Oh what delicious irony. (Warning: May contain sarcasm)

News at Ten: Witch Hunter General Exposed As a Witch!

In latest news, Prokofy Neva, fearless leader of the crusade against the Fêted Inner Core was found to be less than perfect. Over the weekend, this famous fighter for the rights of the less fortunate was seen here to be setting himself up as the most élite of the élite, by qualifying for Linden Lab’s new Concierge service. Prokofy can now look forward to privileges which most of us will never get a chance to see.

I hereby call on all members of the Fêted Inner Core to welcome Prokofy to our ranks as one of the most Fêted of us all, a sim owner. Congratulations, Prokofy on breaking the chains of poverty we thrust upon you, and overcoming our superior creativity and Linden Contacts, and rising above us all using only his RL money. Well done, Prokofy, we salute you.

Events, Prizes and Payment

So, events in Second Life™, how have they changed? Well, not much really. I don’t mean the quantity or quality of events either, but hosting them. Those of you who know me also know that I have (or had) regular events. They have changed though.

Mentor/Instructor Events

I became a Mentor in Second Life™ in late 2003. I hosted things like Second Life Basics, Show & Tell, Avatar Contests and Photo Contests. These options have been slowly eroded. Second Life Basics has been rendered defunct by Live Help, and now is completely unsupported, Avatar Contests are now the most common event in Second Life™, though now instead of being rewarded for making a good avatar, you get rewarded for bringing lots of friends to an event, or being naked. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but that’s how it appears.

I became an Instructor not long after, early in 2004 I think. I taught Basic Building and sometimes Basic Scripting. Occasionally a more advanced course, but I’m not a teacher by nature, and that’s difficult for me. Now, “Introduction to …” classes are unsupported.

So, basically, I’m one of those who’ll no longer be paid for Mentor events. I don’t actually mind this, since I never relied on it in the first place. I was hoping to use the L$500s from my classes to fund my money tree though. Still, “you can’t win ’em all” and I have enough reserves to last a few weeks. Of course, if anyone wants to donate to the money trees, it’s a great way for older players to help newbies. You even get your name on the donor list (until a tree upgrade removes it at least) if you’re one of the top three for a particular tree. (Mine is in Mocha, directly under Mochastyle, for those who’re interested – though I might move it around to give searchers more of a challenge :))

Private Events

This, to me is more of an issue. I run contests occasionally, and well, I need to give out prizes. My events area is a clear spot, away from the mall, and so, sponsored adverts are not an option to me. It would clutter the area and destroy the look of the place. So, my option is to charge entry. I can charge everyone, or just contestants. This isn’t an issue, since it works just like Bingo/Tringo then, the bigger the pot, the bigger the prize. Except… people don’t want to pay. They’re happy to put into a bingo pot, or pay a casino where their odds of winning are between 30-1 and 10,000-1 but they baulk at paying into say a building contest where the odds are between 5-1 and 10-1. I don’t even (at the moment) take a cut for myself!

I’ve toyed with…

  • Charge everyone the same… say L$30 or L$50
  • Charge only the contestants
  • Charge dependant on whether you compete… L$50 if you compete, L$10 if you’re there to watch and vote, L$5 if you watch but don’t want to vote.

But still people complain… “So and so’s contest is free… Why should I pay for yours?”. Well, the prize is potentially bigger, and you won’t get bombarded with ads. Though I have nothing against sponsored ads, I do sponsor events myself, on behalf of Mochastyle. Basically, almost 100% of my weekly income (sometimes a lot more) goes back to event funding, yet still people complain that they have to sometimes pay to enter.

Now of course, don’t think I’m going to stop doing events. I have no plans for that. I would like to hear some opinions though, from those who’d like to give them, either here or privately. Constructive criticism or advice is also welcome. If I do private classes, they will remain free, at least at a basic level – though donations are welcome – and contests, well, I’ll have to review. If I keep giving out money at the current rate, I’ll run out pretty soon.

Of course, I could raise prices at the mall. I currently charge between L$30 and L$50 a week per stall for up to 40 prims next to a Telehub. There are some who’d claim that only the undesirable malls charge this, and for a good spot you need to pay Anshe or Sensual L$400 a week. Well, I say, pay me L$50 and you get

  • Less lag
  • Less clutter
  • A mall where the owner is around at least daily if you have any problems

The booths are sometimes smaller, but they’re customisable. Again, I’d be interested in hearing your views. Do the merchants find they make enough at Mochastyle to make it worth staying? Would you even consider a higher rent if I needed to raise it (not that I have any immediate plans to do so)?

What is is about some people …

What is it about some people that makes them such ungrateful, wining morons?

Only yesterday I wrote about how good it feels when people are grateful for any help you give them, and how some aren’t. Now today I wake up and see this thread staring me in the face in the forums. I mean, does this guy actually think before he lets his mouth run off like that? OK, maybe the helper in question was a little impolitic, but to accuse an entire group, nay an imagined class of people for his injury is going too far.

Of course, this is the person who first imagined the Feded Inner Core of élite players who somehow manage to control the Lindens and take their precious stipend away for personal gain. Yay for the oldbies who want to keep the newbies down. Like that’s ever going to happen.

Anyway, I’m a Mentor and an Instructor. I know that some people look up to us (or used to) as if we were some kind of super humans. We aren’t, we just try to do our best for people with a little less experience of Second Life™ than ourselves, and when someone says “thanks” we love it. I was also a Live Helper for 4 months or so. For the beginning, we couldn’t turn off the group at all, later we could. Queries could be anything from simple “How do I do this?” or “Does anyone know how to find that?” to actual help requests where we’d need to be there, all the way to “I’ve lost money! Give it back to me now!!!” accompanied by language I’d rather not use here. And this was constant. We’d regularly have 5 or 6 IMs open, and sometimes 10 or 12. Indeed it could get rather stressful. And we’re only players, we had no special access to the system, no powers to fix bugs, no way to look into the database… All we could do was draw on our own experience to help where we could.

So when twerps like this one dare to pop their head out from the swamp and criticise, it makes me sick. Ashamed to be the same species indeed (yes, I’ve been told my RL avatar is human) as this heap of … well, you know where that’s leading. Sometimes I really hate people! Cats and dogs are much nicer.

Gratitude in Second Life

I woke up this morning wanting to write something. I don’t know why today particularly as opposed to any other day, but well, that’s life I suppose.

As it turned out, my email provided me with an answer as they almost always do. It was from one Gregor Eldritch, an avatar who I’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting. I’m sure he won’t mind me quoting him, so here goes:

Thank you for donating to the money tree. It’s hard starting out and being able to pick up a few L$ here and there helps a lot! 🙂

It’s things like this that make it all worthwhile you know, when people actually take the time to say “Thank you”. It means more than a hundred ratings.

I think back to when being a Mentor in Second Life™ was seen as a good thing. (I’ve been a Mentor over a year now, you see.) We used to get more people at Mentor events at Stage 4 and the like, and people would actually thank us for our time. It still happens occasionally, and it brings a tear to my eye, but things are different. I spent two months doing Live Help recently, and while the occasional user would say thanks, and some even asked for teleport invites to give ratings (I never accepted), the majority of feedback was in the form of angry forum posts calling Live Help useless because they couldn’t fix this or that bug, or check account details, never once considering that since we’re only players (though usually more experienced players) we don’t have access to any of that. It makes it all the nicer when someone does come back and appreciate what you’ve done, or tried to do.

So, it’s been another good day for me, after Saturday’s un-goodness. It’s a shame it’s been bad for other people. Cristiano Midnight has had trouble with prisms and customer support, Merwan Marker has been ousted from Second Life™ Exchange, Torley’s been attacked, not only on the forums but on his private log. What is it with the world today? I wish people could be nice to one another.

An Interesting Weekend

I’m not sure how to start, it’s been a very emotional few days for me, as forum regulars will know.

I suppose it all started on Friday evening really, when Freya and I were planting trees in Mocha… A very enjoyable pastime too that, I’d recommend it to anyone with a few prims to spare – and remember, Linden trees are only one prim each. It can make a bare plot look so much nicer. Anyway, that’s what we were doing. Freya was building a walled garden, and I was playing with different tree types. Now, one of the quirks of Second Life™ is that in order for someone to plant a tree on land they don’t own, Land Edit needs to be enabled. Unfortunately, there’s no ACL (Access Control List) for this, it’s an all or nothing toggle, and it includes terraforming. Anyway, it was getting late, and first Freya, then I logged out. I must have forgotten to lock it down.

Imagine my surprise when I logged in next morning. Where there was once a garden, green fields, a beach and a lake there was now a mountain range! The gardens were returned to inventory as off world, amongst other things. My home in Stonehenge was surrounded by 40 metre high walls of rock. My floating mall was now sitting on a mountain peak. A year of terraforming and landscaping by several people, not only myself, ruined overnight. I was devastated.

Charlotte's Party Flyer

Well, I did several things. I posted on the forum. Probably not the most sensible start, but there you are. I gathered some friends around me, as they logged in or found out, and I asked the Lindens to help. Well, the first to show up was , who brought Serena, Sharn and Torley (who has already written this up – [removed non-working link]) in. Freya showed up, and Charlotte (who volunteered to host a mountain-top party for me to show that this couldn’t stop us) too, and two whole Lindens; Jack and Nigel. I had a lot of help to make temporary repairs, and even Philip Linden posted to my thread. And later in the day, Andrew Linden restored from a backup for me.

And so, after all is said and done, there was a happy ending. Maybe we’ll never know who did it. Maybe he or she will jump on the forums tomorrow to complain about being banned and not knowing why, it certainly seems the standard response. Whatever, there are logs and this person will be caught, and hopefully not permitted to do this to anyone else.

Of course, now I fully expect the cries of “Lindens help another Oldbie” to start now, accusing this fictional Inner Core of having undue influence on the gods of our little world. Well, maybe we do and maybe we don’t, but in my experience, asking nicely for help and being respectful really does get you a quicker and more favourable response than does jumping up and down, demanding instant action and respect without having earned it.

Today I logged in to find three negative ratings, from one Angelina Zapata, someone I’ve never met before, and probably never will. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s her right to use her ratings as she sees fit, and maybe she didn’t like my builds (not that I can know since she didn’t actually tell me why she was rating me), but my appearance and behaviour? Like I said, we’ve never met. It’s odd to me, this is someone with very few ratings, who seems to have given out numerous negs, presumably to hurt people more well off than herself. Well, that’s people for you. I think I’ll have to start listing who’s neg-rated me. I have quite a lot now, though most of them came as triple-negs from people who took a dislike to me. I think there’s only one I can’t account for.

Happy Events and Upheavals – Is the sky really falling?

It’s been a few days since I wrote here, so I have some catching up to do. And do I have lots to write about.

On Sunday afternoon, I logged out of Second Life™ to watch some TV. I came back about 7pm GMT to read email and log in. A message from goodstuff@secondlife.com was waiting in my inbox. Now in my experience, they tend to be good, so I clicked to open the message to see the following message:-

Dear Siobhan Taylor,

You have received a Second Life partner proposal from Freya Becquerel.
Please visit the link below to view the proposal. This offer will expire on
Sunday, January 16, 2005. 

http://secondlife.com/partner/

I’m sure you’ll all understand if the next thing I did was head over there to click the I Accept button! WOOT! I am deliriously happy this week!

OK, the next thing I saw was on Monday morning. Not only has Nephilaine brought out some new outfits, but she’s remade some of her old ones with better seams, better shading and so on… and they’re still cheap! I owned most of those originals, some bought at EMP back in 2003, some from Pixel Dolls later, but Yay! Three cheers for the single greatest designer in Second Life™!!!

And now onto the news which seems to concern everyone. Linden actions to curb inflation in Second Life™. It seems that a lot of people are screaming that the sky is falling, but to be honest, I’m not sure, yet. There are four main changes, as follows:-

  1. Top Picks is being replaced by Adverts auctioned on eBay.
  2. Linden support for events is being cut.
  3. Ratings will now cost L$25
  4. Stipend bonus for ratings will be halved.

So, to take these in turn…

Top Picks is being replaced by Adverts auctioned on eBay.

This, I put first because I think it’s the only really bad choice they made. There are a couple of problems here, beginning with the fact that all they’ve accomplished is to change it from being open to suspicion of Linden involvement to one where it’s for the super-rich to decide what goes there. Someone mentioned in the forums that it’d be all AnsheCorp land. Well, it might be, but Anshe’s not the only rich person in Second Life™. There will be others. However, Linden has it’s own internal auction system, capable of handling both L$ and real money. By using eBay, they’ve effectively excluded all those of us (myself included) who refuse to use eBay or even blacklist the site. I’m saddened by this.

Linden support for events is being cut.

Well, is this really a problem? Long ago, all events were paid the same. Later, Mentor / Instructor events were paid more than others. Now LL wishes to cut support for non-educational events.

For a long time, there has been a feature in place to allow people to charge entry to their events. Not many people ever took advantage of it. Anshe did, and she’s now one of the richest people in Second Life™. In my opinion, this change has been a long time coming. Maybe now there won’t be so many “Best naked this” or “Sexiest dancing hippo in a thong” events and more that actually attract people on their merits.

Let me ask a question. I run a 10-Prim Speed Building Contest (the idea and original contest was Julia Curie’s, so I’m not claiming to have invented it). Prior to this, it’s been a case of the Lindens sponsor it, I have L$500-L$750 to give away. The most you could win realistically was L$250-L$300 for 1st place. So now, no Linden sponsorship, since though it’s fun, it’s not educational, so maybe I charge people to enter, say $100. The chances are, if you have to pay, you’re more likely to have a try for the prize, rather than be content to watch. But also, say 12 people show up, that’s a prize fund of L$1200. Even if I were to keep L$200 for myself, it’s still double the potential prize that it was before. Which would you prefer?

And sponsorship. Well, several people have offered to sponsor events on their land. Well of course, they get dwell, they get Dwelloper Incentives, they get US$ from LL. They get paid in real money to give you play money! Good deal, eh? Well, I say this, and I’m not the only one… Put up a big sign for Mochastyle, or announce it on your radio stream. I’ll sponsor you for advertising rights at your event. I’m not rich, so I need to be picky about the events I choose, but don’t be afraid to approach me in world. I don’t bite, well, not unless you are prepared to pay!

Ratings will now cost L$25

A step in the right direction. A small step, but a step nonetheless. I believe they should eliminate ratings altogether. When more than half the top-ten builders would be hard pressed to put one cube on top of another and align it correctly, then there’s something wrong with the system. Still, it’s a small step. It should eliminate fly-by neg-rate griefers. They won’t want to fly over an area and neg-rate everyone -3 if it’ll cost L$75 per person. Of course, the serious griefers won’t be too worried about it, and there’s no stopping them while the ability to rate still exists. It’s also a problem in that the rich people can neg-rate newbies with impunity now (if they so wished) with no risk of reprisal. OK, neg-rating someone because she neg-rated you is abuse of the system. Maybe not against the TOS, but really, it’s no different that neg rating someone’s appearance because you didn’t like the store she built.

Stipend bonus for ratings will be halved.

This will hurt, for a while, but we’ll get over it. Before Second Life™ 1.1 the limit was higher and L$3500 wasn’t that unusual. Now, the very most a person can get is L$2000. Next week it’ll be L$1250. I do feel for those who really rely on their stipend, and maybe there’s a better way. Perhaps detaching it from ratings and using a different method. The old way was that anyone with less than (I think) L$3,500 could get a stipend up to about that much, tax adjusted. If your balance was more than that, you got nothing. It was gamed. There were exploits. Still, if LL could solve that problem, it might be a better way to do it. Maybe they should bring back taxes, I dunno. Taxes would certainly affect the big landowners more, and in theory might be fairer.

In any case, it won’t kill us. It won’t really slow down development. Only last week, LL gave us off-line 3-d templates. People with poser could do away with a lot of the L$10/upload texture cost, and make development cheaper. Yesterday, someone posted a free ware 3-d drawing package in the forums that could also use these templates. I’ve not tried it, but if it can save as a tga, 32bpp then the field is levelled again.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the changes. I’m not really too worried. The sky is not falling, the world is not ending. There will be changes, and some will lose, some will gain. There are opportunities here though, for those who see them as such.

The Oldbie Conspiracies

So the cat’s out of the bag, again!

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Newbies found out about us, and the secret control we exert over Second Life™. It couldn’t last forever, I know that, but well, it’s only natural isn’t it.

Anyway, they know about it. They know about the orbital network, the secret space station and the teleporter in Mocha. Fortunately, they don’t know about the minefield yet, or we might have another Echo Omega on our hands, and I’m not sure we could take that after the chaos caused last year.

And all caused by an argument in the forums. Linden help us if they find out about the beta-powers that some of us still have for spontaneous money creation, or even worse, the ability to rez prims into things that aren’t clubs or malls. Next thing we know, they’ll be holding Show and Tell events, or Trivia Quizzes, instead of all those Best Naked Avatar contests we keep forcing them to run.

New Year Thoughts

So we’re into 2005 and now that I’m over the excesses of the weekend, I suppose it’s not been bad really. Let’s see…

A Look Back on 2004

Last year was a good one for me in many respects. It was my first complete year in SL and I’ve seen some changes. I got married, set up a store, then a mall. I made a lot of friends, and lost a few. And I lost a lover then gained another.

January saw the biggest changes in my second life. At the beginning of the month, I got to play with my shiny new lifetime account which I’d bought myself for Christmas. Julia had done the same, it was our sign of commitment to one another, and on the 29th we were married in a gazebo floating over Lake Mocha. Even Mocha was different then though. Aurican’s pyramid had not yet come to be, instead there was a city there, owned (I think) by Ryen Jade in his first vision of an SL combat RPG. Even Anne’s rocket ship was but a dream, as indeed was Mochastyle. We had build a pretty big house though, with Moogle-Music at the back.

Mochastyle first appeared as a new floor above the house, and was a showcase for Julia’s and my creations. It opened in style of course with a huge fashion show involving about 15 or so models and over 50 outfits. And the after-party was good too. It wasn’t long before a few more people came in and a store became a mall.

Also, we had SL 1.2 and the new billing structure, which drove a lot of people out of SL, and attracted more in. It certainly allowed Julia and I to buy more of Mocha.

Ryen and co left Mocha, and there was a castle on the lake, I think also in January but I’m not sure. Then that was gone too. Huge changes.

The house was gone, and Mochastyle rebuilt as the blue-glass building most of you remember. We had a castle of our own at the back, eventually, then a floating villa and the store grew again. I built Stonehenge across the lake.

SL 1.4 then 1.5 came and went. We had audio streaming now, and XML-RPC for outside comms. But we still had those awful bugs. Ghosting was as bad as it was in 2003, permissions, though vastly improved, were still buggy, international keyboard support had still not arrived, but it was fun.

And then, in October, Julia and I came to an end. It was a bad time, and I think both of us will regret it for a long time. And I don’t even have the ability to point the finger of blame, because in the end, if anyone was to blame at all, it was me. I had a chance to put things right, or at least, to try to, and I didn’t take it. Maybe I was angry, or fed up, but even so…

Freya has been my support since then. I’ve relied on her completely. I’ve lost my creativity, my will to build. It’s slowly returning, but it will take time. So, there’s a new Mochastyle now, we have a new resident in Mocha, a newbie interested in learning to build. I look forward to seeing what progress she makes.

… and so to 2005

They still promise Havok II, but I’m not holding my breath – not that it will bring all the changes people think it will anyway, it’s only a physics engine after all. The Christmas Crash is still hanging over us like a virtual Sword of Damocles, and the fighting in the forums seems like it will never end.

But there is good too. It’s an ever changing and ever expanding world. And I for one look forward to seeing what is achieved in the next year of SL.

Happy New – oh who gives a fuck anyway…

Yay, it’s 2005!

So I spent yesterday unwell. OK, so it was a combination of too much alcohol and not enough sleep, but still. Anyway, it’s the 2nd of January, so I might as well face it. I have daffodils sprouting in my front garden too… isn’t it too early for this?

So why the RL talk? Well, because Second Life is slow right now, hard to get into, laggy and generally buggy as hell. Maybe some fixes are in order, and soon.