Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Second Life 5th Birthday

Despite my bluster about not attending and 'couldn't care less', I found that I didn't have anything better to do. So I checked it out.

I was too late to catch Phil and M's speeches (stupid first life getting in the way), but I managed to hit the second 'event': a panel which on the wiki said was on "Business/Music". Naturally, I was just a little curious.

And I was entreated to an hour of a bunch of DJs and musicians, hosted by Blondin Linden, on the definition of success, and how they dragged that SL success into real life (and vice versa). For the most part, they touched upon some truths. Dizzy Banjo mentioned that success in SL will depend upon recognizing and taking advantage its unique strengths, achieving something you can't find elsewhere.

The shame is that it's hard to achieve financial success as well. It's hard work building up a name for oneself and getting gigs and making enough in tips to support yourself real life while also buying new equipment to enhance the performance production and streams. SL also has an insane exchange rate as well, so I could tip someone L$2,000 which will come out to a few bucks. You have to garner enough of those tiny payments into a living as most of those present have done. There was talk of ticketed events, I can't imagine that would help much (if you consider that the ticket price would stay in the same ballpark as tips).

And there was the hushed murmur of the IRS coming into SL. Personally, I think the kind of money one shifts around in SL is still too small for them to notice, but then again, I could be wrong because I do not work for the IRS. Madison in particular pointed out that tips aren't gifts, it's a kind of income. Consider that if you're making enough to support yourself as a presence in SL (and if you've quit your RL job, your real life necessities as well), enough change is being thrown around that they will eventually home in on the scent if you don't declare it under the idea that "it's on the internets and who needs to know?".

I've summed up in about three paragraphs the entire panel. The comments tended to meld and repeat. It had to fill an entire hour. After a while I started drifting off and I ended up playing the Sand Game in another window.

I plan on grabbing M and Phil's speeches and seeing if they have anything interesting. Other than that, considering the general waste of time this panel turned into for me (your mileage may have varied), I probably won't show up for the rest of it.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Today, I was going to regale you with tales of my excursions in Twinity. There is just one small problem.

The stupid game won't work.

I signed up for 'beta', waited three damn months, created a stupid profile, downloaded the stupid program (which took forever for some reason), downloaded a bunch of patches (why didn't that all come from that particular version I downloaded?), and I go to run the pile and it doesn't work. It doesn't log in.

I get to the loading screen, when suddenly I'm pelted with an error message:

I'm sure blogger screwed that photo up, so let me say what the box says:

"Cannot autorize SpeedtreeRT. Check license key. Enter debugger? Cancel will exit the program." Then it presents me with yes, no, and cancel. Here's where Twinity started acting like a bastard.

If I hit yes, it then asks if I want to file a bug report, and if I say yes or no, it closes out the program. I can't click cancel, that shuts the entire thing down and asks me to send another stupid bug report. Both add the wonderful side effect of stalling out on my computer, hogging memory until I force it to quit. Sometimes I had to restart the computer because no matter what I tried, it refused to stop... doing whatever it was doing besides actually loading Twinity.

Oddly enough, if I hit no, I get to this screen:

Go figure. Yet ANOTHER patch loader. Don't worry, before you get the idea that it actually worked that time around, I should let you know that at this point, it crashed. With no warning. I didn't know what happened. I had to run up Twinity twice to manage to snap that shot, by the way.

My excursion in Twinity was short lived to the point of actually being non-existent. I won't render an opinion on Twinity because how can I? I can't log into the god damn world. It's like being blocked at the border of a country and then being asked your opinion of it. So, for now, I will say that I guess Twinity is an okay world. I wouldn't know because I can't get in it, but hey, whatever.

In short, I hate Twinity.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Comment Policy

I've never been a big fan of moderating comments. Or reading them. Of the twenty or so comments I get in a year, I read and respond to maybe half of that. I'm of the opinion that comments are there for all thirteen people reading this to add their opinion. When I do respond, I tend to do it as a post rather than a comment.

As for moderating, I couldn't be bothered. Blogger has a rather awkward way of finding, moderating, deleting comments. I could have it email me every time someone posts a comment and ask me whether I should allow it to go through or not, but I'm too lazy. Just too damn lazy. Besides, freedom of speech and all that jazz. I don't have the heart to deny someone their comment, so I have it on open. I'm sure I'm going to regret that someday.

There is another reason I prefer not to delete comments: it interrupts the flow of communication on the blog. Often, in any given blog with a large number of comments, the readers will begin to talk to each other. When you remove a comment, it makes everyone else seem stupid for talking about something that doesn't exist and it is a disservice to those reading through that post later for historic drama purposes.

Take any recent post on the Linden blog. It's subtle. Take this one, for example. People respond to someone whose comment is gone from the internet :someone named Jayden, whose comment must have been somewhere between comments 3 and 4 before it was deleted. It's terrible. It's whitewashing the fence. Sure, it's narcissistic to think anyone will care about all this years from now but you never know. It makes me startled to see this LL blog (one of the few vents for people left) be slowly altered.

Perhaps they're trying to maintain a PG atmosphere. But honestly, how many children read the LL blog? How many people of any age even know it exists? Perhaps they're trying to remove arguments that have no ground, in which case why not leave them up? If the Lindens really think these rants by random avatars on the blog are nonsensical, wouldn't it be okay to let them out in the open where everyone can see how ridiculous they are?

The best reason I can concoct has to do with the nature of the blog itself. It only allows 150 comments for any given posts. Given the propensity for people to spam and double post, it's understandable that Linden Lab would also remove such inflammatory comments to save space. But then at what point do you draw the line? When do you say "this is mere complaint" and "this is a flame and must be deleted"? And all things considered, there have been some astoundingly inane comments in the blog that have never been removed. If we're going to take out the trash, why not pull all the cans out?

Of course, this is all a futile exercise, because when was the last time LL made any sense?

As for other blogs, well, as I've said, deleting comments is a shame and should be avoided. But it's not my call. It's their blogs so they can do what they want. As for me, I'll keep comments open and unmoderated. Obvious spam (such as "interesting post, now check out ''! Is it fun!") will be deleted, but other than that, I don't care. Post away.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Wonder....

...What I will do with this blog if Second Life dies?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dimitrio's Photostream

Once again, because I'm lazy I'm going to examine someone's photo stream. This week I bring you Dimitrio Lewis, who is a quiet and reserved fox armed with a camera and a neon green scarf and top hat. He probably does a multitude of things but hell if I can remember. Let's just settle that he's a great guy.

Thanks for the nightmare fuel. Honestly, after I saw this, I went to sleep and had a dream. And in this dream, this ... thing? ... came to me and questioned my entire life. This took all of four minutes. After that, I turned to 'The Dark Integral' here and said "Is that it? My entire life spans only four minutes?" Dark Integral nodded solemnly. Then I realized I had spent about a year and a half of my life playing Second Life which took up about 15 seconds of my life narrative and I started screaming and running through a giant can of Pepsi. After I woke up, I went to the fridge and got a can of Pepsi, but when I went to pop the top, Dark Integral's face appeared on the top of the can and said, "YOU CANNOT ESCAPE ME."

The shame is that Dark Integral isn't a bad person. It's just that people get scared to death that he/she/it is going to eat your soul.

The face looks like it was lifted from Egyptian hieroglyphs.

According to Dimi, an office hour was held inside of this.

I see the Borg are going for a more organic look. Too bad the tree is dead there, but I give them bonus points for trying.

Also, is it just me, or does Second Life stink at creating the illusion that an island really is an island? Take a glance at the land mass below the Cube. Island water and Void Ocean water contrast so much that it's jarring. No matter how deep you make your island's surrounding water, the linden ocean void around you will remind that you're just a speck on some server. It's a real killer on those 'tropical islands'. You try to enjoy a sunset and you have to watch this giant line across your view in the water. Windlight solves this by having light reflect off the water and blind you but the peripheral view still has that sim seam visible. Oh well.

Neon Neko. It looks like she lept out of a video game.

Once, long ago, in the middle of Linden village, there arose a temple of grand splendor that many in the lands traveled to in order to give worship to their Linden overlords. However, the mightly God of the Underheavens Nunchuck grew angry one day that his favourite television show was canceled and so in a fit of Godly rage he took the Femur and blasted the nearest object in view which just so happened to be this marvelous temple. As the fires of hell enveloped it, the people and Lindens wailed and gnashed their teeth as the land collapsed and the seas roared and raged and poured into the gigantic ornate halls and rooms, swirling around the altars in an embrace of death and watery graves. Over time, that it was a temple was forgotten and its roof, sunken into the land itself, was used as foundation for this office. The only remnants of its former glory lie in the four minarets which formerly bracketed the massive domed golden roof of the temple.

This phoenix is looking quizzically at Dimi as he took this snapshot, as if to say, "Of all the things around, you're taking a photograph of me?"

Yes, giant golden firebird of lore, we are taking a photo of you. Also, could you lite this cigarette for me? I left my lighter at home.

Look, it's an idiot! This green lantern wanna be isn't even doing his job. If you can read the board behind him, it shows the details of the meeting, which is 'ask me questions or suggestions about Knowledge Base'. In other words, "I got nothing for you guys because I spent all day playing Grand Theft Auto 4. Feel free to vent yourselves by asking me questions that I'll answer with a flaky answer which essentially punts it to another person, or a suggestion that I'll write on a note pad that I'll later throw away."

Of course, that's assuming this guy is the Linden/organizer of this office hour. If not, then it's probably one of the dull multitude who hang around these hours doing nothing but watching as actual people try to conduct business around the lag you're causing by being there. I should know because usually I am the one sitting around doing nothing. At least I'm doing it out of spite. This poor fool probably hasn't realized that he's about as useful as a sack of corn.

Oh, and if this is a Linden? I'd like to give you a small notice that any thought, however tiny, you may have that Lindens are 'superheroes' doing the grid 'good'. I think that, if anything, Lindens would be like Bizarro Superman, who try to do good in their own perverse way but always pissing everyone else off in the process.

Ah, the solitude of a forest. A place where one can feel free of civilization and the constraints of having to answer your cell phone while driving, causing you to almost run me over because you have to dig through your purse to get the phone so you can chat to your friends about Bob. This is a true story, by the way. I was almost run over by a car last week because some idiot couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the stop lights. It's a good thing I always check the street even when I have the green light or else I'd be a road sandwich for the vultures. This same woman also cut off a SUV, literally scraping the bumper (which also alerted me to Cell Phone Idiot).

I'm so glad my life is worth less to this person than a call from her boss/friend/husband/children. I also love the excuse "I had an important business call!". Oh really? That call really couldn't wait and hit voicemail? What a joke. Do you honestly think YOUR boss answers every call? I doubt it, you'd probably get his or her secretary or answering machine.

I'd like to say that's the worst of it, but it does indeed get worse than answering a cell phone while driving. When I used to drive, I used to see morons of all stripes pouring cups of coffee and eating something or other (with no hands on the wheel on an Interstate) and once I witnessed a guy getting dressed inside his car. He was buttoning his jacket, doing his tie, and checking the overhead visor mirror to inspect his shave. How did I notice this? Because this guy zoomed past me and cut me and an eighteen wheeler off, crossing three lines of somewhat heavy traffic.


There are no sidewalks in this picture. There is an asphalt fully paved road directly against these buildings. The caption said it was Mediterranean, but this looks more Western adobe (albeit white) to me. It appears to be high noon so maybe there is going to be a shootout around here soon, thus the lack of anyone on the streets. It couldn't possibly that most people in Second Life have an aversion to any density greater than a village, we'll keep building city environments such as Bay City until those people inhabit it!

That's about it, I've hit the end of Dimitrio's photostream. It was a pleasure writing about them. It was much easier than actually going and taking pictures of my own.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I was sitting staring at the sun today when I had a revelation.

You know how we're always sitting with our gigantic radio telescopes trying to hear alien life? Well, I pondered about it and this is what I thought.

First, if the alien civilization was too primitive to broadcast their existence across the cosmos, then we would never hear them. Obviously enough.

Second, if they were advanced enough, the signals they give off might be faint enough to be mistaken for background noise. Also, there's the chance that we might not recognize any kind of pattern that could be emitted. I look at the kind of diversity we encounter on ol' Earth here and the multitude of communication employed, I think it's likely that we might overlook something not of this planet if the method of communication is sufficiently complex or simple or just 'out there'.

The counter argument is that any kind of pattern would be enough to detect alien life. After all, communication would be worthless if it changed constantly in the random manner of, say, a star or a giant ball of gas. However, signals get distorted. Light itself can get warped and bent by gravity, so there is no guarantee that we'd be able to pick up what would be a 'strange' pattern in the first place traversing past stars, black holes, and other assorted things in the universe. And I personally think that an alien language would follow some if any of our concepts of communication is a failure of imagination. Maybe I'm wrong, but that would be boring.

Finally, I thought about how we're going about trying to find this kind of thing. I'm going to use Earth as an example here. We don't exactly power our signals to shoot across space, pretty much we're just aiming for whatever is nearby and about the farthest objects I can see a signal reaching for our purposes is satellite probes such as the Voyagers. Even their signal strength is quickly fading and they're barely outside of the Sun's backyard. All this while we're trying to parse alien radio signals.

Think about it. Do we really think aliens of our level or even significantly beyond would pump enough power to shout across the universe? You have to remember that a light year is the distance that light, the fastest thing in the universe, travels in a year. A year! 186,000 miles or so in a second (the speed of light) adds up to 5,865,000,000,000 miles! The star closest to us, Alpha Centauri (or one of those, I always forget which) is about 4.4 light years away. Voyager is about 9,820,000,000 miles away and we're losing signals with it. Our poor radio signals dissipating into the void.

If aliens were the same as us, their radio signals wouldn't radiate far (or at least, remain intelligible far enough). And if they too choose to listen instead of reach out, then we have a situation in which all sides are listening for the other. I don't think such an arrangement would result in anyone hearing much. I don't think radio telescopes radiate any kind of energy that would be visible at the distances an alien listening post would pick up.

Finally, consider the possibility that we might not want visitors. For every bunch of Vulcans, there's a Borg cube just waiting to enslave the world. If someone mastered the nontrivial task of managing to transverse the universe fast enough (as in within a decade as opposed to millions of years), I don't think they would have neglected warfare and certainly our weapons may well be useless against what they've got. Or maybe it takes a large punch, like a nuclear missile, to really get to them. Then we run the risk of nuclear fallout from the resulting debris of the craft and that's assuming that they just get hit and crumple and won't explode with disastrous consequences for the environment.

All in all, aliens are hard to find.

Monday, June 9, 2008

First Life Jira

Today, in First Life, I went to FL Jira to report a few bugs. I felt these bugs were in urgent need of attention. Just in case, I made sure to send a copy to the President, God, Jesus, and Nunchuck in the hopes someone will fix these issues.

SVC-616: Humanity having tendency to launch into war, crashing many accounts

VWR-034: Inguinal region prone to herniation by intestines

SVC-2994: Am unable to fly

VWR-2995: Attaching HUD interface to eye causes blindness, relog does NOT fix

SVC-2284: Water sometimes condenses from the sky, ruining sunsets and getting things wet

MISC-8737: How do I file a JIRA?

SVC-6505: Weapons cause injury in a clearly marked no damage zone

VWR-909: Unable to log out, when attempted account stalls and does not respond, have to force quit

SVC-897: Memory load of First Life viewer increases over time, eventually culminating in memory loss

VWR-773: First Life viewer does not work on current Mac and Linux OS, does not install! WTF, LL?! GET ON THIS LISTEN TO ME YOU ARE LOSING THE MAC COMMUNITY

SVC-856: Still not able to breathe in water

SVC-215: Vehicles still require fuel

SVC-19142: still not able to teleport, have to directly walk off current sim

Friday, June 6, 2008

Two Random Snapshots

Two random snapshots that I am posting for some reason.

Me buzzing by a lighthouse.

Me playing with Windlight.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Merry New Birth Year!

People are whining that freedom of speech is being violated since Linden Lab seemingly turned away age players and Gor and similar things from Second Life's Fifth Birthday Bash.

My only response is, So?

What is the point of this birthday party? It's just one giant group hug between Linden Lab and Linden Lab as they congratulate each other on a virtual world well done. The entire idea is stupid. I don't want a booth so I can make some Linden (like Torley :p ) proud of what they've done. The only impressive thing I can see is how people still want to attend and hold booths at this thing despite all that LL has done.

There's no reward. At all. The only thing to be said about flaunting your SL culture is, I suppose, spreading the word about it which is done better by other methods.

I'm not just talking out my rear, either.

Thousands of years ago, Sparta had a proud military tradition. Sure, it was brutual and violent and violated seventeen basic human rights but it served a real purpose and was a unique part of their culture. That was Sparta, as they say in the movie. It was acknowledged back then as something alive and vibrant. You felt it. Then, stuff happened and a few wars and Sparta became a tourist attraction. People came to gawk at the silly Spartans living their, uh, spartan lifestyle.

That's just one example. Other cultures have had similar experiences where most of it is stripped down to a few pieces that people think are weird. Look at Chinatown in any city. Here, there are even signs to point tourists to "Chinatown", so they can gawk and pretend they're in China and maybe take pictures of "those funny people".

This is what is going to happen if your group takes up a booth at this thing. You're in Gor, then people are not going to admire your culture or want to sign up to it, they're going to point and laugh and say, "Look at the funny Goreans! They are not like us so they are funny! They have slaves dur dur durrr" Like a sideshow. Is this really what you want?

Frankly, I think unless you're some big business or builder in SL, any booth you make will reduce you to sideshow status. If you want to be taken seriously, I suggest not setting up a booth. People will come to it alright, but they probably aren't going to sit down and actually appreciate the depth of your religion and sims and customs. They're probably going to say, "LOL LUK AT TEH CHILDRENS AVIES SO KEWT" or "GROSS ADULTS AS CHILDS SICK SICKO".

Hence, why I will not or ever consider setting up the Church of Nunchuck in a similar fashion. If people want to appreciate my 'culture' then I want them to really live it and understand it, not perceive it as some display to take photographs of and brag to their friends that "I saw the funny peoples".

And that is all assuming that everything goes smoothly at this event. Looking at the past history of all these LL events, it is an ugly track record. There was Christmas '06 event, with the skating rink in New York and lighting that Christmas tree. That was a total disaster as the crowd I was with didn't even realize anything had gone on. The other events that Christmas lagged so badly that once I had to wait about four hours for the simple reason that every time I logged in I couldn't stay stable enough to teleport out. Ah, teleport failures.

Valentine's Day this year was another one. If you have a Ruth fetish, then that party would have been your heaven because the sheer volume of people caused delays in rezzing. I didn't crash that time, but it was worse in that I didn't want to log out but I wasn't really doing anything in world either. I ended up going out to a Qdoba nearby with a few friends in real life. When I came back a few hours later, I found I had crashed at some point from the helpful redmap notice.

There have probably been more events than I've been to, I'm sure of that, but when I do go to these things I never enjoy it. If I wanted to lag out terribly I'd go to a SL club and enjoy the company of friends and a DJ instead of being shown about stupid 'events' that I can't enjoy because they won't rezz or the sim crashes. No, thank you.

What is the list of things to do at this birthday extravaganza? One week of listening to speeches from Philip and M, followed by exhibits where we all get to be virtual tourists and see what other people do with themselves in Second Life (which I predict will end up turning into a virtual zoo of culture). About the only thing I would go to see is the art, machinima (what the hell is that word, anyway? Why can't we just grow up and call it 'movies' or 'videos'? Why this weird ass name?), and music. And if the latter two don't load on my viewer and the art doesn't rezz well....

The second week is more exhibits from the big businesses in SL. Like education (colleges), health care, nonprofits, IBM and General Motors and AOL and so on. Oh gee, I get to go to this event to hear my school preach at me how wonderful it is and what it's doing. And if I couldn't care less, I can only imagine what those past college are probably thinking. "KILL ME NOW, I ALREADY PAID MY FOUR YEARS". And don't let these people fool you with 'it improves education'. I have yet to see anything significantly improve education in SL that wasn't a gimmick. "Golly Gee Whiz! I can make a model of a CFC molecule! I could have done that with plastic models in real life, but I chose virtual world for some reason so it would take two more hours than it normally would! Yippee!"

That's just the education side of it, too. I'm not even going to touch the companies and corporations, most of whom don't give seven figs about SL except as an advertising vehicle. None of them have probably done anything significant for any community, unless you count their private islands as the "community". To hell with them.

Finally, they rap up with a special guest speaker! With a special announcement! What, is Steve Jobs rolling out "iLife" or something? Is SL closing down and this is the big Adieu? Who is the speaker, Torley? Maybe it's Prokofy. Torley? Or Maybe it's me! Oh the mystery! I HAVE TO GO NOW. It's not like it will be blogged by HALF THE FREE WORLD (I admit I will blog about it, too, because I am such a loser ;_; ).

Notice anything about those events? Here is a clue: Linden Lab does essentially nothing. Oh, I spoiled it and told you the answer. Oh, sure, they host the sims and provide the two CEOs and a mystery guest to speak (how generous), but that's about it. The rest relies upon the people of Second Life being suckers and buying into building their own exhibits. That's cool, but shouldn't Linden Lab be doing something besides plain ol' host? I don't know, have a "tour Linden Lab" ride through a SL recreation of their home base in San Fran. Or something. If they are doing anything, I haven't heard about it.

So no, thank you. I have better things to do, and honestly, the entire idea doesn't excite me. Better luck for the Sixth birthday bash next year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Torley II

Torley read my blog and commented upon it!

I feel honoured. At the very least, I have an idea now why Torley tends to be upbeat. As he says,

"... When you're in the dirt without an umbrella, gotta keep digging. :)"

I guess if I worked for Linden Lab, I'd be like that too under the soul-crushing experience of breaking things constantly while everyone sends you hate mail decrying that you broke some object of theirs when you have no control over that.

That reminds me. I read one of the recent blog posts, and someone made about the same point I did (that Torley is more or less useless as a Linden) but went to a different extreme. While I think Torley just has a sucky job, this one commenter went on to explicitly say, "I DO NOT LIKE YOU".

Jesus, people, can't you separate the person from their job? I'll give Torley credit: for all the bashing I do about him like a high school bully, he certainly never gets rude. He didn't barge through here and say "go to hell" (I would have). He's a very nice guy. But I don't like the job he does. And I'm sure he doesn't like the job I do, namely nit-picking him to death and criticizing his each and every word. But I don't hate him and he probably doesn't me (to be fair, he has only met me maybe once and through this blog, so he probably doesn't even know I exist. Although, he commented here, so he must have a cursory idea that I exist otherwise he wouldn't have known where to find me).

So yeah, outright hatred is bad, yeah?