Saturday, November 28, 2009

Starlust Trash Hunt!

So, we're kind of a trashy people at the Starlust. But we are also messy. We need you to clean up after our crap, because we've left trash all over the sims, full of goodies.

From Schadenfreude, a tie with a cockroach on it (you might recognize him if you've been eating the Valentine's candy, or looked at the wall in the lobby), and a pair of pants upon which, quite bored in class, I have scribbled a bit.

There are lots of other goodies from other people out there- start hunting at the lobby!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I've been keeping my soapboxing off the feeds and on my "personal" blog (which is mostly neglected and doesn't feed anywhere), but some of this is information that perhaps, needs to be seen by a wider audience (especially #2, alternate systems). I'm long and wordy, so I'm going to only post links:

My problem with the roadmap- an analysis of the real reason the new "roadmap" doesn't sit well with me.

xstreet alternatives- a short form with the 6 (only 5 are up and running at the current time) xstreet alternatives I found, and my quick reaction to each. If you go to the blog itself, the previous entries are more in depth on each service- still very cursory as this was my first run through to compare features, so I very well may have missed things, but my first glance, and what made me decide which ones to proceed with on a more in depth basis. I've started posting on MVX, (very) slowly, and will probably cross post more things to other services as well. I will only be picking one as the "catalog" service that is what I would rather see xstreet be than the new system however, simply due to the fact that all listing takes a very long time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Copper Cat Corset and more neckties

The elephant has been getting terribly cramped, so it's new room time! (The elephant is still pretty cramped...I haven't finished reorganizing things. may be yet another new room time soon...) New room, means new corset to match:

(eyes are retired by Miriel, Jinx hair, Bixin pants, Koijini jewelry, Moonage Daydream skin)

p.s. Obviously not _forearm_ tattoo, but upper arm tattoo. But, I haven't been getting enough sleep and tomorrow is yet another early morning, so I'll try to remember to fix that later, whoops.

Once it's been out for a bit, it'll be moving into its room, as the rest of them have.

New ties as well, the one to match the new corset, and the Sparrow corset, and 3 other motifs- Erzulie was an old group gift, but gained the second in the pair and has been rereleased following people requesting it lately; Leo was seen in Joe the Lion and is finally ready to go. In separate pairs with each motif, and a HUD controlled fatpack of the set.

And another set of ties, these with spiderwebs in an assortment of colours. These totally slipped my mind...but _I_, at least, will wear spiderweb covered ties all year round, so that's ok.

All out in the still overstuffed elephant, who will be shedding his wings...soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fifty Linden Friday the 13th

Schadenfreude is in 50L Friday this week, for the ladies and the menfolk alike, a vest in DANGER blue (much thanks to Apatia Hammerer for her naming skills, as I couldn't come up with what to call it!):

(House of Munster and Philotic Energy hair; Schadenfreude skins, oxford, striped pants, and lurking pants; retired Miriel eyes; Luth and Torrid poses)

And, it's Friday the 13th. So, the Electro-spook Black Widow necklace has snuck off from the Electro-cute jewelry fatpack, to be on special just for today:

Your taxi to the elephant, they're out on the steps up into the head.

And here's a list to everyone!

After the event is over, items will be available on the Marketplace.

Monday, November 9, 2009

So, what can we do?

I'll step down from my soapbox soon. Promise.

We, personally, have a limited amount of things we can do about content theft- we can try to educate (however there are so many people in SL, and I keep running into the same ones over and over, that I don't know how effectively we can reach beyond our microcosm. But we still need to try- because content theft goes far beyond what LL can control, though they can do a lot to mitigate it they are not), we can ourselves choose not to participate on the buying or selling ends, and we can try to get LL to listen.

LL runs a little like a democracy- when it doesn't come to features they come up with in house, they listen to the community. That huge. And diverse. And has a lot of different ideas of what is a priority, and what even should be done in any particular case (I know that upon occasion I've wished there was a "Vote against this feature" button on the jira). So, the most effective thing we can do, is mobilize as large a group in support of the issues important to us as possible (I may not agree with all of Artist's Voice's tactics, but they are trying to actively mobilize a group for this goal). But here, this goes beyond that. Because we don't just need action- we need action NOW. LL is notoriously slow at feature introduction (some of this is 100% valid- you need to test features so you don't cause more trouble. However, beyond that, they promise features and never deliver, and it can take years to deliver features, which in my opinion goes well beyond any reasonable amount of testing, especially when it comes to particular features where this has happened). We need to convince them that not only action is required, we need the people working on this as their only project, now. Starting today.

The way to do this, is to go en masse to office hours, flood them with emails, faxes, real mail, however you can get ahold of them to say "enough is enough, something needs to be done" so they finally get tired of wasting time fielding all that and do it just to shut us up. Vote on the jiras, though this is the last thing on my list- it's the easiest, it's also the most ineffective especially when it comes to getting something done on a reasonable timetable, features are promised, and then seemingly abandoned, or you might see them implemented in 5 years. Be firm but polite- do not swear or insult. Profanity is the last resort of the inarticulate motherfucker, and I say this as someone who swears like a sailor. Insults are an ineffectual way to get a point across, because would you listen to anyone who gave you good advice, but started it with "you're an asshole, but"? It's an issue we're all passionate about, but we need to count to 10, and present reasonable rational arguments and requests, because those are far more likely to be listened to.

What can LL do? My personal roadmap is one you aren't going to like. I don't like it. I hate it. But we've gotten to the point where something that I hate is preferable to what we have now, which is the Old West and someone riding into town, shooting someone else in the face, and riding out to hide in the hills, so he can come back and do it again, and there's not a damn thing the sheriff can do unless the posse is damn lucky. So the best idea I see under these circumstances is something radical.

At this point? My first step would be something exceptionally radical and something I hate- shut down the grid to 3rd party viewers. And bots. They should be able to do that on a fast time table, not something that will take months or years. I hate this idea- I haven't used the official viewer in a very very long time- so long, I couldn't tell you how long, my love affair with alternate viewers started before Emerald became so popular. The official viewer is, from time to time for me, a laggy crashy bugridden piece of shit, and I've needed alternate viewers to be able to stay in SL for longer than 3 minutes. I hate this idea- there are a lot of legitimate bots out there that do extremely useful things, and I'm not talking about traffic bots. LibSL is a great resource to the community (though the thing i was excited to use it for, sadly can't be done, because there are a lot of limits on what you can do). Legitimate things will break. We will lose things that we've had to find other ways to do because LL hasn't seen fit to include some features that are very useful. Shutting down innovation sucks- there are a lot of great things that have come out of these, things that LL wasn't willing to do, or put as a lower priority, that other people stepped up and said "ok then, this is what I want, I bet other people did too, let's make it happen!" I like the community being able to be active and decide its own course. But a few rotten apples are ruining the bunch for everyone.

I would rather wait for step two to be in place and ready to go, it would be a less disastrous and violent option, to have a first wave of acceptable viewers in place first. But the question is, can we rely on LL to do that in any reasonable time framework? Every day more content is stolen and redistributed, new releases are copybotted the day they are released. Can we wait the weeks, months, years it might take for them to finally get around to finishing the process enough to put into practice? I don't know that I can wait that long, and I don't know of any real way to definitely light the fire under their asses to get them to realize it needs to be implemented, yesterday. Even an impending lawsuit hasn't woken them up (they think they can argue they've done enough- I think it's far too easy to see that there are so many other avenues open to them they have refused to explore that will make them liable).

The important part, the part that I fear LL could just decide not to implement (although they should, with other people creating more stable viewers than they do, it saves them work, and they aren't even having to pay them!), is the second stage- when you start the one team on shutting down the grid, you create two other teams. One team is in charge of clearing individuals and groups for having their viewers (and bot "viewers"!) access the grid. What background checks required, what degree of accountability and how, every step of the process, both creating the process and the actual implementation. They need a hard and fast guide on what features are never acceptable, they need immediate access to people who can look over each new feature as they are developed that isn't on that list, and decide whether they are desirable or cannot be put into a viewer that can access the SL grid. They need to make decisions about features fast unless it truly is a complex issue, instead of tying everything up in red tape- unlike things added to the jira, the work is done. The second team works on how to limit access to the grid- what steps to implement and how. For accountability, each team or individual with a viewer or bot should have a unique key- if the key gets leaked and is found on a viewer with features that haven't been cleared they can track down the problem immediately. The key can't be released alongside the open source, obviously- the viewer code can still remain open source, but it must only be offered compiled for download by end users, in the version that can connect to the SL grid. We may (no doubt, will, until/unless someone else picks them up) lose good features as people choose not to become verified to have their work connect to the grid, or fail the verification process.

Legally, to me, this all makes damn good sense to LL- I'm not a lawyer, but I grew up with one, and if I had the credentials and was working on the case, I think I might argue that LL willfully colludes with IP thieves by not taking these actions. They have the end control over the platform, and only an idiot wouldn't have seen this coming the day they released the source code. To my mind, they have the moral obligation to fix this problem that they have created- and with the lawsuit filed, I would think that maybe, just maybe, their legal team might see the legal benefit in getting some control implemented before it goes to trial so, late or not, they can still show that they have closed some of the largest holes. In other words, LL, it might be very seriously in your best interests to make this project a top priority.

Open sims are still the Wild West, and each needs to decide what action they want to, and can, take. Open sims will become where the viewer side innovation happens- not only those who choose not to go through the accountability process with LL, but new features that may not be greenlighted can be developed there. Some may be developed so they can point and say "look, this is how it works in practice, it's not a bad idea", some may be developed as pet projects that LL will never allow for various reasons (there's been talk that LL won't allow Emerald's OTR chat for legal reasons, for instance- there will always be features like that that aren't actively malicious, but won't be allowed if they regain control, as LL also has a degree of accountability in what features they allow). Open sims become more attractive to programmers of viewers, SL becomes more attractive to content creators who make the grids interesting.

The viewer stays open source, and libSL continues to be viable, but LL regains control of the grid. Innovation is curtailed, but not stopped. People are accountable for the features they include- the big problem with copybot and copybot viewers is that they take away all the work involved in stealing content. It will still be possible, but you'll have to put effort into it, you'll have to know what you're doing, and the majority of the people abusing these things, are, quite simply, lazy and taking advantage of the hard work of others- including the programmers making these "tools" for them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's talk about theft

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm in opposition to the two days of silence, of abstaining from action, instead of taking it. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and being quiet just makes you easier to ignore. (Yes, I know that's simplistic and not what you mean, but it still is some of the end result.)

I respect the reasons behind it, and I, and I'm sure everyone who is on this side of the fence, understands what you're doing- your motives are pure. The actions, though, the actions are something in which we can't participate- and yes, a lot of us have reasons to be very vocal in opposition to them.

So, instead of being silent, I'm choosing to open a discussion. Well, a monologue really, but perhaps it will give some people some things to think about.

Content theft in SL is a big issue. It's also a complex one, and there are various layers of it. Right now, this, is only trying to deal with one small aspect of it, one facet that has a huge and direct impact upon the residents of SL, the people who make SL what it is. LL may have pulled the slogan "your world, your imagination", but that is what Second Life is. WE create it. There is very little content that isn't created by residents, people just like you- LL provided the framework, and we are the ones who drape our dreams across that framework to make it interesting and engaging, and worth exploring and coming back to, and beautiful. People just like you, put hours (and days, and weeks, and months) of effort into creating what you see before you. If that has no value because it's just a virtual world, what DOES have value? Most of the trappings of our world, the things that make it worthwhile, are luxuries. TV, movies, games, computers, the internet, art, music, candy, lawyers, all service jobs...these are all luxuries. You need shelter, you need food, you need sleep. Most of the things in life are things you could live without if you really needed to, and yet, you still pay your hard earned money (in a job that, more than likely, is also related to a luxury, unless you're out there farming crops or building houses- and even then we have progressed to a point where we want more than just the basics even of those). You are compensated for your time, your energy, your work, and those who create the content of Second Life are simply asking for the same courtesy. We're building the environment you see, and instead of having to go out and pay $60 for a game that you might get a week's worth of enjoyment out of before you've finished it, we're just asking for micro payments as you go for the content you choose to want.

And therein lies part of it- you WANT what people are creating. We are not denying you something you NEED and are entitled to. We are not greedy. Life isn't free, and money made in SL goes toward necessities of life so we can continue to spend the time creating more things you want.

You, of course, know all this to begin with. This blog, and in fact the entire controversy, won't spill over to those who need to understand that their selfishness destroys people- both economically and emotionally. If you've ever had your home broken into and items stolen, you know what theft is like. It's not really that different with content theft, there's a lot of hopelessness and feeling invaded and violated. Just the threat of it is enough to keep some people away, or make people more hesitant to share things with other people.

So, what can be done? The only truly concrete thing we can do is educate, and try to raise the issue to LL, to yell so loud that eventually they listen and do something just to stop being pestered by us incessantly. When someone passes you something, tell them it's wrong, explain why. Take note of the people involved- many are burnable alts, but some can be held accountable, and AR them. Tell the legitimate creators so they can take the actions they can, as ineffectual as they can be at times. In cases when you see things stolen being sold in a shop- DO NOT TRY TO SHUT THEM DOWN YOURSELVES. Contact the original creators. It is absolutely imperative that the creators take action first, because if the thieves pick up and move on, you have to FIND them again, and the way the process currently works, you have to be able to concretely point at it and say "LOOK, HERE IT IS." Step up, and take the action that is appropriate to the situation, make sure the creators are informed so they can take the actions _they_ can take.

The Lindens, they can do some things. Even they can't stop content theft entirely, but they HAVE allowed it to become too easy. Third party viewers have added a lot of great functionality to SL, and I've even had to switch to them at times simply because the official viewer plain didn't work for me. However, they've been given far too much free reign, and they need to be controlled for the good of everyone. There ARE ways that can be done, with a vetting process they could even allow some third party viewers to operate, so long as they are cleared. Innovation would be curtailed a little, because new features would have to go through an extra layer of clearing, but it would not be completely stopped. Adding accountability would also mean that if viewers started sneaking in with undesirable features, the team with the leak could be tracked down, and their ability to make a sanctioned viewer could be removed- not simply accountability to the Lindens, but you are accountable to your entire team, and have a far greater incentive to behave, as well as to make sure the rest of your team behaves. Know who you are working with, and choose not to work with them if you don't think you can trust them.

Idea theft is another issue, and it's a harder one. We can't protect that with technology. Some is allowed under innovation, however there is also protection for derivative works- it's a greyer area, and a much more complex issue, but it can still be protected in some cases. When it comes down to it, both sides CAN push hard enough to bring it to court, and depending on the case, the judge can decide in either direction. It's a harder case for one to judge themselves as well, however it can still be both morally and legally wrong. You personally have to decide what you think is right. The original creator is the one who has all the facts to know how much of _their_ creation was entirely original and how much was innovated upon by other works, so parties trying to take action without all the facts (aside from their own personal decisions to support this or that creator due to it) can cause more trouble than help, in many cases.

Content theft in SL is not just limited to SL, either. It's easier to steal an entire finished product from the same system, but content is also stolen from other games, from copyrighted images, and from other sources from which the creator in SL doesn't have the rights. However, some people are very fastidious about obtaining the rights for everything they use! And many of the same programs and techniques used to create environments for games are used by artists in SL as well.

Many people try to justify theft in SL by accusing the creators of theft- photosourcing from resources they have not obtained rights to, using pirated software to create what they create. You might be very surprised how many creators DO have legal software, who even have purchased expensive software like Photoshop (many may not have the latest version, and may go years between upgrades, but will buy it on sale after a newer version has come out when they can get a deal that makes it fit within their budget). Many are very careful about obtaining all the necessary licenses. It is true, that not all the people who create in Second Life do, but to accuse everyone of it is a disservice to those who do.

Remember remember

A 48 hour ban on commerce in Second Life hurts no one but those who make their livings creating the content that makes our world beautiful. Most creators are already feeling the pinch- they are, after all, the ones punished the most by content theft to begin with, as well as the whole economic downturn (and LL can spin the numbers all they like, it has had a lot of impact in Second Life regardless of what they try to pretend). 2 days without sales means the very real possibility that some won't be able to eat, or pay rent in RL this month- nevermind the fact LL doesn't care that they had 2 fewer days to earn tier. 2 days without blogging means fewer sales due to less advertising. In fact, LL doesn't lose a single thing- they still get all the tier, the only way it _would_ effect them is if those 2 days of sales really did kill the content creators, so they couldn't cash out enough to be able to pay rent and eat, and had to leave SL entirely. And it's unrealistic to think that all the business you would have had in those 2 days will magically show up the day after- in fact, most of the people in SL will not have heard of the boycott, and out of sight, out of mind.

It's a gesture to try to feel like we can do something, but the only thing it does is hurt the very people it is trying to help. Instead, I urge you to support the original content creators instead! And, you know, inundating LL with emails and faxes about how they ought to do things about content theft wouldn't really be a bad idea either :)

So, no, I shan't be stopping shopping or selling for two days. Instead, I shall show you the outfit I wore for Achariya's post, something I put together of works of just a few of my favourite designers in Second Life, without whom we would have a much less beautiful world.

outfit: ~silentsparrow~
hair: Calico Ingmann
horns: Illusions
earrings and necklace: Balderdash
lip ring: Lazy Places
wings: ~Scribble~
boots: First Flower
pose: ++ DESIRE++
eyes: Miriel, a content creator we have already lost in Second Life because while she created things of uncommon beauty, they didn't sell enough to be able to afford running a business in SL.

I know a lot of the people whose work I'm wearing here- some of them I consider friends, some I don't know well- and some I've never met or spoken to, but I still love the creations of their beautiful minds. This is just a tiny sampling of the people whose work I enjoy, who have enriched my life. (Mostly it's just what I threw on last minute for the photo for Ach! So so many people aren't represented here who are such a deeply important part of my Second Life, whether they know it or not.)

Designers create your Second Life experience- environments, avatar enhancements, events, all of it is created with the time, energy, and skill that regular people choose to put into this world. While some people scoff at paying designers for their time and effort, how is it really any different from buying a game at the store? Then, you _are_ paying the team who created the environment, the difference is that here, the ability to create is open to everyone, and because of it, we can create something so much more diverse, more than just a game, but a world, an experience that is always expanding and changing.

Content theft hurts every single one of us. Because of it we lose the creators who make our world amazing, we lose the innovation that makes Second Life rich. However, choosing to boycott creators, even to send a message to LL, can easily have the same effect of forcing people out.
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