Thursday, 23 July 2015

147: Project Sansar -- good news, bad news

By now you may have read other articles by Second Life bloggers about Project Sansar, which is Linden Labs' code-name for its project for VR headsets like Oculus Rift. Ciaran Laval's is here -- he seems to have a good grasp of what's being talked about, as usual -- and the original article in, of all places, Variety is here. Both are well worth your time.  There's one point on "instancing" that Ciaran Laval understands a lot better than I do, and I think you should read what he has to say about it.
   It seems clear that the Lindens will be tinkering with the economic structure of the new virtual world: "Land in Second Life is quite expensive," said [Ebbe] Altberg. Trade, on the other hand, is barely regulated. Linden Lab now wants to lower real estate taxes and increase sales taxes, he explained, to make it easier for people to pitch a tent in its virtual world." I'm not sure of all the ramifications of this, but it seems as though the days of the land baron will be coming to an end; creation of things like clothing and hair will possibly be focused in the hands of fewer designers since the economics will make it more difficult to sell one's work.
   But there will definitely be a place for the hobbyist creator, I think. "Linden Lab's goal was to turn Sansar into a WordPress for VR, allowing enthusiasts and big brands alike to build VR experiences without spending tons of money and man hours on custom programming ..."
   They're going into beta now; 1.0 could launch by the end of 2016. I think it's finally time to start looking into buying myself an Oculus Rift headset and getting ready to make a change.
   And the bad news? Buried in the last paragraph. "Altberg said that Linden Lab isn't pre-populating the world with ready-made experiences or things ported over from Second Life. Instead, it's betting on its users to start shaping their world. 'It's gonna start from the beginning," he said."
   So -- I think I just cut my virtual clothing budget in half, if not more, and I'll be putting that money in a mayonnaise jar towards an Oculus Rift headset. Why bother buying virtual items you will only use for a little while? Take it from me, this is the loudest bell you've heard yet that signals the "end" of Second Life (although I suspect they may continue to support it, or even give away its code to anyone who wants to maintain the servers; it's still economically viable).
   I'm excited. A little bit sad at hearing the first ring of the death knell for Second Life as it currently exists, but actually looking forward to what's coming down the pike.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

146: Griefer alert (don't get mad, get even)

This is what griefers used to do. These days they're not
as imaginative, just vulgar.
Hey folks: I made a trip to Men Only Monthly tonight looking for interesting new stuff ... there were a few things there that I bought, and I expect I'll blog about them soon. But our trip was interrupted by four avatars who were making extremely rude and vulgar remarks about me and my husband -- completely unprompted. Between them they had a rendering cost in what must have been four digits -- not very polite to wear to a crowded shopping venue. And I haven't been insulted like that in five years of SL residence (at least not by a stranger LOL).
   I have chat logs, but I will be saving them for people whom I'm trying to convince to ban these nitwits. I left immediately and sent a notecard to the owner of Men Only Monthly, Missy (missqwerty.pevensey) -- who, I am delighted to say, got back to me immediately and banned all four of them within 30 minutes. Well done, Missy. That's the kind of customer service that makes friends and long-term customers. I'm sad to say that Missy said it's the third time this week she's had this issue with different griefers.
   But I'm going to suggest to anyone in the entire Gay Archipelago and beyond that these are not people you want to have around when your real customers like me are trying to enjoy themselves and spend money. I'm going to break my own rule and mention another resident in something other than favourable terms; ban these assholes ASAP from everything over which you have the power.  Here's the names:
  • ciɑƦđα Ʀαȼ (jae30rae)
  • Narbow シ (narisa24601)
  • B.Breezy (dodgemystds)
  • SKY (skyylarrain)
I didn't want to encourage them by printing pictures, but if you see a vulgar little slut with an ass the size of a three-car garage and a mouth like an open sewer -- that's the really nasty one. Feel free to leave a comment if you've encountered them, or if you're going to take me at my word and ban them. A couple of you have done so already; if I encounter these people anywhere in the future, at a club or a sim run by a friend, I'll have some questions.  If you have any, get in touch.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

145: Hair Fair 2015, the Rusty way

A&A: Hercules (not from Hair Fair)
Hair Fair 2015 was a tough sim to get into -- it took me nearly a week before I could even cross the border, and then I crashed a bunch of times in the next hour of wandering around. But I was determined to keep going ... okay, I have to admit it, I'm kind of a hair addict. And sure, it was a good cause, yada yada, but frankly I just wanted an excuse to go out and get some new hair.
   Now, in the last few days,
Damselfly: Park (Tuxedo)
I've been seeing a lot of stuff from SL bloggers complaining that they jump through a lot of hoops to affiliate themselves with certain designers and then get dropped for any or no good reason. I have to admit, the lady who complained that she got dumped for not posting often enough when she was actually in the hospital was right on the money; I'd be pissed too.
   But you know, it's never occurred to me to "affiliate" myself with a designer. Sure, it means you get free stuff; I gave up looking for free stuff in Second Life a
Sage: Andre (Crow)
few years back, when I realized it was usually more trouble to sort and try on than it was to use. I'm the type of guy who thinks, "Oh, I need a winter sweater to go with those black pants" and goes and buys one on Marketplace or when I see one in a store ... but I think it's safe to say that I have a specific style of dressing. It's very simple, not particularly revealing, not really in bright colours. I don't think dressing myself from a single store's products would suit me, and if I affiliated myself with a store, I wouldn't
Phoenix: Jaden
feel that I looked like myself for the most part. I only blog about a piece of clothing when I'm particularly pleased with it, and I think I have more credibility that way. And I buy my own things, thanks. Bloggers who are required to be enthusiastic about everything that comes from a single designer (or else the designer will shut off the flow of free stuff) seem to me to be rather like self-employed sales flyers, and I throw sales flyers in the garbage.
   So that brings me to Hair Fair. I went
Exile: Future Outcasts
to Hair Fair, looked around, and bought quite a few pieces of hair. I came home and tried them all on; some I liked more, some I liked less. Some had problems that I hadn't expected. I paid for them myself and I get to talk about them honestly. And I thought I'd do a little photo shoot that showed them all off and gave the average guy, like myself, an idea of what they were likely to find at Hair Fair.
   I did this shoot by calling up the internal search engine and typing in "barber shop"; the first result was
Uw:St: Robin
maintained by a group called "Haircutting Fetishists Role Play", and you can find it here. I started with an old hair of mine from A&A to give you an idea of something that I think suits me; at the end I'll show you the hairbase underneath it all.
   From the top: Park, from Damselfly, is a nice short haircut. A little bit high in the front but that tends to suit me, since I have a large head (slider at 85) and usually bump up the hair size at least 15% when I can. I'd wear this one with a business suit.
Bade: Micha
   Andre, from Sage (the colour name is Crow) didn't really work well for me; I think that's because I wear jet black hair and you can't see the detail like you could in a lighter colour. But I also couldn't seem to get the hair size correct. This is one of those ones where you shrug and think "Oh well" and put it in a folder marked "Emergencies only". It's fair enough, would be good in a role-play type situation; just that it didn't look perfect and a few minutes' fussing didn't fix it.
   Jaden, from Phoenix, is a nice-
Tableau Vivant: Last Train Home
looking hair if you wear hats. I like to have a hair like this to match up reasonably with the A&A hair at the top of this post -- remove the hat and do a quick change to the longer hair that is purportedly underneath. This one comes with a HUD to change the hat colour, which is useful. If you prepare in advance it can be quite a good quick-change effect; I'll keep this one in an active folder of hair.
   Future Outcasts, from Exile, is an excellent long-hair look. I think Exile do a good job with long hair and I like
Analog Dog: Sassafras
wearing my hair long; I have a few of theirs and this is really the nicest of them all. It just looks like you could grab a handful and it would be thick and strong. There's the usual problem with pieces of hair that seem to go through the body, which is almost unavoidable, but the hair's motion is very nice and it's hard to see that little issue. This goes to the top of my folder of long hair.
   Next is the Robin hair from Uw:St, which I think is a company I used to know as UncleWeb. (If I'm wrong, comment please.) There's something
The hairbase underlying these cuts
about this one that I liked a lot; Alex Thaub liked it too, as he likes me in this length of hair, and keeping the BF happy is important!. Hard to say if this is 60s or 70s or even 80s -- it's definitely not a 2015 length, but I'm a little old-fashioned that way. Top marks for this one.
   The Micha hair from Bade -- I didn't seem to get a good picture of this one, but I'm not sure I'll be wearing it much anyway. The little topknot at the back is the way I brush my hair back at the gym in real life to keep it out of the way, but that's not something I do a hell of a lot in SL. I bought it because it reminded me of my real hair; I forgot in Second Life I'm not restricted to my real hair. (Remember that I'm grabbing this hair and crashing constantly, so my decisions are made quickly.)
   Last Train Home from Tableau Vivant: there's something odd about this hair on the short side of the part, and when I sized it up enough to fit my enormous head LOL, it just didn't seem correctly proportioned. Frankly this is just a hair for someone who's av is bringing off a much younger look than mine; it's good hair, just doesn't suit me like I thought it might.
   Finally, the Sassafras hair from Analog Dog was stepping out a little bit for me -- this is female hair. But I've wanted a nice long curly "Italian" mop for quite some time and not found anything quite to my taste; I sized it up and it fits fine. If you look closely you can see a flag sticking out of my head; that's because this is a demo hair. I couldn't get back into Hair Fair to go and get the actual hair, but I intend to: I may not wear this hair all that often but I'm sure I'll find a use for it. Again, like all long hair, this one tends to weave through the body a bit, but it has a nice bouncy, springy quality to it that tends to draw the eye away from the problems.
   Finally, I wanted to show you that there was a pretty standard hairbase underneath all these cuts. I suspect there might be a hair designer reading this and thinking, "Oh, SURE he didn't like the hair, he didn't use the custom base I included!" Okay, if you did, I apologize. But that's why I included this shot; designers, this is how people actually use your hair. They don't have time to carefully switch hairbases if they're doing a quick change ... Unless there's something totally wrong, I'll just try to make it work with the base I'm wearing. Sorry to burst your bubble.
   I do feel sorry for the fashion bloggers who are having all the problems with designers. But, you know, if you pay for the stuff you talk about, you can say what you like -- no need to be vicious, of course, just do a consumer report that's going to do a favour for the next person who might be about to, say, wander through Hair Fair. And if any designers object to what I've said here, they can comfort themselves with the fact that I paid retail. I actually left out a couple of pieces I picked up as gifts from Hair Fair; I didn't like them and won't be wearing them, but it seems a bit churlish to complain about a gift, so I've merely omitted them.
   Hair Fair is running for a week or two longer -- everyone in SL wears hair, it's fun to look around and see what the latest styles are like, and a lot of the proceeds go to a charitable good cause. Check it out.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

144: Second Life Sex On// (HBO)

The other night I was looking forward to watching a program called Sex On // (the slashes are part of the title of the programme, which makes searching for information a real sonovabitch, I'll tell you!) which, in a brief 35 minutes, promised to have a segment on sex with the Oculus Rift headset and a separate segment on sex in Second Life.
   Really, HBO Canada, I'm very disappointed with you. Both segments were almost exactly the same (as were segments on online femdom, polyamory, and female/male sex wrestling). No insight, no attempt to say anything at all about what drives these ideas and where they come from. I can tell you the content of each brief segment quite easily: "Sex exists in this context, and this is what it looks like. And here's another picture of it. And here's a BUNCH of pictures of it. Let's see how much of it we can show you without transgressing the Broadcast Standards Code, while the voice-over talks about the fact that these things happen without relating to the images."
   So the Oculus Rift segment showed semi-pornographic images of people having sex that you can see if you wear the headset, and the Second Life segment showed semi-pornographic images of people having sex that you can see if you have a Second Life account. In fact, the whole thing was pretty clearly designed to show images of sexual activity on HBO Canada. Just about the only thing you cannot show these days, apparently, is an erect human penis.
   In the segment on Oculus Rift, I learned you can show a vagina, cunnilingus, lesbianism, strap-ons, fellatio with the actual penis carefully concealed, female masturbation, and more breasts than the chicken section of the meat counter at the supermarket. And in the segment on Second Life, more of the same, except apparently you can show non-human or virtual penises, including some av standing in front of a three-metre penis sculpture worshiping it, and a purple werewolf with two penises. And you can show two male avs having sex, which perish forbid you should show in the Oculus Rift segment. Plenty of pseudo-lesbians with long fingernails, but no males.
   The SL segment was guided by an av named Alycia Blaylock, who has been in SL since 2009 and has apparently never upgraded her av since that point. In fact the whole segment looks like it was shot around 2009, judging by the ghastly sculpty hair. There was even the standard noob av in a striped shirt at a party at one point holding a video camera. Alycia is aware that there is sex in SL and says so -- she has no insight into it, merely that it happens and sometimes involves her. I realize that Alycia is not responsible for what the producers decided to do, but if I had contributed to that segment, I'd retire from SL and come back as an alt. So if you know her, ask her what she was thinking.
   One av announces that, gasp, he's chubby in RL but not in SL. Ooh, I had an insight moment there. The most interesting bit was where some large-breasted av was dancing at a party and saying, "Yeah, he's my husband in SL and my husband in RL, and we swing in both worlds, and ..." And then her RL toddler broke in on the voice channel and asked for something and she said, "Not now, honey." Yeah, not now, honey. Mommy's making a fool of herself on national television.
   Anyway. I could continue to be crabby, but the point is, SL and Oculus Rift just got assraped again by some producer who wanted to show images of sexual activity on TV without going down the FCC/wardrobe malfunction/huge fines path. Ugh. Avoid this, seriously consider giving up HBO (well, okay, no, I'm a GoT junkie) and if a producer from Matador Productions asks you to participate in a video shoot, run.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

143: My 5th rezday party at RED

It seems like only a few days ago that I was trying to figure out how to use my AO so I wouldn't walk like a duck, and now, here I am, an old hand -- capable of leaving the house with my penis hanging out, or deleting my own house by accident twice as fast as ever before. ;-) Yes, I've been a resident in Second Life for five years now, and last night I celebrated with a party at RED, my friend Cupric Router's latest club. Coop
and Hottie B. [mjshotboy.skytower] were in charge of the music and celebrations.
   Folks, I had a wonderful time.  Thanks very much. VERY much. You filled a gift box with L$2850 for me and I split it between RED and Second Pride -- L$2450 each.  Hey, I'm elderly, I can make mistakes in math ... and as I always say, if you don't support the institutions you like in Second Life, they go away.
   There were a couple of people who messaged because they couldn't make
it, for which thanks. Everyone else, I'm going to name-check here ... I was having too much fun to take individual photographs, and I was worried about crashing out of my own party, so I just spun my camera in a circle and took crowd shots.  Y'all know who you are, and you all looked GREAT.
   Thanks to my darling Alex Thaub and, in no particular order, Marly Moon [marlymoon], Nikolai Warden, Cayson Triellis, Cygnus Neox [cygnus.jun], Uz Bigbear [uzme.evermore], Kerrdan, my
fellow blogger Ziggy Starsmith looking skunky-cute as ever, Astanias Jayaram, Wes [weshalston], JJ Phoenix [safakako], Mano Phoenix [manotheartist], newcomer Mitch DeLuca [ispdude], Jose Vuckovic, my neighbour Jak Calcutt, the lovely Khar [kharissa.indigo], Lledge Eames, Stallion Pizzaro [ownedbosk], Fabio Descenna, Andriaj Juran, and JP Damien [bantamhill].
   Good music, good friends, and a good time was had by all!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

142: Do our RL friends think SL is all about the sexytimes?

From time to time I come across an interesting piece of writing about Second Life. Frequently I have a comment about it, so I pass it along with my gloss on the concepts, but in this case I don't have much to add; I merely wanted to share this because I think you'll find it interesting. Should we be worried that non-SL folks associate Second Life with adult content? In a recent analysis, the very intelligent Canary Beck suggests that we should not worry, because Google Analytics tells us that they don't.

This is something I've thought about; it makes me more reluctant to talk about SL to my friends and family, because I suspect they may perceive it as sleazy and, pretty much, something they don't want to know about.  Apparently that was my issue but not theirs.  You should read the article, though, which marshals a lot of scientific evidence in a useful and sensible way. (Well done Canary Beck!) If and when you ever have an argument about this, you'll want to have this kind of evidence on hand to crush the opponents.

Read the article here.  I swiped the picture of Canary Beck from her blog to show you that she's also really, really skilled at creating a great-looking av.