Category Archives: Virtual Worlds

Party Time

Today, I sent out a batch of invitations to my birthday party on Saturday. It will be at Zazi, though the exact spot has yet to be decided. The thing is, I probably missed some people I should have sent to, but unless I had a calling card for someone, I couldn’t.

So, if you didn’t get an invite and think you should have, or if I missed out your partner, then remember, this is for you too. Bring a partner, there’s no need to come alone… and call me if for whatever reason, I left you out.

You are invited to attend a party!

On Saturday 16th August 2008
From 12:00 SL Time (8pm UK) in Zazi

Siobhan Taylor will be celebrating 5 years in Second Life.

There may possibly be cake.

IM for a teleport if you don’t already have a LM

See you there, I hope.

Shooting ones’ self in the foot

Remember “Your world, your imagination™”? Well, now the company-that-must-not-be-named has decreed that their laggy little bug-riden world must not be mentioned by us lowly bloggers. Or maybe not. The problem seems to be that nobody is quite sure where they stand on this right now.

Many people are talking about this all over the blogsphere, from famous bloggers like Vint Falken and Codebastard Redgrave to … well, you won’t have to search very hard to find them.

Basically, there are all sorts of rules and regulations now about what you can and cannot say. About logos and when and where you can (or can’t) use them and so on and so forth. I may even have to change the name of my blog. Maybe they just don’t need all the free advertising any more. Who knows.

Funny thing. What’s not easy to find is their own information on this “inSL” scheme of theirs. For the record, it’s here.


Taking Pride

The first thing I noticed when visiting the Second Pride festival this week was the loneliness of the place. Of course it could be the times I’m around in the world, but not everyone is in America… why is it so deserted? When I arrived for the first time, there were a couple of dots on the map, and I went to see… they were all staff. I admit, I was saddened.

You see, there are some great builds there. The memorial garden for one is a haven of peace, and I think it probably would be even were the chaos of Second Life outside the gates. The museum is definitely worth a visit if only to learn something new about discrimination through the ages. Not a bright, fun museum, but insightful. Somehow makes me glad I wasn’t born 50 years earlier, well for reasons other than I already had.

The funfair looked like er… fun, but that too was empty, as was the dance tent. The rows on rows of booths stand empty. There’s plenty to see, to do, to buy, but it seems, there’s nobody seeing, or doing, or buying. It’s as if the world doesn’t care, and perhaps it doesn’t, in Second Life – it has always seemed that there’s a lot more integration than in the real world. I.e., apart from a few newbies, people don’t really care about your sexual orientation (unless they’re hitting on you, and not always then).

As I write this, an event just started. Myself included, there are a total of thirteen people in the six sims. I wonder how many are genuine visitors, and how many are staff. Perhaps I’ll go take a look.

There were six people at the event. Two were officials, the rest seemed mostly unresponsive.


It’s been a stressful few days in Second Citizen. I’m not sure how it started – there have been wars and rumours of wars, of course – but a few members had their war in public and we had a bit of a forum meltdown. People have left, or have threatened to leave who weren’t involved, which does nothing for the community. People have been dragged into it who’d normally avoid drama, forced into taking sides. I know we can come back from this, but everything changes. The web of trust is weakened.

For my part, I held back from posting – at least to those threads. It’s got me down though. Forum meltdown makes Siobhan cry. Defections make me sad – though I must add, not Super Sad, like some – and it’s not good for me.

To all involved, please try to get back to normal soon.

Mentor Listing denied

I got this gem in my mailbox this morning when I woke up. I had submitted the request in January after taking an enforced break from mentoring. It took this long to respond.

Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 21:59:15 -0700 (PDT)

Dear Siobhan,

We have denied your request for listing in the Mentor Group.
It may be your application is incomplete, or had inappropriate content.

You are welcome to submit a new request for listing. Please review our criteria and make sure your submission content is correctly spelled, complete, appropriate, and gives sufficient evidence of your experience.

Due to the volume of submissions, we are unable to provide you with details or a personalized response to your submission.

Thank you for your interest in a Mentor Directory listing.

There’s history here. Continue reading Mentor Listing denied

Honestly, I just couldn’t resist…

I was reading Second Citizen, as I do. There’s a few threads there at the moment regarding both Project Open Letter, and the new verification system that Linden Lab wants to put in place for Second Life.

Well, I was also chatting happily with Peasan in IM, and she was saying she felt like Cassandra before the fall of Troy, with everything she said being ignored, and everyone bringing it up later as their own. Well, I tied this into the state of SL as it is, and what with all the problems and drama, I wondered if it really could be linked to the last days of Troy.

So do you think Paris (Philip) and Helen (Robin) will accept a small gift that might solve all our problems, and get us past the verification without giving away dangerous information…?

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More on verification

A lot has been written in the blogs and forums about the new verification policy in Second Life. Some I agree with, and some not, of course.

I had planned to rant, but it’s been done already by others, so I won’t, for now. I still don’t trust it one bit though. Robin and Daniel met some residents yesterday to explain more, and guess what? Everyone started saying “Ooh, that’s alright then”, when they really didn’t tell us anything more than they already had. We now have confirmation that Integrity is the one owned by Aristotle, and Linden have told us, don’t worry, they’ll never share data, in fact, it’ll not even be recorded – though they will store it for two years in a vaulted database in case the US government wants a quick peek. So um, how do they do that if it’s not recorded? And um, if, as they said, they couldn’t unlock it if they wanted to, then how can they unlock it for the government?

It’s all stuff we’ve heard before from every company that wants to store your information. It’s usually lies. So if they store it, then where are the servers? Do they comply with the UK DPA, or similar legislation elsewhere?

So anyway, that’s Integrity for you. What about the grid. This is where it gets challenging, and it’s been asked by many. The current payment based verification is being removed, so all the allow access by payment status will be gone… Maybe good, maybe bad – I never agreed with it in the first place and have been banned because of it, even though I was verified myself, being paid-up. Well also now, since there are so many anonymous accounts here, it opens the door to more griefing, so, in order to defend themselves, more and more places who normally wouldn’t will declare their land to be Adult. There will be some hold-outs for sure, Caledon and Darkmere are two I know of, but for how long once they start getting griefed? The ban-list can only be so long after all. And once 99% of the grid is Adult, those of us who are left will have to verify or leave Second Life.

So ok, maybe that’s a little paranoid, maybe not. It’s unlikely to happen yet anyway. In the normal course of things, what makes a place Adult. Well, according to Linden Lab, it’s explicit sexual or violent content, but it will be the community who decides via the Abuse Report system. Of course, estate managers, being immune from abuse reports will decide as they like, at least to begin with. On the mainland though, hrm, there are some ultra-conservative types among us. What will get abuse reported as being adult content first? Will it be furries, or Gor, or the bdsm community, or the lgbt community or who? If you’re slightly off-message with your neighbours, you could be forced to declare your land as Adult. Nice!

There’s potential for more, but nobody knows yet how it will pan out. Opt-in verification by age, gender, location and so on in your first-life profile. You know how this works though, if and when it comes… It’s not optional at all, because not opting in gives an unverified status, and that means you’re lying about something… This will wait for another post, or posts, on another day.

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Verification redux

You know, I really shouldn’t have a problem with this. I’m plenty old enough, it’ll keep kiddies away from stuff they’re not meant to see and will be a good thing for Second Life as a whole…

Won’t it?

Well you see, it’s not that simple, not by any means. Not even slightly. The problem is the way they’re going about it. The identification they require; passport, driving licence or social security number (national insurance number if you’re in the UK). I mean, in the old days, verification was by credit card and yeah, that was naughty of them, it’s not an age check, and in many places you can get a credit card at sixteen or even younger.

But look at it this way. If you’re a sixteen year old with a credit card, then the chances are that you’re working. Though age isn’t a check, most banks like to see income before they issue a loan. If you’re one of these, then the chances are that you’re responsible and adult enough that you’d never get caught anyway.

If you’re using a parent’s card though, or an elder siblings to verify yourself, then the chances are you’re not going to miss a beat scanning the same parent or sibling’s passport, driving licence or SSN card. I mean, it takes just a few seconds to scan them and put them back. I seriously don’t imagine a requirement to send originals… do you? I mean, we’re constantly told never to give this information away except to an employer. It’s absurd to have to give it for a game, but this is what Linden Lab want of us.

OK, so that’s why it will fail in the first place. But then we have the fact that verification is via th third party site. At first, we didn’t know, but people asking finally got Linden Lab to admit it was Aristotle. You should check them out, their site makes interesting reading. Linden Lab say our data will be safe, not even recorded… Aristotle on the other hand, happily proclaim their willingness to sell collected date to political lobbyists. I’d certainly not feel happy giving them all the information they need to reproduce my identity.

So ok, I’m almost 39. I’ve been in Second Life for nearly 4 years. I became a life member in 2003, and part of my in world business is adult furniture. Many of the Lindens know me fairly well, certainly well enough to know approximately how old I am. So, should I need to pay this albeit small fee to be allowed to give my personal details to a self confessed spam shop in order to continue my own business? I think not, and I suspect from the comments both on the Linden Blog and in Second Citizen, that I’m not alone.

Someone has suggested a repeat of the tax revolts. Personally, I doubt it would work, but there is support for the idea. I say, read the comments and make up your own mind. In my opinion, we’re going to hell in a handbasket.

And that’s it. There will be a parcel level flag for “Adult” that of course unverifieds can’t enter or interact with. As someone posted, there will be a sea of 16m Adult plots advertising, nay spamming their wares, and of course, providing links to the off-site markets for the forbidden items. All that will change is that people who respect the rules will be put out of business… again.

I hear the weather’s nice in World of Warcraft this time of year…

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Project Open Letter

What follows is the complete text of an open letter to Linden Lab published today.

In the past eighteen months, Second Life has expanded, growing from a small community of early adopters to a platform supporting millions of users. Linden Lab has created a world that inspires a deep level of passion in its users and provides unprecedented opportunities to share creatively, socially, and financially.

With explosive levels of growth often come unexpected problems. In keeping with your company’s policy and rich history of resident involvement, we the undersigned would like to take this opportunity to address some concerns that we feel have gone unanswered for too long.

There are some consistent, ongoing problems that are getting worse under heavy load, not better, and are not simply irritants but problems that are causing financial loss in some cases, which is unacceptable. Here is a brief list of the main concerns:

* Inventory loss – this is a devastating problem that is worsening. We have no ability to protect our own inventories through backups, and are trusting you to protect that data. This is the highest priority. Sensible inventory limits (on non-verified accounts only), combined with better management tools and ways to protect our inventory ourselves would help to mitigate the problem as well. Regardless, this cannot continue – we will not accept financial loss as a feature of Second Life. It is your responsibility as service provider to ensure our data is not lost, and you are failing us.

* Problems with Find and Friends List – we continue to see search outages on a far too regular basis. It is bad enough trying to get anywhere without being able to use search, but many users are also paying money for classified ads. Our friends lists just do not work reliably any longer, after years without an issue with them. If America Online/MSN/Yahoo can provide presence information for hundreds of millions of users, surely there is a way to make our friends lists work again.

* Grid stability and performance – teleports fail quite regularly, especially under heavy load. Attachments end up in places they did not start out in, and sim performance varies wildly. None of this makes for a very pleasant experience for users. Long promised improvement to physics and scripting would help dramatically to reduce these problems, but there are a lot of other scalability issues as well. It often feels like the grid is coming apart at the seams. The promised use of limiting logins of non-verified accounts during peak load has been severely lacking. This would be an effective interim solution to load issues, but Linden Lab seems unwilling to use it.

* Build tool problems – the importance of build tools that actually work as promised cannot be overstated enough – we rely on them to create content. Prim drift, disappearing prims, imprecise placement, problems with linking and other issues with the tools need to be addressed. Too much time is being spent trying to work around the problems.

* Transaction problems – inventory deliveries are failing with an alarming (and annoying) frequency, leaving merchants with the burden of replacing missing content and having to try to confirm the transaction in the first place. We trust that our L$ balances are accurate, but given recent problems, that is a cause for concern as well, and one we place our full trust in you to ensure its accuracy.

We remain fully supportive of Second Life and are more than willing to continue doing our part to help, but our confidence is steadily being eroded due to a general lack of communication and the apparent failure to successfully address the many issues detailed above. What we are asking for is that these problems are addressed immediately, ahead of new features, and that we are able to see tangible improvements. We accept that this will not happen overnight but it also cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely either.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.


The Undersigned

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