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Friday, March 29, 2019

Internet Privacy

Hi, faithful readers!

Today, I'm writing about something I really don't understand.  So, all of you wireheads and techies, feel free to correct me...but keep it at kindergarten level, please!

Can you be private on the internet?  No, not really.  If someone wants your personal information, and you have any sort of online presence, they're going to be able to get it.

But, you can take some steps to at least make it harder for them.

  • Don't use Google Chrome as your web browser.  It's almost impossible to totally avoid Google and still be online, but at least don't use their main products - Chrome, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger.  I switched to Firefox for my browsing.  You may want to go further and look into the TOR browser.
  • If you must have a Google account, consider using a false name, and don't link it to your main email account.
  • Ditto for social media.  Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Don't give out your main phone number online either.  Consider getting a "burner" phone and use its number for your online activities (Note, I haven't done this personally...but I'm thinking about it!)
  • Don't use Google Search as your main search engine, either.  Try Duck Duck Go.
  • Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Your ISP can collect all sorts of information about you and your browsing habits...but not if you channel your connection through a VPN.  I recently signed up for NordVPN, and found that it was not that hard to set up and use!
  • Try using an encrypted messaging service.  You can't trust WhatsApp any longer...Facebook now owns it, and if they aren't mining your data now, they probably will soon.  I switched to Signal.
Will using a VPN hurt my online performance with Second Life?  I have, I think, noticed a small decrease in performance, using NordVPN and a US-based server...but it has been a very small impact, only a few frames per second.  I think the added protection is worth it.

I have noticed that there are a few websites that won't let me access them while using my VPN.  I understand that some sites do this because spammers and scammers use VPNs too.  It's not a big problem...if I absolutely must visit that site (usually to buy something that only they sell) I'll turn off the VPN.

When signing up for any "free" service, remember:  If they're not selling you something, then you're the commodity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Way to Sell Land - Auctions

There have been land auctions in Second Life for a long time.  Land would be offered by Linden Lab for auction, and the auctions worked rather like an eBay auction.  You put in the maximum amount you're willing to pay, and then the current bid price is raised until it exceeds anyone else's maximum bid, and you become the current leading bidder.  Or, if another bidder's maximum is larger than yours, until the current bid just exceeds your maximum, and you're told you've been out-bid.

Linden Lab used the Auctions in two ways.  Auctions denominated in $L were used to sell off parcels that had been Abandoned by their last owner, and others denominated in $USD were used to auction off whole regions, when LL created a new Mainland continent.

Over the last few months, Linden Lab did an extensive re-vamp of their Mainland Auctions.  The Auctions page has moved to the Place Pages.  (See: https://places.secondlife.com/auctions#0 ).

(Wait! I hear you say.  What are Place Pages?  For more on that, see here.)

Part of  the reason for the update was to include a new capability: Resident to Resident auctions.  LL just announced that this new method of selling Mainland is now available.  (See:  Official Blog Post)

There are, as you might expect, some fine points to keep in mind.

  • Only Mainland can be auctioned, not private estate land
  • The land cannot be group owned
  • Linden Lab takes a 15% cut of the auction proceeds
If you have some Mainland to sell, and don't know what price you should set, selling it at auction could be a good alternative to simply setting it for sale in the usual way.

Oh...and if you are selling land, by whatever method, please do remember to take down your ban lines!  Nothing is more annoying to a potential buyer than to arrive at your land and be confronted by yellow police tape telling them they're not welcome.