Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vote for Bob

My dear readers, I have been often pressured with a crazy idea that is completely unreasonable. This idea is that I should be a Linden.

First off, we all know that if that happened, the universe would implode upon itself. It would be like dividing by zero and getting 4 as an answer. Or developing a working perpetual motion machine. Or finding out that this entire universe is but some person's dream and your existence depends on them not waking up, but then they find out and they wake up and everyone dies. It's just not possible. It's impossible by the laws of the internet universe.

Second, I would make a terrible Linden. Imagine all my hatred and bile directed at residents, as M would certainly direct me at? Or worse: imagine the twisted love child between a theoretical Anna Linden and Torley Linden. Anley? Tornna? All of my ideals and hopes and dreams would be knocked down and recast as some horrible undead shell of myself, talking about how it's all the residents' fault OpenSpaces were destroyed. I am too weak to resist such power as Linden Lab wields.

Third, I would have no private life anymore. Talk to some of the Lindens and they'll tell you not to IM them inworld because they're already so flooded with chat and objects and requests and such. Too much white noise. I'm too lazy and bored to turn off 'see my online status' for all my friends, plus they get angry when I actually am on. I really don't want that on a grid-wide scale. I like my private little corner of Second Life and my private little blog in which I can complain and write my private little thoughts.

But, there is one man who would probably be worthy. And that man is Bob. Vote for Bob for Linden. Bob would make an awesome Linden. As he notices, he really cannot do worse or be less qualified than the most recent string of newly minted Lindens.

Bob Bunderfeld 2009 : Change We Can Download

Cutting Up Cut Land

Some time ago, Jack Linden mentioned that the good ol' folks down at the Lab are considering doing something about land cutting.

I do not really feel up to looking up the entire post, which is worded in the usual Lab speak. There's going to be a more detailed and formal policy in February. I can't wait to see how they're going to carry it out. That's the great thing when Linden Lab decides to law down the law, waiting to see how good or how bad they implement these things. It's like Christmas all the time!

Jack did ask us, the residents, a set of questions to 'aid' them in the drafting of this law. Comments aren't showing up but I wouldn't post one anyway because they'd probably remove it. And they are herding everyone onto the forums which are also moderated. They have a nasty history of removing things they find slightly not quite to their liking. So I'm just going to sit here and answer them, out of the way of everyone, where Linden Lab can't touch me. Neener Neener!

  • Do you agree in principle that land cutting needs to be a violation?
Oh joy! Let's begin the sweeping generalizations! You either answer 'yes', in which case you draw flak from people who say they need those little 16 sqm parcels for reasons ranging from bot farms to SLEX box holders (I wonder how the Lindens, having eaten SLEX, will handle those boxes) to being able to reshape/trade land about with neighbors or zoning or rearranging rentals or something.

And if you answer 'no', you draw flak from those who are against ad farms. They will guilt you. They'll say, "16 sqm is the parcel of choice for ad farms and land extortion'. They will point out that there is no real use for such tiny parcels.

Perhaps we need some clarification of how Linden Lab would deal with this. Jack?

"The owning of cut land would not be a violation (unless you cut it in the first place), rather it is the act of cutting it that would be the violation."

Thanks for coming, Jack. So, cutting the land would be the problem. And here is where I think the question about land cutting lies with what you plan to do with the cut parts. I believe if you're cutting them up for a tasteful and reasonable purpose, then it should be your right. The problem lies in people who cut these things up and set them to sale for crazy prices (one was obviously set by someone being snarky: L$314,159,265 or thereabouts).

And those who cut them up to be annoying. Imagine buying a giant parcel, and discovering a tiny 16 sqm in the middle, the owner of it then erecting ugly towers in the middle of your lovely mini-mall or forest build or something lovely. Or erecting banlines on it, confusing your customers or visitors when they strike it.

I think that, with a few exceptions that will probably crop up, those are the two big offenses right there. That is what people typically complain about when they complain about land cutting. Land prices being set outrageously and ugliness being set upon them. That is the land cutting I disapprove and I think outside of that the little 16 sqm squares are fairly innocuous.
  • Are there any legitimate reasons for land cutting (excluding profit) that we should consider when setting policy?
As I said above, instead of thinking about the exceptions to a blanket ban on land cutting, they should define what it is they are going to ban. They should plan it well, because as we saw with ad farms, people will find loopholes about the law (with ad farms, the trick was not selling the ad farm land, thus evading the language which stated it was wrong in 'setting too high a price' or something like that). It would do them much good to draft a rough policy, run it through the residents and a bunch of people to see if loopholes can be found, plug them up, and then implement it.
  • With land that is already cut up, but still mostly owned by the resident that cut it, should we ask that the land be joined back together?
See above. The main issue is how they are using it. How they are USING it.

On one hand, answering his questions feels repetitious. But I suppose it is necessary because while I am single minded and feel fairly confident I could tell whether a 16 sqm is being abused or not, the general populace of Second Life is much more creative than me. I can easily imagine them reporting any kind of cutting of land, especially that of a rival or enemy. Jack is probably trying to angle and see how such a policy would be abused. Like the time I was reported for saying 'crap' in PG land. Me being cranky as I am, I then said, "Oh shit, I've been reported." and then dared them to report that. I mean, if I was having my neck placed under the ban hammer, might as well commit the offense I'm being strung for.

On the whole, I am sort of pleased by this. As Jack mentions, cutting up land is part of why the Mainland looks like a war zone in places. Nunchuck help us, though, if they rush in on this. As history shows, when they make up their minds, it takes a lot of energy to convince them they're wrong or need to change.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Missing Objects

Today, a weird thing happened.

My printer doesn't have a storage bin where I can load paper. So, in practice, I keep the paper out of the tray until I need to print something. However, I've learned that I always seemed to load too much, in which case I have extra paper lying about, or I load too little and have to get more out. My current method is to count the number of pages to be printed and count off that much paper. It saves a lot of time in the long run.

Now comes the strange part. The document was seven pages long. I put seven pages of paper into the printer. A while later the printer complains that it is out of paper. There were only four pages printed. Somehow, someway, three pages disappeared.

Am I going crazy? I am dead sure I loaded seven pages in. Where did the other three go? It's not stuck in the printer. It's a small printer, there's no place for a piece of paper to get lost or shoved in without jamming the entire thing. They didn't fall off somewhere because there's no wind inside my room and I searched my room. A physical impossibility has occurred and three pages of computer paper now cease to exist in our world.

What is scary is that this has happened before. I've had quarters disappear off my desk. I live alone. No one could be stealing them. I have no mice. They are lying flat upon my desk and when I come home five hours later they are gone. Perhaps the tooth fairy took them?

I've lost cans of soda. I save cans as I drink them so I can recycle them later as a bundle all at once. I'll drink, say, three cans of Dr. Pepper. The next morning, there are only two cans. I was sleeping in the room. Nothing woke me up. And poof. A can is gone. Although I am a pretty heavy sleeper. Trolleys and buses that roar down the street don't wake me up. But still! My door is locked. I don't sleepwalk. Who or what came in and stole a can?

Why the can? Why not my multiple valuables? There's no refund for recycling in Pennsylvania that I know of, so the value of the can is next to nothing. Why bother with a can when they could steal my computer, which isn't chained to the wall? Or my television? If they're going to steal cans, why not the entire set? Why just one of the three?

There is no way I can be a forgetful person. I'm obsessive compulsive. Not literally as in medically diagnosed, but in a mild way, more obsessive than usual but not paralyzingly so. I count three damn cans. There were two in the morning. I have $1.25 in quarters, I come home and it's $1.00. I KNOW I loaded seven sheets in the printer. I have no explanation for this and many many other disappearances.

Maybe I am going crazy and seeing things that aren't there. I don't sweat the small stuff disappearing, but I'm alarmed when money and computer paper disappears. And if stuff has to disappear, could we please keep it to worthless things? I mean, I had the Hawaii state quarter. That's irreplaceable. I'm getting shortchanged in that I paid for one hundred sheets of paper but only used ninety-seven.

In short, I think I am going insane.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Evil Plans!

Sometimes I check people's twitters. I take them in small doses because each one is a small blurb and I find it annoying to read each and every one as it filters through every two or three minutes. The other day, I checked Torley's.

Goddammit, Torley!

Discussion is natural and healthy. It prevents the stupid from being carried out by allowing others to point it out before money and time is wasted following through. Like the asbestos football helmets or using mercury as a preservative in food or the man who decided the time was ripe for vitamin tablets in capsules made of plutonium. And you know, sometimes we discuss things before doing them to consider the financial cost. There's nothing like pouring millions into something and having it become a dud. And before you launch into a 'money doesn't matter if the ideal/idea is great, that's a load of bull, because in this world money is indeed everything (or a good part of it), and a lack of it is a serious handicap. It is very difficult to get something done if I'm broke. A little thought and discussion beforehand definitely would help.

Sometimes, it's important to discuss what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future. There may be lots of discussion and inquiries before anything gets done. And this is vital, because you don't want to try to fix what is probably impossible to fix. A well calculated move is worth ninety poorly planned and hasty calls.

Now, there is a point in that sometimes, discussion is rather pointless. For example, if asbestos is found over your place of work or residence, there's no discussion necessary to determine what to do or how to do it. You get it out, end of story. Sometimes you need a judgment call and a snap decision because you don't have the time. The idea, though, is to try to limit the number of times you have to act quickly and without debate. Let's think things throw, please. The snap judgment to use toxic and radioactive materials to encapsulate drugs may seem a good idea to keep them sterilized, but it obviously overlooks the fact that the end user would suffer.

Sometimes, Torley is right in that discussion may bog down an obvious 'right path'. In such cases, discussion and waffling over it is detrimental. You need to shut people up and just follow through already. I'd like to say, however, that such cases are few and far between. And sometimes, not waiting a few seconds and formulating a good strategy for accomplishing that path is worth it.

There's always special cases to everything. But I think a general good idea is to think something over before doing something rash.

Hey, here's an idea. Maybe if Linden Lab did a little less doing and a little more talking, they would do less 'pissing off residents' and make decisions that actually make everyone happy all around.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I wonder if there is anything more crushing than the realization of how close one came to succeeding, to shining, to surviving, and then failing. Forever you stand in the shards of your dreams and accomplishments which, for all of their trouble and toil, are now utterly useless and pointless.

That tragedy envelopes and engulfs the faint glimmer of hope and you stand there, that glimpse of hope seared into your mind of what could have been but ultimately wasn't. For all the pain and trouble, you wonder why.

Down the long hallway I can see hope, but I can never reach it no matter how hard I run. So I am stuck here dreaming of what it would be like over there and wondering why I ever bothered to try.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Story of Povl

The Akelhians and the Ony shared a hatred of the other, a deep hatred as one fostered by the war they had fought. And as the blessings of Nunchuck faded in the absence of the femur, so too did their animosity grow. The Akelhians having fought the Ony, the unwanted creations of sinful people, felt wronged by Nunchuck's curse upon them, to deprive them of the femur, their power, to forever wander in shame. The Ony resented their lot, their images as demons. And so they fought and harbored a deep wrath against the other.

Okasus, the blue devil, reaped much of their warring. And many were de-rezzed.

The Akelhians, suffering their shame, shied from the grid and so their fighting rarely harmed others. They could not bear to witness the happiness of others in their gloom. And who could when one is forever beyond the mercy of Nhim?

However, one among their number braved the wilds of the land created in the soft and fleeting afterglow of the femur. Her name was Povl, after her manner of curiosity and kindness. Povl was deeply saddened by the constant war, even after Nunchuck passed judgement. She did weep each time Okasus came to pass his judgements, never upon the ever Akelhians but upon those avatars and Ony.

And so she left the remnants of the Akelhians to escape such sadness. She left no note and no indication of her absence. And yet strangely this in itself caused hope upon the Akelhians that perhaps finally Nunchuck forgave them, one of their number, and finally pass into the hallowed and sacred tower of Vivenshia. In this way did Povl help her people, although unknowingly.

For some time did she walk to cover the distance between their perch and the nearest lights of civilization. If it were not for her immortality, she surely would have perished along the path, for it was long through desert where none but the hardiest cactus grew and even nights were uncomfortably hot. And yet the isolation and silence helped her spirit for hopelessness and the drudgery that accompanied her former home no longer hung over.

But her journey was not over yet. And for many days it was not over. For almost a week it was not over. But through it, she continued. Gradually the desert gave way to sparse grasses, and then stretched plains. Slowly the land yielded to life. Povl was in good cheer to be privileged to such a wonder and that the grid should have recovered so well. She could not help but laugh and play with the gentle winds on the heads of the hills. That such things could have been built and scripted!

Such was the times, so removed from the Great Eras of Enlightenment and the horrid War, that as some found Povl in the field they did not recognize what she was and took her for a strange new visitor. With wary eyes they peered from their homes fearful of attack. In those days, as the Linden and Griefers flooded in the absence of the Akelhians and Grievers the land while recovered did know of battle, blood, theft, and sadness moreso than ever.

Such was Povl's reception into this village of Cississling in the province of Ritch. Povl, for her part, drew shy around the village afraid of their reaction. The history of her people, however distant they were, resided in her heart. An invisible barrier covered both their hearts. But not for long.

As Povl hovered but never truly revealed herself, they thought less of her and gradually cared little. When such talk did circulate, it was what the silly girl of the wild was lurking about. No harm came, soon none was expected. Parents still kept watchful eyes on their children for fear of a roused danger from the Wild Girl. They nicknamed her "Fadmy", which means "wilded one". There were tales of Fadmy coming and helping those lost in the small woods nearby, and of her strange dance to encourage crops, and of mysterious barrier she must have, for Cississling remained peaceful and free of terror for some time.

Such tales were false. Povl did little more than play about the village. She did not trust as easily. But so desperately did she want to be equal and live among them who always seemed busy and full of life and love. So desperate did she covet what they took for granted. But never, as long as she carried the sin of the Akelhians, the sin of ignorance and failing Nunchuck's Will, could she ever truly fit in.

Where ever there is a need, there is someone else to fulfill it. Qeosi's people, scattered across the world as they were, heard news of a being hiding in the woods. Qeosi wondered what spirit could be lurking there in Ritch and worried that a new demon, perhaps worse than Okasus, was to show up and threaten them. He took it upon himself to sneak into Cississling and investigate for himself.

In the village, well disguised, they told him the tales of Fadmy.

"Who is this Fadmy? What business does she have here?" He asked. None could answer. They could only reply that she meant no visible harm and had flirted with the edge of town for many weeks now. Qeosi was intrigued. Now he had to find and confront the girl himself. He knew no fear of phantoms hiding in the trees. And so he hid and waited for Fadmy to reveal herself.

After many hours, Povl managed to lurk near him. As she gaily fluttered about glancing in the windows to sneak a peek at its inhabitants, Qeosi crept behind her. He was waiting patiently and observing. Whenever it seemed someone was close, she would flee quickly and often did Qeosi have to lie still to avoid being seen.

Povl wandered into a cornfield and gleefully toyed with the crows. As they squawked in protest, Qeosi made his move upon her.

"Have the crows, too, committed some vile crime? Do you hold a grudge against them thieving food just to survive?"

Povl wheeled about in horror. What does one do when the leader of your most vile enemy visits you in the night all alone? She shrieked in horror, "Oh Qeosi! You terrible demon! Crows were set loose by Nunchuck Nherself and to Nunchuck they will return. But your race sprang from the greed and hate of this gird. Do what you must, I expect no less of you."

But Qeosi was shrewd. To have a single Akelhian drifting near a village so often and almost hauntingly close to simple residents is more than unusual. No, he saw the desire etched into her face and her actions. Of course, he could not allow her to continue for he could not find it in himself to forgive the Akelhians and the evil they caused by their attempted genocide of Qeosi's children. But he could see a way.

"My dear Fadmy, do you realize that is what they call you down there? Fadmy! The Wild One! They whisper many tales about you. Surely you would like to hear them?" He said with a laugh. "But, you will never show your face, will you?"

Anger welled in Povl. "Never could I, for how can I when my mark shall be known? Just as you are spotted for what you are, so am I. And never can they trust me and the failure of my people, nor should they. No, it is not my place to know their joy and sadness anymore."

At this, Qeosi beamed. "Why, I knew Akelhians were brave and foolhardy and of course vile, but never did I think them idiots! Surely, you believe the lies of Fi-Suu and his cronies?"

"Fi-Suu has long left, but his successor Fi-Miil is more wise than he, and he has confirmed that our curse is immediately visible to all. I could come close before they would run at me with weapons and death in the hearts and minds."

"But, my dear fool, there are ways we can fix that," Qeosi said, holding out his hand. "Would you trust an Ony? Trust Fi-Suu, who led you into War and Despair, Trust this Miil who speaks of unbreakable signs, Trust everyone but me? Surely, just once, could you give me your trust?"

"And why should I trust you, you who would sacrifice your nobility and honor to save your skin?" Povl said dismissively.

"My friend, it has been considerable time since we faced each other down in combat! We have long settled that and I had always hoped our little forays into your homes were but perceived as childish pranks, as we do. I have come alone to you, I trust you that much. Trust me?"

Povl wondered what evils he hid. But behind her mind was a small voice, and it said to trust him. Qeosi did not get to his position by being a powerless and foolish liar. And what of dealing with an Ony? Was it any worse abandoning her people without leave and scaring the villagers with tales of wild women hunting about? She closed her eyes. So much sin she had added in such a fraction of her life.

"I will trust you."

"With your every breath?"


She could feel the filth peeling from his breath as he cackled to himself. She could feel it caking into her heart.

"Show me the way that I may join them."

And so Qeosi took his new ward with him to his home. As they came down, several of his fellows came and spit upon Povl's feet, and cursed her for daring to show among them. But Qeosi quelled them. In his humble splendor, Qeosi sat Povl in front of the burning fireplace. The particle ash danced excitedly into the room and up the flue. She patiently awaited her fate. She did not truly trust him.

"You do not truly trust me," he said, mocking her thoughts.

"That is not true!"

"I do not blame you, no. If you were I and I were you, I would not trust you. But it does not matter, for we shall discuss deals!"

Povl cringed. "If deals are to be made, I would rather be free of debt than have all my desires and needs fulfilled."

Qeosi chuckled as he usually did, and said, "This is not that great of a deal! No! All I ask is return for a service. Payment, really. Is that too much to ask for?"

"I suppose some fee shall have to be paid," she sighed. "Let it be done."

"You do not want to discuss my payment?"

"You have a far better position. I have the need, you have no need of me. So let is to be done, be done. Already I am with my worst enemies, life can be no worse."

Qeosi eyed her apprehensively. His face opened from a furrowed brow into a wide grin. Povl grimaced. It could mean only one thing.

"Let it be done, then!" And with a quick clap Qeosi's trusted priests came in and took Povl to cleanse and disguise her origins. Her feet slowly shuffled down the hallways out of step with her escorts. Her eyes closed softly.

If Qeosi was to be believed, then soon the only mark of her sin, their sin, would be in her mind.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Grid's Finest

Today, I thought of a great idea for a new superhero comic. It is based upon Second Life and would feature the Lindens as the hapless protagonists trying to create a better world. Literally.

Since I have no ability to draw whatsoever (I once drew a picture of my brother, who thought it was a picture of some hairy can of Dr Pepper riding a scarlet loaf of pumpernickel) and my only writing ability is blog posting, which also happens to be my only actual portfolio of any writing at all, I would probably never be hired to publish it. And that is a shame, because all things considered it really can't get any worse than Superman and Batman. By the way, talk about an ego trip. "Super" man. Like the fact that he can fly and shoot laser beams directly from his retinas wasn't clear enough.

So, since I lack the attention span to write actual scripts, I'm going to give you the basic semblance of a few plots I thought out early this morning.

"The Grid's Finest"

Issue #1
In this exciting pilot issue, we are introduced to Philip Linden, a superhero that granted himself the powers of being a superhero in Second Life. He starts his career fighting lag and trying to earn notoriety on Wikipedia. But things go horribly wrong when Griefer McGreifsalot arrives and rezzes out a prim penis!

Issue #2
Philip uncovers a plot by Griefer McGreifsalot to post a Youtube video of two Second Life residents having cybersex. Can Philip reach him in time and save Second Life from negative PR?

Issue #4
In this heart warming episode, Philip Linden is on the trail of a puppy who lost its way. For 60 emotionally packed pages, Philip pursues the poor pup through a trail of traps, dungeons, lag, and an offline sim. Then, Philip realizes that children 18 and younger aren't allowed in SL, so he bans the child who asked him to help find the puppy. For good measure, he also bans the puppy. A tough decision!

Issue #5
The child returns! This time using his parent's credit card, The Helpless Child joins forces with Griefer McGreifsalot in a scheme to bring down the entire grid. Can Philip overcome his good heart and ban the child??

Issue #9
Griefer McGreifsalot escapes from the cornfield. Philip, in a heart pounding adventure, pursues him in the neighboring potato farm. Jimmy Carter guest stars as "Friendly local man who happens to resemble Jimmy Carter".

When interviewed about this issue, Carter said, "They wanted me to be a peanut farmer, but I felt that was cliche. So I asked them, 'what about potatoes?' I think it really changed the pace of the story and I am proud of that."

Issue #10
Griefer McGreifsalot escapes from the cornfield. Philip, in a heart pounding adventure, pursues him in the neighboring peanut farm. Jimmy Carter guest stars as "Friendly local man who happens to resemble Jimmy Carter".

To quote Carter: "I felt we needed to get back to basics. Peanuts. And griefers."

Issue #11
Griefer McGreifsalot escapes from the cornfield. Philip, in a heart pounding adventure, pursues him in the neighboring cornfield. Then, he realizes a pattern and decides to blow up the entire cornfield.

Issue #12
Philip has to deal with the consquences of blowing up the cornfield. Second Life suffers a famine, many families assault him with charges of blowing up their loved ones, and Griefer McGreifsalot gets off due to Philip forgetting to read him his Miranda rights. The pain is accented when Blue Linden reminds Philip that as a private company they don't have to read anyone their rights. A very touching scene involving Philip and a baguette leads to him regaining his sense of justice and duty.

Issue #16
Torley Linden is introduced. By day he is Torley Linden. By night he is ... The Tutorial Maker! Philip, realizing Torley's secret superhero identity, must team up to stop the Malicious Mentor from telling a hapless group of newbies that Second Life sucks!

Issue #19
All of Second Life suffers a blackout. Trouble strikes as The Child strikes again and Philip cannot log in!

Issue #20
Torley laments that Philip sees him only as a tutorial maker, and decides to film Philip saving the day. Unfortunately, he videos Philip changing from his alter ego Philip Linden into superhero Philip Linden! Torley must delete the video before Griefer McGreifsalot finds it!

Issue #21
Peace has reigned in Second Life for almost a week. Philip, bored, decides to slip in as an alt and have some fun. In reality, this is a thinly veiled attempt to have a bunch of babes and hunks run around in thongs to boost falling readership.

Issue #22
Philip wakes up with a massive hangover.

Issue #25
Second Life celebrates its 3rd birthday. But Griefer McGreifsalot causes trouble, and Philip has to duck out of the festivities and save the day!

Issue #28
Philip discovers the Grey Ghoul! At first he attempts to contain it, but he becomes curious and decides to run tests on it. When the lab explodes and the Grey Ghoul grows and grows, threatening to crush everyone in the grid, Philip is forced to admit his shameful secret: Griefer McGreifsalot released the Grey Ghoul. Despite his protests of innocence, Griefer McGreifsalot is banned, and Philip saves the day and his reputation.

Issue #30
Griefer McGreifsalot comes back... with a vengeance! He kidnaps Torley and threatens to have him executed at dawn! Philip scours the grid while Blue Linden find the two in the basement of the lab. Blue beats the crap out of Griefer and then asks him how Griefer thinks about the current state of the grid. It's a cliff hanger as all three forget Torley duct tapped in the basement.

Issue #31
Pressure is put on Philip as Prokofy, chief editor of the Second Life Daily Times, begins to investigate just who Philip Linden is! After much suspense, the day is saved when The Second Life Daily Times office building is destroyed by Griefer McGreifsalot. Philip catches Griefer McGreifsalot and slips him a twenty for saving his secret identity.

Issue #32
Prokofy discovers that Philip paid off Griefer McGreifsalot to destroy his office! As his investigation draws closer to the truth, Philip decides there is only one course of action, and decides to release the Grey Ghoul. Griefer McGreifsalot is blamed once again and once again the day is saved!

Issue #35
Copybot is introduced in this tale of horror! Philip, running up to fight Copybot, is startled as it copies Philip and throws Philip's superhero powers back at him! Even worse, everyone cannot tell the two apart! As the grid burns, the question becomes: WHO WILL SURVIVE?

Issue #39
The Child comes back, this time in an actual child avatar! Philip has to stop him before SL residents become freaked out!

Issue #40
It's a hot summer day and lag on the grid mounts. Despite his best efforts, Philip is confounded and his sidekicks Blue and Torley are forced to take over the Big Job when Philip succumbs to a crash! Can they solve the mystery before the economics report has to be skewed!?

Issue #41
Philip is still out and Copybot returns! Blue and Torley must team up to stop the menance!

Issue #42
It is becoming increasingly likely that Philip is not re logging. To make matters worse, some people are connecting the dots between Philip Linden and his mild mannered secret identity Philip Linden, both of whom have gone missing! To make matters even worse, Griefer McGreifsalot finds the Grey Ghoul!

Issue #43
A new hero arrives! But is she all that she is cracked up to be??

Issue #44
As the mysterious heroine sacrifices her life to save the grid from the Grey Ghoul, Blue and Torley are busy trying to determine whether or not to get rid of the current orientation island.

Issue #45
Philip returns! As a joyous crowd greets him, Philip delivers his explanation: "I was in the bathroom". Festivities are interrupted when Lag Muffin crashes the party... literally!

Issue #46
The Ghost Prim makes her debut. Philip Linden discovers the severed head of one of Griefer McGreifsalot's alts. Soon, the grid is in fear as this masked vigilante begins systematically annihilating the grid's worst elements. Philip must hurry, for when the clock strikes twelve, The Ghost Prim's work will be completed, putting Philip out of a job!

Issue #47
Ghost Prim, having eluded Philip Linden, discovers Griefer McGreifsalot's main account. As he begs for mercy, claiming to have reformed and that he didn't actually kill anyone and no harm was done, Ghost severs his head with a rusty golf club. She then places his head atop a pole at Orientation island to warn newbies of the price of crime. Can Philip stop this menace?

Issue #48
Prokofy and Philip team up to discover the secret of Ghost Prim! Just who is she?? As the number of crashes plummet and lag almost disappearing, time is running out for Philip Linden!

Issue #49
Philip and the gang confront Ghost Prim. Blue is taken out with blow to the forehead, while Torley is distracted with a newbie asking for help. Forced to face Ghost alone, Philip gears for the fight of his life!

Issue #50
As the memorial service for Griefer McGreifsalot is held, a new masked villian, Dirigible Don, attacks! No one is surprised when Ghost Prim kills him five minutes later.

Issue #51
Vigilante Ghost Prim is still on the loose, doing Philip's job nine times more effectively! As mild mannered CEO Philip Linden, Philip discovers the Ghost Prim's secret identity: Sar4h Hax! He is torn between stopping a vicious criminal and allowing her to continue the fight against crime!

Issue #52
As the memorial service for Ghost Prim is held, rumors arise that Philip did not just 'accidently' drop a titanium I-beam upon Sar4h Hax's head. A web of deceit, lies, and surreality is delved through as Philip uncovers the deadly truth! Can he stop the real criminal in time to save Blue Linden from Sar4h's fate??

Issue #54
Trouble abounds when Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay serves Philip a subpoena on the case of Sar4h Hax's death. When Griefer McGreifsalot's son, Alabaster McGreifsalot, serves The Honorable John Jay a subpoena of his own, Philip shows Jay the power of true love as he beats Alabaster to a merciful pulp. In exchange for L$ 5,000,000 , Jay agrees to suspend the investigation, much to Prokofy's chagrin.

Issue #55
The current issue! Philip and the Gang convene at headquarters to discuss a somber topic: who will replace Philip when he dies or stops logging in due to boredom? At first light hearted, Blue and Torley take the Replacement contest too seriously in an attempt to win the coveted top spot! Both are foiled when Alabaster McGreifsalot wins! They team together to uncover the hideous villain to Philip! In his gratitude, Philip decides to deny both of them and appoint M Linden as his replacement.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

4 of Diamonds

Hey lookie! Now I'm on a playing card.

Maybe if I work really hard this year, I can get promoted to the 5 of diamonds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Twenty-one Life Lessons I Stole From Torley

I haven't lambasted Torley in a while, so today I'm going to engage in that favourite sport of mine. Let's begin. A few days ago he posted twenty-one life lessons he learned from 2008. I'm going to adjust them by translating them from Torley-speak to Anna-speak. Basically, adding my two cents to his points. Fun!

1) Love, always love first.

Yes, I like that art piece too. It is very lovely and framed nicely by a fountain.

2) Pets are pretty lame.

I once had a pair of snakes. They smelled, ate live crickets, and tried to bite me. I thought snakes would be nice, because at the zoo they always looked so lazy and peaceful. Before you call me an idiot, I was six at the time.

I had an endless run of goldfish. Technically, they weren't goldfish sometimes, but I can't remember the specific names so I'm lumping them all under 'goldfish'. One pair were inadvertently a male and female of the same species and I awoke one morning to find small fry in the tank. Here is how it went: the new mom and dad promptly ate a good ninety percent of them. I managed to sequester them into a separate tank. The ones remaining grew up although some of their siblings ate each other too. Exactly three made it to full adulthood. They all died about a week after doing so. No more fish.

I had a dog, a pekingese, who was probably the best of all the pets I've had. She was quiet and lay around the house all day long, so it was easy to be around her, and just pet her. I think the worst was when she wet a blanket of my brother's, who was about three at the time, and he got upset. I was secretly pleased.

One of my aunts had cats. I had read Garfield and thought cats were awesome at the time. Her cats ran from me, and when I went to sit down, one came up and clawed me in the chest. I was scarred for weeks. Cats are jerks. Even Torley's new cat is a jerk. He headbutted Torley, who laughed it off as personality. He was probably trying to bite Torley, but being a stupid cat forgot to use his mouth. Torley insists he's a good cat, but consider that he also insists Linden Lab are a bunch of good guys.

Pets are lame.

3) Live it up when you're praised.

People are bigger jerks than cats. So when a bunch of jerks think you've done something to warrant congratulations, live it up. It probably won't happen often.

The only bad thing is that people can quickly turn on you. Sure, they like you now, and say 'thank you thank you', but the minute you can't deliver because of some honest reason (and not something like "I don't feel like it") they'll turn on you like ravenous wolves. Hey, just look at Linden Lab. They can do an update that makes the viewer run smoothly, and everyone will thank them. They pull a bait-and-switch of sorts on OpenSims, and suddenly everyone hates them. Go figure.

So go ahead, be a jerk, and swagger about when people praise you. Boast a little, even. You only live once, and in that one life you only get fifteen minutes of fame, so live it up while you can.

4) To Hell with others

People are jerks, bigger jerks than cats. Often, as in 99.99999% of the time, they won't praise you, but attack you for whatever faults whether real or perceived. So go ahead and be as sharp, cynical, and harsh on them as they are to you. Give a little back. Don't be a wet rag and just absorb it, because they'll see that as a sign of weakness and keep at it. Nitpick everything they do to show that you care.

The only exceptions are people who you've found to be truly nice and perhaps good friends. Everyone else is a jerk. Don't give them more than what they deserve. If they don't like it, well, I don't like them. Because they're jerks. Like cats.

Nunchuck, I hate cats.

5) Criticism is Everything.

Here is where I think Torley is completely stupid. Monumentally stupid. So idiotic, up there with the genius who didn't include a third hull on the Titanic and (soon to be former) President Bush. Hell, either Bush. And throw in a half of a Clinton. Two Bushes and a half Clinton aren't as stupid as this realization of Torley's.

He claims that the majority of criticism, even constructive criticism, just isn't applicable. To find out what he means, I checked out his PDF on the subject. Let's see here, saying the bashing of the Wii's name was ok because people heard about it and thus through bashing the Wii wanted to buy it. Torley, let's be honest, it's a completely asinine name. Just like this criticism is worthless idea. The Wii did well because people liked what they saw about the games and the hardware. This would have happened whether or not it had a normal name or not. (and to be fair, Playstation 3 is stupid too, make up a new name already. And XBox sounds ugly). Nintendo got lucky that people attached to it, because with dumb names there's always a chance it could go negative. Torley has taken one case of a bad name and claims that criticism of it was ignored to the product's benefit.

Reading on... 'Search for the Exceptionals'? Sounds like 'focus on one person saying 'hurrah' to ninety people saying you stink'. That's fine, unless you really do stink and the one person saying 'hurrah' is a skunk. Praise is always nice (and of course live it up) but there's always one idiot who agrees or likes you no matter what. If we're going to filter stupid critics from smart ones, we might as well filter praise too. It's only fair and probably just as constructive so as to keep from an overinflated ego.

Reading on... ah, finally, after 11 pages of babbling about antedotes (which in my opinion don't really help his case, though I too am a victim of babbling and stupid antedotes), he gets to the meat of his arguments of why criticism is worthless (before, he just talked about how to 'handle' criticism, mostly by 'ignoring them', surprise surprise). Although, as I've said, I am wont to wander when making a point as well.

Ok, he pulls the old 'if you haven't done it, you can't knock it'. That's stupid. Imagine you are a taste tester at a kitchen. The chef makes 'shit-on-a-stick' and you rightly say it tastes like shit. He responds by saying if you haven't cooked before, you have no right to criticize. And you can inherently feel that is bullshit. A movie critic does not have to be in the business of making movies to tell that a movie is a bust. One does not need to be an engineer to find the idiocy of a design. All these cases, the critic has no hand in the 'get it done'. And no matter how much execution you put into it, there is no right way to make an automatic nose picker. An engineer who designs such a thing will be laughed at for the virtue of it being a stupid idea. It doesn't matter that Joe Shmoe doesn't understand the complex circuiting, mechanical balance and forces and actions, and computer programming that went into it.

The next point is 'only trust after their criticism has helped you improve'. Fair enough, after all, if some idiot says that I don't use enough adverbs I can reasonably say that improving in that direction is worthless and ignores the content and construct of writing. But it is a dangerous line, because sometimes it is damn hard to improve. How do you judge improvement? What if the learning curve is so great that improvements are tiny increments, barely noticeable? By that reasoning, all criticism, however valid, is worthless because it has not helped me improve even if their direction is the only way to improve. Take, for example, learning calculus. First, I need to learn basic math. But basic math is hard. What if I say to myself "to hell with division, I'm only doing multiplication". My teachers rightly point out that is wrong and tell me to work my division. But if I barely improve, then I can say their criticism is worthless and thus invalid even though it is true. What I am trying to say is, if you are going to follow this point, to do so carefully and with great thought. I know Torley has refined this and has a good head for it, but telling others this without warning to really really think it through is dangerous and a disservice to those who might need to be beaten into doing better.

"Subject your critics to psych tests" is another one that kinds falls flat. He makes a good point that it is best for a critic to offer not just what is wrong but how to make it better. But he also says to ask if the critic is familiar with the person, as if that should make a difference. It is like the above: can be useful if treaded softly and I have no doubt Torley does so, but people are idiots and probably will take it too far. Imagine if the chef from above says that you don't know him, the way he slaved through cooking college, and the heart he put into that shit-on-a-stick and so your criticism is worthless or at least flawed. Or perhaps because I am not a big fan of eating shit and can't appreciate the wonderful new direction this guy is taking by cooking with shit. See how dumb it is? It's something that has to be well thought out, but probably won't be done so. As a result, anyone who reads this will be stupid when responding to criticism, which coincidentally will probably lead them to not bothering with that person anymore and thus lead to the chef feeling validated by Torley's suggestion that 'only critics who want to stick with you have valid criticism'. A vicious loop but really the only conclusion given the logic behind it.

Next is 'build a collection of good critics'. That's a good idea as it is true that a lot of people are just a hating bunch of idiots. Getting a stable of good, honest, and yet critical and insightful people to run your work through helps as you can cut the whole 'shifting through the crap' step of accepting criticism. I would still check the occasional writing from outside that clique, though, because variety is the spice of life. And someone else might have an insightful argument to make you would have missed otherwise.

There's more 'criticism is publicity' which really has little to do with why criticism is pointless, and then the end credits.

So, having dismantled why criticism is not pointless, I should probably say why it is so useful. The first is that even if people don't have experience with whatever you're doing, they might add an angle you didn't think of. Perhaps you're writing music, and some door-to-door saleman says your tunes are repetitive. Hey, he might have a point even if he's never touched so much as a recorder in his life (the instrument, I should clarify). A wide point of view is good and helps one become well rounded, and have an end product that might be fairly good all around as well.

Second, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and slog on. Sometimes there is no nice way to point something out. Sometimes, the only person pointing out the right path is nasty. Just take it. I will give a personal example. When I was learning physics, I would religiously convert everything into base units. This took lots of time and energy. My teacher told me that for someone who was getting A's, I was one of his dumbest students for being unable to see past base units. By Torley's definition, I should have blown him off. He doesn't know me, he was negative (and insulting), he obviously had no hand in my solving the problems, and learning to use things as they are was difficult and I thought it was pointless since I was getting the job done. But I slogged on, and eventually after a few years it's helped.

Hey, here's another example. A history teacher said I wrote like a thesaurus since I would never use a simpler word, and that sometimes the word I replaced had a subtly different meaning than I intended. Hey, he's teaching history, not English, so what could he know? He, too, was fairly mean about it. And wasn't it best to expand my vocabulary? But I didn't. I took it to heart, and worked at watching my words, and how I used them. He didn't tell me what to do, but I went and tried to learn myself how to improve. It's called doing my own homework, even if the critic didn't know the way I could improve, he did point out what was wrong.

So yeah, I know all about criticism. I get critiqued ten times a day over stupid shit and some important matters. Like Torley, I can sift through what is pointless but unlike Torley I don't automatically disregard someone out of hand. I try to read into the critique. Sometimes there is a hint of truth buried into a vile attack. In other words, handling a criticism is hard work like any other job which you seek to do well in.

My point to you guys out in the audience is that yes, criticism is going to hurt. But the true skill is reading it. And interpreting it without dismissing it due to some superficial details. Sometimes, hidden in there, might be something that if you heed it can really make you go from mediocre to excellent.

My, that was wordy. My critique to myself: use less words, less meandering, and more to the point. Righto.

6) Diversify, but don't spread too thin

The only thing I have to add, because it is a very good idea to diversify, is to be smart about it. If you have no talent in an area, it's probably not a good idea to expand it beyond a hobby. As much fun as I have writing here, I will never pen the next Great American Novel. Writing at work is technical and so a completely different ballpark than the style of writing required here or in novels.

Hmm, actually, I have no idea how to word it. But be smart about things. A good general rule of thumb. Caution never hurt anyone. Heck, if the Titanic hadn't been in such a hurry it might have missed that iceberg. The Titanic was on TV the other day, hence why I have mentioned it twice now.

Also, cats are jerks.

7) Great Tools Save the Day

Oh good, here Torley has hit a grand slam. I cannot convey just how true this is. I have tons of stories of having to make do with something, cursing the entire while, and wishing I had just that right tool that I can never seem to find. Here, I can stand by Torley. "When life hands you Lemons, have a lemon squeezer handy" is far more apt than the way that saying was originally worded, and true. How many of us have squeezed lemonade by hand?

8) I hate computers

Torley makes some statement about how different operating systems can change your view. I will change that to my life lesson, which is that computers are horrible. They are like electronic cats. They never quite work right, and when you really really need something they always manage to screw you over.

Even Macs. Even Linux. I know it's just an inherent aspect of computers that something will be buggy and fail, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And I don't like it.

9) Pace yourself.

Pace yourself. Then, you can afford to sit on something for a few days. You cannot know how well you can do something after a bit of thought. Sometimes, I'll write something, then upon reflection later, delete it because it's tripe. Sometimes, after reflection, I find a better way to word something. Sometimes, I find it's fine. And I can do that because I create a schedule and allot myself time to do so. Getting something done early is good. Having the time to adjust it is invaluably good.

So yes, get something done before the deadline and perhaps before the day ends. But definitely have the time to think it over later.

10) Don't drink coffee

I hate coffee. It screws up me. I find that, like above, pacing myself works well. That way, I don't have to pull all-nighters. So I have time to get sleep. Even when I have to pull all-nighters, I don't drink coffee because afterward it ruins my natural rhythm of sorts. And then you get addicted to the caffeine, so you feel like you need coffee to stay awake. You become dependent upon it.

Also, it stains your teeth. Eww.

11) Just spit it out! And follow through with it!

I credit Torley in that he really believes what he says. I respect him for that. I don't agree that you have to be 100% positive all the time, and that looking at the horrible bad side of things is good. It helps keep things in perspective, and point out all the horrible things that can go wrong, so I can make sure those horrible things don't happen or be made less horrible. Thinking of bad things is good. I suppose you could say that I negatively react to things, whereas Torley positively reacts to things. To each their own noose, I suppose (haha, because that's negative).

But I agree that being wishy-washy is bad. Making no decision is nasty. You get stuck in limbo. Just agree to something! If you disagree, then say so! If you think negatively instead of positively, then say so! Don't ride the fence. If you think there should be more time spent thinking something over, then spend that time going over new thoughts on it, and if you can't see any, then let's roll!

It gets easier with practice, trust me.

12) People are Jerks. So are cats.

People are jerks. Get used to it. Everyone hates you, except your friends (and some of those may be sycophants who will turn on you faster than Brutus on Caesar).

It is dangerous what Torley says about experts, though. I'm all for exploring new areas, but experts didn't get where they were by being stupid. If they say something is impossible or idiotic, they are probably right. And it is slightly offending to state that experts are content with the status quo, because if anything they too are in the drive to push the boundaries. Otherwise, they get left behind. I guess it depends on the type of experts. Torley mentions rich folk, I wouldn't consider them experts except maybe in a method of getting filthy stinking rich.

Also, I really don't like his suggestion to run psych experiments on people, especially without their knowledge. Jesus H Christ, Torley, do you know people have gone to jail for such things? That people have died under such things? It's called informed consent! And nothing, no matter how big a jerk they are or how invaluable you consider your experiment and its proposed results, allows you or me or anyone to override a person's choice to partake in your or mine or anyone's experiment.

And yes, I read the post he linked to. I still disagree. Intentionally trying to push someone's buttons to make sure they are the right 'fit' says more about you than the other person. For example, one case was testing money issues to make sure the other person isn't a Scrooge. But... what if that person is simply smart? If I loan you ten bucks, I expect it back. I am not a doormat, and if I follow the 'correct' path then I'm sure to be taken advantage. Is it cruel? Yes, but that's the way the world turns. I'm sorry. I am not a bank. Personally, that is why I usually tell people who ask for a quick loan that I'm broke, so they and I don't have to be in that situation. Tough beans.

The whole idea of 'testing' another person artificially doesn't sit well with me. People can change, and dismissing them because they get angry you told them they were supposed to be there 30 minutes earlier could be due to a whole host of reasons (a bad day at work, stuck in traffic, etc etc) and turn out to be either an edge case or something you could help them with and help them improve as human beings. Like anger management. Of course, if we ignore criticism then there is no chance of them listening to us, is there? I'd like to know also how they break it to the other person. They probably cop out and offer some bogus reason to wimp out of saying 'I was subtly testing you and you failed'.

13) It's okay to talk to yourself.

I talk to me all the time. Sometimes I agree, and sometimes they disagree. It's quite acceptable. It's not a sign of... what's that? He meant writing about yourself and not physically talking to yourself?

Oh. Uh... I mean, yeah. Talking about yourself. Well. That's good. Just no ego trips. Nobody likes braggarts. Otherwise, go right ahead. They say your best promoter is yourself. Or something. Anna are not sure what I meant.

14) Sweat the small stuff

First off Torley, if you repeated yourself 1,000%, the majority of your post would have been the word 'Iterate' about a thousand times over.

But good point. Don't overlook the small stuff. Sometimes it really helps out, other times it's only the icing on the cake. But check it out regardless.

15) Money Stinks

I wish we didn't need money. It seems to cause so many problems. But we do need it, it's unavoidable, so I deal with it like I deal with cats and people who own them.

I really hate cats.

16) Time is Money

Nothing else to say about it.

17) Don't Burn your Bridges

I am not sure what he's trying to say here (is his music a hobby now that he works for the Lindens?) but I wouldn't delegate any previous career into a hobby. Carry those skills! If you were an employee instead of self-employed, stay in contact! Social networking! Woot!

Stay at your A game, even if that's not your current line of work, because you just never know. YOU NEVER KNOW. I never know.

18) Just say No

I have found myself saying "no" all year. Mostly to those people on the street asking for change. Once to someone who wanted to cheat. Lots of other stuff. It's made me feel like a real jerk. But consider the truth that people are jerks, and I fit right in!

So, to reinforce Torley's point, just say No. If it makes you feel like a jerk, then take pride in that you're perfectly normal.

19) Remember the Message and the Spirit

What is Christmas? Is it a time of celebrating the birth of a savior and the promise and hope of such an event? A time of hope in a season renowned for everything being dead or in hibernation? A flicker of happy times in the frost and cold and harsh? A time to spend with family, around a warm fire, and enjoy the pure selflessness of giving time and money into a gift for one another? Or is it just wantonly gifting and spending away for your friends and family?

I urge you guys, remember the spirit. When I read that a guy was trampled by shoppers, I died a little inside. Please, prove me wrong that people are jerks, don't affirm it. When that happened, it said to me that those shoppers valued material objects over the life of a fellow human being. Is this what we want? Is this acceptable to us? Don't kid yourselves, either. It could have happened anywhere in the mass stampede that occurred across the US, just that particular store hit the Sad Lottery.

So, on the holidays? Take a breather. Relax. Enjoy it. And don't kill each other. For Nunchuck's sake.

20) Discussion is better than regretting something later.

Full steam ahead only works if you're steaming in a good direction. Debate is a good and healthy part of life. You would want me to debate whether to sentence you to life in prison or into lethal injection. You would not want me to just go ahead and execute you.

Not to say that once a good path is clear to keep squabbling. But healthy discourse leads to a better decision than wantonly acting, which ironically may lead to more intense debates than before.

No debate, though, on cats. Cats are jerks.

21) Love!

I have no idea why Torley is obsessed with this. I think I might make him a small (inches size) statue of the LOVE piece. As a present for... Martin Luther King Jr Day? He's sure to love it.

In summary, like all of Torley's posts half of it is close to garbage and the other half pretty insightful. Actually, I think I'm exaggerating. To be fair, a good 75% of it I liked. But all his crap on criticism irks me. It conjures an image in my head of something sticking their fingers in their ears and singing 'la la la can't hear you, you don't matter'. The details behind it, some of it I find completely wrong and the other half of it I find an extremely thin line of judgment. What is infuriating is he has good advice sprinkled in there, though rarely. Like 'take the care to evaluate your critics and dismiss the trolls'. But then he'll say things like 'if they don't offer to help you, don't bother doing your own homework, just dismiss them out of hand' or 'if they haven't tried it, then they can't criticise'. EEERGH!

I learned a lot examining his Life lessons. I recalled the repressed memory of how much I hate cats (except for Hugo the Lazy, and he's virtual). I learned that Torley loves a lot. I learned how cranky I am at 3 am in the morning.

So in that regard, I think Torley should be proud.

This is way late because I'm slow and I kept putting off completing this. Oops.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Copybot Strikes Again!

It seems, and this is just preliminary reports, that someone has copybotted some of Starax's works. As I said, though, I have little to no clue what actually went on and time will tell. I can say that multiple abuse reports were filed and supposedly a few Lindens were after those who did it. The chances of actually catching the account are slim, though, due to throwaway alt accounts and other such cruft. It could take days, if ever, to sort out.

Of course, others had plenty to say on the matter. Words were thrown out such as 'sacrilege' and 'have people no religion??'. Others said it was 'terrible' and that 'copybot should be banned'. Even among those who did not know of Starax (and yes, there are many people who have not) there was a general sense of sadness that someone should steal another's work.

But, it is important to keep in mind that although this may be a more high profile case there are probably others, toiling in obscurity, whose work has been vacuumed by a copybot. Do these people get any airtime? Probably not. But their anguish at watching their work literally walking away is surely on a comparable level. Even moreso when you are trying to earn a livelihood in Second Life.

And what can the Lindens really do against Copybot? They already claim they can do nothing against the garden variety bots. It is funny that for the past two years or so, Linden Lab has made no significant progress that I can see in combating it. Instead, they rely upon waiting for an abuse report and attempting to track the account (which in all chances has probably been abandoned). The picture in my mind is of a bunch of firefighters trying to stop an arsonist by merely putting out the fires he starts.

So, another day, another CopyBot.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


As I was walking down the street one day after columns of rowhomes there was a gigantic gap in between a block. The steps leading up to it remained, but the actual building had long been demolished. Gone forever save for a few steps and two small pillars. No one pays any attention to the lonely lot over which these reminders stand guard.

No one even remembers when the street became one house poorer. Have we become so insensitive to the destruction that the memory of it fades so quickly? Perhaps they put it out of memory. It is a grim memory, after all, one which reminds us just how transitory our existence is. One day you are in the here and now, cherished and beloved. The next you are bulldozed into a grassy lot and no one glances where once you shone. Even now, as I sit down and type this, I can recall those who dropped out of high school, those who dropped out of college, those who left for out of state colleges or far flung lands and haven't called back. To me, they are something like this lot. To remember them is to think about this lot.

We all can remember the true landmarks of the land. Roman aqueducts and Greek temples still stand tall through the centuries. New York's gleaming skyscrapers stand tall as they turn seventy, some eighty years old. Even here, a growing skyline is erupting forth whose disappearance would last within memory. But this small house is lost and no one cares. It is just one in a sea of them, up and down the block for almost three miles. It is not glamorous or dignified or tall. It was just a residence, and now it is gone.

Years from now, it will eventually be noticed. And in that time, a more modern structure will replace it. It might be a new house, if the city is in need of housing stock or a private investor takes interest. Or it and its block could be absorbed into a sleek new building for the university, which is slowly encroaching to the south. And then there would be no reminders of this little place at all, nothing to trigger the memories save for this small photograph (and others, hidden elsewhere). It will not be remembered for what it once was, or what might have been, but simply a plot of land now occupied by a new science center. On the land where children might have played on the porch as their mothers spied them from inside and elderly rocked recalling the good times, and the bad times, there would now be only talk of research projects and where all the good beakers had gone and of tenure and science!

When I was a child, there was a tall tree in front of my little rowhome. It was impressively tall to a six year old, taller than any building I could see in Center City. In the summer, it would cast its shadow over the porch where one could sit and enjoy some water ice, and in the fall it served as 'base' when playing tag. Then we moved. Time passes. I went down there once. It was gone. The corner store had closed up. And the neighborhood contained its fair share of lots, of memories long since torn down. I could barely recall what some had once looked like, as a kid running down the street to school, joining the slow trickle at first, escorted by the friendly crossing guards, then the massive throng at the school.

And yet some of it was still there.

The most infuriating thing about such loss is that it is never seen. Or you never wanted to see it. You didn't want to see the haggard look on the clerk's face as he struggled to turn a profit. Or the foreclosure on the poor Chikofskis whose father was laid off. Or the city slowly pulling services out from under. The thunderstorm whose winds were just a little too strong for the weakened heartwood. Crime exciting an exodus from a neighborhood already on edge with reports each day of this shooting, that shooting. And creeping slowly as the years pass, fading in like a Polaroid (remember those??), the empty lots come into focus.

Not just a local phenomenon. Anywhere people get into stride and lose notice of the little things. A small forest where teens snuck in to cut curfew and drink alcohol bulldozed for a housing development. The pastor, sent off to a larger parish as the bishops say his flock is too small to warrant a church, the church itself locked into disuse. Dust gathers upon the head of Christ as the years pass. Dust gathers upon the head of the Virgin Mary as the homes come up and come down and soon the parishioners forget they had ever held vigils in the quaint little building. Everything fades into the background, and developers set their sights upon the holy site, prime real estate in the suburban landscape.

Even the intangible. The smell of the new car fades. The attitude changes. You get a feeling that perhaps you shouldn't be there. Something has changed, either you or it or them, but the fact remains that it has changed. There is just an indescribable sense that something that once was has changed or no longer is. Perhaps the worst, after all, there isn't any there there to pin down why. And yet it evokes the same feelings.

But the greatest loss is human loss. The loss of a fellow human is nothing compared to the material loss. The lot can be put to good use in the indeterminate future. Nothing can replace a dear friend or cherished family member. Nothing. Once that life has flickered onto the next plane of existence (or into nothingness, depending on what you believe), there's no replacing them. Except the pain, I suppose, for what it is worth.

Sometimes they are remembered throughout history. They become the organic equivalent of Greek columns or arching bridges or a small flag planted on a moon. They remain visible and stalwart through the ages long after their meaty sacks have rotten into the earth. Their names resonate through the years, sometimes with reverence and sometimes with disdain. Newton. Elizabeth I. Sun Tzu. Hitler. Just to hear the name and many can recall the lives of such people. While their presence may be gone they are not forgotten. Like the temples who remain even after most of their structure has fallen and their use abandoned, just their memory lives on.

But many, too many, are like the lot. Once gone, they are gone forever, lost to the ages. Unlike the lot, they are still felt by those left behind. But as they, too, die and fade, so does their memory. Until they are forgotten.

Wander a graveyard, and marvel at all the names of those beloved now forgotten. And like the lot, with its history hidden, one can wonder who they were. What they had dreamed, aspired to, loved, hated, regretted. All lost to time. All that is left is a name, perhaps a time span and a small epitaph, on a tombstone (which these days may be nothing more than a plaque embedded in the ground). Nothing more and nothing less. The name 'Jonathan Venti' evokes nothing in you or me. Just a label of someone who was born, lived, and died without making any waves in our universe.

I had to get up early this morning for class. There was nothing on TV except the morning news (checked the weather, then flick! Too depressing) and the History channel. The History special was on the USS Arizona. They showed the sleek white memorial, and the list of those lost inside. And I thought to myself, just who were those people? Who was Lieutenant C. T. Janz? Or Seaman C. W. Miles? Seaman first class D. J. Orr will only be known forever more as just one of a long list of names of those lost in one moment of time. I will bet even those alive today who served with them have forgotten them, either through the faultiness of memory or a wish to suppress a terrible experience. This is true of almost every memorial. Name after name, these people cease to exist and turn into objects, into a singular monument. We tend to think in the macroscopic of these people and forget the individual.

Perhaps in an attempt to unify our existence, that we shall be remembered not for what or who we are but what we contributed to or participated in?

For most of us, we become just a name in an endless list of names. Essentially forgotten. But at that one point in time, at death, it seems as if it will never fade. And yet, time marches on. We become forgotten like the empty lot. Our presence on this planet only noted by a marker. For some, there is not even that distinction. For some, they disappear completely. That is tragedy. That they should be lost with none to even mourn them is tragedy.

On the other hand, it is, perhaps, for the best that our memories fade. The pain also fades with it. Life picks up again. The seasons march on in their ceaseless parade (until the earth gets knocked out of orbit, or the sun explodes, I guess). If we spent forever lamenting what was then nothing would ever get done. We would spend forever reminiscing over what was. The past, rather than the present or future, would dominant.

Still, some remembrance would be nice. Just a little nod and notice that in this sea, this mass, of people are not just names, or an event, or a simple stone but a person. Individuals who had lives outside of their deaths. Some innocent, some guilty, but all humanity none the same. I think too often we reduce them down into an event in time, or an object on display. Just one more thing to gawk at while going about your way.

Second Life is no exception to this rule save for one regard. There is always the hope that the person on the other hand has simply forgotten about Second Life. They've moved on with their lives due to some reason. They are not gone forever. And that is one relief and a welcome difference from a dreary first life fate. The pain is still there of a loss, but there is hope that someday they will return, and then we'll all have a drink.

But there is still a pain there. Sometimes they don't come back. Then you're left out with no way of knowing (unless you've traded real life info) if they will come back. Then it mimics real life. Thousands of accounts log in, make a few friends and perhaps a few lovers, and then leave. Those who knew them grieve and then move on. Only a few remain as famous figures, names who echo across cyberspace.

One devious little trick might be someone dropping their account and making an alt. Those friends left would be sad, while that person left as an alt. Starax did this to a degree. For a while, people wondered where he had gone and mourned him as if he had died. Only he turned up later. Is he excused for pulling such a stunt? I do not know. I don't know him. It is really up to those who did know him. I do know, though, that I would be happy that he did return, in any form, even if some time later.

And what of those who create alts and never tell? That's up to them, I suppose. I met someone once who did just that. Someone found out, there was much drama. I never saw them again. If history repeats, as it does so often, they probably made a new alt account. I can only wonder why they would do so, but I am not them. I am sure their reasons are there.

Sometimes, you learn that the person on the other end is gone. That is harsh. I'm not sure how closure works then. Hold an inworld memorial? The distance between people who play Second Life is enormous in most cases (often between countries). There is no reasonable way to fly thousands of miles for someone who you have only met through a created avatar and their typings. Not unless you have the time and the money which are in short supply these days. They disappear. The most recent I can think of is Kendra, someone I never knew or met, but who must have been quite a person because the day she died every SL blog went into an uproar with an obituary. Quite a testament, and in the world of Second Life probably makes her one of the 'Greek Temples' who you hear about years later in the history books. Such as Second Life history books are, anyway.

And when you think about it, all you see of most of your friends is their typing. Just their words. Nothing more. One does not need to be a particularly good actor and most people are fairly competent writers. There's no face to read or body language to provide a tell. You could befriend, or even fall in love, with some fictitious figure who is the creation of a clever mind. I would like to think that most people would rather not open up rather than lie, but who knows? I think these would be truly unforgivable. Those I could judge. It is simply not right to manipulate and play people like that.

In a small way, you could say that the small faint hope of SL loss can be compared to spiritual beliefs in real life. There is hope that we shall see our loved ones in the afterlife, whatever it may be. The key difference is that while in SL this is sometimes outright known and occurs with regularity, in real life no one has come from beyond the grave. I think ghost stories are bull. And a belief in such demonstrates a true kind of faith to believe in such hope that has never been confirmed. It is, truth be told, very comforting. For my part, I wish it true even though the more cold and calculating part of me doubts. Perhaps wishing hard enough is the same.

In the end, a loss is a loss is a loss. There are varying kinds, from material to indeterminable to permanent human loss, but in the end it is all the same. Save for few cases, what is gone is gone forever. And while spending one's life musing about it is quite unhealthy, harmful, and a waste, it is fine on occasion to devote some small thoughts to the matter.

After all, in the end, we ourselves become another's loss.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Predictions for 2009

I refuse to make predictions for 2009. It's silly and pointless. In the end, it's just a massive ego trip. When one of your 'predictions' comes out to be true, you dance and shout and say 'Ha! See I was right!'. Often the points that they predict correctly were inevitable or something of a coin flip (if there are only two or three true courses of actions, you have about a one in three chance of being right). Big deal.

And it has reached the point where many people (rightly) don't put much faith into these things.

I don't try to make predictions. I do try, however, to think through something. There is a big difference there. The first is asserting that something will happen. The second is wussing out and listing possibilities of what may happen. Part of that is my reluctance to look silly when I'm wrong. And part of that is recognizing that I think it's better to prepare rather than blindly hope or state that something is going to happen.

For instance, I see lots of people predicting that Second Life will die. Ok, well and good. But having stated that, what do you plan to do? Stand around and watch it die? That's no good. I'd rather do something about it. Even if the Lindens don't listen, don't care, at least I can say I made my peace and wrote something about it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lucky You!

Lucky me!

An actual fortune cookie I opened the other day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Island of Anna

Gentle readers, I have been most honoured on this day of days.

For today, I have discovered that there is an island in Second Life bearing my name.

Oh, that came out bad. Well, if you can't read it, click to enlarge it and rest assured that it is an Island and it is named Anna.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Script Limits

Yes, buried deep into a post about Homesteads (a topic which I vowed a while back not to discuss) is a notice about limiting scripts in the future. The Lindens have finally realized what the rest of us have known for ages: too many scripts spoil the pot. And when servers are shared, some idiot maxing out on one sim causes headaches for three others.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. They only say they plan to 'measure' the load to determine the average, and then there's to be more discussion among the residents and themselves, and then more measurements, and then some adjusting of the SL client itself so you can tell if you're hitting that limit. It's going to be a long road, so all of you guys out there celebrating that finally Linden lab is getting their act together better be prepared for something similar to getting an amendment passed into the Constitution. And those of you who oppose this, you'll have plenty of time and opportunity to shoot it down.

This should have been settled and implemented a long time ago. They recognized the need to limit prims per sim (although there's still loopholes you can exploit with temp rezzers I believe) as having too many objects and textures loading out would be a terrible pain.

What is interesting is to speculate how they will go about doing this. The most obvious way would be to have something like the tier/land/prim relationship currently used for objects. But can scripts be measured that way? How would they be measured in the first place? You could have a lot of scripts in place, but all inactivated and never on more than one at a time, and have no impact but yet be penalized just for sheer number present while some other idiot writes something so massive it brings everything to a halt. Would it count scripts present in attachments? If the limitations break scripts in Mystihuds, hair, shoes, and other things, be sure to expect an uproar from those non-scripters you might expect to not care otherwise.

I know that discussions of this will generally overlook those who come in and socialize or day-trip in Second Life on the assumption that they don't script, so they won't care. They should be considered, though, in that they are the users, and in the end any limitations on scripting won't hurt the scripters so much (as they can continue to write away, there's no limitation in writing out the lines) but those who wish to use them. Starax would make the loveliest statues that everyone agrees are masterfully done and very pretty but how many of us can afford to display them in our parcels? People have been living with prim limits since forever, so they have generally learned to live around them. But this? If the tinted windows and doors in my house, my mailbox, my scooters, my poseballs, and my assorted junk start to fail because of such limits? I can't wait to see the riot that will ensue.

I suppose one way of enforcing the limit would be to somehow force more efficient coding upon the coders themselves. How would that be brought about? You could say one way would be to limit the number of lines written, but that only works if the load of all functions are equal. If a given function is more intensive, then it might cause as much load as something lighter but written over hundreds of lines. Perhaps a weight would be assigned to each function, with further weights given to the context around it, and there would be a maximum weight enforced. Say, you have a max weight of '50', and llListen() might be a '4' or llSay() might be a '1' and so on. Then, if I have " llSay(0,"red");" that would be a '1' and "llSay(0,"the sky is definitely not red, it is blue");" that would be a '2'. The problem that looms over that is the daunting task of creating a system around that. And then applying that to the current crop of scripts we have. Things would definitely break all over the place. The Lab would be flooded with complaints and errors for months afterward. But this does have the advantage of being quantifiable to a degree. The time frame for measuring, creating, and implementing this would exceed their vague timetable of implementation by Q3 of this year.

Also, reading the language of the post, I notice they say 'enforcement'. Does this imply that rather than something hardwired into Second Life itself script limits will be something like community guidelines and become a reportable offense? If so, we have already seen the debacle that the ad farm policy became. They will need to take the lessons learned behind the banning of ad farms and apply them or else they might as well not bother. We as residents should also heed the results of the ad farm policy as what to expect at worst, and both users and LL should consider how that was screwed up.

First, ad farms were screwed primarily by Linden Lab taking the exact letter of the law instead of the spirit. This created two problems. One was the shrewdness of the ad farms to find and exploit loopholes, and the second was the Linden's vague language surrounding what an ad farm was, which lead to a general reluctance to call a judgement on save in very clear situations. What we had was ad farmers changing enough to pass the vagueness of the original policy, and the Lindens more or less refused to act upon it.

Part of the reason for the vague wording was from the residents themselves. Not once as far as I can recall did anyone clearly communicate was an ad farm was. There were photos taken, and much complaints about them, but no one sat down and listed why ad farms were considered heinous. A set of guidelines would have nice. As a result, the Lindens went for a general angle of 'ugly build on a small parcel set to sale at a high price'. And of course they took that to the letter. And of course the farmers would just change one thing or so and retain the essence of the problem. The problem was that ad farms were obnoxious. They were an obvious attempt to grab attention in a place where alternatives might have existed, but were ignored in favor of shock value. Instead of placing a small roadside billboard near a small town rental, for instance, they would elect to place a gigantic spinning red and purple tower.

You could say that Linden Lab was idiotic to not know that themselves, but again, let us look at history. Linden Lab never does more than they have to. NEVER. We as residents cannot expect LL to solve things and define things on their own. And if they do, we can't expect their conclusions to be our conclusions.

In other words, I am trying to goad you into bugging the Lindens about it with your thoughts, so that when they come out with such and such a policy or so-and-so tools on this script limitations, you can't complain that you had no input. Blah blah blah.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Linden Lab recently celebrated that in 2008, Second Life's population became predominantly international in the sense that the majority of residents lie outside the United States. Claire Linden gives the impression that this is a new and exciting development and a major landmark.

But I believe this is rather old news. I have no data on this, but I thought that by the end of 2007 we had reached the 'US as a minority' status. But I can't be too harsh, I don't have any data to back the claim. Maybe earlier it had been 51% Americans, 49% Rest of the World.

It is interesting to note, however, that her numbers add up as such that 40% of residents are United States citizens, 40% are from Europe (as Claire states, "..with additional focus on marketing and community in Europe where 40% of Second Life Residents are located..."), which leaves a good 20% for the rest of the world. So in a sense, Second Life is still more or less Euro-centric. Or still in the First World. Consider that a good portion of that remaining twenty percent might be from Japan, and that just about rounds it out. You have Australia, China, African nations, and Antarctica massively underrepresented in this regard. Is it really international if the majority, eighty percent, of users come from Europe and America (since for all of our squabbles, the US and Europe more-or-less share a good deal more than either would care to admit)?

We could split some serious hair on this, and say that although Europe in sum total rivals the United States in user share, that all those users are spread across multiple nations. The EU isn't exactly a centralized force like the US just yet, although they're getting there. So consider this. 20% residents come from outside of the US and Europe, which when split among the rest (such as Australia, China, Japan, Canada, South America, etc. to just name a few) means each country has only a small share. Europe has a full 40% but only in consideration of a sum total of Germany, England, France, Poland, and so on. The United States, as the name suggested, is unified. In this light, the United States still makes up the majority of Second Life. So while the big numbers indicate internationalism, the actual weight behind it is rather small. It is like saying the US is not truly dominated by California and New York as Wyoming and Alaska are still represented in Congress.

Of course, that's just me playing with numbers and making gross assumptions. In the mean time, I'll be sure to get babelfish up and ready for the future.