Fade to grey

fadePeople often talk about SL in terms of it being an escape from the drudgery of the real world, and I suppose there’s a very strong argument in favour of that contention. There are many ways in which the real world can struggle to compete with the richness and diversity of its virtual equivalent – creativity, whimsy, indulgence, freedom, colour, space and potential – and, whilst by no means absent from RL, these are things that can frequently be much harder to find, require far more effort to achieve and may well be in far more short supply in RL than they are inworld.

Then there are the various ‘escapes’ that SL offers: escape from commitments of so many kinds; escape from physical and material limitations, and escape from societal and personal restraints. The virtual world is full of allure that the real world can struggle to match.

In the main, there’s probably very little wrong with fulfilling a need to escape from reality – it’s not a new thing, people have achieved much the same result through various mediums ever since attaining conscious thought. Music, drama, art, literature and cinema have all played their part, but they can only ever be transient diversions from the real world – at some point we have to put down our novel, take off the costumes, or leave the cinema, blinking in surprise that it’s still daylight outside. To some extent that might be considered beneficial – you can have too much of a good thing, and even the most stimulating pursuits can become dull and lacklustre, even monotonous, when there’s nothing else in life to draw our attention. However, that’s not to say that the return to reality is a happy one; we’ve all experienced that post-holiday dissonance, the drop after the sensory high, and those depressing, energy-sapping feelings that the treadmill awaits us and the fun is over.

Many of us face that same sinking feeling when we log out from SL. The transition from SL to RL – from colour and vibrancy to grey dull routine; from fun and games to work and responsibilities can be acute. There’s a feeling of finality when we logout; a feeling we’ve made that conscious decision to opt out of the good times to face the reality of life, work and responsibilities, and that’s a feeling that may be wholly contrived – life in the real world may not necessarily be all that bad, but in comparison with the gaudiness of SL, it can feel very dowdy, grey and lacklustre indeed – grim, even. Way back at the beginning of 2011, I mentioned how cinema-goers were documented to have felt a palpable ‘low’ when leaving showings of Avatar – after the colour, vibrancy and escapism of Cameron’s Pandora, planet Earth felt a dull and deeply unsatisfying place to be. The same might easily be said to hold true for SL.

perduta14_001If we think about it objectively, the real world can compete with SL, and beat it hands-down. There are experiences I’ve been granted by RL that SL could never replicate or even come close to, however where SL does hold all the cards is in its immediacy and accessibility. In RL, all the truly momentous moments in my life have come about either as a result of planning, effort and endeavour, or as a result of extraordinary sequences of events or plain good luck – they have been mostly fleeting and, in the main, unique. That’s certainly not the case in SL, where the vast majority of noteworthy moments can be replicated as often as we wish and usually when we want – it’s instant gratification and it hits the spot with an immediacy that the real world simply cannot. In what other circumstances could I flop on the sofa after a long hard day in work, and within minutes be sat in a flower garden, surrounded by birdsong; or flying through the clouds, high above the ground; or hammering down the road on a Harley? In SL, I can do that whenever I wish, time and time again… I can’t do that in the real world.

Is it any wonder that SL is like a virtual narcotic for the wistful mind? And, is it any wonder that logging out from our virtual world is like coming down from from a emotional high? As we slump back into our seats, the colours, sights and sounds begin to fade, the world around us resolves into tones of grey, and all that remains is a memory and a vague disquiet that there must be more than this?

But, it’s not so bad – we’ll log in again tomorrow!

s. x

Sent la pluie comme un été Anglais
Entends les notes d’une chanson lointaine
Sortant de derriere d’un poster
Espérant que la vie ne fut aussi longue
Visage – Fade To Grey

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment


bohrA great many of the conversations I have in SL fall into the category of ‘not serious’ – and, it must be said that most of those are at the frivolous end of the spectrum and could be described in terms that range anywhere between odd, weird, way out, bizarre, surreal and esoteric. You can draw your own conclusions from that, but as far as I’m concerned, SL is mainly about having fun and escaping the serious side of life, and therefore my interactions with others are usually going to reflect that fact. In the real world I spend an inordinate amount of time being sensible, serious and ‘grown-up’, so I don’t see why my SL time should have to follow the same pattern.

Maybe I do talk a lot of nonsense too, but I’m not bothered, and there’s plenty like me who are no better! Although, as a consequence, when I do have a serious exchange inworld, it can at times seem even more surreal than the daft ones.

Then there are the deep, meaningful, late night philosophical discussions – we’ve all been there; and I also tend to find myself caught up in fervent debates on various and diverse topics of a scientific nature. This, in particular, may have something to do with the sort of people I frequently associate with inworld: off the top of my head, I can think of at least four doctors, of both persuasions – medical and academic – several IT experts, teachers, lecturers, at least one rocket scientist and a number of people whose mental faculties leave me in awe. It’s hardly surprising that topics for conversation can occasionally stray into some fairly heavy territory. I enjoy it though.

Recently, I’ve debated black holes, string theory, alternative energy, perpetual motion, deep space exploration, Schrodinger’s cat, self -aware robots and quantum entanglement… Most of them within the same conversation!

Those of you unfamiliar with the aforesaid quantum entanglement, might want to check out the fairly straightforward explanation given by Wikipedia; it’s not quite as heavy duty as some theses! It was this particular topic that started me thinking…

sitting2_001SL and RL can both be viewed as separate and distinct aspects of our lives, although they both exhibit clearly different properties and characteristics, they nevertheless have similarities and are closely aligned – however, they are not dependant upon each other; it’s perfectly possible to pursue the plans and aims of our real lives without any need to involve SL at all. Similarly, we can pursue the plans and aims of SL, whilst keeping our real lives totally separate and distinct. Both can follow completely divergent pathways – no matter how strongly we might state otherwise, SL and RL are not the same!

Even so, both are indisputably linked – sometimes quite directly, but in the background the links are more esoteric, indeed they much better fit the description of ‘entangled’ to my mind. What happens in the virtual world can cross the boundary into the real world and have an effect, even though it’s physically not possible for anything to cross from virtual to real. Similarly, elements of real life can influence what happens inworld without physically coming into contact with it. At this point, I should probably stop – it’s a metaphor that can rapidly become horribly complex and contrived; so let’s park the quantum side of things for now and just concentrate on entanglement!

Maybe it’s not quite so prevalent amongst the casual or short term resident, but for those who indulge in SL at a level that is somewhat more than just dabbling, or those who have been around in the virtual world for some time, it is perfectly clear that whilst the boundaries between the real and virtual may still remain sharply defined, the two different experiences can be hopelessly entangled and consequently are both inseparable and co-existent. It’s the same as having two lengths of cable balled together in a tangled mess – they serve different functions, can have completely different connections, but pulling on one is going to have an effect on the other. This can be very much the experience of the long-term SL resident, who is likely to find elements of the virtual world creeping into everyday life, sometimes in a very tangible, deliberate manner, but also unconsciously in the way in which we approach the world around us. In the same way, it becomes more difficult to separate RL from our inworld experience and – in a manner that sometimes doesn’t even register with us – our real world influences the virtual.

And this is the reason, I really should stick to frivolous conversations!

s. x

She’s electric
She’s in a family full of eccentrics
She done things I never expected
And I need more time
Oasis – She’s Electric

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Eye of the beholder

uglyNear my inworld parcel there’s one of those rather peculiar – to my mind anyway – SL businesses: A virtual dating agency. It’s a very successful business, that I’m sure is raking in the profits for its proprietor, whose technical ability and business acumen are admirable. Certainly, it’s a rare thing not to see at least a couple of avatars on the premises. However it’s one of those elements of SL that I’ve never really understood.

Do virtual people seeking romance really need an intermediary to introduce them to other virtual people seeking romance? Is the SL dating scene such that those who are seeking a soul mate are struggling to find anyone compatible anywhere in the bars, clubs and social gatherings that abound within the virtual world? And if it’s not romantic liaisons you’re looking for but a spot of gratuitous, no strings attached rumpy pumpy, I’m reliably informed that you’re unlikely to struggle to find what you’re after inworld.

If it’s true that we really do need assistance to find that virtual significant other, I’m surprised, but then again, it may not be the romantic scene that’s necessarily at fault.

splash6_001I’m a people watcher: In both the real and virtual worlds I’m a terrible social voyeur – spying on the lives of those around me and weaving stories in my mind about the unknown details of the lives of the people who cross my path, even for the most fleeting of encounters. Consequently, I do spend a fair amount of time checking out the hopefuls who loiter around my local virtual love emporium and, I’m sorry to say, that my observations have led me to the conclusion that a great many of these poor, lovelorn avatars are single for a very good reason… They’re uglier than the back end of a bus!

Those of you having a more charitable nature may wish to stop reading now, since I’ll freely admit that most of the rest of this post will consist of sweeping generalisations, thinly disguised opinion and perhaps just a little touch of snobbery!

In RL, most of us seeking a date will go to the trouble of sprucing ourselves up, making a bit more of an effort over our appearance than usual, and generally attempting to look as alluring and irresistible as possible, and – on your average date with someone who has that potential to be ‘The One’ or, for that matter, just a fun night out – most of us would would aim for a look that’s more sophisticated and sensual than trashy and tasteless. Considering the time, effort and hard work that the majority of us would put into looking good for a potential partner in RL where – let’s face it – we might be up against the odds, (there’s only so much that make-up and Spanx can achieve!), you’d imagine that in a world where we have almost infinite ways to customise and perfect our look, and a wealth of wonderful outfits to dress ourselves up in, our avatars would epitomise the very definition of gorgeousness, particularly when we’re on the pull?

That – from my observations – is certainly not the case.

Yes, I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if the beholder happens to share my tastes – and I’m pretty certain I’m not in the minority in this case – the parade of oddly-shaped, barely-dressed and badly-accessorised pixels that I regularly see strutting their stuff at the dating agency is certainly not easy on the eye and is more likely to inspire puking than poetic ecstasy! So, for those of you who were under the illusion that stylish chic, adorning a well-groomed and tastefully decorated body are a sure-fire way of attracting suitors; think again, because that is plainly not what starstruck lovers look for in a partner in SL.

Based on scientific observation and careful analysis of the facts, this is your definitive guide to oozing desirability from every virtual orifice…

BIG is definitely better: Boobs, butts, hips and lips – the more outrageous and out of proportion, the more appealing you’ll be. Ideally, you’ll want your protuberances to look as if they’ve been glued in place by an inexpert model-maker – lips should be upside-down in a sort of reverse pout, nostrils should flare like a hippie’s jeans, boobs and butts should be subtly different in shade to the rest of your (orange-tanned) skin, and should show visible lines and/or gaps where they join – presumably to give the illusion of plastic surgery, (not entirely necessary, since they’ll appear to be made of plastic anyway).

Jewellery: Bling is in! If it doesn’t flash, sparkle, radiate lazer beams or contain gems that would give the Kohinoor an inferiority complex, they’re not worth wearing. In fact, everything should several sizes too big – hula hoops for bracelets are fine. Don’t forget the body art and adornments… you will sport an enormous belly-button piercing that looks as if an alien is bursting from your stomach; and tattoos are de-rigeur – ideally, garishly colourful motifs of playing cards, skulls and a stylish rendering of the word ‘Whore’ in Blackletter script to fill that gap between your lady bits and where the tops of your trousers should ideally be.

What’s right for jewellery and body parts is the complete opposite when it comes to clothing. Here the look we’re trying to achieve is minimalist – if it covers flesh, you’re doing it wrong. Hot babes in SL always wear bikinis and heels that transform their feet into a rather oddly shaped – but undoubtedly attractive – version of a pig’s trotter.

As with the girl, your watchwords are ‘Big’ and ‘Disproportionate’ – however you do need to work to get the correct killer look. Arms and thighs should put tree trunks to shame – aim for the sort of musculature that would burst your own blood vessels if you flexed; torsos, without exception, must be an inverted triangle – and we’re talking isosceles here, none of your equilateral nonsense! Ideally, your shoulders should be several metres wider than your feet and should be of sufficient mass to cause all your vertebrae to fuse together from the downward force. Perched upon them, like a peanut atop an escarpment, should be a teeny weeny lego man head – crew cut or pony tail essential, together with nose and ear piercing and ‘artistic’ Maori style cheek tattoo.

All desirable men in SL go topless – there are no shirts to fit them, anyway. This also allows them to display their impressive array of tattoos – these are acquired by the simple expedient of visiting tattoo parlour, pointing to the catalogue and saying “I’ll have all of those!”

Hot men either wear shorts, cutoff jeans or baggy pants that could easily double-up as a tent for a small group of friends at a rock festival. Men must wear shoes, through which their feet poke at random angles – this is because real men have no need for alphas.

So that’s my indispensable guide to getting the girl/guy of your dreams in SL – it might even work in the real world, so feel free to give it a go, and please do tell me if you succeed!

s. x

You said my clothes were sexy
You tore away my shirt
You rubbed an ice-cube on my chest
Snapped me ’til it hurt
Baby Bird – You’re Gorgeous

Posted in RL, SL | 1 Comment

TP or not TP (There’s no question!)

virginMy feet ache!

I am in the fortunate position of living close enough to my place of work that I’m easily able to walk there. In fact, three of the places where I’m usually based are within a twenty minute walk of my home, and about the same distance from each other; for journeys further afield, the railway station is – you guessed it – about the the same. All of which is great for the environment, saves me a fortune in fuel, and is probably very good for my health – although sometimes I wonder about that last point! The downside is that I can often find myself travelling between locations a few times a day, and it’s surprising just how much walking that can involve.

What’s worse is that I live on the bank of a river, and most of the places I have to walk to are on the other side: Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because in order to cross over the river, I first have to walk to a bridge, which because of the perverse nature of the locality I’m in, can mean that my journey time is doubled, and having reached the opposite side,  I frequently have to walk back, effectively to the point I started, albeit on the opposing bank. There is something terribly depressing about walking solidly for a good ten minutes, only to end up pretty much back where you started from.

Throw in a spot of rain, arrogant cyclists who think the pavement is their own personal velodrome, and a tight deadline and you sometimes wonder whether it’s worth the effort. It’s at times like these that I really wish I had that luxury we all take for granted in SL – the ability to teleport.

rainIf getting from A to B was simply a matter of selecting a landmark on your phone imagine how much easier things would be. No more tiresome mucking around with Google Maps, waiting around on stations for trains that never arrive, or being sent off the beaten track by an errant satnav. Imagine the time and money that could be saved, the stress that could be avoided and the ease with which we could go about our business?

Then there’s the fun side of TP too: I’ve thought how much more interesting the daily tramp to work would be if I could double-click TP to points of interest along the way… A crowd gathered in the distance, or something interesting occurring off my usual route; ‘ping’, and I’d be there, checking out what’s going down. Or maybe I might take a more circuitous route than regular pathways permit: When you can just point and click, why not flit from rooftop to rooftop, popping in and out of places that would normally be out of reach, or simply just follow the sunshine – no more walking in the shadows!

Sounds great, doesn’t it – and it would be, provided I could keep it all to myself! It imply wouldn’t work if everyone else was also doing it. Also, many of the things we might conveniently drum up as a excuses for lateness or avoiding appointments we’d rather not go to, would become unusable. Gone will be the days of “I was stuck in traffic”, “There was a signal failure at Swindon”, or, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to make it – there’s simply aren’t any trains at sensible times”. Similarly, many of the ‘reasons’ we manufacture for being late, just won’t wash any more – no longer will we be able to blame the bus running late, when in reality we slept through the alarm clock – the only real explanations for not turning up somewhere we’re supposed to be, at the time we’re suppose to be there, will either involve us being in hospital, or will be attributable to TP failure, (always a good standby excuse!)

And therein lies another problem: What if things should go horribly wrong? In SL, the worst that can happen from a failed TP is that you turn up without your hair and wearing half a shoe – the sign of a good night out, in many circles – or, if things really do go pear-shaped, you’ll be logged out, (but still able to read your chat – an observation that is patently untrue and little use anyway!). Arriving somewhere in RL with no hair and half a shoe could be acutely embarrassing; as for being logged out of RL just because your journey glitched; it really doesn’t bear thinking about! It’s enough to put you off TPs entirely.

Coming to think of it, maybe aching feet is a small price to pay, when the alternative could possibly put you out of the picture for good!

s. x

Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin’ for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go, go, go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL | 2 Comments

Blogging Bytes: 23rd September

lovekillsIt’s the same old story… Boy meets girl, they fall in something, boy loses his wits, girl keeps hers; along everything with else belonging to boy.

Yep, just the same old story, with a Serenesque twist.

It’s enough to put you off relationships for ever.

Alt. life: ‘She’

s. x

He’s come to a sticky end
Don’t think he will ever mend
Never more will he crawl ’round
He’s embedded in the ground
The Who – Boris The Spider

Posted in Alt. life:, Unlikely stories | Leave a comment

There’s a place

marmaladeIt’s been a long time now that I’ve been juggling prims – and, whilst I’m on the subject, I know we have the new-fangled Land Impact these days, but it’s just not convenient, or particularly accurate, to talk about LI other than in specific contexts, so I’ll just remain old school and talk about prims; we’re all friends and all know what I’m talking about, so let’s not get bogged down with semantics!

Prims are one of those things that you can never have too much of – back in the day, when I rented a small room, with a meagre 50 prim allowance, it was a constant battle to find furniture that was both economic in terms of cost and primmage. Many a hard decision was faced choosing between that ‘must have’ sofa but without the desirable accompanying soft furnishings, or something a little more basic, but with an option to make the place feel more homely – often it would end up as a straight choice between one or the other, or simply – in many cases – I just had to do without.

Later, I moved, upgraded and had the opportunity to splurge on a few more prims – it was fab! Then, joy of joys, when I acquired my first parcel of land, I was in prim heaven! How on earth would I ever even come close to using all that massive allowance of prims? Very easily, it turned out. It’s amazing how a few trees, a spot of landscaping and the odd achitectural feature can devour resources; and even with two subsequent land expansions, I was still finding myself in the position of having to remove fixtures just so that I had sufficient prims to undertake even the smallest building project. Such is the nature of things, and if you’re like me, and you find it hard to resist the allure of filling your SL space with lovely things, even the strongest willed of us can find ourselves running short on supplies.

strawberry field 1106015_001However, I’ve recently expanded again – not because I need more land – I don’t; and not because there was anything I specifically wanted to do with the space – if I’m honest, I don’t really know what to do with it. What I have gained with my latest acquisition however is 700+ spare prims, and that is something not to be sneezed at! Having scrimped and saved for so long just to scrape together the bare minimum of spare prims I need to get by, the luxury of being inundated with the the things is quite heady! True, I could live a little more frugally and pare back to save resources, but where’s the fun in that?

Best of all, I’m able to rez pretty much everything in my inventory – things that I’ve never been able to put on display before, because they’re just too prim hungry… then there’s all those irresistible items I’ve collected over the years that have never seen the light of day, purely because SL wouldn’t let me drag them from their folders – it’s great!

The danger, of course, is that I’ll fill the new parcel with stuff and end up back at square one – just as I did with my last extension, where I made the mistake of building a railway station, without which SerenRail just wouldn’t run, however I think I’ve learned my lesson. The new parcel will be a shifting, dreamlike state of temporary excursions into the imagination: Today it’s a fairground, by the time you read this perhaps it’ll be a spaceport or a racetrack. And, when the fever to build takes hold, I’ll clear the lot and enjoy the luxury of having my own 700 prim sandbox… At least, that’s the idea! With any luck, I’ll stick to it – and, if I don’t, I’ll only have myself to blame.

strawb3_001Whilst making an SL home, with everything you could possibly want from your dream setting: Trees, meadows, babbling brooks, a beach and your own little narrow gauge steam railway is very much living the virtual dream, I do think that sometimes we need empty space – a blank canvas – and all the materials we can grab hold of, if we are to continue to reap the benefits of the virtual world. A playground where anything is possible and where we can experiment, build things up and knock things down; a place as seen through kaleidoscope eyes, with your head in the clouds… which is why I’ve named it: Marmalade Skies.

Pop by, if you like!

s. x

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes
The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds


Posted in Builder's bum, Philosophicalisticality, SL | Leave a comment

Fame or fortune

walkoffameI’ve been asked some pretty strange questions by people in SL in my time – I suppose that the eclectic mix of people and cultures, together with the sometimes bizarre situations that can occur whilst inworld, lend themselves to interesting lines of enquiry. Added to which, our minds often have to fill in an awful lot of gaps and missing information just to make sense of the virtual world around us and understand where those we share it with are coming from. Throw in a healthy dose of misinterpretation and misunderstanding and you have the perfect environment for spawning the most peculiar and often amusing lines of enquiry.

Then there are the unexpected questions that completely surprise us, because they seem so off the wall and unlikely; and it’s these, in particular, that give me greater cause for thought than the downright crazy ones.

I was in conversation with a fellow resident – a stranger – recently, during the course of which we’d spoken about some very well known and respected SL artists and bloggers. Then, from nowhere, came a question I’d never expected or would ever have anticipated: “Are you famous?” There are few occasions – rarely – when I find myself pitched such a curve ball that I can’t come back with an immediate witty riposte, but this was one of those moments.

Quite apart from the fact that this is one of those completely illogical questions… If I was famous, you wouldn’t need to ask the question, surely? The fact of the matter is that I’m quite clearly – like the vast majority of us – not in the least bit famous in either the virtual or real world. That’s not to say a little bit of virtual fame wouldn’t be a cool thing to have, I’m sure I’d quite enjoy it, to a certain extent anyway. And if it all got a bit too much, I suppose SL always offers the alt account escape clause. However, on the other hand, fame is not something I aspire to in RL by any means.

spellbound5_001aIn fact, there are few things I can think of in the real world that I’d shy away from quite as much as the prospect of achieving fame. (Although a touch of notoriety might be fun!) Just the thought of being recognised by complete strangers, being tailed by paparazzi, seeing my pictures in papers, magazines and being bandied around the internet, leaves me cold. I’d hate being unable to do the everyday things I take for granted without remaining anonymous and having to be constantly in the public eye. You can keep real world fame – I’d rather stay undiscovered and unknown, thank you.

As for fortune though, that’s another matter entirely. Call me shallow, but I’d be more than happy to be in a position where money worries were a thing of the past. Much as I wouldn’t turn down the chance to be filthy, stinking rich – (who would?) – I’d willingly settle for ‘comfortably well-off’: Enough for a place of my own, the occasional holiday and indulgent treat, and no need to think twice about my weekly spend or whether I’ll ever be able to afford to retire, no matter how long I work. That’d do me just fine, and the same applies to SL too.

There are those in SL whose virtual income entirely covers their virtual outgoings, with some left over for the occasional splurge. Almost without exception, they’ve worked extremely hard to attain that position, or are incredibly talented and creative – or, more likely, a combination of all those things – and I don’t begrudge them a single linden penny of their spoils… I just wish that I had the talent, creativity and hard work ethos to do the same myself! Just as in RL, I wouldn’t aspire to greatness; enough income to cover the cost of land, outgoings and the occasional treat, would suit me just fine, but – again, like RL – the reality is that SLife is all about juggling priorities, tightening belts and accepting our lot. More than that, making it big in the virtual world is often contingent upon having enough of the green folding stuff to spare in the real world to fund our online capers… so we’re back to juggling priorities, tightening belts and que será será… en la Vida Real tambn!

Of course, if I was famous – either inworld, or otherwise – I probably wouldn’t need to worry about the money, but considering how I feel about fame, even if opportunity knocked, I’ve probably shot myself in the foot on that count too!

Ah well, back to the drawing board.

s. x

Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay and you’re O.K.
Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I’ll buy me a football team
Pink Floyd – Money

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment


top-secretThings are hotting up in the world of Project Sansar – Linden Lab’s next generation virtual world, (I really shouldn’t have to say that last bit, but drawing on previous experience, at least one reader will now be thinking to themselves, “LL are making a new virtual world? No way!”). Some tantalising glimpses behind the scenes are beginning to creep into the public domain, but – irritatingly – they aren’t telling us much more than we didn’t already know. Perhaps the biggest news, and a bit of a shocker at that, is that the Lab are developing a whole new rendering engine for the platform, rather than rely on existing solutions, apparently to facilitate more user-friendly creation tools – this is good news when you consider that residents invited to join the closed Alpha were required to have experience of modelling in Maya, and that optimised user content is pretty much the Holy Grail of the new platform.

Sansar is still in closed Alpha and I’m not expecting an open Beta until sometime next year – and I’d be guessing later, rather than sooner – however that’s not stopping the Lab from taking the surprising step of inviting anyone who fancies taking a nose at the project from popping into the office and seeing what’s what. Oh, to be in SF tomorrow and in the happy position of having a ticket!

There is a caveat, you can look, but you can’t talk – the Lab has made it clear that participants in the show & tell, the same as alpha testers, will have to sign an NDA – pretty standard practice in the cut throat world of commercial research and development, but absolute torture for a blogger! There can be few things as frustrating as knowing secrets that everybody else wants to know, but being unable to share them; I’m not talking about the sort of secrets that you’d keep to protect a friend or are of a personal nature, but the big juicy secrets that – on the face of it – are really not going to harm anyone and will one day be common knowledge anyway. That of course is terribly naive – letting slip a proprietary secret or technical advance can result in financial ruin for a commercial concern, give competitors an unfair advantage and scupper projects before they ever see the light of day. So, whether we like it or not, those in the know are not going to tell us anything that’s not approved, rubber-stamped, vetted and double-checked before it ever reaches the headlines.

sansarWhilst that may still strike some as unnecessarily harsh, it’s a reasonable and sensible stance to take, and it’s one that every one of us will be pretty familiar with from our everyday lives, although we might not directly correlate what we naturally accept as the norm with the more formal NDA. Many of us will have jobs where it’s taken for granted that information we may deal with goes no further; friends and relationships rely on us being discrete and maintaining confidentiality when required; and all of us assume that the companies, services and businesses that we deal with daily operate on the same principles – if we couldn’t be sure that our private business wasn’t going to be shared, we’d never use them.

So, that’s just the way that it is – no matter how desperate we are to learn about LL’s plans for Project Sansar, we’re just going to have to wait – and, as for those privileged few who are in the know, you can be assured that they’re not going to be spilling the beans, at least not until they’re told they can. Much as I’d love to be in that select group, in a way I’m very glad that I’m not – it would just be too hard to have all that juicy gossip and know I had to keep it to myself.

And anyway, isn’t it more fun to wait and see?


s. x

And if you have a minute why don’t we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don’t we go
Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

Posted in 2.0, RL, Techietalk | Leave a comment

Conflict and betrayal in a virtual world

argueI’m frequently both bemused and fascinated by the depth of feeling that ordinary, everyday SL people seem to be able to draw upon concerning matters that really don’t concern them, and to which – at best – they are but a casual observer. A trawl through the comments sections of many of the most popular blogs, forum posts and SL related social media platforms reveals a plethora of concerned citizens getting their knickers in a twist over things that any rational person would consider uninteresting, un-noteworthy and barely meriting the time of day. Yet debates rage constantly, almost completely based on supposition and unwarranted assumptions and couched in belligerent, confrontational – occasionally libellous – and usually downright rude terms, with their progenitors taking a moral high ground stance that is, almost without exception, completely ill-advised.

A huge amount of this venting of spleenage takes place around the SL fashion industry – occasionally between rival designers, but more often it is the product of the puerile ranting of the great unwashed. People who frequently have no knowledge, insight or understanding of what they are attempting to argue, but do so anyway. It’s great fun to watch from the sidelines, but it does get a bit wearing after a bit and makes one wonder whether these people have a life outside their own tiny self-manufactured understanding of the world, virtual or otherwise.

bin_001The real irony is that these kind of backstabbing crusades will drag on for pages and pages, over the course of weeks, with every entitled wannabe jumping on the bandwagon to heap on their own worthless contribution, when anybody with an ounce of common sense could end the conversation with a few, simple, well-observed and insightful words before the conversation could even gain momentum. Such people, alas, appear to be in short supply in the wider SL metasphere, and even when they do stick their head above the parapet and speak out, they tend to be completely ignored. Which is – in my opinion – a huge shame, and one of the reasons that I personally steer well clear of such situations.

But, sometimes, we just have to vent!

So, here goes… The words I’ve always wanted to say when an SL witch hunt is underway, but held my tongue instead:

The argument: HairCreator Resident is ripping us off, (or shoes, or clothing, or whatever happens to be flavour of the month), they’re selling exactly the same hair they sold last year only with the addition of a ribbon. These evil designers are not worth my spit, they should be making uniquely unique styles every day of their lives.

My response: Shut up. No-one’s forcing you to buy it.

The argument: Designer Resident hasn’t released anything new for a whole month. What sort of shoddy customer service is this? I demand they pander to my every whim constantly.

My response: Shut up. Make your own if you’re that needy.

The argument: Designs Я Us is a copyright thief! They blatantly stole an idea off someone on Etsy who made something that looks a bit similar. They should be sued to death! Designers should only make things that no-one has ever thought of before and are completely original – being inspired by something from real life should never be allowed.

My response: Wow, and I was thinking SL was virtual reality, not virtually impossible.

The argument: Avatar Resident is a freaking cow and they have no idea what customer service is. They refused to make a custom colour/shape/complete outfit for me, for free, and when I complained, and smeared their name all over the internet, they banned me! BANNED ME! Bitch!

My response: Muted. Banned.

The argument: As always Doctor8/The Facade/GatchaByTheBalls/(insert own ‘event’ pet hate here), are a complete ripoff. Same old designers, same old trash, bribery, corruption – it’s a complete scandal.

My response: So, don’t go.

The argument: 3 billion lindens I spent on Oneborneveryminute’s gatchas and all I got was the same poxy t-shirt 17 times and only 3 rares. It shouldn’t be allowed – gatcha owners should be forced to give out rares every single go.

My response: Two things… First, look up ‘rare’ in a dictionary. Second, you have a gambling problem – get help.

These are just a few of the pointless, mind-numbingly provocative arguments I’ve seen in the past month, and all of them have rumbled on, comment after ill-informed inflatory comment, without anybody once considering the facts. In every case, I think my response is more than sufficient and would save a vast amount of wasted time, energy and bandwidth.

But, then again I keep forgetting – this is SL, and this is what we folks do for fun.

s. x

Don’t give us none of your aggravation
We had it with your discipline
Saturday night’s alright for fighting
Get a little action in
Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, SL | Leave a comment

1:21600 maybe…

never-tell-me-the-odds-quote-1Or maybe not.

I may have mentioned before that maths isn’t my strong point – when it comes to facts, I’m fine, but numbers leave me numb. So I’ll start this post by mentioning that today’s title is either a) correct or b) hopelessly incorrect (no doubt, some helpful soul will tactfully point out whatever error of miscalculation I may have made). Either way, it doesn’t really matter, as will hopefully become clearer once I’ve stopped wittering on nonsensically and start talking sense.

Like many of us, I can’t resist the dual allure of a freebie mixed with a challenge – if that wasn’t the case hunts wouldn’t exist in SL, neither would that staple of inworld shopping trips: the Lucky Chair. I’ll admit that to assert that the latter carry an element of ‘challenge’ is probably stretching it a little, but seasoned chair jockeys will tell you that being in the right place, at the right time can pose its own problems, as can the presence of another avatar – or more – sharing the same initial… it’s a case of fastest finger first!

I wouldn’t say I’m a seasoned chairophile, but I’m not immune to the attraction of the occasional dalliance, although if I’ve something better to do, I’ll do it. However there is one particular chair that’s caught my imagination, and I’m sure that the fact it has says much about the state of my mind. I found the chair, tucked away in the murky corner of a store specialising in the arena of fantasy apparel. I’d actually only paid a visit on the strength of a rather cool hairstyle I’d spied another avatar wearing, which I simply had to own myself. As luck would have it, this particular lucky chair happened to be sporting a great big letter ‘S’ as I passed, and so it came to pass that I became the proud owner of precisely one fifth of an outfit that, under normal circumstances, it’s highly unlikely I’d ever even consider.

That’s right – you read that correctly: One fifth.

auditorium3_002In a particularly devious twist of marketing, the outfit being proffered by this instrument of retail torture had been split into five separate prizes, each randomly paired with a randomly allocated letter at 60 minute intervals. And this is where the maths – and the challenge – comes in: 5 items, 36 possible letters/numbers and, for the sake of some sanity, let’s assume nobody else bothers attempting the chair, so that’ll equate to 24 changes every day, and all five items to collect for a full outfit. Which means if I was to pay a visit once a day, that works out at, erm… I think it’s odds of 1:21600, but I have a horrible feeling it’s really several orders of magnitude greater than that. I did attempt a quick trawl of the interweb to try and work it out properly, but being fundamentally a thicko when it comes to calculations, I ended up with results that varied between a few hundred and well over 500 million! On that basis, I could visit that perishing chair every hour of every day and watch the universe fizzle out and die around me before managing to collect a full outfit!

Told you I like a challenge!

My strategy was simple – pay two visits a day, once when I logged in and just before logging off. Which is how, in a perverse mangling of physics, fortune and all the known laws of the universe, I managed to amass the first four prizes within a ridiculously short two weeks! However, two months later and I’m still no nearer number five. So be it… we’ll see who dies first – me, or the universe.

BamPu legacies and the photogrhers of sl - Enchant 150 148 21b_001There is something inherently challenging about SL and those of us who choose to go beyond the very basics of the virtual environment will be pretty well versed in getting to grips with the mental gymnastics that SL forces us to get our heads around. Right from day one we have to grapple with an experience that can be far from intuitive: The viewer alone has a level of complexity to rival jumping into a car for the first time and attempting to drive around a busy city centre at rush hour. Even getting dressed can be far from the simple experience it is in RL – I vividly recall the days of my noobhood, having neatly sorted my shoe folder into the various different ‘types’ of shoe, only to later realise that shoes and foot-shapers were not different kinds of footwear, and I now owned a wardrobe full of broken shoes.

Even if we master the challenge of the viewer, settings, clothing, building, scripting and the myriad of other physical and mental challenges that SL constantly throws at us every time we log in, there’s also the underlying leap our minds have to make in order to make sense of and accept the virtual as something approximating ‘real’, and it’s a leap that a great many of us very successfully make – unfortunately then we’re faced with the challenge of returning to the real, physical world when we log out, and that can sometimes be the most difficult thing of all.

However, challenge is good for us, and even if it’s of the most ridiculous kind, against insurmountable odds, sometimes we just have to rise to it.

Which is why, no matter how long I have to wait, I’m determined to get the complete set of components for that damn outfit, no matter how unlikely!

s. x

I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
Billy Preston – Satisfaction


Posted in Philosophicalisticality, SL | 3 Comments