Posted in General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Body (and head) shaming in Second Life, and the definition of self.

Becca observes that, as in real life, Body Shaming is a thing in Second Life. She then goes on to talk about mesh heads vs system heads, and the fact that how we look in Second Life defines us even more than in real life. 

Last week I joined a Facebook Group called “Second Life Friends” and there was a discussion on facelights, so I decided to post a link to an old blog article I wrote back in 2012 that is as still as relevant now as it was then.

During the resulting Facebook thread, I got body shamed by a poster over the fact that I do not as yet use a mesh head, and who poured scorn on me and my look, as if how I look made my opinion irrelevant.

Then, yesterday, I updated my post “Unencumbered by the trappings of Real Life” about whether there should still be a clear separation between Second Life and real life, or should Second Life be merely an extension or augmentation of our online presence.

I posted it to the same group, and it started off a lively debate. The debate deviated somewhat into the whole thing of mesh heads again. On the whole it was a civil and interesting debate, and my replies to it gave rise to this article.

Continue reading “Body (and head) shaming in Second Life, and the definition of self.”

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Posted in General, Opinion, Privacy & identity, Second Life

Unencumbered by the trappings of Real Life (revisited)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Second_Life_logo.svgBecca asks: “Should there be a clear separation between Second Life and real life, or should Second Life be merely an extension or augmentation of our online presence?”

Back in 2012 I wrote an article called “Unencumbered by the trappings of real life“. Some things are still as true then as they are now, whilst other things are a little out of date, so I have decided to revisit it and update it.

Some of the people I meet in Second Life want to know all about my real life, about how I look or where I live, or how old I am, or any number of other things. And I tell them that, quite apart from privacy, I simply don’t see things like that as having any relevance to my Second Life. And, further, I don’t particularly want them to volunteer anything about themselves either. I’m simply not interested in their “skinvelope” (or, as I have heard others refer to it, their “meatsack” or “meat rider”, which I confess aren’t phrases I’m particularly enamoured with) and want to get to know the real person, unencumbered by the trappings of real life. Some of these people have got quite defensive about my attitude and asked how I can know the real person when I say I don’t want to know the real life person. Some have even called me crazy. Well, allow me to explain what I mean.

Continue reading “Unencumbered by the trappings of Real Life (revisited)”

Posted in General, Mesh, Phoenix / Firestorm, Second Life, tips

Level of Detail

Just a very quick one.

I logged onto SL recently and noticed that sculpts and meshes weren’t rendering properly unless I zoomed in, and I remembered that there is a debug setting to fix that and it must have got reverted for me at some time.

The fix is as old as the hills, but I thought I would note it down here simply so I can easily find it again. If it helps someone else too then so much the better.

Go to Advanced -> Debug Settings (or use Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S)
(If the Advanced menu is not enabled then enable it with Ctrl+Alt+D)

You need to set both the RenderAvatarLODFactor and RenderVolumeLODFactor settings.

A value of at least 4 is recommended, whilst 6 is better.

RenderAvatarLODFactor

RenderVolumeLODFactor

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life

Second Life, and the dangers of DRM and lock-in.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Second_Life_logo.svgA friend sent me an article today about news that every Ozimal digirabbit in Second Life will soon starve to death (or, rather, go into permanent hibernation) because a legal threat has shut down their food-server, since the virtual pets are designed so that they can only eat DRM-locked food.
[Source: boingboing.net]

This is very sad for breeders, of course, but it also raises some interesting questions in my mind about Second Life in general and also real life.

The concept isn’t just limited to Second Life, of course. There have been high profile cases of people having iTunes libraries worth many thousands of dollars and wanting to transfer or bequeath them upon death, and been unable to do so. Likewise people being banned from Steam and denied access to all their purchases. In fact any system where you buy digital products that are locked by DRM and reliant on a remote server are susceptible to being locked out from you for whatever reason. This raises the question as to whether you have actually purchased that item or merely have an open-ended license to use it that can be unilaterally revoked by the seller. This is one of the reasons I still buy physical CDs and DVDs, although I often make use of “buy the digital version and we’ll send you the physical disc as well” services offered by Amazon, Sky, and others. With Steam purchases I don’t bother with physical media any more as the games are DRM-locked and reliant on the Steam servers (and useless without them).

If Linden Lab were to shut down the Second Life servers, we would lose everything. Sure, we could migrate to various other virtual worlds based on OpenSim, but it would be without all our DRM-locked inventory and our Linden Dollars. I don’t know about you, but I have spent literally thousands of real life actual GBP pounds sterling buying L$ and have spent all of it, and many more tens of thousands of L$ that I have earned in-world, or been gifted, on the Second Life economy. All that would be lost, like tears in rain. Same goes if Linden Lab banned me for whatever reason, as it is notoriously difficult to get un-banned again. I very much doubt I would start again if that happened.

Linden Lab could shut down Second Life for any number of reasons. One is that they go bankrupt of course, but another is if Second Life were to become unprofitable for Linden Lab and not worth continuing.

Although Sansar isn’t intended to replace Second Life, perhaps Linden Lab will pour all their development effort into it at the expense of Second Life. Or, more feasibly, the content creators could decide to move away from Second Life to newer and more interesting pastures (whether that be Sansar, or something else). With no new content to buy, the Second Life economy would wither and die, and shopaholics everywhere would starve to death, just like the rabbits.

I’m definitely not the only girl with a massive investment in Second Life and who would be reluctant to throw it all away and start again, so hopefully Linden Lab will keep the Second Life servers running for many many years to come, and the wonderful people who make and sell content for Second Life will continue to do so too.

After all, who wants to see rabbits starve?

 

Posted in General, Second Life

I still use MystiTool!

If you’re not familiar with MystiTool, it is a HUD that is a veritable Swiss Army knife of useful things. It dates back to the earlier days of Second Life, where many things we now take for granted were absent or severely basic. For example, you needed an object or HUD called a Flight Assist (or Flight Feather, or Flight Ring, or any number of other names) if you wanted to fly above 200 metres. Rather than take up valuable attach points, back in the days before we had multiple attach points, having that in the MystiTool rather than as a separate object was beneficial. Since then, the flight limit has been raised several times and then in 2012 was removed altogether, making that feature of the MystiTool redundant.
Similarly, as Viewers (both Third Party and Official) have added functionality previously offered by the MystiTool, so those too have become obsolete (or, at least, less useful). Examples include the Radar, scanning a sim for avatars, chat notifications (such as an avatar entering chat range), TP to camera, Favourites, and TP History. Some are only included in Third Party Viewers like Firestorm, but some have even made it into the Official Viewer.

The feature erosion is not too dissimilar to the history of Microsoft Windows; in the early days, various tools, utilities and applications filled in the gaps in functionality missing from Windows itself, and gradually Microsoft incorporated the ideas and made many redundant. A case in point was Icon Hear It which added sounds to events in Windows 3.11, and was rendered instantly obsolete by Windows 95 which had that built in. But I digress.

But that doesn’t mean that MystiTool is now obsolete, as there are plenty of features that are still useful. Furthermore, with v2.0 of MystiTool, many of these features are now implemented as plugins which means you can choose to uninstall them, which reduces your script count and memory usage by allowing you to prune them out. You can therefore trim the MystiTool right down to only those non-obsolete features that you actually use.

Personally, I regularly use the Elevator & Sky Platform Rezzer, the Pose Stand Rezzer (especially the more fully featured deluxe pose stand, although the basic one is also useful), Object Chat ID (useful for finding the owner of a chatty object), Facial Emoter (I use it for photography), Collision Notification, Avatar Information and Channel Listener (useful to find who is talking to scripted objects, but also for debugging your own).

As the feature set continues to shrink, the argument for having a MystiTool gets weaker. It is no longer the must-have tool that it once was, but for many ‘oldies’ like me (currently 6 years & 3 months, or 2300 days) it is something that has been part of our SL for so long that it is something to which we have become immensely attached (no pun intended) and will probably hold onto until completely redundant, if not beyond.

 


Further reading

I Still Use My Mystitool by Cheyenne Palisades
Posted in January 2013. A similar article to this one, but slightly out of date now. More descriptive about some of the features than this article is.

Official MystiTool blog by Mystical Cookie
The official MystiTool blog

MystiTool on the SL Marketplace
A link to MystiTool on the Marketplace, which also summarises the full feature list.


 

Are you a MystiTool user? If so, please do comment below with what features you regularly use!

Posted in Flickr, General, Second Life

Winding down

Winding down by Becca Ashbourne
Winding down, a photo by Becca Ashbourne on Flickr.

At face value, this is a nice little pic of my sky island and of  me winding down on a hammock at the end of a nice day.

Sadly it’s more metaphorical than that, because the very good friend who has let me keep my lovely sky island rezzed on her sim is giving it up when the tier is due in a few days and I shall, for the first time in years, be homeless in SL.

Given how little I log on these days, or log on just to go to an event or to see a friend, I will give vagrancy a go for a while and see how it works out for me. I’m going to miss my little place though, for sure.

Posted in General, Opinion, Second Life

Lack of engagement

Inara Pey recently blogged on the state of Second Life, and her comments on ‘Engagement’ and general malaise struck a real chord with me.

In the 5½ years I have been in SL, I’ve experienced the usual ebb and flow of interest that I think most long-timers do, but I’ve found myself in a particularly long ebb lately, to the extent that I felt I was mainly logging on in order to be with my SL hubby. He had been feeling much the same, and sadly a few weeks ago announced to me that a number of factors, including increased workload, RL, and this same lack of engagement, meant he did not know when he would next be logging into SL again. We’d been together well over a year, which is a long time in Second Life terms. We still email each other every day (he never fails to leave an email for me when he goes to bed so that it is waiting for me when I wake up), but I have no idea when I will see him again in SL.

Since then I have gone from logging in every day to rarely logging in, and when I do log in it’s been for a specific reason such as a music event (usually the wonderful Gina Gracemount or the amazing Tukso Okey) or to spend time with my friend Bunny. But most of the time, I find that other things are holding my interest more. My own RL has got a little busier and is filling my evenings more, such that I don’t have as much time available to spend on SL. But the fact is that if I was bursting to go on SL, like I once was, then I know I would find the time. So this really corroborates what Inara is saying.

Perhaps I should be trying to find new things in SL to experience, maybe increase my circle of friends, perhaps try to re-ignite my love of SL photography. But I just find myself without any real motivation to do so. My SL photography is particularly depressing, because I can take ages (hours, even) over a SL picture and then find myself lucky to get 200 views in a month, yet with my RL photography I can post a picture of me in a nice dress and get 200 views in a day. I’m not saying that in a self-aggrandising way, but to illustrate how soul-destroying that is for the SL photography. I have a very similar experience with blogging.

So where does this leave me, where does it leave my SL, my SL photography and also this blog? I don’t know. Certainly this is the first time since August 2012 where I’ve felt I have had anything I wanted to say and I don’t know when I next will either.

Second Life to become a game?

Well, perhaps not quite. But Linden Lab has made an announcement that Second Life will be expanding to Steam ‘in the next month or so’.

The announcement reads:
“As some sharp-eyed developers have speculated, we’re going to make Second Life available on Steam in the next month or so.

Many of us have friends who are avid Steam gamers, but if you’re not familiar, Steam is a very popular online game platform that offers a wide range of titles (and will soon also offer other software as well).

What does this news mean for Second Life? You’ll still be able to access Second Life just as you can today; there won’t be any change to that. But, the more than 40 million people who use Steam will also be able to get Second Life as easily as they can get games like Portal.

We’ll make an announcement on the blog when Second Life is actually available on Steam, but in the meantime, if you have friends who are Steam gamers, let ‘em know it’s coming!”

Source: community.secondlife.com/…

This is a very interesting announcement, given that Valve have recently announced that they will soon be allowing non-games applications to join Steam. This does give an ambiguity as to whether Linden Lab are continuing to move Second Life towards a games platform or whether this is simply a case of them taking advantage of Valve’s more relaxed policy on what applications can join Steam.

Certainly there is a strong case that Steam has a high density of the kind of people who have the computer hardware necessary to run Second Life at its most graphically-intense settings, so raising awareness of the Second Life platform on Steam may have benefits.

However, I see a less positive side to it too. As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I have a strong sense of wanting to live my ‘second’ life unencumbered by the trappings of my first. And I view this (hopefully optional!) integration with Steam as being yet more example of the lines between SL and RL being blurred. Steam is a real life service, with your real identity (although ‘handles’ / nicknames are allowed). And it strengthens the concept that SL is just yet another service that you create a username and password for.

Having said that, as someone who has played Skyrim a lot (which is a Steam game), I didn’t feel that it was RL ‘me’ playing it – I created a character and advanced her though the game. So perhaps I am unduly concerned here. Perhaps all will work out ok. But I do still have this nagging feeling that entering SL via Steam will make people think it is just another game, or MMPORG and I feel that would miss the point of Second Life being a Virtual World and not a game. Or, certainly how it started out anyway. I’m not so sure what it is now or where it is going.

(All in my opinion, of course)

[With thanks to Inara Pey for her blog article that alerted me to this]

Update

Some interesting (and long) articles that give further insight into the ramifications of this move. Really worth reading if you have the time:

 

Posted in General, Mesh, Opinion, Second Life

Some really interesting points raised by Qarl here. I have to concur with his comments about the new TPV policy and how it stifles innovation; it can’t do otherwise.

It’s funny that he should comment that Linden Lab didn’t see Mesh clothing coming because I was having the same discussion with a friend just recently. The Lab’s response has been very much “but why would you want to do that?” and then bury their head in the sand about it. The fact that pretty much every major clothing Designer is offering Rigged Mesh clothing now is surely a pretty bloody strong indication that sorting the Mesh issue is of prime importance, yet their support of Qarl and the Parametric Deformer project seems lukewarm at best.

I’m still unswayed in my opinion that this is make-or-break for SL.

Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World

Note this is a 4-page piece. Please use the page options at the bottom of the article to page through.

Wednesday June 20th was Mesh Day at SL9B, and featured speakers and presentations on the subject of – you guessed it – mesh. The day saw the auditorium area swamped with people anxious to hear all the news and join in with practical discussions (for future SLB events, it might be worthwhile putting the auditorium at the junction of adjoining regions if hot topics are to be featured as a part of events).

One of the discussions taking place featured Karl Stiefvater, aka Qarl Fizz (formerly Linden). Qarl is the man most closely associated with the mesh parametric deformer project and who was, while working for Linden Lab, both behind the sculpty and a member of the Lab’s early mesh team. He was talking with Saffia Widdershins and taking questions…

View original post 4,705 more words

Posted in Exploring, General, Opinion, Second Life

The impact of Marketplace on in-world stores

There’s been some chat in the blogosphere recently that the Marketplace is killing actual in-world stores; that reduced footfall means that satellite stores (or even main stores) are less commercially viable than they were, and that this will have knock-on effects for malls, clubs and RP sims as they struggle to fill the vendor booths whose income helps pay their tier. I can see the argument for this and it is pretty compelling.
However, the counter-argument is that malls are a bit of a blight anyway and that the Marketplace is just so much more convenient, quick and efficient. And, again, that has some validity too.

My own opinion is somewhere in between. Personally, I absolutely adore shopping in-world if the store is interesting, well laid out, and gives me a positive ‘experience’. By contrast, there are few things more soul-destroying than wandering round a huge faceless store that has all the visual interest of a level of Wolfenstein 3D and where you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Here’s a case in point…

Could this shop be any more boring and uninspiring? This kind of shop, where the Designer clearly does not give a flying fig about the store, is the kind of thing the Marketplace was made for. They just want to sell their stuff and no more. May as well put it up on Marketplace and save yourself the tier.

By contrast, other Designers clearly love to build as well as make clothes, and pour a great deal of love into the whole shopping experience.


My greatest concern with Marketplace is that it will cause all in-world shops to become unviable and we will lose the experience of shopping at beautiful sims like this. Likewise, wonderful themed and/or RP sims where it is a delight to explore will also start to struggle to pay their tier to the point where they can’t continue. And I think Second Life would be a much poorer place for it.

Links:

http://strawberrysingh.com/2012/05/16/the-marketplace-debate/
http://primperfectblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/is-the-marketplace-killing-the-mall/