Thursday, 21 October 2010

I'm Still Here!

Apologies to you, loyal reader, for not updating this blog in six weeks! All of a sudden I had a real life wedding to attend - MINE! It kinda took up a lot of my time.

What virtual world stuff have I done since then? Well, not a great deal, unfortunately. I added my opinion to a comment a Linden made here, which I thought was pretty bad; but then in my experience, web developers have almost always been anti-social misfits with no real idea of how to properly address another human being.

Avatars United closed down. Silly move. Sure, it wasn't being used to its fullest potential, but I'm sure it could've been. To me, it had LOTS of potential, and I have a whole stack of ideas of how it could be developed; but I'm sure someone being paid a lot more money had better ideas and saw that the only recourse was to obliterate it entirely. What a waste.

I've also missed most of Raglan Shire's Shocktober Festival too (the Halloween-themed month) due to RL commitments; but most of all, I've missed hanging out with friends. Hopefully I'll get to catch up with some properly soon.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Medieval Looms

It's the FOURTH Medieval festival this month on Raglan Shire!

I'm proud to say that I remember the very first one on the Shire. It was held over a weekend, I believe, and took up the area that is now known as the Silicube. Over the years it's grown to now take over the whole field - where the square is, surrounded by Artisan tents and the like - and a grand castle. I made outfits for the first one. Thankfully, due to the fact that the style I made hasn't changed since it went out of fashion over 300 years ago, they still look good these days!

This year, I've tried to contribute my commemorating the tinies favourite festival (for many, at least) by making a huge tapestry. I've been taking pictures of medieval tinies individually and then arranging them on long panels. I've then applied a canvas-style effect over the images, chopped them into sections and uploaded them, to stick them back together into one long tapestry. I've managed to photograph 133 tinies - one of whom appears twice (in different outfits) at my request, because I didn't think many people would be interested! I might still add more yet. I've put it up for display in the castle, and have had lots of requests from people to buy copies of it. I may sell the textures rather than the prims, and then folks can make sections if they want.

I'll donate the proceeds to the animal funds that we're currently raising to go towards our continued adoption of a tapir in the States and a giraffe at London Zoo in the UK. Zayn is also hoping to raise enough to be able to donate to two secondary charities that work with animals on a more general basis.

I might have some interesting news regarding my 'Le Squabbit' machinima movie too soon. I don't want to say too much at the moment, in case nothing happens. this space!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Emerald Warrior

In light of the fact that the moderator of the Modular Systems blog - the words of wisdom from the Emerald Viewer team - can't be bothered to approve or disprove my comment on their admission to launching a premeditated attack on another blogger, I've posted a screen grab of the comment, and copied my comment below. It goes:

I’ve never used your viewer. A lot of people I know have used it. Apparently it has some ‘really cool features’, but never having used it, the only ‘really cool feature’ I’ve ever witnessed it the chunky multi-coloured Edit particle beam, which I can live without. However, those I do know who’ve used it have complained repeatedly that with each successive update, the viewer has become more and more unstable and unusable, so they’ve switched away.

I don’t know what you did, who you targeted, what happened, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t care. However, based on what I’ve read, I will say this: get your fucking act together. You’re harming the credibility of not only yourselves but every other self-serving basement-dwelling script-babbling software engineer who IS working to do something better for themselves and others. You can hire all the ex-Lindens that you want to try and bolster your credibility, but if you can’t even get past something as petty and as fruitless as this, you may as well give up now.

Goodnight everybody!

In an (un)related side-note, I visited the Emerald Point sim last night. I was in conversation with two friends in IM just before I went, and was flitting between chatting to each of them and reading about someone trying to investigate the story of their blog attack who kept being booted from the sim. I told both of my friends I was heading over there, and there'd be a strong chance that I'd be kicked offline. I was force-crashed three times in 10 minutes of being there. Coincidence? No way. These Emerald people are griefers in sheeps clothing.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Dear Uncle Phil

Dear Philip,

I watched your keynote speech not with especially great interest, to be honest, as I came into it with a crippling amount of pessimism about the state of the company and its future given that you’d laid off a host of other people just the week before. Still, you have to admire me for still wanting to see it, right?

My review would be: mixed bag. I heard you talk about stuff that was all a bit too techno-jargon for me and I heard you mention some things I could understand. However, I do still have some issues I’d like to address…

I’ve been in Second Life for approximately 47 months, and have been a Premium Account holder for approximately 46 months. I’ve purchased L$ during my time too, so I’ve given you a fair bit of my own money over the years. In that time, I’ve built things for little or no financial gain, and I’ve taken the time to help others build things; I’ve designed sims and I’ve helped others design sims; I’ve had a blast making machinima, and seeing what kind of reaction my approach to mini-movie making has had; I’ve made contacts with people from all across the globe, I’ve made genuine friends, some of whom I’ve then had the great pleasure of meeting outside of Second Life – some are even coming to my forthcoming wedding! – and I’ve suffered genuine sadness at losing some of those friends along the way too. I’ve done and experienced quite a bit that I should be very appreciative of the Lab for, as without SL, these things would never have happened.

However, when I hear that you want to put the focus on new sign-ups, it pains me Philip. It really does.

Of all the things I’ve done to enhance for the Second Life experience and promote to others, where is the return of the appreciation? Where is the love, Philip? I’ve been paying for your support, so where is it? Maybe you’re not a fan of my machinima – it’s OK, a lot of people don’t like Coldplay or waffles (I call these people ‘the crazy folks’); maybe you don’t have a tiny avatar and therefore think that your tall avatar look ridiculous in the tiny outfits I make. I can’t figure it out! I still suffer with lag. I still see log-in issues, I still see inventory issues, I still see transaction issues on a weekly basis. If these are going to be ongoing issues, come out and say so, so I’ll stop clinging onto the belief that these things are being worked on.

Of course you want new people to come in-world, that’s completely understandable. I worked in the retail sector for a while, and I appreciate that Second Life is (in part) a product, and you need your customer base to continue to grow if you want your company, your business and your revenues growing – that’s Economics 101.

And I can appreciate you wanting to get the experience right; if I was a new customer about to walk into an amazing looking new store with fancy flashing neon signs and sexy music playing out over Bang & Olufsen speakers, I’d be thinking, ‘Wow, why didn’t I come here sooner?!’ But if, on the way in, I hear someone on the way out muttering about how bad it’s getting and getting worse in there, I’d be stepping into that store in a very different frame of mind.

You said in your SL7B speech: “So going back to those basics and just trying to make this thing work for all of us is what you can expect to see from us next.” No offence, but in the time you said that and now, I haven’t seen a whole lot of improvement. So why are you working on new stuff already? Are you seriously telling me that everything’s fixed?

I know it’s hard to please all of the people all of the time (especially those scripting geeks; sheesh, trying to please them sometimes seems to be as infuriating as trying to turn a lion into a vegetarian), but have some appreciation of the paying customer base. I don’t consider myself one, but some of the longer-term residents do have some very good ideas that should be looked at and addressed. However, I do know that most of those ideas are based around improvement of the general experience, not how it looks. You seem to be focusing on giving new users a fancy new pair of shoes to walk in; however, when you’re asking them to walk down the same muddy, puddle-ridden, debris strewn road as the rest of us, having shoes with the springiest of steps or the whitest of laces won’t make an ounce of difference.



Sunday, 15 August 2010

Childish Behaviour At SLCC

So it's SLCC this weekend. I'm not really sure what it is, but I get the impression from looking at the website that it's like a fan convention for Second Life, put together by residents, but endorsed by Linden Lab.

Philip went. He announced that they were shutting down the Teen Grid. I'd like to think that at the same time as that bombshell was dropped, a dark silent figure right-clicked and Touched Blue Linden's virtual grave and set a fast rotation script off.

So this probably means that the main grid will now become populated by teens who talk in 'txt speak', hassle you for money a lot more and generally think they're cleverer than you. Word up, kids: you're not.

It also means that kids will be walking freely amongst groups of adults, unsupervised, having conversations with adults unsupervised and generally being open to everything that already goes on in the Main Grid - unsupervised. I'm sure (read: hoping) that LL are planning some protocols to safeguard underage residents from the potential dangers of online grooming, but it hasn't taken people long to realise the dangers already. My pal Toxic Menges worked for Habbo, a social networking world specifically aimed at teenagers and was quick to point out some of the problems she had to work around via a series of (always interesting) Tweets.

Another big thing that got mentioned was 'meshes'. A whole bunch of Lindens were laid off the week before SLCC too and Qarl Linden was one high-profile casualty of the latest round of redundancies (perhaps deflecting from the fact that up to ten others had also been given their marching orders). Apparently Qarl was the person who made sculpties possible and was working on or towards bringing 'meshes' in-world. I've no clue what they are or how meshes work, so I can't comment on that, but better educated geeks tend to rave about them, so I'll assume they are a big deal. However, the fact that they were talked about at SLCC almost seemed to indicate that someone at the Lab had actually listened to the outcry of residents upon Qarl's departure and sought to calm the mob. Or maybe I'm being optimistic. It's a shame that another obviously incredibly talented person has gone. Sculpties are good fun to play with, and they have certainly helped shape (no pun intended) SL in a far more creative way.

Anyway, I lead a bunch of tinies - Escape Unplugged, Patience Littleboots, Clover Denzo and others - to the SLCC sims on Saturday night, just before speeches were about to resume. We hid beneath the stage before climbing onto the tables and riverdancing to the audience below. We'd done three dances before a moderator told us all to leave the stage. In retrospect, maybe he'd seen us earlier and thought that although it was the most entertaining thing that had happened there all weekend, three dances was enough.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Flip Linden

This past week saw M Linden step away from Chief Executive Officer duties at Linden lab and Philip Linden (aka Rosedale, Lab co-founder) step in as interim CEO.

Some have seen this as a blessing, worthy of Grid-wide parades and celebrations. I, personally, haven't been that enthusiastic.

Why have people been celebrating? Because M Linden has parted ways with the Lab? Seems a pretty shitty reason to throw a party; a man's just lost his job. Regardless of the fact that he may be able to step into another high-profile position fairly easily, being told that you've lost your job is something you don't ever really want to hear - unless you're a suicide bomber, perhaps.

M Linden was never widely accepted by the SL-community, for reasons I'm not exactly sure why. I don't follow the politics and ins-and-outs of a company based thousands of miles away from me, I have my own life to be getting on with (by the way, that's not a sleight on hardcore SL-bloggers at all, just simplifying the fact that I don't really care); but for some reason, he immediately seemed a bit detached. Maybe it was having the M prefix - meaning that his name couldn't be brought up in Search, and therefore made him seem distant and inaccessible. Regardless of whether he ever saw an IM, Philip Linden's profile was always on-hand to rant at via IM.

M Linden lead an increasingly-large team of Lindens to pick-up things like Avatars United, XStreet, SLim...and do very little to the actual platform that all of these things supported. Despite some early signs of promise with regular blog posts about the status of the Grid and efforts to fix things like group chat and general lag, nothing really improved. We all just became a little more accustomed to it.

I spoke to another Linden on the day that the changes were announced and he was genuinely sad to see M Linden go. "I had some good conversations with M," my Linden friend told me. "And despite what people think, he did get Second Life." Unless you worked in the same office, I can't see why you'd have any reason to object or challenge that, so I won't.

And so Philip Linden is back. Huzzah, people cry! Um, really? I started out in SL in the latter part of 2006 and by the time Philip Linden stepped down from his original CEO position, lag had gotten worse from the time I joined, an excellent customer support was beginning to dwindle and people were already beginning to look at other virtual world platforms.

So, I'm generally unfazed about the whole thing; I'll admit to directing people towards blog posts about the rumours of a switch-around before it was officially announced, but then I knew some other people would be more interested than I was/am. I'd like to believe the hype of a 'second coming' but I'm more concerned that it might be the rapture.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Wow, another year rolls around so soon? Doesn't seem like 5 minutes ago we were setting up for SL6B!

SL7B (Second Life 7th Birthday) kicks off next week, and as usual, Raglan has a plot, and I was lucky enough to be able to design and co-ordinate the build for Raglan this year! The theme is Unexpected Collaborations: it seems a strange theme, very open and therefore good for some really creative stuff to happen, but I find SL a wholly collaborative experience already. At Raglan, we collaborate with each other for every event held; we all come from different corners of the globe, all have very different lifestyles and yet we're able to find a common ground and common language to make things happen. Without collaboration, we wouldn't achieve anything. Surely it should be the same for any resident? Well, yes, that is true, and the SL7B Wiki does actually support my belief too, but it still seemed like a strange title to me.

Anyway, with that in mind, I decided that we should do two things: 1, celebrate the awesomeness of tinies and 2, highlight how contradictory the theme seemed (to me, at least - I can't speak for the Raglan community as a whole, or my fellow builders). And how best to do this? By making tinies the be all and end all of all Second Life.

Our build is a 'power hub', powered by a couple of interactive hamster wheels and a conveyor belt that feeds waffles into the Grid. It's kitted out with big mechanical gears and computer terminals. We've also got some 'control flowers' that Misa made up, where we can access the infrastructure of any sim at any given time and fix things on that sim - for example, fix lag or clear griefer debris - at the flick of a switch. We also have a network of TinyCams dotted around the Grid where we can keep an eye on whats going on and where, via a live feed of CCTV images fed back to the power hub.

Well, not really - but that's the general idea!

It all looks great, and much thanks to Misa Delight, Panacea Pangaea, Dagmar Klaar, Bree Himmel, Shadow Marlin, Luna Twilight and Etheria Parrott for their assistance and ideas in helping us get this build together! Another collaborative effort, as we'd have expected.

The only downside to the whole thing is, is that (some of) the moderators seem to have developed a God complex over the course of a fortnight. It appears that some residents have been given the task of moderating the sims (I can't remember of that was the case last year too?), so they've come along and picked on anything that might cause even the slightest bit of upset to the Lindens; I guess the ones who are left must be feeling uber-sensitive at the moment.

We (at the Raglan plot) were told we had to change our textures, with no clear reason why ("check the rules!" we were told. I did - nothing about textures in them); deadlines were changed at the drop of a hat; rules were talked about that never seemed to appear in any of the number (and there were a LOT) of notecards that were sent out. Poor Noramyr of Extrovirtual had all of her stuff returned to her - BY A LINDEN at the behest of a resident moderator! - because her build looked unfinished, leaving her just six hours to get something set up properly. I can appreciate that the mods are trying to manage a large number of plots over just a two week build period, but come on - you've had a year to prepare for this, surely the rules can't be that different from last years? And if you're a mod and someone says Hello to you in open chat, at least have the decency to acknowledge them with a cursory greeting rather than ignoring them.

Same time next year then?

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Lindens Lost

I’ve been reading a number of articles this morning about Linden Lab’s mass culling of over 140 employees, including the potential phasing out of the UK office (based in Brighton) and other international areas such as Germany.

I use Second Life a lot; at least six days a week. I go in, do my thing, chat to friends and enjoy what I can from it (which is usually the company of others). I can’t really offer any more to the stories about Black Thursday that the more hardcore Virtual World bloggers have already written; I can only offer my own opinion, based on my own experience over the last several years, so I hope this blog posted doesn’t get noted or bounced around Twitter, because the VW snobs will only be down on me telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about. So, pre-empting any that might stumble across this, this isn’t coming from a tech-side, or even business-side argument. This is my opinion, based on what little I know.

More astute, educated or controversial observers will say (and have already said) that it’s the beginning of the end; I don’t want to agree, because I love the community that Second Life has allowed me to become part of, but I can see how they be drawn to that conclusion; the sight of any company slashing over 30% of its workforce within a single 24-hour period is never going to be pretty nor fill you with optimism. I do hope it’s simply a case of taking eight steps back before shuffling forward again, whatever the ultimate aim. It’ll be difficult though; even though residency seems to have stalled with the maximum number of online residents never really at any more than 75-80K users, that’s still four times as many as it was four years ago, and now with a substantially smaller staff to support that.

I think it’s a real, genuine shame that people such as Blue has gone; he was a frequent voice in the Friends of Raglan Shire group, very quick to offer assistance to the 1000+ people in chat with any operational problems they had or solutions they needed. He and Tiggs Linden’s helpfulness (the latter of which has survived the cull, despite reports to the contrary) harkened back to a time when I was a noob and needed support; back then, instead of plucking a ticket off of a virtual reel and waiting to be served at the deli counter, Lindens would actually be IN-WORLD (what a novel concept!) and would zip from sim-to-sim showing residents what they needed to do to fix their problems. My first experience of such support was when I’d lost a transparent object in the branches of a tree; Ethan Linden turned up (incidentally, as a Wynx Squirrel, my first ever experience of a tiny!) and promptly fixed the problem before zipping off again. It was that personal approach that made me feel valued as a resident; a feeling that I’ve long since lost. Blue and Tiggs came some way to doing the same, and I’m sure some of the Raglan residents felt very valued to be in conversation with a Linden, fixing their minor gripes.

Pink Linden hadn’t been at the Lab a great length of time either, but had had to face some serious resident vitriol over the XStreet changes (and fired on the deadline day before new migration to the new Marketplace? Poor timing.) and in retrospect, had held her own really well, in my opinion. As a tiny Wynx bunny, she’d also shown up to a couple of impromptu Waffle Day parties we’d held on the Shire for the Lab and had always demonstrated a kindness, a warmth and a fun attitude that only tinies can demonstrate.

There are many others on the list who I didn’t know as well, but whose names stand out for me, so I know that they must have had an influence on my Second Life in some small part. For them all, I am very sad. They’ve lost their jobs, and I’m sure their treatment has also tempered their approach to using Second Life themselves. If you got fired from Starbucks through no fault of your own, would you go back and drink their coffee? Maybe, but I bet it’d taste more bitter than you remembered.

What’s the answer? I don’t know, I’m just a casual blogging-bunny. I kinda wish that some financially secure, independent educational establishment (for example, the Open University in the UK) bought out the Lab, reinstated the old school developers and community managers across the world (Claudia Linden first in line please) and gave the platform more of an emphasis towards learning. Learning isn’t confined to increasing one’s academic knowledge within a specific subject matter, but can also be applied to wider cultural, theological, political and artistic development. The commercial aspect could be allowed to stay, but it might give the Grid a better long-term future. At the moment, it seems to be the case of adapting to current market conditions in order to preserve an end-of-year bonus for several key individuals.

As for the announcement that M (which I think must stand for Money) Linden wants to develop a web-browser based version of SL, I can understand why. Look at the success of Farmville (just look at its success, not necessarily the game itself which to me resembles something like ‘Charlie Brown At The Farm’ on an N64). It’d give a lot more people an opportunity to get in-world, although it could also open the doors for any number of idiots/lunatics/weirdoes to drop by – presumably, they’d only be allowed to access certain sims or certain features? But who’s going to support the Grid now that the focus of an international community seems to be being eroded and the ones who are left seem to be less-product orientated? As one of my good tiny pals noted, “I think Geo Linden, who couldn't work a dance ball, still works for them? What that about? He must empty trash cans for them because he couldn't work SL, which should tell you something. Just sayin’.”

We’ve left our fate in his hands. Or trash can.

Friday, 14 May 2010

All Quiet On The Western Front

It's been ages since I blogged properly here. Not a great deal to report, really. Sci-Fi Month in Raglan went pretty well, and now it's time for Art Walk! I spent a good two hours the other morning wandering around and taking in all the amazing pieces of art on display; I think I spent about $8000L on art. I should really set up a gallery.

I did open up another branch of Funny Bunny, on adjoining Shire-sim Extrovirtual. EV is a brand all in itself, thanks to Noramyr and Wynx's hard work at creating the best tiny avatars. Noramyr recently renovated part of the sim and has set up a marketplace area, where shops are now available to lease. The market place - as expected - looks amazing, and I hope the input of tiny creators can help give EV the recognition, traffic and sales it so richly deserves.

Linden Lab recently announced that they were planning an overhaul to XStreet, but introducing the Second Life Marketplace, which promises to be more customisable, and more shopper-friendly. Details have been very scant, so we'll have to see just how customisable 'store fronts' actually are and how easy it is to use and manage. Annoyingly, although they haven't entirely dismissed the idea of their stealth taxes listings fees they announced last year (to great dismay from, er, everyone), they have said that it's not something they're going to be following up just yet. Which means that I know need to re-upload all the details of the items I took off of XStreet last year, in preparation of facing having to make a massive payout to cover the fees.

Note to self: must do something interesting to blog about...

Friday, 30 April 2010

Second Life Rube!

Achamo Paine made a Rube Goldberg machine in Second Life! AND THEN caught it on a beautifully rendered video!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Tinies In Space

I made an outfit! The first in ages, it seems. It's a Space Marine-style armour/explorer outfit, in preparation for Raglan's upcoming 3rd anniversary Sci-Fi themed month.

There are three variant colours - blue, red and silver.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Linden House

I got (another) e-mail from the Lab the other day, reminding me that I qualified for a Linden home (I've been a premium member of SL for a while, initially when I owned a half-sim size piece of land). Curiosity got the better of me, and within a couple of clicks, I'd been sent a Landmark from Governor Linden to a place on the sim named Fern. So, I went over later that day, and to my surprise, it's actually rather well done.

When you go to register for a house, you're presented with four options of homes; these are contained together within different themed regions: Elderglen (a fantasy-fairy theme), Shareta Osumai (a Japanese-style theme), Tahoe (chalet-cabin types) and Meadowbrook (I guess it's like a California beach-house). Of those choices, I figured Elderglen would be the nicest option for me, so plumped for that. I was then presented with a choice of 4 house types: Abbot's Haven, Elven Treehome, Shire's Heath and Wizard's Retreat. Obviously, I went for the Shire's Heath style!

The houses are quite densely packed together on the sim, but far apart enough so that you can chat without encroaching on someone else's conversation. Elderglen is nice, with the homes within the region surrounded by giant mushrooms, trees, wishing wells and fairies. When I got into mine, I found that it's a single room house, with a nice little roof garden; however, at each of the region's infohubs, there are complete texture packs that you can pick up for fre, allowing you - as I did - to add dividing walls inside to give yourself some other rooms.

There is also a control panel built into the house, that rather niftily allows you to customise your house textures. Clicking on the control panel takes you to a webpage within the SL-website, specifically for your house. There, you can choose from a number of different colour and texture options, hit Apply and then a few seconds later watch your house start to transform.

It seems a nice little retreat (the sim next to Fern is uninhabited, so I took the opportunity to turf up the grounds on my Raglan Ranger motorcycle!), but ultimately, it feels that - despite all the wonderful work that's gone into the look and general ambience of the sims - the place is a little soulless; and there is nothing the Lab can do to change that. The soul of a sim comes from it's residents, of whom so far I've met one, an elven woman. It's a nice idea to give Premium members this oppiortunity (essentially reintroducing the First Land initiative from a few years back), but I can't help but think that new Premium subscribers might get the impression that SL can be a lonely and somewhat isolated experience. I'd have liked to have seen more Lab-sim owner interaction perhaps; for example, the Lab could attach a sim to the Raglan cluster (but retain ownership and maintenance of it themselves, although managed by the adjoining sim's owner), open it up to Premium members who want to live amongst a tiny community, abide by the rules of that sim and give them access then to a host of activity and people. It's a complete generalisation of an idea, I know, but it would help create a bit more of a community atmosphere. Despite my neighbour having the same taste in house as me, their 'Love 1' and 'Love 2' poseballs suggests they don't necessarily have the same kind of approach towards this virtual world.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


The MaMachinima International Festival takes place this weekend, and I'm part of it!

It's a seven-hour long showcase of over fifty (yes 5-0!) machinima films, and my 'Le Squabbit Et Les Admirateurs' movie will be part of the proceedings, kicking off hour two, hosted by Pooky Amsterdam. The event was put together by Chantal Harvey, a keen and experienced machinimatographer herself, and is the second event of its kind. The first was held last year to such great acclaim that Linden Lab have offered Chantal and her team the use of not one, not two but FOUR sims on which to host the event. I went exploring there a little earlier, and wow, what an incredible build!

The layout means that all four of those bridges converge at the points where the four sims meet, meaning that the potential audience can be four times bigger. And the really cool thing about this event is that as well as being an in-world festival, there's also an opportunity to watch the whole event streamed at a RL venue in Amsterdam! It looks set to be another amazing event and full credit to Chantal for even getting this far with it!

Find out more about the event here at the MMIF Official site.

As much fun as it looks set to be, and I will attend at some point, I will miss the time when my film gets shown. It clashes with the time that Raglan prepares to celebrate Stillpink's recent passing, and we're holding a New Orleans Mardi Gras-style funeral parade for her, as well as unveiling a permanent memorial to her.

Speaking of whom, here's another chance to post another machinima I made, this one featuring Stillpink; she's the pink bunny with the bright pink hair!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Stillpink Sandgrain

A fellow tiny, Stillpink Sandgrain passed away on February 14 2010 after a long battle with cancer.

She was a good buddy. We didn't meet up every time we were both on together, but I took great pleasure knowing that she was online and might (and would!) drop in unannounced at any given moment! Her energy would have you thinking she was a teenager enjoying their first day in SL. And it was infectious.

The last proper adventure me and Stills shared was in November 2009. We spent an hour or so sneaking around the houses on Cirano. Biggy houses, but not just any biggy houses - Linden houses! We got busted by Alexa Linden, but she was nice enough to invite us in, where we both aired our grievances about XStreet.

Then she was gone for a while. I understand she really fell ill towards the end of 2009, with Akay Utu (Tea Gupte's RL partner - Stillpink was Tea's RL mum) telling me that they didn't think Stills would see out the year. To her credit, she did, and then made a few more appearances online just after New Year.

Now, I'm sad, because I won't be able to have the same type of fun I did with Stills for a long time to come. But when I do see her, I hope we're given the chance to go and sneak into someone's house in Heaven! I'd like that. Stills, make sure you go house-hunting up there, but don't go sneaking in without me yet!

The picture above was taken when Stills introduced me to Bryn Oh's sims. I caught her at just the right moment. To me, this image typifies what Stills represented: someone cute, full of light and fire, lighting up every room she ever graced. A blog post has been posted here at

Monday, 8 February 2010

Otters Are Golden

I hosted the Raglan Shire Film Festival last night; was great fun, and I was really honoured to have lots of tinies in attendance but also to have a couple of machinima veterans in Pooky Amsterdam and CodeWarrior Carling come along and watch the show too.

I debuted my latest - 'Mummer's Dance' - with Songbird1028 Sorbet, which was very well received. I picked up two Otter awards - for Best Film (Over 4 Minutes) and the Audience Award, for which I shall be eternally grateful. Songbird was also voted Best Actress for her work in this film (based on the fact that she had so much to do!), and a lot of people were mightily (and rightly) impressed that she sings too!

The overall line-up of films was fantastic. I'm so proud that the community were able to really get their paws and claws into trying some machinima, and the pay-off was that they were all well-received. There was a nice variety of music, shorts, remakes and original stories in there. For a few people, this was their FIRST attempt at machinima, both in terms of filming and editing, which is just amazing. Great job Shire!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

And The Nominees Are...

Looking forward to the Film Festival at the weekend! The theatre has been built, the seats have been cleaned and fresh popcorn is popping in the machine! Last September, in an effort to try and get some more people just trying to film some machinima, I announced we'd hold a festival just before the Oscars to celebrate tinies on film. A lot of folk were immediately enthusiastic about it, but once the New Year hit, and I began chasing folk up about it, it became obvious that that enthusiasm had waned over the Christmas holiday period, and there didn't seem to be that much on offer.

But I've been pleasantly surprised over the past few days. Some people have been able to turn out little 2-3 minute clips in a matter of a week. They've been asking for advice and tips, which I've been more than willing to help with as best I can; and I've been genuinely pleased to see some of the things people have come up with! I've also been sourcing judges to look over groups of videos (split into certain categories), so that we can award a few of the filmmakers with their own golden statuette - the Otters!

However, it was never about giving out prizes. It was just about encouraging people to have a go; and they have, and for that, everyone will be rewarded with a host of brilliant and cute tinycentric movies. I'll also be showing off my new machinima on the day, keeping it tightly under wraps until the event itself.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Avatars Unite!

Well, I've spent the last 15-20 minutes looking across Avatars United, and so far it seems little more than MySpace for virtual world characters.

Still, that didn't put me off from signing up! There seems to be a frighteningly lack of security or verification though. I can't see where it wouldn't have allowed me to sign up as Chaffro Linden if I had wanted to (in retrospect, that might not have been a good idea, but still). I understand that Linden Lab have given this site some blessing - either by buying it, or just acknowledging it, I'll investigate further - but I'm becoming a bit of a sucker for social networking, despite the problems it can often bring. I've actually made many new genuine friendships from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and SL. Not just 'online acquaintances' either, I've spent time with these people in real life and continue to maintain those connections.

If you do sign up, as me as a friend! This is me!

EDIT: OK, it turns out that the Lab have acquired Enemy Within, the development company behind Avatars United; hence the massive upsurge of interest over the past few days.

It's a strange beast. To be honest, there seems as though there's little to actually explore within the site. Presumably it's meant to serve as a virtual world info-hub; I can import RSS feeds of blogs I follow (which, if they weren't virtual world related, would be pretty pointless). Like Facebook, you can send gifts to your friends and contacts, but they're going to cost you 'coins'. It also costs you coins to upload a custom background; if you don't want to invest any real-world money into the site, you're stuck with a choice of three or four. The 'upside' is, is that if you choose to have your background public, you can sell it (but only reaping back a lowly 7 coins per purchase, and there might be a sales limit per background).

Hopefully the Lab will start introducing some cross-network potential; and I'm hoping someone will come up with a Twitter-functional application, to allow shouts to appear on the Twitter timeline or Tweets to appear in your shout box. That could be interesting.

I wonder how long M Linden would keep people on his friends list then!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Traffic Signals

Yesterday I received an IM from a long-time friend in SL. He asked if I had some time to come see him and his SL/RL wife. I was running late for work anyway, and had to offer my apologies. "Why, what's up?" I enquired. He replied that he and his wife might have to leave SL permanently; not at their own accord, but because Linden Lab are on the verge of suspending their accounts indefinitely.

Why so? Because traffic at their shop site is high.

So, they must be using Bots right? Well, yes and no. They do use a couple of bots, but the majority of their permanent visitors are actually real people hanging out in a place they like. Bots are definied as 'non-human controlled agents', or scripted agents. Essentially they'll be accounts that someone has set up for the express purpose of just hanging around somewhere, in an effort to increase traffic (footfall) numbers at a particular location. It means that if someone were to search for a particular place - let's say in this instance "clothes shop" - and filtered their results by wherever has the highest amount of traffic, that shop would appear nearer to the top of the list. This is known as gaming traffic, in that its not real.

To quote Linden Labs: "'Gaming traffic' is purposefully having avatars on a parcel that is listed in search for long period of time for the purposes of increasing your traffic score. Whether their is a human behind them or not, if their purpose seems to be to inflate traffic then it is considered gaming traffic. If there is a genuine purpose to being there (like a model) then that account needs to be registered as a scripted agent so it does not count toward traffic figures."

So basically, even though you could actually be a person hanging out in a clothes store you love, with other like-minded people, and are rewarded by the store owner for your support in trying to help their fledgling business grow and develop in SL, you have to turn yourself in as a drone? Not quite, but that's the underlying threat relayed to this particular situation. Another question that was asked was, is the key definition concerning traffic gambling because you're paying people to be there? No, according to the Lab. The key definition is the avatars are there for the purpose of increasing traffic and for no other reason; but surely a model, modelling clothes is promoting a service, not just pushing the numbers up? "They can be models and you can use models and compensate them however you wish," sayd LL. "They just need to be registered if you do."

"If it is an avatar that is in the parcel listed in search for long periods of time, for whatever reason, it should be registered as a scripted agent so it doesn't count toward traffic", says the Lab. However, they followed this up by saying "if they have a legitimate purpose to be there other than increasing traffic, then registering so they do not count should not be an issue."

So, if you register yourself as a NON-scripted agent, you're fine then? Presumably. But if you don't, and somehow you're determined to have spent a particularly long amount of time on one sim alone, you'll be accused of being a Bot and threatened with having your account suspended.

I spend most of my time on the Raglan cluster. I could be logged on for 10-14 hours on any single day sometimes. What would happen to me if I didn't register myself? How am I tracked? And how would I ever know I'd have to register until I was threatened with suspension?

And what's the big deal with traffic anyway? The formula for determining traffic is so obscure, its bound to be manipulated every which way, even if it takes bots of of the picture. And I've been around SL long enough to know that if I'm searching for something, I tend to ignore most of the top traffic ranking places because they either won't cater to my needs precisely, but have used keywords to their advantage; they will probably be so overwhelemed with people I won't be able to move for lag; they'll probably be managed by people who are only interested in claiming they have "The Number One Jazz Club/Nightclub/Fight Club/Book Club" and not really care about their offer.

A better system that says one individual pair of feet on a sim within any 24 hour period counts as 1 traffic point. Failing that, why not have places listed in Search by votes? Vote for the quality of a sim, vote for its craftmanship, vote for its content, vote for its community, its layout, its music; if any of these things are worth a vote and good citizens want to share the experience they've enjoyed and allow SL to flourish with beauty and wonder, they'll visit there often and vote on it. That seems a lot nicer and a lot fairer. Quality wins - and therefore, so do we.

Monday, 4 January 2010


Happy New Year everybody! 2009 was a fabulous year for me in-world, for a number of reasons, but none of it would have ever happened without the support, co-operation and challenges provided by others. Many thanks to ALL of you who I have crossed paths with over the last 12 months; I hope I was able to enhance your in-world experience to the same degree that you enhanced mine.