Monday, June 6, 2011

The Abandoned Blog

I have a talent for starting blogs and posting enthusiastically for a few weeks...then it dwindles to a post every few months...and finally the shifting sands of the Internet bury my long neglected musings. I was reminded of this blog when I noticed that my Second Life profile expected a URL for a website in order to consider itself complete.

So, herewith, a quick update: I'm still in SL, and Tech and I still have our island. The Homestead price seems to be grandfathered in at $95, for now. Magi is no more, and the coffee house has moved a couple of times. My gallery is now at Hennepin; I'm planning on a rebuild that will incorporate the coffee house.

My typist finally got a full-time job in July of last year, having honed some new skills by doing freelance work. Of course, having a job means there's less time for blogging and building. I think I need an alt or two in RL!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Too Good To Be True

Amazing how things can change in only two months, isn't it?

Some changes have been welcome: As Tech and I have built our island, we've grown closer. We love our home and enjoy doing things there together. Island Girl has gone on indefinite walkabout, which has been a bit of a paradigm shift; it also saves our typist money, since IG isn't logging in and shopping for new clothes anymore.

Our typist has completed her fall travels and can now settle in and look for a RL job. While it's a lousy time to be looking for work due to both the season and the condition of the economy, we're optimistic that something will work out.

After all my excitement over the new island, though, it pains me to write about Linden Lab's recent decisions regarding Open Space sims. In case you haven't been following the hoopla, LL made an announcement at the end of October that Open Space sims are not being used as they had intended, and that a 67% increase in tier payments will take effect in January. As I'm sure LL expected, there was a huge hue and cry in response to this, and they have since "revised" the plan by splitting the Open Space sim category into two levels: The current allotment of space and prims will be called a "Homestead" sim, and will increase in tier price in two stages, rising from $75/month to $95/month in January, and then to $125/month in July (still a 67% increase). The lower level will still be called Open Space and will remain at $75/month, but will be restricted to 750 prims.

All over the blogosphere, you can find articles, comments, and forum threads detailing what a scandalous bait and switch this is. Until this spring, Open Space sims had to be bought in groups of 4, had to abut the buyer's full sims, and were only allowed 1875 prims. In April, LL announced that OS sims could be placed anywhere on the grid, could be purchased singly (although owning a full sim was still a requirement), and prims were doubled to 3750. Of course, that paved the way for a huge expansion of Open Space sims.

Now Linden Lab claims that the users of those sims are using them for unintended purposes, not just as open water and parkland, but as homes and clubs and stores, causing performance problems. Gee, that's funny; you'd think LL might have been able to anticipate that before they increased the prim limits (and never did place any limits on scripts and avatars very different from those of a full sim). Their solution is to raise prices significantly rather than to look for a technological solution to a technological problem.

Of course, by making their first announcement, and then responding to the bad PR by "revising" the plan, they make themselves look responsive to the customer base. No matter that they're ultimately still raising the tier 67%.

But all that leaves me (and Tech) in an awkward position. We had carefully evaluated costs and benefits before we set up our island, and made our decision based on those analyses. We might be able to afford to keep the island (depending on Tech's comfort level with the price increase, and on my typist getting a job). But there's something that sticks in my craw when I think of rolling over and paying the increased price; it seems like rewarding bad customer service.

I don't anticipate leaving SL; but cutting way back on how much money I'm willing to give them is certainly an option. Just because they're a virtual monopoly doesn't mean I need to support them at any more than the lowest level necessary to meet my SL goals. This isn't a final decision by any means; I have about a month to discuss it with Tech before we have to make a decision.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Own Island

A few months ago, Tech and Island Girl had their privacy invaded. They had just arrived at her house after an evening out, and a very strange character sit-teleported himself into the house, jumped into IG’s bed, and ignored all chat and IM messages. After they got him to leave, he hovered on the adjacent parcel, camming into the house (they had Show Look At turned on and could see his crosshairs).

Not long after that, Tech revealed to me that he thought we should buy our own sim, probably with a couple of other people to help cover the tier. While there’s no such thing as *true* privacy in SL, being on an island in the middle of the ocean is more private than being on the mainland, if only because folks are less likely to wander over from adjacent sims. I loved the idea, but we didn’t immediately have other partners who could jump on board, so owning our own sim went on the back burner.

A couple of months later, a friend of mine showed me the open space sim he had just moved to, telling me that he and his RL wife were leasing half of it. One day in late July, I was looking at more property on the mainland, hoping for something with a better sunset view. Tech logged in and we started talking about the property I was looking at and about the open space sim idea. We realized we could afford an open space sim by ourselves. Of course, it isn’t *true* ownership because we can’t own an open space sim without also owning a full sim, but if we found a reputable estate owner from whom to lease, we thought we’d feel relatively secure that our sim wouldn’t be pulled out from under us.

While we were chatting in IM, each in a different location on the grid, we were each looking at the classified ads for open space sims. I decided to teleport to one that looked appealing….. and landed right in front of Tech! He had, unbeknownst to me, chosen the same ad to check out. We experience that kind of synchronicity a lot—“jinx” is a regular part of our lexicon—and we both doubled over laughing.

Once we’d recovered, we tossed the idea around a bit more, and it occurred to me that we already knew someone who owned a full sim who might be willing to add an open space sim to his holdings as long as we paid for it. I approached him, he was amenable to the idea, and we worked up a good faith agreement. Before our island could be ordered, our friend’s father passed away and he was a bit less available for a week or so. That gave us time to talk about what we would name our sim and to work on terrain files.

Finally, one balmy Tuesday evening, we ordered our new island. By the next day it had splashed down on the grid. We got the terrain file applied, and I immediately set up a cabana and hammocks to serve as a temporary hangout while we fine-tuned the landscape and began moving our homes to the new site.

We haven’t been there long, but it’s home now… Tech, IG, and I each have our own homes, with an extinct volcano in the middle of the larger island and an area for guests and dancing on the smaller island. While my mainland property is a nice parcel, KN is a true tropical paradise.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

As the Gallery Turns, part 3

As usual, I’ve been sidetracked from blogging. It’s been a busy summer; I’ll try to provide a concise version of all that’s been going on. With any luck it won’t take more than a couple of posts.

When I left off, Dillon had given me a parcel on his new sim, Magi, to build a coffee house and gallery. Of course, a coffee house needs comfy chairs and a decent coffeepot, so I set about furnishing it. I had already dabbled in furniture construction a bit, so my goal was to refine those early designs and texture them nicely. I have ended up with a nice little line of chairs, sofas, tables, and a few other things, in an assortment of fabrics.

While I was busy building furniture, Dillon was conferring with his friend Lann. Dillon had invited Lann to have a furniture store in Janustown, but she hadn’t had time to build or buy a structure and set up her store. Of course, Dillon wanted to get the town looking a little more finished; so he commissioned me to build a store for Lann.

Not long after Lann’s store was finished, I was invited to join the building team for Netroots Nation in SL. Netroots Nation is an annual RL conference for progressive bloggers; I’d become involved with NN through my friend Tech, who had introduced me to Dancing Liberally and Café Wellstone several months ago. NNSL provides an in-world platform where folks who can’t go to the RL conference can connect through audio and video streaming of conference events, booths representing affiliated organizations, and community with like-minded people. Initially, I helped with the general layout and the ballroom; then I was asked to build a booth for one organization. I also provided another branch of Ro-sheen’s Coffee House where folks could meet and discuss in smaller groups.

I am by no means a master builder, but with each project I learn more and get a little better. I have always set the finished furniture pieces for sale, even the earlier gallery benches. Since I’ve sold several pieces directly out of the gallery and the coffee house, I’ve been thinking of opening a store of my own somewhere. I recently relocated my home to an open space sim, shared with Tech (more about that next time). I’m not quite ready to sell off my mainland beachfront parcel, so I’m thinking about setting up shop there.

To complicate matters, over the weekend my business partner in the gallery decided to leave SL. That means I need to include the gallery in my plans, since she owns the land where our main gallery is built. My inclination is to make it a furnishings and home décor shop, including the furniture and the photographs in a single retail store. Whatever develops, the store needs a name. I have a couple of thoughts, but I’d love to hear more ideas.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm still here...sorta

My, how time flies...There is a third and final installment of the building saga coming up, and then more about recent events. But for now, I saw this quiz and thought I'd have a little fun with it.

Your result for The 3-Variable Purity Test...

PURITY: 45% sex, 60% substance, 50% moral [50% total]

The problem with this quiz is that it counts everything you've ever done even if you would never do it again; that isn't so much an issue with the sex and substance portions, IMHO, but on the morals portion it seems more than a little incomplete to not account for an individual's development of a higher moral standard. Just my two centavos.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

As the Gallery Turns, Part 2

Last month I posted the nutshell version of how I became a gallery co-owner and builder in SL. When I left off, my pal Dillon had given me a 512 square meter plot on his new sim to build a coffee house and gallery. But Dillon has a talent for growing a seed of an idea into something much bigger. Hand in hand with that is a propensity to change his mind midstream, which usually results in an improvement even though it means extra labor.

One of the first things I noticed about Dillon’s town was that he had laid out curbs but no sidewalks, so I kept tripping—or sounding like I was tripping, anyway—over the curbs. I suggested we needed sidewalks and built one in front of my coffee house. Dillon liked it and asked me to continue around that block. At some point we noticed that the city blocks Dillon had laid out weren’t all the same size. He had intended for them to be the same, and before I could take another sip of coffee, he had decided to re-do most of the island. I grabbed my existing coffee house and sent it 100 meters in the air, and Dillon proceeded to remove the rest of his build.

The next time I saw Dillon, he invited me to the island to see the new layout. He had purchased a crossroads, complete with paved road, sidewalks, and little patios on each corner. The idea was to have my coffee house and gallery on one corner. I started building.

Now, I don’t draw, and I’ve never studied architecture. I do sometimes examine buildings in SL to see how they were constructed: how a cove trim was made, the number of pieces it takes to make a nice awning, what sort of roofline looks good. So I’m likely to just start rezzing prims, cutting paths, and putting them together to see how it looks. I’m likely to change my mind about the size or proportion halfway through and start sliding walls out of the way and resizing the build. That means I need a BIG sandbox!

Here’s the coffee house and gallery, in progress and finished:

There's a patio between the two buildings, which serves to tie them together. I may tweak the gallery building a bit, when inspiration comes.

Next time, building furniture and being asked to construct a furniture store for another Janustown resident.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

As the Gallery Turns, Part 1

I alluded last month to some of the things I do in Second Life™: building furniture, managing a gallery, chatting with friends, and so on. So far in this space I’ve really only addressed the friends and relationships aspect of SL. As Garrett gently reminded me a few days ago, not only have I not blogged recently, but I haven’t discussed the development of several art galleries with which I'm involved.

Before I entered SL, I’d heard random stories of some people making money there. I didn’t have any such aspirations initially—and really, I still don’t. At the time, my typist was actively making silver jewelry to sell in galleries and at art festivals, and I had a fleeting thought that maybe I could learn to translate those designs into virtual form and sell them in SL. The difficulty of working with tiny prims and my own immersion into a very social SL quickly dashed that idea.

While I’m still social and love my SL friends dearly, I’ve learned a bit about building in SL and I can easily lose myself in a sea of plywood overlaid with red, blue, and green arrows. I co-own an art gallery, have sold my RL photography in SL, and am building a coffee house and gallery (including some of my own furniture) on a new island.

(I was going to have a cut here and a “Read More” link, but I can’t get the template code to work. Maybe next time)

Last summer, my friends Siv and Slade held a photography exhibit at their place in Addu. It occurred to me that I had taken some images that might translate well as art in SL, so I created beveled black frames with white mats in Photoshop, added a few photos, and uploaded them. Slade and Siv liked them and offered to host an exhibit for me in November. We set up freestanding walls on the lawn and I rezzed 23 photos.

The response was a huge boost to my ego: I sold over 40 photos, most of them on the night of the opening event. I decided to look for permanent gallery space. Meanwhile, Siv and Slade also had residential rentals and were having some difficulty keeping them occupied. They suggested we build a gallery together, and I jumped at the chance. Slade and I work well as a team; she designed the building and built most of the structure; I applied the textures, made interior walls and furniture, and created signs and teleporters.

The completed Riverbend Gallery opened in December, housing my work and Slade’s permanently, and guest artists on a rotating basis. Since then we’ve added satellite galleries in Etopia Prime and at Camazotz; and a friend offered me a small studio to display a selection of work in New Key West. Then Dillon came along.

Dillon’s enthusiasm for SL knows no bounds. He recently bought an island sim, and has added a second void sim for surfing and sailing. I’ve been pals with Dillon for a while, but I was nonetheless surprised when he invited me over to give me an amazing gift: a coffee house to run, named for me, where I would display my photos. Initially it was just a cute little prefab building, about 10 x 10 meters. But Dillon is a big idea guy, and within a day he had expanded the gift to include my own 512 square meter parcel on which I would have a separate gallery. I wanted to build a custom building to house both the coffee house and the gallery, with a doorway between the two, so I started planning that.

Then Dillon got a bigger idea. Stay tuned for the next installment.