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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Two things:

First, the new LSL commands, especially llGetParcelDetails, are quite cool. They've already solved some basic problems for me. Thanks, LL!

Second, I've decided what I'm going to do when SL collapses under its own weight, and LL announces they're closing the virtual doors for the last time. A minute before the final shutdown, I'm going to climb on top of the highest build on my land, play Rush's "Bravado" through the local music stream, and jump. Then I'm going to shout my goodbyes, and log out for the last time. I think it'd be somehow fitting for Moriash Moreau to be in freefall for eternity.

So what are you going to do when SL closes?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Futile Rant #5: No Offense
Okay, boys and girls, gather 'round for a quick lesson from your Uncle Mori.

Adding "No offense, but..." to the beginning of a communication does not magically make the content inoffensive and constructive. I'm absolutely flabbergasted that I must explain this to some people in SL, a world supposedly populated by legal adults. Alas, it appears to be necessary. I've just received my umpteenth message (this time, a comment left on the Garage's answering machine) prepended with this little wonder phrase. "No offense, but this game sucks."

Children- and I am referring to those who think this kind of thing is acceptable, and therefore couldn't possibly qualify as rational adults- this is just not going to cut it. If you don't want to give offense, don't be offensive. And if you're going to be insulting, at least cowboy up and have the cajones to do it without the mealy-mouthed qualifiers. You're quite old enough to realize what is insulting and what isn't. You wouldn't have stuck on the little preface "No offense..." if you didn't suspect you were likely, nay guaranteed, to cause offense. That's just basic logic.

What's particularly galling here is that the GoD's answering machine is intended for beta testing comments. And that was the sole and entire transcript of the commentary. Some twerp, whose name was immediately forgotten for both our sakes, took the time to find the machine, activate it, and leave a message. "No offense, but this game sucks." What possible purpose could that serve, aside from providing further proof of the GIFT, as well as evidence of the originator's own status as a complete asshole? Perhaps you could take a few more seconds and, oh, I don't know, tell me why the game "sucks?" Not that anyone thoughtless enough to start a communique with such a declaration would have anything even remotely useful to say, but it would at least justify wasting both of our time.

Don't get me wrong. I welcome constructive criticism, whether it be on the Garage of DOOM or on any other project I've built in SL. All I ask is that people who do so be minimally cordial, and that they make the modest time investment required to support their critique. "This sucks!" in isolation is not useful. It's a null statement, when given in absence of further context. A complete waste of time and effort, not worth the electrons used to transmit it. And "No offense, but..." only adds insult to injury.

Or, to summarize: No offense, but screw you and the horse you rode in on. If you don't have anything useful to say, and can't say it in a polite manner, I have zero interest in hearing from you.

Ah, I feel better now. Thank you, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled web browsing.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Nomme de Guerre
On the off chance that this post makes it into a Google search in time, I want to direct all potential SL newcomers to this article by Tateru Nino before they log in for the first time. Have a care when choosing your SL nomme de guerre. This isn't like World of Warcraft, or Everquest, or some other online fantasy world. Ultimately, no matter what avatar you don, you're not playing a High Elf wizard or a Dwarven warrior. At the root of it, you're just yourself.

I'll give my name as an example. Way back on New Year's Day of 2005, I entered SL for the first time. Without thinking about it, or really knowing anything about the culture of the grid at the time, I just slapped my old Everquest pseudonym down in the box, and chose a surname that alliteratively suited it. Moriash Moreau. There. Now on with the important part of the game. Like bludgeoning the hair sliders into covering that bald spot on the back of my av's head.

And, for the last 22 months, I've regretted it. I'm dressed up as a random schmoe in t-shirt and leather jacket, and I've saddled myself with a moniker better suited to the hero of a fantasy novel. (Or, if I were to be brutally honest, the heroine of such a book.) I'm often a little embarrassed to even say my name aloud in RL conversation, and nobody else can pronounce it without coaching. (It's "more-EYE-esh," by the way. I invented it, so I get to decide how it's pronounced.) But, like a RL name, I'm kind of stuck with it.

Sure, I could trash this account and start over with a more reasonable user name. But that would mean throwing away what little fame I've managed to acquire in the last 23 months. Okay, I'm no celebrity, but I like to think I'm not a complete nobody, either. Come to that, losing the "1/1/2005" in my profile would be tough, too. In a few years, assuming the Grid survives, that'll be worth some serious early adopter street cred.

In any case, you newcomers should heed Ms. Nino's advice. Pick a name you wouldn't mind being called everyday in real life. Pick one you wouldn't mind explaining to your grandmother, or your employer. This could very well be an identity you're adopting for years to come.

Whether you like it or not.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Copybot's Labyrinth
Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. - Charles Kuralt

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've developed a healthy hate for land bans and the dreaded red "No Entry" bars. It's virtually impossible to simply walk from A to B without running into a locked down parcel blocking your path, usually several. It's like an especially dull and slow moving game of pinball, sometimes.

And, as I'm sure you've heard by now, assuming you follow in-world news or have went in-world in the last few days, Copybot hysteria has taken SL by storm. Copybot is a device created by the libsl project, and later sold (by apparently dubious means) in-world, that allows one to bypass SL's intrinsic DRM system and duplicate certain in-world objects. It's use has since been declared a TOS violation by Linden Lab, and the code (the device relies on outside programs in addition to in-world scripts) has been pulled from the libsl site. Some residents have been banned over the issue, as well.

The capabilities of the Copybot have been vastly overblown and distorted in all the hubbub but, nonetheless, it's become the proverbial straw for outraged creators fearing theft of their in-world creations. Protests have been staged at in-world storefronts and other locations, and rumor has it that sims have been deliberately crashed in order to prevent access to Copybot vendors. (See the current (mid-November 2006) Herald for more continuing coverage of the backlash, protests, and guerrilla activities.) The libsl project team has been vilified as naive geeks and outright criminals by multiple parties, and a considerable amount of vitriol and recrimination has been directed at LL for sanctioning their continued existence. Theft and resale of textures, objects, and freebies has been an issue for quite a while. Anyone remember the controversy with GL Intercept and texture ripping a while back? Copybot is only the latest and most publicized tool.

The public protest and fear has made Second Life quite a frustrating and depressing place to take a walk. Due to the recent emergency closures of SL shops and attractions, I've been forced to stay on the Linden inter-sim road system. It seems like every other parcel I pass is either roped off with ban lines (and it's surprising how many parcel corners extend well into the public road and waterways), blocked off with prims, or otherwise protected by measures to keep all avatars out. This was done either in protest or in an attempt to prevent would-be Copybot thieves from obtaining the shopkeeper's or homeowner's goods illegally. It seems a bit extreme to lock your doors against 99% of your customers on the off chance that the other 1% would be both willing to and interested in selling knockoffs of your work. It's like barricading your RL shop front door in order to stop shoplifters.

In any case, due to all this, today's morning walk was spent carefully weaving down ribbons of virtual asphalt, walled in by a virtual canyon of shop barricades, hastily enabled ban lines, and newly-installed security orbs. All this while being spammed with "Copybot Protection: !quit" messages at every turn. (The latter being an attempt to automatically trigger the Copybot's shutdown routine.) It's vexing to be tantalized by interesting builds, only to be stopped forcefully at the border. This is a fact of life in SL, of course. There's unnecessary restricted access everywhere. But now it's become ten times worse.

Of course, my minor inconvenience in wandering across the grid is not the issue. However, it is a good barometer of the current clime in Second Life. The isolationist, red-barred SL that was so ominously predicted when point-to-point teleport returned has finally been created by the Copybot scare. Here's hoping that it's just a temporary phase.

On a related note, apparently I made an apt observation. Hamlet says so! I'm guessing he's referring to the first bit, not the rambling that follows.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Sky Bike Two
Came up with an alternate model for the Sky Bike. This time, I got rid of the wings in favor of two counter-rotating helicopter props and a tail rotor. I've also added considerable detail to the drive train system, with rotating shafts, pulleys, and belts linking pedals to rotors. That kind of got out of hand, but it adds considerable to the verisimilitude of the contraption. Okay, it's completely unrealistic, but it looks plausible... Provided you throw away all knowledge of basic physics. Eh, we can all fly in SL anyway. What's another abuse of science between friends?

Late Halloween
Whilst sorting through some screenshots in my SL directory, I happened to run across a couple of pictures from this year's Halloween festivities.

I didn't do much this year. Mostly, I recycled some Garage of DOOM props. As you can see, I added a couple of Jack o' Lanterns here and there, and rigged some self-spawning Poltergeists. Lighting effects added quite a bit to the latter. The Poltergeists passing insubstantially through the trees and ground, casting a pale, flickering glow, made kind of a nifty effect.

I also recycled a few of the textures from the walking monsters, and built them into a simple sensor-driven particle effect. The upshot is every minute or so a monster would appear in the bushes and home in on the nearest passerby. Here I'm being stalked by a Wraith.

My neighbor Will Webb, on the other hand, went all out. His whole parcel was converted into a ghastly cemetery, complete with sound effects, gnarled trees, and dense grey fog. Added to this was a battery of green light sources scattered throughout. All told, it was really quite spooky.
Oh, that John Crowley
Early last week, a friend of mine pointed out a weblog entry by fantasy novelist John Crowley, regarding his first experiences in Second Life. Unfortunately, up until a few hours ago, I had the name confused and generally cross-linked in my head with Aleister Crowley, who I was fairly certain was both dead and unlikely to have a LiveJournal.

In his LiveJournal entry, Mr. Crowley went on about psychic experiences, convergence vs. coincidence, his dreams, and such like, in somewhat puzzling and flowery prose. I had a truly surreal "Bwuh?!" moment. Said moment recurred several times over the next few days, compounded by careless skimming, by a persistent cognitive disconnect (read "brain fart") on my part, and by the seemingly non sequitur commentary following the entry. (They were quoting from Alice in Wonderland, I eventually realized.) A few hours ago, I reread the article for the Nth time. This time was after Hamlet Au pointed up the same entry, complete with explanation of John Crowley's true identity. It was really quite astounding to realize how my preconceptions and expectations about the presumed author were coloring and distorting a relatively mundane (yet poetic) weblog entry.

It's awfully easy to see what isn't there, isn't it?

And, speaking of surreal non sequitur, Will Webb explained the Dutch term mierenneuker to me last night. "Ant-fucker?!" No, that's not a typo. Who the hooping heck came up with that? Yet again, SL has expanded my horizons.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Torley Teaches Snapshots
Just finished watching Torley's advanced snapshots tutorial over my lunch break. (Here's an alternate link with somewhat better video quality.) Yeah, I know, I'm late to the party again. This time, the download got lost amongst my back episodes of Naruto and Samurai Champloo, and I didn't find it until today.

And, yes, I get a few stares watching Naruto at my cubicle. Oh well. At least I don't have to worry about straying into an emphatically Mature area, and getting dressed down by one of my bosses after seeing it over my shoulder... Unlike during my occasional lunchtime SL jaunts. True story. I had to talk pretty fast after being caught filming the second frame of this comic at work. Yeah, it's not that bad, at least by SL standards. This is the land of BDSM Gorean furries, after all, and that was just a lingerie shop. But, nonetheless, she wasn't best pleased. Now I stick to scripting in nice, quiet Louise when I'm at lunch. It's safer.

Of course, sure as I say that, a virtual porno theater is going to move in right next door. Ah, the shifting sands of SL.

But I digress. Frequently. In any case, you ought to make the time to watch this one. I thought I knew every snapshot trick in the book, after photographing for Plywood, but I sure learned a thing or two. And even if you're SL's answer to Ansel Adams, it's worth watching just to hear Torley speak. It does my heart good to hear from someone who so obviously loves what he's doing, and who's so genuinely, unabashedly stoked about Second Life. He's a heck of a lot of fun to listen to.

And now my lunch hour has well and truly passed, so I'll leave it at that. Go watch the tutorial. Take good pictures.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Sky Bike
Just finished the in-world model for the flying bicycle contraption. Pretty nifty, huh? Next comes the RL hardware and the interface scripts. Long way to go.

Saturday, November 11, 2006
The Return of the Herald
I confess, I've been a little lax in my Herald reading of late. See, I end up doing most of my SL-related reading during my lunch hour. Unfortunately, for some reason that continues to mystify me, the DNS server at the office doesn't seem to recognize "SecondLifeHerald.com" as a valid domain. I've been understandably hesitant to go to our IT guy and say, "Hey, what's wrong with our ISP? I can't get my Second Life Herald!" And, I'm a bit embarrassed to say now, I hadn't made a priority of checking it at home. It didn't seem to be a big issue, given the once-every-week-or-so schedule it had when last I checked.

So, in any case, I just spent a few hours reading through the back archives for the first time in mumble-mumble weeks. All I can say is, "Wow!" If you haven't read the Herald lately, the drought is most decidedly over. The venerable old (by SL standards) reporting institution has taken on new life of late. (Was about to say "...has taken on a second life..." but I suppose that's cliche' now.) There is all sorts of new and inflammatory coverage, heralding (heh) back to the good old days. They've even brought back the Post 6 Grrrls! (But I just read the Herald for the articles. Yeah, that's it. The articles.) And, heck, even S/He Who Shall Not Be Named has managed to produce some occasionally insightful, and surprisingly concise, articles. Wonders never cease.

Do yourself a favor and click on over to the Herald. They're back! And, boy, did we need it.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Yet Another Floating Building
Here are a couple pictures of my current building project in the Garden of Mo. I've been grinding out yet another floating building. I suppose, someday, I'm going to have to try my hand at ground-bound construction.

As you can see, this one shares some design elements and color scheme with the old SkyLounge. I haven't really decided if this one is going to replace the old Lounge, or simply be an expansion. I'll probably let the primcount decide. This one will have considerably more furniture and decoration than the Lounge. Between that and the allowances required for the Garage of DOOM, I expect to be running pretty close to my parcel limits.

Here you can see the entry side on the south facing. Entry will be by free-floating physical elevator, through the open balcony on the top level. I'm standing next to the railing there. I've kept the slow-scrolling abstract decorative panes from the Lounge as a backdrop for the ramps. Between those and the railing, an avatar can actually manage to perform the deceptively difficult task of walking up and down a narrow (two meters being "narrow" in SL) on the first attempt. Incidentally, those stupid ramps and rails took far, far too long to work out. Trigonometry is not my friend.

The new building has three 15x15 meter floors, less some lost area to curved corners. That's quite a bit of area to play with. The bottom floor (not certain which way to number when you enter a flying building from the top level) contains what will become a small garden area, the centerpiece of which is a standard Linden pine tree. This is a nod toward the abstract pine that has become the unofficial logo of the Garden of Mo. (You can see it on my T-shirt up there in the corner.) The center of the floor on the second level (I suppose that works no matter which way you count) has cutout and railing, allowing visitors to look down onto the garden. And, incidentally, saving me from having to figure out what to put in the middle of the second floor.

I'll probably put a lounge area on the lower level, with couches, coffee tables, and such. The middle level will have bar/lunch counter seating, similar to the old SkyLounge. The top floor is up in the air at this point. I'm tentatively planning on trying to make an art gallery/informational area. The area would have a simple rezzer that can swap the furnishing and displays out on demand, with a menu of various exhibits for the user to select. This will give me a place to put all of my smaller projects, without having to designate full time prim space to them.

I'm sure I'll have more pictures as I go.