Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

ChemGenosis/Shadow Things

When I first came into Second Life, I spent a lot of my time hanging around the Infohub at the Wengen Chalet.   I met quite a few people there who I still call friends, two of those are Aza Zymurgy and Lacey Mertel.  

 

I haven’t seen them in a while, though I occasionally see their names pop up.

 

Some time ago they teamed up to start a  couple little shops called ChemGenosis and Shadow Things, which I’ve revisited recently and thought I’d share them.

 

ChemGenosis Gallery: Shadow Things, ChemGenosis Designs

I like the ambiance, a little surrealistically dark and creepy.

 

ChemGenosis Designs

Aza has created some really creepy skins, I especially like the zombie skin.   I actually won a costume contest with that one last Halloween.   The scarecrow skin is also a good one.

 

Shadow Things

Shadow Things has skins, shapes, eyes and such geared toward creating a “Broken Doll”  look.

 

ChemoGenosis Gallery, Shadow Things 

The ChemGenosis Gallery shows off representations of some of the real life and SL artwork that Aza and Lacey have done.  

 

ChemGnosis Gallery: Shadow Things, ChemGenosis Designs

Even if you’re not interested in shopping, it’s worth the visit to see the setup they’ve done for the shops.

 

ChemGnosis Gallery: Shadow Things, ChemGenosis Designs

 

Click to Teleport  ChemGenosis/Shadow Things

 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cylindrian Rutabaga, Second Life Singer and Performer featured on CNN

A lot of the news coverage about Second Life tends more toward reporting on the negative aspects of SL, sensationalizing and trying to go for the “shock value”, so when a positive news report comes out it tends to stand out.

Recently, one such report came out via CNN and I wanted to highlight it.

In the almost 2 years that I’ve been in Second Life, I’ve met a variety of people from around the globe from various backgrounds.   One of those people has been Cylindrian Rutabaga, a.k.a. Grace Buford.

Cylindrian is a singer and musician who performs live in Second Life, playing in various venues around the grid.   I’ve been able to make it to a couple of her concerts in Second Life which prompted me to buy her album River on Amazon.com (and will probably buy her other two albums Living Stories and Virtually Live eventually).  Her music genre is folk music, so if you like that kind of music, then you should definitely check out Cylindrian’s stuff on Amazon or iTunes.

 

Here is the text article that goes with the video.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/04/07/second.life.singer/index.html

 

Here is an imbed of the CNN video.

 

A direct link to the video is here…. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2009/04/06/second.life.singer.cnn

 

To find out more about Cylindrian Rutabaga/Grace Buford check out these links.

Cylindrian's Grace Notes

Twitter – Cylindrian

Grace Buford on Myspace

Cylindrian/Grace Buford Fan Club on Facebook

Grace Buford - Soulful Folk Music – Website

Cylindrian Photo Group on Flickr

Cylindrian on Reverb Nation

Grace Buford on Amazon.com

 

You can find links to other great Second Life Musicians at the Tunes inSL website.

 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Linden Labs ought to handle the Adult Content Policy Change...

In my previous blog post I've given my take on what the Adult Content policy change is going to entail and I've read a number of articles and comments giving opinions and suggestions on what Linden Labs ought to do. All of this has given me a few thoughts on how I think Linden Labs could/should approach this policy change to minimize the impact of it.

My contention has been that this is no difference than the current sim types of PG and Mature, it's just adding another type into the mix. My thought is that a new Adult type sim will work the same way as a Mature sim does now, you have some PG stuff, some Mature stuff and some Adult stuff all mixed on the sim, the difference will be that the Mature sim won't have the Adult stuff on it any longer just as a PG sim isn't supposed to have Mature stuff on it now. Part of the Adult Content policy change also entails something called "Age Verification" which quite simply that you have to follow a process to "prove" that you're an adult, at least to the point where Linden Labs is legally protected. Many have pointed out that this isn't foolproof, and indeed it isn't, but that's not an argument for not doing it. So in the near future, age verification will likely be part of the sign up process and it'll be old hat, if you're an adult in Second Life you'll have access to all 3 types of sim and the content therein, with options for warnings if you're concerned about wandering into an area that you aren't interested in seeing. If, like many suspect, this is a prelude to merging the teen grid in then a teen account would likely be the only type that has an actual physical restriction to access.

If I'm right, then ultimately there's no real issue as far as the private estates are concerned, if you have Adult content somewhere on the island or just don't care about teens having access, then you just set it to Adult and be done with it. There will be some pains involved since I'm sure the vast majority of active Second Life users are not age verified, but I suspect it's not going to take long for them to do so, it's just a matter of education which Linden Labs could handle by putting up a blurb on the login screen explaining the why and hows of doing age verification.

So, how can Linden Labs deal with removing Adult Content from the existing Mature mainland sims? Well, for one there's an option to just switch certain mainland sims from Mature to Adult if there is a predominance of adult content on the sim. The existing residents that don't have any adult content on their land are only affected by this in that they would have to be age verified. So far I know of no rule that says every meter of land on an Adult sim has to be XXX content. This might be the only thing Linden Linden labs really has to do if they aren't concerned about mixing PG, Mature and Adult sims on the same continent.

But there might be some mainland sims that have adult content on them but it's not desirable to change the sim's rating to Adult, perhaps a sim with Linden owned land such as Wengen or one of the other infohubs. So the adult content has to move, how do we do that without too much disruption? As pointed out in a comment to my last post, the issue with moving an establishment is twofold, it takes quite some time to set up and tweak a place so it's just right. It can be involved and complicated to take a store or club and move it lock, stock and barrel. Then there is the issue of existing landmarks and the customer base expecting the establishment to be where it's always been. Now certainly, dead landmarks is a normal issue with Second Life, we all have clicked a landmark and ended up at an empty lot or some place totally different from what we expected. But in this case, the move is forced, we have to deal with informing the customers of the change.

Both of these issues can be solved by time. So here's what I think that Linden Labs should do. Apparently there's already a new landmass with Adult sims on it. Work with the individuals that you need to move, give them a plot of land on a new Adult sim that is equal to the area of the plot they currently own and with the same dimensions if so desired. Give them 2-3 months where they own both the old and new plots of land while they establish their new build, then leave a sign and landmark giver on the old site to redirect traffic to the new place. After the time is up, the old piece of land automatically reverts to Linden Labs and is auctioned off as any abandoned piece of land would be. Perhaps even a stipend of a several thousand L$ could be given to offset costs incurred by moving, or at least for the bother.

Is any solution perfect? No, but there are certainly ways to lessen the impact that wouldn't entail much effort from Linden Labs.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Linden Labs Releases New Policy on Adult Content, Rioting Ensues

In previous posts I mentioned the curious phenomena I like to call the Kerfuffle Syndrome, where every 3-6 months Linden Labs makes an announcement that causes the vocal portion of the Second Life Community to go crazy, and not surprisingly it’s been 3 months since the last such announcement.  

Today Linden Labs announced that changes would be coming in regards to “Adult” content (Upcoming Changes for Adult Content) and as one might expect based on past experience there was a huge negative reaction with the usual threats of leaving SL, predictions of the collapse of  Second Life, etc.   This is both amusing in it’s predictability and sad because it demonstrates an overwhelmingly negative attitude by the vocal members of a community that usually claims an above normal concern for Second Life and its future.    But the mentality of the SL community is fodder for a future blog post, perhaps, but for the present I want to offer my take on this announcement.   I’m not a Linden Lab’s employee so this is pure speculation, but I think it’s pretty reasonable.

The current world has two types of Sim rating, PG and Mature.    As one might expect, a PG Sim should only have content that would be safe for your kid to see watching over your shoulder and a Mature Sim would have stuff that’s more R rated.    Up until now, the Mature Sims were also the homes of what would be considered XXX rated material as well, the much reported upon adult entertainment aspect of Second Life that consists of strip clubs, sex clubs, BDSM, Gorean roleplay and the like.   Based on the announcement from Linden Labs, I see a 3rd land rating type coming into play, the Adult Sim, which will offer a further distinction of mature vs explicit content.   Along with this will come some method of age verification so that this new Adult Sim rating can be restricted to only known real life adults, at least from a legal standpoint.   I see this as necessary for legal protection as opposed to a realistic expectation of being able to 100% restrict this content to adults, there’s always a way for an enterprising young person to work around restrictions.   This is about due diligence.  

This also will afford those adults who aren’t interested in the Adult aspects of Second Life the ability to keep out of areas so marked.   This will be especially important to those in Second Life from the educational community or the business community where their Second lives are more job related and they need to be circumspect about where they are seen in SL.   Some people see this as a prelude to merging the Teen Second Life Grid with the Main Grid, and that’s possible, but I think that’s only a small part of the reasons behind this, bottom line is that Linden Labs has to protect itself legally, they have to keep Second Life an inviting and safe environment to the educators, businesses and other entities who aren’t in SL running around asking every likely candidate “I can haz sex?”.

What does this mean to those people who engage in activities or run establishments that will be rated adult?   If you’re on a private island, probably nothing other than being required to change a setting on your island showing that it is an Adult rated sim.    If you’re on the mainland, then likely you’ll have to move to a sim with an Adult rating.   How Linden Labs handles this move will be critical, one would hope that they’d do a clean swap of land giving the person moving a comparable amount of land on new Adult rated sims and putting the swapped land on the Mature sim up for auction as they would abandoned land.

I think the only real critical issue here, and one that needs the most clarification, is what the criteria is that rates something as Adult vs Mature.    Some stuff is obvious, sex clubs, strip clubs, BDSM clubs aren’t difficult to classify, but there are some that sit on the edge.   For example, would an art gallery that displayed tasteful nudes be considered Mature or Adult?   My vote would be for a Mature rating and I suspect that Linden Labs will agree with that assessment.   Does everyone need to worry about having to take down their private skyboxes and throw away their fancy beds?  I don’t believe so, not if they are for private use.   Certainly, having a dungeon with any number of kinky items sitting at ground level might be over the edge and be an issue, but what if it’s at 3000m on Mature sim?   That will probably just be open to interpretation, handled on a case by case basis by Linden Labs.

So is this going to be a big deal?   Ultimately, I don’t think so.   The small time operators of sexually explicit establishments on the mainland will be the ones impacted, certainly, but I think the numbers of those affected will be low in comparison to the majority of Second Life residents.

And honestly, I won’t miss the BDSM club that’s near my land, though so far there’s been no issue with their games occurring while I’m around.   Certainly, I don’t want them screwed by Linden Labs, I hope they get an equitable land swap to a decent area on a new Adult sim.   In fact, I hope Linden Labs takes the time to set their Moles to work landscaping and making the new Adult mainland sims into pleasant looking places so that any hard feelings about having to relocate are offset by being moved to a nice looking location.

So, what do you think?   I’d love to see comments pro or con on the subject.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Trail

Somehow I’d gotten on the subscribomatic for a place called New Trail, so this evening I decided that I needed to track it down and unsubscribe so I searched for it inworld and promptly found it. 

Upon teleporting in I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

New Trail

 

A very nice island build with wooded areas and waterfalls.    For a sim that’s main purpose is to house a store (for selling some very nice trees and plants), it’s also a pleasant place to wander about.

?New Trail

 

Unfortunately, while I was wandering about, there was no music url set so it was silent.   Some nice music would go great with this setting so I’m hoping that the owner sets something up soon.

New Trail

New Trail

New Trail

 

All in all, a very nice place.   Throw a few slow dance balls here and there, add some good music and this would be a great place to bring someone.

New Trail

 

And by all means visit the store area, there’s some really nice stuff available for relatively reasonable prices.   I’m certainly returning at a later date to make some purchases.

New Trail

Sunday, January 25, 2009

First Kerfuffle of 2009 – XStreet SL and OnRez

Anyone that’s been in Second Life for at least a year and who follows the numerous SL related blogs and social media outlets will have noticed a recurring phenomenon that goes something like this.

Linden Labs announces something.

Everyone gets worked up and upset over it, then doom and gloom is predicted and the end of SL as we know it.

Thinks settle down and within a few weeks, the furor is pretty well past and everything is back to normal.

In 3-6 months, lather, rinse, repeat.

Linden Labs started early this year, just 20 days into January with the first kerfuffle of 2009, the acquisition of XStreet SL and OnRez, the two main online stores for buying/selling Second Life related merchandise, basically two Amazon.coms for Second Life.

Now, I’m not going to get into a deep analysis of this, I couldn’t claim to be qualified to do so. But I’ve spent 25 years of my life working for decent sized corporations and I’ve picked up a bit about how businesses operate so I’ll give my personal opinion from that viewpoint.

This acquisition by Linden Labs is a logical and correct thing for them to do from a business sense. From the first moment I signed on to XStreet SL back when it was known as SLExchange, I thought to myself that Linden Labs ought to buy this and integrate it into their website. It just makes so much sense, especially if, as some have surmised, Linden Labs is positioning itself as the supplier of a cross world infrastructure containing login information, inventory and a monetary structure. I just wonder why it took them so long.

Ok, great, but why buy OnRez as well? Most seem to assume that it’s an attempt to corner the market, to be come a monopoly, and I disagree with that. One, I don’t think Linden Labs is that sophisticated on the business front to pull something like that. Two, in my experience, businesses acquire other businesses for assets and proprietary knowledge/technology. I think that the OnRez acquisition was for both. The merchants/users of OnRez that don’t use XStreet SL represent an asset, one that Linden Labs is hoping to roll into XStreet SL. Also, I believe that there is some technology behind how OnRez works that Linden Labs wants and that they will use in its integration of XStreet SL.

Nothing nefarious, just sound business. No monopoly either, in my opinion, there is nothing stopping someone else from building a bigger and better XStreet SL or OnRez. And this certainly shouldn’t kill in-world shopping, any more than XStreet SL and OnRez killed it as separate entities. It could in fact create more in-world business once integrated so small shops can get a fair shake on showing up in the in-world search, assuming they opt to put their items into the XStreet SL.

So, what do I see down the road from this acquisition? Hopefully, an integration with the Second Life viewer so that not only can you shop in a web browser, but you can shop from a tab in the current search feature in the viewer. Vendors that can sell to people in-world and also act as the current servers for the XStreet SL do now (should Linden Labs consider buying a vendor system to integrate with this?). No need for XStreet SL terminals and money transfers, just direct debits/credits to your in-world L$ balance.

I believe this is a good move for Linden Labs, a move that fits in well with their future plans of being a supplier of the unifying infrastructure for virtual worlds that include Second Life and Open Sims. I also believe that this is ultimately a good thing for the residents of Second Life as well.

Time will tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Funny Blog - Absolutely amazing SecondLife discoveries

Catching up on my Google Reader backlog and happened to look at the recommended feeds links to discover a Second Life blog I’ve not come across before. 

 

From their About…

“This is your crazy ride through the depths of SL´s shopping malls. See things you have never dreamt of and of course never want to to dream of.

Weird and crazy shit compiled into a blog commented with a sharp tongue.

Welcome to SL´s most untypical shopping guide.”

 

And after looking through the posts there, I’d say they’ve succeeded.    Certainly got me to add them to my reading list.

Check them out at http://sldiscoveries.wordpress.com/

 

AmazingDiscoveries

 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

The ending of one year and the starting of the next is usually a time for reflection on the past year and making resolutions on what one plans to do differently in the next.   

The year 2008 started out a bit subdued for me because I was struggling to find the interest in SL that I’d previously had and lost for various reasons that I won’t get in to.   I passed my 1st Rezz Day in Second Life in April 2008, which was uneventful.   I reconnected with a special someone for a few months before she lost access to SL for the time being, something I hope changes in 2009.    For the latter half of the year, I’ve struggled to find the desire to go into Second Life.    Not for want of ideas of things to do, there have been many things I’ve thought to do, several times I thought I’d found that “spark” again, but ever so quickly to lose it and to find it replaced with a “what’s the point” feeling.    The big kerfuffle about Open Space Sims and the negativity that followed didn’t help, I wondered why I should bother with something like SL when even it’s most ardent supporters are so terribly negative about it much of the time.

So, here on the 1st day of the new year, I reflect on why I became involved in Second Life in the first place, and why I should stay involved because if it’s not fun then there isn’t much point, is there?

Resolutions then, for 2009?   

Get back to what I enjoy about SL, exploring and finding new places.   Lately, Second Life has been more like one gigantic mall to me, stores everywhere you look.    Seems like there are more people trying to make money in SL than there are people just building neat stuff, so one of my goals is to try to find more interesting stuff, getting pictures and blog posts out there on them.

Speaking of blog posts, I managed to do 20 in 2008, which is an average of slightly less than 2 per month so my goal is to double that for 2009 but hopefully keeping them interesting and useful.

I’m also going to try to get back into building, one of my projects for 2008 was to build a very primmy banjo.  Rather than do something with just a few prims and mainly texture based appear to be, I created a fairly detailed prim based banjo that to my non-expert eyes, looks pretty good.   It looked good enough that pictures of it on my Flickr stream were used in two separate non Second Life related blog posts.   I enjoyed building that, and would like to come up with a few projects for 2009 that involve building something challenging like that.

Another thing I want to do is more machinima of places and things I come across in Second Life.   I liked filming and editing the stuff I’ve done for Drama Libre but would like to do a little more stuff of more general interest to the community at large.

Well, I think that’s enough resolutin’ fer now.   Though these are more than just resolutions, I think they are necessities for me if I’m to remain involved in Second Life.