PostHeaderIcon Second Life: Why 'Copybot' Shouldn't Matter

UFO Response team[UPDATE: Cryolife is easily detectable. However, I have discovered one way to detect at least one of the others, possibly more - details in my next post to this blog. —Ari]

Copybot has been around since 2006. And now, there are grid viewers with the same capability built-in and there are those who are going absolutely nuts with paranoia. At large are Cryolife, Thuglyfe, Streetlife, Neillife, please Get-a-life.

Sure, I could easily link to each and every one of those I've just listed. But then I'd get flamed for "accessibility to the masses" and all that nonsense. In truth they are quite easy to find and all are free (so if you pay for any of these, you are a lot more gullible than you should be.) As for the "copybot capability" of these grid viewers, why is no one screaming in shrill tones about Meerkat viewer - actually highlighted on New World Notes - among the most-read blogs about Second Life?

The fact of the matter is this stuff (ripping textures and prims) is not stoppable and there is nothing Linden Lab or you can do about it because it happens after the scene is downloaded to the local computer. Think of the technology as a "cache sifter and extractor" because that's basically what it's doing (for descriptive purposes anyway.) If you can see it or hear it, you can steal it. So why is everyone so paranoid about this stuff?

The answer is simple: people are taking Second Life and their "work" in it far too seriously.

I have a real and genuine proposition for you...

I want you to work for me.

No, really. Work for me - here, in real life. No worries about grid stability or your internet connection dying out on you or any of those other things. I want to hire you to landscape my home in first life (a.k.a. "real" life) and I will pay you to do it. In fact, the best part is that you have full reign, you can be as creative as you want. Do anything and everything. Whatever your heart desires, there is absolutely no limits whatsoever.

You also can sell anything and everything you create for my garden. I won't interfere in any way, shape or form. I want you to have as much fun as you can with it and maybe even make additional money on-top of what I pay you! I swear to you it's a dream-come-true!

Set your own hours, be your own boss and do anything and everything you want.

However, there are a couple of caveats:

First, you must agree to the contract between us. Well, it's really more of an agreement that you will obey my rules while on my property. You must be nice to everyone who comes by, specifically, other guests to my property.

Oh, and though you can do anything your heart desires with no limits whatsoever, you must pay me rent to use the land in my property - you choose the section and size and I'll adjust the rent appropriately. Whatever you do in that space is all you - go for it and have a ball!

Oh, and if you do make some amazing statues or grow stunning flowers and sell them to other people, I want a cut. And by the way, you must provide your own tools, whether you buy them from someone else or create them yourself, all you get is an empty, plain chunk of ground.

I forgot to mention that because of decency laws in my neighborhood, if you intend to allow nudity or any 'naughty-naughty-wink-wink' kind of stuff, you'll have to choose a chunk of my land that's in the back-yard. You know, behind the house so people on the street won't be offended.

One Eighty-Nine of Three Sixty-FiveOh, and did I mention that all transactions will be handled with Monopoly money? This is better because I can easily print my own whenever I need it and they are easy to trade. You know, like a token. And because it kind of resembles money it makes for a good enumeration to account for your earnings. Oh, and I do mean all transactions. So if you sell your hard work, the buyer must obtain Monopoly money from me so they can buy from you.

Oh, but have no fear! You can make a real life living working for me! I swear it! If you make really really pretty flowers and garden decorations a lot of people will want to buy them! You'll make more Monopoly money than you can imagine. really! No shit! Unfortunately some folks might steal some of your flowers, but don;t worry about that. I'll let you advertise your stuff in my searchable newsletter. Those thieves wouldn't have purchased your stuff anyway.

But back to what I was saying... Whenever you want, I'll actually trade you your Monopoly money for real life legal tender money. Seriously, it's a great deal! You can make your living by working for me.

All you have to do to get started is agree to my rules and then come to my house.

I know, I know, the rules are all there to protect me and all of them more or less work against you, but hey - it's my house, right? You are the guest who comes to visit and work.

Oh, and I know that I exchange the Monopoly money for real money, but I should point out that part in my rules about that... just ignore it. It doesn't mean anything, really. I mean, I'm exchanging Monopoly money for real money right now, aren't I?

Remove that part of my rules? Why, whatever do you mean?

Oh, I'll do it eventually. You know, when ever I get around to it. It's kinda low on the priority list right now. But it's okay, just ignore it because I'm not enforcing it at all for the time being. Which part of my rules am I talking about? Haven't you read and understood my rules before you started working for me?

Why parts 1.4 and 1.5 of course:
1.4 ARI BLACKTHORNE REAL LIFE "currency" is a limited license right available for purchase or free distribution at ARI BLACKTHORNE's discretion, and is not redeemable for monetary value from ARI BLACKTHORNE.

You acknowledge that the Service presently includes a component of in-world fictional currency ("Currency" or "BLACKTHORNE Dollars" or "B$" or "BS" or "BULLSHIT" or "BULLSHIT SYSTEM"), which constitutes a limited license right to use a feature of HIS product when, as, and if allowed by ARI BLACKTHORNE. ARI BLACKTHORNE may charge fees for the right to use BULLSHIT Dollars, or may distribute BULLSHIT Dollars without charge, in HIS sole discretion. Regardless of terminology used, BULLSHIT Dollars represent a limited license right governed solely under the terms of this Agreement, and are not redeemable for any sum of money or monetary value from ARI BLACKTHORNE at any time. You agree that ARI BLACKTHORNE has the absolute right to manage, regulate, control, modify and/or eliminate such Currency as HE sees fit in HIS sole discretion, in any general or specific case, and that ARI BLACKTHORNE will have no liability to you based on HIS exercise of such right.

1.5 ARI BLACKTHORNE offers an exchange, called F-YOU-X, for the trading of BULLSHIT Dollars, which uses the terms "buy" and "sell" to indicate the transfer of license rights to use BULLSHIT Dollars. Use and regulation of F-YOU-X is at ARI BLACKTHORNE's sole discretion.

We'll skip the details here for brevity. But suffice it to say that you are allowed to trade my Monopoly money from one person to another, but there is no guarantee whatsoever that I will give you any real life legal tender in exchange for it.

Oh, here's another important part of chapter 1.5:
You agree and acknowledge that ARI BLACKTHORNE may deny any sell order or buy order individually or with respect to general volume or price limitations set by ARI BLACKTHORNE for any reason. ARI BLACKTHORNE may limit sellers or buyers to any group of users at any time. ARI BLACKTHORNE may halt, suspend, discontinue, or reverse any Currency Exchange transaction (whether proposed, pending or past) in cases of actual or suspected fraud, violations of other laws or regulations, or deliberate disruptions to or interference with the Service.

There. Understand it now? Oh, I won't bother to pay your taxes for you either. So you'd better stay on top of that or the bad guys might slap you with some serious stuff.

But please, don't let this stop you!

I mean, even though you have absolutely zero rights at all whatsoever morally, contractually or even legally and are at my complete mercy in all things, don't you think this is a great opportunity to make a lot of money - and even stake your very livlihood and living on it?!!

C'mon! It's a perfect business plan! Why, any bank in the world would be fools not to back you up!

I mean sheesh... if you don't think it's such a great deal you could always go off and look at the competition.

fuck you 666I hear Linden Lab has a damned similar offer , you know. But their rules are worse, because it's a computer game, not real life like the offer I'm making to you. And besides, you are at the mercy of your ISP and your very computer not crashing and dying on you and your electrical power going out and a whole host of other stuff completely out of your control.

No one in their right effing mind would dare think to actually try to make a living in that Second Life place with that Linden Lab terms of service. That person would well do better having a gaping hole drilled into their head.

I mean, Second Life is just for fun, right? I mean, because people do actually know better than to feel entitled there, right?

art: Rose (Dinarzad); JCLPAT; Bob (Break.Things)

PostHeaderIcon Watch Your "(Step)-UP! For Content Creators"

The CopyBot Protest in Second Life

There is big news making the rounds in the SLogosphere this week about an effort (boycott) regarding content theft in Second Life. The effort is called "Step UP! For Content Creators". Many bloggers have called it many things. Many others, including Gwyneth Llewelyn calls it what it is and should be: an awareness effort. But I think it actually goes too far.

The untiring Gwen Carillon, one of the best jewelry creators in Second Life, and the long-time president of the Content Creators Association, a [sic] SL organisation “to support, inform and assist creators in protection of original content and other content related issues”, has launched a new project: Step UP! for Content Creators, a new way to raise awareness for content creation theft in Second Life.

[From Gwyn’s Home » Blog Archive » Step UP! for Content Creation Theft Awareness]

Fair enough. However, there is a problem. A big one, too. Gwyneth also writes:
Gwen, perhaps unlike many others, is a firm believer in a positive approach to the whole issue, that is, to find solutions to problems and get people to spread the word about what can be done.

Gwyneth's emphasis, not mine. But also the very emphasis I would have made myself. You see, there is no solution. At least none that I can think of in knowing what I know about how computers and networking works (I have first life I.T. experience.)

There is the issue of "copybot" we all have heard about before. Frankly I am tiring of... well some might call it a 'discussion'. I consider it all more of a one-sided paranoia diatribe. I don't mean this in an offensive way to any who speak of it. I am only saying it's a futile worry. "Copybot technology" is here and it is here to stay.


PostHeaderIcon Flame Me, Burn Me, Kill Me. Just Don't Eat Me.

An old saying we used to throw around in my Army days is "they can kill you, but they can't eat you." I know, I know... "Huh? Wha...?"

It's just another way of saying they can beat you up, hate you, make you miserable - but in the end, they can't take away your principals. And so, I now hereby open myself up to whatever flaming, trolling, vitriolic hatred might come my way when I make my genuine opinion here known to the world.

Not a secret, but never before openly and loudly shouted out to the Second Life enthusiast world. So, please allow me a moment to get my helmet and flame-retardant armor on and buckle my seatbelt, 'cause here we go...

PostHeaderIcon Whoa is me...

To all both of my followers and all three of my readers... apologies for the hiatus.

First Life company makes a move not only from one office to the other, but from one city to another. The good news is that my morning and evening commutes are considerably less stressful (from an average 30-minutes on a good day down to 11 minutes every day.)

Unfortunately the move itself was and still is a real pain in the ass. And back. And legs, and feet and arms and... well, if you've ever moved house, you know what I'm speaking of. Now multiply that a hundred times to get the impression of moving a business.

Any way, I expect to be back by this weekend, and to continue my regularly scheduled rhetoric at Common Sensible and my riff-raff-rantings on Blackthorne inSL.

I figure if you haven't left me over my nonsense already, and haven't left me over my absence by now, you need some real forensic psychiatric help. But I, at least, should explain that my absence is only temporary.

/me thinks he'll take the long weekend opportunity to chill out and just eat a lot of WATERMELON. (Nod to our awesomely wild what-ever-he's-havin'-I_wants-some cheerful friend.)

And @Hamlet: What wee spoke-of, I'm on it hard this weekend.  :)

PostHeaderIcon The Other Shoe Falls Off (AO No Longer Means "Animation Override")

Via email 30-minutes ago:


Dear Second Life Resident,

You have a parcel or classified ad listing that appears to contain adult content, but is not located on an Adult region. On September 15th, the Adult Content Policy transition period will end. After the 15th, adult content may only be advertised if it is located on Adult regions.

On September 17th, we will be turning off auto-renew for any classified or parcel listings that are advertising adult content on PG or Mature regions. This means that these listings will expire from Search. To avoid having auto-renew turned off, please make sure your listings are in accord with the Adult Content Policy. Here's how:

  1. If you would like to advertise adult-themed content, then please relocate to an Adult region.

  2. If you would like to remain on a PG or Mature region, you must remove adult-themed content from your parcel, parcel description and classified ads.

Below you'll find detailed instructions as well as the full text and SLurl of your current listing(s). Please note that, if you choose to advertise adult content on non-adult regions in the future, your listings will not show up in all searches but will still incur full listing fees.

PostHeaderIcon A Blue Moon Rising


The blogoshpere is flooded with opinions and apparent excitement that Blue Mars is finally going into public beta. I'm on the beta list and have run around the place for a time (Look for Ari Blackthorne on Blue Mars - except you'll have a hard time finding me - see below).

I came.

I saw.

I left.

Gwyneth Llewelyn wrote a wonderful piece, probably the most accurate on the subject thus far. But most of what I'm seeing appears to be the drooling excitement that an alternative to Second Life is finally at-hand. Ummm — no.

As Gwyneth mentions, the developers of Blue Mars are really targeting content creators right now. And, as a content creator myself, I can relate to the excitement this brings. However, as I step back and look at the larger picture, I see problems.

Big ones.

Before I jump up onto my soapbox, allow me to be absolutely clear:
  • Yes. I know Blue Mars is in beta right now and much of what I speak of will be changed; fixed; tweaked; made "better".
  • Yes. I know that comparing Blue Mars to Second Life really isn't very fair - they are two completely different beasts. However, the developer admits Second Life is a model with heavy influence. But much of that influence has yet to be seen. Perhaps later when the platform matures more.
  • I want to be clear that my comparison isn't with the software, the world, the animation, the builds, the... anything. My comparison is with regard to my user experience.
  • No. I am not dissing on, slamming, or in any way attempting to put a negative spin on anything Blue Mars or Second Life or their respective creators or even those who've blogged about them.
  • This is not a review of Blue Mars. It is simply a reflection on my initial experience.

The first issue I have with Blue Mars, (Mars for short; "BM" sounds too much like "Bowel Movement" to me - sorry for that mental picture,) is with the marketing and how they describe the system requirements. It is unethically misleading to say Blue Mars will run on Microsoft Windows and "Macintosh with bootcamp installed".

Okay, ummm... sorry. But that's a flat-out lie, the way I see it. The system requirements for Operating System is MS Windows, full stop. A Macintosh with bootcamp installed only means there is a DOS partition. Mac users still must spend $250 or more for a copy of....

Wait for it....

Wait for it...

Microsoft Windows to install onto that bootcamp partition! I will not hold my breath on ever seeing an OS-X native version of Blue Mars any time soon. I'll explain later. Meaning that the first statement ('requires MS Windows') is still the case. I believe it's their way of saying "screw you Macintosh. You want-in? Then run MS Windows!" - but in a covert, underhanded way.

The next stunner is the sheer size of the download. It is a 1.3 GB - (GIGA-BYTE!!!) beast. Yes I have broadband. Yes I have enough bandwidth allotment to download it, though I know there are those with tighter bandwidth caps than I have.

Okay, so the download is massive (read: bloated). It's because most, if not all the content I will see in-world is included in that download. This provides for a 'better' user experience by allowing the entire world ("city" - or "sim" in SL terms, albeit much larger each) without any 'rezzing' issues.

Why is this a problem (in my own perspective, remember)? Because it's a lot of wasted stuff. I will not see it all. I am downloading a lot of content I will never see or use. Or, if I do see it all so easily, I suspect the world will become redundant and boring rather quickly. America Online was sued (and lost) over the downloading of extraneous content - because it is wasted and simply sucks-up resources (file size-bloat; bandwidth to download it, etc.)

In this case, all that extraneous content is being force-fed to me in the guise of a bloated initial download.

The first cringing, tooth-grinding, hair-standing on the back of my neck moment occurred when I went to install the viewer. I was told I must install Adobe Flash Active-X.

I won't bore you with a long-winded rant about Flash or anything Adobe for that matter. But I will briefly say why I personally don't like it. First, Flash is bloated. It used to be lean and mean. Now it's bloatware, poorly-written and sucks-up a lot of computing resources. Adobe is trying hard to make Flash all things to all people for all purposes.

This makes poorly-written software into bloatware. The majority of every single thing I see in Flash format is advertising. Which is annoying. Standard advertising using regular image formats are fine.

The only other thing I see Flash used for is video. Which is a bastardization of the video-viewing experience. The Quality to file size to resource consumption ratio is abysmal. It's one of the reasons why YouTube now offers viewing via standard H.264 and foregoing Flash altogether (though you have to manually set your preferences to fore-go Flash.)

The only other reason to use Flash is web-application, most often games. And there is your answer. Eventually, I'm sure, they will make the viewer embeddable into a web page - because it's Flash. It even looks like a Flash The reason I won't hold my breath for an OS-X (Macintosh for all you Windows-heads out there) native version is the Active-X aspect.

Most web developers whose circles I find myself in do not like Active-X because it is too limiting (platform-wise). They don't despise it, but rather it's just that anything created with Active-X can only be run on MS Windows (and for a time Internet Explorer-only.)

I don't usually like Active-X tools installed on my machine, but I'll go with it if there is not other way or alternative. So the Blue Mars view is based on Active-X and Adobe Flash.

I thought it odd that after installing the Active-X Flash tools, the 'installer' became an "assembler'. At the end of it I received a message that the "Setup" has been successfully "assembled".

Only after launching the viewer did I realize "setup" means the avatar set-up. Moving through this process was pretty simple and straight forward. The interface was smooth and slick. In fact, it had a very "Flash"-like feel to it (go figure.)

Once 'in-world' I discovered I was at a "home" screen. Apparently the permanent starting 'location' for everyone. I kept waiting for the floor to rez. it never did. It took me a while to realize there is no floor. The swooshing water fly-over was the intended design. My, my, my all those times of teleporting into a new sim in SL and waiting for the floor to rez had caught me in the habit of waiting... for the floor to rez. (/me laughs.)

To keep my rhetoric short, I'll just bullet my main first impressions here - and remember, this is beta software so all this will likely change for the better:
  • Feels like a FLash-based, enbedded web game. Like those the little kiddies like to frequent, albeit with far better-looking art.
  • Even though all the content is already on my hard disk drive, entering a city (sim) still draws piece-by-piece the way Second Life does (building the scene), though more quickly. Perhaps twice to four-times faster (yes, that's it - I expected almost instantaneous drawing because the content is already on my hard disk. But, it's "Flash" /me groans.)
  • I have a nagging feeling the majority of the content included in that bloated download is completely wasted. I don't see it and I'm not so sure I could find it if I wanted to. I much prefer the à la carte way Second Life (or any other virtual world) serves the content to me as I need to see it in a predictive way, rather than the pig-in-a-poke method (providing everything whether you need it or not, want it or not is what I really mean. "Pig in a poke" is just a fun term that comes close.) :P
  • Movement is elementary - by left-clicking. Everything. Left-click the side of a building and you will (try) to go there. I found it rather juvenile-feeling and limiting.
  • Right-click to interact with anything and everything. This was a bit awkward, though not an uncommon interface paradigm. I just haven't used it recently. But it also means everything must be done via a context menu.
  • Who is who? No names on anyone. Everyone is anonymous. As I have mentioned above: I am Ari Blackthorne on Blue Mars, but you'd never know it unless you found me and I told you. Even right-clicking on an avatar (which can be a little tricky to do correctly) doesn't show their name. I know: it's beta software, this will be corrected in time.
  • On the right-click paradigm - it also is how you move your camera - move your mouse while right-clicking and the camera moves around. However you leave your camera is how you remain, even when you begin to move around. The camera remains fixed according to the world, not your avatar. Again, not an uncommon paradigm.
  • There does not seem to be any easy way to zoom the camera in and out to change your field of view. For instance, there was a large billboard sign at the home location. I found it difficult to read. I had to walk to the correct position in order to see it clearly. Then it began spinning. (/me rolls eyes)
  • "Eye candy" (the actual look of the place) is okay. It looks good, but for some reason I had the impression of a Hollywood movie set: pretty textures on cardboard. The quality of the art in Blue Mars is marginally better than Second Life. But the look of the place isn't the draw, it will be the social aspect. The look of the environment only adds atmosphere, so the actual quality (as long as it's not garish) doesn't matter as much. We all know Second Life has more garish environments than not. But that doesn't stop people from congregating in those places.

In short, Blue Mars is a good place to explore. Unfortunately, there isn't much in there yet to make exploring a compelling option. An empty city is just that. In short, it's still an empty suit.

Am I impressed with what I saw? No. Now, I don't mean to say it's bad. It's not. Actually it has huge potential, but it's nothing like Second Life. Not in terms of the viewer (/me shivers at the requirement for Adobe Flash,) not in terms of the interface and how it operates, not in the 'look' of the art (environment), and certainly not in the interaction.

As Gwyneth mentioned (paraphrased), it is indeed "Second Life circa 2003" in terms of where it is now with features and function, it has a long way to go. Unfortunately, with a minimum requirement of a video card with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of hard disk space and so on, the target audience will be the 'technologically leading-edge' crowd.

Well, people like the ones who frequent Second Life. Except those people in Second Life like Second Life on so many different levels they aren't even aware of yet. Until they experiment with other worlds like Blue Mars.

In short, I think a lot of the hoopla in the SLogosphere, the excitement being expressed and all that stuff, though certainly justified, is a bit over-the-top from where I sit as Mars is a bit underwhelming at this particular point in time in my perspective. Will that improve? Most certainly. So for now, Blue Mars, to me, is just a blue moon .

I came.

I saw.

I wasn't impressed.

Rather, I was amused and bemused.

But I haven't uninstalled it yet. And that's a damned good sign.

art: Aberrant Corpses

PostHeaderIcon Second Life Alternative!!! (Again, /me yawns)


Here we go again.

The horrible Second Life Grid, owned and operated by the evil Linden Lab is not good enough because they actually expect you to follow reasonable rules on an "unstable" (should have been here in 2006 and prior) grid and allow Intellectual Property plagiarism (no such thing as theft if it's a copy) to run rampant (admittedly, it's a real bitch to apply a DMCA charge against someone - especially at Xstreet SL) and expect you to spend real money for the privilege (damned entitlement attitudes where the world owes you everything for nothing - you bee-ahch) - so all those who are fed-up and tired of it are (and have been at least since 2006) looking for that elusive Second Life alternative.

Many like myself really wish you'd find it already because your whining and bitching and "threatening" us is getting tiresome, so your leaving would be a really good riddance for the rest of us.

A frequent complaint I recall is...
"ZOMG! I'd leave so fast if only there were an alternative. I only stay because I don't have a choice. Dammit."

Many think Open Sim is the answer... but it's not. Not yet, anyway. OpenSim is still in it's infancy; it's Second Life circa 2004. There are many other "alternatives" based on OpenSim and even some proprietary technologies. I've personally highlighted TribalNet and Mycosm (which I really am interested in seeing - but it's development seems to have floundered.) Even the Sim City Societies was going to become a viable alternative to Second Life ... had it lasted for more than a few months.

PostHeaderIcon Second Life: Attrition Can Be A Real Bitch


Making my usual SLogosphere rounds this week I took great interest in Tateru's (Massively) take on some of the information she grinds into meaningful data - as best she can, anyway. Her post this week highlight the decline of concurrent Second Life (SL) "residents" for the first time ever (emphasis is mine):

While running some routine analyses of the user concurrency figures for Second Life from 2006 to the present, we noticed some interesting things. Median concurrency, one of the indicators we've traditionally eyeballed to indicate the health and growth of Second Life took a recent dive after many years of steady increase.

[From Second Life median concurrency declines as bots/campers progressively purged]

I started my reply to the comments on that article post, then decided no, I'll just post my reply here as it is really a bit more than a reply.

I have genuinely believed at least since the last quarter of 2008, perhaps before that, two out of every three "dots" (indicating a logged-in account onto the grid) on the in-world map are "zombie" bots. Avatar accounts remotely controlled via a "light" grid client application. Inactive for all intents and purposes. [and edited to add: 'or drooling bonehead campers spending 10-times as much first life money compared to what they earn.]

The statement from Tateru that kind of caught me off-guard is:
"Far more bots, it seems, than even we had imagined."

(Tateru is part of an editorial team.)

PostHeaderIcon A Sad Riddance, But Good?

3d nude

Yes, categorized at Common Sensible as "Socially Mundane".

As Rezzable continues to pull-up their stakes on the Second Life grid for their own little hideout in some dark corner of the Internet, another Second Life staple and awe-striking build falls into pixeldust:

We are closing Black Swan, follow the path, in Second Life as soon as the ticket goes through. Probably next few days/hours, so you might get another chance to see it for a last time if you zap over asap. Otherwise you can visit "Black Swan Revisited" on our OpenSim-based private grid.

[From Goodbye Black Swan | Rezzable]

PostHeaderIcon THE END IS NIGH! (September 15th to be exact)

And the Wicked shall inherit the earth

The apocalypse is upon us!

Got another 'heads-up warning shame-on-you' email from Linden Lab. The exact same kind of email I have received before. It basically said the exact same thing. I quickly tossed it out because I rolled my eyes and sighed as I know all this stuff already. However, I should have kept the email because there were some subtle changes and differences from the last one. So, please forgive me as a paraphrase the differences between the first and now this current email that is making the rounds.