The general attitude in SL regarding help and support is that you're better off figuring it out on your own.

Consider that the accepted number for continuous and active avatars is in the ball park of four to five hundred thousand. The nine million or so try-and-dies would quit playing whether or not they'd hit this bug, so one cannot really count them. SL had horrible retention rates before this hit, so the prevailing argument is that fixing this bug will add maybe a hundred residents per thousand who try at the most optimistic.

With this in mind, we have two confirmed avatars experiencing this, and the common denominator appears to be the mystitool. Thousands of residents use mystitool. Of these regular residents, notable for their propensity to complain, only two experienced this issue which was handled by some Linden well before today's bugfix. Two out of four hundred thousand. Is this really a showstopper? Sure, fixing it reduces the amount of tedious daily complaints (questionable in itself, as future developments could trigger this again, I have no idea the specifics), but does it really deserve to be considered super critical that it had to be rushed into the next bug fix?

I say it does not. We have to consider that there is a large difference between what an individual perceives and what the general population perceives. I might complain to the President of the United States that he should investigate potholes along my street that are damaging my car. That's my individual perception. But by and large the road system in the US is in order and maintained. The general population does not have to worry about potholes. I am drowned out. To me, this is a serious situation. To the rest of the United States, and even to the rest of the city, my trouble is rather insignificant.

Here comes my point. Just because something impacts me personally with devastation doesn't give me free reign to scream bloodly murder. Please. Keep it in perspective. Label it critical or major at most, and if the comments indicate this problem is widely occurring or you notice many similar problems sprouting, then go for showstopper.

Taking a look at the current open showstoppers, I get the idea that hyperbole is SL's middle name. One is definitely a showstopper in its original intent: Vendors failing to update and give inventory to the customer. That could wreck havok with the SL economy, people won't buy what they can't trust to deliver. The other is the infamous Friends List not updating. Now really, tell my honestly: How is this a showstopper? Is it very annoying? Yes. Have I ever missed someone because of it? No, because I learned to 'ping' everyone with a Hi or Hello or Yo, and I'm instantly told who's online and who's not. Sometimes, they IM me! Maybe I'm missing something, maybe people are utilizing the friend's list in a way that I don't have to or never thought of. You be the judge.

The argument against my reasoning can be seen in the comments (It's issue SVC-85). You be the judge: "this is a critical bug when you run a business in SL. a workaround is to offer a teleport to the friend you wonder is online ... i put "just testing, ignore" and if they're on, the blue window pops up and i can then see them online in my friend's list."

"Not a critical bug? SL is a social interactive environment. Not knowing who's online leads to misunderstanding and sometimes even bad feelings when people feel they have been ignored. Life's complicated enough on SL without unintentionally blanking people. It gets my vote. "

I can understand the complaints. Business owners need communication with customers and employees for obvious reasons. Friends can get miffed when it appears you've been ignoring them for weeks on end. But I believe that my point still stands: IM them or other workarounds, there is no need to label this a showstopper. Critical, yes, but it's not a make or break deal with SL.

For reference, the complaint about failing vendors (SVC-405) was opened on April 28, 2007. SVC-85 opened on March 19 2007. SVC-94 was labeled as major, and was opened on March 23. SVC-247 was labeled critical and opened on May 30th. SVC-583 was critical and filed on August 27. Three critical took precedence over two showstoppers?

The only explanation that comes to my mind is that the two current showstoppers require major fixes which are still being worked out, either due to the complexity of the problem or the poor documentation (or overload of it). There is lots of work behind the scenes, that we as the general populace cannot know or understand. Looking at the source code, I can pick out parts I can understand, but in general I'd be hopeless if asked to fix or adjust it.

And that is the crux of the matter, here. As I stated, some people file bug reports poorly or in haste and anger, and things become over exaggerated to the point where the Lindens are rushing to and fro fixing minor problems that few care about, while major issues are overlooked, and this all leads to a general atmosphere where the residents believe that the Lindens are not paying attention. They are, they are, but it doesn't help that five hundred thousand people are tugging them five hundred thousand way.

I'm not saying the Lindens are saints. There are issues in which they are seriously lacking, such as transparency and poor communication, but on the subject of not tackling the major issues of the day, we should cut them some slack.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In Response to a Comment

"Hrm. Okay, I don't know who you are and have never heard of your blog, but it's great that you have an opinion. For the record, the Herald has a spot for "advertisements and announcements", and that is what the Titanic bit was filed under.

Please do some more research next time."

I know the Herald has had a category for Ads and announcements for ages. However, there was a time when announcements were for things that were breaking news, hot off the presses, or structural changes to the Herald. Now they're being hijacked for the purpose of advertising to the highest bidder?

And I have never quite agreed with Advertisements being articles unto themselves. I was aware that the Herald has had spots for them in the past, however, in the past the frequency with which ads were posted was once or twice a month, and often less. They didn't appear often enough and ended up being more of an annoyance. Recently they've come in waves, and frankly that turns me off, I'm skimming the Herald to read about SL and not about Rome Film Festivals.

It's not just ads, either. Recently there was a spurt of four or five articles responding to the other about SL rape. It was almost like watching an inworld discussion in slow motion. It made for great drama, but after the 30th comment debating whether SL rape is on the same emotional level it got tiring.

So I have more or less stopped reading the Herald. I check it once or twice on occasion, but it's not the same anymore for me. Just like I'm not forcing you to sit down, google search for your name and articles, dreg up my blog, and comment on it; I understand that I don't have to read and whine about the Herald. This is my blog, and nothing here is supposed to be especially well researched and in fact I have explained numerous times to the four people reading this that I encourage them to do their own research and that whatever I've posted is usually from quick glances on the topic.

That's all I have to say on the matter, and I won't post about it again.

An aside: I suppose I might have been a bit harsh concerning the google search, as my search for "Tenshi Titanic" turns up my blog as the third result. So maybe it is not so unbelievable at all that you'd find me as I previously thought.