log (2006/12/01 to 2006/12/07)

Well, so, let's see. I made my first piece of real custom Second Life clothing, an Individual-I T-shirt:

Dale Innis in his I-I T-shirt

Thanks much to friend Eleanor for pointing us at this blurb about a tool for previewing clothing textures locally before spending the 10 Lindens to upload them and finding out that they look awful.

I've been flying around high up in the sky, poking around into interesting sky-structures and stuff, and noticing that some of them (and some other places in the world) seem to think that they're more secure than they really are. So, just for fun, I set up an event to talk about the subject (and to subtly attempt to sell my services as a security auditor for your skybox).

I didn't figure I'd get many visitors, but then I noticed that it'd been mentioned as one of the non-stupid events of the week in Rik's Picks on the popular New World Notes weblog. Which was a little scary!

What actually happened was that a few minutes before the event was to start, I got to experience my first SL replicant attack firsthand. Something called "griefornament" (owned by "unknown user") offered me an object called "griefornament". Which was pretty suspicious, but thinking "what the heck" I accepted it, and lay it on the ground next to me to examine.

It turned out to be a color-flashing round Christmas ornament, which immediately flew into the air. And more and more of them appeared and flew around and offered copies of themselves to me. And local gravity got all strange.

It was impressive.

I IMd Live Help, and the other person on the lot (who had come for my event but we were kind of distracted) also IMd Live Help, and they eventually IMd back saying yeah they were on it. More and more and more of the ornaments flew around and embedded themselves into the floor and offered themselves to us, and we had to fly to keep from rising into the sky. Another person came by, also intending to intend the event but very distracted, and we all stood around complaining about the lag and all the object-offer messages and talking about viruses and grid attacks and weapons and shields and so on. Local gravity returned to normal.

Eventually (in fact about the time my event was scheduled to end; it must have been intended to keep me from spreading my wisdom!), the ornaments calmed down, and after a bit they all seemed to fly off, or vanish, or something. Shortly after that Torley Linden (a Linden Labs Liaison) came by, in the form of a small monster with a watermelon for a head driving a little toy car (it's a strange world), and asked us if we'd had any, and if they were gone, and saying that we should get rid of any in our inventories. I had four; the original one that I'd accepted and three others that had been mysteriously auto-returned to me by auto-returns that somehow thought I was their owner (very odd). I deleted them all (I'd checked earlier and noticed that the scripts were execute-only, so nothing interesting to look at), as an obedient Citizen.

(While Torley was there, I noticed that Amarantha, the little attendant fae that I've been working on, couldn't see her. I asked about that, and she said that yeah she was invisible to scripts at the moment, and that's something that she can turn on and off at will; also cool.)

So my Event was quite disrupted (I did give out half a dozen copies of my free skybox security brochure, but I didn't give away any free audits or contract for any future audits), but it was well worth it for the interestingness of the event. (We also noticed a few candy-canes zipping through the air during the attack, as mentioned in the official Linden weblog entry on the attack, but they were barely noticable.)

Some previous replicator attacks have basically brought down the world; this one seems to have been much milder (at least where I was), and/or the People In Charge have gotten better at dealing with them.

I've also been working hard on my little fae companion Amarantha, but I'll talk about her some other time; this is getting long already. (I also visited the famous Aubretech weapon shop and met a friendly guy who's been playing much longer than I have and we talked about the relative advantages of magic v. technology and played around with our weapons and shields and stuff, and...)

In non-SL news (what's that?), let's see.

Was the election rigged?

"The numbers tell us there absolutely was hacking going on, just not enough to overcome the size of the actual turnout. The tide turned so much in the last few weeks before the eleciton. It looks for all the world that they'd already figured out the percentage they needed to rig, when the programming of the vote rigging software was distributed weeks before the election, and it wasn't enough," Castleman commented.

From here (which is also well worth reading in itself), a web comic that I really wish I had time to read more of.

A free Stross-Doctorow short story that's worth reading (and I actually read it!).

Evidence for the important question of which browser the UFOs are using these days.

Ajax Security: Stronger than Dirt?: A look at the security implications of Ajax.

Hah, there, I posted some actual links! This is a weblog after all...

Continuing our Theme, I'm sufficiently manic SL-wise that I get a little ways into one project (the Magic Bracelet, say) when I'm seized by a different idea (the attendant fairy, say), and I launch into designing and coding the new one, leaving the original one behind in the dust.

Will I eventually calm down enough to go back and finish up the left-behind ones? Or will I get tired of the whole thing?

Yesterday (among other things; I'm not going to chronicle all the details of every SL day (I know you're disappointed)) I went to a live vocal performance (i.e. singin') on Mill Pond island (which was all snowy and decorated up for the Solstice season; very nice atmosphere). The singer was standing on the stage in SL, and the RL human ("player"?) was talking and singing into her RL microphone and streaming that audio into the world. We audiences were lounging around and dancing and clapping and stuff. It was very nice.

An SL friend of mine (who asks me to teleport him in whenever he sees me online, seems like) got tired of the singing and went off to explore the nearby town. He found a nice coffeehouse, and a bookstore (which seemed to be some sort of web-link into Amazon, although I didn't explore it). We had some Green Tea.

I think I've figured out what's going on with the "camping chairs" where you can get paid to just sit there in a chair for a long time. It's not (or not primarily) that the people who come to sit in the chair buy stuff; it's that having those people sitting there causes a green blob on the minimap, and explorers and wanderers coming by at random generally head for the green blobs (on the theory that something interesting might be going on there, since there are people). And presumably when they find out it's only some people in camping chairs, they still sometimes see something interesting in a store and buy it.

I don't know if it's actually worthwhile for most malls, or for any given mall, but I think that that's what's actually going on.

Here's an an Eclipse plugin for Linden Scripting Language, the scripting language in Second Life. Narf narf narf!

(A great idea, actually. But still, narf narf narf!)

A discerning reader writes:

If you liked your one day in SL, you should move to NYC. Very similar.

Well, in fact! I was thinking that same thing, and I got a chance to compare the two over the weekend, because I went into the RL New York City and went to an RL planetarium and saw a big "Cosmic Collisions" show, and then we all went and looked at the dinosaurs and stuff. It was fun! And I noticed that, during the time I was in NYC at the RL Planetarium, there was a planetarium show opening in SL also; I wonder how that went?

Some comparisons between RL and SL:

  • No flying or teleports in RL; I had to "take a train" to get from my home region to the RL NYC. Very silly, although it did have its fun aspects. I also had to walk from the "train station" to the actual place; that was actually very pleasant and bracing (although it'd be nice to have teleports available in case of being in a hurry).
  • No smells in SL; but since I can't smell anything anymore in RL anyway (hafta do something about that), that doesn't currently matter to me.
  • RL is very laggy; in walking from the station to the museum, I ended up on the parcel where they did the RL "tree-lighting" the other day, and it was really crowded! There were so many AVs in the region that the sim was really laggy; everyone seemed to be moving through molasses. If this was SL, they would just have cloned the parcel a few times and distributed the people among them (or at least stopped letting more people in). On the other hand SL sims crash now and then, and RL ones hardly ever do.
  • Interesting people in both, but the conversations in RL are (what?) deeper and more intense so far. I know some of the RL people in NYC better than I know any SL people (that I've spent much time with there so far) at the moment, so it's not an entirely fair comparison. It'll be interesting to see how closely I come to know anyone purely through SL.
  • Widely varied avatars, also in both worlds. In some sense there's more room for self-expression in SL (both because it's easy to make your skin bright green, say, and because there's no real social stigma attached to it), but RL is higher-res and has a higher information-density, so in terms of actual variety RL probably wins out here.
  • Food in RL only. This is a big win for RL; one of the things I liked most in GNE was making milkshakes and stuff (for some unknown reason). SL needs virtual food.
  • Hard to make stuff in RL; especially fancy scripted stuff. The RL laws of physics are much less hacker-friendly than the ones in SL, and they haven't been enhanced in a long time. On the other hand, as noted above, RL things have a much higher information density, and density is good.

So I don't know, those are the top-of-the-head comparisons. No obvious winner; I think I'll keep playing both, at least for the time being. *8)

Let's see. Here's the Second Life Liberation Army (weblog). I can't tell if they're sort of self-parodying performance art, or if they really mean it. In the latter case (or in either case, really), they seem to be the kind of people who give the Left a bad name. I mean, sheesh!

On the other hand, people who do SL events with no thought for security at all give the other side a bad name:

DK: So what happened at the Big Brother opening?
Anonymous: The residents had to walk over the red carpet before entering the house. But they were caged and set on fire.

Narf narf, eh?

Anyway, once I'm done with this RL "work" thing, I'll be at home making a Magic Bracelet containing various useful spells, that I can give out freely and virally, to spread my SL fame. And trying to make my new hoverdisc's movement pattern look less jerky and lame. And sorting out the 1800-odd objects in my inventory. And, and, and...

Continuing to chronicle our sudden fascination with Second Life (I hope y'all find this at least as fascinating as The Sims)...

So after weblogging and having dinner yesterday, we (by which we mean "I") tried to go to a fashion show but it was full, which turned out to be a good thing because we then went to the opening of a sculpture park.

Interesting and graceful art in an attractive wintery setting, and neat people to talk to, including one woman in an elegant black evening gown whose last name was also Innis; she was amused when I addressed her as "Cousin", and decided that we're SL brother and sister. We went around the garden together looking at the art (when I mentioned I was underdressed another attendee gave me a nice white tuxedo outfit to wear), and then sat on cushions in an igloo chatting and giving advice to someone who was in SL for the first time (my fellow Innis and I are both a whole week old, and therefore experts).

After that we got separated by some lag and client problems, and I ended up in the host's small but aesthetic house nearby with half a dozen of the other guests (and the host). We had a discussion about real and virtual art, and one of the guests invited us all to join the Virtual Artists Association that she'd recently created (so now I can display "Virtual Artist" over my head). We eventually broke up, promising to get together via the VAA and talk about art and show each other our things and all.

From the sculpture park I went to the opening of a beach club, with hot-tub and dance floor and bar (I took off the tuxedo, except for the white pants which I converted into shorts). I chatted with the owners of the club, and got invited to the club's customer group, so now I can display "Purple Parrot VIP" or whatever it is over my head also.

While I was dancing there I got an invitation from my fellow Innis to come to a party at the club where she works. I accepted, and found myself in a darker and more intense place, trying not to oogle my sister as her avatar writhed very fetchingly on the runway.

My experience with dance clubs in SL so far is that while fun they're boringly similar, varying mostly in size and darkness, and in space devoted to patron dance-space v. space devoted to pole / chair / tipjar dancers and gambling machines.

The theme at that club last night was "pink", so I colored my T-shirt and shorts and head-tentacle all pink, and got out a sparkly halo and colored that pink also. Danced and chatted there for awhile (and didn't put any money in the gambling machines), and then another friend invited me to another party up in a skybox. I danced a bit there and voted on the "sexiest avatar" board, tangoed with one of the dancers, and chatted with the security guard (whose role I haven't really figured out yet).

After awhile I went back to Warmouth, pretty much partied out (I had to log out and back in to stop dancing; my avatar must enjoy it!). I talked to some of the Warmouth regulars, IMd my fellow Innis the brilliant idea that we should start a group just for people whose last name is "Innis" (she liked the idea, and we're going to do it as soon as we've saved up the $L100 it costs), and then went to an ice-skating and chair-sitting party at a mall opening that I saw in Events. That was kind of fun, and I earned two $L by sitting in a chair for ten minutes. (Very odd; we'll have to investigate "chair camping" more sometime. I IM'd the owner of the chair about why she paid people to sit in it, and she said "for traffic"; seems unlikely to me that the people lured to the site by the chairs spend more on average than L$12 an hour, but what do I know). Then I went back to Warmouth and thought about hoverboard designs a bit, and logged off for the night.

So in one day I took a craft class, attended a discussion on hypertext and a seminar on world peace, went to a sculpture park, joined a virtual artist's association, acquired a sister, danced at at least three different clubs and joined the customer group of one, thought of a clever new group to found, and met at least half a dozen interesting people.


Okay, so at the moment I'm starry-eyed and drooling (quite an image, really): Second Life is a Whole New Thing, and it (or something like it) is going to revolutionize society, redefine our lives, and generally shape the future of humanity. And also (and all because) it's just so freaking k00l.

Which is to say, I've been spending quite a bit of time in there again, enjoying myself hugely, and it hasn't been crashing very much at all.

I stayed up much too late last night making stuff and talking to people and exploring and getting distracted. Then I woke up considerably too early, and couldn't go back to sleep because I was thinking of more things to do. I forced myself to lie there for awhile, 'cause Mom always said that resting is good even if you can't sleep, and then I brought the MacBook into bed with me and looked at the Events page, and saw that there was a basic object-building class at 8am (Eastern), and a few minutes and a teleport later:

Dale takes a class

There I am (as the male Dale Innis), putting the little candle into the base of the lantern that I'm making, along with about a dozen others (not shown), under the tutelage of the teacher sitting on the sign up there (she looks like she's typing because when you're writing something into the chat box, your avatar makes typing motions; silly but effective).

So we all made nice little lanterns and thanked the teacher and had friendly conversations, and it was great fun. I didn't actually need a lantern, but I did want to see how in-world teaching (about the world) works; and it apparently works pretty well.

A little while later, after checking the Events board and exploring the world some more, I was sitting comfortably on a couch in a neat little underwater room, talking to two or three other folks about Xanadu and the past and future of hypertext, why for-fee information filtering services haven't taken off in the retail space, how to avoid undesirable chaos in systems like Second Life, and all like that there (the transcript will probably be up on Hyperworlds dot org sometime son).

And then after I picked up the little daughter from dance, I attended a session of a seminar on democracy and war and peace and democide and so on run by a professor emeritus at the University of Hawai'i (drop-ins welcome). We sat on cushions around a big table, about a dozen of us with the Prof at the head, and talked about international law, and what constitutes murder, and whether the UN is a government, and like that, for an hour and a half. (And we congratulated the person sitting next to him on having successfully defended her PhD thesis.) That also worked pretty well (although it did emphasize to me that in this particular Whole New World one's casual typing speed has alot to do with how effectively one can communicate).

So. Between breakfast and dinner I took a crafts class, went to an open-house discussion of hypertext, and sat in on a graduate seminar in international relations. I made two or three slightly-more-than-casual acquaintances, and exchanged a few calling cards.

And I was still in my pajamas.

I also wrote a little script to tell me the names and locations of everyone within about 90m of me, and another script to drop a big glass bowl onto the head of anyone whose name I put into the right magical incantation. Just in case I ever need to grief a griefer. *8) Although mostly just for the fun of making it.

At first I attached the scripts to a little floating thing that included another script that made it follow me around, but since the floaty doesn't follow me through teleports and otherwise sometimes gets lost, I moved them to my helmet. Then, just before the seminar, I decided that wearing a blue swirly helmet and head-tentacle was a bit frivolous when talking about genocide and all, so I quickly whipped up a small toroidal forearm-bracelet and moved the scripts there.

Sounds like something out of a flippin' fantasy novel, eh? Maybe not necessarily a good fantasy novel, but still...

(I also spent quite a bit of time staring open-mouthed in awe at the things, mostly by one Jessica Qin, on the island of Jessica; but at the moment I can't muster any words that would do it any justice at all.)

So anyway yeah, I'm currently wildly overenthusiastic and high on hype. I'm sure it'll pass eventually and I'll have some more realistic (in one way or another) impression of the whole thing.

But for now, I'm off to check the Events board. I think maybe I'll ask Santa for a year's worth of SL Premium for Solstice... *8)