Sunday, May 27, 2012

Classroom Discipline

As my regular readers know, I'm a professor at Caledon Oxbridge University in Second Life.  I teach two formal classes there, "Buying and Renting Land", and "Avatar Safety."

Occasionally, a lecturing professor, even at so urbane an institution as COU, is faced with classroom disruptions.  The Avatar Safety class, in particular, draws the occasional griefer.  Perhaps they are simply trying to be helpful by providing a graphic demonstration of the class material, or maybe they wish to test themselves against the presenter.

I believe the worst such incident I've experienced was the time when, after being ejected for disruptive behavior, one of the students stood just outside the classroom and hurled a great number of school buses into the room.  For several minutes, until we could find him and ban him and his bus rezzer, it provided a very graphic illustration of the things we'd been discussing in class.

Yesterday's incident was mild by comparison.  Near the end of class, as I was lecturing, a newbie girl flew into the classroom and sat on my podium, chuckling "hehehe".  As is my usual practice in such cases, I first simply ejected her.  (This gives the student who is simply suffering from an excess of high spirits a second chance to behave themselves.)

In this case, the person in question didn't take advantage of her second chance.  A minute later, she strode back into class, hands on hips, and declaimed "F**k you, kidd" from the center aisle.  This resulted in Stage Two of the Prof. Kidd Discipline Progression, a second ejection and a ban from the classroom parcel.

Fortunately, she took the hint and took herself off and out of the COU region entirely.  Stage Three is, of course, a region-wide ban.

Other regions take a different approach to discipline.  While COU professors are entrusted with eject and ban powers, Mentors at White Tiger Help Island are not.  Those powers are reserved for a more limited number of senior personnel.  On a few rare occasions, this has caused me some frustration.  Still, it does force one to work harder on persuading the offender to change their behavior, and in many cases this has actually worked.

So, "classroom discipline" applies not only to unruly students, but to Professors (or anyone else entrusted with eject and ban powers) as well.  Tolerance and a cool head can often work as well as a banhammer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This blog turned one year old just one week ago today, and today it topped 20,000 total page views.  It's not up there with the Big Names or the Big Time, but there are at least a few of you out there looking on.

Thanks for reading!

And, oh yeah...Next Tuesday it'll be my 5th Rezday.  Wow.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The other day my partner took us to a new store she'd discovered.  Well, sort of a store.  It's a ratty little airplane hangar stacked to the rafters with wooden crates containing...WarBugs.

WarBugs are terminally cute little pudgy, round-bodied airplanes.  They look more like something unbolted from an amusement park ride than the Terror of the Skies.  (In fact, you can buy a WarBug merry-go-round!)  But, unlike my super-scale, super-fast F-104 Starfighter, WarBugs are FUN!

I Feel the Need...The Need for Speed
(Don't get me wrong, I love my Starfighter.  I take it to Hollywood Airport, put on my flight suit and helmet, and taxi around, feeling like Jackie Cochran.  But it's a sure bet I'll go down in flames if I actually FLY the beast.)
The WarBug Version of the Starfighter
Just Add Darth Vader!

Anyway...these tiny planes are very maneuverable, but they fly slow, so it's easy to stay in one sim and not worry too much about region boundary crashes.  They take off in about ten meters, so you don't need much of a runway.  They have cool engine sounds.  They have guns, and you can buy a bomb-drop accessory for them.  They have other accessories aerial obstacle course of asteroids or planets, and various aerial targets you can shoot at and blow up.  You can dogfight in them, and scores are kept on the WarBug web site.

Note Scale.  Tinies can fly these, but so can Big People
There are all sorts of styles available, from a WWI Fokker Triplane to Darth Vader's TIE Fighter.  Plenty of prop planes, jets, and even rocket ships...all with that cute little gravy boat fuselage.  If you try one, I pretty much guarantee you're going to want one!  And you can try them at my home sim of Masocado.  I built a little WarBug airport, and put up a rezzer so everyone can have some fun.  Don't buzz the condos, please.  Well, not more than twice, anyway.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FLASH! SL Not "All About Sex", Says Blogger.

I came across this just now.  The next time someone asks you, "What can you do here?" or tells you "SL is nothing but sleazy cybersex", toss them this link.

What Do We Do In Second Life?

Ramshackle Contraption

You know those "Rube Goldberg" machines?  Complex, rickety assemblies of unlikely items arranged so that, if things work just right, some useful function is performed?  Lately, I've come to think of Second Life as something of a Rube Goldberg contraption.

SL has always had its problems.  When I first joined, we expected the grid to be partially or completely down for most of Tuesday, and it was normal to have serious lag, purchase, or teleporting problems on the weekends.  People got "Ruthed", or would suddenly bend over and stick their head up their own posterior.  When teleporting, one's hair and shoes could be blown off and attached to one's posterior, too (which may have been why so many of our avatars spent time looking there.)

Then things got better.  SL incorporated a new and better physics engine.  The server code was cleaned up, streamlined and made more robust.  The clunky, much-patched Viewer code was replaced by Viewer 2 (yeah, yeah...I hated the V2 interface too.  But the underlying code was an improvement.)

But LL was not content to rest on their laurels.  They started adding new features.  Display Names.  Mesh.  Point lights and shadows.  Direct Delivery in the Marketplace.  A new Search.  New web based Profiles.  Multiple items on attachment points.  Multiple clothing items in a single clothing layer.  Tattoo layers.  Alpha layers.  Avatar physics.  Inventory "links".  And there are many more new features which SL is able to support, that are in the self-attaching HUD of Linden Realms, path following, and non-player characters.

I'd be the last person to complain about new features.  Some of them are things we've asked for and needed for a long time, others are things we didn't know we needed until they arrived. features are great, they're lovely...but...

Just over the last month or so, SL seems to be falling apart at the seams.  I see the same complaints in the SL Answers Forum, over and over:  Failure of avatars to rez, delivery failures by the Marketplace, inability to teleport, Voice services breaking, driver incompatibilities, rezzing problems in Linden Homes, and lag, lag, laaag.  Yesterday, my home region of Masocado was off line at least twice.  The second time, it stayed down until I called Live Chat.  (And credit where it is due here -- Missy Linden, the sunny person I spoke with in Live Chat, responded quickly and decisively, and my region was back on line when she said it would be.  Thank you, Missy!)

Can it be that LL's concentration on improving the user experience with new features has had the result that the basic features we must have, stability and performance, are suffering?  It certainly seems so.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Straight Skinny

Woohoo!  I lightened my inventory today.  A lot.

I had no idea how many skins (both "real" skins and demos) I had accumulated.  Yesterday and today I went through them, trying on and discarding.  In the end, I'd eliminated over 500 items from my inventory.  Five.  Hundred.  Yikes!

My Photo Album and Textures folders are even worse.

So my question for you all, dear readers is:  What's in YOUR wallet?  (And does it really need to be there?)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lots and Lots of Lesbians

Have you ever wondered why there are so many lesbians in Second Life?

I'm quite sure that many of them are NOT lesbian in Real Life.  I'm most, I am bi-curious.  But in SL, I just celebrated my third anniversary of partnership to two loving, lovely women.  It turns out that in Second Life, I prefer the company of women.

I find this affects my ability to be even-handed as a mentor, too.  I find it very easy to greet and talk to women, but I'm much more reticent and guarded when it comes to talking to men.

I think the answer to this may be found in a post that my friend Glorf Bulmer made on her blog the other day:  All Too Typical  In this post, she bemoans the fact that a great many men in SL are, to put it kindly, boors.  If you are a man in SL, you are almost automatically assumed (by women) to be on the make, interested in only one thing, and probably not very skilled at going about getting it.  Men don't talk, they act.  (Yes, yes, I know...this is generalizing shamelessly.  I apologize to all the kind, thoughtful, and articulate males out there.  You know who you are, and so do I...and I treasure each of you!)

But the thing is, there is a grain of truth in that generalization.  And as Glorf points out, the articulate person has a great advantage in Second Life.  Women, on average, tend to be more articulate than men.  In other words, we talk.  We gab, chatter, chat, and discuss.  Our endless blathering bores men to tears.

Most of all, our emotions are stirred by words more often than our male counterparts.  We are less visual, more verbal.  This is one reason why so many women like romance novels.

Second Life is a woman's world.  Unlike real life, the sex ratio in SL is skewed toward women, about 60/40.  Interestingly, the Real Life gender ratio of SL's population is NOT's about 50/50.  This means, of course, that there are a lot of Real Life males who use female avatars in SL.  Some of these are actually transgendered people, but others have simply realized that we women have the edge in SL.  As a woman, it's easier to make friends, to find clothes and accessories, and to be accepted in general.  In SL, male avatars do not enjoy any strength advantage.  Women have no fear of men in SL.

And so we have lesbians.  Lots of lesbians.  Because the sensitive, the articulate, the thoughtful people prefer the company of others like themselves, and those people often are women...or become women in SL.

I saw this very graphically the other day.  I noticed a nice young man, a newbie, staring at some freebie clothes.  He was positioned midway between a display of men's clothing, and women's wear.  I offered to show him how to get and wear the freebies, and asked him what outfit he liked.  He pointed and said, "The black mini dress."  I laughed and told him we'd have to do a bit of a makeover first.  By the time we finished, he had become a very cute young girl.  And when she discovers cyber-sex, I bet she'll be a lesbian.