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Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Visit to So Cal

Today a Destination I hadn't seen before came to my attention...SoCal.  This is a full region re-creation of a beach community in Southern California, and it's VERY well done.  It has elements of Venice Beach, Redondo Beach, and LaJolla.  The Pacific ocean rolls in with an ever-present roar.  You can walk along a sandy beach with just enough debris and beach grass to look like those beaches I remember from my years in the Los Angeles area.  Even the terrain profile of the beach is correct, rising at the back to a boardwalk/bike path.

At one end of the beach are some rocks, with spray from the endless surf, and some sea life.  You can wade in the tide pool here.  At the other end is a long pier with a gazebo out at the end where you could fish, if you brought your pole.

On the other side of the bike path are stucco'd apartments and shops, just as you'd find in Venice or Redondo. 

Behind them are stone walkways and parks with brilliant flowers.  On the other side of an asphalt road, palm trees sway in the Endless Summer.

Climb the hill behind the palms, and you come to a grassy area above the sea, with cliffs plunging to the surf below.  In this area is a park and an outdoor amphitheater type dance club under a geodesic dome.

There's a very realistic mixture of the tacky and funky and the gorgeous to be found here, that took me right back to the west coast.


There are park benches with lots of sit poses in them, and there's a skateboard park where you can get a board and show your skillz.  There's a fast food burger joint next door where you can relax and refuel after a hard skating session. 


SoCal is still under construction, but they are open for business and offer rentals for stores and residents.  Krissy Darkfury is the person to contact, if you're interested.  While I was there, I met Jena Delwood as she was setting up a new tattoo store, JD's Ink, on the boardwalk.
Jena Delwood, Tattoo Artist


Jena's new Store, JD's Ink
Go take a walk on the boardwalk, listen to the surf and the gulls, poke around the shops...and put on some Beach Boys tunes to complete the mood.  SoCal gets the Lindal Kidd Stamp of Approval!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Misthaven/238/74/21

Here are more snapshots of my West Coast trip.  As always, click one to get a better view!





Gosh, I'm Finally Getting Noticed...Is This Good?

I've been making these posts (irregularly!) for over three years, and never gotten any spam comments.  Now in the last month I've actually received TWO spam comments.

Ah, fame.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Protect Yourself! (Nobody Else Will)

Many times, someone will post a question on the Answers Forum, saying something like, "My password stopped working," or "I forgot my password," or even "Why did Linden Lab ban my account?"

In some cases, no doubt, these people actually committed a serious breach of the Second Life Terms of Service (that's a link for a reason, Dear Reader.  If you have not read the TOS, you really should.)  But in most cases, they probably have done nothing more than be a little gullible, or greedy, or careless -- someone sent them a URL via email, or in an IM, or a group chat, or in a notecard, and they clicked on that link.

Such links are often "phishing" scams.  The web page may look at first glance like a Second Life page, but if you enter your user name and password, they are sent to the scammer.  Then he can change your password, take all your $L, delete your inventory, and use your account to commit serious TOS violations.

And the REALLY awful thing about this is that you...yes, YOU...are responsible.  Right there in the TOS Linden Lab clearly says:

(From TOS Section 4.2, emphasis added)
You are solely responsible for all activities conducted through your Account whether or not you authorize the activity (except to the extent that activities occur because someone gains access to our system without using your identifiers and password). In the event that fraud, illegality or other conduct that violates this Agreement is discovered or reported (whether by you or someone else) that is connected with your Account, we may terminate your Account (or Accounts) as described in Section 5.

You are solely responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your password and for restricting access to your Internet Device. You are solely responsible for any harm resulting from your disclosure, or authorization of the disclosure, of your password or from any person's use of your password to gain access to your Account or Account Name. You will immediately notify us of any unauthorized use of your Account, password or username, or any other breach of security related to the Service. At no time should you respond to an online request for a password other than in connection with the log-on process to the Service. Your disclosure of your password to any other person is at your own risk. 


In other words, if someone else gets access to your account, and you fail to promptly notify LL, then they may simply terminate your account.  And any alt accounts you may have.  And you won't be allowed to make another account or use SL again.

How to Protect Yourself:
  • Read the TOS and the Community Standards and the various policies that are linked to them.  They govern your relationship with LL.  We can complain all day long about how unfair and one-sided it is, but nonetheless, this is what you agree to when you sign up for Second Life.
  • Get smart about phishing scams.  Do a web search on "phishing."  There are lots of sites that will show you what to watch out for.
  • Don't enter your password on any web site that does not start with "https" and/or does not have the domain "secondlife.com"
  • Don't use the same password for SL that you use for other things
  • WRITE DOWN your account information...name, password, email, and secret question and answer...and keep them somewhere safe.
  • DO NOT leave "remember my password" checked on the login screen.
Be careful out there!

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things


I've been a teacher, mentor, and newcomer helper in Second Life since just a few months after my own rez date.  I am or have been a member of several "helper" groups, including the now-disbanded Second Life Mentors, GQ Start, Help People, Caledon Oxbridge University, White Tiger Mentors, and, most recently, Social Island Helpers.

One of the biggest problems of the "new user experience" in Second Life is, dismayingly, Second Life's own residents.  It seems that no matter what scheme LL sets up to make those first confusing hours in the virtual world exciting and pleasant, idiots, jerks and griefers do their very best to make that experience as unpleasant as possible for the newcomer.

Some helper groups solve the problem by providing live helpers in the learning area.  These helpers are empowered to eject and ban troublemakers, or at least to call for help from a senior member of the group who can do so.  Caledon Oxbridge University uses this model, and as a result it's a quiet, peaceful, and truly newcomer-friendly place.

But the drawback of using live helpers is that the system actually requires qualified, dedicated helpers!  Linden Lab's own "new user experience" attempts have not used live helpers since the Mentor program was disbanded, and even when the Mentors were around, they never had the authority to ban troublemakers.

LL has tried to keep the troublemakers out of newcomer areas, by making some or all of the New User Experience only accessible to actual newcomers (or, when the Mentors were active, to newcomers and Mentors.)  Thus, a newcomer would first log in at an Orientation Island.  After exploring that for a while, they would find the exit and be teleported to Help Island.  And then, after leaving Help Island, they would find themselves at an Infohub, or as they were misleadingly called, a "Welcome Area."  And there they would find a crowd of hecklers, belittlers, griefers, Bloodlines spampires and other riffraff, crowded into the very first place in the new user flow they could get to.

So, LL's next idea was to disperse the newcomers as soon as they entered the main grid, instead of funneling them all into one place and thus making that place attractive to troublemakers.  This was done in a couple of different ways.  The current method works pretty well.  The exit area at Social Island is a coliseum with a number of portal doors.  Each door leads to a type or category of Destination, but the actual Destination is chosen at random by the door.  The problem with this is that most of the newcomers are not yet ready to take on the main grid...they need more learning and possibly a live helper or mentor to answer questions, whether they realize it or not.  And now they are scattered all over the main grid.  Like the griefers, mentors need to find concentrations of newcomers too!

The Lab's latest attempt at a pleasant new user experience goes back to the "two island" format.  A new resident first appears on "Exploration Island".  This island is only accessible to brand new accounts.  When you find the exit, it funnels you to "Social Island".  Social Island is an improved version of the old Help Island (see my blog post, A Visit to Social Island.)  Two of the Social Island regions have been made accessible to ordinary Residents, as well as the newcomers themselves.

I actually had some hopes for this.  Mentor and helper groups quickly discovered that these islands were chock full of confused newcomers needing and wanting help, and volunteers soon began showing up to provide that help.  A new group, Social Island Helpers, was formed.

But it was not long before the people who infest the "Welcome Areas", infohubs, and Help Island Public also discovered they could get to Social Island, and started showing up in ever-increasing numbers.  I swear, it was like sharks converging on a helpless group of baby seals.  Today, if you go to Social Island 1, you are likely to find some or all of these people there:

- The Terminally Ugly Troll
Believe me, I've seen Uglier!
 - Bloodlines Recruiter (most will try to get you to join their clan, but a few will simply send bite requests to everyone in range)

- Shills for Rental Property, Stores, Clubs, or "Free Linden" scams

- People who just use Social Island as their own private club for socializing
Scary Foul- Mouthed Person on Arrival Spot


- Gangs.  These are groups of three or more avatars who use their superior numbers to heckle or intimidate newbies.  Some overlap with the previous group.

A Gang
 - Practical Jokers who send deformers or similar devices to newcomers

- Sex Maniacs (They have to be maniacs.  Who else would solicit sex from a newbie?)

- Linden Lab Impersonators

- Showoffs playing rap in the Voice channel, using huge particle poofers, or otherwise trying to be the center of attention
Weiners!  Get Your Weiners Here!
 Advice to newcomers:  If you run into things like this, just ignore them and move on.  If they insist on annoying you, right click them and choose Mute/Block from the menu.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FLASH! Facebook Buys Oculus Rift

Today's shocker was that FB just paid TWO BILLION dollars for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality goggles that have been in the geek news for two years now, but don't yet have a shipping product.

Aside from one more proof that Mr. Zuckerberg has way more money than is good for anyone, I have no idea what this will mean for the virtual world population.  While I would gladly lay out some cash for greater immersion in Second Life, I have absolutely zero interest in Facebook or any other mainstream social network.

But I shan't rant about that, I'm just passing on the news.

The Abolition of the Avatar

I love the merchants of Second Life.  They make so many lovely things...clothes, hair, shoes, jewelry...they even make body parts that look better than what came "standard" with your avatar.  That's what we're going to talk about today.  Let's begin at the bottom and work up!

FEET.  In previous posts, I've discussed how today's better shoes come with a sculpted or mesh foot that's actually an integral part of the shoe.  You hide your own, ugly avatar foot with an alpha mask layer, and all anyone sees is your pretty mesh foot.  You can even get "bare feet", just the foot without the shoe.  Some are flat, and others put you up on tiptoe, as if you were wearing heels, but without the heels.

HANDS.  I recently broke down and got a set of mesh hands from SLink.  I love them!  They come in a variety of poses...although it would be lovely if they also came with a HUD that let you switch poses on the fly.  These hands look much prettier than the stock avatar hands, and the nails are a permanent part of them, so no more fingernails flying off!  There are skin appliers sold for them by a large number of popular skin makers, which makes color matching a one-click non-event.  The one drawback is that you MUST use one of the Standard Mesh Shapes in order to get them to fit.  I wound up going with the Medium shape, and then modifying it to re-create my own facial features.

BUNS.  Yep, you can buy a mesh ass.  As with shoes, and all attachments of this sort, you hide your standard buns with an alpha mask.  Because your new tushie is an attachment, your clothing layers won't affect it.  In order to keep from, er, letting it all hang out, you'll need to buy clothing that comes with an "applier" for your particular make of attachment.  Appliers are simply HUDs that work with the attachment and apply a clothing layer to it.  Also, mesh buns (and boobs, see below) don't respond to the avatar physics system.  That is, they cannot be made to jiggle when you walk.  Personally, I can think of only two reasons to get mesh buns:  if you want an ENORMOUS bubble butt, or if the poor detail level of the inner thigh area of the stock avatar drives you crazy.

BOOBS.  There are several makers of mesh breast attachments, but perhaps the most popular are the Lolas Tangos.  They have a lovely, perky shape that you just can't get with the stock avatar appearance sliders, and of course you can make them quite a lot larger than the sliders will allow.  There are whole web sites devoted to those women who prefer to be very well-endowed in Second Life!  (Like Maggie Bluxome's page.) Like mesh buns, mesh breasts don't respond to avatar physics or avatar clothing layers.  Clothing with appliers is a must, unless you are a nudist.

EYES.  Most eyes are simply textures, but you can get some that are actual attachments, much like wearing contact lenses.  This allows them to have functions like sparkles, or glow, or blinking at a slower speed.  And of course, you can get prim eyelashes, too, which I covered a while back.

HEAD.  Don't like your head?  Get a new one!  You can buy an entire mesh avatar head.  Eye movement, eye color, skin tone, makeup, and sometimes mouth movement is controlled by a HUD.  Like mesh boobs, mesh heads have a greater level of photorealism than you can get with the stock avatar mesh.

ALL OF ME.  Yes, you can even get complete mesh avatars.  Like the piecemeal attachments, standard clothing doesn't work with these, so you are limited to the clothing and accessories provided by the creator of the mesh avatar.  And of course, you can't adjust the body with the Appearance sliders!

Like Mesh clothing, all of these enhancements can provide a greater degree of realism.  But do be aware of their limitations as well...especially since most of them are relatively high priced items.

One caution here:  I would not buy ANY mesh body part replacements, and certainly not a complete mesh avatar, from the Marketplace.  Not only is trying out a demo of the product highly desirable, there are some scammers advertising these expensive items, but delivering empty boxes.  For more on the Empty Box Scam, read this entry.

And of course, along with Mesh clothing, they require you to wear an alpha layer to mask the part(s) of your avatar they are replacing.  You may run into a limiting factor here...you can only wear a maximum of five alpha layer items.

In fact, it's the increasing use of alpha layers that caused me to come up with the title of today's post...I wonder sometimes if, as we erase more and more of our avatars, we're getting to the point that we will soon have nothing left.  While I applaud the resourcefulness and creativity of the attachment makers, I really wish that Linden Lab would bite the bullet and produce an "Avatar 2.0", a base avatar with more detail in appearance and movement and expression.  They've made such wonderful strides in improving the look of the Second Life world, with Mesh, shadows, and Materials...I think it's high time that Second Life's inhabitants were similarly improved!  Yes, I know it would disrupt things and break all sorts of content.  But even with six years of accumulated clothes, I'd be willing to put up with re-acquiring my collection, if it meant a real improvement in avatar realism...one that everyone could create for, not the piecemeal situation we have now.

Next: A wish list for Avatar 2.0.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

When Does Enough Become Too Much?

The other night, I went over to Social Island 1 to greet newbies and hand them information.  The place was a worse zoo than usual, with one particularly obnoxious person using a graphics crasher to crash everyone who looked in his direction.  And as usual, a gang of "regulars" was talking and arguing in Voice.  Ninjas with swords were leaping about, ugly trolls were harrassing people.  All in all, it was a scene that would disorient and discourage any newcomer.

After a bit, I too started suffering from sensory overload, and went next door to Social Island 2.  These are identical copies.  There are several Discovery Islands and Social Islands, to handle the flow of incoming newbies.  Newcomers to SL go to a Discovery Island on their first login, and then to a Social Island.  From there, they have the opportunity to go anywhere in Second Life.  Most of the islands are restricted to newbies only, but as an experiment, Linden Lab opened Social Islands 1 and 2 to ordinary residents.  See my post, "A Visit to Social Island."

It was much quieter on SI2, and I calmly began handing out help notes to various newbies.  Another helper, Tak Naglo, was there too, and we struck up a conversation.  I noted that the crazies seemed to hang out at SI1, and Tak said, "No Voice, no regulars."

I checked, and sure enough, Voice was not enabled at SI2!  While I've encountered jerks and showoffs in places without Voice (even SI2) Tak's observation is a good one.  There tend to be fewer of these annoying people in places where the only way to communicate is by text.  It's much harder to shoot off your mouth when you have to do it with a keyboard.

Our discussion continued.  I was interested to find out just what constituted a "regular" in Tak's opinion.  After all, I myself have spent several hours almost every day for almost seven years in SL.  Doesn't that make me a "regular"?  And if so, must I be lumped in with that mob of foul-mouthed crazy people who hang out at places like SI1 and Ahern and Waterhead?

No, according to Tak.  A "regular", she said, is someone who spends eight or twelve hours a day, or even more, in Second Life (and often, other virtual worlds and MMORPGs as well.)  They are completely addicted, and because they spend more time in SL than in real life, the people and events of the virtual world have come to seem more real to them than "reality."  Second Life has become the place where they live their lives, and where the things that matter to them take place.

On the one hand, the thought of this is very sad.  One might be tempted to shake such a person and shout in their face, "Get a life!"  People are wasting away in front of computer screens, living their lives out in the world inside the monitor.

But, on the other hand, perhaps a lot of these people are not ABLE to "get a life."  Maybe they have some financial, social, physical or mental disability that prevents it, and so a virtual world is their only alternative.  One might wish that they could find a more productive way to spend their Second Life than hanging around newcomer areas and showing off, but if a virtual reality is their only escape from an otherwise intolerable situation, shouldn't we be glad that they HAVE this escape?

There's no hard and fast line here, either.  I don't spend twelve hours a day in SL, but I have often spent four hours at a time in world.  And although my Real Life hasn't fallen apart, I am all too aware that the hours I spend in world are hours that I could have spent doing chores or craft projects, writing, reading, or interacting with my family and others.

There has to be a balance, and if there is any conflict, the decision has to be made in favor of Real Life.  As immersive and fascinating as the virtual world can be, and as much as we love the friends we meet there, Real Life is still the place that matters most, and we must be careful not to forget that.

Stop reading this and go take your dog for a romp, or spade the garden!  It's Spring, f'gosh sakes!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Ultimate Second Life Support List (Version 1.1)

I ran across an old Forum post in which Void Singer compiled and published a great list of support and information links for Second Life.  Taking that list as the foundation of this blog post, I've updated and expanded it with links to resources both from Linden Lab and from prominent SL residents and bloggers.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed!

Information on current events and changes within SL:
  • SL Blogs  Announcements from Linden Lab
  • Grid Status  Currently known large scale failures and scheduled maintenance.  If it breaks check here first!
  • Second Life Server Forum  Particularly the weekly deploy threads for news on new features and fixes
  • Second Life Viewer Forum  Occasionally has news from Lindens on viewer changes and fixes
  • @ebbealtberg  Twitter account for Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg
Basic information and common questions:
  • @SupportLinden  A twitter account that redirects users to the likeliest resource
  • Knowledge Base  A collection of pre-formatted questions and answers on a variety of topics
  • Video Tutorials  Collection of videos detailing how to do many basic tasks and showcasing SL content
  • SL Wiki Only some information found here is official, but contains material not found in the Knowledge Base
  • Firestorm Troubleshooting Guide  Common problems and how to solve them.  Written for Firestorm users, but generally applicable to other viewers too
  • Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection  Very useful blog post from Nalates Urriah
  • SpeedTest  Test your internet connection performance
Basic support:
Active Focus Groups:
  • User Group Wiki Link  See here for a list of active user groups working on content creation, scripting issues, and server development   
In World Groups:
Join these groups for real time help with your problems.  Use Search/Groups to find them in world.
  • Firestorm Support English
  • New Resident Services
  • Caledon Oxbridge University Group
Help on Specific Topics:

Blogs and Discussion Forums:
Bookmark these sites for news about all things Second Life

Saturday, March 8, 2014

FLASH! See This and DIE LAUGHING!

OK, Cindi just sent me this link to some of the top autocorrect bloopers of all time.  I laughed until my dog thought I was having an epileptic fit.

http://seriouslyforreal.com/funny/the-25-funniest-autocorrects-of-dyacs-first-year/

If you are just a TINY bit more behind the times than me, "autocorrect" or more correctly, "autocomplete" is a handy timesaving feature of your phone that tries to predict what you are writing and do it for you, so you don't have to type everything with your thumbs.

But sometimes, Technology Runs Amok.  Thus, we have sites like "Damn You, Autocorrect"

A Surreal Visit to Moving Islands

Hello again, it's me, your informative Travel Correspondent!

A few days ago, Cindi and I were moping around the house, trying to decide what to do.  I idly started going through Destinations, and opened the Editor's Picks category.   There was an intriguing artistic-type place called "Moving Islands," one of the builds sponsored by the Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA.)

So off I flitted, dragging Cindi behind me.

Moving Islands

The entrance is strongly reminiscent of the wait line at a theme park attraction...there are a bunch of eerie looking blobby "people" standing in line to board cars that appear every few seconds at the head of the line.  Don't feel that you are being impolite by crashing the line.  Just hop in a car and you're on your way.

Moving Islands is a place that's best described as "surreal," even by Second Life standards.  I have absolutely NO idea what goes on in the brain of its creator, but I have to admit I was blown away by it all.  The whole place has a "down the rabbit hole with Alice" feel to it.

Moving Islands is a totally enclosed build.  It's divided horizontally down the middle by a "water plane," which is highly reflective from above.  You can't see what's underneath unless you duck below the surface.

All across the water is a series of...well, floating islands, and rafts, and things.  Hence, the name of the place.  Each one is worth exploring, and don't forget to mouse over things and click on them!  When you've seen all you can of the above-the-water parts, go below.  Most of the builds look completely different from under the water, and there are Things to See and explore and click on there, too.

Here are a few photos to whet your appetite -- but they don't begin to even scratch the surface.  I think that everyone's visit to Moving Islands will be different from everyone else's, if only because things look so different from various perspectives, and everything is always moving and changing.

Balanced on a...bicycle?

Sea Cow

A Tyrannosaurus, wearing Derby Hats, Polishing the Floor

Right on Target!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Would You Pay by the Hour for SL?

Hi, Faithful Readers!  (and lurkers and passersby.)

You might have seen the announcement on the SL Blog about the upcoming open beta release of "SL Go", a new viewer that will let you access Second Life on your Android tablet with the same sort of high quality graphics that you're used to seeing on your computer.

SL Go uses the On Live streaming service to accomplish this, and as a result, it'll cost you money to use...$3.00 per hour, with a discount if you buy time in larger chunks.  There is supposed to be a version coming soon for iOS, and this is perhaps the best thing about SL Go...it will finally offer a mobile app with a graphical UI for users of Apple products.

I'm very skeptical as to whether this model will succeed.  It might be useful, if you only come in world for short periods and are often away from your computer and internet connection...but there is already an Android viewer app, Lumiya, for doing that.  And Lumiya is free to use (although there is a modest one time fee to purchase it.)


I don't know about you, but I tend to use SL for embarrassingly large chunks of time at a sitting.  If I had to pay $3.00 an hour for my Second Life, I flat out wouldn't be here.

Still, if you want to check out SL Go further, see these links!

Second Life blog announcment for SL Go

Inara Pey's First Look review of SL Go

Daniel Voyager's blog, pros and cons and an opinion poll

Drax Files podcast (Tomorrow's show features a discussion of SL Go)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When I Become an Evil Overlord...

Today's post isn't about Second Life.

Well, it sort of is, because I first ran across this great item in the Second Life Forums, a long time ago.  Maybe you've heard of it...it's commonly referred to as "The Evil Overlord List".

It's a wonderful list of bad fantasy and science fiction tropes turned on their heads.  For example, haven't you ever turned to your friend at the movies and said, "Why on earth did the Bad Guys make their air vents big enough to crawl through?  That's so dumb!"

Well, here are a whole LOT of Dumb Things that you should resolve not to do, if you ever should become an Evil Overlord yourself!  Here's the link to the full list, plus a second list of another bunch of Evil Overlord advice that didn't make the cut to the Top 100.  http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html

And here are a few of my favorite examples.  The Evil Overlord List is copyright 1996/1997 by Peter Anspach, and these excerpts are used by permission.

7.  When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."

12.  One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

(Oh, just about all of the list has been made into those "motivational posters", and you can find them with a Google Image search on Evil Overlord.  Here's an example...)
Moving on...

32.  I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

42.  When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

56.  My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

74.  When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.

91.  I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.

Barney follows Number 29!
For those interested in Internet and Fannish history, there's a SECOND, similar Evil Overlord List compiled and published by Jack Butler, and it may be found here:  http://legendspbem.angelfire.com/eviloverlordlist.html  Peter and Jack appear to be maintaining a polite but slightly uneasy truce regarding who is the Original Evil Overlord.  But they're both wrong, of course.  That position belongs to Yours Truly. 

And a chilling MUWAHAHAHAAA to all you would-be Overlords out there.  Oh, come on!  You know you wanna!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Landbots Now Illegal!

OK, this may be old news to some people, but I just found out about it today.

For years, people have complained about landbots in Second Life.  You don't know what it is, this "landbot?"  Let me explain.

A "bot" (Linden Lab calls them "scripted agents") is an avatar account that is controlled by a computer program, rather than directly by a person.  Bots are used for many different things, some of them useful, and some of them...well, not so friendly.

A landbot is a bot that is programmed to look for Mainland that is set for sale at a price below its trigger threshold.  In other words, it is always looking for a bargain.  Land flippers use these bots to find and snap up land that is priced below market value.  This has provided a very useful service -- it means that a person who wants to get rid of her land right away can do so easily, and can get at least SOMEthing for it, rather than simply Abandoning it to Governor Linden.

However, a lot of careless people complained about landbots "ripping them off."  Even though it's very easy to set your land to sell to a specific, named person, they forgot, and set the land to sell to "Anyone" and then set a very low price, like $L1 intending to transfer it to a friend or an alt.

Whoosh!  In pops the landbot, and buys the land before its intended buyer can blink.

But in a recent update to their Bot Policy, Linden Lab has made using landbots illegal.  So now, if you are careless and stupid and a landbot buys your land unexpectedly, you can Abuse Report the owner of the landbot.

I'm sorry, but I really can't agree with this policy change, no matter how many idiots need to be protected from their own idiocy.  It's just another example of the Death of Personal Responsibility.  In the name of protecting a few fools from their foolishness, LL has put the final nail in the coffin for the few remaining Mainland land merchants.

(And no, I have never been a land flipper, and never owned or used a landbot.)

For those who don't care to read the whole thing, here's the relevant section of the new policy.
Using bots to purchase Mainland parcels is not allowed
The use of bots, autonomous software, scripting (manual or automated), scripted agents, or any systems or software internal or external to the Second Life service that circumvent, automate and/or remove the human interaction required to purchase a Land parcel within Second Life on the Linden Lab owned Mainland is prohibited.   

EDITED TO ADD: If I were someone willing to push the boundaries of things, I might consider using a landbot to FIND land for sale and then going and buying it in person. Arguably, this would fall within LL's definition of "human interaction required to purchase."  If you try it, let me know how it comes out.  In writing, not in person.