Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How I Write A Post

First, I write something. Anything. Usually it's in reaction to something, or perhaps I just sat down that day and free thought together something. Usually both! It will be hilariously incoherent and disjointed and misspelled.

After writing the foundation, I let it sit there and simmer. It depends on a few factors the speed with which I publish. Is the post long and hard to format (posts like "Journey of the Nunchuck", while entertaining and full of pictures, are a pain to format properly without it falling apart) ? Is the post still relevant (a post on copybot today would be way way WAY behind the times, and sometimes what seems like a big deal today really isn't tomorrow)? Can I merge it with something else? Usually I do the latter. I throw it all into a giant pot and stir.

After stirring for a bit, I look in and see if I have something edible. Sixty percent of the time I don't and I throw it down the garbage disposal. Forty percent of the time I might have something worth reading and relevant!

Then I run it through my two best friends: The dictionary and spellchecker. With regards to grammar, I usually pray I don't have fragments and that I have more than two sentences per paragraph. Sometimes despite that things slip through, though, so I read my own posts seven times. After that, I let it languish in draft stage while I do more relevant things like watch TV, play SL, or watch paint dry on cinderblock.

Finally, months (or decades, depending) later, I publish the post. Sometimes if the draft has been delayed long enough, it won't show up on top, but instead Blogger will slip it in somewhere else date wise. So if it appears that I haven't updated, I probably did but Blogger buried it in the archives.

And then you read it and in fact you're reading it right now. If you are reading this sentenec and there is no grammatical errors, I consider myself a success. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to pat myself on the back some more. I might be back in time for my daily self-worship.

Linden Lab Is Genius

What stops Linden Lab from doing something so horrible to the grid, such as raising L$ prices and land prices, forcibly all but closing the grid?

Knowledge, the knowledge that if they do so people will leave, and take their cash with them, and SL will tank. It is this knowledge that prevents them from just pulling the plug and doing anything that would be extremely drastic (if you think age verification or voice came on suddenly, you haven't seen what it could have been like).

This is a pretty powerful weapon. They must tip toe around this, because it will occur if they impose something large on the grid. How do you work around this?

You do it in increments, you make sure that once one feature causes a hailstorm you wait until it calms before you unleash the next. They are building an anthill one grain at a time, so you don't immediately notice it and exterminate them. Small, baby steps is the path they are taking.

You must realize that I am not saying their method guarantees happiness in their customers. It is merely a way to damage control during feature implementation while retaining a large enough user base to provide a profit. It is a genius work-a-round, which completely neutralizes our main weapon against them with regards to preventing undesirable features (which can include whatever, the purpose here isn't to analyze each feature that's shaken up the land). It is genius because people get bored of fighting for a cause. You may lose one or two Wayfinder Wishbringers, or a James Gill, but on the whole you retain a large user base. User satisfaction isn't a concern, as long as the crap storm remains low level enough.

The best analogy I can think of it starting fires in a vulnerable forest in order to prevent a firestorm years later. It's shear brilliance in action. There is no way to counter this, save for a massive coordination of all the residents and keep them annoyed enough that Linden Lab would feel the heat, and we'd have to be deadly serious in our threats to leave SL. Half the grid tiering down would send a warning shot across their bow.

The problem is that organizing this would be similar to trying to herd cats. Linden Lab knows this. That is why their method of operating a feature inclusion is genius. They introduce voice, it starts a firestorm, it dies down. Then they add identity verification, it starts a firestorm, then it dies down. There is never a summation to trigger any action.

Which is why, nowadays, I laugh more often when people do things like "Write an Open Letter to LL about Canadian Laws Against Age Verification" or "Take back the grid" (I'm not linking to the blogs and forums behind these headlines to save your brain cells. I already read the back story and I am dumber for having done so). I laugh because in a month or two, it will all be forgotten. And then they'll roll out Windlight (and who knows what else), and we'll all get in a bunch again. And again.

I plan on not caring anymore. I'll just watch the world rolling restart by from the comfort of where ever I happen to be at the moment when I teleport to get around the restart.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Second Life

For lack of a better thing to write, I have decided today to post all the snapshots I took in the first two months of my Second Life, which spans from November 5th to January 5th for those of you watching from home.
To begin, the first snapshot is from November 17th. I don't have any photos from when I was first rezzed to that date. Why? I didn't know how to, simply. It is a shame, because it was one of the more interesting experiences. I was easily amused by the smallest details. I got a rise out of the 'boop' noise and the menu that popped up when you right clicked. I was an oddball.

This is my first photo. It is a pic that I took of me and my friend, Solta, dancing in someone's home that we had raided. Solta was my first real friend in SL. We used to run all over SL, into and out of people's homes, playing around with freebie weapons and toys.
This was my first snapshot, and it shows. I am zoomed out all the way, you can hardly see us. I hadn't waited for all for all the textures to rez. It still holds a special place in my heart, it was the first day I decided to document a pictorial history of my Second Life.

Z13's island. He was a friend of Solta's who offered us a house in exchange for rent. He didn't realize we were both paupers. So instead, we discussed things. Mostly about Second Life. Nothing important, we were just passing time.

My first pic of Bear. I lived under those benches. All but three of the people here quit SL about a month later.

My first visit to a club, the Pink Panther Lounge. It was located in some horribly crude newbie type build, but at the time it was impressive to me that they had built a huge building. It was standard club fair, with a radio station blaring some crappy silly stream, and all of us just mindless dancing using a dance ball.

I was always pushing limits. Solta and I had a contest to see who could fly higher. She lost when she logged off, but I continued, all the way up to 500,000 meters, at which point the sun went up into the horizon and disappeared and the sky would change from blue to night at random, and my avatar looked like she was ready to fall apart. I didn't try to go higher, and I haven't ever since.

Some random person at Bear. I thought he was weird at the time since he was half covered in tattoos. You could tell I was new.

A friend showing off his hot pink jeep/thing. We took a drive until a sim seam ate his car. The robot in the back jumped on as a hitchhiker.

I didn't always spin couches. I would also spin other pieces of furniture. Here I am showing off a spinning chair to James. James came to Bear to relax, socialize, insult Ryan Radio, and run furries over. I stopped him with dominoes and tacos.
I'd also like to point out that back then, you used to be able to rezz anything at Bear, and scripts would work too. This lead to massive griefing, but it also let us add lots of user things to Bear, like sofas, chairs, coffee tables, and show-off builds ("Look, I made a head scarf!"). It was all turned off later by a Linden due to the unearthly amount of abuse reports that would flow from Bear.
Sometimes, they still find an abuse report from those times wedged in some corner of the abuse report team HQ. There was so many, they got into everything in Linden Lab.

An "oooOO-Look-at-that" picture. His wings brought the sim to a crawl. Joke was on him, he couldn't fit into the actual Bear lodge.
Or any doorway, for that matter.

Mimi, another one of my good friends. We went around messing around with the Christmas sims that were cropping up around Christmas time. This chair was supposed to be for Santa and an kid on his lap. This was all slammed and squeezed between two mini-malls.

Messing around Club Vanity. In the window in the background, you can see the desolate landscape, as Heaton village wasn't built yet. This was when Club Vanity actually hosted live musicians, usually Bill and Pam. And others who were just starting out and wanted to mess around. We went through a few new singers who had just entered SL. A few were good, most were about average. One sounded like he came off a binge the night before.

Me spinning a sofa. By now I was famous for doing so.

I forget if there was a live musician this night, or whether we just all went crazy. In the background in the red room was the short lived "Vanity Gambling/Camping", which was gamed by campbots.
There is also a herd of Chickens. I am the chicken playing the drums.

Hazel, the co-owner of Club Vanity, showing off her jello avatar.

Nalin, or Orsaka, or Hazel showing off her jello avatar. The transformer was some random person flying by.

Chaos setting off a flash bang. I think this was when I first met her. Chaos is a great builder and scripter who made lots and lots of weapons. She would shoot griefers. This was us testing her weapons next to Bear. Bear by this time was under lockdown, so we went to the neighboring parcel and caused some havoc.

With that, this chronicles the first two months of my SL, at least, the parts that you can pull out of my snapshots. There is obviously more to it, but I am lazy and don't feel like writing and spell checking the monster that would be.

An Essay On The Feasibility Of Comprehension

Many arguments have been proposed on this topic, and many more will still to come. I will explore this subject with utter indifference and complete disregard for any possible scientific basis and evidence to the contrary of my findings which themselves are not supported by any evidence either real or imagined. I invite the reader to accept everything I say, in whole, in the merits of what I have and have not said.

First, I must present the reader with arguments against my thesis, for without dismissing these challenges out of hand I cannot possibly proceed, and it is best to eliminate these nay sayers now while the time is ripe, indeed, first impressions are the best and so we must come upon this unfortunate subject. We cannot ignore, also, the effects of the modern cable modem upon the cathode ray tube, superficially those effects which proceed unnoticed.

The first challenge oft presented is that, being creatures of speech and ignoring the nuances of text and sounds one cannot and will not in this day and age bother to read an entire block of text and thus render any and all attempts at hearing the argument moot. This is absurd in its entirety. One easily seen example is the one between a clock and an alarm. Without the actual text of the clock 'chatting' as it were with the alarm, one would fail it hear and thus oversleep. There are many other counterpoints which I will not bother going over unless time permits.

The second challenge is often devious, and its argument seems completely logical at first glance, such that responding to it requires a complete understanding of the field and logic behind it. Most upon hearing the response to this challenge cannot believe how simple the answer is, yet many still might find it perplexing and so I list it here. One must realize that we must junk all previous notions of any given capacity for research and all forms of Keyes and his theories, for we have no use (if we had any) for them here. Instead, it is better perhaps if we approach the answer to this challenge from the standpoint of a crossing guard might approach the problem of a passing train. That is, perhaps we should consider the possibility of it existing to be implausibly small such that we can place this argument out of mind and out of sight. It is best for one to ignore it. It is a deep and fundamental challenge that we should address but it is simpler for all involved to ignore it until such time that we can formulate an appropriate response, or perhaps forget about it.

Having properly defeating these challenges to our basics, we can now proceed to my basic premise and the heart of my theory. It is, in abstract form, an idea that is not easily presentable but I think it can best be stated as such: That avatars in their present form can sometimes be a representation of their masters, and sometimes they cannot. It is a complex idea, one that many will surely find obscene and perhaps capitalistic. Such a bold hypothesis requires bold evidence, and so I will bold the following paragraphs such that you will understand the importance and solidness of my arguments, and possibly be able to formulate your own and perhaps donate sizable sums of funds and donations to my non profit organization listed below. Such evidence shall be organized in order of least comprehensible to most least specific for your convenience.

Cathode ray tubes also point in the general direction of this trend although this pattern is easily misunderstood as the migration of the members of the therapoda genus. It is important that we define ray tubes as the tubes of ray rather than as is commonly misinterpreted in physics textbooks. It is this that we must work around and this that we ultimately find increasing support for the original thesis, of which one can be sure is diffused to the point that further elaboration is excessive and indeed unneeded. Unnecessary things are often the first things to go, for they are the least efficient, a byproduct of their inherent uselessness. Perhaps they are only useless in our minds, but that is a paper for another day.

At this point, the final piece of the puzzle drops into place. I am confident the reader can see the validity of the previous shards of evidence. If the reader does indeed understand my destruction of the counter-points, evidence, and all logic then I will have successfully proven my hypothesis. Since they are reading to this point in this post then that is direct evidence of the trends of global warming on a universal scale as opposed to a galactic scale. Since this is most definitely the case as provided here, then it can only be assumed to be true.

Little error has creeped into my observations and experiments. Occasionally the lab mice would run in circles and foam at the mouth, but this coincided with their exposure to day time television. Much like a normal human being, the mice predictably fell asleep by the time they read this far down, a point of error being that the underpinning assumption of the fact that mice can read. Until this is proven to be false, I am fairly sure it is true. There were a multitude of other error propagation but I safely and unwisely ignored them in light of the fact that they smashed my original dissertation. In summary, I have proved that someone can type many many many words and still say nothing at all of value, interest, or coherence.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

When Is A Mentor Not A Mentor?

Prok brings up a few interesting points concerning mentors and mentoring.

First, that we should treat newbies as children, which he puts down with the simple observation that if one is hooked to SL through Comcast cable, or Verizon DSL, with a $4,000 HP with 4 gigs of RAM at 3 GHz and an up-to-date video card, surf the Internet, download SL (or one of the open source viewers that are beginning to pop up), create an account, and log in, then you really shouldn't condescend to newbies. They're grown adults (they should be for the main grid, with the requirement that one be eighteen years and older). They'll handle SL like grown adults.

In other words, if one is a mentor, you shouldn't run around, pushing things on them unnecessarily. If the orientation island/ help island/ infohub is doing its job and the person cares enough, they should be able to figure out how to walk and dress themselves on their own. I've seen mentors doggedly lecture newbies on how to walk, take snapshots, dress themselves, or how to fly. There's a goddamn button at the bottom of the screen, I think a regular person with an IQ of 90+ can figure out that if you push it you take flight. In my opinion, the best method is to only provide assistance to what is asked of you. If the new person asks me where to go, I can say "Click Search at the bottom of the screen, there are tabs for every category. Input anything that interests you into it, and you'll pull up a list of related things" and I can know that the newbie will understand it. I don't have to spiel on and on concerning the details and workings of search, seven different ways to access and bring up search, or tell them the history of search and how it has evolved.

Second, he points out that most are only doing it for personal gratification. I can easily understand this, I myself have encountered some (I won't say many, I have no idea how many mentors of all flavours are out there mentoring) who really grate on me with their attitudes towards this business. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. It could be a simple boast: "I am important in teaching newbies". It could be someone keeping a record: "I helped 98 newbies today!". In any case, it shouldn't be the reason why you go about helping them. You're helping them because. That's it. Because. You shouldn't need or have any other reason. If it gives you a good feeling, then more power to you. But please please please don't let that become the reason why you help.

Also, I'd like to point out that it is important to spread this spirit of helpfulness to newbies. I suppose you could be blunt, or subtle. The idea is you should try to encourage them to do your job. You as a mentor are only one person. You can't be everywhere all the time. You could congratulate someone who helps another (being careful, however, you don't foster the idea of doing it for reward and praise). You shouldn't force people who act mentorish to become mentors. Let them do their work. I know of at least seven people who will on occasion sit around some of the more neglected infohub and behave like mentors. They get no recognition, they do it because they didn't have anyone around to help them and they'd like to avoid having the next generation encounter the same problem. It's good, I think. Prok mentions that most businesses also help newbies, either by offering freebies or cheapies, camping spots (prime source of income for those unverifieds starting out in SL), reduced rental prices. That's another way of helping the newbies. It's also good. It should be encouraged.

Finally, he recommends that sometimes, you have to lay down the law. Watching someone run around in the nude should be met with "Yo Jimbo58, put some clothing on. Nudity is not allowed in most of here." This I believe fits with the first point. Too often, I watch mentors drive themselves up walls by treating obvious griefers with too much kindness. I witnessed one SL mentor who, upon hearing that two newbies just shared passwords, laid down the law, and stress that it breached security and was against the Terms of Service. You have to do things like that.

Here is what I have come to use as a tactic. Usually, I try to play nice, I give a warning shot. "Hello gegege345, it's great that you're enthusiastic about scripting, but firing weapons around here is not allowed. Please put the weapon away". Then, I proceed to get mean. Why? I figure everyone deserves a chance from recovering from looking like a moron. I like to give people a small benefit of the doubt. Hey, haven't we all been in a position where egg was on our face, and we did something rather stupid? And surprise, most people generally listen to the first warning. The rest tend to settle down after the second where I order them to put it away or threaten ARs. It works.

I think it's probably a tad hopeless to believe anyone would ever actually follow any of this, since human nature dictates that people will pretend play 'helpful' for gain or entertainment no matter how rigorous 'training' would be. I know because I'm one of them. I have an incredible urge to brag when I help someone out, in fact there I go doing it right there! I'm a glory hog. I admit it.

I'm evil.