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.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I've been away from the blogosphere for a couple of weeks. Although my typist brought her laptop along on a two-week vacation, being online has been limited to occasional forays into SL to stay in touch with friends or let my alt have a date. Really, it was a vacation, after all; the typist should be out snorkeling, not sitting in a hotel chair with her arms at an unnatural ergonomic angle trying to navigate the internet on a glare-riddled small screen.

So what do I find when I return? An even slower SL, rife with transaction problems and rezzing issues. Frustrating, since I have furniture to finish building, friends to chat with, a gallery to co-manage, and RFL events to put together. As of this writing, SL has been almost completely shut down for over 14 hours, with no sign of a pending fix. I have plenty of offline things to do, so in some ways not having access to SL for a while is a good thing; but one of my avis has plans in SL for later today, so it makes me a little nervous to have SL so seriously messed up.

I saw a blog or comment somewhere wondering where else an SL resident might go for a similar experience, should SL no longer be available. Since SL is my first foray into MMO worlds of any kind, I'm not familiar with the architecture of the Sims, There, or any others. My understanding is that other virtual worlds are not nearly as developed as SL, and I'd have to start there with a new avatar in any case. Others are truly RP games, where you're expected to develop a character and work to advance to higher levels.

I'm not in SL to play a typical game, but to express creativity and to connect with friends. The latter can be done through MSN and other IM clients, of course, although the text-only nature of those has its limitations after experiencing the sensation of 3-D contact possible in SL. I'm also more unlikely to make new friends on text-based IM clients than in SL, although it's a perfectly good way to stay in touch with my existing closest SL friends. As for creativity, there are other ways to express that too.

If SL disappeared, maybe for a month, maybe forever, what would be missing from your life? Where else would you go to find those outlets?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ack! A Meme!

I usually don't do memes, but this one's pretty quick and will help push that shallow entry about my avatar's evolution in appearance down the page.

1. Do you remember the first person who helped you in SL, and are you still in contact with that person?

I can think of two people who helped me early on. One was a child named Haley who dropped decent freebie hair, skin, and and outfit on me and told me about flexi skirts. I'm not in touch with her. The other would be my friend Alter, who helped me understand the technical ins and outs of SL and made sure I had an AO so I didn't walk like a duck. We still chat and visit, although not very often.

2. Do you stick around in SL for business, or for the people?

The people, primarily. I enjoy having a business, but the connection with friends is what makes being in SL worthwhile.

3. Who is the most positive influence in your SL?

That would have to be the guy I call Tech. We can talk for hours, often having the same thought at the same time. He has a rational and loving approach to SL; I know I can turn to him when other people turn up the dial on the drama machine. He understands alts, roleplay, and the boundaries between SL and RL. And if I need technical help with SL or a script written, he's the answer man.

4. Is there someone who makes you roll your eyes and groan when they IM you or if you run into them somewhere?

Oh, yeah, a couple of them. But I won't describe them in even the most cryptic terms here. Well, OK, one is a guy in his late twenties who wants me to be his Mrs. Robinson.

5. Is there someone in your SL that makes you smile whenever you notice their name on your friends list, even if they're not online?


6. Do you let people map you? Do others let you map them?

No, not anymore. I did for a while with Sparky, but we found it best to just talk and TP each other if we wanted to be together.

7. If we found out tomorrow that SL was closing, do you think you'd still remain in contact with your friends?

Some, yes. I have email and MSN contact--and phone numbers in a few cases--for most of the key people in my SLife. With a few others I might send them that information in world so we could keep in touch, hoping they log in before SL disappears. But I don't even want to
think about the possibility of SL closing!

OK, I hate it when people tag me for this sort of thing; but I
would like to see your answers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


A friend recently commented that I have changed my look a lot since he has known me, insisting that I must have changed my skin. I've definitely changed my hair, and I've tweaked my shape a bit, but the skin is pretty much the same. While I don't have pics of my earliest days in SL anymore, I came across a couple of older images and had a look at the evolution of my avatar.
Once I realized it might be nice to have a picture of myself in my profile, I went in search of a scenic location. The SL Botanical Garden fit the bill. This was taken in early July 2007, one month after my rez day. The skin is Charmed, from Celestial Studios; hair is Melissa from Calico Creations, and the eyes were from Soda.
Eventually I managed to make my eyes look a bit more realistic thanks to Miriel's realistic eyes and some appearance slider magic.
The hair here is Amber II from Calico Creations, and it has been a standby in my hair folder for quite a while. The other one I've relied on a lot is Zero Style's Mike.
I still have a long pointy face here, though. It took me a while to realize that the shorter hairstyles I coveted looked funny because I had made my face too long.

Once I figured out a more flattering face shape, I was ecstatic when I stumbled upon this delicious little style from Kin, called Yohkoh.
From the display I was afraid it might be too orange; finding the right shades of reds and auburns in SL has been a bit daunting. Fortunately, I am often able to add a touch of gray to tone down an overly bright hair color.
You couldn't pry this one off my head until I found.....

....Poynter, by Armidi. I did have to move a few strands in place over my right eye, but this really feels like my look these days. I showed the demo to a friend before I bought it--never hurts to have a second opinion--and was encouraged by his favorable reaction.
Of course, these last two hairstyles have shown up all over the various fashion blogs, and I usually prefer to not look like I'm following the latest trends. But when something works, you just have to go for it.
I'm glad I found a skin with freckles, too. The strange thing is that Roisin has evolved to look even more like the RL me (minus 20 years) than I ever intended.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are Your Eyes Really That Blue?

Recent conversations with friends, and the questions Kit posits here, have me doing more thinking about identity in SL and how it relates to RL. It isn’t a new topic in the SL blogosphere, but since my comment on Kit’s blog nearly turned into a post of its own before I applied my editor’s pencil, I thought I’d bring it over here and expand on it a bit.

Usually I’m not too interested in someone’s RL A/S/L except as it informs our activities together in SL. Age is *almost* a non-issue regardless, although having similar frames of cultural reference is nice, and sometimes I’ve run into emotional maturity issues. Gender is likewise almost irrelevant unless my avatar is becoming intimately involved (and I’ll talk about that in another post, since I have more thoughts about SL romance that need their own entry). Location doesn’t have to be specific, but knowing what time zone someone is in lets me know that I can’t reasonably expect my SL buddies to stay up with me if it’s 2 a.m. in their RL world.

As for other RL information, with few exceptions I’d rather identifying details stay under wraps. While I’m intrigued by avatar/person comparison pictures, I don’t need to see them, don’t want them from my friends, and don’t want to share mine any more than I already have. I’ve used voice but would rather not.

I’ll admit that as a friendship grows deeper, I get curious. In a few cases, I’ve met the atomic person behind the avatar, and those friendships are now in RL as well as in SL. I will eventually know the RL identity of one close SL friend because his RL work will become public. I both dread and look forward to that day. I don’t think it will change our SL relationship, since knowing some other SL pals in RL hasn’t changed our SL relationships; but I still find the impending breach of that firewall a little daunting.

More difficult for me is how my alts deal with RL information. As Roisin, I am essentially a prettier, younger, more outgoing version of my RL self. When I say *I* did something, I may well be talking about RL. But my alts, especially when talking with people who know Ro as well, have to be more dissociated from their typist. They are more purely roleplay, and can’t have the same background as Ro without losing their distinct personas. They have to refer to the typist in the third person whenever possible, even though this makes conversation a bit awkward. Unfortunately, the dissociation (and my inability to manufacture more than a rudimentary backstory for them) also makes them less well-rounded as people.

Some of my friends as Roisin have trouble seeing the alts as separate personas, even though the alts exhibit somewhat different personalities and really don’t look like Ro. They feel that they’re talking directly to the typist through Ro in the first place, so they speak right through the alts to the typist as well. Other pals are better at seeing a separate persona come through the alt even though they know the same typist is there. It doesn’t necessarily mean I—or they—need medication and intensive psychotherapy; it’s just another way to express different aspects of my typist’s personality, just as in RL we might have different personas we present at work, as parents, as children, as siblings….and so on.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I don't normally do these things, but once in a while it's good for a giggle. This one's pretty accurate, and didn't even take long to complete--which is a good thing, because I have other goofing off I need to do!

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have low extroversion.
You are quiet and reserved in most social situations.
A low key, laid back lifestyle is important to you.
You tend to bond slowly, over time, with one or two people.


You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have medium neuroticism.
You're generally cool and collected, but sometimes you do panic.
Little worries or problems can consume you, draining your energy.
Your life is pretty smooth, but there's a few emotional bumps you'd like to get rid of.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high.
In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas.
You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits.
A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.